Father’s Day Joy Points with Blue Herons and Nature

DSC_3387This morning I had the blessed opportunity to awake early and treat myself to a little Father’s Day treat by getting out on this moist humid morning and scoring a few joy points with nature.  I had actually hoped to catch the sunrise as those during this time of year can be spectacular with all of the moisture in the air.  But alas, there were clouds that rolled in.

"Herry" my Blue Heron friend

“Herry” my Blue Heron friend

Nevertheless, I took advantage of the morning and spent some time with my friend “Herry” the Blue Heron (who was very patient with me as I took nearly 70 photos of him or her).

I sat there for almost 30 minutes just observing and photographing Herry while he/she just put up with me.  I was literally 7 or 8 feet away, which just amazed me, because these are typically nervous birds.  Following are a few shots I got of this magnificent bird over the course of the morning at Jacobson Park in Lexington.

DSC_3447DSC_3406DSC_3454DSC_3459Herry finally flew off…

DSC_3460But then landed close by on the shore.  Obviously fishing…

DSC_3464DSC_3476DSC_3481Herons were not the only birds out there at the lake. As I drove up to one section of the lake, I witnessed something I had never seen before and that was a line of geese entering the water one at a time and forming a long straight flotilla of geese. They did it in an orderly fashion and it was amazing to watch.

Beautiful morning on the lake

Beautiful morning on the lake

Geese get in the water, in line, one at a time

Geese get in the water, in line, one at a time

Geese all in a row

Geese all in a row

Speaking of geese, just before sunrise as it was getting lighter, I took a picture of the geese in my flash went off. Talk about an eerie picture with a bunch of glowing eyes!

Glowing Geese!

Glowing Geese!

I also saw a pair of ducks with coloration that I had not seen in ducks.

Unique duck

Unique duck

Then there were the two copycat, or should I say copy duck, mallards that were in the same pose standing in the middle-of-the-road.

Copy-ducks...

Copy-ducks…

After scoring a few joy points watching the birds, I decided to take a ride back into horse farm country and, while there,  I got a couple of nice glimpses of horse farms and a bit of a blurry sunrise. There was a slight mist in the air as the dewpoint was fairly high.

Sun's glow over horse farm country

Sun’s glow over horse farm country

Horse farm as seen from Walnut Hill Road near Lexington

Horse farm as seen from Walnut Hill Road near Lexington

Horse grazing peacefully in the morning

Horse grazing peacefully in the morning

Misty morning in horse farm country

Misty morning in horse farm country

Beautiful barn scene

Beautiful barn scene

And of course, this is the season of the lilies. Right around June is when all of the day lilies are in bloom and they come in many colors and varieties. Here are just a few.

Day lilies getting ready to bloom early in the morning

Day lilies getting ready to bloom early in the morning

Peuple day lilies

Purple day lilies

Red ones too

Red ones too

And some yellow ones

And some yellow ones

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

A white daisy

A white daisy

DSC_3441

Herry the Great Blue Heron

I love nature. I get joy points for nature. And this morning, I wished myself a happy Father’s Day as I enjoyed the drive, the nature, and my buddy Herry.

Top Ten Nature Photos from 2014

SUMOFLAM PHOTOGRAPHYThroughout my travels I took over 3000 photos in 2014. Many are travel and quirky things, but there were a number of nature photos I took while on the road as well as right here at home in Lexington.  I have grown to love nature…watching squirrels play in the trees, watching geese fly overhead, gaining joy points from a sunrise. Herein are my ten favorite nature shots from 2014 and the stories behind them (and a few honorable mentions).

NUMBER 1 – BLUE HERON AT SUNRISE

Blue Heron at Sunrise

Blue Heron at Sunrise

This shot was captured only a few miles from my house on a late spring morning.  I frequent Jacobson Park on nice mornings after dropping my wife off at work at the University of Kentucky.  I like the lake there and the wildlife and the sunrises on partly cloudy days. This silhouette of the heron against the bright orange lake was one of many “lucky shots” for me in 2014.

