Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Old Video Draws "Spirited" Comments

Do you believe in ghosts?  If pressed for a strict yes or no answer, I would say no.

But I have heard several very credible accounts from people I know (or know of) involving "otherworldy" encounters they had. So a better answer from me to the above question would be "maybe." In other words, I'm on the fence about the existence of ghosts.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dutch Photos in CNPA Magazine

I was excited to open up the latest issue of the Carolinas' Nature Photographers Association (CNPA) magazine and find this piece on page 1!

I had submitted my Amsterdam article and photos several months ago. A few issues of the magazine came out during that time without my story included, so I had pretty much given up on it running. 

So it was truly a "Dutch delight" to see it in this issue. I emailed the editor and effusively thanked her.  Cindy Landrum did a fine job condensing the text, selecting and laying out the piece. 

More of my photos and stories from last winter's visit to Amsterdam can be seen here.  Also produced a slide show using the fun Kizoa platform. 


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Back With More Backyard Birds!

Yesterday while doing some errands outside I heard the distinctive cackle of a bird I know well: the Belted Kingfisher.

Grabbing my camera and monopod, I went into the backyard, which is close to a small pond.  I soon spotted the Kingfisher and lucky me it landed nearby on my neighbor's Purple Martin house.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Harvest Moon in Full Glory

I was excited in early October (Oct. 3, 7:30 p.m.) to take these photos from my driveway of this gorgeous Harvest Moon.  I shot with my Canon PowerShot SX 50 HS "superzoom" camera. 
I was thrilled with the detail achieved when I zoomed in all the way
After all, the moon is 238,900 miles from the Earth! 

Still stunning to think that man has walked on the Moon!  

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Magnolia Cemetery Welcomes CofC Students

Class photo at the unique Parker excedra site
On the eve of All Hallows' Eve (aka Halloween) my College of Charleston students and I took a field trip to Magnolia Cemetery

October 30 was a cool, clear and very pleasant evening to visit the grand necropolis on the outskirts of Charleston. 

By Green Taxis (some students drove themselves or carpooled) we arrived just after 5:15 p.m. Time was of the essence, as sunset, this final week before Daylight Savings Time, would come at approximately 6:45. 

Students explore the beautiful Gibbes mausoleum
I really enjoyed showing my students around the large rural Victorian cemetery that opened in 1850. Today, some 33,000 people are buried among the 150 acres. 

I showed the students many of my favorite Magnolia Cemetery monuments and memorials-there are so many!  But I also gave the students time to explore on their own.  For their blog posts on the visit, I asked them to photograph and write about three of their favorite grave sites.

Looking forward to reading their posts!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

GoPro Shoot at Botany Bay Beach- Hurricane Irma Damage

Last Sunday, Alesia and I visited the Botany Bay Wildlife Management Area south of Charleston to see firsthand the effects of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irma.  Irma struck, in force, the Charleston area on Sept. 11.

For this video, I used my GoPro camera. Glad I took it because it allowed me to keep shooting as a hard rain came down as we were starting to leave but still had a lot of walking to get off the beach and back to the car.

Botany Bay was already a "boneyard beach" due its abundance of fallen trees caused, over time, by erosion and previous storms.  After Irma, there are lots more bones in the boneyard, as you'll see in this video.

Music is courtesy of the excellent free and royalty-free music site, 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Beach Visits in Review!

I didn't get to the Charleston area beaches too often this summer, 3-4 times maybe. But whenever I go, I always take my camera. You just never know what you may see there!  And often there are neat, unusual and/or interesting things and people to photograph.

This presentation features Sullivan's Island and Folly Beach.

Using Kizoa, a fun and easy (and free) program for creating slideshows and videos, I produced this three minute presentation.  Click below to view. If that's not playing properly, click here. Enjoy!
                                           The Beach 2017
The music used is courtesy of my go-to free music site, I found the song titled, "Parsail" among the Ambient music offerings. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Back To My Birding Roots: Magnolia Cemetery!

Selfie- note the sweaty arm reflection- it was a hot day!
With Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irma impacting South Carolina today (Sept. 11), I am hunkered down at home and hoping for the best!

With no school, I'm trying to be productive by getting to a few blog posts I've been wanting to write.

Last month on a Sunday, Alesia and I went to Magnolia Cemetery to walk around and see what birds we can photograph.

Snapseed Phone App a Snap for Photo Enhancing

Recently, while driving to work on Ladson Road, I was struck by this photo opportunity. I liked the leading lines of the power lines on the left and the sky had a cool look too.

So I very carefully took a few pictures with my iPhone 7.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Red-Shouldered Hawk Pair

Like my previous post about the Great Egret downing a fish from the pond near my backyard, I also did not have to leave my driveway to capture these images last week.  These are Red-shouldered Hawks atop a pine tree across the street from my house.

First I heard their high-pitched call, then I spotted them, then I grabbed my camera and monopod, then quickly started shooting!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

"Down the Hatch" with a Great Egret

I feel fortunate to live in a nice neighborhood with lots of trees and a small pond just beyond my backyard.

The environment, plus my bevy of bird feeders, baths and houses, is very hospitable to our feathered friends.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Interesting Feeder Visitor!

