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Chris Kayler's Blog

The blog of Chris Kayler, nature photographer & artist.

Tricolored Heron against Mangroves in Shadow, Fort De Soto Park, Florida

Chris Kayler

I'm going to head back to Florida this morning. Back to that morning in the lagoons of Fort De Soto Park. It's a nice respite from the freezing rain predicted today, and it makes me even more excited to get back down to Florida in a few weeks. In this image, a beautiful tricolored heron in full breeding plumage is stalking some prey. The heron is bathed in sunlight, but the distant shore full of dark mangroves remains in shade. The contrast between the two really brings out the texture, detail, and color of the heron.

Tricolored Heron against Mangroves in Shadow, Fort De Soto Park, Florida.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 400 f/5.6. 1/2500 second, f/7.1., ISO 400. Tripod.

"Reflections Through a Fuzzy Lens" - Great blue heron fishing, Fort De Soto Park, Florida

Chris Kayler

I think I'll take a break from the ice images for a bit! Besides, I'm sure everyone on the east coast is sick of the cold. Bunch of wimps, we are. Anyways, this photograph is of a great blue heron fishing for minnows in a lagoon in Florida's Fort De Soto Park. Truly one of my favorite places in Florida. White sand beaches, crystal clear water, abundant wildlife. This place has it all, as long as all you are looking for is a picturesque white sand beach with crystal clear water and abundant wildlife, that is. Looking at this image brings back so many great memories of that morning spent in the lagoons. It brings me just a touch of warmth during a day otherwise filled with freezing rain.

"Reflections Through a Fuzzy Lens" - Great blue heron fishing for minnows, Fort De Soto Park, Florida.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 400 f/5.6. 1/2500 second, f/7.1., ISO 400. Tripod.

"Finding Love" - Ice Patterns, Great Falls National Park, Virginia

Chris Kayler

Why couldn't I have found this charming scene before Valentine's Day? Damn! Let's try to forget about my poor timing, alright? I found this pattern in ice along a small stream in Great Falls National Park, Virginia. I was immediately drawn to the heart shaped hole in the ice. I had to use it in a composition. To me, the lines surrounding, curving up and down, and all around the heart symbolize a search for love. Yeah, yeah. Cut me some slack, I'm an artist!

"Finding Love" - Ice Patterns, Great Falls National Park, Virginia

The scene at Great Falls that morning was really something else. I've never seen the Potomac River so crowded with ice. In fact, I can't ever remember a time that there were icebergs floating down the river. This consistent cold has really provided me with some exciting photographic opportunities. It's not even close to being over yet. Rest assured, you'll be seeing quite a few more ice images.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 172mm. .6 seconds, f/32, ISO 100. Polarizer. Tripod.

"Fault Line" - Ice patterns, McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, Maryland

Chris Kayler

The weather last week was finally cold enough to form some interesting ice patterns here in the northern Virginia area. Traveling just a bit further north to McKee-Beshers WMA, I found even more ice formed in the numerous puddles located on the property. Initially I was attracted to the elongated cell-like structures found in this puddle, but as I drew closer I noticed the distinct line of darker ice running through the middle. It formed the perfect line to create movement within the composition.

"Fault Line" - Ice patterns, McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, Maryland

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 + 500D Closeup Filter @ 154mm. 1/4th second, f/22, ISO 100.

"Forgotten Forest" - A foggy day in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Chris Kayler

Well, it appears that the Nor'easter has missed us for the most part here in Northern Virginia. Bummer! I haven't yet had a single day this year with excellent winter conditions, whether from snow or from ice. However, this time is proving to be valuable to dig back into my archives and process new images. Here, a scene from Shenandoah National Park, Virginia is showcased during a beautiful foggy day in the upper elevations of the park. I processed this one a bit cooler to showcase the effervescent blue tones found throughout the layers of fog. I particularly like the copious amounts of lichen on this group of trees as well as the fresh growth of verdant green leaves.

"Forgotten Forest" - A foggy day in the forests of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22 @ 21mm. 1/6th second, f/13, ISO 100. Polarizer.

