Wednesday, January 25, 2012

BROAD-WINGED HAWK, a bird to teach a class

The Broad-Winged Hawk is one of the more plentiful hawks in the United States, a soaring hawk which is about the size of an overweight crow. These birds find it most comfortable to stay near forest areas and away from people while they spend spring and summer seasons in the eastern United States and southern Canada. When fall season arrives, the adults are ready and the babies have now grown into strong fliers, ready for migration. The time arrives to leave and all the hawks know it, no alarm clock or calendar needed.  As these hawks start flying from Canada and the northern United States, they flock together and more and more companions join along the way.  The migration is spectacular!  In certain areas you may watch as thousands of these raptors pass by together.  Like a kettle full of birds, the flying groups are called "kettles", a word for groups of raptors together.  Check the Internet for photos and videos of Broad-Winged Hawk migration. 

See the Migration Map at this Cornell website:

Where are they headed and why do they leave when fall arrives?  Would you want to be where you have plenty of food?  So do the hawks. They eat small critters like toads, lizards and insects. During the winter months this food is very scarce and not plentiful enough to feed the birds.  The hawks take off on a trip south, to where it is summer time while we go through winter here.  Can you imagine flying from the northern USA to Central America and north western South America?  These hawks do it every year then come back for spring and summer here and raise their new families.

The hawks mouth and tongue is clearly visible

Amigo is a Broad-Winged hawk at the Clinch River Raptor Center.  Why is he in the rehabilitation center?  Unfortunately, this beautiful hawk was found with wing damage and could not fly. There is no repair possible for the wing and in the wild woods Amigo would not be able to fly and live.  Still, this hawk has a chance to live a long life even if not in the wild.  Once rescued, the hawk has a chance at another life.  Because this Broad-Winged can help the wild birds through education of people, we see this as better than dying from starvation or being food for another animal.  The real plus for Amigo is shelter, food and good care for life.

These photos are part of a Resume for Amigo.  This raptor is ready to be trained as an educational bird who will travel to schools, campgrounds, club meetings and other gatherings where caretakers will teach about hawks and owls. Amigo will sit on a gloved hand and people will be able to see a beautiful little hawk up close. For the resume, selected photos and information will be sent to other raptor rehab and educational centers so that Amigo may be placed in a new home and trained for this new job.

We all wish Amigo could have been repaired and released back into the wild. If so, the hawk would have been given only a temporary name and kept as wild as possible while healing. Human interaction for releasable birds is kept to a minimum while providing essentials for healing and preparation for release. A day for release would come and we would smile as the little hawk flew away, finding a renewed life in nature where the wild critters are meant to be. Had that been the case, the hawk would still need to stay at the center and wait for spring to arrive. Do you know why?  Migration time has passed and there is not food enough during the winter season.

Typical perch materials include artificial turf.  Improper perch material may lead to "bumble foot", a disease of the pads of the foot bottom from injury or pressure sores followed with infection. Proper perching material is essential as is activity away from the perch when possible. Falconers, licensed rehabilitators and zoo personnel must be well aware of proper foot care for captive birds.

Note the yellow cere of the beak


Make comments as you wish. E-mail if interested in more or to ask about photo purchases (without the watermark).

I always thank God for this earth and the care He gives us in getting through it.  That thanksgiving includes the creatures, large and small, beautiful or strange.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What is Awkward Beauty? Grab some kettle corn and take a short walk with me.

Landing Heron.. awkward beauty---As plain as the web page in front of me are these words in the page header. Awkward beauty? What is that? We all have definitions of beauty. There is a huge range in the world of human emotion and points of view, covering images, events and memories. With a special flower, an entire crowd may agree it is beautiful and lovely to see. Move away from the obviously lovely and the the label beauty is somewhat awkwardly taped on the corner like an afterthought. An image of dead hostas in winter was beautiful to me and when uploaded to a photography website a commentator expressed surprise. Every year she was compelled to rake up the dead and fallen foliage at her home because it was dead and fallen. To the eye of the beholder the label of beauty may be awkwardly affixed with a piece of torn and soiled tape. Possibly she took a moment to look again at her fallen hostas and saw more than an automatic chore of raking up the dead. I suspect hers went quickly and were long gone when I uploaded the photo.  That photo resides somewhere on this blog.

The title awkward beauty came to mind when the heron in the header photo was landing in the tree.. The entire maneuver appeared so awkward with long legs at all angles and large wings trying to maintain balance and gain a secure hold in the branches. I thought the bird picked the wrong place to land but it knew better and the end was a different sort of gracefulness well adapted to the heron.

