Friday, February 27, 2009

The Fight For Food...

Although not a technically perfect photograph the action was just to much for me not to work the photo and post on the site. Taken at the Viera Wetlands, this Blue Heron spotted the Anhinga coming out of the water with a bass in his mouth and swooped in for the meal. He did not get the fish but neither did the Anhinga. It is amazing the photographs you can get at this place in just one afternoon, I can't imagine the photos I could get if I spent a few days there. I did get back one other day with my son for a couple of hours and he loved it. He is already talking about our next trip to Florida and wanting to spent more time there. I guess another trip is in the future, but maybe a week or two later so we can take in some baseball spring training camps as well.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Florida Sunset...


Another edition of Sky Watch Friday, wow where does the time go, it seems like just last week at this time I was making a sky watch post, LOL. This weeks sky watch comes from Viera Wetlands, Melbourne, Florida. I am getting some mileage out of my Florida photos until I get the chance to get out and get something new around here.

Don't forget to click the Sky Watch link to view other great sky watch photographs from around the world.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Female Boat-Tailed Grackle...

Yep, more Florida birds, this one the female Boat-tailed Grackle. To learn more about this species visit this link http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Boat-tailed_Grackle_dtl.html. If you have been following the links by know you should realize I found a great bird site that I like to use. This photograph was captured in the morning shoot on Black Point Drive.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Look What I Caught...

This Blue Heron photograph was captured at Viera Wetlands, Melbourne, Florida. I was sitting along the banks of one of the cells when he flew in close to me. I watched him slowly walking through the water for sometime and he appeared to me to be fishing. I kept the camera trained on him and waited him out until he lunged into the water coming up with his feast. I shot many photographs of the event and will post more later. He was fun to watch and it was amazing to see him swallow the fish so easily. For sometime after he eat the fish his long neck would shake back and forth from the fish flopping around.

I wanted to mention that my son Shane has redesigned his blog and started it back up last week. He will be posting on Tuesday's and Thursday's and starting next week he will be using new photographs he recently shot. His site can be found on my links to the left or by clicking here http://smyersphotos.blogspot.com/. The new header photograph on his site was taken at Viera Wetlands and is him photographing an alligator. Don't forget to stop by and check him out and don't forget to make my photograph today get larger by clicking on it, the detail is great.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Roseate Spoonbill...

I decided to continue this week with the birds I photographed in Florida, partly because I didn't know what else to post and because they are fresh photographs. All of my photos from the last two weeks starting with the battle of the Bulge were taken with my new lens the Nikkor 70-200 1:28 AF-S VR. What a great lens. It is super fast and very sharp. I guess you really get what you pay for, I know after a couple of weeks I have fallen in love with it.

My bird panning skills leave a little to be desired. It is not something I do often and I need more practice. This trip was a chance to due just that, I took many photos some came out great other found the delete button in a hurray. I was a little disappointed in my performance at times and I think that came from being a little overwhelmed. I really only had one day to shoot and watch birds and I didn't make the best of my time, sometimes just watching instead of shooting. Had I allotted more time for shooting I think I would have had more keepers.

This beautiful bird is the Roseate Spoonbill, I first came to know about him through Klaus's site. I was hoping to get the chance to see this creature on my visit and I did on Black Point Drive. Some of my best photos of them came in flight, their pink color with the fantastic blue sky made for some great photos. To learn more about this bird follow this link http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Roseate_Spoonbill.html. While you are their click on the play sounds from this species to hear the distinctive sounds he makes.

By the way, my new profile photo is courtesy of Klaus, taken at sunrise on Black Point Drive.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Passing Of An Icon...



Last week while vacationing in Florida I received a phone call to inform me of the passing of a Yellowstone icon, the infamous bull Elk number 6. Number 6 was found dead on Sunday February 11, 2009 in Gardiner, Montana, just north of Yellowstone.

Officials believe the large Elk tripped while trying to cross a fence and somersaulted onto his back, where he was pinned between rocks with his antlers beneath him and suffocated.

Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said number 6 weighted an unusually hefty 725 pounds. He was believed to be at least 15 years old, Elk usually live 13 to 18 years.

Number 6 was best known for venting his sexual frustrations on rival bull Elks and cars. Just last rut late one evening while returning to our camp site we seen number 6 running through Mammoth with a tail light stuck to one of his antlers. He was responsible for damaging many cars over the years in the Mammoth area. In 2004 and 2005 park officials removed his antlers during the rut to make him less dangerous.

For those that never got to see number 6 and his antics during the rut missed a true show and for those that did they will never forget the hours of entertainment he gave them.

With his passing it is believed that number 10 could now be the king of Yellowstone, I have photographs of him and will post them in the future. For the amount of times I seen number 6 I was surprised that I did not have more photos of him and none of him alone.

Elk Number 6 is survived by a large harem of cows and many off spring.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Florida Sunrise...


Hello again everyone, I missed the last few weeks of Sky Watch Friday, but I am back today. This sunrise was captured last week on Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island, Florida. It was a great day of watching and shooting birds from sunrise to sunset with one of the sky watch staff. Don't forget to click the sky watch link and enjoy the great photos from all over the world.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

American Alligator...

