Monday, May 31, 2010

We Salute You

Happy Memorial Day!  This post is dedicated to all the former and present military personnel.  It might be an age thing, I don't know.  But, it seems as a get older I appreciate and respect what the people who have served went through to keep this country free. I recently watched an HBO documentary/miniseries called "The Pacific"  and if even 10% of it actually occurred, well, then these are amazing people who have fought and are fighting for everyone here.  Here is a salute to all of you.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Life's a Beach

WhaHoo!  The beach is now open for the season.  Little in life brings us as a family as much pleasure as the lake and beach just a few blocks from our house.  I would not be exaggerating to say during "beach season" we are there a minimum of 5 times a week, either boating, fishing, or just good ole swimming.  Its been especially tough this spring with the warm weather coming early, every day the standard question has been, "Can we go to the beach today?" Today I was finally able to say "Yes, let's go to the beach."  Here's some shots from our first official trip to the beach this season.  Unfortunately, no shots of Ashley swimming due to her and her friend are now old enough to swim out to the big, deep raft and I didn't feel like playing around with lenses to get shots that far out.  Divas!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Good way to start the day

One of the unfortunate things about life at this time is that even though I am usually up quite early, I can't get out and do any shooting in the morning since I have small kids, a wife that works early, and I can't ask my sitter to come at 5 am so I can go shooting early.  Well, I could, but I don't feel like looking for another sitter at this time.
The exception to this rule is when I have a meeting in the morning (usually about once a month), I ask her nicely, and she comes early.  Not 5 am., but 7ish.  Today was one of those days.  And a beautiful morning it would have been to be out doing nothing but shooting pics.  I could not do that, but I didn't let a little meeting stop me from stopping off once to grab some shots of the gorgeous clouds rolling over the Fox River.  The sun peaking out from a hole in the clouds and downward shooting light rays get me every time.  And the best part-  I was only 5 minutes late for my meeting.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Be Good

To all you young ones out there.  Be good.  You don't want to end up like this guy.  Jailbird.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Lot of Bull

Bull Elk, that is.  Stopped by one of my favorite shooting grounds today on the way home, a forest preserve in Elk Grove.  It must have been dinner time cause there were about 15 elk out grazing, all sizes, makes, and models.  They weren't shy today, either.  I actually think some of them were posing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Capture the moment

Often times when I've gotten a good shot, I, of course, am drawn back to the same place to see if there are any other shots to get that I might have missed the last time.  I've learned that quite often, the shot you got is the only shot there was and if you weren't there right at that moment, it maybe, and most likely, won't happen again.  Tonight is a pic I grabbed last year.  It's one of my favorites.  The location is part of the property of one of my customers (Retirement home).  I am there at least once a month and every month I make my way over to where I captured this shot.  Not once has it looked as nice as the day I shot it.  At least 5 or 6 times I've actually setup and tried to mimic how this picture turned out, and not once has it ever turned out nearly as nice as I feel this one did.  Anyway, the point is take the shot when its there and be happy.  It may never happen again.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Official Stalker

Give me my papers.  I am officially a stalker.  Some of the best shots I've ever taken of a bird in flight, or in the photography world, a BIF.  Very difficult to shoot good crisp shots, at least for me.  This is why I like my landscapes.  Not alot of movement going on. 
I had to stalk this guy.  I know I shoot these birds quite a bit, but, hey, you shoot what's around.  And even I am kind of sick of shooting them, but they are kind of addictive.  I've learned over the last year or so their hangouts and I can kind of figure out where to find them at any time of the day.
This guy was by himself in a forest preserve I had never been to before.  He was wading in the pond deeper than I usually see them.  I've learned that even though you are quite a ways away and they have their back(?) to you, they're watching.  Patience was my friend here.  The last several weeks I've spooked some really big ones that would have given me good shots by moving too quick.  Luckily, there was some tall weeds around the shoreline.  So I parked and quietly got by the water and over the timespan of about 15 minutes I had gotten pretty close, at least as close as I thought I was going to get.  I started getting shots of him fishing, but I knew it was only a matter of time till he caught me or just decided to move on.  He wasn't having alot of luck fishing.  So I decided to make a few camera settings changes with the plans/hopes of him deciding to take flight.  Once again, I try not to shoot moving targets for this reason.  The settings in camera are quite different than my landscape and still pics.  So, after changing settings (faster shutter speed, higher ISO, and my focus mode set for movement) I just kind of sat back and waited.  About 2 minutes later, sure enough, he decided to move on.  I saw him making his move to take flight and since it was the moment, I stood up, lined up my shot and just followed him with the camera while keeping my trigger finger down.  I left there really not sure if I got any decent shots.  Odds were against it, my past experience had taught me.  I was pleasantly surprised
when I opened them up.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm back.  After a short break from shooting, it felt good to pull out the camera and get some shots today.  This break wasn't planned.  It just sort of happened due to being pretty busy the last several days.  It worked out good, though.  I was starting to get a little frustrated with everthing photographic, i.e. my gear, my opportunities, my abilities.  So, I am now refreshed and trigger happy.  Today is just a nice shot of a bridge and stream not far from my house, but it was nice little spot to get reacquainted with my hobby.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Great Fishing Weather

With a title like that, you would think I was going to have a picture of a stringer of fish.  No such luck.  My title was more of a reference to watching others fish- herons to be specific.  They have hit the area ponds with full force this last week.  At one point today, I spotted 6 of them all standing in the water diving for fish.  Why isn't there a shot of this?  Because I still need to learn to slowly move into their area instead of bumbling right onto them.  They are fun to watch and how they interact with each other.  They act like my kids.  One second they are best friends and the world is good.  The next they are pecking each other and wings/arms are flying all over.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Jungle Fever

Do you see it?  The snake swimming up the river? No?  Do you see the parrots?  Up in the trees? No? Do you see the monkeys swinging? No? Do you see the Zulu warrior getting a drink of water? No?  O.K., I'm kidding.  There is no Zulu warrior( I saw one in a movie once, though)  Really, you can't see any of the animals?  That's funny, cause I could see all of them while creating this pic.  I gotta chill on the coffee.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Reflecting Pool

Once more, I have come across a hidden gem in my neck of the woods.  I am again amazed that I have lived in the area over 22 years and never knew the park where this pic was shot existed.  It's got a whole petting zoo and everything. The thing that surprises me is how reflective the water is under the cloudy skies.  But, I guess that's the way it works.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to me!! Yes, today was my day.  And a good day it was.  It started with me heading out early to shoot pics, then coming home and having a nice breakfast with my family, then helping a neighbor remove some branches from a tree, then a few hours of scraping paint from my eaves so I can repaint, then playing a little ball with my son, and then a most wonderful dinner with my wife and children.  What more could a guy ask for.  To top it off, instead of the usual birthday cake, my son and wife picked up a different sort of "cake", that was actually wonderful: Brownies topped with mini candy bars(I think my wife really listened to my 5 year olds input).  The only disturbing part was the choice of candles they used.  I really hope they were just left over from Halloween.

                                                                      R.I.P Candles

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Hidden Stream

Keeping up with my new feature, Before and After, I have a shot of a tiny stream, creek, whatever you want to call it.  This is a prime example of my picture not coming out originally how I remember seeing it in my mind.  So I broke out the "tools" and went to work. Now it looks like how I thought I captured it as.