A Birding Trip

Last weekend I, along with two friends went on a bird-watching trip sponsored by the Delaware Valley Orinthology Club. The tour was led by an expert from the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. We went to spots in the Brendan Byrne State Forest and the Franklin Parker Preserve, in Chatsworth. First we went to call on some barn owl’s that live in a cedar swamp. The group remained quiet and still while the guide called out, ‘hoooo hoooo hoo hoo hoo’, over and over again! Unfortunately no one was home. Next we visited a spot where we saw several red-headed woodpeckers. These have a completely red head … not to be confused with the red-bellied woodpeckers we have around our homes. Not knowing we were supposed to bring a lunch we stopped at Buzby’s store for a nutritious lunch of chocolate covered cranberries. Later in the day we did some hiking and saw a harrier, a red-tailed hawk, a bluebird and a few other species. The guide had a PhD and was full of information about the pine barrens. Our last stop was to a place where there is a known eagle’s nest. When we arrived the male was circling high overhead while the female sat on the nest. The nest was not visible with the naked eye but several birders had telescopes and they shared the view with us. How exciting! The nest was made of large branches and there she was! My hopes were not high in capturing award winning bird photos on that day … this was more of a scouting trip. Not only were many of the birds at even too far a distance for my 500mm lens, I have learned that hand-holding even with the help of a monopod is next to impossible with long lenses. It was a crisp Spring day and it was great to be out with nature and friends. Here are a few images from the trip.

'Franklin Parker Preserve Bog' © Denise Bush
'Bluebird in Bog' © Denise Bush
'Swamp Maple Buds' © Denise Bush

A Place to Go Back To

It’s nice to have a few local places you can go to when you are in the mood for a sunset. It is hard to see the sunset from where I live … surrounded by trees on flat land. Over the years I have scouted local sunset spots numerous times and they are limited. One spot where I can always go to see the sunset is just up the road from me at Atsion Lake, which is part of the Wharton State Forest. The gates to the lake close early so access is limited. It is difficult to find anything of interest for the foreground but I don’t abide by this as a steadfast rule. (And in general, I don’t believe in ‘rules’ for art.) Below I have posted 3 Atsion sunsets. In ‘Winter Sunset’ I used 2 tree silhouettes as a foreground element and to frame the scene. ‘Atsion Ice at Sunset’ uses the pattern of the ice in the foreground to draw you in. The most abstract of the group is ‘March Sunset’, shot last night. Here the dreamy reflections in the water draw me in to the high center of interest which is the colorful horizon. Hmmm … it looks like there may be another good sunset tonight!

'Winter Sunset at Atsion' © Denise Bush
'Atsion Ice at Sunset' © Denise Bush
'March Sunset' © Denise Bush

Different Day … Different Light

Here are a few shots from the Catskill Winter Photo Weekend that I led last weekend. It was a fun time with 16 participants from the South Jersey Camera Club, Cranbury Camera Club and the Ocean County Camera Club. You can see the dramatic difference the light makes by comparing the photo of the pagoda here with the image from the previous post. Both were shot in the morning, one week apart. This weekend we had warm temperatures and sunny skies but as you can see the snow is not as fresh and no longer clinging to the trees. I am looking forward to seeing these locations in the Spring and I am probably not alone when I say, ‘I’ve had enough snow for one year’!

'Pagoda in the Woods' © Denise Bush
'Catskill View' © Denise Bush
'Artist's Falls' © Denise Bush

Shooting in the Snow

I traveled up to the Catskills last Friday in the snow to scout for an upcoming photo tour I am leading. It snowed the entire time to varying degrees. I made some hand-held snapshots of some of the places we will visit. Shooting some at locations I had visited before, it became apparent like never before, how much the quality of the light really does matter! When it’s cloudy the light becomes diffused and soft and when it snows it adds another (multi-layered) filter making the light extremely flat. In the case of snow you may think areas are blown out but often, that is not the case. The lack of detail is because the light is coming from all directions and there are almost no shadows or highlights. This is the kind of light downhill skiers in the Olympics had to contend with making it impossible to see the course terrain. We photographer’s are sometimes up against that flat light as well. The best thing to do is wait until it stops snowing or until the clouds break up. With that said, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! Here are a few images of places that were shot while it was snowing.

'Pagoda in the Snow' © Denise Bush
'Hearts Content Stream' © Denise Bush
'Buried Gas Pump' © Denise Bush