Another short one and then maybe I can catch up the rest of the week now that I am home with some Sky Watch Friday and my tribute to Elk number 6 now that I am home. Click him for a larger view.

This small American Alligator was photographed at the Viera Wetlands in Melbourne, Florida. I got down on my belly and got fairly close to him for the eye to eye shot. To learn more about the Gators follow this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Alligator. More gator photos to come in the future.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Green Heron...

Today's post and the next few days will be short, I have not been able to get online with my laptop. It has also given me fits in other ways, vista sucks and I am thinking the whole thing would make a better wheel chock than anything else.

This little bird is a Green Heron, he was photographed in a manner that I am not accustomed to, with the SB-800 flash used as a fill in. This photo was taken at Merritt Island along Blackpoint Drive. My flash photography lacks and it is time to use it more and get some skills. One day last week I had the opportunity to shoot from dark to dark with Klaus at the Viera Wetlands and Merritt Island. For the regular blogger's you already know Klaus from Sky Watch Friday and his site that always features great Florida bird photographs. For those of you not familiars with him follow the link to the left to view his photographs or click here http://virtua-gallery.com/wp/ .

Thankfully Klaus spotted this little fellow or I may have missed him and without him to identify all the different types I would be spending days searching the net trying too identify the different species. Follow this link to learn more about the Green Heron http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Green_Heron_dtl.html

Thanks again Klaus for the invite, knowledge and great day of filling memory cards.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Where Am I?


I picked these two photographs for today because I thought they would be the best clue as to my location for the last week. I will give you two more hints, one, it is warn here and two, I had the chance to photograph many birds one day with Klaus.

I need to catch up on a few things from the last week and that is thanks to those that commented on my WW 2 photos last week. I really enjoyed photographing the living historians for those posts. All of those were scheduled post and I finally got the chance to get a few more photos ready yesterday and uploaded to the site. Net time and wireless connections have been few and far between.

I received a phone call last week informing me that Yellowstone's famous Elk number 6 died in an accident last week. I wanted to publish a tribute to him but all his photos are at home on a different hard drive so that will have to wait for later in the week. I will also post more from this event later also.

I want to remind everyone that most of my photos get larger when they are clicked on.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The German's Have Been Captured...


Okay I know this has been five days in a row for the WW2 Battle of the Buldge, but I promise it will be the last ones this week. You will see some more again, maybe not next week but again for sure. I thought I would end the week giving those of you that are not into history a little history on the battle. And for those of you that are into history just think of it as a little refresher class.

The Battle of the Bulge, popular name in World War II for the German counterattack in the Ardennes, Dec., 1944–Jan., 1945. It is also known as the Battle of the Ardennes. On Dec. 16, 1944, a strong German force, commanded by Marshal von Rundstedt, broke the thinly held American front in the Belgian Ardennes sector. Taking advantage of the foggy weather and of the total surprise of the Allies, the Germans penetrated deep into Belgium, creating a dent, or "bulge," in the Allied lines and threatening to break through to the N Belgian plain and seize Antwerp. An American force held out at Bastogne, even though surrounded and outnumbered. The U.S. 1st and 9th armies, temporarily under Field Marshal Montgomery, attacked the German salient from the north, while the U.S. 3d Army attacked it from the south. Improved flying weather (after Dec. 24) facilitated Allied counterattacks. By Jan. 16, 1945, the German forces were destroyed or routed, but not without some 77,000 Allied casualties.

Now time for a plug, if you have never watched Band Of Brothers it is without a doubt the best WW2 for the TV ever made, check it out.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Battle...


Yep more Battle of the Buldge photographs, these come from the morning battle they did for the public. The snow on the ground and very cold temperatures added a touch of realism to the event that just made it that much better. As you can see from the last four days I have post processed the images in different ways, some black and white, some with a touch of color and some to appear a little more like art work. I have my favorites from the weekend but I will not say which ones they are. Before I forget I wanted to share the web site for this event with you, http://www.wwiifederation.org/index.html check it out and consider it in upcoming years. Some of the other good events coming up are in Reading the first weekend in June and at the Army Heritage Center (Carlisle) for Armed Forces Day in May.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Women Of World War 2...


The one thing that attending these events has helped me to do is to photograph people. Before I started going to these a couple of years ago I was scared to shoot people, especially if I did not know them. Well these people are used to being photographed and they know how to pose or go about there business in a natural way all the while knowing someone is firing away at them. I also try to look for the different angle or photograph to have something that I can call my own and not a copied shot from someone else. This day I shot over 500 photographs, after downloading I do not know how many I deleted after the first trip through bridge, maybe around 100 or so. I really enjoyed shooting this woman in one of the U.S. barracks, I went in twice hoping for a different shot and looking for different angles. If you have been around a little while like me you know what a pin up girl is and there were numerous ones hanging up around the barracks, I used that to try and portray what I wanted to see that day. Now it is up to you, what do you think? Does the photo work, did I really get something or should I stick to wildlife and the occasional fire? By the way please don't forget to click the images and make them larger, it really brings out more detail.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Battle Of The Buldge Part II...


