"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.

"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.