Film Night by the Water – Charity Event

In support of a 16 year old teenager who is a resident of our Hampton Lake community, several of the residents organized a Film Night to aid raising some funds to help the family. This young man has been diagnosed and treated over the last 12 months or so, for a rampant and aggressive form of cancer. Such a young age to become afflicted with this disease, which he has been battling courageously and positively during the treatments. Unfortunately very recently the prognosis has taken a negative turn, as the treatments and chemos are struggling to impact the progression. Being able to relate to this young man’s will to beat the disease it is very sad to see the recent turn of events. The community’s thoughts have been with him, his mother and younger brother through these difficult times.

Some very supportive neighbors organized the Film Night to help support the family with some financial aid. We visited the lakeside park, and took some photos of the event to share with the organizer and community. A reasonable turnout was great to see and significant donations were achieved.

I tried to capture the essence of the events through a few photos as darkness fell at dusk for the start of the film. From a photographic perspective, capturing the event, people and the lighting was a challenge, but another opportunity to learn and develop night/dusk photography. Some shots obviously showed some movement of individuals but this I was aware of, but thought it may add some motion and life into the night-time photographs, rather than just the pure static shots. Obviously this was a personal perspective and view point to also help experiment with different image shots, and lighting.

 

Waiting patiently for take-off

 

Sitting out in the back garden this afternoon, I saw this majestic bird fly up the lake towards our house and turn to land near the top of the high pine trees on the far bank. I was hoping that it was perched high up and across the lake, observing and waiting for it’s opportunity to catch a fish below. But the bird remained in the canopy of the trees for wait seemed ages, preening itself, and rocking its head back and forth. Below from our patio/dock, I waited, finger on the shutter button, focussed on the bird several hundred metres up in the trees. Yesterday was another hot day, with temperatures in the 90’s but I was patient and determined to wait out the bird to fly! The minutes passed without too much activity, except the bird screeching out of about 5 minutes, and in fact I managed to get a shot with the Osprey’s beak open in full screech. I hoped this was the prelude to it taking flight, but I was wrong! More minutes passed and I thought I would get cramp in my trigger finger on the shutter! Eventually after more than 40 minutes up in the tree tops, it finally took flight. This time I was ready and focussed as it launched itself from the cover of the trees. It was at times like this, that I wished for that longer focal length lens, but I tracked the bird with my trusted 200-400 plus 1.7 converter, as it flew from the trees, unfortunately not to the lake, but circulating above before flying off from our lake cove. I managed to gain a few shots, which I cropped into the images posted on the website and below in the blog. Observing these birds is always educational and allows myself as a photographer, to gain greater knowledge of their characteristics and behavior, especially with the preparation for take-off. Please enjoy the shots taken and visit the full website for more shots in flight.

Garden Visitors

 

This week has been busy in the back garden, or back yard as they say here in the USA. After re-landscaping the whole of our property, adding additional shrubs and trees, with our choices also influenced to encourage wildlife into the garden, we then looked to add feeders to attract the various local birds. As with most things in life, choices were abundant and difficult to select. We made a start with three different feeders and feed, to attract different birds. We were advised that it could take a couple of weeks for the birds to become familiar with the new setup, but we had Cardinals at the feeder within the first hour! Likewise, we had the solitary hummingbird within the hour which increased to at least 3 birds within two hours! Not a bad start to our attempts to attract the birds! Obviously there are a wide diversity of birds within South Carolina, which we must now be patient for the increase in these visitors.

The photo opportunities, literally on my doorstep are most welcome, as I can sit outside on the patio in the morning with my breakfast and coffee and in the evening with my diet-coke! Activity seems to be all day long, even in the heat of summer. In fact we had a severe thunderstorm this evening, and all the birds continued to feed, apparently oblivious to the storm pouring down on them!

Watching bird behavior is also a great opportunity. We have a mother Cardinal and a young male that frequents the feeders. Initially the mother Cardinal kept the young bird off the feeders by pushing the bird away back to the nearby bushes, and made frequent trips to feed the young bird in the cover of the shrubs and trees. After the first day the mother is allowing the young male to visit the feeder on its own. My photos have tried to capture the birds in their visits.

The other frequent visitors are the Hummingbirds. Another fantastic opportunity to practice and adjust the various camera settings to try and gain the typical Hummingbird images in flight. Still practicing!, but managed to get photos during various times of day, from morning to some shots around dusk. Really great to see these birds in flight and the agility of their movements.

As with a previous post, took the opportunity to use the Macro lens again, with a different type of Dragonfly. Close up you could imagine you were looking at an alien being. Amazing to see nature so close up! Please visit the Birds and Insect categories for  further images.

 

Some of our world’s beautiful creatures

Well, I’ve finally started the long process of reviewing and selecting photographs from my many trips to various zoos around the world, but specifically Houston Zoo. I acknowledge that we would all like to see animals in their natural habitat, but as members and very frequent visitors for many years, we gained an appreciation of the conservation work that the zoo delivered and its high level of care and standards it maintained for the animals. I also had the opportunity over the many years to see the introduction of new born animals, such as the orangutans, giraffes and elephants, and to watch them grow and develop over the future years. It gave me the opportunity to try and document through my photography, their interaction, development and the place in the hierarchy of the animal world. Many of the mammals developed with very clear characters of their own, and it was pleasing and entertaining to see their behavior as they grew. Whether it was being very attached to the mother following their birth, to then exploring their boundaries within their community, and at times watching the mother appear to discipline or intervene where “bullying” appeared to exist. Some of these “youngsters” were very boisterous, very energetic, and could appear as a “naughty child” pushing its social boundaries. All great to watch and capture some candid moments.

