30 Minutes in the Life: January 2021: Sunset

So, January is practically over. It has been a tumultuous start to the year, just when I thought things were going to be better for all of us. Some days I just need to get away from it all. For the most part I am hibernating in my office working fortunately. Aside from the virus, and the political stuff, my daughter and her husband packed up their apartment in preparation for it being sold, and along with their 2 cats, moved into our house. So we are a family of 4 adults, 4 cats and 1 bird. My Ms Moo is not a happy cat right now. She is scared of her shadow and now Amy’s two cats are stalking her. She is in hiding most of the time. Snow has also taking to staring down the bird.

In addition, I joined 52 Frames. So this is my 4th project 52 for the year. I feel like my goal so far is to get out and take the photo’s I need for each week. This weeks theme was water. There is a great pond up at the national park that I love to take photos at. So Thursday evening I packed up 5 lens (17-40 mm, 28-135 mm, 70-300 mm, 150-600 mm & Lensbaby Sweet 135) and I headed up to the park to check out the owl, take photo’s of the pond and watch the sunset. While our property backs up to the edge of the Everglades there is no access into the area from our home. We are also separated by two small canals.

In the end my 52 Frames image was taken at the sunset and I will post it here as it is the only image in black and white.

The owl was high up in the tree so it is really hard to see him that well. The female is in the nest and she seems to sit behind the main part of the tree. This was the best I could get of him.

It always fascinates me how the the setting sun changes so much. I started out at the pond and the light was this golden brown color.

I headed down to the water line at the edge of the Everglades and I really did not think this was going to be a great evening. The cloud was thick and low and I was not going to bet the full sun. It felt dark and sort of dingy for a sunset. I also did not realize that I had moved my FStop to 9. Obviously I must have done it up near the owl. I started out with the Lensbaby Sweet 35. One of my P52’s is to use the Lensbaby Optics that are taking up space in my lens drawer.

Lensbay Sweet 35
Lensbaby Sweet 35

From here on out it was a case of changing lens to get wide angle, a bit closer, much closer and super close. One of my favorite things that typically happen at sunset is the birds flying by. Quite often, although it did not happen this evening, you get to watch the murmuration of the grackles and that is a beautiful dance in the sky. Below is a flock of Ibis flying by.

28-135 mm
Lensbaby Sweet 35

People aside, we often get a number of different species, below is the Great Blue Heron.

150-600 mm

Fly by’s happen fast and you have to keep watching. Below is a larger flock of Ibis, all heading south. I would love to know where that land up each evening. I have no idea what bird is in the second image below, but chances are it was a slow moving Ibis.

70-300 mm
70-300 mm
70-300 mm
28-135 mm
28-135 mm

Grackles will fly into the area in the hundreds. On Thursday there were not that many but I was so glad I had brought up with beast with me to get in super close.

150-600 mm
150-600 mm

What was pretty neat was that the Grackles on the edge of the water were taking a bath at sunset. Hence the first image and the water drops.

150-600 mm

As the sun got lower the sky got more reddish orange and really intense.

70-300 mm

More Ibis below as the sun is setting. From the silhouette, the birds in the second image look like a flock of cattle egret.

70-300 mm
70-300 mm

At this point I kind of figured the sun was done, and the mosquito were going to be out shortly, so I headed back to my car. I could not resist turning around to take a silhouette.

28-135 mm

Halfway done the ramp, I discovered my friend walking up. She told me not to leave, she wanted to talk to me, and she convinced me that the final rays would get better. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. This time it certainly did. The sky lit up and I was so glad that she told me to stay.

28-135 mm
28-135 mm
17-40 mm

Nothing like kayaking at sunset in a alligator infested water. Oh yes, there are often alligators swimming in the water.

17-40 mm

Finally the mosquito’s got to much for us and we headed back to the car. I managed to capture the last silhouette before diving into my car, with a couple of mosquito for company. Nothing like being bitten all the way home.

70-300 mm

The Florida Everglades is a grassy, slow moving river, a natural marshland, which is habitat to hundreds of animals. There are various different different areas to the Everglades. There are the mangroves at the coast, the sawgrass marshlands and the pine flatwoods. You will find endangered species like manatee, American crocodile, and the Florida Panther.

This particular park, that I go to, has walking trails, and it would not be uncommon to have an alligator cross the trail in front of you. I recently saw Turkey Vulture eating a dead animal. There is a lot of birdlife if you get out and walk, and the owls have come in to nest. Two weeks ago there was a pair of mating Sandhill Cranes. There are also Bobcat in the park.

