Took a trip west to Havana today to see one of my old work haunts, The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon National Wildlife Area. The purpose of the trip was to do some reconnaissance prior to taking our Camera Club to the area for a fall photographic expedition. The Emiquon is adjacent to the west bank of the Illinois River, opposite Havana. It is an excellent example of returning what was farmland to wetland. When we were working there, conducting a study of groundwater conditions prior to flooding, the Emiquon property was still being farmed and we were able to drive across most of the area. Not now! Take a look at this:
The above image is looking northeast from a viewing stand constructed by TNC to allow visitors to view the flora and fauna that abound the Emiquon. The tree line on the horizon is the Illinois River about 1 mile distant. We were hoping to see more birds, but apparently at this time of day (late morning), most have left. More will return in the evening, spend the might feeding and resting, then off again on their way south. So, we were left to look at a lot of water, a number of ducks and coots, a proud heron and a white pelican paddling by. My recommendation to the Club will be to get there early, either by staying overnight the night before, or leaving Champaign at 5ish so as to get there at first light (sunrise being around 7 these days).
Before we crossed the river to see the Emiquon, we stopped in Havana to see their historic water tower, built in the late 1800s. Here’s a view:
Now a couple more pics from Emiquon.
I’ll finish with a view of the rolling Mason County countryside and our great Illinois sky.
This evening I will be attending the Champaign County Camera Club’s first meeting of the new season. I joined over the winter last year, so am still learning club protocol and members’ names. Tonight, though, each of the members are invited to present a maximum of 15 photos taken over the summer. I estimate I took about 6,000 photos since June 1 and includes trips to DC and, my fave place, Pentwater, MI.
So, picking a top 15 from 6,000 can be a bit daunting. I could easily pick 15 from Pentwater alone. But, I felt like I needed to instill some variety. I mean, I could do, like, 15 sunsets, you know? No, that wouldn’t do…although I have some GREAT sunsets. Here are the 15 I picked, from DC to Champaign, from July 4 to Labor Day, from bright colors to black and white and LOTS of water. Some flora, some fauna, and NO dog (I’ll save those images for another post). Enjoy!
Caught this little fellow while he was attracted to the flowering “turtleheads” off our patio yesterday morning. They are really fun to watch, but sooo difficult to photograph. So very quick and timid; any movement on my part will potentially spook them. Early morning means low light and with my 75-300 mm f5.6 telephoto, it means a high ISO to keep the shutter speed high enough to stop their motion. Then you get quite a bit of noise in the image. [I’m using Topaz DeNoise in Photoshop Elements to reduce the noise, and it’s OK, but a crisper picture would help.]
By the way, this image is an enlarged crop, see below for original image. You can also see, I bumped the temperature a bit (maybe too much?), so it has a yellower appearance than the original. I might go back and redo this…hmmm.
The low light and fast action makes it hard to focus accurately (a greater DOF would help but then shutter speed suffers). Anyway, I am pretty happy with this capture of a difficult subject (I’ll keep trying to improve on this!!)
Yesterday, I entered six photos into the above named photo contest. This is the 3rd year of what is expected to be an annual event and money from photo entries goes to the LACA. Below are the photos I entered. Here is the LACA web-site and on this page you can find a link to a photo gallery containing all entries:
Evening Blues, taken on the beach below Garrison Park looking toward the Pentwater lighthouses:
Sun Drop, taken near Champaign as the sun emerged below the clouds:
Taking Flight, taken on the Garrison Park beach early one morning as the deer became alarmed by someone coming down the stairs from farther up the beach.
Waiting for an Audience, taken in the empty outdoor auditorium of Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids:
Quicksilver on the North Breakwater, an afternoon of an amazing light show in Ludington:
Magic Light approaches Garrison Park Beach, taken near sunset on aforementioned beach:
There’s a lot of really good competition, so I have no expectations of winning anything. But, it makes me be critical of my own work and try to look at my images as through someone else’s eyes. I have other photos, but thought I would go largely with some that would be familiar to most of the audience (i.e., folks in the Ludington area) and having some feel for what I think the judges (Todd and Brad Reed) like. We will see.