Winter Feeder Birds

American Tree Sparrow in snow.  Ithaca, New York

American Tree Sparrow in snow. Ithaca, New York

As winter was starting to draw to a close, I wanted to get out and make some images of birds in the snow. So, one afternoon before we were supposed to have a huge snowfall overnight, I set up a pair of perches near my feeders and set up my blind nearby. The next morning I spent a couple frigid hours sitting in the blind photographing a handful of species as they came in for seed.

Black-capped Chickadee in snow.  Ithaca, New York.

Black-capped Chickadee in snow. Ithaca, New York.

I have a lot to learn about photographing at setups and learned a ton that day, but despite my inexperience, I still walked away with some images I was pleased with. I was able to photograph a couple species for the first time, particularly American Tree Sparrows which were plentiful that day. I also added some decent images of Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Black-capped Chickadee, and Tufted Titmouse to my files. I’ll post a few of the images today and a few later this week.

American Tree Sparrow in snow. Ithaca, New York

American Tree Sparrow in snow. Ithaca, New York

I plan to do a lot more of this type of photography this spring and summer. As I said, I’ve got a lot to learn but hopefully by the end of the summer I’ll be making some spectacular images.

The Florida Trail & Big Cypress

At the Southern Terminus of the Florida Trail.  Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

At the Southern Terminus of the Florida Trail. Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

In mid January I decided that I would take the first few months of 2011 and hike the Florida Trail.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this particular trail (that is probably most of you), it is a National Scenic Trail that runs from the swamps of Big Cypress National Preserve to the beaches of Fort Pickens near Pensacola, Florida.  It is a pretty incredible trail and one that is only thru-hiked about a dozen or so people each year.

Bromeliad and Orange Blaze of the Florida Trail - Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Bromeliad and Orange Blaze of the Florida Trail - Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

My interest in the trail started a couple years ago when I was in the Everglades and realized that the southern terminus of the trail was located on Loop Road, one of my favorite locations in the entire region.  I had planned to do the Big Cypress section in 2010 but things didn’t work out.  So, this past fall, when I was grasping at straws and quickly realizing I needed a significant change in life, I decided I’d do the trail.

The idea was  to spend three months rediscovering the state I grew up in, and to have some good time to sort my thoughts out for the future.  The plan was to get back into photography and return to basics a bit.  So, on a Saturday in late January I hit the trail.

For the next four days, I crossed Big Cypress National Preserve on foot, starting on Loop Road and ending on Interstate 75.  During those four days I got to experience an incredible place slowly and at my own pace.  Unfortunately, about half of the 40 or so miles required wading in either shin deep mud or knee deep water.  The water wasn’t a big deal, but the mud was brutal.   Each step required sinking deep into the mud and then prying my foot back out to take another step.  As a result of this motion, both of my heels turned into giant blisters.

The Florida Trail in Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

The Florida Trail in Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

When I reached I-75, I was met by family and returned to my parents home in Orlando for a break while my blisters healed (insert bad pun here).  During the next two weeks, I rethought my plan.  While I absolutely loved my four days on the trail, despite the mud and the blisters, I reconsidered my goal.  After all, during those four days, I was typically too tired to take photos.  The act of carrying my camera gear meant an incredibly heavy pack. On a practical note, I love food too much to want to eat oatmeal and noodles for three months.  Those reasons, combined with a couple job opportunities and a chance to go back to school, meant that I decided to head back to New York, a decision my wife was very pleased with.

My three month long trip ended up being four days.  Did I fail?  Heck no.  I completed one of the most difficult sections of the trail and the section that I have been wanting to do for several years now.  I got my head wrapped around some of the things I wanted to think about.  I had a great time.  I’d call it a success.  Sure, I only covered 40 miles, barely 3% of the entire trail, but I loved every minute of it and I know I’ll be back someday.  Hopefully that day will be sooner rather than later but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Have you ever wanted to do a trip like the Florida Trail?  Maybe the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail?  I’d love to hear about your dream or maybe even your experience!

Site Redesign!

As you probably have noticed, things look a lot different around here recently. I have switched themes and have a new design that I am really excited about. This particular theme has some really great options and new functions that I plan on taking advantage of in the next few months.

As some of you know, I’ve had a wild few months but am excited about what is on my upcoming agenda.  Next Monday I will be starting a Masters program through Full Sail University based out of Winter Park, Florida. I will be studying Education Media Design & Technology through a one year online program. It has been a long time since I have had classes and assignments, but I am excited about getting back into school and all the challenges that go with that.

Also, I have really missed writing for this blog and I have especially missed the interaction and feedback I get through the comments. As spring is slowly arriving here in New York, I am going to be returning to this blog and hopefully generating some good discussion. I hope to spend at least a couple days each week photographing and plan to be posting a lot of images. However, with school starting on Monday, I am not sure what sort of free time I will have. In any case, I have been spending some time with my photo archives this winter and will be pulling images from there if I don’t have anything new to post.

Anyway, I’d like to officially welcome you to the new Wanderer’s Apprentice, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments in upcoming discussions. Stick around and let me know what you think!

Park Photo Guides Grand Opening!

