Saturday, December 13, 2008

And Now For Something Local...

I haven't posted in here for a while! I have been out paddling and posting photos from that in the other blog, but haven't been anywhere to take scenics.

I pass by this spot along Hwy 90 not far from where I live, and every time I go by, I think I have got to bring the camera out here sometime! So I did today. Took a few photos--this is my favorite.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

North Carolina, October 2008

It was time for the traditional fall trip to western NC, so off I went. This time I decided to stay in Hendersonville. This worked well for two reasons: it put me near lots of waterfalls and also near where my friends were staying.

I went to Chimney Rock on my first full day, which was unfortunately a bit of a disappointment. I embarked on a very long hike, toting heavy camera gear, to a waterfall. When I got there, it was barely a trickle. No photos, but a great leg workout. When I got back to the parking lot, I took a picture of the view of Lake Lure. Notice how there is little or no fall color at ground level.



It was a pretty drive and so I stopped to take a panorama at a turn-off on my way home.



The next day I had better luck with waterfalls in the other direction. My first stop was Looking Glass Falls, which is right by the road with only a few steps to climb to get a closer view. This was more like it!



A little farther up the road I came to Sliding Rock. Given the cool temperature and day of the week, there were few people there, and none were sliding.



I continued on to the Blue Ridge Parkway, in search of some falls at a turnout known as Graveyard Fields. I ambitiously set out on the hiking trail to the upper falls.

The tree colors at this elevation were vivid and the trail scenery was spectacular. This was the view at one point:



Part of the trail had a long wooden walkway that wound through the brown grasses and bright red bushes.



However, I had a now-familiar experience as far as finding waterfalls went--starting with an extremely long trek. I encountered some hikers coming back on the trail and asked them how much farther I had left to go. They told me I had a pretty long way. I asked if it was worth it, and they said that while it was pretty, there was very little water ("you could take a shower in it") falling. I turned around and decided to explore the lower falls.

This hike ended with many, many steep steps, but a beautiful waterfall. It was very crowded. I took a few photos and then made my way back to the parking area.



On the way back to my rental house I stopped at several overlooks on the Parkway to take photos of the fall color and the beautiful views.




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On Friday I got together with Carol and Larry and we headed out to see Pearson's Falls. They had been there before, but this was a first for me. It was by far the best falls of the trip--and an easy walk to get there!



On the way to the main falls we passed many areas of rushing water and some small falls. I particularly liked this set, which we saw off to the side as we crossed a bridge over the water.



And then we reached the large waterfall (and we were the only ones there for most of the time). I think this type of waterfall is called a "cascade"--the water drops over rock ledges and the flow creates many smaller falls. Carol and I were very busy photographing many of the different areas. Let's start at the top and work our way down:



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It started to rain and so we packed up the cameras and hiked back to the car. This was a fantastic day and the high point of my time in NC! And that was this trip....there will be another one in spring!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Back to Piney Z and Lake Lafayette

DH and I decided to go for a walk around Lake Lafayette at Piney Z. This is always a good place to walk--great trail, lots of birds and the occasional gator. We walked to the causeway that runs betwen the lake and...well, whatever that other body of water is. The sky was a mix of threatening dark clouds with patches of blue that let sunshine through. Here's the view looking at the other body of water.



It drizzled rain a bit on the way back. This trail is so wild and natural--and yes, this is what Florida looks like in October!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cedar Key!

Ah, back to one of my favorite spots!

As described in Paddle Tales, I was back in Cedar Key again, hoping for cool weather, which I found. However, it was very windy for the first couple of days, so I headed over to the wildlife park in Homosassa Springs and walked around getting some photos. I don't normally take a lot of photos in parks like this since I am uneasy around captive animals. However, the birds here (in the area in which I took these photos) are free to come and go as they wish.

Flamingoes! A Florida bird, but not found in my usual stomping grounds, so I love photographing them.



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I don't know what these ducks are, but they were in the same area, and very cute.



And sandhill cranes! They spend time in the field behind our house during their migration, but of course you can't get too close to them, particularly on foot. So it was nice to see these. This one was making their unique sound, possibly fussing about some buzzards that had landed nearby in their area:



Here's a close-up of that one.



