Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sun slipping behind the fog, Acadia National Park

Photograph of the sun slipping behind the fog in Acadia National Park

As we watch the sun set on 2015, I can't help but wait with anticipation for the sun to rise on the new year. This past year was a really busy one, and while I don't see signs of that changing in 2016, I do hope to find a way to make more of an effort to connect with nature on a regular basis. I discovered my need to use nature photography as a meditation while in California for graduate school, and it's been exciting to see the recent articles (like the cover story for the January issue of National Geographic) supporting what I found to be intrinsically true. So as I look forward to 2016, I wish you all the best for a great year filled with family, friendship, love, and quiet time spent in nature!

This image from the slopes of Cadillac Mountain was the only landscape I selected for my Favorite Photographs of 2015 post. I had previsualized a number of photographs that I hoped to work at on the trip, but the ever present coastal fog had other plans. For about 20 minutes on our first evening in the park, I had my only chance at seeing a sunset, and I think that this is my favorite frame from that experience. What was most surprising to me was how quickly the fog descended down from the summit of Mount Cadillac once the sun slipped behind the fog for the last time.

View more photographs from Acadia National Park.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Favorite Photographs of 2015

As we prepare to turn the page on another year, I always enjoy looking back on my work to create a post for Jim Goldstein's Annual Favorite Photographs Blog Project. I'm disappointed to report that I failed miserably at my new year's resolution to spend more time reconnecting with nature, especially through local parks, this year. However, I did have a handful of special opportunities with my camera, including wading birds in southwestern Florida in the spring, baby piping plovers on Plum Island over the summer, and a very foggy trip to Acadia National Park in August.

If you're interested, here are my favorite photographs from 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009. Without further ado, my favorites from this year are below in no particular order.

Reacquainted with the sunrise
It was great to be out for the sunrise again a few times over the summer, and especially to share those golden moments with the breeding piping plovers at Sandy Point State Reservation on Plum Island. The chicks were adorable enough on their own, but it was fun to try to capture the moments of interaction with their parents.
Photograph of a piping plover chick approaching its parent in early morning light

Least tern delivers a fish, Sandy Point State Reservation
The beaches on Plum Island are a breeding ground for other coastal birds as well, including least terns. This pair nested fairly close to the perimeter of the protected area, providing a great view into their tender moments. Here, one partner brought a fish back to the other as it incubated the eggs. I'm disappointed that I clipped the wing tip in this frame, but I still love that both beaks are on the fish during the exchange.
Photograph of a least tern delivering a fish to its partner

Little blue reflection, Bunche Beach Preserve
I had a lot of fun over two mornings in southwestern Florida watching the wading birds during low tide at Bunche Beach Preserve. There was a great diversity of species, but the little blue herons were particularly photogenic. Here, one appeared to walk across the still water of a tidal pool.
Little blue heron looks like it's walking on water in southwest Florida

Curious piping plover chick, Sandy Point State Reservation
These tiny chicks really were a highlight of my summer. I saw them unexpectedly on an outing in June, and then I just had to keep coming back. They were quite curious about all of the photographers lying in the sand to see them, often coming well within my 8' minimum focusing distance. I came home with a lot of images to consider for this list, but this on with the exaggeratedly shallow depth of field was my favorite.
Shallow depth-of-field photograph of a young piping plover

Sun slipping behind the fog, Acadia National Park
Our annual trip to Acadia National Park was wonderful, but we fought the fog the whole time. I had hoped for multiple sunrises or sunsets above the fog, but as it turned out, the first evening was the only chance we had. This image was taken from the trails below the summit of Mount Cadillac as the fog swirled around us.
Photograph of the sun slipping behind the fog in Acadia National Park

Hungry least tern chick, Sandy Point State Reservation
Late in the summer, it was fun to see the young birds growing up. It was interesting to note the difference between the piping plovers that had to feed themselves from their first day and the young terns that relied on their parents to bring back each meal. Here, this least tern was kicking up sand as it impatiently watched its parent circling overhead with a fish.
Photograph of a hungry least tern chick calling out to its parents

Little blue heron in morning light, Bunche Beach Preserve
It was a really long winter in Boston this year with record snowfall, so it felt great to fly south to Florida for a few warm days in March. For me, nothing beats a sunrise photographing birds in the sand and it was almost too easy there. I would just set up next to a tidal pool, and it wouldn't take long for a flock of birds to arrive.
Little blue heron at sunrise on Bunche Beach, Fort Myers, Florida

Piping plover parents, Sandy Point State Reservation
The brooding behavior of the piping plover parents was wonderful to witness, like in this case when all four chicks scooted underneath. However, these moments of calm were short-lived -- the chicks would be off running in four separate directions soon!
Piping plover chicks snuggled under their parent's feathers in Massachusetts

Roseate spoonbill feeding at Bunche Beach Preserve
A highlight of our Florida trip was the chance to photograph this juvenile roseate spoonbill feeding in a tidal pool. It offered a lot of stately poses, but I like the more comical expression captured in this frame the most.
Feeding roseate spoonbill splashes water at Bunche Beach

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Bighorn sheep surveying the valley, Yellowstone National Park

Photograph of a bighorn sheep ewe watching over a valley in Yellowstone National Park

From the archives of our trip to Yellowstone National Park four years ago. We saw a ton of wildlife each day, but this is one species that for some reason I haven't yet posted to my blog. We saw the sheep almost daily on the cliffs above the road to the Gardiner entrance to the park, and on our last full day there, we decided to hike a trail up to their elevation to try for a better view. We met this very friendly ewe along the way, and she led us to the larger flock. It was a bit disappointing that there were no adult males in the group, but we did get a great encounter with a few dozen females and lambs.

View more photographs of bighorn sheep.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Focused snowy egret, Bunche Beach Preserve

Photograph of a snowy egret hunting in a tidal pool at Bunche Beach

I had only a handful of chances to get outside with my camera this year, but thankfully they were pretty productive. This snowy egret is from a March morning spent at Bunche Beach Preserve in Fort Myers, Florida. It really was almost too easy to get close to the birds there. I would just lie down on the mudflats next to a tidal pool and it wouldn't take long for the birds to start filling it in. The reflections in the slowly rising tide were really fun to play with too.

View more photographs of egrets.