Friday, August 29, 2008

NASCAR Nationwide Series Food City 250

Today's photographs were taken last Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway I almost referred to this as the Busch Grand National Series but then I thought (yes I do think, sometimes) no lets get it right and call it by it's new name, the NASCAR Nationwide Series Food City 250.

Before I say anything about the photos or the race I wanted to talk a little about the people. This event was attended by 110,000 people and Saturday's race by almost 170,000 so you get to see all types. I will be the first to admit that allot of these people are rednecks (heck I used to be one), some are that drunk I don't know how they walk or talk. But like firefighters, bikers and other groups you meet most of these people are just really nice. We went on a bus trip since tickets are so hard to get and it just makes life so much easier. On the bus there was allot of nice people, some season ticket holders for the Hershey Bears, just like us. But a few that stood out were a couple (maybe a little older than us) and the woman's father. Linda, her father Tom and her husband, I am sorry but I don't remember his name (old timers decease setting in) traveled from Miami, Florida and met us at a hotel. Like us they are Dolphins fans and like us Tom is a Earnhardt fan. We sat next to them at both races and on the bus, allowing us the chance to talk and get to know them a little better. It was nice getting to meet them and I know Shane really enjoyed their company.

On Saturday the announcer had all the Veterans stand to honor them, Tom stood at the urging of his daughter. It was very evident that he was touched by this and still very proud to have served his country. Linda and I were also very touched by his reaction to the whole thing. For some reason I failed to thank him for his service to the country then so I am doing so now. I can only hope that this thank you reaches him. While I am at it I would like to thank all our vets for keeping this great country safe.

Now back to the race, the top photo is the green flag to start the event. Picture two is the number 6 car of David Ragan spinning on the front stretch to bring out the yellow flag, followed by action on pit road. And finally the last photograph is of Brad Keselowski after doing a few donuts at the start finish line moments after winning the race. Brad drives for Dale Earnhardt Jr. so a few of us were happy with the win.

More from the cup series and some random shots will follow sometime in the future.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sky Watch Friday...

It is time for the weekly installment of Sky Watch Friday. Since I have started to participate in Sky Watch I have noticed that I look for things with good sky in the back ground. Our family does not let any grass grow under our feet so we get to see allot of things and travel to many places. Every where I go these days I am looking for things projecting into the sky to shoot for these days.

With that being said a few weeks ago we traveled to Elk County, Pennsylvania to watch and photograph wildlife. For those of you that come here often you already knew that, but I needed to point it out to the once a week viewers. On the way there this Notre Dame family stopped at State College to check out the PSU campus. It was a great sky day with what my son and I jokingly call fluflious, cumleous clouds (since we make these words up I attempted to spell them as we say them). Seeing these behind Beaver Stadium, Sky Watch Friday immediately came to mind. So we found a place to park and off I go with the camera. That happens allot with us. Do you think Joe Pa had anything to do with the blue sky and white clouds at blue and white Penn State?

Of course being at Bristol Motor Speedway last week was no different, I found myself photographing many things in the sky or projecting into the sky for future post. I would like the people not familiar with Sky Watch to be able to access the sites, but being a computer dummy when I tried to put the little Sky Watch box on my site to the left as a link I could never get it to work. So I will do it the one way I know how, . That worked, but remember for those in my time zone it won't be active until 2:30 p.m. Please check out the other sites and I hope you enjoy them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fawn Revisited...

Back to the wildlife today so I thought I would revisit one of my favorite experiences in the wild and post the fawn. For those of you that follow along on my site you will recognize this little one from last week when I posted two photos of him or her. Just in case you missed it I took these photographs in Elk County at Hick's Run Viewing area the weekend of August 8,9 and 10. This little one was such a pleasure to watch and photograph, I have one more photo of the fawn ready to post some time in the future and need to check the folder to see if there is any others good enough to process.

A while back I plugged some blogs I watch on a regular basis, thanks to sky watch that number has increased. Please check out the comments left by others and go to there sites you will find some amazing photography, some like Klaus's site makes me wonder why I post, his shots are just fantastic. I guess it gives me something to work for. I was getting off the subject, that's not good I forget what I was thinking when that happens. One of my links is for the Pa. Wildlife Photographer, his lessons and photographs are some of the best you will see, he is in Yellowstone and the Tetons this week and I have to believe when he returns his site will be one you do not want to miss. A link is on the left but to make it easy here it is again Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer . One more site I found recently through Tommy V's site is Ken Conger Photography it is a must. We photograph allot of the same things and places, but like Klaus I am not on the same level. When you go to his blog be sure and take the link to his site and look at the different gallery's, it will be worth the time.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How About Some Pennsylvania Small Game...

