Tag Archives: ecology

St Louis – Day 1: Forest Park, St. Louis Zoo

So yesterday my daughter’s mother was off getting Honeymooned by her new husband so we all took off for St. Louis. In general, when I vacation it tends to be simply going from place to place, wherever the wind will blow. In this case, with three kids along, I let them go wherever they would blow. Whenever asked, “Where are we going?” my steadfast answer was, “you tell me.” Simply put, it was my job to keep them fed and away from the police station. Aside from that, whatever the popular vote called for was in order.

The first destination requested was the zoo. I handled parking and after that the kids were in charge of selecting destinations, planning their time and, most amusingly to me, navigation.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

At some point Amanda will stop giving me these silly looks because inevitably they’re captured forever.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

Eric is looking stoic as always.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

First order of business was the primates, I’m always struck by the soulful humanity in their eyes. It astounds me that any hunter could ever look into these eyes and think it was right to kill such a creature in cold blood.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

Their hands are practically human.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

And in some cases, their faces almost prayerful.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

And touchingly somber. Pity they’re locked up.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

Izzy, of course, finds a way to get attacked by a tree.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

Little bowling pin prairie dogs. Amanda asked, “Are prairie dogs supposed to be that fat?!” Sadly my knowledge of prairie dog dietary needs is woefully insufficient to speculate.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

One mustn’t forget the flamingos.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

or the pelicans…(?) either.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

The penguin house was cool (no pun intended) but rather dark for much good photography. However there was no shortage of silhouettes.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

But the puffins were slightly better lit.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

I realized while editing a series of rather dull zebra photos, that I’ve neglected textures as of late. It seems well nigh time to put that to rights.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

Mr. Camel has rather a grievous overbite.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

And caught in the right instant, ostriches look to be laughing…

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

… but they quickly become shy after their outbursts.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

Since the children somehow showed up with no proper footwear and only flip-flops available for several miles of walking, this fountain was a godsend for tired, hot and grumpy feet.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

Various St. Louis landmarks are in evidence.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

This scene struck me as rather apt, though depressing. All the children have run away to play, leaving only their shoes and water bottles behind…. well, that and all manner of electronic gadgetry.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

Arches in relief.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

I put on my most friendly voice with the front desk clerk to move us up to the top floor. She stated categorically that “none of the rooms have a good view” but this view from the hallway is nothing to sneeze at. I’ll just set my alarm for 5:00am and we’ll see where the sun comes up amongst this tangle of humanity.

From 6-10-2013 St Louis

And that’s the day that was.

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Carmel Parks Nature – May, 2013

As the afternoon rolled around it seemed a good day to go and see what the natural world was up to. Carmel Indiana offers many parks but I tend to end up at West Park and Coxhall Gardens most frequently and today was no exception. Also, last post I speculated about the joys of the “Golden Hour” and I’m increasingly convinced that the concept is limited to portraiture and landscapes so today when I wandered out while the near-noonday sun was pounding down, I did so with the 500mm zoom and 60mm macro in tow.

I know exactly one bird song and it’s for these colorful critters.

From 5-27-2013 Carmel

I’ve spoken before about my fascination for aquatic plants. These delicate plants live on the boundaries of land and water and were probably the first to poke their heads from the primordial ooze a few hundred million years ago.

From 5-27-2013 Carmel

The reptiles were out in force today as the tiny new-hatched turtles sunned themselves on the vegetation. This one sports a skirt of moss.

From 5-27-2013 Carmel

Usually when I’m out I don’t talk to a soul. Today I was approached twice by people who evidently thought I knew what I was doing as I glared like a big-game hunter into the muck. Happily I was able to direct someone to a cluster of white lotus in the area but another’s search for muskrats was beyond my powers to aid. They were sadly stuck with turtles, which is about as far from muskrats as one can get.

From 5-27-2013 Carmel
From 5-27-2013 Carmel

One thing that’s under-appreciated about carrying a veritable 500mm cannon around, beyond the sheer weight of the thing, is that it’s just idiotically hard to keep anything in frame at that zoom let alone keep it focused. Many of my shots were sadly poor in focus but a few came out as crisply as I could ever have hoped for. Will make a mental note to be more patient next time, at least as far as it’s possible to be patient with birds flitting about from branch to branch like nuts.

From 5-27-2013 Carmel

Heading to Coxhall gardens for the second part of the day, I switched to macro.

From 5-27-2013 Carmel

Bees are a perennial favorite, especially against contrasting color backgrounds.