"Doubt Creeps" - Great blue heron fishing along the Potomac River, Great Falls National Park, Virginia

Chris Kayler

With the relatively warm temperatures of Virginia so far this winter resulting in a complete lack of ice and snow, I've been digging back into my archive of images that never got processed for one reason or another. I find that reevaluating older photographs is an excellent process as what I look for in a worthy image is always changing. I'll be frank, I love this image! Without looking back it would have sat there worthlessly on my hard drive. "Doubt Creeps" captures an image of a great blue heron fishing along the Potomac River last summer. This individual allowed me to approach quite closely and use the wide end of my 70-200mm lens to emphasize the bird in the foreground while also displaying the waterfalls in the background. It always amazes me that these birds choose to fish here among the turbulent waters. I can't wait for the summer of 2015 and the return of the herons.

"Doubt Creeps" - Great blue heron fishing along the Potomac River, Great Falls National Park, Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 87mm. 1/5th second, f/22, ISO 100. Polarizer. Tripod.

"Autobiography" - Foam swirls in an eddy, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

Chris Kayler

Using a slow shutter speed to capture motion of foam or leaves in a swirling eddy has become somewhat of a cliche in modern nature photography. Okay, that's an understatement. People seek "swirlies" with the veracity of a used car salesman who has just spotted a virgin car buyer. Nevertheless, they have become popular for good reason. The implied motion promotes the viewer's eye roam around the scene and create a moving (literally) composition. The eddy portrayed here is one of the largest I've seen, and I just couldn't resist trying my hand at capturing the flow of it.

"Autobiography" - Foam swirls in an eddy, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22 @ 10mm. 13 seconds, f/16, ISO 100. Polarizer.

Two complex autumn scenes, October, West Virginia

Chris Kayler

Busy? Ugly? Relaxing? Subtle? Complex? These descriptors and more accompany the type of image that I will display in this blog post. In my opinion, there isn't another type of image that is as polarizing. Love it or hate it, these immensely complex images are among my favorite type of image to create and look at. I love the minutia of details that can be studied throughout the frame, and the subtle compositional elements that can be seen either subconsciously or actively, if one is looking hard enough.

"Mountain Music" - A tapestry of trunks and fall foliage, New River Gorge National River, West Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22 @ 17mm. 2 seconds, f/14, ISO 200. Polarizer.

 

"Wavelengths" - Backlit blueberry bushes and foliage, Dolly Sods, West Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22 @ 22mm. 1/5th second, f/14, ISO 100. Polarizer.

"Approach of Darkness" - Sunset at Blackrock Summit, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Chris Kayler

I wouldn't lie to you, would I? As promised, here is the second in the series of images taken during that wonderful autumn sunset on top of Blackrock Summit in the southern portion of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. I actually created quite a few more images in between my previous post and this one, but I chose this photograph to best display the feelings of that sunset. Graceful pink light slightly kissing the edge of a massive storm front, ethereal fog roaming below. The conditions displayed here, as the darkness of night approached, pluck some hidden strings deep within my heart. 

"Approach of Darkness" - Autumn sunset from Blackrock Summit, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22 @ 12mm. 15 seconds, f/14, ISO 100. Blend of two exposures, one for sky, one for land.

"Idealist's Viewpoint" - Sunset at Blackrock Summit, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Chris Kayler

As I began my travels home from the New River Gorge in West Virginia, I knew the potential for a stunning sunset was high. A massive 1,000 mile long patch of moisture hung overhead, with the east full of clouds and the west (where the sun would be setting) completely clear. Since the cloud pattern had remained this way for almost a full day, I found the nearest picturesque location that sat right in the middle of the transition from cloudy to clear. That spot happened to be at one of my favorite locations, Blackrock Summit. I made my way to the summit a couple hours early and perfected my compositions. As the sun began to set, fog lingered on the ridges to the east, while autumn foliage was backlit by the intense setting sun to the west. The shapes of the clouds lined up perfectly with my composition. It was certainly a great afternoon to be up in the mountains! Up next ... an image taken after this one when the clouds began to turn pink. Keep watch!

"Idealist's Viewpoint" - An autumn sunset from atop Blackrock Summit, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22 @ 10mm. .4 seconds, f/14, ISO 100. Blend of two exposures, one for sky, one for land.