I have spent the last couple of weeks posting big game from Elk County so I thought some small game might be a nice change of pace. Seeing these two rabbits were an accident, we were following two cows with their fawns hoping to get a shot and they did not want to cooperate. Since it took us some place we didn't plan on going we decided to explore a little. We didn't see any more Elk or deer in that area but we did find these two rabbits and they seemed sad that no one was photographing them so I stopped and took a few pictures.

I will be continuing the wildlife photos tomorrow but I plan to start mixing a few other things in with them. I have some photographs ready from Penn State campus, and yesterday I got a bunch ready from Bristol Motor Speedway. I want to get those posted before I head out west and get another few months worth of wildlife and landscape shots.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bristol Motor Speedway...

Sorry for the late post this morning, we were away all weekend and at the last minute I decided to post from that event, so I needed to download, find the right pictures and then post process them for today. I had wildlife photos ready for today and will return to them on Tuesday while I get more ready from Bristol.

By now I think you guessed that we went to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Nascar race, if you didn't I will write it off as a Monday brain fart. This was our first trip to Bristol and I guess the best way describe it would be "AWESOME". Both of these photos were taken Friday night while the Cup cars were practicing before the Busch race. I know they don't call it that anymore, but I do and I don't like change, so I still and will keep calling it Cup and Busch.

I didn't take the big lens along so for the most part they were shot at 200 mm and once the sun went down the ISO increased to 3200 to keep the shutter speed up. I assumed it with the lights it would be lit up more, I guess the TV is deceiving. More Bristol photos to come in the future, sometime. And just in case you don't know who the guy is in the second photo, it is Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pennsylvania Gobbler's...

These are far from being my sharpest or best images, as a matter of fact I would not even call them decent, but since these are the only gobblers we seen on our trip to Bennezette I thought I would post them more for the outdoor wildlife lovers than the perfect photograph people. We actually came across these three birds on the way home (there is a third you just can't see him). They were very close to Penfield and had just cleared a field and were climbing this bank. They were shot hand held at 600 mm and then cropped in very tight. Hence the poor quality.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sky Watch Friday...

Hello all, it's that time once again, Sky Watch Friday. This is my fourth week participating and it has taken me to allot of great sites with fantastic photography. So be sure and check out the other sky watch entries, you may be pleasantly surprised at some of the sites it will take you to.

Since I have spent almost the last two weeks posting photographs from northern Pennsylvania I could not see a reason to stop now. This was taken in Elk County on Winslow Hill. We were at a pull off overlooking a big hill when we turned around to find this at out backs. I have to admit I would have never thought about shooting rainbows before starting sky watch Friday. In the past I would have said yeah that's neat and kept moving.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What An Exciting Time!

What an exciting time this was. When this little fawn came up on the three of us it was probably the highlight of the trip. This was in the Hicks Run area again, most things I read or heard about Elk County would have put us on Winslow Hill most of the time, but we really liked Hicks Run. There was such an assortment of wildlife and a large quantity of white tail deer to be seen there.

We seen this same fawn two or three times. I don't know if it's mother was hiding nearby or if she was on her own. Each time we seen her she was alone and it was very early morning or late night. What you can't tell in this photograph is that it is very close to getting dark. This was shot at a high ISO and a slow shutter speed to capture the fawn. The shutter speed was so slow that most of the photos were deleted after downloading because they were blurry.

You will see this little one again in the future.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More Pennsylvania Elk...

Yep, more Pennsylvania Elk. These photos were taken the same time as yesterdays at Hick's Run. You should recognize ugly Elk from yesterday and the other one must be his running mate. All three times I seen these guys they were both together.

I hope you don't get bored with wildlife photos from my trip, I have many more ready to post. I plan to mix a few other shots in with photo opportunities coming up at Bristol, the burning of Shiremanstown, the Granger's, Market at Washington, Carlisle and the Cumberland County convention parade. I am also getting the chance to make the trip west again this year with Brian to photograph the landscape and wildlife. So with any luck I will have plenty to work with in the future.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ugly Elk...

Lets start the week out with the ugliest Elk I have ever seen. This Elks antlers didn't know they were supposed to grow in the up position and for some reason ended up in the outward position. I would have to think it would be hard for him to walk through the woods without running into trees. These were shot at the Hick's Run viewing area last Saturday morning. I seen this guy and another bull numerous times last weekend but for some reason this guy would never face me so was unable to get a head on shot of him.

