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Waterfalls in Coy Glen

Ray Hunt and I went to Coy Glen on Tuesday.  It is a natural area of Cornell Plantations.  There is one nice drop of about 12 feet with a secondary ledge about 2-1/2 feet in height.  We advise caution at Coy Glen.  Beyond the obscure access on Culver Road, the trail is essentially unmarked and the slope to the waterfall is steep and slippery when wet.  Never attempt this alone.  Please consult us before going there.

We arrived around 9:30 in the morning after a fifteen minute walk into the falls. Ray’s initial photo shows the wonderful reflections on the smooth rock surfaces below the falls.

At this  time in the morning, the falls were in shadow. As we photographed, we realized that we were soon going to lose the good light as bright rays of direct sunlight were approaching to blow out the left side of the falls.

It is always interesting to see how two photographers, standing near the same spot, can see a different rendition of the subject.  My initial photo was different.

I captured less of the warm glow from my position to Ray’s right but found a pool of water that mirrored the creamy waterfall. I also chose a different aspect ratio with less foreground.

As I mentioned, there is a second drop that has fascinated me.  With care, and with rubber boots reaching my knees, I can stand in the stream below the ledge and show both drops.

Ray pointed out that the entry of bright sunlit areas called for some HDR processing. The image above was tonal mapped using four images.  Obviously, a steady tripod is required along with some adjustments to tonal values in the foreground.

The next meeting of the Cayuga Nature Photographers is to present black and white  images made by the members.  It has always seemed to me that waterfalls are one of the best subjects for that. So, I processed the  above image in Photoshop using the RGB channels. (I will likely be on travel and miss the  next meeting, so this is my contribution.)

Soon, we realized we were losing the good uniform light in the gorge and began the careful climb out of the streamside.  The route out requires using tree roots for hand holds initially until the ground becomes a little less steep.

Eventually, we came upon the more moderate slope and near the top, where Ray noted some beautiful fungi growing on the mossy covering of fallen tree branches.  The vivid scarlet colors were too much for Ray to pass up. (I just did not expect fungi and left my micro lens in the car. Shame on me.)


I believe this is Sarcoscypha austriaca, common name Curly-haired Elf
Cup.  I was impressed that Ray had a plastic bag to kneel on while contorted on the wet ground. I never think to do that and come home with dirty knees on my pants.

It was a beautiful day, unusually warm for mid March, and perfect for two retired gentlemen to take a saunter in the woods.  Ray treated me to a good cup of coffee and a delicious sour cream donut. That really made the morning perfect.

Paul Schmitt

Waiting for Spring

Despite the mild winter, I am, as always come February, longing for the greens of early Spring.  The tips of Day Lilies are already showing on the sunny side of the house. Buds are swelling on the trees earlier than usual.

Taughannock trees

Most look for the tell-tale Robin to signal Spring’s arrival. I’ve found that the arrival of the Turkey Vultures in the gorge behind our house as an equally dependable sign.

turkey vulture

The woods of early Spring are often as beautiful and colorful as Fall. The new green is more intense than any other. And the trees glow against the contrast of nearly bare branches that still await new foliage.

spring woods

backlit trees

squirrel cornSpring blossoms arrive with colors that have been absent for what seems far too long after months of monochrome winter.

The forest floor soon comes alive with new life and the warmth of the Spring sun fills the gorges and fields. The frost is gone, the morning dew is heavy, and I am inspired by the awakening of the earth.

pink dogwood

Post written by George Cannon.

Snowy Owl

The birders’ listserve for Ithaca has been buzzing with various sightings of Snowy Owls.  Headed up to the New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls this morning to look for the most recent reported bird and found it on the soccer fields behind the tennis courts.

You can tell by the height of the bleacher seat that this is a pretty large owl.  There were Crows in the area, and the bird moved location after a while, taking a perch on one of  the soccer goals.

It moved again as the Crows became vocal, retreating to some small trees in the fence row that divides the college athletic fields from adjacent farm fields.

The Crows seemed to take increased interest in the owl and began to dive past it.

This lasted for maybe 5 minutes after which the Crows seemed to tire of their sport.

As it quieted, I noted the owl was looking intently at the surround ground beneath it.  Possibly at prey? After a few  minutes, the owl swooped down into the farm field, mostly hidden.  We went to lunch, and when we returned the owl was out in the farm field beside a fence post.  It was not at a suitable distance for a photo.

The road back to the soccer field is posted but the nice security guard inferred that on weekends, they were not concerned as long as you stay on the gravel.  It is much less disturbing to the owl if you stay in the car. During the week, I would observe the owl from the maintenance building parking area.  This assumes that the owl remains in the location.

Paul Schmitt

Look at the Bright Side

For those wanting to photograph Bald Eagles or waterfowl, the winter of 2012 has been frustrating.  The mild winter has failed to push the birds south or to concentrate them. For  me, it has also been hampering my need to test a new camera body.  So, earlier this week, my patient spouse agreed to a two-day visit to the Delaware River around Lackawaxen.  We saw Bald Eagles but never close enough for any interesting images. We met some nice people and stayed in a delightful B&B in Lackawaxen, the Roebling Inn on the Delaware.

So, on the second day I camped at the Lackawaxen boat launch, camera ready  and waited for the resident Bald Eagle pair to swoop down to the river.  They were up on the  mountain side in a roost tree. Waited until noon. Never happened. We headed home with a stop at the Mongaup blind. Waiting inside for eagles, I heard a faint “pip-pip” and found a lone Northern Cardinal just outside the blind.  Try finding a small bird in a 400 mm lens at the closest focus possible!  After  10 minutes, hunger overrode any vain hope for eagles. It was 3 days later that I recalled the Cardinal image.

