Monday, May 25, 2015

Swamp Thing, Part 3

Howdy, peeps.  I decided I'm going to finish out the swamp pictures before I share pics from Saturday's photo safari...I will tell you that my new personal rule is never go to Georgia without lots of bug spray.  I think I've got roughly 100 more mosquito bites decorating my legs.

Anyway, to finish out I've got a few pictures that I cropped so you can see closeups of some of the bugs that WEREN'T trying to bite me, and then some of Audra's pics that she shared with me.

I love dragonfly stuff, so I was happy to see lots of dragonflies in the swamp.  We saw blue ones, lime green ones, copper ones, all kinds of colors.  I wonder if I like them because they've got "dragon" in the name?  After all, I named my blogs Snapdragon.  I do love dragons...

The cool thing about the dragonflies is that if they landed on something, they would often stay there for a good long while and allow you to photograph them.  This one was sitting on the edge of the sign at the front of the swamp; he was there before I arrived and he was still sitting there after I took a bunch of pictures of him.  And he was alive ; )

Love the blue color on this one.  I actually liked the uncropped photo of this too but I didn't convert it to share here.

Less excited about this dude and all his eight-legged friends.  Spiders are creepy.

So from here on out are some of Audra's pictures!  Love the saturated greens in this one, and the fog among the tree trunks.

Frank, Audra, and me.  Apparently Audra has a rule that she gets a photo of herself with state park signs for every park she visits.  And you can't wear sunglasses in the pic either ; )

Had to stop another time to get the Okefenokee sign.

And one more sign for good measure!  We didn't feed the alligators, but I did feed the mosquitoes.  Not that I wanted to.

Last picture, isn't this awesome?  Makes me think I should have busted out my macro lens when we were out there, but I don't like changing out lenses outdoors because that's an opportunity to get your camera sensor dirty, and we have to send our camera off to have that cleaned.

So that's it for Okefenokee Swamp.  What would you rather see next, more Wales or Old Car City?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Swamp Thing, Part 2

Ok, we're starting to get busy prepping for our move...the packers come in starting next week!  Eeek!  But I promised Missy more swamp pictures today.  I've got one more swamp post after this, and I still have some Wales pictures, and Lee and I are planning a photo safari all day tomorrow so I'll have yet *more* pictures to share.  Wheee.

As always, you can click on the pictures to see them larger.

So the last post was all pics taken in the morning; we went back to the cabin we were all sharing (six of us), got cleaned up and ate breakfast, and had some class time with the workshop teacher.  Then in the evening, we went back out into the swamp and *this* time we got a boat with a motor that actually worked.  (We still brought paddles, just in case.)  So here's some pics as it gets closer to sunset.

I love how the pictures look so different depending on if you're facing toward the sun (silhouette) or away (pretty colors).  This might be one of my faves from the weekend, I just love the dappled light on the tree trunks.

Trees, trees, trees.  So, Lee and I have been shooting in aperture mode pretty much since we got this camera, but the teacher is all about manual mode.  I tried it, but most of the time I couldn't get any good shots because some of the settings were off and I didn't know which ones.  And I didn't want to miss getting good pictures trying to figure out how to fix it, so I stayed in aperture mode.  Except for a few of them, but we'll get to those later.

There's another alligator for you.  Since we were in a noisy motorboat, we couldn't get too close before the alligators would submerge to get away from us, which was fine by me ; )

I wish I'd framed this one up a little better and put the bright green closer to the bottom of the frame.  Otherwise, I kinda like it with all that Spanish moss.

Sunset in da swamp.

And then I have about forty billion pictures that look more or less like this.

I like this one where it's still a silhouette, but the colors on the sky are softer.  So once it started to get dark, we took the boat back in and grabbed our tripods out of the cars to set up to take more pictures of the night sky.  My full-dark pictures still aren't anything to write home about, but I did get a couple shots just as darkness fell that I really liked.

OH THE PRETTY BLUES.  I have three that are very similar to this one; I think this will make it into our calendar for next year.  I'm not sharing any of the other night shots; they were all a bit blurry and Lee's like why didn't you use the timer?  And I'm like I don't know how and he's like I showed you how and I said I forgot and it was dark and you're not supposed to turn on lights to check your camera settings so back off I got one good picture okay!  And he was like fine.

The next morning, we got up at around 5:20 to apply bug spray and get back out to the swamp for sunrise pictures.  The road into the swamp is no kidding 17 miles long, and it was "blue light" just before sunrise as we were driving down it so we stopped to take pictures and this is what I got.  And that bug spray did absolutely NOTHING, the mosquitoes were out in force and I'm mortally certain this is when I got the seven or eight bites on my hands.  Maybe there were more, but they're starting to fade.  Wish the one on my left elbow would leave already, that one is seriously annoying.

These pics were all taken on manual mode, and I remembered enough to set the shutter speed.  Longer shutter speed = more light coming into the camera = lighter colors, so I started out at 5 or 10 seconds and then went down from there.  I think I took several at two seconds, and then as it got lighter I increased the shutter speed some more.

So if you scroll through those three pictures, you'll see that they each get just a little bit darker blue.  I done learnt somethin'!