It has grown very quiet around here in recent months and I must apologize but my time has been consumed with preparing the launch of Park Photo Guides.  This new website offers site guides for nature photographers that cover the nation’s national parks and other popular photographic destinations.  These site guides are written by photographers with extensive experience photographing in the park and know both where to go and where to avoid.  The guides are available as PDF eBooks and will be updated regularly, free of charge.

Right now, we have two guides for sale covering Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida, but we have more currently in development and I will be updating the site as they are published.  I hope to have at least one or two more published by the end of this year and a large wave coming next year.

In the meantime, if you are considering a trip to South Florida to photograph birds or the unique landscape of the Everglades, be sure to stop by and check out our site guides!

Additionally, we are offering a 25% discount for our first two weeks so be sure to pick up a copy of the guides before November 15th to take advantage of the sale!

Quick Update! Now in Maryland

I just wanted to put a quick update on the blog while I have a moment.  We spent a week in New York City while my wife excavated the ship found at the World Trade Center.  I was fortunate enough to get on site several days and create a series of spherical panoramas showing different stages of the excavation.  We have now moved down to Maryland, where we have been for about 10 days and have another 10 or so days left.  Here, we are documenting every single timber.  Without getting into the technical details, my photographs will be used to create 3D models of each piece so the ship can be reassembled virtually at a later date.  Carrie is carefully measuring and tracing each piece, creating 1:1 traces.

It is a fun and interesting process but requires meticulous precision and painstaking attention to detail.  We will be here through the end of next week and then its back to New York where Carrie will be starting class and I’ll be processing the photos, video, and time lapse sequences I have created over the last month.  I also will be able to get back to blogging regularly and get to all those things on my to do list that got pushed back for this project.

Check out the panos in the meantime and I’ll be in touch soon!

Off to New York City!

It has been quiet around here all summer and I apologize that my brief hiatus turned into a much longer break.  However, I have had an extremely busy and productive summer with a lot to show, though not much new photography.  I’d like to take a quick moment to announce that this morning my wife and I are headed down to New York City for the next 10 days or so.  As you may know, my wife is an archaeologist ,and she will be working on excavating the ship that has recently been found at the site of the World Trade Center.  It’s an extremely exciting opportunity and it should make for a fun time in the city.

There is a chance that I will be able to get on site and create a series of panoramas of the ship and the excavation but we aren’t sure yet.  Details are still being worked out so I am just headed down prepared to either shoot or work from the hotel.  Whatever happens, We will be in the city for at least the next week or so.  I’ll post some more details about the project sometime this coming week once I know more myself.

If you are in the City and want to meet up for coffee or a drink, shoot me an email or leave a comment here.  Hope everyone has a great week!

A Short Hiatus

I have found that over the last few weeks, despite my best intentions, I have neglected my duties here at Wanderer’s Apprentice.  I simply haven’t been getting out and photographing like I planned and thereby don’t have the images to post.  The last few weeks and the next few that are coming up are extraordinarily busy for me, so I have decided to take a short break from posting here at Wanderer’s Apprentice.

This doesn’t mean things will be completely silent, but posts will be sporadic at best.  I’ve got a lot on my plate so my focus has to fall elsewhere.  I am currently in the final stages of launching the website for my Costa Rican project, Canopy in the Clouds.  We’ll be going live next week with a soft release prior to a day of meetings at National Geographic about the project on Thursday.  The official launch will be coming shortly after those meetings, and we look forward to getting the project out there after two and half years of hard work.

In addition to this major launch, I’ve got two new business ventures in the works, at least one of which should be launching here in the next month, followed by the second later this summer.  Add to that the fact that my wife and I are moving next weekend over Memorial Day and trying to get ready for that.  Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that I have a lot of on my plate and while I hope to share when I get out to photograph, I don’t see that happening as much as I had hoped.  I’ll be back in early to mid June depending on my schedule but hope to see you then!

In Search of an Ovenbird

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) - Genung Preserve, Freeville, NY

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) - Genung Preserve, Freeville, NY

Singing Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) - Genung Preserve, Freeville, NY

Singing Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) – Genung Preserve, Freeville, NY

Having grown up in central Florida and lived in Texas for the last few years, I am used to seeing warblers during migration, not singing on territory like they do here.  This means I have quite a steep learning curve trying to learn the songs of local birds. I am making rapid progress, but there is an incredible amount to learn!

[Read more…]

Living on the Semester Schedule

It was a quiet week on the blog last week and I must apologize.  Amazingly, it was probably my busiest week of the year so far, though this week and the next also look quite daunting.  It is that time of year, as the semester winds down and summer begins.  Yes, I know I am not a student but I still am heavily influenced by the semester schedule and I must admit, I rather like it.

[Read more…]

Announcement: Monday Night Lecture

Evening in the Everglades - Everglades National Park, Florida

Evening in the Everglades - Everglades National Park, Florida

I have a quick announcement for those readers in the central New York and Ithaca area.  Monday night (yes that’s tomorrow) I will be presenting a talk on the Everglades at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the Cayuga Bird Club.  The meeting starts at 7:30 and I will probably start talking about 8:00.  All are welcome to attend.  If you’ll be there, let me know so I can say hi afterwards.  Sorry for the short notice, but hope to see you there.