From 5-27-2013 Carmel

And I love buds of all sorts, even of the rather lackluster day lily. There’s so much pent-up potential here. Soon this will grow, burst, bloom and die. Sad, sure, but it’ll enjoy the trip. An allegory for life if ever I saw one.

From 5-27-2013 Carmel

The benefactors who created (or at least funded) the gardens stand as silent guardians. The kids always call them rather creepy but this is a caring face if ever I saw one, metal though it may be.

From 5-27-2013 Carmel

I often underestimate the power of the macro lens and also forget to appreciate the intricacies of the common dandelion. Such worlds contained herein.

From 5-27-2013 Carmel

OK, that’s the day that was. As always, click the link to download copies. You have my permission to print, share, do whatever with my photos, as long as you don’t profit financially. The world is open and free to be shared; I’m just borrowing it with my camera.

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Cheeney Creek Nature Area

Today found me wandering about the Cheeney Creek Nature Area. This was at the recommendation of he-who-shall-be-pictured-later. He-who downplayed it enough that it was a surprisingly amusing visit. Hoo-Rah for expert expectation setting.

#1 This shot is only amusing if you think that 1950s movies with silly puns like “don’t! stop!” are amusing. Or, I suppose, if you have some bizarre form of synesthesia that causes you to smell mom’s apple pie whenever you see red and orange together.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#2 Note the ragged “For Rent” sign in the culvert. Real estate tycoons have to start somewhere I suppose. Anyone in the market for a 2-foot culvert, slightly damp? Easy access to the adjoining nature area.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#3 The view of the eventual water feature

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#4 Hereby hangs a tale. I had asked my cohort on this day to throw a rock into the water right at the leaf in the center of the shot. Shutter speed at 1/2000th of a second? Check. Focus set at the target location? Check. Camera set to take shots at high speed to catch the splash? Check. Having a cohort on hand who can hit a target in the water less than five feet away? Not so much. Still, it made for an interesting result that I could not have achieved singlehandedly even if it wasn’t QUITE what I was looking to get.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#5/#6 The highlight was this tiny railroad bridge. Seems a mighty amount of trouble to span three feet of ditch but nature and her drainage patterns will prevail, I suppose.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area
From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#7 He-who-was-to-be-pictured.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#8 Admittedly it was a wonderful day given that it was, after all, almost December in Indiana.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#9 We played “chase the ducks” briefly to little actual avail. It’s amusing to me that they even swim in a V pattern.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#10 We close with a crayfish, or as grandpa always used to call them, “crawdads”. It’s atrociously difficult to take a decent picture of a creature at the bottom of a murky pond but these arthropods deserve, I think, special attention. I recall as a young boy spending time at “The Lake” (as a child any lake, no matter where it is, is simply “the lake”) teasing these clever little gentry of the undermuck onto my line. While the adults were all consumed with catching some animal called a “fish” I was outwitting these devilish blighters. Almost makes me want to take up fishing just for the photo ops.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

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Of Lamps, Rocks and Random Bits of Nature

In retrospect, it cannot be denied that today’s photo jaunts were more random even than usual.

#1 I started the day trying to stage this lamp for a photo. See previous post on why this is important or even remotely interesting. My intent here was to be vastly anachronistic and when you have a lamp from the 60s and a Look magazine from 1938 just laying around this isn’t terribly difficult.

From 11-25-2012 The Lamp

#2/#3 After the lamp I wanted about in the local forest remnant a bit. It wouldn’t be a trip to the forest without fungus.

From 11-26-2012 Misc
From 11-26-2012 Misc

#4 Someday if I wander in the forest long enough I’ll find a mammal that’s not a squirrel. Some day but not today.

From 11-26-2012 Misc

#5 Abandoned homes awaiting the spring.

From 11-26-2012 Misc

#6 Ending the day with some macro shots of a few mineral samples I suddenly find myself with.

From 11-26-2012 Misc

#7 Pyrite and quartz

From 11-26-2012 Misc

And so ends another exceptionally random day. It occurs… not even a single human anywhere near any of these shots. Hrm.

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Misc Photos for 11-18-2012

As of late I’ve found myself rather uninspired.  At least part of this is late-season ennui but I also have come to feel that my “art” is rather unfocused.  (No pun intended.)  While other photographers tend to specialize, I just photograph absolutely anything from random people to found objects.  My camera has been accumulating photos for the past couple weeks that I haven’t bothered to upload.  Today I have a bit to show for the time that’s passed.

