Friday, July 27, 2007

Putting It Out There

This Sunday, I am entering my very first Photo Contest. It is a small one here at Goose Lake Prairie Nature Center, and the Morris Camera Club is the host for their very first contest competition. I am entering 13 pictures in various catagories so my week has been busy getting the photos chosen, cropped, matted, and the information filled out. This one featured here is my favorite, but thats just me. The photo entries will be on display until August 4th at the center, and I am hoping there will be alot of local photographers entering. They are giving out 1 plaque for Best of Show and plaques for first places in all catagories, plus ribbons for 2nd and 3rd. I am just hoping for some sort of win so that I can say "Award Winning Photographer" in the future for some good reason as yet to be named. Wild Iris Bumble Bee, Teresa's Tree, Bullfrog Reflection, Great Horned Owl Family, and Screech Owl are all of which have been featured here on this blog, along with others that have not appeared as of yet. Wish me luck! I'm kind of excited...

Monday, July 23, 2007


Todays post has alot to do about irony. As you all know, I broke my camera. I blame the entire accident on the sunflower in my back yard. The facts are, that the clouds were poofy, the sky was deep blue, and the sunflower's bloom was peaking for the most optimal photographic appeal in my own mind's eye. I took some shots, but I didn't like them...fastforward-tripod, floor...broken camera. (I borrowed a friends 3.5mp camera, which is all I could get my hands on for the next few weeks. It should get me through til the camera is repaired. It has a 10X zoom, but the processor is slower than snot.) I come home from work on Friday to find my owl box-wrecking squirrel on top of the box again eating something I could not recognize. It looked yellow, but thats all I could recognize, until I took a few steps forward, got out the temporary camera, zoomed in and discovered that the lil piece of crap ripped off the entire head of that infamous sunflower, and was eating what remained of it right in front of me. If only I had a bb gun, I really think I might have used it. (Probably not) Anyway, just because the sunflower broke my camera, what right does that freakin squirrel think he might have that the sunflower is his to enjoy? I feed him corn bits, birdseed, and...SUNFLOWER seeds, in various feeders all over the yard. I have been tolerant of his destruction to the owl box, the tipping over of 1 particular feeder on a regular basis, letting him eat the oranges I put out for the orioles, AND the suet for the woodpeckers. What more can he possibly want? He is still alive, only because I let him live, but have I had enough? Push one more button squirrel, and you just might become fertilizer for next years sunflower crop. Now theres irony...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Desperate Measures

I stole the title "Desperate Measures" from my friend Pam, who is using the same title to post a photo of me (1st picture) taking a picture of the dragonfly using my camera phone. ( We both belong to a photosharing site called My Park Photos, which is an international site for parks all over the world.) She found it amusing, not that I broke my camera, but that I had to resort to my cheesy camera phone to capture a dragonfly, while kayaking yesterday. I found it funny, that I actually let the dragonfly land on me, cuz I have yet to be cured of my bugphobia. Anything for a photo, I guess, although It did freak me out, but I made my sacrifice. Anyhow, I was her photo whore on our trip. We would paddle along various lakes within Mazonia Fish and Wildlife Area, and the Green Herons were what we found most appealing. If I spotted one, I would signal, let her take advantage of position, hold her in place, or nudge her forward. If the Heron was hidden, I would go in first, and if he flushed, she could snap off some flight shots. (Thats right folks, I'm a really good friend.)