The walking in the area is great. I managed to get out and do a two mile walk but I was constantly watching for Alligator on the edge of the banks. I didn’t see Alligator but I did see a great big iguana. Unlike the wetlands, here we are on the same level as the Alligator.

When the bushes behind out house were cut short we used to be able to see the deer running along the edge of the Everglades past our home.

The park is great for walking, however, my this is by far my favorite spot to go and watch the sunset.

Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Stacy of Threadbarems. You will definitely love what she shares. I am always inspired with what she has to offer.

Sunsets are my favorite time of day: December 2020

Mornings are not my time of day. I will confess that I am a night owl. I read late, and hate to wake up. The whole change in our lives, as a result of Covid, has saved me a 1 hour work drive. That means 1 hour extra of sleep time. Now if I could just get the cats on board with my story I would be over the moon. No they want their food at 6am. Seriously Dudes!!

However on the flip side I love the evenings, especially now in the winter time zone. It gets darker earlier, so I don’t feel like half my evening time is gone by the time I have got my photographs and got back home.

Recently I got a message from a friend saying that she was heading out to Loxahatchee Everglades National Park to watch the sunset, so I decided to join her. It’s always nice when there are a few other people around as it can get quite lonely when it is dark.

I always stop at at pond first to see what is happening, and whether I feel like I will get a decent image across the water, before heading up to the canal that edges the slow moving river that floats through the Florida Everglades

While chatting to my friends, I spotted a local gator hanging out in the water. This guy will come out to play a little later on.

One of my favorite things to watch is the murmurations of the Grackle as they head to the national park in the evening. some evenings there are hundreds of them flying across the sky. It is such a beautiful sight to see and such a musical dance in the sky.

We also get the single fly by’s. You will hear someone say “bird” and all camera’s go up to capture the bird, This night we had a few random birds fly by.

I had taken a couple of different lens with me and this is my wide angle. I just loved the swirls of the clouds.

As I mentioned earlier this alligator would appear again. It was moseying along the water when I spotted it in the sunlight. Suddenly it started swimming a bit faster and changed direction. It was swimming towards the reeds. On the edge of the reeds swimming obliviously along were two Moorhens, squawking like they normally do. Then very next thing we heard was a loud squawk and one Moorhen flew into the bushes and the other walked on water. A little fast for me to capture it as well as I would have liked to.

Walking back to the car I happened to turn around and found the perfect silhouette of the night. Watching the sunset is a great way to spend a bit of time.

Thanks for stopping by. If you don’t do it often, now is the time with the social distancing to just be quiet. To go to places where few others go. To enjoy the beauty of our creation.

Please continue to stay safe, healthy and keeping a low profile. This too shall pass. If I do not blog again before Christmas. Please have a wonderful festive season even if it is just a small group. Fortunately for us we have no family in the US and so celebrating in a small group is not unusual. If you are not celebrating Christmas but rather something else, I hope you have a blessed time.

Look out for another post at the end of the month, if not before.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

30 Minutes in the Life: November 2020

Female Grackle

For the longest time I have felt like my 70-300mm is just not enough when I walk in the wetlands. However, when I came to replace my existing zoom lens, I was facing bills for my Sims and his lung issues. I was very reluctant to spend over a $1000-00 on a lens. So I bought the cheaper replacement lens. But it bugged me. I still could not get what I wanted

Palm Warbler
Four Spotted Pennant

I, by chance, was looking at a lens group on Facebook and decided to search the lens I had been looking at. It is always a risk to do that as you never know what you are going to get. However, this person was living in the same town as my son. My son also had a Canon camera, so I asked him set up to meet the photographer and check out the lens. If he thought the lens was in good condition, and worth purchasing then to go ahead and get it. The upside it cost half the price of a brand new one.

Female Grackle
Male Grackle

He liked the lens. In fact he liked it so much he informed me that he may have to keep it. Mmmm … no!

Green Heron
Mockingbird

He bought the lens. I had to wait. We were meeting up in Georgia, and I would only be able to get it from him then. He gave me the box and it was like Christmas. I opened up the box, was super excited, and then realized Sigma has different terminology to Canon. That meant I had to do some reading, which I only did when I got back home.

Great Blue Heron

Of course, we did not go straight home. Nope we went to Charleston. You can imagine my patience level. I really wanted to figure this out. Finally we are back home and I can to my reading, do my testing and then I am ready to hit the road this this beaut.

Green Heron

I have named the lens “The Beast”. Why? Because it is pretty darn heavy. It weighs 4.3 pounds. You are dragging this baby around for 2 miles. Not sure if that is what is giving me a sore shoulder but I am going to suck it up and figure out how to make the should area stronger.