He reminds me of a moose we seen in the Tetons a couple of years ago. That moose had antlers on one side like a moose but the other side was narrow and rounded like an Elk, we referred to him as a Melk for the rest of our trip.

I would like to wish my wife a Happy 24TH Anniversary today. She is one lucky lady to have me for 24 years don't you think.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pa Whitetail Deer..

Yep you guessed it, more Pennsylvania wildlife. But to be nice I am mixing it up for you so you won't know what to expect each day. The problem will be figuring out what to say every day. Like the post from the last few days and the next couple of weeks (unless something great happens here) these come from the northern part of the state last weekend.

The first photograph was taken in the area Hick's Run Viewing area, this doe had a fawn with her but it would only show its head occasionally making it very hard to photograph. I tried a couple of times but the images with both in are not very sharp. The second photo was taken somewhere along Hicks Run Road. The lighting was harsh causing the hind quarters to lose detail but I liked the pose she gave me.

If you enjoy the wildlife photographs, stayed tuned I have more Elk, Whitetail deer, buck and doe, turkeys and small game coming up.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sky Watch Friday...

I don't think I need to explain Sky Watch Friday or why it is on Thursday to my usual viewers this week. After doing it the last two weeks I think you all get the gist. To do sky watch requires a little work for me, I need to look back through my older files or go out and shoot some sky to be able to post. Because of that I find myself looking up more often than in the past.

This photograph was taken last Friday in Elk County Pennsylvania. We were still exploring the area for the next couple of days so I had hiked back an area looking for wildlife, it was getting dark so the chances for shooting were winding down. I had spotted some whitetail deer and was preparing to photograph them when they must have caught some movement out of me. Next thing I know they let out a loud snort, the tails flash up in the air and all I can see now are back ends as they run away. Since the Nikon was already set up on the tripod with the big lens attached I figured why not photograph the moon and see how it looks. I was pleased enough with "Moon over Winslow Hill" that it is today's post.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pa. Turkeys...

I bet you were expecting photographs of Elk today. They will come along with lots of other wildlife from Northern Pennsylvania. Like I said before I really enjoy viewing and photographing wildlife and we got to enjoy lots of that this past weekend. The whitetail were in abundance and some had racks like I have never seen before. With that said I thought I would mix them up over the next couple of weeks.

We had the opportunity to see turkeys on three occasions, the first time it was getting dark and they were in the woods so we really didn't get a chance to shoot them. The second time was when these photos were taken in the early morning. I didn't count them and there was actually many more than can be seen in this flock. When they started walking many little ones came out of the field. We seen these birds on the Winslow Hill Road almost across from the Elk View Dinner.

Sometimes I wonder what I am thinking when I look through the camera. At times I get fantastic shots and at times, like these birds and a few other times this weekend I just seem to not get anything sharp or pay close enough attention to the lighting. I guess I have allot to learn.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pennsylvania Elk's...

This past weekend my family and I traveled to Benezette, Pa to observe the wildlife, Elk in particular. We have traveled to Alaska, Yellowstone, Glacier and the Tetons to view wildlife but for some reason we never went north in our own state to see the Elk. After reading and watching Willard's blog, the Pa Wildlife Photographer I knew I had to make the trip soon.

The trip is just over three and a half hours and 180 miles, not including stops. We did make a stop at PSU on the way there and back. Being huge Notre Dame fans this was a difficult thing to do, but it was well worth it. And yes there will be photographs from PSU in the future. On the way there all the signs pointed to this being a good trip. On Route 322 in Dauphin County we watched a bald eagle flying along the river, then on the same road about 30 miles north of Penn State just before the village of Bigler we seen a black bear standing on the railroad tracks. My reaction was OH S**T!!, hit the brakes and look for a place to turn around without getting hit by another car. We quickly head back with my camera in hand (I travel with it on my lap, just in case) and he is still there, the camera comes up, I hit the shutter button to begin changing my settings (I function on manual mode all the time) and before my finger and thumb can get any changes made he ducks into the brush and out of site. If I only had the camera on auto I could have gotten a shot, not a great one but still a Pa black bear. Oh well, I am just excited to see a bear.

We stayed in Saint Marys while there and since it was a high sun time of day we decided to check into our hotel and grab dinner before exploring. You know you are in the right place when you see the Elk crossing signs. I chose these two photographs for today because the small bull was one of the first Elk's we seen, he along with five or six other Elk's were feeding in peoples yards on Route 555 just before the village of Benezette. The larger bull was with two other big bulls on the Winslow Hill Road past the viewing areas. What a way to start the trip with an awesome Friday.

