3 Hour Photo Trips – Cruise Relaxing

 

Sunrise and sunset, two of the most peaceful times of the day.  At least when you’re on vacation, on a cruise ship, and don’t have to get up early for work or clean the house before you go to bed.

For most of our trip it was actually somewhat overcast.  But we did manage to get one night and morning of some beautiful sunrise and sunset pictures in open water.  My problem now, two weeks after the trip:  I can’t tell for sure which photos are sunrise and which one are sunset.  I feel old even as I typed that.  In actuality, the pictures with the little oil rigs at the horizon, are sunset pictures for sure.  Other than that, take a guess, and leave a comment and let me know what you think.  Maybe my wife will comment and set the record straight.

In any case, all of the photos are simply breathtaking.  Hopefully the pictures do the reality justice, and if you focus on the pictures and just imagine a warm Caribbean breeze blowing on your face, the smell of fresh ocean air in your nose, and the gentle swaying of the ship…then you’re there.  Now just simply enjoy.

I’m not going to go into the technical aspects of sunrise and sunset photography, settings, or anything of that nature.  If you’re interested in what settings I used, comment below and I’ll get with you.

For now, just relax, imagine being there, and enjoy.  Let me know what you think by sending me a comment.  Don’t forget to share the webpage with all your friends, and be sure to click on the “Like” button below.

Until next time, Enjoy Our Wonderful World!

 

3 Hour Photo Trips -Lafrienne Park

 

Lafrienne Park, just outside of New Orleans, was absolutely beautiful.  As you can see from the photos, it also turned out to be a veritable bird paradise.  We were able to document about 10 new birds from this one location.  And as you can see, they were all magnificent!

The featured photograph is the White Ibis.  Just look at the detail and the strange “Jimmy Durante” nose.  Sorry for the dated reference, so if you’re not old enough to know who that is, Google him and once you see him, I’m sure you will understand and agree.  The color and brightness of his eye is astounding, as is the shape of that bill.  Their actions were almost comical to watch:  constantly cleaning, pruning, and foraging with that crazy bill with quick darting back and forth movements.

Most of the birds we saw were one of two different kinds:  the Yellow Crowned Night Heron and the Black Crowned Night Heron.  A local guy that we met there told us that since there were so many male and female Night Heron’s there, which was unusual, that they must have been breeding.  Which explains what we captured in one of the photos above:  a female Night Heron gathering sticks, to which I imagine may make it to a nest somewhere.  We weren’t fortunate enough to see any nests anywhere, but there were female Night Herons on the ground, in the trees, and everywhere in between.

Lastly, for today’s blog is my personal favorite:  the Tricolored Heron.  What a beautiful looking bird!  All pastel multi-colored and somewhat “dainty” looking for a heron…almost like a Blue Heron all made up for Glamour Shot photo shoot.  Two different birds, two different areas, and how lucky were we to get clear shots with that great reflection in the water of all those colors.

I hope you all enjoy these photos as much as we did taking them at Lafrienne Park.  If you did, by all means leave me a comment.  Don’t forget to hit the “Like” button and share with…well everyone!  And join those viewing and following in now 17 different countries around the world.  So from my camera to yours, Enjoy Our Wonderful World!

3 Hour Photo Trips – Lake Pontchartrain

 

Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana.  Lake Pontchartrain is a brackish estuary located in southeastern Louisiana in the United States. It covers an area of 630 square miles with an average depth of only 12 to 14 feet, which is incredible, because to stand on it’s shore, feels like standing on the shore of one of the Great Lakes.  It is roughly oval in shape, about 40 miles from west to east and 24 miles from south to north.  And for me, it was home to several Brown Pelicans and seagulls.

I know a lot of people don’t get that excited about pelicans because they are so common around the water, but I still think they are an amazing bird.  I would have loved to get an action shot of one plunging into the water and coming up with a fish in its stretched out mouth, but alas, these pelicans were being very lazy while we there, and seemed content to just sit on the poles.

The best “action” shot I got, made it to the feature photograph spot.  As you can see, he is stretching out one leg and standing on only one foot.  That was about the extent of the action I could capture.

The seagulls on the other hand, proved to be active and somewhat comical.  The gull that is shown floating in the water was actually hopping from spot to spot riding the waves and occasionally dipping under and coming up with a little minnow like fish of some kind.  I managed to get this shot of him floating along and the waves hitting against him, which caused a splash of droplets to be caught in the air.  The sun was bright and I was able to keep my shutter speed up high enough to freeze the water droplets in the air.

The other seagull shot was pretty comical.  In the series of shots I took, the flying seagull was coming in from the right, about the same height as the one standing on the post.  He caught the gull on the posts attention and he then turned to keep an eye on him.  The flying gull buzzed the standing one and then kept flying off to the left.  I had the D7200 on fast continuous shots, and was able to capture the photo shown.  The flyer is directly over the standing gull, and the standing gull still has a sharp eye out for any shenanigans.  A pretty cool shot if I do say so myself.

