Adult Wood Stork – Inquisitive Portrait

•November 8, 2019 • 7 Comments

 

 

Even though I feel the magnificent wood stork has been featured here perhaps a time too many, I played with this one just the same with no plans to post. But every time I encountered that inquisitive expression looking right at me on my big screen and it seemed to say put me up!! Why not!!???

So with all due request for forbearance I give you another wood stork. The original image is color with a blue sky with some clouds. But, the expression seemed like a great pose for an avian portrait so I went for it. I converted the image to a black and white and adjusted the tonal range to my liking and burned the edges a bit. Then just overlaid a nice texture layer mostly in gray tones with some muted purple tones in the upper corners. Then masked out the texture off the bird itself putting instead a low opacity color layer to just tone down the white feathers to go with the background and not be so stark against it. I thought the lighting was very agreeable on the bird and good to work with.

In hopes you enjoy the effort and I promise no more wood storks until next bird season. Hard to believe I am even saying that as I never, when I first starting shooting birds, ever thought I’d have so many opportunities to capture what was once a highly endangered species here in Florida. Here’s to preservation efforts that actually have made a difference.

 

As Ever,

Judy

 

 

 

 

Drops of Fire Flag

•November 1, 2019 • 12 Comments

 

Thalia geniculata aka bent alligator-flag, arrow root or my favourite name for it, fire-flag is quite common in the wetlands of South Florida. I suppose it is a good early warning plant and perhaps why it is called alligator flag as its broad leaves and flowers on delicate stalks will wave around when an alligator is moving through them. If you are a birder there is no better spot to find Purple Gallinules than among the lance shaped leaves and waving purple bow ties. Gallinules just love them!! The lush environment they provide is nothing short of a tropial eden visually.

I have found over time trying to capture nice sharp images of these flowers to be challenging as they do move quite easily and in an irregular pattern at the slightest hint of a breeze. Still days are a rarity and even more so at the particular times when I happen to have the opportunity to be taking pictures of them.  If the lighting is just right and the flowers a bit backlit, from a distance the drops of lavendar dripping from the tops of those tender stalks look like little purple lights blinking over the wetland as they move.

I cannot now show you the long view I have yet to capture the way I want, but the day I took these pictures was remarkably still for periods and you can see how pretty and unusal the little blossoms are and how they might catch the light and glow with their pale color against the deep greens. The last image was from a long time ago but shows the leaves and flowers complete with a hungry Gallinule for context.

 

Purple Gallinule balances on leaves and stems of fireflag seeking its delicate purple blossoms

Judy

 

Lousiana Heron – Egretta Tricolor – in leafy shadows

•October 27, 2019 • 15 Comments

 

Audubon’s ‘Lady of the Waters’, Egretta tricolor also known as the Louisiana Heron never fails to appeal. The bird pictured here seems to me to be a young adult with its full slate coloring not yet established with a good deal of brownish coloring of the young fledgling remaining on its neck and head. I found the bird in the depths of its arborial abode, where the herons often nest, camouflaged well with coloring like the branches and hidden by shadows of leaves as light filters through. Slate and copper contrast nicely with the various greens of its background. The dainty heron has always been on of my favourites and watching the nestlings scamper about the colony like monkeys especially entertaining.  On at least two occasions this species was the culprit in going after white egret eggs and that of a green heron I was watching. Parent herons alternate guarding their nests quite diligently as they are not entirely safe even from their neighbors.

Louisiana Herons are constant residents of South Florida and I greatly look forward to the upcoming nesting season. When Fall arrives here in Florida with its drier, cooler air, the season of winter visitors and early nesting is in the offing. For birders, I’ve always thought it was most generous of nature to have cooler temps and bird nesting coincide on the calendar. The doldrums of summer are over and it is time to hike!!

If you click on this title “Louisiana Heron Chicks” it will take you to a previous post here on Janthina Images of Tricolor chicks scampering about the rookery. That was actually one of my favourite early shoots of them. Gotta love that spiky hairdo.

Click on ‘Baby Faces of Louisiana Heron Nestlings’ for very young nestlings with lots of pin feathers and not fully feathered. Who can resist those curious yellow eyes?

Click on ‘Louisiana Heron – Pond Apple Portrait’ for a view of an adult tri-color. Here you can see the ruby eye, white head plume, coppery aigrettes of the breeding season and the fully slate colors with tinges of burgundy and not that youthful coppery brown. This image I think was late season so the lore is back to yellow.

Click on ‘Tri-Color Heron-lores and textures’ to see what the bird colors look like in full adult breeding plumage…notably the intensely ruby eyes, florescent purplish blue of the lore and bill and white head plumes. When the adult is not in breeding season, the lore and eyes are yellow and the aigrettes and head plumes are gone. There are many in between stages as the colors change.

You an see by these links, among others, that I can’t stay away from this species for very long! And, I have just wetted my wanderlust for getting out to visit all my favourite species this season in a variety of favourite habitats.

I have been watching advertisements for an app called Calm which offers watching and listening to falling rain for relaxation. As for me, I’d rather visit the birds for serenity.