If I say to much I won't have anything left to say with my other post. I hope you all enjoy wildlife, as you may know that is my number one passion, to view and photograph wildlife and I did just that this past weekend so I have a few weeks worth of wildlife to post.

Thanks Willard for the push I needed to get me there, I will be making the trip numerous times throughout the year from here on out.

Monday, August 11, 2008

National Parks Junior Ranger Program...

Today's post cover a subject I wanted to plug and a space filler since we were not around all weekend. Lets cover the space filler part first, we spent the weekend in the Benezette area of northern Pennsylvania. I say area because we put allot of mileage on the truck driving around in Elk, Clearfield and Cameron Counties looking for wildlife and getting acquainted with the are. I have wanted to view and photograph the Pennsylvania Elk for some time and after following along on Willard's site (Pa Wildlife Photographer) for some time now, he pushed me over the edge. Rest assured it was just the first of what will be many trips to Elk County in the future. Photographs and details to follow starting on Tuesday.

I got these two photographs ready last week, knowing we would be gone all weekend and not have time to get anything ready when we got home. These are of Shane and Linda taking part in a ranger talk at Assateague Island. Ranger talks are for everyone and I highly recommend them. They are given at all National Parks, when arriving just stop at a visitors center and ask for schedule of ranger talks. While there ask if they have a Junior Ranger program. I have never been to a National Park that did not. Most are for children 14 and under. They will give you book with age groups on the front and each group will give a list of requirements.

Normally to complete the requirements certain questions must be answered, some answers are found in the park or at the visitors center and some require speaking to a Ranger. At times they will ask you to collect something in the park or draw a photo, most require you to attend at least one Ranger talk. The children and adults learn more about the park by taking part in the program and it becomes an enjoyable experience for both.

At the completion of the program, you take the finished book back to a Ranger at a visitors center for them to look over and ask questions to ensure you really did learn something. You will then take an oath and receive a certificate and depending on the park a pin or patch. Shane is getting a very large collection of these. The amazing thing is the Junior Ranger program closest to us (Gettysburg) he has not done yet.

If you are going to start going to National Parks don't forget to pick up a passport and have it stamped at the first one you stop at. And remember to take it along on each vacation to have stamped at each eligible stop.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Sika Elk...

Today's photographs come from Assateague Island, I said I was not done with photos from the Island just the ones of the wild horses. These guys are called Sika Elk. When Shane and I first spotted them we only seen the little guy in the shadows, with the spots I though we were looking at a white tail fawn. I am think great, lighting is harsh and sucks but like the Pa. Wildlife Photographer I am going to get some shots of a little guy with spots. That didn't last long as something about the head and ears were not sitting right with me. Then the larger one with spots steps out, I am thinking if this was back home maybe TMI mutated them and its the largest fawn ever. We watched the five for a short time, trying to photograph them. We didn't make out very good as they were standing in shade with direct sunlight in front of them, a no win situation.

Upon reaching our next ranger lecture I decided to ask questions about what we had just watched. No what this ranger and a ranger at a different location told me I could not verify on the net, but I like what they said, that is there story and I am sticking to it. They informed me that in 1923 the Boy Scouts met there for a gathering, one of the scouts brought a few exotic Sika Elk along with him from Asia and turned them loose. Since then they have multiplied and survived on the island. Today the herd numbers around 200 and multiplies quickly, because of this they are hunted every year on the island to keep the herd at a manageable size and protect the other recourse's.

Now for a few facts about the Sika, they can be found in more than 34 states in the USA. They are native to Japan, Taiwan and eastern Asia. Sika deer are actually more closely related to the elk than they are to white tailed deer. They are smaller than whitetails, with adult males, called stags, typically weighing about 90 pounds and adult females, or hinds, weighing roughly 70 pounds. Coat color ranges from chestnut brown during winter to reddish-olive during summer. Sikas keep their white spots as adults, which are most visible during the summer months, and tend to have proportionally shorter snouts and smaller ears. Unlike whitetailed deer that raise their tails like a flag when alarmed, they have a white rump patch that flares outwards.

Like whitetails, only the males have antlers; however, they are more narrow and erect and resemble miniature elk antlers. Stags rarely have more than three points per antler; typically spikes as yearlings, which develop into four or five points as two year olds, and finally six points at three years. Trophy-class antlers are about 13 to 15 inches in length and are shed between February and April of each year.

I guess that is enough for now, with any luck I will be posting more Elk next week, but not Sika's, some from the Pennsylvania Elk herd.

By the way, I took the first photograph (it features Elk #51) and Shane took the second one.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sky Watch Friday, On Thursday?