Kayaking is the coolest thing I have done in a really long time. We explored all kinds of small lakes not normally accessed, with our small crafts. We could sneak through the reeds if they were thin enough, or go through reed tunnels as small as 3 feet wide into larger lakes. The different perspective of this area from our kayaks told us exactly where we were, even though by lake, we should have been lost. We weaved all over in every direction in the maze of lakes, but knowing Mazonia so well, we had our landmarks from a different point of view. We didn't see a whole bunch of wildlife, but we did see a beaver, muskrats, green herons, great blue herons, a tern, seagulls, a water snake, red-winged blackbirds protecting their nests, cedar waxwings, fish jumping, baby ducks hiding in the reeds, (2 beer bottles-Aarg! Stop it people! ) and plenty of dragonflies. The water was turquoise (as most strip mines are) and clear. The privacy and peacefulness you get from the lack of "city noise" really makes you appreciate the entire experience. My journey has just begun; I can't wait to find another lake of lakes. My new obsession is to venture into every lake and see everything I cannot see from the paths and roads of Mazonia, and then venture to new waterways, as my skills develop. Hopefully, the long awaited return of my repaired camera will make it even sweeter.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I Broke My Frickin Camera!!!!!!

Yesterday (Wed), I finally took my first full day off since April. (I took over a new position previously held by tjd, and had to train for my own back-up, which took way too long to find a worthy candidate.) This day was supposed to be great because I just received my new kayak on Tuesday. So...I wake up Wednesday morning around 3 a.m. with thunder/lightning and a nice storm. I spent the entire morning looking west, hoping for a break in the clouds. There was a glimmer of blue sky around noon, so I packed my things and headed out to a spot in Mazonia. I kayaked for a couple of hours and headed back in because it was a bit windy. I am bored at home again, so I decided to experiment with a shot of a sunflower that was in my yard, against the sky and my fence. I grab my tripod, mounted my camera, set up the shot, took a few exposures, decided my angle wasn't going to work, and headed back inside. I set my tripod on the floor, took a step away, and BOOM!!!!!! One leg of the tripod was not completely extended out, so the camera took the impact. Damn! How could I be so frickin stupid? I didn't notice the tripod leg because it was in its lowest position, and still, thinking back, I'm finding it impossible, but whatever...The tripod is not cheap, nor is it rickety, so why? The camera is toast. It won't turn on at all. I have a warranty, but it does not cover "impact". I'm going to plea innocent, but I just don't know if I can get away with it. There is no dent, scratch, crack of any kind where it hit, so maybe... Wish me luck! I am probably without the camera for weeks, which feels like I've lost an arm or something, or maybe just the thumb, o.k. thumbnail, but still...


Stupid Fact #1- Tripods are not to be taken for granted.

Stupid Fact #2- I waited 4 months to get a vacation day and spend 1 entire day off on rain and disaster.

Stupid Fact #3- I got the kayak as a camera accessory for getting to places I can't normally go, so now I need a kayak accessory so I can capture the places I already went.

Stupid Fact #4- I sold my other camera 2 weeks ago.

Do you feel my pain now?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Whitetail Buck in Velvet

These are my first shots ever of a whitetail buck in the velvet stage. He was a mature 8 pointer, well on his way to growing a really nice rack for the ladies to admire.

Rack Facts: During mid-spring, increased daylight triggers a gland at the base of a deer's skull to produce a fleshy, bulb type growth. Antlers start as living tissue. They are soft, consisting of veins and arteries that carry blood to the tissue for continued growth. During the summer, the buck is rarely seen. He restricts his movements, so that he minimizes risk of damage to his rack development. In late August/Sept., the arteries and veins constrict (from rising testosterone levels) allowing the velvet to dry. They begin to rub off the dried velvet, revealing the final bony structure and enter into their rut in Oct./Nov.

Friday, July 13, 2007


A co-worker handfeeding a hummer

My first encounter with hummingbirds up close and personal, was at my boss's house after he told me he can hold his feeder in his hand and the hummers would come to feed. I could hardly believe this because for one, he exaggerates. So, I went to his house with my camera (back then it was a Pentax K1000 film camera, and totally manual), witnessed this phenomenon and just had to do it for myself. Let me tell you, it was really freaky when the hummer would hover near your ear, and try not to swat at them as your instinct tells you. We ended up standing side by side with 2 feeders, and both of us would get visitors, which was absolutely amazing. Since that summer, he has not had that number of hummers as previous, so the handfeeding has not been attempted.

