Some of you know that I grew up in Virginia Beach which is bounded on the north by the Chesapeake Bay and the east by the Atlantic Ocean. The laid back community known as Chesapeake Beach, or Chic’s Beach ….. with no K damn it!….. to locals, is the stretch of sand I literally grew up on and is forever imprinted in my soul as home, no matter where I roam.
I, as well as many of my fellow beach rats, spent hours and hours sitting on these boulders staring across the bay while pondering life’s mysteries.
THE BOSS on The Rocks
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel spanning the 20 mile mouth of the bay.
Mom and THE BOSS with the CBBT behind them
……..and The Reward at the End.
Our weather forecast is calling for scattered snow showers Sunday and Monday. I’m hoping the weather guessers are operating at their usual efficiency because I usually don’t notice these guys until after I’ve mowed the lawn and they flock in to hunt for insects. Here’s to signs of good things to come!
I got some nice shots of a pair of Mourning Doves, as well. Those will be on my Virginia Through My Lens page as soon as I can get them posted.
It was another nice day, sunny and mild, so I was out enjoying the fresh air and looking for something to shoot. There were plenty of birds chirping behind me but that was to the west, looking directly into the sun. Suddenly a flicker of motion in the trees caught my attention and I snapped this shot of a male cardinal using a 55-150MM zoom lens at about 55MM.
Switching to the other camera, which was already mounted with my long lens, I got much closer without moving and spooking him. This shot is at about 350MM.
This one is at 500MM, maximum zoom for this lens.
About 400MM just before he darted off into the trees.
I’ve spent a little time scouting the woods behind the house and have picked out a couple of likely places for shooting from a ground blind. Both are relatively open, easy to get in and out of quietly and not too far from 2 intersecting game trails a den tree with a large, active squirrel nest and several nearby trees with bird nests in the upper branches.
As spring approaches I’ll be getting my hunting gear ready, including a large spray bottle of odorless insect repellant. I hunt with a camera instead of a gun these days but the principles are the same; equipment, scouting, set up and most of all, patience. It’s too bad they don’t make Frontline Plus for humans……it works great at repelling fleas, ticks and other nasty critters on the dogs!
I spent this evening reorganizing my medium size camera backpack and making sure everything, especially my tripod, is ready to grab and go. Now all that’s left is to pick up a box of snake shot shells for my hand cannon and e-mail my wish list to THE BOSS and Mini-Boss. My birthday and Father’s Day are right around the corner and I have my eye on a pop up bow hunter’s blind and a new scent lock camouflage shirt and pair of pants!
I was out in the backyard, standing on the picnic table when this little critter, a female Downy Woodpecker flew over and landed on a branch about 10 feet away!
I know what you’re thinking…….why was I standing on top of the picnic table in the first place, right? You’ll have to go here to find out.
You’ve probably heard me refer to THE BOSS, SHE WHO SHALL BE OBEYED, my better half, the woman who has put up with me for the past 25 years. You may have even seen a photo or two of her winding up to whack me on the headbone with her trusty cast iron skillet. Sometimes I even deserve it but if she happens to read that last sentence I’ll deny any knowledge on the grounds that all that BANGY!, BANGY! on my delicate head has caused severe brain damage.
Today’s post is my attempt to prod her into processing her own shots and getting into blogging.
Last Christmas I gave her a point and shoot to carry around in her purse and she actually takes it out and uses it from time to time.
She’s also been known to take one of my DSLRs away from me on occasion and has captured some fine shots with it. I’m afraid that one of these days she’ll refuse to give it back, just as she did when she got over the fear of driving Godzilla, my beloved Ford Expedition. Now I’m lucky if she let’s me drive it a couple of times a month!
I have to be careful because that cast iron frying pan isn’t the only hardware she’s been known to have access to. I’m convinced that any day now the authorities are going to kick down the door and tear the house apart looking for that 16 inch shell she found when we toured the USS Wisconsin last summer. That’s no pea shooter shell…..THE BOSS is 5 feet tall and that’s just the projectile she’s posing with.
But I digress.
These are a few of the shots I found on the memory card in her point and shoot and I thought you might enjoy them. Oh yes, the watermark. Frankie was born and raised about 15 miles from here in a little mountain town in the New River Valley, or NRV to locals, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, hence the NRVGirl tag.
From the minute Molly laid eyes on Frankie she decided she belonged to Mama. She’s also my baby girl. Buddy, who adopted me from day one, has been replaced as my chair warmer.
At nearly 100 lbs. she’s a little large for a lap dog but you can’t convince her of that.
She sill allows Buddy to lay on the floor beside my chair and get his ears scratched.
