Short Stories

April 11, 2014

Often I take great photos that just don't fit the story I am trying to share with you. So, today is odds and ends from the last few months. Let's just see what happens.

From the East end of Galveston Island looking to the Houston Ship Channel Panasonic FZ200 on Automagic settings

From the East end of Galveston Island looking to the Houston Ship Channel

Panasonic FZ200 on Automagic settings

Back in February I spent a couple of days in Galveston and part of that time it was seriously foggy. The locals called it 'sea fog' but the technical term is advection fog. You can read all about what it is and how it is formed, but for me - it just meant fog in strange places. It was foggy in Galveston Bay and the ship channel, but overcast or sunny on the shore.  On one day both sides of the ferry terminals were socked in, but the middle of the channel was clear. It seemed to move in and out; sometimes the streets were foggy. Highly challenging conditions for manual shooting.

The ship above was heading out to sea but looked like it was coming from some other time zone.

Red-shouldered hawk Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1000sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

Red-shouldered hawk

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1000sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

And then there was the day at Brazos Bend State Park when I spotted this hawk. I admire photographers with a huge portfolio of raptors, but it is an uncommon occurrence for me to capture a hawk. This one did not stay on the perch long; he flew away from me into the swamps. You have to be really, really fast.

Fall and Winter are great seasons for finding hawks in Texas; it isn't unusual to see a dozen or more along the roadside, perched on utility poles on the road to Brazos Bend. Of course, stopping on the side of the road and shooting straight up before he flies away hardly ever works. So, instead you just count and admire.

Anhinga... just before take off Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1250sec. f/6.3 ISO 1000

Anhinga... just before take off

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/1250sec. f/6.3 ISO 1000

I believe this Anhinga posed for me the day I was concentrating on the poor, homely White Ibis adventure, so he didn't make the cut. This is a male, and he is just stretching out to take off. He had been sunning himself on that great dead stump, just feet from the trail to the Observation tower at Elm Lake, Brazos Bend. Soon, his eye will have a bright blue ring and he will have silvery white markings in his crest. All signs of breeding plumage.

East side of Houston, near the Houston Ship Channel Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/1250sec. f/6.3 ISO 140

East side of Houston, near the Houston Ship Channel

Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/1250sec. f/6.3 ISO 140

And yes, it is not always birds. Back in late December we were blessed with some sunny, mild days. Not good for birds, so I explored the area around the Ship Channel on the east side of town. This was near some fabrication yards snug up to the channel, which is blocked off with high walls and ominous signs from the Coast Guard and Homeland Security. And, just after this innocuous photo, I was asked to leave the grassy area near the water. Politely.

Reflections of wealth Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/500sec. f/6.3 ISO 400

Reflections of wealth

Sony A700 with 75-300mm 1/500sec. f/6.3 ISO 400

No one cares if you photograph buildings downtown on a Sunday afternoon, Not having a wide angle lens, I had to entertain myself with details and reflections. This curved-fronted building is part of the infamous old Enron building - now known as the 1400 Smith Street building with Chevron as its major tenant. There is something to be said for naming a major building a name that is scandal-proof.

Do you remember the shrimp boat I found on the Texas City Dike months ago? It seemed to be abandoned on the shore. I went back the next week and there were two other shrimpers attempting to rescue the shipwreck.

You always need friends.... Sony RX10 1/1250sec. f/6.3 ISO 200

You always need friends....

Sony RX10 1/1250sec. f/6.3 ISO 200

This took most of the day. They had to dig out around the beached shrimper and work with the tide to get it unstuck. I talked to one of the guys and he told me he fell asleep and that is how he ended up on shore. Or the steering went out. Or both. We had a bit of a language problem.

Lucky Lady to the rescue Sony RX10 1/1250sec. f/6.3 ISO 200

Lucky Lady to the rescue

Sony RX10 1/1250sec. f/6.3 ISO 200

These were taken with the ill-fated Sony RX10 - the camera I sent back. It was a wonderful camera, and I loved the wide angle capabilities, but it just wasn't suitable for birds. The day was overcast, but the photo above was enhanced with some Tone Mapping from HDR Efex Pro 2 (one of those Photoshop plugins) so it looks much more dramatic. Of course, if it was your livelihood that was at stake, the situation was plenty dramatic.

How about all that for a change of pace? With Spring finally here I do have a lot of bird photos to share, but I know some of you like variety. And so do I, come to think of it :-). Let me know what you are thinking about in the comments; just sign in as a Guest with any name you choose.