Challenge II

July 31, 2010

One of my favorite trees recently had an argument with gravity, and lost.  That’s too bad, it was a very cool tree.  And I was just thinking about climbing it…

“Snap!”

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A Challenge

July 21, 2010

I’ve been spending (too much) time on Flickr looking at other people’s images recently.  There are a lot of outstanding images, but after awhile it gets a bit overwhelming and everything starts to blur together and I feel like I’m looking at the same images over and over.  It’s actually giving me a headache just thinking about it!  Some amazing photographers have commented about the number of images being posted online and have pondered what it means.  What can one person contribute when there are already billions of photos online?  Perhaps the end result should not be the primary goal, but instead the process of creating should be what matters most.  I find that the times that I push myself to discover new places and improve the quality of my work, are the events that I value the most.

As a result, I have challenged myself to ‘find’ more images in nature and attempt to push my creativity and compositional skills to the next level.  I feel like I know my local area like the back of my hand, but it is astonishing how many photographic subjects go unseen, when you aren’t actively open to seeing new things.  I have a feeling this will be a very educational challenge.  So far, the successful images are few and far between, but that is all part of the process.  Here are a few of the better ones, although they do have their significant flaws.  Consider this a work in progress…

“Time Machine”

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Birds of Prey

July 14, 2010

I’ve been getting some great raptor and owl shots recently.  It looks like our local pair of White-tailed Kites will be triple-clutching this year.  The first clutch only had two fledglings, but their second nest fledged five!  They are starting to hunt on their own and it is a thrill to watch all of the wheeling around the sky and practicing their hovering.

There are also at least two Barn Owls roosting in the palms at the park.  We have been seeing them with uncanny regularity in the evenings.  The squawking of the Night Herons seems to wake them and within minutes they are out hunting.  One nearly caught something 25 feet in front of us last night.  I only wish I could see as well as they do at night (and that my camera could too!)

“Juvenile White-tailed Kite”  –  Goleta, CA

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Incredible Encounter

July 11, 2010

We had an interesting encounter with one of the bobcats a few days ago.  I spotted the young female walking through some brush, so we circled around and waited for her to appear on the opposite side.

We made it over just in time for her to appear moments later.  She took a casual look at us and proceeded to walk away before dashing into the brush after something.  We didn’t want to get any closer since she was obviously hunting, and I decided to shoot some video with my DSLR in case she came out with a rabbit or gopher.  Well she did come back out but we couldn’t tell what the heck she had caught.  She was very energetically batting it around and it appeared to keep changing shapes.  It wasn’t until we got home that we discovered that she had “caught” a snake!

I say “caught”, because after batting it around a bit she all of a sudden started trotting our way very quickly.  The snake was a Kingsnake, which is not venomous but it will mimic the rattle of a rattlesnake by vibrating its tail against dry brush.  It’s possible that the snake did this and successfully scared her away.  In any case, whatever happened was far more frightening than heading towards two people.  She actually got within a few feet of us before walking down another trail where she proceeded to stalk a rabbit.  In the photo below, you can see that she is still listening for the snake as she heads our way.