The battle of the Buldge reenactment was held January 27 to the 31, but the only parts open to the public were on Saturday the 31. During that day there is two battles held for the public along with the barracks the re-enactors are staying in. I am not sure what they do the rest of the week but they did have at least one large battle the day we were their that included vehicles of various sizes. Those battles are not open to the public and I believe the only ones that can attend them are WW2 veterans. If you have never attended one of these events they are just amazing. The people that do the reenactments spend allot of money on weapons, clothing and other items to be historically correct. While they are at the events they remain in character by what they eat, do and say. As a historian and history buff I just love the realism they bring to the events. These re-enactors and events have become one of my favorite things to do and photograph.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Battle Of The Buldge...


Every year we set at work or home and watch news footage from Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania on the reenactment of the Battle of the Buldge. And every year we say, dang I wish I would have known about that, I would have loved to have attended. Well this year my son, Shane and I did. I searched the net until I found it, printed it out, marked the calendar and talked about it for weeks until the day came. We were not disappointed, Shane and I had a great time and we will never miss it again. Since I am planning on posting photos from this event on multiple days I won't say much more today, instead I will save some for other days.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sparring Elk Video...

video

Since this weeks post have been a little different than what I normally post I thought I would get back to wildlife for the end of the week. This video was taken with my phone in Mammoth, Yellowstone on September 26, 2008. These two young Elk put on a good show for us for a few minutes, the video only last 61 seconds. If you click on the Elk label to the left I have posted photos of these two in the past.

Yes I know, no photographs today, I am taking the easy way out since I had nothing ready. Next week will be more new photographs, not fire or wildlife. You will just have to wait and see.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bristol Motor Speedway Fly Over...


Today's Sky Watch Friday post comes from Bristol Motor Speedway last fall. With the NASCAR season about to start I thought this might be a good time to put this photo up. If you have ever been to a race you know that fly overs by the military has become a regular occurrence.

Don't forget to click the sky watch link to the left to view other sky watch photos from around the world.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Harrisburg Firefighter's...


Last day from the ice rescue training. I figured since I have been doing wildlife shots for months now maybe I would switch things up a little and give some of the firefighters looking at the site something else to watch. No training photographs today thought, I thought I would go with some close up firefighter photos. You seen the guy in the top photo on Monday in the sled, John Peskie, Wagon 3, "B". John should be a happy guy this week since the Steelers won another Super Bowl. In the second photograph El-Shakur, Tower 3, "B" tries to shoot a Nikon DSLR, I don't know how well he made out but being a truckman he had to do better than an engine guy would have done. I would like to point out to Chuck and the Wagon Master that in each of the photographs it is always engine guys getting rescue, not the truckies.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Row Your Boat A Shore...


Today is a continuation of yesterday's post. Of course after yesterday's post I am at a loss of what to say today. At present the Harrisburg Fire Bureau operates a boat of of city island, the raft pictured above out of station 1 and in the near future a new boat equipped with a pump, our first real fire boat. Three of the companies in the city Tower 2, Squad 8 and Tower 3 are the dedicated water rescue rigs. Of course I prefer entering the river in July or August but I don't have the luxury of choosing when the calls are.

In the top photo Brian Bastinelli, Tower 2 and Lt. Dennis Devoe, Tower 3, B Platoon return to shore in the raft after rescuing Lt. Doug Bair. Once again Doug proves that he does not have both ores in the water. In the bottom photo Brian uses the ice awls to move across the ice in the sled.

Monday, February 2, 2009

HFD Practices Ice Rescue Skills...



Harrisburg Pennsylvania is bordered by the Susquehanna River, a wide water way used for pleasure in the summer. This same river covers with ice in the winter when we experience the cold temperatures we have had the last month. In Harrisburg there is an ordinance against being on the ice. Even with that in place almost everyday someone decides they want to be stupid and walk on it anyways. River ice does not lay flat like pond ice, it humps up and sometimes builds mounds eight to ten feet high, the water also continues to flow under the ice. With the channels and currents some parts do not freeze like others making this a very dangerous situation.

This January has been no exception, it seems like almost every day we are responding to the river for people on the ice, when we do this we tie up three to four rigs and 9 to 13 men because someone felt they needed to show their stupidity to the city and television audience (local news). Being Harrisburg firefighters we are the first to respond to the river when an incident occurs often waiting 30 minutes or more before a water rescue company makes it's way to the scene. Because of this it is important for us to train for these situations and be prepared to assist in a safe manner. In the last few years we have increased our equipment cache and training to have these skills and provide a high level of professional service the citizens and visitors of Harrisburg have come to rely on and deserve.

Last week we took the opportunity to go out to a lake in the City and practice these skills on a Platoon level. In the first photo Firefighters John Peskie and Deshawn Dennis work there way out to a down person on the sled, once arriving at the victim they secured the individual into the sled and had the shore based rescue crews haul them in the sum 200 plus feet they went out. In the last photograph Leon Cliatt is one of two firefighters dressed on shore as a back up crew during the evolution in case anything goes wrong. All three of the firefighter in the photos work on Wagon 3, B Platoon, the patient in the sled was Lt. Doug Bair, Squad 8, B Platoon.