Seen at Huntley Meadows

Nothing spectacular. Just a few images of things that one can expect to see this time of the year (January) at Huntley Meadows, a local wildlife refuge in suburban Alexandria, Virginia. It’s a great place for a walk and for sightseeing.

Gull
Pattern breakers
Mergansers
Water flowing
Feathers caught in twigs

Same Subject, Different Day

Almost the same time in the morning as the other day, but boy, a little bit of light make a BIG bit of difference.

Drying out
Curiosity
Savoring a snack
Ice cap?
It can be a struggle.
In the end, the fish was cooked.
I hope you enjoyed the show!

Water World

It seems that way, at Huntley Meadows. At least in wintertime. The warblers are harder to find, the wading birds are much more plentiful. And once in a while, an unexpected guest. The clapper trail has left everyone buzzing about. And today was a good day to get a picture of this skittish bird.

And some of the other birds floating about.

The one constant presence at Huntley Meadows – Canadian geese.

And a warbler. Or something like it.

In the thicket of things.

Same Place, Different Year

I finally had the chance to visit Huntley Meadows after a few weeks of not having the time to do so. It is a familiar place, but every day brings a different experience. Today, it was a river otter swimming in the first pond. And then, a surprise.

It was early in the morning, on an overcast January day. Haven’t seen this one before.

Better Late than Never

Between the rain and the clouds near the horizon, I almost missed taking a picture of Jupiter and Saturn at conjunction. Well, I did miss it, but here are the two planets, eighth days after the conjunction. You can barely make out Saturn’s rings. The Sony 200-600mm zoom is a great lens, even wide open.

A Christmas Present

As the day winds down, I turn the TV on and sit transfixed. Mesmerized by the colors and the beauty of the latest Pixar movie – Soul. What can I say. This is another masterpiece from the geniuses at Pixar. This film has so many levels that I think it will take dozens of viewings before I even begin to digest the messages that the movie has to say. The most important thing that it brings to my mind, however, is that we as people waste so much time thinking that things can be so much better that we forget how to live life. It isn’t the glories, the heights of fame and success that defines a person. It’s how we live with our family, how we live in our community. How we touch the ones we love and the people around us. We live a life and we forget that every moment is special. I needed this reminder today. I need to remember this message every day. We obsess and work hard to get somewhere and then when we get there, it often feels like a disappointment. There is an emptiness, a feeling that we must have missed something. What we miss is the part of life that makes it worth living. Being alive means looking around, taking a breath, and watching the world around us. Whether it is in the company of others or in our quiet corner of the house, life is around us. In the warmth of the early morning sun. In the cold stare of Orion as he marches in the winter sky. Life is everywhere. Each step forward, backward, sideways takes us somewhere new. Each step is an opportunity to give meaning to the lives of others. And in so doing, give meaning to our own lives.

A Referral Bonus – Topaz Labs

Just something different. Topaz Labs has been running a special sale on their products (a complete bundle) for a large discount. The sale is ending today. I don’t use all the products in their catalog, but the two that I use, I use all the time. Two of the best Photoshop plugins that I have ever used are Sharpen AI and De Noise AI from Topaz Labs. The link below will give you a discount if you choose to purchase any of the products. And give me a little bit in return.

http://topazlabs.refr.cc/winstonl

I can’t vouch for the other products I don’t use, but I can heartily recommend the two products that I do use. Topaz Sharpen AI and De Noise AI are indispensable tools in my workflow. They are class leading.

I did try Mask AI but I didn’t purchase it – I don’t do a lot of masking so I can use other tools to do that task, if I need to. I don’t upscale often, so I don’t use GigaPixel AI. JPEG to Raw AI? Never used it. I’d like to try their video enhancer product, but it takes a lot of compute power to work. In the end, you buy the tools that you use.

Topaz gives you a lifetime license to use their products but you only have a one year window where you can get upgrades for the product. While your license to use the product does not expire, your ability to download and install updates to the product you purchase expires after a year. I was upset when they changed their pricing model, but at least it is not subscription based and you get to use their product for perpetuity. I ended up buying an additional license to use the two products for another year. The upgrades are worth it, even though the version of the products that I had before renewing were already good. In the end, software companies should sell good products at a good price. Topaz, in my use case, sells products that are invaluable to the work I do. Of course, as with everything else, YMMV.

A very quiet day (birdwise)

A nice Saturday morning – sunny and cool. A typical mid Atlantic November day. Huntley Meadows beckoned. It’s never a good sign when you get there a half hour after sunrise and people are leaving. And truth be told, it was three hours of looking for something other than a red winged blackbird. You can hear the kingfisher, but it was far away. You can see the mergansers but they were far away. A blue heron flew in but it was far away. Heck, I probably should have stayed far away from Huntley as well, and catch a few more ZZZs. Oh well, at least there was a collection of water on the ground over some leaves. You just go with the flow. Even if the water is at a standstill (or nearly so).

The Power of Zoom

The birds were a bit further from me than I wanted. Heck, they’re birds. They are not going to perch five feet from me, at least not when they can see me. Zoom out, press the shutter button. The images are small, but the birds are beautiful.