 

 

Judy

California Hills in October

•October 5, 2019 • 13 Comments

 

 

In October of 2015 I visited my brother’s family in Clayton, California. He took us all over from Napa to The Golden Gate Bridge, yet I was fascinated with the dry, tawny hills rolling on just beyond the houses of his neighborhood. They have a painting in their home of the same tawny hills with the sparse disbribution of trees, three as I remember maybe like the first image I put here, under a cloudless blue sky by a local artist. Lone trees whether surrounded by velvety looking beige hills or mangroves here in Florida standing solitary with their prop roots in shallow water seems to strike a chord in all of us. I don’t know if it is just a sense of aloneness or if it is that there is room without distraction to appreciate the beauty of the tree and the sweep of its branches.

I made the mistake once about velvety looking hills when I was living at Clark Field in the Philippines in 1969. Off base there was a hilly area, vertical almost really with ridges covered with what looked like green velvet. I snuck off base with a friend and we climbed the velvet hills only to find them dry and hard and brittle.  Branches from the low shrubs simply came out of the dry dirt as we grabbed them to climb. We did eventually reach a plateau and found an easier way back down. California’s tawny velvet and sundrenched hills are probably not ideal for climbing either for the lack of shade or moisture. It is a wonder there is enough for the scattered trees. Certainly not much to grab onto if you were climbing a steep section.

Often when posting I love to find a perfect quote or perfect poem to support the images and how I felt about the place I was. Something beyond my often meager prose offerings. And I did find a perfect poem when searching about California’s dry hills out of curiousity. Ordinarily I would post the poem which I have done with many written much longer ago for convenient reading, but this one has a recent copyright and I need to respect that and offer you the link to the author’s site instead. My dry hills were October’s but the poem by Dana Gioia, California’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2019, is entitled California Hills in August.  

Do go and enjoy the poem and browse his other writings. The dry hills led me to an interesting poet.

 

 

Tawny velvet grasses cover the gentle swell of earth’s bosom.

Parts of Clayton reminded me of Italy. These trees in the foreground are Italian Cypress Trees and beyond the  beige hills.

 

Many days were devoid of clouds but it is not always so. Here the velvet hills and trees are beneath a blanket of fleecy clouds. No rain though.

For a Floridian used to a much flatter geography and moister climate, Clayton, California was an alien landscape I’d look forward to exploring again!!

 

Judy

 

 

Woodstork Portraits – Black and White

•August 29, 2019 • 20 Comments

 

While I have been a bit stalled working on images since, yes, the other Woodstork image, I haven’t seemed quite finished wanting to work with their portraits from that shoot. These are the same bird as the previous post just different shots and different treatments. The upper image has a harsher light and I utilized a textured grungy background to enhance the sense of portraiture rather than documentation. The image below is softer in its black and white treatment with no added texture to the out of focus background. I liked the inquisitive,thoughtful expression and was fond of the catch lights in its eye. I often will work around a single detail I like, such as the eye expression, much the same way I might wrap a poem around a favourite line. That penchant probably does stunt open creativity because loving one thing does not necessarily redeem the whole.

Some people wonder why I like these bald birds, but I just do think they have such presence and refuse to be relegated entirely to the unseen shadows of the swamp.

Long attracted to monotone and grungy bird portraits I have posted others here in the past. You could examine these other two species from the past by clicking on the bird: Tri-Color Fledgling High Key Portrait or Juvenile Louisiana (Tri-color) Heron and Great Blue Heron (Plume Shadows).

 

 

 

Forgive my repetition, but hope you enjoy the efforts. For me it beats watching the news to see if Dorian is going to come here or further up the state come Sunday!!  Wishing everyone in the storm’s path a safe passage through the wind and rain.

 

Judy

 

Woodstork Profile – Close Up

•July 10, 2019 • 13 Comments

I’ve shared Mycteria Americana, the Wood Stork, quite a few times. Their stately manner, size and interesting facial textures always fascinating. While the lighting here may be a tad subdued as it is on the monitor I am viewing presently, it looks rather awesome on my big, bright Photoshop monitor.  So that is why I thought I’d go ahead and share it. This is the closest I ever have been to a wood stork and barely fit the entire bill on this full file capture. This is not a zoom. Looking at the texture of the yellowish black bill you’d think that the bird was named Wood Stork or Wood Ibis (not an ibis though) for its woody texture. But, it is in fact because the bird likes to nest up high in tree branches. I just love the detail of it and hope that you able to click the image for a bit better view.

 

Judy

 

 

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks in a stylish geometry of light

•June 30, 2019 • 15 Comments

 

 

Meet Dendrogygna autumnalis the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck! I will confess to neglecting this species even though I see them all the time at various wetland environments here in Florida. Although, these are not the first images I have taken of them, just the first posted. Also, I normally do not like’ looking down’ views of birds from a boardwalk preferring more straight on views at the same level. However, the same reason I took them is the same reason I have posted them. I liked the geometry of the parallel and perpendicular light that illuminated the dark water from between the boards of the deck. The blue water, green plants, and autumnal colors of the duck contrasted nicely and looked rather stylish with the light. I took images looking both directions trying to figure which light angle the camera liked best or maybe which way I was more comfortable leaning over the railing.  The little whitish strands in the field of blue are plants on the bottom of the shallow water showing through. I gave a black and white version with the one with horizontal and vertical light to play with the light and textures in the scene a bit.

While I do not actually know yet with this species, often scientific names reflect the appearance of an animal or plant. Considering these ducks are year round residents of Florida, I am leaning towards autumnalis making sense with the fall colors of the duck rather than its season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy