Thursday, January 18, 2018

MEANDERINGS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE


Late afternoon shadows...









Golden hour colors...









Dramatic skies....



A fiery sunset.





It doesn't get much better than this.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

BLUE SKIES BECKON


Blue skies in the winter!  What a treat compared to the gray days we've had much of the last month.  I decided it was the perfect time for a road trip. 



I headed out of the city to Old Mission, hoping the roads would be as clear as the skies.  I noticed right away the significant ice and snow build-up along the shoreline.



Wide swaths of slush next lined the coast, waiting for winds to add it to the beach accumulation.  Out a little farther, the water appeared sluggish with no wave action going on.  I realized a thin layer of ice was coating the surface.



Weather prognosticators consider the bay frozen when ice reaches Power Island.  That hasn't happened in the last few years, but this might be the year that it does.



I passed the island and came into Bowers Harbor.  More protected from the winds, the small bay was full of ice floes and significant ice.  Its cold beauty was stunning. 



I turned inland and noticed the orchards quietly resting in the winter chill, preparing themselves for next season's crop.  The heavy snow cover also was doing its job of protecting the roots from freezing.  It won't be long until we see farmers out trimming their dormant trees.



As I reached the peninsula's interior, I remembered the barns marked with quilt patterns.  This red barn with its North Star pattern was striking against the white snow.



I had a decision to make when I reached Center Road: return to the city or continue on to the tip.  The roads weren't as clear this far out, but I couldn't resist the pull of seeing Old Mission Light, pristine in a winter setting. 



As I left the tip and started back to the town, I noticed the blue skies were giving way to winter gray.  It didn't matter, though, for this one last picture.  Red barns always stand out against the white snows of winter, regardless of what's happening in the skies.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

WINTER'S COLD BRINGS OUT THE BIRDS


How the winter landscape has changed in the last few weeks!  The extreme cold temperatures and chilly winds have made life challenging for critters and birds.  Fortunately, "my birds" are getting plenty of seed to help them through this season.



The feeders are so crowded, in fact, that there has been a waiting line to get on the perches.  Birds, like this Black-capped Chickadee, wait their turns on the trees next to the feeder systems.



Luckily, photographing birds in a more natural setting is more pleasing than from a metal feeder.  I noticed the American Goldfinch has taken on its duller, less vibrant winter coat. 



Northern Cardinals are regular visitors too.  This female continues to have its beautiful coloring.



As does the bright red male.  What is more beautiful than a cardinal against a snowy backdrop!



There have also been new visitors to the feeders this winter, like this Slate-colored, Dark-eyed Junco.  Some juncos live here year round, according to the migration maps, but I've only had Junco visitors in the few weeks so I think mine have come south. 



In looking at my bird visitors, they all appear to have big chubby bellies.  But in times that have the negative wind chills we're currently experiencing, they need those extra layers for warmth and energy.



I wonder who the next new bird visitors will be.  Will the Cedar Waxwings find the fermenting berries from Mountain Ask trees?  Or will the little Common Redpolls find their way to my feeders.  I've heard they've been sighted in the area.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

FAVORITES OF 2017


Every year I look back over the pictures I've taken and choose my favorites for that year.  Moving to Traverse City a year ago created some challenges with finding all new landscape subjects and critter environments.  But joining the local Audubon club was pivotal in helping me find new habitats to photograph.  Fortunately, these places were both scenic and full of all kinds of birds and wildlife.



From spring through fall, hundreds of sandhill cranes populated the area I visit often.  Sometimes I saw them in twos or threes, and other times I saw huge flocks of them on the ground or in the sky.  This juvenile crane was such a cutie and was talking the whole time I photographed its family. 



I've learned farmland sunset images can be as striking as sunsets over the water.  On this particular evening, pinks and purples dominated the sky.



Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas are home to many orchards.  This canopy of blossoms was representative of the many scenes found in these orchards during May.



Joining the local Audubon club exposed me to many new kinds of birds.  This Cedar Waxwing with its striking mask was one of them.  I'm hoping this species will visit my neighborhood this winter to taste my frozen Mountain Ash berries.



Here is another farmland sunset, this one resplendent with orange, gold, and salmon colors.



I'd seen one Great Blue Heron in Northport Creek, but it didn't stick around long enough for me to photograph it. This year, I photographed several Great Blues and I like this image the best.  I thought it was going to take off, but it just ruffled its wings for me.



The red-topped spires at the Grand Traverse Commons have fascinated me.  I tried getting as many in one image as I could. 



I've seen several Bald Eagles in the coastal areas along Grand Traverse Bay, but had never gotten the chance to photograph one.  I was lucky one afternoon driving along the bay on Old Mission.  This eagle didn't seem too bothered by my appearance on its turf so I got several good images.



With the current irruption of Snowy Owls, they've become nearly commonplace to see and photograph.  Still there is great excitement in seeing this beautiful bird.



What was my favorite image of 2017?  It was this beautiful Red Fox photographed right in my neighborhood.  I'd not seen one in my last few years in Northport, so it was thrilling to see this gorgeous critter so close to my home.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS



There is so much I enjoy about the holiday season.  Meaningful church services, beautiful carols, holiday lights and yard displays, candles burning brightly, and special times with family and friends. 




Photography is also part of the season as I take holiday-themed pictures for my blog and decide which images to use on my annual Christmas card.    My card includes pictures of the landscapes and critters I’ve photographed over the past year.  I also include an image of Gracie, my four-year old mini-goldendoodle.  She loves the camera and often accompanies me on photoshoots.  She also does an amazing job modeling her  Christmas “outfits."




The antler headband came with a bell attached to a ribbon hanging down from the holly-berry side.  After a few times of Gracie swinging the bell around and trying to catch it in her mouth, the bell got removed.




Gracie's holiday neck scarf came next.  It was a bit too big for her so we had to do some adjusting of the length to get it right.



The collars were the easiest.  This red one had bells that lightly jingled, but they didn’t bother her like the antler bells did.  
 



This is the picture I included on my Christmas card.  By the time we got to this sitting, Gracie was pretty mellow…and full of the treats I’d used to encourage her to follow my sit, down, and stay commands.  Good dog, Gracie.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, friends.  I appreciate how you follow my photography blog.  May the New Year bring joy, peace, and love to you and yours.