Tag Archive: Different


Hiking in the Woods

Walking is possibly one of the oldest methods of transportation. It’s a great way to get from point A to point B, and for lots of good reasons. For one thing, it’s a lot cheaper than any other method. There’s no gasoline consumption, there are no parking fees, and most enjoyably, there is no traffic. Also, there are mostly no limits as to where you can go by walking, like in the woods or forest.

While walking through a forest, there are plenty of interesting things to see, you just have to pay attention. Tons of plants and animals call the forest their home. There is fungus that grows out of tree stumps that look like shelves, and even fungus that glows in the dark. You can also see some very pretty birds, such as the indigo bunting or even a scarlet tanager. If you listen closely you can hear the musical call of the wood thrushes or a woodpecker drilling holes into trees. These are all things you can see while hiking through the woods.

If you have some free time today, make sure to get outside and walk around a little. Take in everything you see and hear. It’s a great way to relax and you may even see or hear something you’ve never noticed before.

[As a side note, sorry to everyone for not posting very many photos recently! I just haven’t had time to take/edit/publish any photos recently, but I aim to fix that really soon! Until then, here’s a neat site to see some photos of things in WV and a word cloud of a West Virginia Conservation Action Plan]

Wordle: Untitled

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The weather in the mountain state has been fairly odd this year. The seasons have changed much like they would in a Monty Python sketch. Our winter was much more like spring and even now, these first few days of spring have felt more like summer. Despite these weird weather patterns, mother nature know’s it’s spring-time. Which brings us to….

 The Top 3 Wildflowers in West Virginia

3. Ironweed

Ironweed is a fairly tall, and very hardy flower. It’s purple flowers are very pretty and ironweed is known to attract butterflies.

2. Rhododendron 

The rhododendron is the state flower for West Virginia, and it’s easy to see why.

1. Spotted Jewelweed

The spotted jewelweed is a pretty neat little flower. Also known as a ‘touch-me-not’ because of its delicate seed pods, this plant can be used to ease the itching of stinging nettle.

All images obtained from the public domain.


West Virginia really is a unique place to live. It’s elevation and geographical location allows it to be the home for many different plants and animals. Birding in particular is a lot of in West Virginia. Getting up in the early morning, feeling that fresh mountain air on your face and listening to the birds sing is a really great way to start any day. If you are going to go birding in West Virginia, there are some birds that you definitely must see. After doing a little birding myself, these are my five favorite birds in West Virginia.

5. Great Blue Heron:

This bird is really pretty cool looking. It can have a wingspan of up to seven feet, which makes this a really big bird. Seeing something so big fly is really amazing to see, and so I’ve ranked the Great Blue Heron at number five. (Image by Gentry George, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

4. Indigo Bunting:

This bird is really very pretty. In summer, finding an Indigo Bunting in West Virginia is very easy to do. (Image by Barnes Dr Thomas G, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

3. Belted Kingfisher:

These birds can easily be seen and heard anywhere near a river or stream. These birds can be good indicators of how healthy a stream is because they feed on mostly small fish and other aquatic creatures. (Image by C. Schlawe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

2. Scarlet Tanager:

This is a bird that can’t be missed. It’s very distinctive crimson color is easily seen when it flies. (Image From Steve Maslowski, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

1. Red-Tailed Hawk:

The red-tailed hawk is a really cool bird to see. It is an amazing predator and its call has been used in many movies. Often times this bird’s call (or its cousin’s call, the call of the red-shouldered hawk) is used instead of a bald eagle’s call, since the bald eagle’s call doesn’t sound very good. (Image from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

All images came from public-domain-image.com or Wikipedia.com and were found in the public domain.

Have you ever been out, exploring the woods or a hiking trail and saw something that you didn’t know what it was? When out in the woods, we can be bombarded with new trees, flowers, and animals that are new to us. To fill that curiosity, one of the best things you can do is look it up in a field guide.

Now there is another problem, ‘Which field guide should I get?’ The type of field guide to get really depends on what you want to look up, and how experienced you are with working with a field guide. If you want to identify wildflowers on your monring walks, a good field is the Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, but it can be a little technical and difficult to use.

For a simpler, and still very good field guide, I would recomend using a Peterson’s field guide. The cool thing about the Peterson’s guides is that they have a ton of different categories. They also use color in their pictures which can really help when it comes to identifying something. I have a lot of experience with their ‘Birds’ field guide and I have found it to be very helpful.

When buying a field guide, make sure you buy for the right region. If you are going to do some exploring on the East Coast, you won’t want to be stuck with a guide that identifies West Coast plants or animals. When you have the right guide, practice using it as often as you can. You can practice with plants or animals you already know to make sure you’re doing the steps right. After some practice, go and try it out!

What are some of your favorite field guides and why?

West Virginia is a great place to take a photo. There’s a reason it’s called ‘Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia.’ I decided to use a map to show some of the places in West Virginia I’ve been to and found to be really great spots for photography. Dolly Sods is probably one of my favorite places in West Virginia. In some areas, all of the trees have branches facing one direction because of the constant wind. In the early summer, there are plenty of different types of berries to pick and eat (but make sure you are absolutely sure before you eat something in the wild!).