NUMBER 2 – THE SNOWBALL SQUIRREL

The Snowball Squirrel

The Snowball Squirrel

Many of my Facebook friends have seen this shot of a squirrel that looks angry and appears to be getting ready to chuck a snowball at me.  This little guy was frolicking in our front yard after an overnight snow in February and I took about 20 photos.  As I began reviewing them, I was delighted to a chuckle to see this shot!

NUMBER 3 – MAGNIFICENT SUNRISE

Magnificent Sunrise

Magnificent Sunrise

There are many mornings that I am able to catch the sunrise after dropping of my wife.  On this particular fall morning in October I caught the magnificent glow behind the clouds.  I had to drive through a couple of neighborhoods as I saw it coming up.  To my good fortune, I came to a clearing and was able to get seven or eight nice shots.

NUMBER 4 – SPIDER WEB IN SPRING

Spider Web in Spring

Spider Web in Spring

On one trip to Jacobson Park, I came across this droplet enhanced spider web.  I love Spider Art!!

NUMBER 5 – PELICANS

Pelicans

Pelicans

In June I took a trip to Galveston, Texas and became fascinated by the brown pelicans (see my blog post).  They flew gracefully, in very specific formations and in synchronized flight.  I took this shot while sitting on the beach relaxing…a rarity for me in my travels.  But, mind you, I was there for a family reunion and we were all at the beach. Love the pelicans.

NUMBER 6 – WATERCOLOR SKY

Watercolor Sky

Watercolor Sky

My good friend Antsy McClain has a song entitled Watercolor Sky (unreleased on any albums – I have a demo version). When I see skies like this it reminds me of the title, though the song is about a broken up love relationship. “We cut our way through evergreens that stood a mile high, through a patchwork quilt of farmland and a watercolor sky.”  I love to look at the skies as I drive through the evergreens, the mountains and the patchwork quilts of farmland. This photo was taken in Lexington, ironically.

NUMBER 7 – THE BEARTOOTHS

The Beartooths

The Beartooths

I fulfilled a life long dream on Memorial Day weekend in 2014 as I got to drive the Beartooth Scenic Highway in north central Wyoming.  These mountains are spectacular (see my blog post) and my photography could never do them justice.

NUMBER 8 – ANTELOPE CONVENTION

Antelope Convention

Antelope Convention

On my trip through Wyoming (see my blog post) I ran into a herd of about 10 antelope on the side of the road.  I stopped, stayed in the car with the window open and took about 30 photos of these beautiful animals.  Apparently, in Wyoming they outnumber people.  After a while they all gracefully sped away…they are the fastest land mammals in North America.

NUMBER 9 – BIG SKY COUNTRY

Big Sky Country

Big Sky Country

As I drove on US 89 heading south in Montana, I caught this expansive view of clouds over the plains.  The dark clouds and blue sky are so Montana….

NUMBER 10 – SUNRISE

Sunrise

Sunrise

This was an amazing fall sunrise I captured one late October morning in Lexington.  I could see it peaking as I headed down Richmond Rd and found a place where I could pull off.  The clouds intensified it.  As I look at this it reminds me of woodblock drawings from 1600 Japan…the land of the Rising Sun.

HONORABLE MENTION

I have a few more shots I wanted to include in this post….other shots I am proud of.

Goslings - Jacobson Park, Lexington, KY

Goslings – Jacobson Park, Lexington, KY

Red Moon - Lexington, KY

Red Moon – Lexington, KY

Whatcha Doin'? - Jacobson Park, Lexington, KY

Whatcha Doin’? – Jacobson Park, Lexington, KY

Sunrise in Montana - US 89 east of Great Falls, MT

Sunrise in Montana – US 89 east of Great Falls, MT

Wispy Clouds - Lexington, KY

Wispy Clouds – Lexington, KY

Icicle Fence - Jacobson Park, Lexington, KY

Icicle Fence – Jacobson Park, Lexington, KY

The Heavens Are Bright - clouds and sun over Shiro, Texas

The Heavens Are Bright – clouds and sun over Shiro, Texas

Serenity in Winter - Jacobson Lake, Lexington, KY

Serenity in Winter – Jacobson Lake, Lexington, KY

Date Night - Ashland, Wisconson

Date Night – Ashland, Wisconsin

Big Moon - Lexington, KY

Big Moon – Lexington, KY

Blue Heron in Flight - Lexington, KY

Blue Heron in Flight – Lexington, KY

Spring Time - Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, KY

Spring Time – Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, KY

Glacier Mountains - Bynum, Montana

Glacier Mountains – Bynum, Montana

Geese in Flight - Lexington, KY

Geese in Flight – Lexington, KY

Is there a Planet X? Hmmm….

