Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Last Frame of the Decade

Can you believe it? It seemed like just yesterday that we were worried that air planes were going to fall out of the sky, our bank accounts would be lost and the end of the world was coming. Yes Y2k.

Here it is, December 31, 5:30PM and I'm editing the last photos of the decade. The lighting today was pretty dismal. But I wanted to take some time and practice shooting Harlequin Ducks. They are social ducks and are fun to watch. They make a sort of squeaky toy sound.

It is tough to get in close because they are diving ducks and they stay off shore. On top of that, they don't like bipeds. But nevertheless, I just wanted to enjoy the day and get some practice. Just as they were settling down, the snow came in, dropping the light even further.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Harlequin ducks are social but the males do squabble a bit. However when the boys get their eye on a girl they put on their best behaviour, line up and try to impress her as a group.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

The snow picked up to the point where I decided it was time to go home. Here is the last boat shot of the decade.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

And when the snow stopped I took this, the last frame of the decade.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Happy New Year. Becky has the bay berry candles ready to light. It's just going to be the two of us tonight with a movie. Remember;

A bay berry candle burned down to the socket
Brings joy to the heart and wealth to the pocket.


Take care and thanks to all my friends and followers. Without you, I'd be wondering if a tree fell in the woods, would it make a sound?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

So that's why they call them Purple Sandpipers

I met up with Kim The Curious Birder and Alan today to go out on a rare birding trip around Gloucester. "Steve!", you may exclaim, "your blog is full of birds. Rare birding trip? What are you talking about?"

I very rarely go out just for the pleasure of birding. Those of us that have these dual hobbies know that it is tough to photograph with birders and it is tough to bird with photographers.

As a birder, I want to be on the move, get the checks on the list, count the species and/or individuals depending on the purpose of my outing. When I'm photographing, I can sit and marvel at a Gadwall for hours.

I struck a brilliant compromise with Kim and Alan today as we went out birding. It was a blast. The cool birds of the day were King Eider and Black Guillemot and of course a SMU favorite, Purple Sandpiper. Kim and I worked with this flock of Purple Sandpipers for a while as Alan found us a Black Guillemot.

In today's light, I can show you why these are called Purple Sandpipers. My dictionary of American bird names states that they are named for the purple tones on their backs. Sure enough!

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Earth, Air, Water and Fire

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Visit Watery Wednesday

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bass Rocks as Sunrise

Often I will have a picture in mind before I go out for a shoot. Good Harbor and Bass Rocks are good places to shoot the morning sunrise because there are items there that add interest to the photo.

There was a cloud bank forming off shore which can be friend or foe when it comes to shooting a sunrise. It can do a couple of things. If the bank is long and narrow, it can allow the sun to rise below it and light up fiery red. If the bank is thick, the sunrise can fizzle.

When I arrived on the scene at 6:30, I was it didn't look too promising. Since I could watch the show from my car, I decided to stick it out.

This morning a third possibility presented itself. The cloud bank was far enough out where the sun came up that it allowed some yellows to develop as it rose over the clouds. I took my first frame at 7:09 and wrapped up the shoot at 7:19.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

These images are straight out of the camera. Tips? The picture that I wanted was a silhouette of the house with lots of popping colors. The wind was blowing pretty hard so a tripod would not help me steady the camera. No worries, using my 18-200mm zoom, I was shooting with shorter focal lengths. This gave me lots of depth of field and plenty of light at a moderate aperture. I have a spot meter mode on the camera. I metered off of the areas that I wanted to pop. In the case of the second picture, I put the spot meter on the thin cloud above the sun. This gave me the silhouette I wanted and kept the highlights from blowing out.


The Gloucester Calendar has been a hit with the friends and family. I'm going to keep it available through January.


Buy this 13 month Gloucester calendar.

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.




Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Thacher Island Dawn

Since I'm not working this week, I can look out the bedroom window, see the stars, toss on some cloths and go up to Rockport to catch the sunrise. This is Thacher Island with the north-south aligned twin lighthouses.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A little Vermont Rime

What would traveling to relatives for Christmas be without a little bad weather? We cross Rt 9, the Molly Stark Trail across from Bennington to Brattleboro, VT. There are some very beautiful vistas along the route, especially at Hogback Mountain, which is a stop along the way.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Here is a great vantage point to see mountains in Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

But not yesterday. There was a cyclone over the Mid West pumping a storm system into the area. The mountain top was fogged in. I've been telling B that the view from there is quite impressive, but every time we've gone over the mountain, it has been dark, rainy, snowy, foggy or just hazy. Maybe some day.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Rime ice is formed when fog freezes out on objects. It builds out into the wind. Here the wind is blowing from the left onto an apple tree.

Scenic Sunday

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Merry Christmas to all of my blogging buddies, friends and followers.

This is when I do my Forgotten Photo Friday. Today I pulled up a joint project that Becky and I did in 2005.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gloucester!

