Friday, March 26, 2010

2 Things Challenge Private/Public

The 2 Things Challenge this week is Private/Public. During one of my early photography classes, we had an excursion to Dismals Canyon Conservatory in northwest Alabama. I was unable to go with the class on Saturday, so my wife and I drove up the next week. Since this is designated a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service, I assumed I would be able to get in and take some photos. Not true; it is actually PRIVATE property and is only open to the PUBLIC at certain times, especially if it's not in the summer. This is what I got to see of the Dismals that day.

Naturally I was disappointed, but after driving all that way, I wanted some photographs, so I walked across the highway to a small primitive camping area and got some nice autumn leaves. This is my favorite one.

I had posted the leaves long ago here, but this is a better size.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I've been away from the blog for a few days while I drove to Orlando and helped my son Mitchell build a deck behind his house to replace the small patio he had before. Here's the "almost before" way it looked Thursday evening after I got there and we spent about an hour removing some of the sod.

After a couple of hard days of work, here is what we have, along with some really sore hamstrings.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

2 Things Challenge Fly/Swim

Welcome to the first official day of Spring for 2010.

The 2 Things Challenge this week is Fly / Swim. These Canada Geese are in full flight, and they can fly in formation like the Blue Angels,

but it was only a few short weeks earlier, the best locomotion they had was to swim, under the watchful eye of their mother.
Join us at 2 Things Challenge to see other interpretations of the challenge.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Crepe Murder

Many people tend to HEAVILY prune their Crepe Myrtles about this time of year, or a little earlier. I read that such heavy pruning is not really necessary to get nice flowers. While I was in Texas visiting Cameron and Meredith, we were discussing it as we drove by one that had been whacked way back except for one lonely branch that held a long abandoned and crumbling bird nest. Those birds have flown, buddy.

Anyway, Cameron said he called such trimming Crepe Murder. I tend to agree, except the plant does seem to come back. This particular example of Crepe Murder is behind the courthouse in Columbiana, Alabama, where I live. In this case, if you look closely, I believe you can see the bullet hole where someone has tried more than one way to commit Crepe Murder.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

2 Things Challenge Clear/Vague

The first day of my Dallas trip, my son and I went out on a couple of errands and the mist covered the windows. The challenge this week is Clear/Vague. The drops are pretty sharp, definitely clear, but what's behind them is pretty vague. I think it was the credit union, but I can't remember for sure.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Worth the Wait? - Nah.

I know it's not officially Spring yet, we've still got about 10 days to go, but something like a freight train rolled through Alabama Tuesday night and all day Wednesday and left about a foot of rain in my little neck of the woods. Officially it wasn't quite that much, but I had a square bucket about 15 inches tall sitting out and it was filled to overflowing. Creeks and rivers were out of their banks and fields were flooded. I haven't seen that much water here that quickly, ever, not even when hurricane remnants work up into central Alabama.
Then yesterday afternoon the sky turned blue, the sun was out, and it was over 70 degrees F. I put on an extension tube and kneeled down on a piece of cardboard next to this weed; maybe some sort of clover, I don't know. I didn't have my tripod and hand-held macros can be fuzzy, but hey, the flower itself is sort of fuzzy and the whole cluster here is smaller than a pencil eraser.
Was this picture worth having to endure that crappy winter? Don't think so.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Burnout in Columbiana

Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against muscle cars. I've never really owned one, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to. There's definitely something to that throaty roar and the sudden acceleration, but leaving the black steaks on the highway always seemed like just throwing the tire money out the window. There's at least one kid (I know I'm guessing here, but I feel pretty safe with the "kid" guess) who lives in the Columbiana/Wilsonville area and has a car that can lay a very thick and long black streak on the highway. In fact, I think there's more than one of them and a little forensic work on the black streaks could prove it. Many of the roads around here have been "tagged" by these kids, and I'm calling it tagging like the graffiti artists, because it just sort of seems to be screaming, "I was here and look what I did!" This one seemed especially wasteful of daddy's money because of not just the heavy black streak, but the pile of rubber chunks that were either just torn off or melted off and deposited behind where the tire actually started spinning.

