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

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

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

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.

Juvenile Hooded Merganser Portrait While Swimming, Upstate New York

A few bits of news today. I spoke to a friend who knew some people who spent a week at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge recently, and he warned that this year was going to be nothing like previous years. Apparently the refuge management did not plant any corn (which is what attracts and brings the Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes in close) this year, and also have not been regulating the water levels, leaving stubble from last years crops poking above the surface of the water. Not exactly picturesque! At first bummed about this news, Alex and I quickly began hashing out a new plan. At this point, we are going to skip Bosque entirely and either head north to the Four Corners area and San Juan mountains of southern Colorado, or head south to the White Sands and some other relatively unphotographed mountain ranges depending on the weather forecast. I'm actually more excited now than I was before! Just one short week until takeoff. Continuing with the theme of my previous post, here is an image that I just processed a few minutes ago for my website. This juvenile Hooded Merganser was one of three "hoodies" that were born in a small beaver pond near my grandparent's house in Upstate New York. The year this image was taken, I was pretty much living up there for the summer, and left my kayak near the pond to photograph them whenever possible. I spent many hours with them, and it is still to this day one of my favorite experiences while out photographing nature. Combined with their natural juvenile lack of fear for humans, they grew very accustomed to me and would swim within feet of my kayak on a regular basis.

Juvenile Hooded Merganser Portrait While Swimming in a Beaver Pond, Upstate New York, United States.

Manassas Battlefield, Virginia During Heavy Snowfall

I haven't been able to get out and take any new photographs this past week, partly due to lack of free time but mostly due to not having enough money to fill my tank and ram the roads (anyone want to buy some prints?). Anyways, this image is for the cloud/snow gods. With my offering, I hope they will stay away and not block my view of the lunar eclipse at 10PM EST tonight. We're pretty socked in with clouds right now, but it's worth a try, right? Maybe? Oh well. :)

Manassas Battlefield National Park, Virginia During Heavy Snowfall in the Winter.

Ferns, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

With the unseasonably warm temperatures and thunderstorms rolling in today, I've got a bit of "Summer Fever"! So, I've been going through some older images from last summer and found this unprocessed gem taken in the forests of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. This was one of the most dense areas of ferns I've ever had the privilege of seeing.

Ferns Covering Forest Floor, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Fallen Autumn Leaves, West Virginia

I photographed these fallen leaves in a stream in the Potomac highland region of West Virginia this past autumn. There was a large pool of still water semi-connected to the stream and within it floated a huge number of fallen leaves. Instead of going for close ups, I backed up a bit and let all the leaves fade into a mosaic of different colors and shapes. When photographing complex scenes such as these always be aware of the edges of your frame. While it is usually impossible to not cut off any leaves at the edge of the frame, you can minimize distraction by maintaining as many bright, colorful, or otherwise noticeable leaves (or any other object in other situations - busy forest scenes for example) within the frame and fully intact. The resulting image will seem much more whole as a result. Little details like these often make or break a photograph.

Fallen Autumn Leaves, West Virginia.

Great Falls Visit - Part 2

Here is another image from my foggy visit to Great Falls National Park, Virginia. While I got grand scenic type shots that I liked (as in my previous post), the diffused light provided by an overcast sky was especially excellent for close up images. The rocks surrounding the Potomac River near Great Falls are incredibly unique. They have been smoothed by the constant rushing of water over it's surface. Additionally, there are many potholes and puddles of various sizes caused by loose, swirling rocks in rapids. This image shows a bit of both of those characteristics.

Great Falls Close Up, Great Falls National Park, Virginia.

"The Red Dress" - Great Falls National Park, Virginia

I have been pretty busy with other things lately and consequently haven't had the chance to get out and shoot. Until I get some more new images, I may be posting some older images in my new "Random Images" section - a category where from time to time I will post older images that I feel like posting for whatever reason. I took this photograph about a week before I put my blog online and it was taken at Great Falls National Park, Virginia. The weather forecast called for overcast - not the best conditions for the grand scenic type of shot I was trying to accomplish. However, I decided to go anyway and see what I could come up with. At the very least I could sit next to the river and just relax a little. It turns out luck was with me on that day and some beautiful thin fog began to materialize. I captured many subtle images of the falls in fog with fall color in the background. The following image, however, is my favorite. I found this crimson red scrub oak on the cliffs surrounding the falls and used it in my foreground to add a punch of color to contrast with the foggy backdrop.

“The Red Dress” - Great Falls National Park, Virginia