It's Christmas Eve. Don't fight the malls. Do your shopping right on Main Street. Here in Gloucester, we have lots of gift shops, local artist, emporiums, bodegas, clothiers, stuff for the guys and and things for the galls. I personally did all my shopping in Gloucester and Rockport. We are so lucky to have a great downtown. Plus my money stays working in my town.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse


©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Purple Peeps

Shot at high tide when the seaweed is submerged, these Purple Sandpipers are resting and socializing with each other.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jean Elizabeth

It is now winter, the sun has stopped its march south and the cold is settling in. Most of the lobstermen have pulled their pots from Gloucester Harbor, some are still fishing. The lobsters have migrated to deeper, warmer waters.

The Jean Elizabeth is still pulling lobsters out around Dog Bar. Dog Bar, as it is listed on the charts, is an underwater sandbar that extends off of Eastern Point. Around the turn of the century, the breakwater was built on the sandbar, protecting Gloucester Harbor.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Visit Watery Wednesday

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stranger on Dogbar

We had wonderful sunrises and sunsets all week long. I resolved to get out of the house and shoot something interesting in the morning light like real landscape photographers do. But alas, when I got up at 5:00, I couldn’t see the stars. Crap, there would be no wonderful sunrise this morning. Back to bed.

Later at 6:00, I dreamed that I got up to see the sunrise, pulled the curtain aside and saw a beautiful Bavarian seen out my window. That is strange, I usually see the harbor. Realizing that I was still asleep, I convinced myself to wake up. I pulled the curtain aside for real and saw that it was indeed cloudy, but the cloud layer was thin and the light was diffused. This is excellent for going to Dogbar and shooting Purple Sandpipers again.

Dogbar Breakwater runs east-west across Gloucester Harbor with the rough sea side is to the south. Photographing winter peeps on the breakwater puts the sun behind them and makes shooting tough. But today, with the diffuse light, ah…it will be perfect. And it was.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

I think and shoot “A” or aperture priority mode. When I got there, the light levels on the dark birds and rocks gave me 1/30th of a second shutter speed, so I bumped up the ISO to 200. I was able to shoot at about 1/80th of a second. This would do, but there wasn’t much margin for shivering, getting blown around by the wind or hanging precariously from the rocks. Yes, I better sit down on the (very cold, wet and gull pooh covered) rocks and do what I can. But this is all technical stuff and tends to make the post clinical. Enough of that. All’s I’m saying is that I changed my plans and made do with what I had.

Last week I talked about Purple Sandpipers flying to Gloucester for the good life in the winter. Many of my more northern friends mentioned that they see them in the summer months in breeding regalia. I don’t expect to see too many shorebirds on Dogbar Breakwater in the winter. When I saw this little guy, I thought that he must be a juvenile.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Then I saw this Ruddy Turnstone and realized that I was dealing with a mixed flock. Well, what the heck was that other guy?

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Finally, he turned around and I got a look at the face and bill. Wow, it's not a Curlew, but what a long bill!

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

This Dunlin is at his most northerly winter range on the east coast. Hey little dude, you have wings. Although Purple Sandpipers make great companions, you can go further south, it's okay.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Oops, that's the "I'm irritated" wing droop posture. Here is a tip about shooting Purple Sandpipers on Dogbar. Go when the tide is rather high. This will but the birds higher on the rocks and they will not be feeding. The problem is that when they are feeding they are very twitchy and active, making shooting much more difficult. They tend to feed at low tide because the seaweed is exposed and that's when the find all the goodies.

On another note, I saw my first adult Iceland Gull of the season fly by The Fort today. Yup, winter is here folks. As I write this on Saturday afternoon, we are expecting a storm. Bummer.



Visit Camera Critters

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ice on the Buoy

One of the indicators that it is cold out is when we see ice on the buoy. This buoy is a green channel marker, G11 and flashes every 2.5 seconds. When it gets down in the single digits, ice begins to accumulate on it.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

When we see sea smoke, we know to throw on a couple of extra layers of cloths.
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Scenic Sunday

Friday, December 18, 2009

Forgotten Photo Friday, Willet

This is the time of week when I go deep into the shoe box full of photos and find shots that were either forgotten about and never posted or didn't get posted because they got bumped by something more timely.

This Willet was shot a year ago in California on some beach that Becky took me to and I have no idea where we went. But I do remember that later that day, I shot the Monarch Butterflies at Natural Bridges State Park. If you are new to SMU, then please visit this page. You will not be disappointed. It has just about everything cool that this blog has to offer except Gloucester.

Also this day, I shot Marbled Godwits, a Red-throated Loon and a Brown Pelican with a fish.

Since these photos are a little flawed, they didn't get posted. Now that I can step back and look at them anew, I remember having a great vacation day with my wife on the beach.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse
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