Monday, March 15, 2010

Details from Nature's Paintbrush

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On a recent camping trip to coastal Georgia, I became caught up in the outrageous sand patterns etched by the tides ... the surf-pounded driftwood bent and colored ... and other castaways delivered up by the sea.

Selecting which images to post was a challenge, one more eye-catching than the next, but here are the chosen images from three days of beachcombing for compositions.

First the titanium-laced sand paintings (the "black sand" is titanium and other metals and minerals):

I was like a kid in a candy shop gawking at every drift and swirl, my head spinning with awe of and delight in this eye-candy. I have walked many a beach, and marveled at the sand art, but never have I seen so many different flow patterns in one area.

Next, there was the driftwood. This little barrier island was undergoing great shifts and erosion. The saltmarsh was getting washed over by sand, while the frontline of the beach was being carried seaward and south. The trees long-grown between marsh and beach recently found themselves bare-rooted at water's edge, and then they succumbed to the ocean. After being pounded into sculpted driftwood by wind, sand, and surf, they were finished with a lovely patina of algae, sea creatures, salt and spray.

As low tide exposed the wide rippled shoreline, the treasures rolling in the shorebreak lay exposed. Sand dollars walked along the wet sand on their myriad sticklegs, often carrying a load of sand on their backs. Seashells rolled in the foamy wash. Crabs crawled and darted - some died and lay in parts.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

St. Marks Birds in Dawn Light

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Insomnia drove me to St. Marks pre-dawn Monday. The sunrise was a beauty, but the birds were especially glorious in that magic light. I particularly love the backlighting in the coot and cormorant silhouettes. The Redhead was a willing model, as was the pair of Lesser Scaup.

The lagniappe (loosely defined as "the cherry on top") was a Belted Kingfisher. The F-You Bird -- as he's referred to by a sailor friend of mine -- is known for flying far away at the first hint of a camera, or even a stopping vehicle. This guy flew to the top of a roadside cedar in nice light as I was approaching... and then, to my amazement, stayed there as I stopped and slid my telephoto lens slowly out the window. He posed for about 15 frames before flying away.