Nearby were some whooping cranes, which are very similar to the sandhills, although they have white feathers.



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That one was busy grooming itself~



These owls were so cute--the one on the right seems somewhat bored, though...



Of course I had to take a few photos of the roseate spoonbills--a bird that eludes me here at home while posing so nicely for other local bloggers (you know who you are!).



I have always been very fond of swans, and they had some real beauties swimming in their waterways.



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The next morning I sat on my balcony having my muffin and coffee for breakfast. I was joined by a seagull, pictured on the paddling blog site, as well as a few boat-tail grackles, who were so happy to share my muffin with me.



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I had another good day on the island, and drove over to the other side that evening to catch the sunset.



A fantastic trip to a wonderful part of Florida. Visit there if you can.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

This and That

I thought I would take a drive to see what Letchworth-Love Mounds State Park had to offer. I'm afraid I was monumentally underwhelmed, although I'm sure there would be those who would appreciate it.

I continued east on Hwy 90. This would take me over the tip of Lake Miccosukee, offering a possible photo opportunity to make up for the lack thereof at the state park. When I got there, this woman was fishing from the walkway that is over the run-off area.



The water was rushing over the short retaining wall and under the highway bridge.



Before I left, I took a photo looking toward the lake. In normal water-level times, there is only a very narrow passage leading from the nearby boat ramp to the lake itself.



After that I decided to explore a photo opportunity that I discovered many years ago, before I was taking many pictures. I used to travel a dirt road to get to a friend's house, and every time I came to this one section where the trees form a canopy overhead, I would think that would make a nice photo. I decided to finally go take that picture.



On my way home, I passed a guy baling hay in a field so pulled over and took a few photos of him as well.



(I just can't resist those big skies when they are so blue and white!)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hagan's Cove, Taylor County, Florida

We decided to go back to Hagan's Cove on a sunny Saturday, giving me a chance to get more scenic photos to play with!

The tide was in, filling the flats with water. I feel certain that later in the year (basically any time except summer) these areas are filled with shorebirds when the tide is out.



We climbed the little viewing tower they have there. You can see the tops of some of the picnic shelters over to the right, near the water.



We walked to the other boat ramp area, passing by a piney flatwoods area. The photo was a little boring so I tinkered a bit with it.



We set our chairs up and sat by the inlet for a while. It's a great place to spend an afternoon.



Interestingly, while this was the view in front of us, dark gray clouds were coming up behind us, which produced a very heavy storm about 10 minutes after I took this photo.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

We had our hearts set on getting to the refuge today and then heading over to My Way seafood market to get some shrimp to have for dinner. The fact that it was drizzling and solid overcast when we left home did not deter us....much, anyway.

When we got there the skies had lightened somewhat and so there was hope that the day would not be lost. We started walking along the water. The pelicans and cormorants were in their usual spots on the pilings.



The sky was definitely clearing and the sun was coming out, a welcome sight. (Unfortunately, August sunshine after August rain leads to intense August humidity, but you can't have everything...) When we got to the picnic shelter we sat for a while. As the sky got clearer, I decided it was time for some more big-sky photos, although this time I decided not to go the HDR route, which requires taking five photos of each scene. One of each view was enough.



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We walked down to the water to watch the sand crabs scatter and to do a little wading.



We circled the center pond. This little bird (I still do not have my sandpiper species sorted out) was all by itself, making for a photo singular here in its simplicity.



And then off to get shrimp and head back home. It's always a joy to visit the refuge, no matter what the season.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

I've been playing with scenics lately so I can tinker with HDR. I see why some people don't care for it, either to produce it or see it. I'm not sure yet whether I will do much of it--when it works, I like it a lot, but when it doesn't, your photo is far better off without it.

I spent a lot of time with this photo, taken on a road near my house and it always was better with HDR.



On the other hand, I could not get proper sky color with this one. I went back and made some changes to the settings and ended up with a sort of odd, quasi-HDR photo, but I like it.



I think the subject matter is very important if you want to play with this. It's useless with my bird photos, but has potential with some scenics.