#1: Someone can probably tell me what this odd-looking bird is.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#2: I like the colors and lines here. The bird itself is of no great note but it does leave a trail in its environment.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#3: I spent a fair amount of time the other day trying to get action shots of ducks on the water. My eventual assessment was that I needed a longer lens. At 270mm I can just barely squeeze out a reasonable level of detail.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#4: Some shots I just love the romantic aspects of a road vanishing into the distance.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#5: In the category of odd found-objects, I give you this child’s toy long trapped in a retention pond.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#6: Similar to #4, I like the irony of a No Trespassing sign overrun by nature.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#7: In the city where I live there’s a 106th street and there’s a forgotten “Old 106th” street. The homes on Old 106th street seem to have been trapped in a timewarp since the traffic on them has declined substantially. One features this ancient flag and gate.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#8: Not far from #7, it seems that a house has moved and birds now make their homes in this forgotten mailbox.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#9: Some photos you just take because they seem artsy.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#10: After the trip down Old 106th street I came home and played with some macro shots.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#11: And took apart an old computer. Here are the pins for an old Pentium processor.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#12: The heatsink on the processor on an older video card.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#13: The internals of some HP hardware. No comment on the countries of origin.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#14: I also took apart an old hard drive. A very chiaroscuro experience.

From Misc 11-18-2012

#15: Oops. Sure hope I didn’t void the warranty.

From Misc 11-18-2012

Anyway, such is the two weeks or so since the last post.

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Filed under abstract photography, Art photography, Landscape photography, nature Photography, Philosophy, Urban Photography

Misc Photos for 11-5-2012

A rather random assortment of shots from yesterday.

#1

Mostly just enjoy the contrast here. Harsh metal versus soft rustling leaves.

#2

The birds are busily cleaning up the fall… whatever those are.

#3

Wandering in the forest we came upon an orange construction barrel. Mother nature has gone a bureaucratic.

#4

One finds the oddest litter in the forest.

#5

The find of the day was this compost bin full of jack-o-lanterns.

#6

This whole situation strikes me as rather iconic of all holidays. We feast, we celebrate, then we discard.

#7

Later in the day back in the apartment I had some items to photograph so there was a brief spate of random puttering.

And that ends thus ends the day. Now if only I’d written proper descriptions for all the photos I took and tagged them with proper keywords. So many layers of work here. Any volunteers?

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Monument City, Indiana

As some of you might have noticed, it’s been rather dry here in the Midwest.  As a consequence, our bodies of water are at record lows for the summer months.  Specifically, the Salamonie Lake in Indiana is so low that one of the cities that was flooded to build the Lake has come to the surface.  Because of this, crowds have flocked to the site of a city that hasn’t seen the surface (during the summer) for 50 years.

The lake is up and down during the year so the road between the parking and the water is non-trivial.

From 7-21-2012 Monument City, Indiana

Clearly a warning that’s more important when we’re NOT in record drought.

From 7-21-2012 Monument City, Indiana

So as a personal footnote, I couldn’t help but be THRILLED beyond reasonable measure that the kids were THIS excited. Sadly I think they were eventually disappointed but they were amused for long enough to charge ahead of us to see the mysterious sunken city.

From 7-21-2012 Monument City, Indiana

Lots of flatness.

From 7-21-2012 Monument City, Indiana

The lake is highly variable in depth it appears. I wonder how close these cliffs get to being under water.

From 7-21-2012 Monument City, Indiana

Much to the kids’ disappointment, only the foundations of the old buildings were visible. I think they expected a whole city to come to the surface.v

From 7-21-2012 Monument City, Indiana

Ever the opportunist, the velvet leaf managed to invade the landscape.

From 7-21-2012 Monument City, Indiana

Bud-Wei-Ser. *sigh* Everywhere you go there’s litter.

From 7-21-2012 Monument City, Indiana

History abounds in red brick.

From 7-21-2012 Monument City, Indiana

Foundations of the old school reside at the new water’s edge.

From 7-21-2012 Monument City, Indiana

signs of civilization…

From 7-21-2012 Monument City, Indiana

Yeah, expectations didn’t equal results so at least one of our party succumbed to boredom.

From 7-21-2012 Monument City, Indiana

But, so we close. As it turns out the day after we visited the DNR closed the site to visitors. Apparently too many people were stealing the rusty tin cans and other refuse to be found.

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