Marsh scenes – summer

Continuing to learn how to get best results from a 300mm lens I recently bought.  The Horicon marsh north of us is one of the best places around to see a variety of birds and scenery so I wandered around a bit to see what I could practice on.  Most of the images below are cropped from a larger composition.  Where I used it best, the lens is sharp enough to allow significant cropping and still render detail.  Great when the subjects you want simply refuse to get any closer.

Great Egret

This bird appears to have been resting from a feeding session in the marsh just below the tree.  I was able to get closer by creeping up behind other trees and shooting through open spots in the leaves.

Sandhill crane and red-winged blackbird

Earlier I was walking a dike with a small cloud of red-winged blackbirds around me, all screaming warnings to everything within hearing distance.  Experiencing that I realized they are pretty bold but didn’t realize what they would take on.  A pair of sandhill cranes were slowly feeding across a shallow marsh when they wandered into the nesting area of a group of blackbirds.  At least a half-dozen of the blackbirds were swooping around them, driving them away.  The most effective method seemed to be landing on the crane’s butt and screaming at it, like the one above.


The swallow on the left was patiently waiting on the right one for something.  As the cleaning proceeded past the limit of the left one’s patience it reached out and grabbed the other’s wing.  That got attention.

Mallard family

Families are growing this spring, as parents have just a few months to train the kids on survival and migration.

Lily still life

Before the wind gets up there are nice opportunities for some quiet scenes.

Egret hunting party

This group of egrets slowing moved across this small marsh, vacuuming up fish, frogs and other aquatic life.


He appears to be gathering moss or reeds since he’s carrying a clump in his mouth as he makes his way back to a small island of cattails.

Great egret

Always good in a portrait session to have shots from both sides.

Water running

On the road a bit, wandering around the mountains.  Found a great road in North Carolina winding around up the valleys.  With all the rain that region has been getting the streams were running faster than usual.  This particular road passes several waterfalls cutting through this narrow gorge.  It was a cloudy day so the light was soft and enabled lower contrast of the white water against the other surfaces.  Here are a couple of perspectives of Cullasaja Falls near Sugarfork, NC.

Autumn Extremes

Fall colors around here weren’t as I expected.  The many people I’ve mentioned this to are mostly likely tired of hearing about it and would prefer the seasons move on to something new.  Between being disappointed and being busy at work I’m only now starting to look through all my images to see how they may turn out.

So far a couple have caught my attention.  Neither is the grand landscape of fall quilted colors, but rather portray those aspects unique to photography of showing something usually missed or very difficult to see.

Lines of the season

Lines of the season

This one is just a close-up of a few leaves.  These were surrounded by hundreds of similar colored and shaped leaves but what caught my attention was how the lines and shadows enhanced the dimensionality of the composition.  The light was just the right angle to bring out the surface details while being bright enough to highlight the color.  All the little irregularities in the leaf, signs of its end, break up the linear nature of the image and bring some character to the subject.  It’s a scene easily missed if you are literally looking at the forest instead of the trees.

Morning Shore

Morning Shore

This one is a multi-image HDR composition, with enough exposures to enable the viewer to see the rocks as well as the clouds at sunrise.  The location overlooks Lake Michigan and that morning a strong wind was pushing 4-5 foot swells right into the rocky shoreline – hence the wispy appearance of the water.  Standing there you would be able to see the sunrise or the rocks, but probably not both – the dynamic range was too great even for human eyes.  I liked the color version but it was complex – grey rocks, green grass, pale blue water, pink/orange sunrise – and hard to decide on the subject.  Turning it into B&W resolved much of the conflict, I believe.  Now it portrays textures, from hard to soft, permanent to ethereal, giving a sense of anticipation of what might happen next across three distinct layers from bottom to top.

Getting hyped up about fall colors is easy to do since I have a history of color slides for my early photography experience.  Each year I just want to capture that feeling again, only this time with better skills and “seeing” so that I’m amazed at the images.  Some years it happens; some it doesn’t.  What I have to keep remembering is there are scenes everywhere – just have to seek them out and make something of them.