Thursday’s photo shoot on the Intracoastal Waterway presented me with lots of photo opportunities. My favorite encounter was with the dolphins. They were everywhere that day and Chris would slow or stop the boat to keep up with the dolphins who would surface and dive and emerge hundreds of feet away in a completely different direction than expected. When we started back in mid afternoon we came across a pod of dolphins that cavorted in and around our boat for close to half an hour. The encounter ended when another, much larger, pleasure boat, slowly made its way by us; the dolphins played in the wake at the front of that boat. What fun to watch. I didn’t get many good shots of that event but thought the photo of the people photographing the dolphins was interesting. The dolphins were so close that we could hear them breathe and exhale through their spouts and when they swam in unison directly toward our boat, we didn’t know what to expect. What an exciting afternoon. It was indeed the day of the dolphin. And a wonderful end to my trip to Port Aransas, Texas.
Thursday, was my last full day in Port Aransas, and Susan and Chris took me out on the Intracoastal Waterway in their boat. The unseasonably cold weather makes for poor fishing whether I’m in the boat or not so the day was devoted to searching the waterways for interesting photo opportunities for me. I found plenty.
I took so many photos that I decided to make separate posts of the different types of wildlife that I encountered. My first post features the different osprey we encountered. All were perched and watching for something to eat and each took to the air while we watched. I had my D7100 with the 70-200mm lens attached but I had removed the 2X teleconverter before we left home and regretted my decision. We got fairly close but I still had to crop these shots. These are my favorite osprey shots from Thursday.
We decided it was too chilly to walk Wednesday morning despite it being a few degrees warmer than the day before when we did venture outside in the wind. So we lazed around in the morning and I obsessed over my Flickr group challenges; a recent one was the color orange and another was “tranquility.” I tried taking shots of Leo, showing off his orange coat, but when he nestled tranquilly on Susan’s arm in the warm sunny window, I decided to use the shot for the “tranquil” Flickr challenge. I did manage to take an “orange” shot when US Coast Guard helicopter flew low while I was outside on the balcony. There were even clouds in the background.
Tuesday was windy and cold with rain later in the day. When we started our morning walk, the temperature was 33°, but with the wind chill, it felt like 23°, positively balmy when compared to the temperatures at Susan’s home in Wisconsin, 0° with a wind chill of minus 7°. Susan and I walked on the beach until we were too frozen to continue; we lasted a brief 15 minutes but we were obviously moving briskly enough the entire time we were outside because we managed to tromp a mile at a 4MPH clip.
I took only a few shots this morning but I thought the clouds made for an interesting subject and I processed them in Silver Efex Pro 2.
The fog was so dense when we started our walk Monday morning that we could see only a few feet ahead. We walked a couple of miles to the Horace Caldwell Pier; on the way, we encountered grounded seagulls and a lone Great Blue Heron, sadly with only one foot. The fog rendered every shot dull and drab so I processed all of these shots in Silver Efex Pro 2 to add some interest to them.
The weather was great for getting out in the boat Sunday. Susan and Chris want me to catch a fish here in Port A but I think I bring only bad fishing karma. Whenever I’m in the boat, no one catches a fish. In the six years I have been coming to Port A, they have caught only one keeper, a red fish, when I was with them. So it’s a good thing I limit the length of my visits so they can start catching fish again when I’m gone!
I may not catch fish here but I do manage to catch a few decent bird shots. I was thrilled to get a fairly decent shot of a roseate spoonbill as it flew over our boat. Beautiful plumage, not so beautiful face. Same with the brown pelicans. They are truly odd creatures and the great blue heron won’t win any beauty contests either. I struggled with focus today and got lots of out of focus images. I guess I was lucky to get the few decent shots I got. Maybe I have bad photo karma, too.
The storm is over, the sun is out, and temperatures have returned to normal for Port A this time of year; it was in the mid 60’s for the annual Port Aransas Garden Club Home Tour Saturday. We toured million dollar homes in the area and were not allowed to take photos. However, I asked for, and was granted, permission to photograph the view from the balcony of one of them. It is a view of the private dune “walkover” leading to the beach on the gulf side of Mustang Island for the exclusive use of the homeowners in this enclave.
Before we left for the home tour, the long-tailed grackles were surrounding the front balcony of our house because Susan had thrown some bread crusts out for them. This is a group of females grackles waiting their turn on the roof of the house next door.
I came all the way to South Texas to find winter—and to learn a new word. The storm came in Thursday night: cold driving rains; 35 mph winds; the porch railing blown down and the chairs with it; huge waves crashing to shore; freezing temperatures. Friday was definitely an indoor day but Susan and I ventured out to the public library to find some videos for entertainment. The library posts a “word of the day” and the day’s word, algid——meaning cold or chilly——is new to me, but very appropriate. The high as I write at 5PM central time is 35°.
