Wednesday, August 8, 2018

New Book is Delivered!

I am so excited to share that my latest book has been completed, printed and delivered to my house!

This is an expanded version of my 2016 first issue. The title is the same: "Nature-ly Fun: Bird Photography From A to Z" but this new one has a hardcover.  This is something I really wanted because the hardcover looks so much better than the soft one, and the physical condition quality of the book is much better and longer lasting. 

The book's central themes remain the same: that birding and nature photography is fun, interesting, wholesome and healthy. This is truly a hobby that can be picked up at any stage of life and can last a lifetime. 

I used the alphabet's 26 letters to extoll an array of attributes of a hobby I enjoy so much. "A" is for Adventure, "B" is for Beauty- you get the idea.  A short essay supports each descriptive letter accompanied by several of my photographs that further illustrate each letter.

The book also includes what I call "Best of the Rest." These are other types of photographs I enjoy taking, such as sunrises and sunsets, lighthouses, cemeteries, churches, reflections and shadows, as well as animals other than birds.




I love this owl photo so much that I took a few years ago in the Hollings National Wildlife Refuge south of Charleston that I kept it on the cover. 

This second edition is 100 pages versus the first version's 85.
I even added a few types of birds not included in the earlier book, bringing the bird variety number to 90 from 85. 









Click on this image of the book's back cover to get more details on what's inside. 

I have just added this book to my three previous ones on my Amazon authors site.  Click here to see it. 

The book can be purchased through Amazon or from me directly, which I will happily sign. My email address is birdseyeviewspublications@gmail.com.

I will add Charleston area store locations where the book is sold as they become available. 

Many thanks to Whitlock Business Systems and its 360 Digital Books division for another fine collaboration.  This is the third book I've done with this company located near Detroit and I'm pleased again with the quality, service and pricing. 

Please contact me if you have questions or comments about this book or my previous ones. Thank you! 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Jekyll Island Joy!

This month we enjoyed a family vacation on the Georgia gem Jekyll Island. We stayed four nights at the Westin resort and could not be happier with the experience.  The hotel is beachfront, our rooms had ocean views and the weather was very good for relaxing and catching rays on the beach.

To follow are a bunch of my favorite photos. For a smallish 10 miles long island there was much to see and do.  Jekyll has nothing to hide (ha- get it?) with many public beaches plus some very interesting history and historic sites I was unaware of before this visit.

This picture was taken from a second floor patio at the Westin. The image is idyllic in the sense of summertime at the beach, I feel.


Monday, July 9, 2018

Grave Discovery in the ACE Basin!

Boynton Trail 

Yesterday, I had quite an adventure on the nature trail at the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area in South Carolina's ACE Basin. 

Within the Colleton County refuge's 8,000 acres is the Boynton Trail. A day can be spent at this place alone, with its miles of trails through and around former rice fields and wooded areas.

I have visited the Boynton Trail (this link is one of my posts) a number of times over the years. Several of my Donnelley and Boynton blogs posts can be found by using the "Search This Blog" feature to the right. I went there just two weeks ago and had a really neat encounter with a pair of Painted Buntings.  I will post some of those photographs in the days ahead.

After that recent visit, I was determined to get back soon. Here is why (see next picture):

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wrong Wren!

Something is out of place on this bulletin board in my garage. Can you see it?

It is quite an assemblage of photographs, sports letters, ticket stubs, business cards and other random items.

Maybe this Carolina Wren is a fan of the former Chicago Cubs (now Miami Marlins) player Starlin Castro, who is pictured on this 2012 Cubs schedule. The Wren seems to be giving Starlin a close look anyway.
A pair of Carolina Wrens were in my garage when I went in it to look for something. The garage door had been open for a few hours.

For whatever reasons Wrens often enter the garage when it’s open like this. The one flew out pretty quickly when I entered, but this one became panicked and flew over to the area by the house door. As it landed on things, I thought that would make for good photos. I gently opened the door to go inside to get my camera, hoping the bird would not go in with me, which it didn’t thankfully.

 So as you see I got a few nice shots and the Wren eventually made it back outside where it belongs.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Hawk Backyard Feeding Feast!

