East Texas Naturalist Blog

Information and photographs mainly about nature in east Texas. Our authors have widely diverse backgrounds and write on a variety of topics.

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Going From "Nice picture" to OH! My gosh! That's beautiful!"

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For most of us self-taught photographers, there is a considerable learning curve as we begin to learn how to take "good" pictures. We normally progress a little at a time as we learn about exposure, light, composition, and increase our knowledge of behavior whether that be of people or animals, depending on our favored subject.  We progress to taking "good" pictures that others do occasionally admire. This often leads to a  plateau of competence. We continue taking "good" pictures and there is gradual, slight improvement as we learn more. But then, for some, there is a giant leap. All at once the pictures go for "good" to soaring to a whole new level. 

How fast we go through the process is highly variable with each individual and their circumstances. There are some who progress in a matter of a year or two; others take many years; and, of course, some never make the transition. 

Now, I do want to make something clear here. I am talking about self-taught photographers. Whether that means reading photography how-to books, watching YouTube videos, or just shooting and shooting pictures. There is a different curve for those who have more formal training. With formal photography education, there are certain steps that are taken and it naturally includes the factor that allows photographers to go to the next level of success.  Success being defined as taking exceptional photos. 

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Rainy Winter Day But the Birds Didn't Care

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The weatherman was wrong again. It was supposed to be over 70 degrees and lots of sunshine for at least most of the day. Well, the sun was out for a bit but then the clouds blew in. We didn't get anywhere near 70 degrees. Luckily the birds didn't care.  

Kristi Thomas and I, accompanied by fellow naturalist, Mickie Moore, and nine other who were mostly members of the Tyler Audubon Group, hit Lake O' the Pines on a pontoon boat. While these birding trips are always geared towards finding as many species of birds as we can, some of us were more interested in the Bald Eagle's nest and what was going on there. Of course, all the other birding was always fun and this was an exceptional day. Not only did we see over 30 species, it seemed that many didn't mind posing for us. 

Here are some of the photographs that I took today. 

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Taking Pictures of the Common in Uncommon Ways

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I am big on making lists and setting goals. That really does not extend itself to New Year's Resolutions for I  basically perform the same function on no less than a monthly basis. It is sort of how frequent drinkers look at New Year's Eve. They may not go out that night for they see is as "amateur night".  Setting goals once a year, is sort of the same thing to me. 

With that said, I have been working on some goals that just happen to fall in January - near the time of New Year's Resolution time. These goals are geared towards improving my photography; in becoming a better photographer. 

Here is a list of my plans for this year. They are all goals and steps for making myself a better photographer.

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OH! OH! That's My Favorite! NO! That one! Favorite Photos - 2016

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Here are my personal favorite photos of 2016.

Bald Eagle Mother from last year's nesting pair

 

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If I Move - Will the Birds Follow Me?

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I recently moved my RV from a fairly good nature spot on Lake O' the Pines. I was near the northwest end of the lake and was on the edge of a remote wooded area. In addition, across the highway was another large wooded area. On my lot, I had a pretty good bird turnout year-round. Much of that due to my 9 feeders and lots of other food items that I put out for birds.

Surprisingly enough, it was not that great for waterbirds. Well, not for ducks anyway. There were Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, an occasional Green Heron, White Pelicans during the winter, Cormorants, and Common Coots. Rarely did I see ducks of any kind, other than the Coots. Common Loons which are very common on other parts of Lake O' the Pines were never seen in this more shallow and weedy end, nor were any of the other shore birds that show up on the south end of the lake.

In the late summer, I moved just eight miles away to Lone Star Lake (Ellison Creek Reservoir). This RV park is in a more populated area. There are no woods aound this lake. The park is surrounded by houses, as is almost all of the lake. There is a little bit of a more primitive area at the north end of the lake but it is fairly small.

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