Yesterday I was out with my wife and I had noticed the beautiful corona (silver lining) around some clouds, so we stopped in a bank parking lot and I snapped a few photos with my Nikon. While I was taking these, a car stopped in the road in front of me. The lady driving was laughing and kept looking over at us. We weren’t sure what was up. Finally, she drove up and said “I didn’t want to interfere with your photos.” I responded, “You weren’t in the way, I was taking photos of the clouds and sun.” She then replied “Do you see Planet X? You know, there is a Planet X up there that everyone keeps talking about.” And then she laughed again. I told her that we can’t see planets unless it is dark out. She said “Oh, that’s right,” and then she drove off laughing again.

Some image from the internet after doing a Planet X search

Some image from the internet after doing a Planet X search

Apparently, UFO folks talk of it and someone purportedly took a photo of it in broad daylight.  See link. There is also the “Nibiru Cataclysm” which is supposed to take place sometime soon, wherein Planet X will hit Earth and kill everyone.  But, it should be noted that the idea of a planet-sized object colliding with or passing by Earth in the near future is not supported by any scientific evidence and has been rejected as pseudoscience by astronomers and planetary scientists.

Artist's rendition of Planet X approaching Earth (source unknown)

Artist’s rendition of Planet X approaching Earth (source unknown)

As I typically do with many photos, I take photos with my iPhone as well, especially interesting ones to post to Facebook. And I did so this time as well. But, I didn’t look at them as we wanted to get home. I was taken aback when I looked at the photo from my iPhone….the light reflection created an unusual perspective…almost planetary. This photo has not been doctored at all.

PlanetX

Is there a Planet X?

The light reflection is kind of eerie as it almost looks planetary with crater marks and all. Even more eerie to me was the little circle within the red reflection, almost like a small moon around a planet.

Of course, I know this was all light related as I also got photos with my Nikon (as seen below).

Silver Lining

Silver Lining

Bright Sun and Clouds

Bright Sun and Clouds

Clouds

Clouds

It does make for a fun story!!

Sky Art: Contrails and Clouds on a Blue Canvas

Sumoflam, Clouds and Lexington

Sumoflam, Clouds and Lexington

I have always enjoyed spending time watching nature. I enjoy the birds and the bees, the squirrels, the colorful flowers and trees, lakes and mountains. I am also fascinated by what I see in the skies and in the heavens.

Hidden Sun on a cloudy day in Lexington

Hidden Sun on a cloudy day in Lexington

Over the past year I’ve become enamored with what I am terming “Sky Art.” This represents the clouds in the sky and all their various shapes, the numerous crisscrossing of airline contrails, and the beautiful watercolor spectrum of sunsets and sunrises.

Sky Art

Sky Art

Jets look like meteors streaking across the sky

Jets look like meteors streaking across the sky

I have probably taken hundreds of photos of the sky over the last couple of years, and more specifically dozens of the contrail “Sky Art” that I see on an almost daily basis when the skies are blue.

Making Contrails - a plane flies high over Lexington

Making Contrails – a plane flies high over Lexington

I have done some research on contrails just so that I can understand how these vapors form those nice straight lines across the sky and then the winds spread them out. Some people call them “chemtrails”, but the actual term is “contrails.” Contrails is short for condensation trails.

Wispy Clouds

Wispy Clouds

Wispy orange clouds

Wispy orange clouds

Ghostly clouds

Ghostly clouds

Amazing clouds

Amazing clouds

Wide Swath

Wide Swath

Spooky gray evening clouds

Spooky gray evening clouds

Of course, not all sky art is a result of contrails. I have seen numerous clouds that are wispy and that have been windblown and have these unique ghostlike shapes. I’ve seen cloud formations that look like a furrowed and plowed farm. Indeed, there are some formations that I wonder how they could form naturally with such symmetry.