So, was the trip fruitless?  Not really, just not as fruitful as hoped.  We had a nice time together including an evening by the fireplace reading peacefully.  The  breakfast was wonderful.  The other photographers I met were a source of good intelligence for future trips.  I did get useful practice on birds-in-flight, just not frame filling.

As I write this, the wind outside  is blowing wickedly and there is a meager cover of snow.  Like a frustrated skier, I am hoping this weather will bring reports of concentrated birds.  My experience fits into the old saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.  I will keep trying.


Near or far ?

There is always the feeling that the best photo opportunities lie some distance away and close to home the subjects are limited.  This weekend was an example to challenge that.

I’ve long wanted to get to Hawk Mountain near Allentown, PA because of its storied reports of large raptor counts on peak days. This place is central to the story of raptor protection and the Audubon Society’s history.

I could not get there earlier last week, and had  to stay close to home. On a neighborhood walk on Wednesday, I’d stopped to chat with a new neighbor when a flock of Cedar Waxwings quietly invaded his crab apple trees with their faint piping calls. They’ve been on my  list of difficult birds to photograph.  So, I gathered my long lens, tripod and flash with some eagerness.  It was only two houses away, but by the time I returned, they’d had their fill and were gone. Returning Thursday afternoon a little before the time when they’d appeared before, I waited and was rewarded with my long sought opportunity. The big challenge is finding them low enough to see something but their bellies.

Meeting with this success, our departure on Friday for Hawk Mountain seemed destined for more success.  After all, the weather report was for brisk north winds of the sort that deliver large numbers of migrating birds, maybe even Golden Eagles. We arrived about 11 am and hiked out to the first overlook on Kittinny Ridge. It is a beautiful vista.

I only carried my 70-200mm lens, knowing it unlikely the birds would come very close, and knowing the weight of the big lens would too much for the rocky trail 3/4 mile from the parking lot to the best overlook.  It turned out to be a slow day only highlighted by the sight of a Northern Goshawk folding its wings and going into a power dive.  Not one bird photograph.  I was reminded that the Cedar Waxwings were only two houses away from my front door. Still, the views and the wonderful birders we met were some reward.

Saturday’s forecast was for another north wind; cold early for sure.  Had colorful male Ringneck Pheasant on the highway as we drove in. By noon it was clearly a bust.  We decided toabandon the watch  for the warmth of the visitor center.  We noted a raptor program scheduled for midday with a few of their captive birds and decided it would be interesting.  The volunteer had a Great Horned Owl and a Redtail Hawk. It was a nice program and afterwards we stayed to talk and I got a few close images of the birds that made the day less of a disappointment.

Great Horned Owl-  I moved in close so the handlers glove was not shown.

Redtail Hawk- The bird’s right wing is injured, so I positioned the camera to leave that detail unseen.

So, was it worth the trip?  … or would I have done just as well at home?  Well, yes and yes.  I made some new friends, found a good wildflower location for spring, and can plan a return trip with prior knowledge.  Just as the Cedar Waxwings were not predictable, it is not predictable as to when the raptors will move past Kittinny Ridge.

More photos at my Flickr page:

Paul Schmitt

Color Pops on Cloudy Rainy Days

fall color 1

For so many years, Kodak encouraged us to pick a sunny day for our picture taking. “Put the sun over your left shoulder”. Film was slow, cameras were simple, and our memory filled in the blanks. With the sophistication of today’s equipment and the development over the years of digital processing, sensitive sensors with high ISO’s and low noise, you can almost shoot in the dark and get good images. Canon’s new 1Dx body is capable of ISO’s as high as 204,800. Of course it costs $7,000. But such is digital technology today. That being said, what about fall color?

fall color 2

fall color 3

The reality is that sunny days are not the best days for shooting fall color. Actually a day like yesterday with clouds and light occasional sprinkles of rain are ideal days for capturing fall color. The woods are dark and deep, the light is diffuse and even with no harsh contrast, and the rain helps to intensify the color on the leaves. So grabbing the gear and driving around my own neighborhood, I took a little afternoon time to go out and capture a bit of the beauty still evident in this colorful season.

fall color 5

fall color 5

fall color 6

Posted by George Cannon.

All images are Copyright © George Cannon.

Welcome to the CNP Blog.

So Hello CNP members.  This is your new blog. Hopefully you received an email telling you about its existence and the log in information if you are a member current with your dues. You are invited to become a blogger and write about where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, show your recent photos, offer advice on deals you have found, equipment you like, or even let members know you have equipment to sell or trade. Anything you feel might be of interest to members. So share your nature photo news with us all, and enjoy this forum.  Also feel free to leave comments on things others post. It’s easy. Be sure and sign your posts at the end so we know who the author is.

Fall Color Has Arrived

Driving home this afternoon, I was keenly aware of how rapidly, almost overnight, it seems the fall color has arrived.  I’ve certainly seen it creeping up. A few trees here and there, the asters at the road side, the sumac reds. But this afternoon it seemed that almost the entire ride home along Rte.89 to Trumansburg was simply alive with new color. Maybe I’ve just been too busy to notice, maybe my mind has been on too many other things, or maybe the change was really that rapid. Regardless, fall is here in all its glory and it’s time to take the cameras and hit the road to revel in autumn beauty. The assignment for the next CNP meeting is “Fall Color”. So let’s go get. Enjoy!

roadside asters

taughannock creek

abandoned house

red tree

red sumac

Posted by George Cannon. All images are © George Cannon.