From the moment I saw them I was in awe! Don’t let the name fool you…the Badlands are far from bad. The peaks and gullies, ancient rock formations and bands of color are mesmerizing and beautiful. Particularly in the golden hour of early morning and late afternoon, when soft low light throws shadows and brings the landscape to life. During those hours the true beauty of the Park reveals itself.
Our trip was in early September and surprisingly the number of tourists and traffic was pretty low. One morning I was up well before sunrise and in the park and to my delight barely saw any other people. I felt like I had the Badlands all to myself, but for the distant howls of a pack of coyotes.
On the first day I felt a bit overwhelmed by what seemed like an endless expanse of ridges, spires, buttes and otherworldly terrain but slowly, as time passed, I began to focus on smaller areas and take in the more subtle aspects of the area and appreciate its detail. We had 3 days…we needed three times that.
In addition to the fascinating landscapes, there is a variety of wildlife in the Badlands. We saw Bison, Bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, jack rabbits and deer, but there are also rattlesnakes, black-footed ferrets and coyotes to name a few, not to mention, many species of birds.
It was a short trip, just 3 days. A good start to many more treks to South Dakota and into the Badlands.
The Angel Oak, named after its previous owners, Justis and Martha Angel, is a live oak tree that grows on Johns Island, just a short drive from Charleston, South Carolina. It is estimated to be at least 400 and possibly up to 1400 years old. Local folklore tells stories of ghosts of former slaves appearing as angels around the tree. Whether you believe that or not, the fact that this tree was standing at the time of both the Revolutionary and the Civil war is just plain cool. It was heavily damaged during Hurricane Hugo but is still growing…so maybe there are some angels watching over her.
Equipment Used : Nikon D610 w/Nikkor AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 G ED VR Lens, Tripod w/ remote shutter release.
I’ve only seen a green heron one other time while out shooting but this past Saturday morning I had the pleasure of three. Compared to other herons I’ve seen they are quite a bit smaller and stocky with short legs. There color is quite striking up close, with a green back, chestnut body and dark cap. They occasionally raise there crown feathers which to me, makes them resemble a kingfisher from a distance (of course Kingfishers are a lot different in reality). Like other herons, they stand motionless for long periods, then strike suddenly, snatching their prey with there dagger like bill. Click on an image to view a slideshow of a few shots I was able to get.
I made these back-lit images not long ago in the early morning as the sun was rising low in the sky, when the grass and other vegetation was covered in dew. Using a shallow DOF, many of the tiny droplets of dew are out of focus resulting in a nice “Bokeh”. The golden sunlight adds warmth to the shot. Love me some back-lighting. Hope you enjoy!
Not long ago after seeing some pretty cool pics of sunflowers, I was wishing I had a some near by to give it a try for myself. I guess my wish came true because a few days later I came upon a huge field full of them. Here are a few of the images I shot that day. Each are 3 shot HDRi combined in HDR Efex Pro 2. Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend!
I rarely get the chance to see 1 fawn, let alone 3, so I was fortunate to come along this family of deer as they were dining in a bean field one evening. As usual they didn’t stick around to long once they saw me, heading farther into the field. It was quite a treat!
A couple of shots of the head of a chive plant from our garden. I thought it was a little more of a unique picture than we’re used to seeing when talking about a chive.
Some interesting facts about the history of chives:
Chives have been cultivated in Europe since the Middle Ages (5th until the 15th centuries), although their usage dates back 5000 years. They were sometimes referred to as “rush leeks” (from the Greek schoinos meaning rush and prason meaning leek).
The Romans believed chives could relieve the pain from sunburn or a sore throat. They believed eating chives could increase blood pressure and act as a diuretic.
Romanian Gypsies have used chives in fortune-telling. It was believed that bunches of dried chives hung around a house would ward off disease and evil.
The Great Egret is a fascinating bird and one I’ve never encountered until just recently. When I was out taking photographs last Saturday I not only saw a Great Blue Heron but 3 great Egret. I wasn’t able to get close enough to the Egrets for any usable photos that day but returned to the same spot today and to my surprise…6 Great Egret! One in particular was so focused on his hunting that it let me get close enough for some decent pics despite the rain and dark overcast. Here is a series of 8 photos taken today. Click on the images to view larger.
After watching him in the trees for a while I left for just a bit and came back to find him down in the water hunting.
It was really fun to watch this one hunt. Standing perfectly still and then striking lightning fast. Although at times it would kind of wobble its head and neck. I’m learning quit a lot about them as I go. A good resource I use is The Cornell Lab of Ornithology @ http://www.allaboutbirds.org.
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You can view my entire Gallery of Great Egrets here.