Saturday, October 28, 2006

Upon Further Reflection...

I don't know the name of either building you're looking at, but the reflection in both is Cleveland's Terminal Tower. I'm a sucker for these reflection photos. I'm not sure why...


As promised (about 60 seconds ago), here's another shot from the Brecksville Reservation, a natural area set aside as a nature preserve by the city of Brecksville, Ohio. This is a the gorge through which the Chippewa Creek flows. The stone bridge you see in the background carries Route 82 (which is also the road that goes across this bridge). I shot over 100 different views of this gorge, during 5 different visits during my almost two week stay. I wanted to get just the right light, and just the right trees, as well as some blue sky. I don't think I got everything I wanted in any one picture, but this is close enough.

Massed Mushrooms

I'm still working on all my pictures from Ohio. The grand total was something close to 4800 shots, so I have plenty of them to go through. This mass of mushrooms was sprouting from a fallen tree in the Brecksville Reservation. This may well be my new favorite spot in the Cuyahoga Valley, or at least one of my favorite. There are miles and miles of trails to wander, small streams to ford and even gorgeous gorges to shoot. Oh, and black squirrels, too. I'll get you up pictures of all those things, I promise.

Unnecessary Closeup

Zoom is your friend.

Speed Dolphin

There must have been four or five of these dolphins at the beach today, but man, are they fast! This was the best I could get.

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

I just wanted to point out that not all my days in Ohio were beset with rain and snow. I shot this on my first Saturday in town. I'm not sure of the name of the place, but it's down in the Cuyahoga Valley, right next to Szalay's, which if you know what I'm talking about, then you know right where this is.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Kestrel Konfusion

I hear you all asking "What did Ernie shoot today?" and I have the answer right here. I was visiting my parents house, picking up my cat (she stayed up there while I was in Ohio). I was about to leave when I hear some bird commotion going on out in the pasture. I saw a small bird flying up and down, up and down, squawking and crying like crazy. After watching for a few seconds, I grabbed the camera and started heading in that direction. Naturally, as soon as I had the camera in my hands, the activity stopped. I walked slowly towards the trees where the action had taken place, and as I got closer, the hawk above took off out of the tree. I'm not sure if it's a red-shoulder or a red-tail. The red-shoulders are much more common, and my parents have seen them around, but the guy above looks suspiciously like a red-tail to me. But either way, I was surprised. I was quite far away from him, so what you see is a very tight crop of a much larger picture, as are all the ones I'm sharing tonight. If anybody wants to chip in and get me a larger lens, please feel free. Anyhow, I followed this guy into the trees, and kept shooting. It wasn't until I got the pictures onto the computer tonight that I realized he was a different bird than all my other shots.

When I shot this picture, I thought it was the same bird as earlier, but you can see that it's not. Look closely, and you can see this is a much lighter bird, and it's actually much smaller. Looking closely at the 100 or so shots I squeezed off, I believe this is an American Kestrel, which would make it the first time I've seen one of those in the wild. The giveaway is the bands of dark feathers on the face, as well as the small size. I only wish I could have gotten closer, because in good light, those bands on the face are blue!

Maybe this shot of the Kestrel on a fence post will give you a better feel for his size. He flew from post to post for quite some time, perhaps scanning the grass for some prey. I was trying to slowly get closer the whole time, but probably never got closer than 100 yards or so.

When he got tired of hopping from post to post, he flew into a large dead oak tree on the other side of the fence. I couldn't get any closer at this point, so he stayed still longer. I've shown you this tree before, with a beautiful full moon behind it. (Well, I thought I had, but I can't find the post. I'll have to dig up that picture for you.)

From my far away vantage point, I could see other specks moving around my bird. I couldn't tell what they were, other than they didn't act like the kestrel. Looking at my pictures, I figured out that they were blue jays. You can see the one I caught on the wing at the upper left of this shot. Look close and you can tell he's certainly blue.

Here's a shot of another blue jay in flight. The color here is really evident. I wish I could get in-flight shots like this when I'm closer. Gotta work on getting that longer lens. Anyhow, what I finally decided happened was that the kestrel had spotted the bigger hawk in a tree, and was trying to scare or intimidate him. That was the behavior that initially drew my attention. The big hawk wasn't scared until I got closer, then he took off and flew away. The kestrel then probably returned to the area to hunt. My eyes weren't good enough to spot the difference in the field, but the camera was, thank goodness. This is all terribly exciting, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

OH To FL (+40)

Hooray! I finally made it back to Florida today. I think it was just a little above 40 when I left Cleveland, and it was almost 80 when I landed in Florida. As expected, as I was leaving Cleveland, the clouds were blowing away, the sun was coming out, and blues skies were breaking out all over. After landing in Tampa, there was nothing but blue sky. I put the top down and drove too fast all the way home. However, I did notice a distinct lack of red trees here in Florida. I wonder why that is. For the next week or so I hope to bring you highlights from my trip to Ohio. There's plenty of stuff I shot that I didn't share during the trip, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Elvis Is Alive And Well And Living In NE Ohio

So here's the setup. I'm in Ohio, it's late in the day, I'm at work, walking from one building to the other. It's wet, cold, windy, downright miserable. There is a truck backing in to unload some material. As I'm walking by, the driver gets out, walks by, nods his head at me, and goes inside. I do a double take. The driver is Elvis. Wha-huh?!?! I keep my mouth shut, thinking the cold has finally gotten deep into the recesses of my brain. I walk inside and comment to the first person I see, "I just saw Elvis." They respond "Yeah, the truck driver", like they already knew this. I still can't believe I saw what I saw.

The next day, I happen to mention several times that I saw Elvis, and everybody knows about him. I'm thinking, this is national news, someone alert Soledad O'Brien! So then today, my Nextel goes beep. I answer, and someone says Elvis is back. I run out of the meeting I was in, out the back of the shop, past the truck at the dock, and into the shop. Sure enough, there's Elvis, chatting away, waiting for his truck to get loaded. Turns out, the guy is an Elvis impersonator, and he really takes it seriously. Nicest guy you could hope to meet in a dark alley at Graceland, too. The shot above is him with my buddy Cliff that I've been working with while I'm here in Ohio. I don't think I need to tell you which is which. Anyhow, he's got a website if you want to check him out. I'm thinking that I may keep my eyes open for Jimmy Hoffa and the Easter Bunny tomorrow. I might get lucky on my last day in the great white north.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Here Comes The Bride

Every time I tried to post a picture to my blog this weekend, the system was screwy. So that's why you didn't see any new pictures. But I assure you, I was out there, shooting away. My trip was extended by a few days, so I'm still in Ohio, where temps are in the mid thirties, and they are predicting rain and snow flurries for the next few days. Hooray. I took this shot Sunday, when it was completely overcast, with intermittent rain, but that didn't stop me, and about a dozen other photographers I bumped into, from shooting the fall colors. This is Bridal Veil Fall, located in the Bedford Reservation at the north end of the Cuyahoga Valley. This stream flows into Tinker Creek, which is the largest tributary of the Cuyahoga.

The Last Full Week In October

Are you tired of the Ohio pictures yet? How about a nice beach scene for a break? This week's calendar page is a shot of sunset at Venice Beach, I think, taken right before the Christmas boat parade last year. I was pretty excited that I was able to catch the moon in there as well. That's just icing on the cake.