"Striking a Balance" - Marsh marigold flowers, northern Virginia

Here is another of my interpretations of the carpet of marsh marigold flowers located in a local floodplain here in northern Virginia. The day was sunny and warm, and I wanted my photograph to sort of reflect that and all that spring feels like to me. Happy, bright, warm, and full of promise and growth. I utilized a longer lens, the 70-200 f/4 with 1.4x teleconverter, plus a 500D closeup filter to really decrease the depth of field, smooth out the backgrounds, and create a nice warm, soft, abstract look. I carefully shifted my camera until the blooms lined up just how I wanted them. I liked the way the out of focus flowers and the in focus flowers carried different visual weight, and how they ultimately balanced each other out within the composition. Until next time!

"Striking a Balance" - Marsh marigold flowers, northern Virginia, United States.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 + 1.4x teleconverter + 500D closeup filter @ 280mm. 1/100th second, f/5.6., ISO 200. Tripod.

"Celadon" - Cracked blue ice atop Dolly Sods, West Virginia

This simple image was taken on the top of Dolly Sods Wilderness Area in the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia. With only a few inches of snow on the dirt forest roads to the top, I managed to make my way up there for sunset. The sunset was colorful and intense, but most of all I enjoyed these potholes filled with water that had frozen into interesting patterns. The radiating cracks out of the center really were interesting to me, and the blue sky reflecting above helped make the ice look even more blue as the light faded to dusk. The image reminds me of a type of glaze known as celadon that originated in China. The glaze can be anywhere from pale white to cerulean blue to slightly green, and often is often crackled extensively with "crazing". I think that viewing other types of art and then incorporating those ideas into my photography is very important to help keep things fresh for me.

"Celadon" - Crackled ice atop Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia.

"Celadon" - Crackled ice atop Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 104mm. 10 seconds, f/16, ISO 400.

One of my celadon teapots. A small 180ml (6 oz.) Longquan Ge Yao "Ice Veins" from China.

Techs: iPhone :)

"Sol's Keeper" - Marsh marigold flower in spring, Virginia

I haven't photographed a flower in a couple of years at least, but the urge to stop and try while driving by this carpet of marsh marigold shimmering in the warm spring sun was quite literally irresistible. I knew that I wanted to approach them in an abstract manner, so I got low and used my 70-200 f/4, 1.4x teleconverter, and an extension tube, to really throw the background out of focus. While looking through the viewfinder, I came across this bloom seemingly cradling the out of focus flower in the background. I moved the camera and lens up and down a few inches until I came up with the composition I was seeking. The final result reminds me of a keeper guarding the setting sun. This image serves as an important reminder to always keep an open mind when out in the field.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 + 1.4x teleconverter + 25mm extension tube. 1/160th, f/6.3., ISO 400. Tripod. Polarizer.

"Inner Workings" - Ice patterns, Mason Neck State Park, Virginia

It's weird, spring is finally arriving but still I'm digging back through some images captured this winter. It seemed wrong to let them sit there on my hard drive unused and unloved. The following was taken after a very long and deep freeze (by Virginia standards). I loved the way these bubbles took on unique shapes and how they formed both above and under the beech leaf. The image reminds me of some sort of inner mechanics of a watch or something. I'll be out in the field later today to search for some flowers to photograph ... perhaps you all will get to see them soon!

"Inner Workings" - Ice patterns, Mason Neck State Park, Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 70mm. .6 seconds, f/22, ISO 100. Polarizer. Tripod.

"Gus" - Portrait of a gopher tortoise, Florida

The simple portrait that follows is one of my favorite images from Florida. Not because it is the most inspired image I created on the trip, but because of the circumstances that led to it. This species, the gopher tortoise, is endangered and has long been on my list of most sought after reptiles to photograph. Every time I visited Florida I hoped to find one. On this day, out riding my grandpa's old Trek with my cousin (she was on my grandma's Huffy), we came across a beat up dirt path behind some motorhomes in my grandparent's retirement community. Quite a setting, right? I'm sure the images swirling through your heads are stunningly beautiful. Anyways, we head down there on our old bikes, and right in the middle of the trail is this big old gopher tortoise. After watching him from afar for a few minutes, I raced back to the house to grab my gear. When I got back, he remained in the same location nibbling on some grass. I focused on creating close-ups to emphasize his amazing scales and texture. After spending about 10 minutes with him, he went happily on his way. Now, I know I may be a little crazy over cool reptiles, but it was really an amazing experience. Thanks for looking.

"Gus" - Portrait of a gopher tortoise, Florida.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 168mm. 1/8th second, f/9, ISO 400. Tripod.

"Calligraphy" - Backlit palmetto leaf, Florida

Arriving in Florida on the first day of my short visit, my family and I decided to visit a local park and take a walk. It was just what I needed after spending even a few short hours on the cramped and busy airplane. The quick transition from Virginia winter to Florida spring green made me giddy with excitement. Every sight, sound, and smell felt new and shocking. It was like I hadn't seen the color green, heard the warble of a passerine, or smelt the nectar of a fresh bloom in years. It was then that I saw a palmetto leaf shining brightly among its neighbors. The sun struck the backside of the leaf at a perfect angle. The leaf was transformed into a sharply defined jigsaw of shape and line. A few lone fronds of another distant palmetto cast small shadows. Nature's calligraphy was complete.

"Calligraphy" - Backlit palmetto leaf, Florida.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 135mm. 1/8th second, f/22, ISO 400. Tripod.

"Wise Beyond Years" - Florida redbelly turtle basking, Blue Spring State Park, Florida

Well hello there! Just got back from beautiful, sunny, and muggy central Florida. I had such a great time visiting with my grandparents, mom, and cousins (they flew all the way in from Colorado!) It's a little rough being back here in northern Virginia again with all of our brown trees, but I feel rejuvenated. I also managed to bring home a couple of images. This particular photograph was taken in one of my favorite parks in the area, Blue Spring State Park. While kayaking along the St. John's River, numerous Florida redbelly turtles began to emerge as the day warmed up to bask on the various logs and roots dotting the shoreline. This individual chose an especially photogenic location with a nice green reflection surrounding him. What a nice guy. While he was quite small in stature, the moss on his back seemed, to me at least, that he must have been wise beyond his years. More to come soon, thanks for reading!

"Wise Beyond Years" - Florida redbelly turtle basking, Blue Spring State Park, Florida.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 400 f/5.6. 1/500th second, f/7.1., ISO 400.

"Mason's Nebula" - Ice patterns and beech leaf, Mason Neck State Park, Virginia

I never get tired of photographing ice. Even with spring approaching, I would happily continue photographing the infinte shapes, textures, and lines found within ice. Each trip in search of ice is always different, and I love that. In this image, a small pond at Mason Neck State Park had frozen over completely during an extended cold snap. I doubt this has happened even once in the previous decade. The pond contained many bubbles that rose from the depths, likely caused by decomposing matter along the bottom. The bubbles in this image seemed to originate from and around this beech leaf. The way the pockets of air have been elongated and frozen in place reminded me of a nebula giving birth to stars. 

Next week I will be heading down to Florida for a week of family vacation and a bit of photography. I'm so excited to see my first green leaves of the year, and hope to get a few new images while out kayaking and exploring the many parks of central Florida. Peace out, homies!

"Mason's Nebula" - Ice patterns and beech leaf, Mason Neck State Park, Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 + 500D Closeup filter @ 78mm. 0.4 seconds, f/22, ISO 100. Tripod. Polarizer.

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

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

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.