When she’s not keeping my chair or my lap warm she likes to guard my side of the bed.
THE BOSS has also been known to take some outdoor shots. She especially likes sunsets.
THE BOSS says I’ve spent enough time fooling around online so it’s back to kitchen duty for me. Anyone know a good remedy for dishpan hands?
Mother Nature has lost her mind! The first significant snow of the year, nearly 10 inches, fell earlier in the week. Yesterday the high temperature was in the mid 60s and what snow didn’t melt during the day was washed away by the torrential thunderstorms overnight. Today started out warm and we had a few torrential downpours and a tornado watch until late this afternoon. Then the temperature started plummeting and we have a chance of snow showers overnight!
With the whacky weather in mind I decided to exercise a little common sense for a change and stay close to home. I still managed to get a few frames today. This Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) taking shelter in the brush along the edge of the tree line behind our place was shot through the bedroom window at a range of about 50 yards using a Sigma 150-500MM optically stabilized telephoto zoom lens.
Still recovering from the nasty bug I’ve had for the past couple of months I finally managed to get out to shoot a few frames. These were made on a trip to town with THE BOSS and the livestock. I don’t know who was more excited to get out of the house, me or the dogs.
I actually worked up enough energy to wander outdoors today! The nasty virus I’ve been fighting seems to be letting up at long last. However, I am in still in no shape to wrangle wild animals so the leashes stayed in the house and the livestock were clipped to their cable run. They still had a lot of fun hunting cats, marking territory, barking at imaginary trespassers, climbing on the picnic table to lick my ear just as I framed a shot…….
The weather was beautiful and I was really enjoying the sun and mild temperature. Imagine……….shirtsleeves on January 24th! Why do I get the feeling Mother Nature is about to bury us in snow and ice? Maybe THE BOSS ought to stop by the store and load up on bread and milk……just in case.
Anyway, I settled for shooting some Goldenrod while it’s dormant and no threat to my seasonal allergies. It wasn’t until I downloaded the images from the camera that I discovered it was set to shoot in monochrome. I kind of like what I captured even if I didn’t mean to.
How many deer can you find in this first shot?
It gets a little easier as they graze their way out of the tree line.
No matter how many times I see it I’m always amazed at how effective natural camouflage is.
While I’m still battling this seemingly never ending virus I am feeling some better. At least I have something right outside my back door to keep me entertained . These were shot hand held at a range of about 50 yards using a Sigma 150-500M image stabilized lens.
When you have an image like this in your mind’s eye……..
……….seeing this outside your window doesn’t seem to matter as much.
I hope the first frame is a small comfort for those of you caught in Old Man Winter’s icy grip. It is for me! That’s the beach I grew up on and no matter how far I roam or how long I’m away it’s forever in my soul. Stay warm my friends!
Lately I’ve been on the sick, lame and lazy list as we called it when I was in the service. Okay, I’ve just been plain lazy and haven’t been out with the cameras much. However, while backing up all my files, cleaning up the hard drive on the laptop and transferring all the photos over to my dedicated portable hard drive I decided to go through some of my better shots from 2011 and share them with those of you who haven’t already seen them.
Buddy LOVES snow!
Did I mention that Buddy LOVES snow?
Even though we had snow on the ground Frankie’s daffodils were gorgeous.
Milder spring temperatures meant Buddy could hang his head out the window and take full advantage of the wonderful smells passing by.
The apple and dogwood blossoms were a welcome change from winter’s ice and snow.
May brought our baby girl’s 19th birthday. Where do the years go?
Of course, EVERYBODY got a piece of birthday cake.
June brought a trip back home to Virginia Beach to visit Mom. This is the stretch of beach, known to locals as Chic’s Beach, where I grew up and spent a good portion of my life when I wasn’t deployed by the US Air Force. Even though I love living in the Blue Ridge Mountains I have to go back to the beach at least once or twice a year to recharge my soul.
Now you also know one of my secrets; I usually shoot with two cameras and I shoot a LOT! Thank God for digital cameras or I’d be sticking up gas stations to pay for enough film and processing to feed my shutterbug!
Buddy taking his first dip in the Chesapeake Bay. Since we adopted him up here in the mountains we’re pretty sure he’d never seen this much water before but he’s a Labrador Retriever and followed me right in as soon as he figured out the foot high waves wouldn’t hurt him..
What can I say?
These folks will sell explosives to anybody…..even me!
We saw our first white tail fawn while out for a ride one warm July evening.
A couple of weeks later this guy stepped out of the tree line right behind the house.
He brought the family along with him.
