Monday, January 30, 2017

Going For One Thing And Getting Another

Does this happen to anyone else?   I'll go to the grocery store to pick up one thing.  Maybe a gallon of milk.  When I come out I have several other things besides milk in my cart. Sometimes that may include things such as a one pound bag of peanut M&Ms.   During our recent remodeling project, I was doing this at our local Lowes home improvement store where things are much more expensive than M&Ms.

This experience translated from the store to my photography on this past weekend.   June and I took a short trip to Dayton Tennessee to see the Sandhill Cranes at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. I had seen photographs of these magnificent birds at this 6,000-acre land and water refuge. The refuge is the largest winter flock of Sandhill Cranes in the southeast United States outside of Florida with an estimated 30,000 wintering over. I was ready to make some bird photographs!

When we arrived late Friday afternoon we saw few of expected thousands of Sandhill Cranes. There were maybe 40 but they were pretty far from the observation platform.  The refuge is closed while the birds are wintering there so we had to make do with shooting from a distance. While we were there we met a lady who took us to a place where they were last week, but no birds were there Friday. We were disappointed and considered going home. One more trip to the observation platform before deciding.

Flying In To Roost
Just before sunset, the birds started to fly in to roost along the river several hundred yards from the platform. The longer we stayed, the more birds flew overhead and gracefully circled before landing. Before long there were several hundred along the river bank. I made 278 photos that evening, shooting right up to the point where there was not enough light to make a photo!  A quick glance at my photos in the hotel room told me I didn't have the winners I was hoping for. The birds were just too far away and there was just not enough light.

Click on any photo for a larger view.

This is an extreme crop of a shot made with a 420mm telephoto lens.

Stars Over Sleeping Birds
The next day we planned to go back to the same place to catch the birds around sunrise before they took off.  I got the sunrise time wrong and we got there an hour before sunrise. The skies were crystal clear and we were several miles away from any towns or cities -- good conditions to make some night sky photos.

In the yellow tinted photo, you can see the Cranes sleeping in the shallow water at the bottom of the photo.   In the second photo, you can see two shooting stars I just happened to capture during the 30-second exposures.
Shooting Stars
As the sky got brighter, the birds became more active calling to each other and walking around in the shallows.  I started to move to a better vantage point and they all took off at once! Maybe a thousand Cranes honking and flying in mass.  I enjoyed the show but didn't get any photos.

I went for Sand Hill Crane photos but came home with night sky photos.  But wait, the story doesn't end there.  On our way home, we decided to stop off at Ozone falls.

Ozone Falls
We have seen signs for Ozone Falls on I-40 for years but never stopped. The falls are very close to the interstate, but not near an exit. It's still only about a 10 - 15-minute drive from I-40.  When we got there I realized we were there at the wrong time of day. The sun was shining on the falls and cliff walls, with dark shadow areas.  It took a good bit of editing in Lightroom to pull out a decent photo of the falls. Next time we will go to Ozone Falls on a cloudy day or early morning so the light on the falls is not as harsh.

When we were climbing down from the road to the falls we saw what appeared to be young kids with hula hoops heading to the base of the falls. By the time we made our way down we realized they were college age young people twirling fire near the base of the falls. I got as close as I could and found I was in the mist from the falls. I couldn't change lenses without getting water inside my camera so I shot with my 18-55mm lens on the Fuji. Again I had to do some cropping to get a decent composition, but this was a very cool subject.

We went for Sandhill Cranes but the more interesting photos were stars and fire twirlers.  Life is like that.  We have plans, but God will send us down another isle in life's grocery store to find something completely unexpected.  We just have to be watching for it.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely LOVE your perspective on life and throughly enjoy reading your stories! You should write some books to go along with your stunning photographs