Friday, August 31, 2012


click photos to enlarge

I got on the water early this morning.  I was on the upper part of the lake that I call the French Broad River where the birds at Rankin reside.  The morning was opening up into a very nice day.

This is about the last time this year I'll be able to visit the birds at Rankin, at least in this boat.  The lake is being lowered to the tune of two and a half feet per week.  I can travel past the Nolichucky River inflow but have to use extreme caution from that point on.  I found out today through experience that I can not travel past the old railroad bridge that crosses the river at Rankin.  The river depth at the shoals crossing the river at that point is 2.5 feet.

The water was beautiful.  Morning is always the finest time to be on any lake.  I would soon be passing the cliffs and forest on the left side of the river.  This is where a bald eagle resides.  Just past his home is the beach where a group of white tail deer visit every morning.  I can't get close to their beach like I could a week ago.  If they're there, the shots will be very long.

I have been working on some photographic procedures to help out with the back lit critters.  In other words shooting into the sun.  I think you'll see some improvements in the aerial shots this trip.  Notice the above shots.  Clear and colorful without washout.  The bald eagle was across the lake and not in his usual lair.  I glassed the shoreline and caught a glimpse of brown.  The deer, however, were where they should be.  The shots were so far that I almost gave up on the idea of any photography.  Then I thought, "I'm here so what the heck?"

The mother has a couple of really cute little kids.  Awful small for this time of the year.  You'll see them soon.

I really wish they would not frequent this spot every day as a routine.  I'm not the only one who can see them and hunting season is fast approaching.  Their future would be brighter if they would move on to other spaces.

As I approached the Leadvale boat ramp, I saw no less than eight fishing boats floating about, all pointing in different directions.  Wow!  I haven't seen this many boats in one spot all summer.  The job kept me busy for a solid two hours.  As I progressed up the river the fishermen presence grew fewer.
The water depth was diminishing and I couldn't get as close to the shoreline as I like.  I saw another flotilla of fishing boats far, far upstream.  I would take photos of shore birds as I idled along.
No trip to the Rankin section of the river is complete without a couple pictures of my friend the green heron.

These interesting little herons were out in great numbers today.  I don't normally see this many at one time.  They are real characters.  I've laughed out loud while watching their antics.

 They can really stretch that neck out a long way.

Great egrets were lounging in the shadows and on the crotch of trees just looking pretty.  This Rankin area is precious and a habitat that these birds rely on every year.  I hope others view it in the same light as I do.

I purposely shot these great egret pictures with a darker than normal back drop.  Two reasons.  These white birds look sensational against a dark background and secondly, if I brighten the background - the bird will also brighten and become washed out.  Pure white subjects are difficult to deal with.  So are solid black subjects.

The following are a few of my favorite egret shots from the morning:

 Their elegance is breath taking.

Surely one beaver didn't do this!
A couple trees were hanging over the water and I knew that an osprey nest was located in a tall tree at the end of the island.  It would be coming into view quickly.  But, what is this?  Oh wow!  I can't believe it.  A new kid is in town.  It seems a bald eagle, king around these parts, has levied imminent domain against the resident osprey and took the property.  
This is not unusual as bald eagles will do this on occasion.  They simply add material to the nest until it suits them.
I am forced to shoot directly into the sun but, notice the eagle is not totally washed out.  Normally I get a black silhouette of the bird against a white sky.  I set the camera on center weighted metering.  Yep.  Gitten smart in my old age.
I cropped a few of these eagle shots to see the effects of enlarging the pictures taken with center weighted metering.  You will see the identical shot enlarged.
Ok - I think I have this whole photography metering and focusing mess figured out.
These are two different exposures.  Very minor alterations and not worth doing.  I have made a note of it for the future.
What an impressive creature!


I am really far away from this bird.  The water is too shallow to be any closer.  These shots could have been my very best ever had I been closer.

That took some fancy jumping around on the boat and fast camera adjustments to get those pictures.  Getten too old for this stuff.

I'm sure running into a lot of photographic subjects for not even trying.  East Tennessee has a real treasure up here on the French Broad River.  I hope everyone remains good stewards of this habitat and these precious birds.
An osprey wings by and I barely caught him as he passed by the roof of the boat.
 Well - there you have it.  Another day at the office is coming to a close.  I hope you enjoyed being with me at my office.  Its strenuous work and there's an awful lot of pressure and tension involved with my daily routine.  Sometimes I don't know how I deal with it.  I'll persevere and make the best of it though.  It's my lot in life I guess.  Planning on going up to Beech Creek on Monday for one more try at the otters.  Maybe you'll want to come along.  Thanks for looking in.