Then there’s the Great Blue Heron.  They’re amazing, colorful looking birds.  I just haven’t figured out if they are really as angry as they look, or if they are just all about the business at hand:  catching fish and eating.  My wife thinks they look like a grumpy old man…lol.  No matter what the reason for the stern looks, they are fascinating to watch and to photograph.

So as always, leave me a comment or two and let me know what you think of the photos and don’t forget to hit the like button.  Facebook likes are great and greatly appreciated, but “Likes” on my blog page are even better.  If you’d like, click the “Follow” button and join people from 16 different countries now viewing and following our blog.

As always, get out there and experience your world.  Leave me a comment about your photos and your experiences, and above all, Enjoy Our Wonderful World!

3 Hour Photo Trips – Uxmal Mayan Ruins

 

Uxmal (pronounced oosh-mall) means “thrice built” or “thrice occupied” in Mayan. This magnificent city was one of the major regional capitals of the Mayan world. There are several large structures here, some main ones are seen in the featured photograph at the top, with Puuc style decorative elements including Chaac masks, Feathered Serpents, birds, jaguars, Mayan houses and designs.  Chaac was the Mayan god of rain, and the honored god at Uxmal because of the often and usual lack of natural water supplies in the city. Unlike other archeological sites in the Yucatan, Uxmal does not have an on-site cenote (fresh water source). Although the Yucatán has only a few surface rivers, most Mayan cities used cenotes to access underground water, however there were no cenotes at Uxmal. Instead, it was necessary to collect water in chultunes, or cisterns, built in the ground.

Okay, enough of the history lesson…are these things amazing looking or what!  Like many wonders of the world, the best photographs simply don’t do them justice.  The height, the perfect fit and construction, functionality, and one amazing aspect that I had never heard or thought of, the “outside” acoustics of the main High Priest’s temple.  Some more history, sorry, but it makes the acoustic story make sense.

The Mayan’s used the Quetzal, a blue green bird with very long tail feathers, in their worship.  The temple was built in such a fantastic way that even today, some 2500 years later, that if you stand in front of the temple and clap your hands the echo comes back with the exact sound that the Quetzal made.  How amazing is that!  I literally lost my balance trying on a pair of shorts just 3 weeks ago.

The last thing I will try to describe is the double jaguar carving.  This carving is actually a major part of the Mayan king’s throne.  It exemplifies strength, power, cunning, and the prowess of a great hunter:  all the qualities of a god-like warrior king.

For the other pictures, all I can say is just enjoy.  Try to imagine yourself feeling about an inch tall in front of a monumental pyramid like design, towering into the sky above.  You can almost here the beat of drums, the sounds of a thriving community, and if you close your eyes, you can picture these giant structures in their original glory.  Painted red, and adorned with gold and precious stones.

A sister site to Uxmal is called Chichen Itza, and is one of the new 7 Wonders of the World.  So what else can this meager wordsmith began to say of such a place?  Not much that seems to do justice.  I know that the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico is not a 3 Hour Photo Trip, but I’m hoping you all will forgive me on that point.

So, don’t forget to click the like button, leave me a comment, and share with absolutely everyone you know.  Until next time, Enjoy Our Wonderful World!

3 Hour Photo Trips – Vacation #1

 

Well it’s great to be back!  As I stated in my last blog, my wife and I went on a cruise to Mexico with two of our friends.  The cruise was great, but the excursions were amazing.  From the local culture to the Mayan ruins and then all of the wildlife we saw in New Orleans – both on Bourbon Street and actual wildlife.

These lovely little throwbacks from the prehistoric ages were a thrill to see.  Of course we have seen them in zoos and such, but to see a wild alligator, out in the swamp, and capture its photo…what a rush of adrenaline.  We were cautious and not too close, at least according to my vast experience of being around wild alligators.  Seriously, using the Nikkor 200-500 mm lens, it looks like we were close, but we were about 10 feet away or so.  Maybe too close, but we walked away unharmed, so we’ll call it all good.

One things for certain, we saw about 4 different alligators, but who knows how many we didn’t see.  As you can see, a 4 to 6 foot alligator can hide pretty well in the moss and weeds.  Not to mention, not a whole lot of sunlight makes its way through the swamp canopy.  But again, our Nikon D7200 comes through with some great shots.

My two favorites are the ones where one eye seems to be peeking through the surrounding weeds.  It appears to be catching the whole personality of the alligator.  I’m here, but you can’t see me.  I’m stealthy.  I’m sneaky.  I’m camouflaged.  And given the chance, I’m hungry…so you really need to keep an I on me.

Probably my second favorite is the wider shot that shows the alligator and the edge of the boardwalk.  As you can see, there are no walls or anything on the sides of the boardwalk.  And the boardwalk itself is only mere inches away from alligators, snakes, lizards…and coming later, giant Lubber Grasshoppers and some of the most horrible looking spiders imaginable.