Two reasons West Virginia is known to be ‘wild and wonderful’ are the amount of natural beauty in the state and the amount of wildlife that calls West Virginia home. There are plenty of fields and wide, rolling hills. There are plenty of forests and parks, as well as rivers, streams, and waterfalls, all of which are teeming with life. From mighty oak trees and smallest wildflower orchids to black bears and white tailed deer, West Virginia is full of wonderful things to see and experience.

Here’s my map of some of the best places in West Virginia:

Tilt Shift Photography

In honor of the light-heartedness of Mardi Gras, I thought I’d discuss and share something that is a lot of fun and looks really neat. There is a type of editing that can be done that will make your pictures look like photos of miniature toy models. It’s called tilt shift photography, and it really is a lot of fun.

The most important part of tilt shift photography is to make sure you get the right picture. I have found that the best angle is to be high up, shooting down. You don’t really want an aerial view, but somewhere close to that could work. I have also found that photos of buildings (or anything with really bright colors) works really well too. The bright colors in a photo will look even brighter (and more toy-like) when you increase the saturation, which makes the subject of your photo look more like a miniature model.

Here are a few photos that I tried out using tilt shift photography. Some of it seemed to work pretty well, and others didn’t come out quite right. It’s best to just play around and see what looks good to you.

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It’s also important to have fun with editing and to play around to see what works for you. Here’s a “How-to Guide” for editing your own photos for tilt-shift photography.

West Virginia Photo Op

West Virginia, in my opinion, is one of the best places to be a photographer. There is so much natural beauty here that there is always a place for a photo opportunity. There are plenty of mountains, forests, and rivers so finding wildlife is never a problem. In the spring and summer, there are literally hundreds of different species of wildflowers that bloom. On top of all that there are plenty of places to hike throughout the year to see these kinds of things.

Dolly Sods is definitely one of my favorite places to hike. A hiking trip there can last a day or even a few days. There are plenty of areas to sketch wildlife or to photograph it. In June there are plenty of wild blackberries to eat, but make sure you don’t eat anything unless you know for sure what it is!

West Virginia also has all four seasons, making it ideal for seasonal photography. In the fall, entire mountainsides can turns to various shades of reds, yellows, and oranges. In the winter, it usually snows creating a beautiful, icy landscape. The spring and summer provide a ton of different wildflowers and there are plenty of neat birds that do their spring/summer nesting in WV.

So if you don’t live in West Virginia, definitely take the chance to go see it someday. If you do live in West Virginia, than get out there and enjoy the beauty of ‘The Mountain State.’

Montani semper liberi

So much for a snow storm

Unfortunately, the snow didn’t last. Deep down, I want around 6 ft of snow. I got a pretty nice shot of the snow coming down, and with it, my hopes were soaring. I tried to catch the flakes in motion, and I had some difficulty. For one thing, getting good lighting along with a shutter speed quick enough to catch the snowflakes in motion wasn’t quite possible for me. With the shutter speed moving at a such a quick pace, the camera wasn’t picking up enough light to create an image.

The cool thing about a shutter speed that doesn’t quite move fast is it can create an image that seems to stretch. This can be especially seen with lights, and I’ve seen some pretty cool photos of cars moving on a road with prolonged exposure. The longer exposure made the snowflakes in my photo look like sheets, and I kind of like the way it turned out.

My backyard when it's snowing.

Sadly, this is my backyard the morning after it snowed. The cold snow was no match for the warm sun and grass that desperately wanted to survive.

My backyard the morning after it snowed.

Snow!

So, it finally snowed where a live. It was only a little bit, but it did snow none the less. I think the snow really makes the world look amazing. The way it clings to branches give trees an icy appearance, making even the sturdiest elm tree look fragile. Snow can also make things look alien. A once familiar field can appear as a snowy, unfamiliar tundra when it finally snows.

Snow also brings out some pretty interesting photos of animals. Photos of animals in the snow can range from cutesy to visually stunning. Wolves in particular take great photos in the snow. If can catch birds in the snow, it can be particular stunning. The cardinal looks especially beautiful with his stark, red color against a mostly white background.

So expect some snow pictures to come, especially if we get a lot of snow!

Photography and Technology

There is no real ‘best way’ when it comes to photography. Sure, there are things that work and things that don’t work, but a lot of that depends on the situation as well as the perspective. What does seem to be true, regardless of the situation is that a good mixture of technology and photography can make a good picture great. With the right technology, memorable photographs can be made.

Technology isn’t limited to the camera equipment you have either. Now, not only is a nice camera valuable to taking great photos; you also need some nice editing software and techniques.  A shadow can be made more bold, or it can be faded into the background. Photos once thought ruined can, for the most part, be salvaged to some level of usable degree.

One thing I worry about with all this technology when it comes to photography is whether it is too much or not. Complex pictures are nice, but a simple photo can be great. I worry that with all this new technology, simple pictures may get pushed to the wayside. Photographers trying to push themselves may over do it. Simple pictures may be overlooked to try a more complex picture, say of a sunset. While the sunset is very nice, there are hundreds of sunset pictures. A picture someone takes while hiking on the other hand can be both simple, and just as visually stunning as a sunset.