This post will tell tiny stories with photos to illustrate. Cart before the horse or the other way, the stories came and so did the photos. Do enjoy the points of view presented here. Or, consider me mad, mad, mad and someone who if running naked in the street would make more sense…maybe to you. To me, that would be very awkward and anything but beauty. I do have a full length closet mirror. A roll of tape would not fix the label to stay on out of the starting block. Mothers would cover the eyes of young children, like at the zoo.  The rest would laugh and cheer it on!  Run, Run! Ask them through their laughter, "That sure was funny. Was it beautiful?" ..."NO". 

I think you might see  a sort of beauty in this post...take a look and find no need to cover any eyes..

The King House..abandoned today but prior to 1956 it was cheerful and home to school teachers on snowbound I was told.

Photo taken just in front of the Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton, Tennessee.
The center is now a museum and reminder of the events leading up to and following
integration of the local high school in 1956. 
 We went to the town and visited the center several years ago. The abandoned house
caught my eye and I asked about its story.

The governor of Tennessee was wise when he said, "Go ahead and get it done. Integrate the schools," In 1956 it happened in Clinton, Tennessee, said to be the first school integrated likely anywhere in this country.  There was at least one which was integrated earlier but that distinction is not important. 

If you don't know what integration was or is, think of black kids not being allowed to attend the city high school and being bused instead to an all black student school in another city. The opposite of integration is segregation, a divide of people "justified" by race or other reason and which generally favors the ruling class. Some folks knew better and others did not give it much thought. Believe it, when the judge said we are moving on this now to get it done in Clinton, ears perked up and people reacted.  They say outsiders came in to stir the tempers and subdue supporters of the integration. Were some local folks involved? Of course...someone and the culture was wanting those black kids kept out of the white high school long before the governor spoke in his determined words and local law listened and decided to move on it. Some like a local white Baptist minister knew it was time to move on to better values and acceptance of fellow man. Others along with outside instigators believed big sticks and violence was justified to maintain status quo,  leaving things alone and no change tolerated.

The integration problems did happen but that is not the story or the beauty of the King house, shown here much later after more recent owners left it,  apparently abandoned and in disrepair.

Up the hill is a school building, an old one.  That is where the black kids in town went to school up to when they were old enough for high school. The home owners saw a need for education and for the teachers to be comfortable.  Maybe there was more snow back then because I am told when the teachers were snowed in or would be taking a risk driving home and returning to school the next day, they were offered congenial lodging at the old house.  Of course, the house was not old back then but a nice home with room for the teachers to spend the evening.  My first thought was that nowadays school would have been closed for even the threat of snow.  Back then, I reckon it stayed open and the kids walked to school.  The now caved porch would be a fine place to sit and visit on a summer evening, too. There is beauty in this old house, more than I first thought.


A view from an old hotel on Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio

The hotel is real and so is the view. It is different at night when with
little else to do, one looks around at the buildings and
sees someone else looking from their window.
What follows is fiction.

"I saw you look out of your window last night. Are you there now? Is everyone gone, are you in the dark alone or with others? You are there. I saw you last night...did you see me when you looked up? My building is higher than yours; yours is only a few levels. I am on the 13th floor with more above me. I feel those floors pressing down on me tonight. I suspect we will never meet, well, no consequence. I have been in this room too, too long. When will you look out your window!"

It might be a stretch to find the beauty in this one, even in a awkward sense.  I saw it in the daytime working hours of the city along this street and all the view from the hotel window. Nighttime was not the same, yes, people on the streets and in clubs but with too many dark corners to suit me. 


This photo was arranged to portray an idea and the  beauty of getting beyond this image.

Tea parties in her mind: This a fictional depiction of reality.
I ask you look beyond a bleak scene to see a woman who once sat in this chair, in poverty on the streets and in the mission shelters..
With assistance of specially able people who understand how to help, she now has a little home and and is employed. She now has
a lovely tea party and all her friends are there to share the scones.

The photographs shown are older ones picked from stored files.  Editing technique was less sophisticated than today
  but with the same eye behind the shutter. 
The point of view has changed in several ways over a few years.

Clear Wing Moth, also called Sphinx and Hummingbird Moth

This beautiful moth got my attention, flying very close to my face as it passed quickly to land on a brick wall.  At first look was a pretty but unknown insect with all the warning colors of a huge, huge bee or wasp of some sort.  With a side view, I recognized a moth-like face and body structure.  The awkward introduction and trepidation turned to curiosity at seeing a beautiful creature for the first time. It sat a while then flew away, boasting extra long legs for a moth.

These photos were taken with an old Minolta point and shoot in 2005. Modern point and shoot cameras with a macro capability will do better.  Be certain to keep unedited original files and only edit copies of your digital photos.  The moth photos had been edited and the originals were not available. Today I would have done better in processing the photos had the originals been saved properly. I have seen only one moth like this since 2005.

Can a large crawling bug be beautiful?
I believe so but many folks will want to get away
or even squash this harmless millipede.
This creature makes for an awkward encounter and
by all appearances is dangerous..
red and black and 3 inches long.
People jump and back away, women scream,
 men pretend to be brave and are tempted to step on it...
watching for it to attack or swing up and get them.
The Tennessee Flat Back Millipede is not dangerous;
the warning looks are possibly for self protection.