Yesterday I spotted at my backyard feeders this Cardinal-sized bird that I did not recognize.

It perched at this tube feeder for a while, at least 15-20 minutes that I observed.
After taking several photographs, I went to one of my go-to bird books to try to identify the type of bird this is.

It has a finch bill, but these colors I have not seen.

So I'm going to for assistance.  The site's bird identification forum never fails in correctly naming bird types or confirming them for me.

This is no exception as the word from a couple fellow birders on tell me this is a Brown-headed Cowbird, a male juvenile.

Young fellow may be on his own for a short time.  I hope you have a nice life and you are welcome at my feeders any time!

I have had adult male and female Cowbirds in my yard before, but never a juvenile.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cardinals and Hummingbirds Grace Backyard Feeders

My backyard bird feeders have been staying busy this summer. It's been all I can do to keep the tubes and suet holders stocked!
Northern Cardinals (a pair seen here), Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Downy and Red-belled Woodpeckers are the most common visitors.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Mississippi Kite and Heron In My Hood!

It's pretty neat (and convenient!) as a birder and nature photographer to have a regular "supply" of birds- large and small- frequent my neighborhood in North Charleston, S.C. We have lots of trees and several ponds so that's a plus, and it's generally pretty quite around here.
Just the other day, I first heard, then spotted, then went inside and grabbed my camera and monopod to try to photograph this bird, perching high atop a pine tree in a neighbor's backyard.

I figured it was a hawk, but have now learned, through a trusted social media site, that it is a juvenile Mississippi Kite. has a wonderful forum for bird identification.

The forum is free to join and use. You just have to sign up (username, password, etc.) and then you can post photos of birds you need help identifying, or help those in such need with your expertise.

This post today took much longer than normal for positive IDs to come in, but it was certainly worth the wait!

A few days after taking the above images, I had another opportunity to photograph a young Mississippi kite.

This one may be the same bird I photographed earlier. The location was different, but also a pine tree in my neighborhood.
I have no question as to this type of big bird.
This, of course, is the magnificent Great Blue Heron, which stood for a long time near the pond that is close to my backyard.
Great Blue was ready for a closeup.  This is a great bird to photograph because it will often be statue-still for great lengths of time.

I continue to see and hear Kites in my neighborhood, so will be alert to more photo ops with this magnificent creature!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Painted Bunting a Donnelley Delight!

On Sunday, July 23 we braved the Lowcountry heat and humidity and ventured south to the ACE Basin's Donnelley Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

For us, the drive is about 50 miles. Donnelley is located off Highway 17 in the metropolis (ha!) of Green Pond, S.C.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Paris Finale Post: Luxembourg Palace, Roland Garros and More Eiffel Tower

Spending a week and a half in Paris was such a great (and perhaps once in a lifetime) opportunity to soak up the history, architecture and atmosphere of the "City of Light."

Toward the end of the trip I made a list of the key attractions I had visited, some by myself but most with Alesia and our two boys and Joseph's girlfriend.
My list came to 16, many of which I have documented in the posts preceding this one.
This final Paris post will cover some sites not previously covered and also will include street scenes such as this one. The domed building is part of the College of Sorbonne, which was founded way back in 1253 as a theological institution. The chapel, built in the baroque style, dates to 1635.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Invigorating and Vexing Versailles Visit!

Getting outside of Paris to Versailles proved to be a transportation quagmire for us.

What should have been a two-connection train trip of maybe an hour took us more than three hours, hence "vexing" in the title of this post.
But it was all worth the trouble to see this beautiful palace and the lovely landscaped gardens around it.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

French Army Museum and Napoleon's Tomb at Les Invalides

Les Invalides is a Paris attraction I was not familiar with before coming here.

But it is a place I thoroughly enjoyed visiting.
Les Invalides is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Arc de Triomphe a BIG Surprise!

The first thing that struck me after exiting the underground Paris Metro stop, going up the stairs and first seeing IT was just how big IT is!

The Arc du Triomphe is one colossal and impressive monument.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Louvre's Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Napolean and More

For first time visitors to Paris like myself, the world renowned Louvre Museum is on the short list of must-see places.

According to Wikipedia, it is the world's largest museum and the second most visited art museum, behind only Beijing, China's Palace Museum.

The massive museum is more than 780,000 square feet in size with 38,000 objects "from prehistory to the 21st century" (Wikipedia).

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Old Paris Cemeteries Exude Unique Artistry

A dazzling and dizzying variety of grave markers are daily on public display to those who care to visit places of death.
This image is a microcosm of how there are so many different ways people can be honored and remembered with cemetery art.
On the left is a life size figure of someone who must have been very important during his life in Paris or elsewhere in France.
And on the right is an ancient gowned woman in a mourning pose with a lyre behind her.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Notre Dame Cathedral Amazes on Many Levels

The great Cathedrale Notre-Dame du Paris has so many design features on its exterior that many satisfying hours could be spent studying those without ever going inside the sacred church.

Paris Security Protects the Public

This post is a tribute to the Paris security forces we saw on the streets throughout our visit.

Like this woman, I appreciated their presence in this time of terrorism.
There is so much to see in Paris and so many people out and about, especially this time of year as school is out and people and families are taking vacations.

There is clearly a heightened security presence