March 15, 2012 – Signs of Spring

The turning of the seasons is evidenced with new developments almost daily.  I’ve already seen the first red-winged blackbird, common grackle, and butterfly (either a question mark or comma).  The long-term forecast looks sufficiently warm that I have shut down the wood furnace.  I’m going to miss pulling carts of wood with Big Guy, but I suppose we can do it in the opposite direction now.   I’ve already cut one load of firewood. 

From February 2012

Eagles are probably gone for the year, except for the residents.  I had the good fortune to find a tolerant Cooper’s Hawk on the way to work one day.  That’s a rare one that will certainly go into the next version of my hawk calendar.  My camera club took a field trip to Runge Nature Center in Jefferson City.  On the way, we saw a barred owl in the predawn twilight.  The best image I got from the trip was probably an Eastern Bluebird.  I haven’t gotten tired of photographing the dogs at play.  I tried to get something with Gretchen jumping for the ball.  She was cooperative, but it was difficult to throw the ball and get the shot by myself. 

From March 2012

Sunday morning I was walking the dogs in the back yard and I noticed little frozen spheres of water on the tips of the grass blades.  On further inspection, I found that overnight guttation (drops of water produced by root pressure) had frozen as the temperature dropped.  Some additional frost formed on some of the droplets.  I took the macro lens to them for my growing series on strange meteorological phenomena.  By mid-morning, they had all melted. 

From March 2012

For awhile I’ve been trying to capture some Bird In Flight (BIF) shots in the back yard.  I set up the camera so it’s aimed at a spot that I expect the birds to fly through.  I finally got the settings right and some luck, ending up with a chickadee that I’m very happy with.  A couple of others are close, but not quite so spectacular.

From March 2012

I had a couple of opportunities to visit Lock and Dam 20 here in Canton, thanks to a camera club friend who works there, John Savoia.  He took us onto the dam one day and showed us some of the interesting parts.  Since I had just sold my wide-angle lens, I was limited in what I could shoot, such as close-ups of a stonefly.   The next day he called me because a barge carrying big wind turbine components was locking through.  I ran down there and saw the locking process.  Then we got a rare treat: we climbed aboard and got a tour of the tug boat (actually, a push boat).  It’s an impressive machine, with enormous 16-cylinder engines.  I went on top of the flying bridge to shoot the length of the barges.  I used the old Panasonic to get wide angle shots.  Otherwise, I just shot interesting things around the boat, like ropes and cables. 

From 2012_03_11 Push boat

I don’t often go out of my way to shoot landscapes, but I take them when the opportunity arises.  I went to South Park in Quincy to see if the bloodroot was up yet.  It wasn’t, but the rising sun was shining through the fog onto the pond, and I couldn’t pass that up.  In one view, the old stairs to the upper portion of the park are visible.  I call it “Stairway to Heaven.”  Yes, original, I know.  On an early commute, and in part because of the time change, I saw an interesting sun coming up over Quincy.  I couldn’t get pulled over and ready in time to get it halfway up, but it still made for an effective shot through a telephoto lens.  The sun was actually bright orange, but the camera can’t capture that. 

From March 2012

From March 2012

We are past midterm, and both my Galapagos class and Plant Field Biology class have started.  I’m really excited about the plant class this year.  I’m incorporating the entrepreneurial component.  They all have their cameras and are learning to operate them.  They will make a virtual plant collection of digital images, rather than the traditional one of dead, pressed plants.  Flowers are just starting to pop out now, mostly ornamentals and alien weeds, but the first wildflower, the spring beauty, has just begun to show up.  We walked out in the woods today, mostly learning leafless trees.  One student found an antler, and another spotted some mushrooms.  We were getting ready to cross the creek when big John found a crayfish in the creek.  It turned out to be a large colorful one, so I was all over it.  I shot some with the macro lens and polarizer, but the shots with the 50mm prime turned out best.  Our project is shoot enough good wildflowers to make a calendar.  I hope to improve my flower photography technique this year.  Expect a lot of wildflower pics over the next few months.

From March 2012

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