The flat back millipede lives in southern states where weather is suitable, You will see these large bugs in garden mulch, under decaying leaves and in areas of downed vegetation. They prefer to be under cover.  Beautiful..depending on the eye of the beholder!   Here is scientific link with better photos:


Cedar Waxwings
The beauty of these social birds is well known and appreciated.

The body feathers appear like a soft velvet, smoothed and fresh.
Red tips on the wings look like a fine sealing wax. There is nothing to deny this beauty. "Awkward" was standing beneath branches of a tree full of these migrating birds.  I looked up and saw bird bottoms, everywhere. 


Monday, January 9, 2012

Single Primary Light Photography, Still Life and Portraits, Evening in Paris

Lighting is an utmost essential ingredient to a good photograph. Beyond the very basic need of enough light to take a photo in the first place, lighting contributes to color, mood, atmosphere, ambiance and drama of a photograph.  Certainly, you need a suitable subject, composition and technical skill to form the basis of any photograph: The better each of these areas the better is the photograph you produce. Yet, with the same subject matter and composition, changing the light will often dramatically alter the photograph from ordinary to very good, from snapshot to excellent.  This is true whether the subject matter stirs smiles, tears, joy, revulsion or basic curiosity in the person looking. 
 Please, No more!

Of course, I have learned that some people simply have no interest in any photos anyway, anyhow unless possibly of their kids.  And, everyone with a camera and able to put on a Thanksgiving Dinner has a photo of the table, a photo always a must to take but never seen again. If you love photography, this is a "to live with".  Some people simply would always rather do something else than see your photos! I know that is nuts but is reality.

Obviously, outdoor shots are single source that single source we call the Sun.  That light is quite varied depending on surroundings and nature of the sky at the moment.  In an open wide expanse of flat land the sun would seem more single source. In a city it is still a single light but reflections abound from built up surroundings.  This is natural light and is not what I am concerned with in this post. We are at the mercy of weather and time of day when shooting outdoor photographs, even if we do help it along in some ways. Timing and a good eye are needed for truly fine outdoor photographs.
A night in Paris no one remembers


Today, the single source primary light is a single artificial light.  For the photos shown, the light was a tactical flashlight by Surefire™, a very bright little light designed to hold next to a defensive handgun in target acquisition or used in emergency to temporarily fog the vision of an adversary.  I use the light because it is bright enough to cover a long distance in the woods and able to illuminate the deepest shadows easily.  The price paid is quite short battery life.  Why do I have only these photos to show today?  I used the Surefire™ flashlight to play with light bright enough to allow photos with only a sparse amount of ambient light sneaking into the hastily rigged up "studio".The next day I got out of bed all excited(it doesn't take much...and yes, I do have a life) to try more photos. I set up the studio again and put out expertly selected subjects  Camera ready...all set, turn on the light!  It was yellowish. A pack of new lithium 123's should arrive at the door any day now.

A flashlight? What camera settings did you use?
The bright flashlight made it possible to rather easily take photos inside with a tripod to prevent shake from a slow shutter.  Settings were based on ISO 400 (digital equivalent film speed) and that meant all I had to be concerned with was how open was the lens(F stop) and how quick was the shutter.  The  general settings were in the range of F/4.5 to F/8 at shutter speeds of 1/30 second to 1/50 second. Surprisingly, the faster shutter speed was at  F/8.  Remember, light power goes up or down very quickly depending on the distance the light is from the subject.  The 1/50 second shot had the light quite close to the subject.  The camera was set to aperture priority and I chose that to start.. If my choice of aperture did not give a good start for a particular artistic effect, I switched to manual and varied the aperture or shutter as desired. With digital, the viewer gives a quick idea of the ballpark where you are playing.  Film? Now I have a clue how to shoot the same photos using film. Had I started that way a lot..yikes..I do mean a lot of film would have been wasted trying for different effects. I won't be shooting film, anyway.
Whitehorse Turquoise and Tabasco for the Bowl of Beans

The photos are only a few examples of things to do with a single source primary light.  When the batteries arrive I will likely do more. Then we move on to single studio strobe if space permits, including basic but neat portrait work.

Set-up for these photos:
  • 1 White matte finish pull down windowshade
  • Camera (a digital slr in these shots)
  • Sturdy tripod
  • Tactical or other bright small light
  • Subject matter to photograph

Thomas Haynes is a photographer working out of Clinton, Tennessee, a city just north of Knoxville. His photography is often of a fine arts direction but as in this post, his love of nature takes him again to the Clinch River Raptor Center, a rehabilitation and educational not-for-profit organization.. Visit Thomas and see more of his photography at  Facebook

 Contact Thomas to discuss photography you want done.