A Couple More Sunsets with Boats and Pelicans

Saturday evening, I looked out the window and saw a really fiery sunset.  I made my way to Ponce Park to find that everyone else had gone to watch it too and finding a quiet space without a lot of people in the foreground was going to be tough.  So, I went down to the fishing pier and found that it had been a great day for boating and there were quite a few coming for the night.  Here’s the one I liked best.


I made a couple of exposures as the boat came down the channel but it’s position relative to the horizon and the dark silhouette I was getting weren’t satisfactory.  The only flash I had with me was the little popup on top of the camera.  I used it hoping to get some detail on the boat to avoid the large black blob for a foreground.  It could be better but I gotr just about what I wanted from it.

That same evening I managed to capture some pelicans flying home to the mangroves to roost for the night.


I went back Sunday to try again and managed this one.


I think that will satisfy my sunset cravings for a while but, they are so magnificent here it’s hard not to fill a hard-drive with them.

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A cloudless sunset

We usually get spectacular sunsets when there are a few clouds to capture color.  Sometimes there is enough haze to get on color over the entire sky.


When you get one like this you need something to add to it.  In this case, I managed to catch a small boat coming in through the channel with the sun between a couple of palm trees.  I wish the guy behind the tree had moved a bit to his left but I took what I could get.


A few seconds later and it was all over except for a quieter panorama shot.

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An Exhausting Wildlife Safari

As everyone knows, wildlife photographers must risk life and limb lugging heavy equipment in and out of jungles and deserts to get amazing shots of natual beauty.

Well, Florida is a little strange.  See Carl Hiassen or Dave Barry for more detailed examples.

Yesterday I had to run a few errands far across the Peace River in Port Charlotte.  There was a bit of time between a couple of scheduled appointments so I did a little pre-season scouting of some of my favorite photo locations.  The first was the Audubon-Pennington Preserve which is right in the middle of a residential development.  I didn’t have long so I just walked into the entrance 30 yards or so to see what state it was in.  It’s early for migratory birds so I just took a macro lens and stopped at one small bush which sported a  yellow primrose.  Purely by chance a small beetle landed between an opening bud and an open flower.  Naturally, I took it’s picture.


It crawled up on the open flower to give be a better pose and then left.


A wasp landed on the bud a few inches away and allowed me to take it’s picture.


When I brought my attention back to the open flower I discovered that another wasp, this one  a tiny, wingless variety had moved in.


In its turn, it was chased away by a Metallic Green Bee.


All of this activity in the space of 5 inches and five minutes.  If I had a little more time I could have turned to me left and started on the dragonflies at the side of the canal.

But I had another appointment to keep so I went off to attend to it.  Afterwards I decided to check on another local gem.  The Wal-Mart on Kings Highway.  Florida is low and lush with a lot of rain in some seasons.  Wal-Mart’s have large parking lots and have to accomodate runoff in an environmentally friendly manner with retention areas.  This usually leads to some interesting natural locations.  I pulled in behind the store and immediately saw a Great Blue Heron hunting.  He was in luck and quickly had a large catfish in his bill.  While I was grabbing my camera, it flew away.  That was disappointing at first until it brought its catch closer to a small area to complete the kill before eating it.


The bird needs to do this so that the catfish cannot harm its throat with its barbs when the heron is swallowing it.  After a successful catch and kill the heron managed to swallow the fish whole.



You can almost hear the belch in this shot.


This one is beginning to show the bright blue eye patches of mating colors so the season will be starting soon.  After lunch the heron did a few flybys for me.



And just behind me was the truck unloading zone for a superstore.

Whew, a whole 25 minutes of shooting and a total hiking distance of about 50 yards.

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From the Rookery

On my way to the Chalk Festival in Venice, I stopped off at the Venice Rookery just to see what activity there was.  One pair of Great Blue Herons was nest building but there wasn’t much other activity.  Things will be picking up in another month or so.