While we were out, we stopped in at Oceans of Seafood to buy shrimp for dinner—a simple meal of boiled shrimp, fresh from the Gulf of Mexico, served with cole slaw. With limited photo opportunities, I decided to take some shots of our future dinner: shrimp in the case at Oceans of Seafood. As we started to leave, one of the owners of the place asked if I wanted to photograph their “small” shrimp; he opened a cooler to reveal the 6 inch monsters piled within. Later at home, Susan boiled the smaller 3 inch shrimp we chose; when Leo investigated, he was removed from the counter to save our dinner, and seems to be thinking, “Hey! What did I do?”
My favorite shore birds are the adorable little sanderlings. They are small and skitter across the sand searching for their next meal. I had my 70-200mm lens on the D7100 today so I was able to capture better shots of them because I didn’t have to get so close. The first two shots are of a sanderling and the other shots are of a willet. I thought the varied types of reflections were interesting.
I arrived in Port Aransas, TX Wednesday afternoon to visit my dear friends Susan and Chris. I missed last year but this is my 6th annual visit to Port A since 2008. Susan and Chris are known here as “Winter Texans,” midwesterners who escape the harsh winters and spend the winter months fishing and enjoying the surf, seaside, and abundant wildlife along the Gulf of Mexico in South Texas. After picking me up at the airport in Corpus Christi, Susan and Chris treated me to an indulgent Sushi feast at Water Street Oyster Bar in Corpus; all of the delectable fish, including yellowtail, albacore, blue crab, hamachi, and shrimp, was caught in these Gulf waters. I have missed it here and am happy to be back for the next ten days.
I took a few shots as Susan and I strolled on the beach as the sun dipped behind us.
I visited my friend Honora in Santa Rosa this past weekend and she was lamenting that she hadn’t groomed her yard or deadheaded some of the plants in her yard in preparation for spring. I was glad she hadn’t because I found this dead sunflower to be an intriguing image. Despite the deadhead, I saw no sign of any of the Grateful Dead, but I say, “just keep truckin’ on.”
The headlines from this morning’s Bee confirm what we have been anticipating for months. One of my Flickr challenges this past week was how we get our news. I still read a “hard copy” of the morning newspaper while I savor my morning cup of coffee. I used the Film Noir preset in Silver Efex Pro 2 to add drama.
The squirrels continue to cavort in my yard. I can see many more squirrels in my future…probably not a good thing. In the meantime, I will enjoy watching their antics. It took this guy a minute to realize I was looking at him because I took the shot standing in my patio doorway with the 70-200mm lens with its 2X teleconverter attached. Adding the teleconverter limits the maximum aperture to f/8; my ISO was 100 and the shutter speed was at 1/125; I didn’t take the time to adjust settings because this is essentially a “grab” shot, so I needed to make lots of adjustments to compensate for the poor exposure. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have used a photograph that I needed to modify so much but I loved his expression and couldn’t resist using the shot.
This is the new redwood lattice atop my back wall. After 23 years here, I finally have privacy. The shrubs that we so meticulously groomed to block the road view and noise have begun to die back. The masonry wall steps down from the corner, two houses down, to about five feet at my house, too low for the busy street behind my house. I finally took steps to alleviate this problem and my new lattice was installed yesterday.
For some time, I have thought this rusty iron garden lantern would make an interesting subject for a photograph. And, today, when I read that the Flickr challenge was “door” I couldn’t resist making the lantern’s droopy door my photo today. When I reviewed the shots, it reminded me of what a Hobbit house might look like but I felt it needed a bit more processing so I used one of Perfect Effects 8’s presets and then, once again inching closer to the “dark side,” I added a texture to add more interest.
The Chinese have landed on the moon and when I looked at the photos I took of the almost full moon tonight, I can see what appears to be new lights on the surface. Could they already have strung up lights there? And what’s with that spot on the bottom that looks like a hole? I don’t remember seeing that before. Could they be tunneling inside the moon? Maybe it really is green cheese!
After closing Famous Mo’s Coffeehouse & Theater, I arranged to trade our restaurant sized espresso machine for a smaller version for my home. It was installed a couple of days ago and I have been practicing pulling shots and frothing milk. I never put my barista training into practice at Mo’s so my skills are quite marginal. Fortunately, I have made a deal with the roaster at Vaneli’s Handcrafted Coffee, from whence comes the espresso machine and my coffee, that he’ll give me refresher training for a six pack of DeChutes Black Butte Porter. Works for me!
This is a doppio or double shot of espresso. It is not in perfect focus because I needed a slow shutter speed in the early evening light and the machine vibrates a bit causing the shot glass to move ever so slightly as the shot is pouring.