Ft. Worth Zoo - Flamingo Resting and Hyacinth McCaw

Two more birds from the Ft. Worth Zoo, and maybe I'll go on to something else. Or maybe I'll just have to put up another one.

First is an American Flamingo, tucking his head the way they do, and barely peeking out at me, and you.

Next is a Hyacinth McCaw. They had a pair of these guys just sitting out on a perch. As long as anyone was looking at them, one would spread his wings and wave them slowly, sort of like he was saying, "See how big I can be!" As soon as the crowd moved on, he'd stop, but he would start up again if anyone else came along. He looks a little cocky to me.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ft. Worth Zoo - Sleeping Tiger

I know the saying is, "Let sleeping dogs lie," but I think I'll let this cat lie too.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ft. Worth Zoo - Gerenuk

Back to the zoo today. You can get some really interesting photographs at a zoo, and the Fort Worth Zoo gives you unobstructed views of many of the animals. I do wish the fence had not been behind her, though.

This is a female Gerenuk. The moment I saw her I thought she deserved a starring role in at least one of the Star Wars movies. Gerenuk means giraffe necked, and for an antelope, she fits that bill.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Harbingers of Spring

A break today from the zoo pictures for some harbingers of spring. I've seen a lone robin or two off and on for the last few weeks, yet winter hangs on. I figure those guys are the forward scouts; they find out how cold it is and turn back south for another week or two. But yesterday for the first time I saw several robins travelling together. Actually they weren't travelling, they were feasting. Earthworms beware! They're back, and I think they significantly reduced the worm and bug population of our yard in one afternoon. I caught this guy scanning the area next to some of the Rock Irises that have also bloomed already. Can spring be far behind? Well . . . maybe. It was still below freezing this morning and will be tomorrow, but we're looking at a week or more of highs in the 60's (F), so maybe no more snow. I don't remember wishing for spring so hard since I was a little kid.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ft. Worth Zoo - Red Tailed Hawk

These guys are all over the place, but I can seldom get close enough to get this kind of picture. I love to watch them soar on the thermals and dive for their prey. The intensity of their stare can be scary, even. He was in the Texas Wild area of the zoo, where native animals are on display for closer study than you can usually get out there in the wild.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ft. Worth Zoo - White Pelican

While at the Fort Worth Zoo, I caught this guy just curled up keeping his beak warm, as waterfowl frequently do. Or maybe he was just snoozing. You can read more about the white pelican here. While it isn't an official zoo site, they are talking specifically about these guys at the Ft. Worth Zoo.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fort Worth Zoo

Weed at Fort Worth Zoo

I visited Cameron and Meredith, my son and daughter-in-law, in Dallas last weekend, actually Lewisville. Saturday was a beautiful day, so after a leisurely breakfast at Tierney's, we headed off to the Fort Worth Zoo. I had been there with my wife once before, and I knew it was the best zoo I've ever been to (haven't made it to San Diego yet). Early in our trek around I came across this grass, weed, or whatever it is, and the light was great. Maybe someone knows exactly what it is, but the little stars were really neat looking.

2 Things Challenge Animal/Vegetable

The challenge this week is Animal/Vegetable. I visited my son and daughter-in-law in Dallas last weekend, and we went to the Dallas Aquarium on Friday. We went to the Fort Worth Zoo on Saturday, so see some of the other posts for some shots from there. One of the creatures inside the aquarium is the sea dragon. It's not a sea horse, they have prehensile tails, but it is definitely animal. The really neat thing about them is their camo; they disquise themselves to look like sea weed. So, we have an animal pretending to be a vegetable to avoid predation by other animals.
I noticed last week that some of my photos get chopped off on the right if they are not viewed on a wide screen format, so you may have to click the photo to see the whole image.