Back in March, I took these photos from my backyard. The poor Muscovy duck, I think, had been sick and that made it easy pickings for predators such as this Red-shouldered Hawk. I had seen the duck laying in this spot a day or two earlier and didn’t think that much about it.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

B-1 Bomber Pix Blasts into the Newspaper!

I was excited to have a photo again selected as the winning entry in a Charleston Post and Courier weekly photo contest shown in the paper on Sunday, May 27.  The theme this time was "Lowcountry Panoramas." I took this photo on April 28 at the Joint Base Charleston (aka Charleston Air Force Base) Air and Space Expo.  See my blog post from a few weeks ago, showing the great variety of planes (and other weapons) on the ground and in the air.  

This recent image came to my mind. It is of a B-1 bomber that was among the many planes on display along the flight line. I took it with my iPhone 7 in the "Pano" setting.

The image, for a panorama contest, was different, admittingly, and that is what the contest editors, all P&C staff photographers, liked about it, according to the comments given.  Click on the images to see them larger.

This is the original shot of the big B-1 bomber serving as a shade shelter for folks on the tarmac at Joint Base Charleston. 
I made and framed this design. Such a neat event and I'm really pleased with this unique image. Am happy and proud that the Post and Courier folks liked it too! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Survival of the Sago Palms!

It seems like it took forever but Alesia and I are so pleased that the Sago Palms that decorate our front yard area are back and as beautiful as ever- if not more so considering what happened to them in January.

On January 3, the Charleston area had a very rare heavy snowfall. We had five inches or so at our house.  See my Winter Storm Grayson post here.

While beautiful in many ways, we didn't realize how hard the snow would be on our lovely Sago Palms.





Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Yay Hilton Head Vacay!

I have so been looking forward to our long-planned vacation in Hilton Head! It marks a transition week between the just ended school year and a summer full of home improvement, book projects and other to-do items.

I will chronicle our Hilton Head trip with photos. Lots of rain was forecast, which had us worried. We end up getting two clear and sunny days for what we really wanted to do: soak up some sun on the beach.

Five days on Hilton Head was a blast. Friday we drove the short distance to Savannah to have dinner and spend the night. Our trip culminated in a short visit to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.
Checking out the beach soon after our arrival 
Nice leading lines, beach, clouds and HDR effect

Monday, May 14, 2018

Marked Dolphin Photographed in Charleston Harbor

Look closely at this photo (click on it), which I took in March while visiting Fort Johnson, which is on James Island along the Charleston Harbor.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Leaping Lizards- Check Out These Scuffling Skinks!


What an unusual sight to see in my backyard a couple weekends ago! Be sure to watch the video below! I stepped out on the back porch and heard sounds in the pine straw. I first thought it was a squirrel, then got a little closer and saw a long thin body with a reddish head and thought it was a snake.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Jail Visit with Students- Hopefully Not the Last Time!

On April 23 it was the last regular class for my College of Charleston course "Beyond the Grave: What Old Cemeteries Tell and Teaching the Living." The activity planned for this final session was anything but regular.

My intrepid students on their way to jail! 
We visited Charleston's notorious Old City Jail, which more accurately should be called the Charleston District Jail.

It was raining as we left our classroom for the 10-minute walk to Magazine Street where the jail was constructed way back in 1802.

I was appreciative of my students not complaining about the walk in the rain. They were, in fact, pretty excited- if not a bit scared- about the "haunted" tour that awaited us. What a way to end the semester we all agreed!

The rain made the jail look even scarier 

Randall Johnson, our guide from Bulldog Tours, was excellent. I have been on these tours maybe half a dozen times with a different guide every visit.  Each guide has been very good, with different stories to go along with a few mainstays.

Johnson, a self-described "homey from West Ashley," sure looked ghost guide part in his black clothing from head to toe, including the bowler hat on his head.

The rain had eased by our 7 p.m. arrival so he was able to give us a quick overview of the jail's origins, its long history of difficult if not deplorable conditions for prisoners, and its probably long overdue closing in 1939.

"Fourteen thousand people died here," Johnson said, "so there are lots of spirits inside."

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Picture Perfect Day for an Air Show!

I read it had been seven years since the last air show at Joint Base Charleston (formerly known as the Charleston Air Force Base). The base, its personnel, and the big C-17 Globemaster cargo planes have been pretty busy with wars overseas.