I took a stab at attracting my own and set up a feeder near my pool along with various other bird feeders. My objective was to get a close up (from the pool) because it seems the birds don't see me from there. I don't understand why, but it is true. So with many attempts, I got off a few good shots from about 4 feet away. Although I do not like unnatural settings, this was as close as I was going to get without luck.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Nature at Work

I had set up my tripod at these wild Iris's in Gebhard Woods State Park, hoping to capture a hummingbird who had frequented these the morning before. I focused on 2 flowers, but it seemed the hummer always chose the ones I wasn't zoomed in on. I did have visitors to my flowers, which kept me entertained for the most part, but I walked away a few hours later, without that hummer shot. I came back for a few more days, but the iris's were dying, so that photo op died with them.

Note: If you click on the 2nd shot, the bee is collecting pollen, and you can see the spray.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Albino Redtail Hawk

Who doesn't love unusual creatures? I have been lucky enough to find a few albino animals, and this Albino Redtail Hawk is nearby. I will say that it is in the Channahon/Minooka area, but that's all I am saying. He, (or she) likes a certain area that is secluded, so traffic is at a minimum for disturbance. And... when you do see him, what a sight it is! He is amazing to look at. He has an ever so slight reddish spot like a yamica on his head, and a tint of red on a few of his tail feathers, but other than that, he is pure white. Most hawks do not let you get close enough, but I have encountered this one many times, and the flight factor isn't always the case. I have drove under him as he was on a utility pole, have stopped within 15 feet to snap off a few, and watched as he hunted a field without flying off to another location. On one occasion, he dive-bombed a couple of deer. If you look close at the third and fourth (behind the hawk) pictures, a Bluejay is picking on him. That Bluejay harrassed him until he screeched in frustration and flew off. Just another amazing day in nature.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Teresa's Tree

This photo was taken as a request from a former co-worker who used to sit next to me and hear my endless stories of how I get every photo. She heard about the "one that got away, the ones I never got, the ones I got, but sucked". She tried to share in my disappointments, offered great compliments, & threw me pieces of dark chocolate when my story was particularly frustrating; all in all, she was a great friend to sit next to. One day, she offered up a location for which she thought I might like to shoot. She drove by this locale every day coming to and from work, and this particular tree catches her eye every time. She thought it would make for a cool picture if I ever was in the vicinity. One morning, I looked out into the dark, and found the moon to be a sliver. I remembered her telling me how cool that tree looked with the moon, so I thought I would run out and check it out. This is the shot I got. I do like this photo, and I am glad she led me to it.

Note: TJD-You rock! I miss you and your rain of chocolate from the Chocolate Gods

Monday, July 2, 2007

McGones Desktop Pranks

As most people who work with me know, McGone, my good friend and co-worker, left the Paper for another position at another business. I loved working with him because you never knew what to expect. He always had something clever to say, some physical gesture to make you laugh, or some snide remark to what was happening with his manical department. No matter what was happening, he made me laugh---ALWAYS. This is an "Ode" to him, because this morning, I was thinking of what I would post, and a memory popped into my head of what he used to do to my desktop pictures.
I am always putting my newest photos on my computer as wallpaper for everyone to see as they walk by. I am stationed at the nucleus of the Paper, so most everyone does in fact, "walk by" because of the timeclock. So, an ever so creative McGone would often "photoshop" my wallpaper to include a bonus feature to the scene. I would walk in later, see his masterpiece, and think,"Why didn't I think of that?". No one can "think of that" quicker than McGone, so don't even try, he's THAT sharp! Anyway, I decided to use his pieces of foulplay to be featured here today. I miss/envy his wit...

Note: Hey McGone, hope this doesn't weird you out. I thought of the shark pic this morning for a little twist from my norm, and it turned into this whole "Post of Admiration".