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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I Saw the Greatest Nature Show Ever (And Not on TV)

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I have always been a big fan of nature shows on TV. My DVR records them daily. This morning I got to see the greatest nature show that I've ever seen. My DVR didn't record this one, but it is recorded where it will never be forgotten.

Many of my mornings start sitting in a comfortable chair about thirty feet from the edge of Lone Star Lake, my binoculars on my chest, a cup of coffee on the picnic table beside me, and my camera in my lap. It certainly was not an ideal morning for photography with cloudy, overcast skies but you can't choose the weather. 

This morning I was watching as a couple of Double-crested Cormorants flew by. Then the season's first American Coots showed up. The usual neighborhood birds were feeding on my feeders and calling from all around.

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OH! OH! That's My Favorite! NO! That one! Favorite Photos - 2017

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I take thousands of photos each year - really. Out of that, there is a much smaller number that I end up keeping and an even smaller number that I post for others to see. 

Like last year, I went through all the pictures I took the previous year (2017) and picked out the ones that were my favorites.  That is harder than it sounds.  

Here are my favorites for last year. Please feel free to give feedback with a comment. 

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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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Appreciating Spring Can't be Done on the Computer

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With the arrival of Spring, even after not much of a winter, my life changes. I am not crazy about being inside all the time anyway, but with Spring, it is all I can do to spend any time inside. After all, how many Springs do we have in our lifetimes? Maybe 70 good ones (taking away a few from when we are too young to appreciate them)? When you have a bunch of Springs behind you already, you sure don't want to miss any of the ones that are left.

It has been a busy Spring for me, but I have managed to get out and enjoy it. In keeping with that thought, I am not going to spend a great deal of time typing away here. Instead, let me share some of the photos that I have taken this Spring.

 American Robin

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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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