I did see some Common Gallinules that were acting very uncommonly.  These little birds of the Rail family are generally seen swimming along quite placidly or sometimes walking on thick vegetation with their odd feet.  During mating season they will quibble with each other and it always looks like they are running on top of the water with long splashy strides.


You can see here the trail left by the one on the right as he attacked another suitor for the local glamor girl.  Outside of this they seldom do much.  But, a while ago I found one that decided it would perch in a tree like the other birds.  Unusual and it gives a great view of their unusual foot structure.


At the rookery this day I saw something even more unusual.  A Moorhen (sorry, the birders changed the name) Common Gallinule actually flying.



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The Venice Chalk Festival – A Matter of Perspective


The Venice Chalk Festival opened today and carries on through the weekend at the Venice Airport festival grounds.  The theme is Peace and Love and, as you might suspect, there were a lot of Hippie themes, Beatles, and stuff.  This one is the famous picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono and their Bed-in for Peace.  It was clearly being developed to be seen from a low position where the appearance would look more realistic.


Plenty of the works under development were obviously derivatives adapted to the theme.  For example, this fellow was taking Vermeer’s ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ and adapting it to the theme by turning her pearl earring into a dangly peace symbol and adding a slogan to her scarf.


When I went back a little later he had added a lot of fine detail to the eye.  This one is going to look great over the weekend.


At the very end was a large work which at first looked rather chaotic.  The sun angle was such that it was difficult to get a good shot without including my own shadow, lower left.


The spindly shadow to the right held an interesting prismatic lens.  Looking through it gave you an idea of what the image was supposed to look like.


It was obviously intended to be seen from a higher perspective.  I tried a shot holding the camera as high up as I could reach.  That’s me on the left.  A guy in a ball cap looking through the prismatic lens to the right and a scaffold shadow running over me.


A Scaffold? Hmmmm, there wasn’t anything saying I couldn’t use it so I did.


With a bit more work from the artist down there  front right of the lady in the red top and a better sun angle, this one is going to be fantastic over the weekend.

The art work at this festival is just great.

Ya know, if I had just paid more attention to coloring inside the lines in Kindergarten I might never have taken up photography 🙂


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Pair A Lelicans

Photographically, not a great shot.  The bird in front is a bit soft and the wingtip of the following bird touches the edge of the frame.

I couldn’t resist the play on words for a title though.


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A more conventional sunset

Taken on another day but still Ponce Park.


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Sunsets aren’t always about the color

I took this one tonight November 2.  The color was concentrated on the horizon but the clouds above remained dramatic with a gap showing part of one high cloud still fully illuminated.  A bit of reflection added some detail in the water for a nice shot.


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Airshow – Dracula

One of the entertainers has named his aircraft Dracula with an appropriate Black/Silver/Red color scheme with ‘blood’ streaming along the Cowling, Landing Gear and Rudder.


This is a high energy act with lots of twists and turns and SMOKE, lots and lots of smoke.  That made it tough at times since the residual show smoke from the last pass didn’t always dissipate before the next making for foggy pictures.  I did manage to grab a couple though.


That one was at fairly low altitude but he did go waaay up to do a falling leaf / flat spin type maneuver.  Even at 500mm the aircraft looked pretty small.


I liked the way the smoke swirled about the aircraft but when I cropped I got a lot of noise.  That didn’t mean I couldn’t do anything with it though.  Converting it to black and white and working with contrast to retain detail in the smoke gave me a much more dynamic image.


Another fun day in Punta Gorda!

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Airshow – The Class of ’45

It’s the Florida International Airshow in Punta Gorda.  One of the acts is two warbirds built in 1945.  An F51 Mustang named Quick Silver and an F4U Corsair named Korean War Hero.

While they each had their flying act they made a couple of passes together.  Since the USAF didn’t have any significant ground presence they did a flyby with a couple of F16s but the pilots trained for heritage flights weren’t there.


The formation was really tight.


And as a finally they had an opposing pass.  Since their approach speed was better than 400MPH I was pleased to get this shot of the crossing.  Thanks to both of them for a great act.


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