August also brought the annual re-enactment of the Civil War Battle of Saltville, Virginia. THE BOSS (my wife, Frankie) has been a Civil War buff since participating in re-enactments while she attended East Tennessee State University so we gathered up her sister and her husband, piled in Godzilla and headed down to Saltville for the action. Catching the muzzle flash of a musket firing was a real accomplishment considering she had just appropriated one of my DSLRs. You may have noticed the NRV Girl (New River Valley Girl) copyright,
“You’re not getting it back, either! Just be glad that long lens of yours is too heavy for me to handle!”
September was when we rescued Molly from the shelter in a neighboring county, just a couple of hours before she was to be put down..
Buddy quickly got over his jealousy for the most part and they are now the best of friends…….and partners in crime.
Autumn here in Southwest Virginia can be spectacular if the weather conditions have been just right and this year they were perfect!
One good reason for not carving your Jack-O-Lanterns is they last longer and make great autumn decorations…….unless you happen to mention to the teenaged kid who lives in this house that they also make great targets for that new rifle he just bought. This idea is so popular that I sometimes half expect to have to chop my way through pumpkin vines to get to the target line at the county range.
That big guy is back in our yard and he is BIG! Folks say that darker winter coat is an indication of the winter to come while the redder the spring coat is will tell you how hot the summer will be. I’ve seen the deer a lot darker than this in years past and hope we’ll have a mild winter.
Well, that;s it for this year. Time to give the cameras a good cleaning and get ready for what the new year brings. From me and mine to you and yours we hope you have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
Y’all play nice now………Bubba Claus is watchin’! Scary, ain’t it?
No words, just burdz.
The undisputed Boss of Burd Town, the Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) is always the first to arrive at the feeders.
They are loud and fearless, often landing within 5 or 6 feet when I’m filling the feeders and never shy about telling me to hurry up and get out of the way. On several occasions I’ve seen several of them gang up to chase a much larger Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) away from the feeders.
I shot these frames from less than 10 feet while standing on the picnic table behind the house. This little guy tolerated my presence for a while but was soon sounding off at the top of his little lungs.
P.S. Around our house standing on the picnic table to get close to the burds will also cause THE BOSS to yell “If you fall off and break your neck I’m not driving you to the hospital, you big dummy!” More on that here.
Individual images from the slide show can be found below the slide show.
Clicking the thumbnails will bring up the full size original.
Two more shot through the bedroom window as the residual meds in my system none to politely pointed out that they’re not quite finished with me yet.
However, I’m getting back to what passes for normal in my world so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The voices in my head, especially the one who sounds like Elmer Fudd, are starting to make sense and that’s never a good thing……but the results are usually pretty funny.
Male Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) captured at the feeder outside our bedroom window.
Just a few shots from this morning as the dogs and I enjoyed some fresh air and sunshine. All images in the slideshow can be found in the gallery below. Clicking on any frame will bring up the full size image.
This guy walked out of the tree line no more than 30 yards from the bedroom window this afternoon. I shot these through the window glass because I didn’t want to risk stepping out the door and spooking him.
This guy walked out of the tree line no more than 30 yards from the bedroom window this afternoon. I shot these through the window glass because I didn’t want to risk stepping out the door and spooking him.
This is a mature 6 point whitetail buck and he’s absolutely HUGE! I have a 42” chest and this guy is every bit as broad across the chest as I am.
Oh, wait……..ever since we moved here people have been telling me there ain’t no deer on Pine Ridge. Ladies and gentlemen I give you the world’s largest squirrel!
I’m tellin’ ya, sometimes ya just get lucky!
Late blossoms on my wife’s Knockout Rose.
We’ve already had our first hard frosts so there may not be many more of these this year.
The leaves are also falling fast but there is still plenty of color to be found if you look for it.
Lastly, a Belted Kingfisher I accidentally captured while shooting the fall foliage along a local creek. I didn’t notice him until I got home and downloaded the images from the SDHC cards. Sometimes you just get lucky.
Just a couple frames I shot while out with the dogs this morning.
I’m still adjusting to the change in medications so I stayed on the porch while Buddy and Molly were “on patrol”.
People often ask what equipment I use. Both of these shots are hand held at about 25 yards using a Sigma 150-500MM OS (optically stabilized) telephoto lens mounted on a Canon EOS Rebel T3 DSLR. I also use a Canon EOS Rebel XS, which was my first DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex).
In addition to the Sigma I have 2 Canon 18-55MM IS (image stabilized) lenses (this lens came with each camera), a Canon EF-S 55-250MM IS Telephoto Zoom Lens and a Canon EF-S 60MM f/2.8 Macro USM for close ups. Both cameras will accept all of these lenses, a very good thing now that my wife, Frankie (aka THE BOSS), has been bitten by the shutter bug as well.
