Saturday, March 18, 2006
Believe it or not, this beautiful flower grows in the wild. I'm not sure of the name, but I think it's some sort of iris. I guess all flowers started out as wild, but they've been hybridized over the years to get larger blossoms and more intense colors. This has led to many wildflowers seeming tame by comparison, but not in this case. I was quite shocked when I saw this blossom beside a drainage canal in the Myakka River State Park.
Posted by Ernie at 3/18/2006 09:20:00 PM
Friday, March 17, 2006
You've seen several sunrises lately that are obscured by powerlines, and they reminded me of this shot from 2002. I think this one is pretty cool, though. It's funny how I can remember a particular shot I took one morning way back then on the way to work.
Posted by Ernie at 3/17/2006 09:08:00 PM
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Yet another license plate for you this week. I think 100 is a litle old for skiing, don't you? You might recall I tried skiing during my last visit to Ohio. I didn't take to it. Hopefully, your mileage will vary.
Update: Someone much more up on these things than I points out that the 100 refers to the elusive goal of going skiing 100 days a year. Perhaps these people should pick a hobby that doesn't require really bad weather. Or move to Antartica. Down there, the plate would read SKI 365.
Previous plates: New York, Maine, Hawaii, Washington, Ohio, Wisconsin.
Posted by Ernie at 3/16/2006 08:58:00 PM
I posted a single photo of this great blue heron eating a fish the other day, but a curious fan wanted to see more of the sequence. And I'm always one to try and please the fans. So here are a few more photos. The fish was actually caught by a little kid on the North Jetty in Venice, Florida. He decided it was too small to keep, but rather than throw it back in the water, he dropped it on a rock. This bird immediately pounced, grabbing the fish in his powerful beak, looking like chopsticks on a piece of uncut sushi.
The first challenge the bird faced since he didn't have to actually catch the fish was to get it down. He had to get it aimed in the right direction, but not drop it back into the water. That took all of about 2 seconds.
The fish wasn't going to give up without a fight, though. But these final convulsions didn't seem to make a hill-of-beans difference.
Not long now...
Almost done. Notice the pointy tongue that's sticking out towards the end of the beak.
There you go, all done. Well, almost. You can see that the fish hasn't quite made it down to the stomach yet, and I don't know how much longer it took to get there. The bird took off pretty quick after this picture. The total amount of time from the first picture above to the last one? 29 seconds! I can't even get the tarter sauce out of the little plastic cup that quickly.
Posted by Ernie at 3/16/2006 08:21:00 PM
Some of you regulars around here may wonder how I got started in the picture-taking business. Well, I was reminded of that by the wedding pictures I posted just the other day. Way back in 2001, I was invited to the wedding of an old friend in Key West. I took my little cheap digital camera with me, and wandered all over the island the day before the wedding. I'd been taking pictures for years (I remember a 35MM camera emblazoned with Sam The Eagle from the 1984 Olympics in LA), but none of the pictures I had taken before that weekend had ever excited me the way the pictures from Key West did. The palm tree above was probably my favorite picture of the whole weekend, but there were literally dozens and dozens of great shots. I was a little frustrated, though, because the old Kodak DC 280 camera I was using only had 1 megapixel. Within two weeks, I had a fancy new 3 megapixel Kodak DC 4800, and I was a photographer. The shot below is from that same weekend, and was taken from the deck of the Schooner Western Union during the wedding itself. I almost missed the boat (literally) before the wedding, because I was off taking pictures.
Posted by Ernie at 3/16/2006 07:39:00 PM
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
I bring you a lot of bird pictures here at Ernie (Not Bert), and most of them are a whole lot better than this one, but none of them are shots of a bird as majestic as this bald eagle. I wish I could get closer to him, but I don't want to get shot for trespassing. I first showed you a picture of this guy and his mate last year, but it was taken with the old camera, so it's a little blurrier. They are building a large housing development close to this guy's nest, so I may be able to get closer in the near future, if the development doesn't drive them away. You can see the huge nest they live in below. This massive structure stood up to several hurricane near-misses in the past few years, so you can imagine how well-built it is.