Through the frequent visits, and especially through the camera lens, a different perspective and appreciation of these animals and their intelligence and interaction with humans became apparent. Very, very interesting.

A few photographs include, but if inspired to see further photographs of our world’s beautiful creatures, please continue to visit and view the “work in progress” and additions being made in my website’s zoological and conservation portfolio.

Macro Dragonfly

During the summer heat and humidity last week, one of the numerous dragonflies, flitting and flying around, decided to take a liking to one of the rocking chairs on our front porch. The dragonfly didn’t seem too bothered with our presence, and stayed within our porch area for about 45 minutes. At one stage, whilst flying between the two porch chairs, we held out a hand, and the dragonfly landed and stayed on our hand! On a closer look, while observing the DF, it was noticeable that there was some damage to one of the wings. Watching it in flight, the damage didn’t seem to impede the DF.

Obviously I couldn’t miss the opportunity for some close up photography as the DF see to be very considerate and pose for the photos! Hand holding the macro lens, the opportunity was there to practice my macro photography, managing to get some reasonable photos. The lighting on the porch area was very accommodating and I didn’t need to use flash photography to gain the images. Obviously I am keen to gain more experience in this area of photography, but with the opportunist situation that arose, practicing with hand held macro photography was most welcomed!

Again, a few images below, whilst a selection of other images captured can be view under the Nature/Insects category within my gallery of photos.

 

Marsh Tacky Horses event at Palmetto Bluff Stables

A great morning was enjoyed watching and photographing the demonstration of a group of Marsh Tacky Horses. The Carolina Marsh Tacky is a rare breed of horses native to South Carolina. The event was held to help promote the conservation of these horses which are considered endangered with currently only about 275 horses registered. Historically these horses have been native to the Carolinas, and used for a variety of uses over the past few centuries, but the numbers declined over the last 50 years and at one stage they were thought to have become extinct in the 1980’s.

The organized event was great to see the diversity of the horses, their coloration, agility and speed.

Now from a photography stand point, photographing in the large covered outdoor equestrian arena was a welcomed challenge for myself, to try and capture the images, with bright sunlight illuminating the backdrop to the majority of the photographs. After discussion with the organizers and riders, they granted permission for me to use flash on some of the photographs, and luckily it didn’t spook either the horses or the rider! Much appreciation for the permission to use the flash, as it definitely helped with fill-in light and also to help freeze some of the action. It gave me the opportunity to work with the ISO and shutter speed to capture some movement of the legs and hooves within the photographs, whilst still attaining sharpness to the body of the horse and rider. Lesson learned while watching and capturing movement of horses, is to also allow for the head, which definitely moves at a different motion through trot, canter and gallop. Great learning experience gained in a relatively informal environment, and personal knowledge noted which will help me to hopefully capture more advance action photographs around the equine events.

A few photos below, but visit the main portfolio for more action.

The First 4th of July Parade at Hampton Lake

Hampton Lake residents took the initiative and organized a parade of decorated and festooned golf carts, bicycles, and pedestrian traffic for the 4th of July celebrations. A fantastic turnout for this inaugural event. In past years there has been a parade of boats on the lake, but this year the road parade offered additional opportunities for everyone to participate. Great efforts were made by all the participants and it was brilliant to see a wide range of diversity in all ages taking part and having a great time. Yet again a photo opportunity not to be missed! Looking forward to next year’s event, as I am sure after the success of this year’s participation the route and the numbers will be expanded! A few photos below, but please visit the main site for a greater selection of the colorful entries.

May and June bring out the wildlife

Been quiet on the blog front, so decided to give a quick update to what I’ve been doing over the last month. I’ve had a few photos published in HL Weekly Newsletters, plus trying to capture scenes and wildlife around Hampton Lake.

Spring and Summer in Hampton Lake brings out a variety of wildlife. Everything from new fawns to alligators basking in the sun. Plus the first sighting of the Black Racer snake, which is non-venomous and great to have around to control any vermin and other snakes! Also seen and photographed, using the macro lens, a Lubber grasshopper, which is NOT a friend as it destroys the vegitation like a locust!

Fascinated with our local reptiles, and you can see clearly the round eyes of the Black Racer. At first it was quite aggressive, with its tail vibrating like a Rattle snake, and taking up the strike pose, but calmed down and posed nicely for me when I crouched down at its level!

I’ve also worked on the website some more, and added a few photos from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

Visit to Pinckney Island – National Wildlife Refuge

A great way to spend a Saturday morning. The HL Birders Group organized a group trip to Pinckney Island on Hilton Head Island. The majority of the group were very keen birding enthusiasts rather than photographers, which was great from my perspective as I definitely lack some knowledge with immediate identification of the variety of bird species! That said, I am learning through post identification using the various birding books, plus am developing a good ear to the various bird sounds! As a fairly local wildlife location, it is always nice to take a few hours and visit the location throughout the various seasons. Sometimes there may not be too much to see, but at other times there can be a large population of various birds nesting or migrating. Yesterday was such an occasion, but although no really exotic species seen, there was high activity with the nesting and hatching of the young birds. Please visit the “Birds” category under my Nature menu where I have updated with a few of the photographs captured during the visit.

Pinckney Island Refuge