Waterfall looking clouds

Waterfall looking clouds

"Furrowed Clouds" over Lexington captured one early morning.

“Furrowed Clouds” over Lexington captured one early morning.

Furrows over downtown Lexington

Furrows over downtown Lexington

Wind whipped cloud arch

Wind whipped cloud arch

But then it brings me back to flowers and other items in nature that also have symmetry.

Most of the contrail photos I have were taken above Lexington. Actually, they were taken from Lexington looking up!

Streaks criss-crossing in the sky

Streaks criss-crossing in the sky

X marks the spot

X marks the spot

Sky Art

Sky Art

Sky designs being created as a jet leaves its mark in the fray

Sky designs being created as a jet leaves its mark in the fray

Orange contrail spread across the sky

Orange contrail spread across the sky

Wildcat Claw Marks across the Lexington sky?

Wildcat Claw Marks across the Lexington sky?

Our world is blessed with many amazing sunrises and sunsets. And I have seen a great share of them myself. I have a friend, Antsy McClain, is a song called “Watercolor Skies” and there are times that I see just such skies.

Watercolor Skies at sunrise over Kansas

Watercolor Skies at sunrise over Kansas

Purples and Pinks over Lexington (photo NOT adjusted)

Purples and Pinks over Lexington (photo NOT adjusted)

Colorful Sunset

Colorful Sunset

Fancy Colors

Fancy Colors

Then, there are the fiery skies. Bright orange glows in the sky from this from the sun beaming off of the clouds. Indeed, the variety of “Sky Art” that we experience as humans is absolutely astounding! I truly feel very blessed to have eyes that are able to witness such natural spectacles.

Clouds at sunset over a mountain in Northern Montana

Clouds at sunset over a mountain in Northern Montana

Sunset in North Carolina leaves a bright orange glow behind a silhouetted cloud

Sunset in North Carolina leaves a bright orange glow behind a silhouetted cloud

Sunrise glow over Jacobson Lake in Lexingotn

Sunrise glow over Jacobson Lake in Lexington

Steam rises in front of the sunrise on a cold winter morning

Steam rises in front of the sunrise on a cold winter morning

Evening sky looks like it is on fire

Evening sky looks like it is on fire

Fiery Orange sky as seen from North Lexington

Fiery Orange sky as seen from North Lexington

After all the glorious sites there are the unusual and strange. For instance, how about this alligator trying to bite the sun?

Alligator Cloud

Alligator Cloud

Want to drive to Georgia in the evening one night we were approaching a rainstorm. Down the freeway from us was this giant cloud with two holes in it, that looked like a giant monster getting ready to eat the cars heading down the highway.

The Cloud Monster

The Cloud Monster – taken while heading south on I-75 in North Georgia

A cloud looks like a Firebird over Lexington

A cloud looks like a Firebird over Lexington

The moon glows through the clouds making a "Spooky Eye"

The moon glows through the clouds making a “Spooky Eye”

Monsters aren’t the only creations in the sky.  How about State shapes?  I have two examples of “Kentucky” in the clouds.

Kentucky over Kentucky

Kentucky over Kentucky

Kentucky shaped cloud above the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

Kentucky shaped cloud above the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

Finally, there is the “Silver Lining” of clouds. People often talk about that, but here a couple examples of clouds with the silver lining. To me looking at the skies ALWAYS has a silver lining!

Silver Lining

Silver Lining

Silver Lining 2

Silver Lining 2 as seen from the base of the St. Louis Arch

I want to close off with a few more unique shots of clouds, skies, sun and moon.

Streaky clouds hide the sun

Streaky clouds hide the sun

Trees and Clouds

Trees and Clouds

Gray streaks in the sky

Gray streaks in the sky

Geese in formation below the clouds

Geese in formation below the clouds

Morning Moon in the blue sky

Morning Moon in the blue sky

Orange Wave

Orange Wave

Sun over the clouds taken from an airplane (as we made contrails??)

Sun over the clouds taken from an airplane (as we made contrails??)

Sun Disk

Sun Disk

Water Ripples in the Sky

Water Ripples in the Sky