Needham’s Skimmer
Green Heron

The first time I walked out, I found a comfortable position to hold the camera. However, what I found is that this lens is heavy and stabilizing the movement was not as easy as I thought. I found myself having to rest my arms on the boardwalk to give some level of stability. It will get better with time I am sure.

Ornate pennant
Little Blue Heron

When I got home I found that my fingers were sore. Obviously I was clutching at the lens.

Black & White Warbler
Four spotted pennant

I can tell you that I am very happy with the lens. I love the images and the ability to get so much closer to the critters just makes me happy.

Iguana
Four spotted pennant

I am have been out a couple of times since then, lugging the beast. I am excited. I just want to see everything in close up these days. What I will say is this lens will not be doing street photography, or travel photography, unless I am hunting wild horses to photograph. I will take this lens to the wetlands and places that I feel will be suitable for it’s use.

Please continue to stay safe, wherever you are in the world. Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Ceri of Ceri Herd Photography.   You will definitely love what she shares. I am always inspired with what she has to offer.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Tell me a Story: November 2020

Green Heron

If you read my previous post, you will have learned that I bought a new camera lens that I have aptly named “The Beast” simply because it is so heavy. I decided to have a second attempt out with my new friend. I have to be honest I love that I can pull the images up so much closer. I walked in the smaller of the two wetlands not expecting to see much but I was pleasantly surprised.

Anhinga
Red Shouldered Hawk

I don’t often get to see hawk in the wetlands and when I do they are pretty far away, but this guy was up in the trees. Fortunately I looked up and then spent some time watching him and hoping he would turn to face me, but he did not.

Alligator Flag pods
Green Heron
Spiny Orb Weaver
Blue Heron

It was around this time I got caught in the rain. Oops, I did not bring my bigger backpad and a lens this size does not fit easily under my shirt. This was a warning lesson for me. Fortunately, with a bit of a run, I was able to get to a small gazebo to hang out under until the rain was done. It was a little hard to social distance with 6 other people, however, they were all wearing masks.

Anihinga
Cormorant

I saw this Cormorant from a distance and hoped and prayed that the walkers would not frighten it away.

Alligator

Meanwhile I had to stop and check out the Alligator while I was passing by.

Alligator Flag
Cormorant

So I think this Cormorant must be the park’s mastiff. He did not move, hardly blinked an eye, in fact just continued to pose for me.

Cormorant

Leaving the park and heading to the parking I spotted this tiny little Palm Warbler flitting along the fence and then dropping to the pathway. What a cutie it is.

Palm Warbler
Alligator Flag
Palm Warbler

Thank you for joining me this month as we spend time sharing another day in our lives. This is a small group of bloggers so when one or two are out it seems like it is a quiet month for blogs however, this is a circle blog.  Take some time to view what the other artist has for you this month. My friend Lupji Photography is up next and I can’t wait to read what he has to share.

Tell me a Story: October 2020

Woo Hoo, I am on 2 weeks vacation. We are going to be doing some hiking during the second week. I started looking at shoes and thinking I made need some new sneakers. Although I am so accident prone I probably need a good pair of boots to stabilize my ankles. I am already thinking that one of the hikes has a lot of tree roots across it and I am going to be watching my feet more than the walk. Added to that my feet have never felt right since I had the foot surgery. This is probably the most extensive walking I will do – 3 days of hiking, 3 days of coming home and putting them into the jacuzzi until I can walk again 😦

So I bought a new pair of sneakers. Now I have to make sure I can walk some distance in them. So Thursday evening I decided to go for a walk in the wetlands. I did the 2 mile walk. Ambitiously, I decided I would go the next day and watch the sunrise in the wetlands. I walked the mile loop and then decided to go back to the previous wetlands and walk that as well. By the end of the 3 miles I was feeling it. So I will be doing a few more walks this week.

Here are a few of images that came out of all that walking :).

Boat Tailed Grackle (Male)
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Alligator Flag
Roseate Spoonbill
Just a simple feather
The season is changing
Tri-colored Heron
Purple Swamphen
More signs of winter
Red-wing Blackbird (female)
Yellow Billed Cuckoo with a tasty snack in it’s beak
Roseate Spoonbill
Common Whitetail Skimmer
Redwing Blackbird (male_

Thank you for joining me this month as we spend time sharing another day in our lives. This is a quiet month for blogs however, this is a circle blog.  Take some time to view what the other artist has for you this month. My friend Beth of E Beth Williams Photoblog is up next and I can’t wait to read what she has to share.