Posted by Ernie at 3/15/2006 07:05:00 PM
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
What else did I do last weekend? Oh, yeah, I went to a wedding. And not just any wedding, but a wedding where the bride and the groom fell from the sky. Yes, you read that right. They climbed into an airplane and returned to earth without it. The shot above is the lovely bride, Heather, and below is Marck, the groom. Heather was an old pro at jumping, I think this was her 70th jump, or something like that. It was Marck's third, so he wasn't allowed to jump solo. Look closely, and you'll see he's jumping tandem with someone else.
After the jump, everyone gathered around the back of the plane for a short ceremony led by a skydiver dressed in a Spiderman jumpsuit. I don't know if it was planned or not, but there were other jumpers falling from the sky right before the ceremony, making for a great shot.
I described the wedding theme as gangster-pimp. Taking a look at the groom below, you can probably see why.
The bride was not looking gangster or pimp. She was, however, wearing bright red, patent-leather combat boots. I didn't get any good pictures of them, I'm afraid. I don't know her at all, and she probably wondered why I was taking so many pictures anyway. I didn't want to shoot her feet, too.
And here's everybody's favorite part of the wedding, the first kiss as man and wife. Don't miss Spiderman there on the left.
I think this was my favorite picture I took of the couple. This was as they were walking back to the hangar after the ceremony. I've never been the official photographer at a wedding (and I don't want to be), but I've shot quite a few of them in my own amatuerish way. I like to try and get shots that a professional wedding photog wouldn't take.
I may have missed the bride's red boots, but I did get the purple Pumas on my friend Arn's feet.
Posted by Ernie at 3/14/2006 08:48:00 PM
Monday, March 13, 2006
It's really hard to get a good picture of a bird in flight. This one isn't too bad, but it could be better. The one below is much better. I'd like to have caught more of the green color of the water though. I'm my own worst critic.
That same great blue heron kept flying back and forth across the Venice inlet, so I got several chances to shoot. The photo below is probably the best I got. I love the little bird to the right trying to get out of the way. I also like the fact that I'm in front of the bird. It's rare to catch them flying towards you.
Posted by Ernie at 3/13/2006 08:01:00 PM
I had a chance to visit the Venice Rookery this weekend, and as usual, I got a severe case of lens envy. There were professional photographers out there with 1000mm lenses and $10,000 cameras. So I'm sure their pictures are better than these by a long shot. But mine are still pretty good. In the photo above, you can see a great egret and some pre-babies, errr, I mean eggs, in a nest. And in the photo below, you can see a baby great blue heron with her mother. Imagine the shots I could get with something longer than a 300mm lens. Donations cheerfully accepted.
Posted by Ernie at 3/13/2006 07:50:00 PM
Here's a pair of pictures I got Sunday. The great blue heron above has gotten a small snake for dinner. The one below has caught a large fish (with a little help from a human fisherman) and is about to swallow it whole. This makes me appreciate the can of soup I had for dinner so very much more...
Posted by Ernie at 3/13/2006 07:44:00 PM
Sunday, March 12, 2006
I suppose it could be argued that I'm not the most cultural of folks. But in an attempt to counter that, here's a little bit of high-class sculpture for you. This was out front of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens this morning. I guess it's supposed to represent a woman reading a book while wearing a funny hat and a rather bustled-up dress. OK, whatever.
Posted by Ernie at 3/12/2006 08:01:00 PM
I find myself taking the same pictures over and over again, sometimes in the same spot, sometimes in a different location. Here's another variation on a shot you've seen again and again and again. This sky/water combo was shot at Quick Point Nature Preserve on Longboat Key in Sarasota, Fl.
Posted by Ernie at 3/12/2006 07:24:00 PM