Tuesday, December 18. 2007
my photo on paddling.net, welcome! Click here to see a larger version.
Some other links that might interest you:
Friday, November 16. 2007
Comet 17P/Holmes on SpaceWeather. Last night I finally went out to have a look. Once I was out of range of our annoying streetlight and the neighbors' lighting, I was able to pick the comet out with the naked eye. It's just a smudge in the sky, but apparently that smudge is bigger than the sun.
I got my camera gear out and braved the cold to take a few photos. This one turned out OK. Now I just need a telescope and clock drive to take pictures like this.
Tuesday, July 31. 2007
Check the photo album
BugGuide Gathering. I had a great time and it was fun to meet several of the BugGuide members I've known online for years.
The meetup was at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, which was the perfect place for it. They are up a small mountain with lots of wilderness, but they've got a sizable meeting room with a PC projector and WiFi internet. One minute you're looking at moths attracted to blacklights and the next you're trying to ID it on BugGuide.
Friday the 20th I flew up to Duluth. I didn't realize that I sat next to one of the BugGuiders on the flight from Detroit. I did a little sightseeing along Lake Superior on my way north to Wolf Ridge. In the evening we met up and chatted about dragonflies and damselflies with Kurt Mead and folks who were attending the Minnesota Dragonfly Gathering simultaneously with us. After dark we set up blacklights and tried to attract some moths to the Science Building. The first few moth arrivals were subjected to papparazi-like photography. It was quite a scene. Eventually with the arrival of more moths in various places and folks going to bed, the flash gun rate dropped to a less blinding level. I was excited to see my first Polyphemus moth.
Saturday the whole group loaded up into several cars and headed for a boggy area between Finland and Isabella. It was the first time I've walked into a bog and it was fun. The mossy ground is squishy and in some places a footstep will sink just enough to flood your sandals. The bugs weren't as busy as we thought they might have been, but we still found several species of butterflies and a couple dragonflies. And I can't forget the deer fly that bit my knee. We moved on to lunch at a lake, my first of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes, or maybe the second if you include Lake Superior. At a creek with some dry brush, I did some photo hunting of beautiful red dragonflies, the white-faced meadowhawks. Just before we left I got a good photo. At the next stop we had to fix a flat on John VanDyk's car and I saw a female white-face. The final stop was the treat of the day, a beautiful large bog and a pond, with lots of damselflies. In the evening I got my first chance to try rock climbing on a very nice indoor climbing wall. That night we did some more moth blacklighting, but a cool breeze kept their numbers down. We did see a nice Laurel Sphinx, and some of the night owls were treated to views from Wolf Ridge's telescope and the sound of wolves howling in the distance.
Sunday the group started to break up as some folks had to be on their way. But several stayed and did their own exploring of Wolf Ridge. I joined up with a former Wolf Ridge guide and a forest service worker. We decided to go canoe Wolf Lake. I agreed to let them paddle and I would take pictures from the middle of the boat. Despite being an experienced paddler who should have known better, I slipped on the dock trying to get in and soaked my pants and shoes. At least the camera gear stayed dry! I eventually got in properly and we circumnavigated the lake, not seeing any bugs due to the cool weather. But we did spot a pair of beavers. After the paddle we made an easy hike up Marshall Mountain, which gave us a view of Wolf Lake, plus Raven Lake and even Lake Superior, which was a little tricky to see, since the lake was the same color as the hazy sky. After lunch I went with several folks to Raven Lake, where I made a much better showing in the canoe and did some paddling myself. Kurt Mead took the bow and captured a few damselflies right from the boat. He did a good job explaining how he made his IDs using a hand lens and a well worn field guide. Later a small group of us hiked into the wetlands on one side of Raven Lake. That evening, I enjoyed a great meal with Kurt and his family and a few other Odonata enthusiasts, and spent the night in a treehouse!
Monday I was up a little early, driving up Highway 1 looking for moose. I struck out in this endeavour, but I did get a few bugs on a poorly maintained walking trail. From there I started my run south, stopping at points along Lake Superior. First I drove up to the Palisade Head cliffs. It's precarious up there (reminds me of Jumping Off Rock), but I was careful and got some good photos. Then it was down to the Split Rock Lighthouse, a very picturesque subject, though it's probably a better photo in winter with snow all over the place and fewer tourists climbing around. From there I went to Two Harbors and had a chance to shoot the lighthouses there before returning to Duluth and the flight home.
Friday, July 6. 2007
birdsite.org. This site was inspired by BugGuide, where I've been a participant for several years, both as a photographer and a developer. I'd been thinking about doing a similar site for other fauna that I photograph. This forum thread made it clear that others were interested in such a site for birds. I decided to build it. For my own programming amusement I created this site as my first project with Ruby on Rails. I still have lots of features to add but I wanted to get the bare bones up and running.
Monday, May 14. 2007
Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America has been out since February, but I finally got my copy today. My photo of this wasp was published in it. I submitted that photo to them a couple years ago. I'm glad the book is finally out, and congrats to the many BugGuiders who have photos in it.