You can see just a smidge of fog in the lower left corner in this one.

And this was taken facing more toward the east, so you can see the sunrise starting.

I think I should have put the shutter speed somewhere in between this one and the last pic; this one is a bit too dark but the other one could be a little bit darker.  Oh well.

I like this one with the fog : )

You see that big blur on the one tree trunk?  That's a MOSQUITO that got in front of my lens as I was taking the picture.  She was aiming for my hands.  Evil little monsters.

After the sun came up, we walked a little ways down a boardwalk trail into the swamp.  We saw zero alligators (we could hear them), but we did see several dragonflies and far too many spiders.  Hate spiders.  They are also evil little monsters.  Only some of those are evil giant monsters.  I'm so glad spiders don't fly.  (If there are any spiders that fly, DO NOT TELL ME SO.  I would like to sleep tonight without flying spider nightmares.)

I thought the clouds were interesting on this one.

And just an interesting tree trunk silhouette.

This is a stump in the swamp at the end of the boardwalk trail.  Lee liked this one, he thought it was interesting.

After that, we walked back to the car and drove out to an area called the Sills, and then walked down there for a bit where we saw one last alligator.

Isn't that the weirdest looking picture?  This alligator was lounging right next to a concrete bridge, and the water is so reflective that it looks like the alligator is coming up out of solid concrete.

And we saw vultures.  They did not sing "We're Your Friends" like on the Jungle Book, though.  And those two on the right side of the tree sat there for at least a solid minute with their wings out like that, almost like they were waiting for us to take their picture.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Swamp Thing, Part 1

So, I spent the weekend in a swamp.  I'm not lying.  My friend Audra invited me to go to a photography workshop at Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.  Clearly I didn't consider the insectile ramifications of such an undertaking before I said yes.  And now I have at least 40 mosquito bites, and somehow most of them are on my rear end.  How does that even happen?

Anyway, the workshop was to learn how to photograph the night sky, for which you need a place well away from all the city lights (which is called light pollution), hence the swamp.  The other bit was to take pictures of the swamp itself.  We got there a little after sunset on Friday night, and shortly thereafter traipsed outside with cameras and tripods to try to take some sky shots.

One of my attempts:  it's crap, but you kinda get the idea.  I didn't get any super stellar shots of the night sky (punny, haha) but I did get one or two the next evening just as it was getting dark that I liked.  Anyway, the smudgy light brown bit is the Milky Way, which you can't see anymore a lot of places because of light pollution.  You can just barely see a smudge even in the swamp, but if you set up your camera to take a 20- or 30-second exposure, you get something like this.

The next morning, we got up ridiculously early and hit the swamp around 6 a.m.

Sunrise on the swamp.  The lady running the workshop (Rena) got us a boat from the state park, so we went out on that.  Didn't get very far before the motor cut out and we had to paddle our way back in (lucky for us, we had brought paddles).

I like this one with the moss on the trees and even the contrails in the sky.

And another one, with some water reflection.  You couldn't see into the water at all, it perfectly reflected whatever was above it.   Rena got a picture earlier in the day Friday of I think a snake that was lifting its head out of the water, and the way she got it with the reflection it looks like a two-headed snake.  (Yeah, that won't cause me nightmares.)

And there's an alligator for you.  Mom, relax:  you know I'm safe, and I promise we never ever ever got within ten feet of an alligator.  Mostly because I had a paddle and actively paddled farther away from them no matter what Audra said : p  I'm all for getting good pictures, but I much prefer all of my extremities fully attached and sans tooth marks.

I like this one with the colors on the trees.  I was facing west-ish when I took this.

And if you look toward the sunrise, you see this.

More kinda cool colors on the trees.  After this was when our motor quit running and we paddled back in and then commandeered a couple of canoes.

Do not feed the Christy.

And don't feed this guy, either.  All morning we could hear the alligators making noise (though we never saw one open its mouth) and it sounds kinda like a dog growling but deeper and more guttural.  We saw one baby alligator and they make this really cute noise (but I'm sorry, even baby alligators aren't exactly what I'd call cute).

The wonders of a zoom lens.  I think we were at least 15 feet away from this dude.

He's watchin' you.

I really liked that one tall tree that leans to the right, this is just one of at least a dozen pictures I took of it.

And I really liked this stump too.

Mostly if you tried to get close to an alligator, he'd just submerge so you couldn't see him.  Not that I wanted to get super close.  I'm a chicken, I'll own that.

We saw lots of alligators from further away, and it pretty much looked like that.

There's another stump I liked...

And once more from the other side.

Do you see the gator?  He's pretty well centered on the frame.

See you later, alligator.  (I totally said that on the day.  I thought it was funny and totally apropos.)

More trees and reflection in the swamp.

And there's Frank and Audra pulling in our canoe at the end of our tour of the swamp.  The other three ladies stayed out longer, but we were hungry for breakfast.

Pretty sure this sign should say "Per Georgia statute" and not "statue", but what can ya do.

And there's my friends Audra and Frank, who talked me into being a walking mosquito smorgasbord.  More swamp coming up soon.