SkyWatch Friday on Thursday, how can that be? Last week I made my first post on SkyWatch Friday and at that time I let my regular viewers know what it was all about. But I bet you didn't expect it on a Thursday this week did you, neither did I . After speaking with a friend at work that has participated in SkyWatch for a few weeks now I learned that this was not started in the USA and that it actually begins on Thursday for us. That being said I declare it Skywatch Friday on Thursday in Pennsylvania.

I guess I forgot about the photograph. This was taken July 31, 2006 in downtown Shippensburg. For the second time in 18 years a multiple alarm fire struck this building in the first block of East King Street. In the photograph Trucks 53 and 1 operate elevated master streams into the fire from their Emergency-One tower ladders. I don't know why but the photograph looked much better in print, when I uploaded it the colors in the sky seemed to wash out, the sky has more red in the printed photo.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Assateague Horses...

Last day of horse photographs, not the last from Assateague, but the last horse. The first photograph was taken by Shane and the second one is mine. Like I said before I am very proud of the way he is coming along. He is set up with his own bag with the D70 and a couple of lens's when we go shooting he takes off and does his own thing all in manual mode. It has been just over a year since he started shooting the DSLR and he has come a long way. Lets see how he does this weekend, we are going to shoot the Elk in Benezette, Pa.. With any luck it will be a good weekend and we will see lots of Elk with some white tail deer and maybe even a bear or two mixed in.

At Assateague the horses run wild on the island separated from the Chincoteague, Virginia herd by a fence. The Maryland horses are maintained by the National Park Service while the Virginia herd id managed by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. The herds are restricted in size in order to protect the other natural recourse's. Each year the Chincoteague VFD has a horse sale. One day the horses swim across the water for the sale, the next day they are sold and the following day those that were not sold for various reasons swim back to the island. This years event was just held on July 30, 31 and August 1.

There are few places in the United States where you can view wild horses. If you have never been to Assateague you are really missing out.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More Assateague Island...

I will make this short I need to save enough text to last me a couple more days or I will have photos and nothing to say. I can't remember the exact number but when we visited Assateague there was around 146 hundred wild horses there. Of those we seen 30, most in this heard we photographed on the beach.

These photographs were taken by Shane, like I said yesterday he did a great job and actually got more usable images than I did. Maybe I should stop teaching him or pass this site unto him.

Just a tidbit of information to go along with the first photograph, in horse society, mutual grooming establishes and maintains social ties. It is often initiated by a subordinate horse towards a dominant one. See I know useless stuff also.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Assateague Island National Seashore...

Today's and most of this weeks photographs will come from Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland. Assateague is a barrier island bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by Sinepuxent Bay. The two miles of ocean beaches offer swimming, surfing and fishing and the bay side gives visitors a chance to explore by canoe or kayak. While on the island you can go crabbing and clamming or take in one of the many ranger programs. If you are fourteen and under you can take part in the Junior Ranger program. I guess if I say much more I will have nothing to type the rest of the week.

The number one reason we went to Assateague was to see the horse. I had only ever been there once before with Linda and her parents and this was to be Shane's first trip. As you can see by the first photograph we knew we were on the right track to seeing horses or an engine company that didn't still have there last brain cell. Thankfully it was the horses.

If you have never photographed a dark subject with a bright back ground in direct sunlight you have no idea how difficult it is to not blow out all the highlights and lose detail or save them and make the subject to dark losing there detail. Well I didn't pay close enough attention to my LCD display and really shot a bunch of crap that will be deleted. Shane on the other hand did an excellent job with his setting therefore you will be seeing none of his because I don't want him showing me up. Just kidding Shane, I will be posting his photographs this week also he really did a great job, could he have a future in photography?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Sky Watch Friday

For my regular viewers this is something new to you. If you check out a couple of the links I have on here you have see Sky Watch Friday in the past on other peoples sites. Sky watch Friday is something a group of blogger's do every Friday posting photographs relating to the sky for others to enjoy.

Today's photographs were taken last week at Ocean City, Maryland while enjoying the sunny beaches.

On my Shippensburg Fire Department History blog today I posted the numbers pertaining to the site for July, I had never done this in the past. But for the loyal viewers and the occasional stopping by ones I wanted to let you know what happens during a month on the sites. For the month of July this site had 1,251 viewers looking at 3,556 pages and spending an average of 2:27 per visit. I don't think that is to bad considering I never post on Saturday's and Sunday's. I would like to thank everyone for stopping by and if you know anyone that would enjoy the photos please pass it along to them. Thanks again Brad.