So it was nice to hear that the gates would be open to the public on Saturday, April 28 for a first-rate display of American warplanes on display and others flying overhead with pinpoint precision and aerobatics.  The event was officially called the Joint Base Charleston 2018 Air & Space Expo.

B-1 Lancer bomber provided shade to dozens of air show patrons

There were an impressive number and variety of planes to see on the tarmac. Many were open for people to go aboard, with airmen and officers on hand to help them get in and out safely and talk and answer questions about what the planes do and what they do. 
B-52 Stratofortress from Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, La., where Alesia and I lived years ago

Sunday, April 29, 2018

New Plant Begs the Question: I'm Your Daisy- Or Am I?

I took this photo today from my back porch. I bought this orange “Garvinea Sweet Glow Gerber Daisy” to add a little pop to the backyard plants.
The late afternoon sun cast a nice light on the flower, making it stand out from the background. I like too how the birdhouse looks in the background as well as the pine trees and other foliage.  

On my iPad I used Snapseed to process the image, applying its HDR and Faded Glow effects, then found a frame that I like.  

I really started this post as a test in hopes I could do blog posts on my iPad. But, alas, I found I could not add the photograph on the iPad.  I was able to save the writing, but, darn, couldn't put in the picture, so here I am back in the office (instead of my comfy sofa) on my PC finishing up this post.

So, through this exercise I've learned a couple things: iPads and Blogger aren't very compatible and also that my "Gerber Daisy" as the label reads is really a "Gerbera Daisy" and according to this Southern Living article I may be lucky if the flower lasts a few weeks.

Well, glad I have this photo at least!  



Sunday, April 8, 2018

How In The World?

That's what I was left wondering when I saw this tire stuck in a tree about 25-30 feet high in a median along Interstate 26.

How in the world did that tire get up there?

I have seen some terrible car accidents in the three-plus years I've been commuting to my job in Orangeburg. This site is a real head-scratcher.

I first noticed the tire a few weeks ago. I jotted down the location so I could remember where to look for it.  It's on the left side of I-26 west about three miles before the intersection with I-95.





This is a pretty remote section of I-26. One day last week, I decided it was the time to pull over and take some photographs.

Traffic was light so I felt safe to pull over. Another landmark is that you can see the exit sign for St. George and Santee. Note the sign in the distance ahead from my car.








I snapped this after I took several photos.
















So, after parking, I carefully crossed the interstate and
approached the tree with the tire. It is, as stated, located in the
median.

In this image, you can see how high up in the tree the tire is lodged. Or maybe I should say parked...ha ha.












Yep, here it is, perfectly and securely stuck in the split "V" of this tree. Nice catch, right?

I could not think of a logical story of how this happened. When I shared the story and these photos with someone, he theorized that it came from a truck carrying a load of old tires. For whatever reason, this tire flew out of the back and ended up here.

Good thing it didn't hit a car!

This explanation makes sense. Anyone else with ideas, please let me know.





Just to prove I was there, I guess.















So, the tall tale of the treed tire has been told.

A few days later when there was no traffic behind me I slowed down and took slow motion video with my iPhone7.

Check it out below. The tire can be seen about three seconds into the clip.

What can I say, it's normally a very dull drive!









Three seconds in, see the tired tree, so to speak.












Sunday, March 25, 2018

Mystery Birds!

I took this yesterday in my backyard. Note the pink azaleas in the background. 
I took two bird photos recently that I have so far been unable to identify.  So I'm turning to my go-to site for such situations: whatbird.com. The fellow birders who patronize this website are always very helpful, accurate and quick too.

Photographed along a street last weekend in Asheville, N.C.




I will update this post as soon as I have correct identifications.

Here's the verdict. The dark one above is a European Starling, which I suspected.
The other one is a White-throated Sparrow.

Thank you whatbird.com people!  I had one identification and a second confirmation. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Panoramic Views of Charleston's Magnolia Cemetery

With my iPhone 7, one of my favorite features is the "Pano" or panoramic photo setting. Every now and then I'll put down my Canon DSLR and give the iPhone's pano setting a shot, if I think a wide perspective might produce something interesting.

As many pictures that I have taken at Magnolia Cemetery (about which I have written two books filled with my color photographs), it wasn't until this past Saturday that I tried the pano approach.  Please click on the images to see them larger.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Hankering to Hike? Check Out Dungannon!