NOTE TO THE READER:
I’m publishing this same post on my Virginia Through My Lens Blogger page. When I left Windows Live Spaces a few months back I couldn’t decide whether I preferred Blogger or Word Press so I tried both. After nearly a year I still can’t decide so I’ve decided to continue posting on both pages with this one focusing on photography and my Blogger page leaning more towards writing.
I hope you have a chance to visit each page and, as always, I welcome comments, tips, suggestions and criticism. That’s how I learn. I still can’t believe how much I’ve learned since I first started blogging and shooting photos in the spring of 2009. Y’all have taught me so much and I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate it. Thank you for your input, encouragement and most of all for your friendship.
I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll get out to shoot our Autumn color before it’s gone.
This guy on the maple outside our bedroom window gave me the title for today’s post.
Hang in there!
I’m grounded, again, but that doesn’t keep me from pointing my lens out the window. THE BOSS really keeps them clean because she knows that as long as I’m busy with the cameras I won’t be fooling around with anything else.
Buddy is always ready to pose for a photo. Molly, on he other hand, was investigating something under the picnic table and was out of camera range.
It’s going to be interesting to see how long this volunteer sunflower holds out. We think one of the burds planted it in an old flower box because we sure didn’t. Overnight lows approaching freezing are in the forecast for next weekend so it’s days may be numbered.
The maple in the yard is just beginning to change colors in earnest. It should be solid yellow by the end of the month and bare week or so after. As always, I intend to let the leaves blow across the street into the jerk’s yard. I’d rather watch him rake hem up that do it myself. Besides, I don’t know how to operate a rake……..and I can’t be taught, either!
The wind was really whipping the branches today so I had to use a fast shutter speed on these two frames.
The next door neighbor’s porch is also within camera range. After Halloween I’ll ask Cody, who lives there, if he wants to get in on the “Blow Your Pumpkin to Smithereens” festivities. Blowing up pumpkins with a shotgun at the county range is a lot of fun. My nephew turned me on to this sport when we were visiting a few years ago and it’s become an annual tradition in our family, especially since you can buy leftover pumpkins at Lowe’s and Walmart for $1 a piece the day after the holiday.
Each year I usually set aside $20 just for pumpkins and another $20 or 30 to replace the shotgun shells. I’ve heard that modern shotgun shells remain stable far longer than they used to but I was taught to replace stored ammo with fresh at least once a year and still do. One of these days we’re going to find the dirt berm on the 25 yard line at the range covered in pumpkin vines! Then we won’t have to buy pumpkins to blow up or haul ‘em up to the range. That’s redneck recycling at it’s best!
Our plans to take a ride out to Crockett’s Cove this afternoon got side tracked by a chest cold trying to put Frankie out of action. She stopped on the way home from work and picked a box of Alka-Seltzer Plus®. That, along with my mom’s sure fire cure for what ails you, Lipton® Chicken Noodle Soup , will have her right as rain and back behind the viewfinder in no time.
One of the big attractions in the cove, especially this time of year, is the beautiful scenery. The other big attraction is the herd of whitetail deer that flocks to the open fields at sunset. My brother in law, the world famous Fish Hook, and I have watched scores and scores of deer wander out of the tree lines. One of the drawbacks to shooting in the gloaming is not enough light for decent shots unless you’re using a tripod. Setting one up and waiting for the deer to appear is usually out of the question because of the single narrow road and signs prohibiting stopping in the road. I guess the folks who live out there have had enough trouble getting home in the evenings.
The day was not a total loss. Just as she was getting settled down in bed with her book, TV remote, Mini-10 netbook and dual 4 legged self propelled foot warmers she happened to spot one of the “big dawgs” through the bedroom window.
I apologize for the grainy images. The light was fading fast so I didn’t bother with the tripod. I’ve missed catching images of this guy several times because by the time I did get the tripod set up he was either gone or I couldn’t pick him out of the background as the light failed.
The first frame was shot through the window using the window frame to brace my left arm and my left arm to brace the 150-500MM telephoto lens. The last two were shot using the clothesline pole for a brace after I managed to sneak out the back door without A) spooking the buck, B) falling on my face and C) having the dogs bolt past me and scare him off before I could frame a shot. All three were shot from about 75 yards.
Now, to get back to catching up on the backlog of blogs I have waiting for me. Man, I’m tellin’ ya; veg out for a couple of days and it takes forever to get back on track. At least the dreams from the pain meds were entertaining! Somewhere I read an article about dreams usually being in black and white. I don’t know where I read it but I do know for a fact that I dream in color, VIVID color, when deep in the grasp of a prescription narcotics buzz!