I'm on kind of a whirlwind tour visiting friends in Illinois.  We've been doing a lot of different things.  In between doing a lot of computer work, we've been doing some shooting.

First, I was able to get the lens on one of the many killdeer in the area.

While there, I was treated to a visit to a local falconer.  He had some Harris Hawk chicks that he was kind enough to let us photograph.  These are about 2 weeks old.

Later a friend came over and we shot some portraits in a more pastoral theme.

Not content with just that, we moved over to Chicago, and were treated to a nighttime lightning storm over the downtown area.

Moving on, we went over to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago to see the jellyfish exhibit.  They make absolutely fascinating photographic subjects.

As I said, it's been quite a whirlwind.  We've certainly been busy, but this trip has definitely provided an opportunity for many different aspects of photography.  The subjects have all been different and every situation has required different equipment and techniques.  In short, it's been a blast!



As I wander along this path of being a nature and wildlife photographer, I think about vision. Well, lately, I've been thinking that mine is failing. But, aside from that, I think about the art of seeing.

I just got back from a trip to Oregon. I had a chance to get out and do some shooting. Here I was in some of the most scenic country in the US, and I had to learn how to see it.

We started early, and even though the sun was up when we arrived at our destination, it was hidden by fog and was burning through the clouds below.

When we reached our destination in the Columbia Gorge, we first photographed Wahkeena Falls.  The waterfall was pretty well obscured with vegetation from our vantage point, so I concentrated on the stream.  The trick was to look carefully, and see the composition of rocks and moving water.

Next, we moved on to one of the most spectacular waterfalls I've ever seen, Multnoma Falls.

The "money" shot is of course the "grand vista" of the falls.  I really like the fact that there are people on the bridge.  It provides scale to the photo.  I think this is the shot most people walk away with.  But as we explored other falls, I realized that there was real value in the details.

A couple days later, we explored Silver Falls State Park.  Another nice waterfall produced this shot.

This is the shot I was looking for.  But as I walked around, I started to "see" more. The stream was creating lots of pools and eddies in the current.  As we began to notice these details, new photographs began to appear before me.  By lowering the camera and isolating patterns, new images began to take shape.

Then by just moving a few feet to my right, I came up with my favorite photograph.

We all have the vision to see the obvious.  What I have to do is train myself to acquire the vision to see the smaller details.



This week I had a chance to go stay with some nice people in Illinois.  In addition to some work we had to do, we decided to work in some photography.  As we were trying to photograph local wildlife, I was reminded that success was all about time.  First, we wanted to photograph early morning birds, which meant that the keyword was "early".  We headed out a little after 5:00am.  If you want to photograph birds, you have to do it when the light is good, and the birds are out feeding.  Even heading out that early, we were a little late.

I did manage to get a shot of this pair of cardinals coming in to feed.

But there's more to it than just the time of day.  Just because you're there on time, doesn't mean the animals are going to get there when you want them to. Often, I count time in the number of times I have to visit a location to find the animals I want. In this case, I wanted photographs of a great blue heron. I knew they were in the area, but we had to get them in close.

The first day, not very good luck. I made a little too much noise getting into the blind, and the lone heron on the pond flew before we could get anything good. I had to be content with shooting Canada geese and young goslings. Not a bad result, but not what I was looking for.

The next day, things worked out a little better. Still, it didn't come easily.  The heron worked it's way around the pond toward us, but then flew unexpectedly. Then it came back later. It worked it's way around the pond from the other side coming the other way, then flew unexpectedly again. At least this time I got a close shot.

Still, we waited.  He came back again, and began working the opposite shore, but steadily toward us. This time when he flew, I was ready. Keeping focus locked, I was able to capture his wings in a good position.

Again, timing made the difference.

Like I said, it's all about time.


Storm Chasing - Last Day

Storm chasing gets you out and about, and you get to see lots of things.  Some expected, some not.  Today we headed south in Texas again, in search of storm activity that looked to have a good chance of building up.

On our way, we had a little time to kill, and we found this great Texas farm scene.

The storms kind of fizzled out, but we did manage to find a rainbow.

The light was really nice as we drove down the road past wheat fields.  By shooting with a slow shutter speed, and utilizing the speed of the van, I was able to make a nice blur photo.

And then the real icing on the cake.  We happened to be in good position to photograph the solar eclipse.  There were just enough clouds to make it interesting.

All I can say is, what a great way to wind up a fun week storm chasing.


And Now For The Weather...

Well, the day started out as pretty ordinary.  There was only a 5% chance of severe weather.  We moved from North Platte, Nebraska to Wichita, Kansas.  As we approached the Wichita area, we could see the weather begin to build.  The radar started showing possible good storms, and the chase was on!

As we passed through a small town with the great name of Pretty Prairie, Kansas it started looking good.  Before long, as we neared Warner, Kansas we spotted our first tornado!

This turned out to be the first of 5 that we saw this day.  Storm chasers began to gather along the road.

Even the TIV ( Tornado Intercept Vehicle) specifically designed for this task came by.

A definite tornado, right was accompanied by what was either a ground spout or another tornado.

The tornado at times rose and drew material up from the ground.

All in all we saw 5 funnels as we raced to keep up with the storm.  It was quite a day.