The entrance is easy to miss if you drive by too quickly! 
This is a remote place not too far south of Charleston that is perfect if you hanker to hike.

This website gives a bit of information about the Dungannon Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area. It is located off Highway 162 between Rantowles and Hollywood.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

There's Just Something About Trains...

I have long had a fondness for and interest in trains. There's just something about their size, sound and speed that can captivate me.

Last week, I was stopped twice at train crossings in Ladson and North Charleston. So I whipped out my phone and took some video.  Here's the short video I produced. 


Because of my journalism background, documenting things, even rather mundane things like this, is something I do.  Getting good photos and videos are part of it too.  I threw in the selfie comment too and do a picture in picture effect in Adobe Premiere Pro  CC 2015.  And I put in some music I found on my go-to free music site incompetech.com. 

Anyway, just a short video and short blurb about my recent train encounter. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

New Books Equal New Cat Perches!

It is still very exciting to me when new copies of my books are delivered to the house. Such was the case recently when boxes arrived containing "In the Arms of Angels: Magnolia Cemetery- Charleston's Treasure of History, Mystery and Artistry."

It gave our Persian cats Gigi (left) and Mocha a new place to climb, rest and watch- three things they seem to enjoy.

Gigi (left) is king (or queen) of the hill 
My book printer is 360 Digital Books, which is part of Whitlock Business Systems located near Detroit. I am proud to say "In the Arms of Angels" (2014) and "Nature-ly Fun: Bird Photography From A to Z" (2016) are printed in the United States. 

The company representatives are professional, responsive and easy to work with. I would definitely recommend 360 Digital Books for your printing needs and ambitions! 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Enhancing Phone Photos With Snapseed App

Original iPhone 7 photograph
Taking photos with a smartphone while driving a car is not the smartest thing to do. I just want to get that out of the way.

But shutterbug that I am, I often cannot resist when presented with a pretty landscape or skyscape (and the setting is safe, traffic wise). Case in point, this iPhone photo I took yesterday while driving home from work.

I do like the quality of my iPhone 7's camera. The clouds had such nice coloring as sunset approached.

Version enhanced with Snapseed's HDR tool

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Charleston Port Robins

I took the chance last weekend, while attending a College of Charleston men's basketball game with my wife Alesia, to park at the top of the city garage near the South Carolina Aquarium and one of the Port of Charleston terminals.
The garage's top outside parking deck offers panoramic views of Charleston.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Winter Birding!

Things have gotten back to normal around here in 2018 since the unexpected snowfall of several inches on Jan. 3. Maybe we'll get lucky and have another white stuff visit this winter!

Yellow-throated Warbler 
Bird activity continues to bustle at the backyard feeders. And we had a nice time returning to a former golf course property in the area that still hasn't been redeveloped after 10 years or so since the last golf shots were struck.

Last weekend I was thrilled to capture an image of this Yellow-throated Warbler.





Saturday, January 13, 2018

Snow Storm Fuels Bird Blitz!

My previous post featured my photographs and a video I made from the rare winter snow storm that fell in the Charleston area on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

I measured four inches of snow in my driveway but there was deeper accumulation in other parts of our property I am sure.

Jan. 3- I took this out a window as the snow fell
Another effect of Winter Storm Grayson was an increase in bird activity at our backyard feeders.

From Wednesday through Sunday Alesia and I noticed pretty continuous business at our array of tubes, suet and other feeders.

It was fun during this time to see other people in the region posting their own bird photographs on Facebook sites Carolina Birders Photo Sharing Group and Carolinas' Nature Photographers Association (CNPA).

Monday, January 8, 2018

Rare Heavy Snowfall Starts New Year in Charleston Area

January 3, 2018 has gone into the history books as the Charleston area's third deepest snow accumulation. Winter Storm Grayson dropped from four to seven inches (in Summerville) of the white stuff along Coastal South Carolina that Wednesday afternoon.

I have lived in this area since 1990 and it was by far the most ever snow!

Yesterday I put together a short video (two minutes) showing my snowstorm highlights. Check it out!


I took even more photographs with my iPhone7 and Canon DSLR.  I will be adding some of my favorite snow images in the days ahead.  And here they are!