On a much lighter note, in the coming blogs you’ll see some great pictures of the coolest birds, lizards large and small, Mayan pyramids, and so much more.  So please, make sure to comment below, click the like button, and share with all your friends.  And though this is not a “3 Hour Photo Trip”, I hope you’ll let it slide.  Until next time, Enjoy Our Wonderful World!

3 Hour Photo Trips – Reelfoot Lake #4

 

Today’s blog doesn’t have any winged majesties, amazing landscapes, or fantastic and rare sightings, so it may be a little…slow.  Sorry, but I had to go there.

Simply turtles, or are they.  According to their website Reelfoot Lake is home to three different species of water turtles:  The Map Turtle, the Painted Turtle, and the Pond Slider turtle.  It appears, that without even knowing this information beforehand, Monica and I were fortunate enough to capture all three “on film” as it were.

The feature photograph at the very top is of the Painted Turtle.  We were just leaving the last part of the boardwalk and there he was, still wet and shiny, almost as if he was getting ready for a photo shoot.  With the subtle calmness of the water underneath him, it was practically a two for one shot.  Almost every detail from this beautiful turtle reflected back at me on the water’s surface.  Wonderful.

The “clean” turtle alone on the log is the Map Turtle.  He appears a little different than the other two.  The rear of his shell is ridged looking with angular sections jetting out to sharp looking points.  He too has the yellow stripes on his head and neck, but his head is most definitely a little more stocky looking.  From the look of his front legs, he is quite content to just lie there on that log and soak up some rays of sun.

Lastly is the Pond Slider turtle.  He looks just like his name suggests.  Low profile, sleek, smooth, and ready to slide away.  And in fact, that’s exactly what he did.  Right after a couple of photos were snapped, he simply just slid right back into the water below him.

Surprisingly, even though turtles are well known to be, how should I say it, slow moving, all of these little guys and the many others we saw throughout the day, were actually very quick at diving back into the water.  Time after time, almost as soon as we would step out from behind cover, these turtles would dive off of whatever log they were sunning on and disappear into the water.

The last photo in this collection is what I’m calling “Little Mossy.”  He was the exception to the rule.  He didn’t dive into the water to hide or slide off of his log to get away.  From the looks of him covered all in moss, maybe he had just had enough of being in that water.  I doubt that is the case, more likely he was just happy to be out of the cool water for a moment and catching some delightful heat and sunshine.

Even in something so seemingly insignificant as turtles, there is still a natural beauty to be discovered and enjoyed.  However, we must remember that nothing in nature is insignificant.  Freshwater turtles are a keystone amphibian and play a significant role in the aquatic ecosystem as scavengers, as well aid in the controlled population of certain fish species.  All of that aside, they’re cool to watch and observe.

Many a fable has the turtle as one its main characters:  typically exemplifying it’s steadfastness and enduring resolve.  But nature is not a fable, it is real.  So get out there and enjoy it!

As always, like, comment, and share the webpage.  A warm welcome to my new followers and the new international viewers this week from Cameroon, Portugal, and Singapore.  I will be on a vacation starting today and through next week and will not be able to post, so please take a moment today and leave me a comment or two on how you like the blog and the photos.  And until next time, Enjoy Our Wonderful World!

3 Hour Photo Trip – Reelfoot Lake #3

 

The Osprey.  Weighing up to 4.5 pounds.  Averaging 24 inches tall.  A wingspan of up to 5 feet.  With it’s size and it’s ferocity, the Osprey is a fitting compatriot with the Eagles and other birds of prey.  And what’s best, just two and half hours a way is Reelfoot Lake where there are very many of these wonderful birds.

From the beautiful boardwalk, Monica and I spotted our first Osprey.  He was flying about 100 yards out in front of us, in a mostly right to left direction.  When we saw him, both of us were so excited, as we could see that he seemed to be carrying something.  I snapped off a bunch of pictures as fast as our D7200 would take them, and with the distance involved the 200 – 500 mm lens once again saved the day.  You can actually see good detail in the feathers and face, and what I think is quite awesome, is that you can see the fish he is holding onto with his talons.

We watched him fly to a dead tree and even though it was even more of a distance away, we were able to get a couple nice shots of him eating the fish.  I would have loved to been able to get a shot of him in the process of tearing a piece of fish off (sorry to be so graphic) but it would have been a great shot of nature in action.

Of course the “on the wing” shots of him soaring across the sky are practically awe inspiring.  In the feature photo you can see him gliding across the sky and scanning the water below for his next catch.  So graceful and yet so fierce.

Taking the fast moving shots has proven to be a very difficult, as it seems like we are always fighting against shadows or not enough light period to be able to set the shutter speed high enough to get clear shots.  However, this morning, over the water, the sky was clear and the sun was bright.  So with the camera set up in Manual mode, we were able to get a shutter speed of 1/2000 and get some pretty clear photos.

Long story short, a great day with the camera and all just a couple hours away.  Don’t forget:  hit the like button, leave comments, and share with your friends.  Be sure to  come back to rmgoldsmithphotography.com any time to check in for new blogs and photos.  Until next time, Enjoy Our Wonderful World!