Tuesday, December 19. 2006
I'm excited that some of my photos were recently published in a book and a magazine, both firsts for me. A photo of a water strider near Stevens Creek, SC was included in a new kids' book, "The Real Thing! Stinkbugs & Other Bugs." It's an interesting book for a kid, complete with a real stinkbug specimen and scratch-and-sniff stinkbug smell! It was fun to see other BugGuide photographers published in the book as well.
Also check out the February 2007 issue of Backpacker Magazine. There's an article on paddling in the Everglades and they used this photo of Jen in the mangrove tunnel between Coot Bay and Coot Bay Pond. I've got to get back down there and do some more paddling and bird photography.
Now if only National Geographic would put me on assignment....
Wednesday, November 15. 2006
Lake Jocassee. It was featured recently in South Carolina Wildlife magazine (a good article, but that magazine could really use some maps for all its field trips...currently they just give all the directions in text).
On our way to the mountains, we made a brief stop at the Hagood Mill, a "living history" type museum where you can buy grits and flour actually made from the water-powered mill. They also have some petroglyphs there but they weren't yet ready for display.
The Jocassee vista lies nine miles from Highway 178 across the rough dirt-and-gravel Horsepasture Road. We left the asphalt and headed into the hills. Soon we passed the trailhead for Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve, site of an incomplete hiking attempt from 2004. I plan to hike that trail again someday but this wasn't the day.
We passed an open gate along the road. To limit the stress on wildlife, the road is open only September 15 to January 1, and March 20 to May 10. You can still go on foot/bikes/horseback when the gates are closed, but you'll be in for a workout, as it's a 12-mile round trip.
At eight miles from the highway we reached the "North Carolina Overlook," a clear spot in the foliage with a view north. It wasn't obvious where the border was, but we could see a long way across the valley to the mountains on the other side. White spots dotted the landscape in the distance and they became houses through binoculars.
The Foothills Trail runs through the area, and we followed it along the creek looking for Laurel Fork Falls. There is a nice camping area near the top of the falls, but it offered no view. We backtracked and followed the trail. A sign indicated a view of the falls was nearby, but all we could find was a small hole in the foliage. We could see the falls but it was not worth photographing through. Apparently the best way to see the falls is by water anyway. We decided we had other priorities and hiked back to the truck.
On the way back to the ridge we passed a logging loader at the side of the road in a seemingly difficult-to-access place. I stopped to take a picture and unexpectedly kicked a Georgia license plate out of the leaf litter. It had expired in 1999.
We got back to the Horsepasture Road and continued on. Soon we passed another campsite that had some occupants. Then we came upon an open field which is used for helicopter access. Too bad we didn't have a chopper; it would make the trip much faster! Finally we arrived at the destination...Jumping Off Rock.
The view was great and totally worth the bumpy ride. The cliff was the perfect lunch spot. We watched a few tiny boats cruise almost silently across the lake. We spotted a lone kayaker on the part of the lake closest to us; he was small even through the binoculars. After lunch I spent some time photographing the scenery. The light could have been better, but I guess gives me an excuse to come back.
We took a different road off the mountain. Cane Creek Road didn't offer much in the way of scenery. We passed an area where they were actively logging. I'm not sure what the protection status is for this land, so the logging was probably OK. We got stuck behind an 18-wheeler hauling logs off the hill. It was surprising to see a big truck like that on the rough roads. Eventually we got to a wide spot where he let us pass.
The sun was starting to get low but we decided to make one last stop. We headed for Twin Falls and eventually found the right road. It's only a short hike from the parking area to the falls, and they certainly were beautiful. But once again we arrived at a poor time for photography; most of the falls were in the shade, but the top was brightly lit by the sun. I got some OK shots but it's another place I want to revisit.
A long day of riding in the truck, but worth it!
See the full photo album.
Thursday, October 19. 2006
rose-breasted grosbeak. After the grosbeak, another unusual visitor showed up. This bird was a dirty yellow with a beige beak. It returned frequently and I was able to get some good photos using only a 100mm lens. I thought it was a tanager, but I had to show it to some more birders before our friends Baird and Ed decided it was a female summer tanager. She ate the berries differently; she would grab one and squash it with her beak, then somehow work the soft part of the berry out without eating the skin. She visited the Mahonia every day for about 10 days, and then was gone for good. Perhaps it was an extended rest on her migration north.
I posted my best shot of the tanager in my online photo album, but I never bothered to link to it from anywhere. Through the magic of search engines, an artist looking for wildflower images happened upon it. She liked it so much that she asked to be able to paint it, and I agreed. Just recently she sent me a scan of the finished product. I'm impressed. It's an honor to have someone think highly enough of your work to want to create something new from it. Here they are; the photo and the painting, side-by-side. Camille Engel does beautiful work...stop by her website!
Friday, October 13. 2006
A photo I took of an Eggplant Flea Beetle (Epitrix fuscula) a couple years ago was published in a USDA web article.
We planted a couple eggplants in our vegetable garden and I remember these little guys were everywhere, eating holes in the leaves. True to their name, they hopped like fleas if you disturbed them.
Tuesday, August 29. 2006
paddling.net photo of the week. See more of my pictures from the Canadian Rockies.
A long time ago I got this photo from Lake Jocassee and this one from the Sparkleberry Swamp picked for photos of the week.
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