About Me

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We are known as PaWingers or just The Wingers by our Geocaching friends. When we found our first cache we had to come up with a name to log the find. We came up with this name simply because of residing in Pa. and because one of our many passions is cruising this beautiful country on our Honda Goldwing. Aside from geocaching we are passionate about most anything outdoors including hiking, kayaking, snowmobiling and biking. We are blessed beyond words with a wonderful son and daughter in law. We're also blessed with some terriffic family and friends. We consider ourselves very fortunate due to the fact that after being married over 40 years we still enjoy these things together.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Passing time, waiting and enjoying.

Wildlife photography  has so many parallels to my many years of hunting.  In those years I would sit on watch for hours just watching nature unfold before my eyes.  Harvesting a deer, squirrel or turkey wasn't my major objective in those years and as time evolves that becomes even more evident.  I have vivid memories of sitting there motionless watching a a gray squirrel scampering along with his cheeks stuffed with acorns heading to his winter pantry.  I have spent umpteen hours trying to not move a muscle in hopes of having this Chickadee land on my gun barrel.  And yes, on rare occasions I got my wish.  Sounds like a trivial thing but to me it was a victory.  It meant I had managed to blend into nature and for that moment to that little bird I was a tree or a clump of Laurel.  Recently my wife experienced that same thrill as we sat in our blind waiting hours for the chance of a lifetime, to photograph a cute pair of Albino fawns.

As we sat silently our silence was broken by the loud snort of a protective doe and fawn that nearly ran over our blind.  The two stopped just beyond our blind and gazed at us for long moments at a time.  They knew something wasn't right and something was there.  Perhaps they got wind of my wife's bug spray or they got a glimpse of my white "L"  Canon Telephoto lens protruding out from the access window.  Perhaps even the fiery red sky which was signaling the end of another day had reflected off my lens and gave away our location.  Whatever the reason, she got to experience how cool this was and that made to wait worthwhile.  I snapped a few quick shots of this young fawn before it dashed away along with it's Mom.  And yes, that's where the parallel ended because I got a successful shot but the subject continued on.

As we sat there we watched a butterfly fluttering from flower to flower with no obvious flight pattern other than to land on as many flowers as he could.  At first I took a few shots at 200mm but the distance was too great.  Sometime later this same butterfly made his way toward our blind and came in for a landing on a flower right in front of our blind.  I fired off a few quick shots and was pleased with the results.  Luckily my weapon was a Canon DSLR because there didn't seem to be a whole lot of meat on him anyway.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Waiting for the White moment!

You heard it right, we sat in a blind for nearly two hours waiting for just the "White" moment.  The "White" moment was actually trying to capture good images of two Albino fawns.  We sat in the blind gazing out the small openings but these fancy white fawns weren't cooperating.  Finally we decided that darkness was just around the corner and we decided to climb out and check out further down the field.  Just as Jeanne cleared the blind she spotted the two white fawns running down toward the woods apparently scared by an ATV up on the road.  We decided to climb back in the blind and see if they wouldn't come out in the field again.  Sadly they decided to not cooperate so we called it a night.  Instead of just heading back to the Jeep we opted to head down to the opposite end of the field and that was when lady luck shined upon us.  The two albino fawns were heading to a nearby apple tree under the close watch of their Mommy.  We quickly set up the tripod and fired off a couple dozen images.  The light was low and they were a good distance away but all things considered the pictures turned out pretty decent.  Seeing an albino fawn is quite a thrill but two of them may be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Fast forward a couple months and we're out trying to find the albino fawns once again.  We managed to find them and were delighted to see that they are still together with their mom and reasonably close to where we photographed them in August.  We're pleased to see that they are eating well and growing.  We quickly realized that they are still very skittish and run at the first sight of danger.  Apparently we represented danger.  We did manage to fire off a few quick frames and got a couple decent images.  We will return and try to get better images.  We have another plan and hope it pays off with great images.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Another sign of summer ending.

One thing about living in Pa. you need to accept and embrace the seasons.  When spring is coming the snow begins to melt away and the the migrating birds return to their summer homes.  The coming of summer is welcome by all.  The children anxiously wait for school to end and dream of nights spent in the pool instead of slaving over homework.  After all, who doesn't like summer.  The coming of fall is a season of mixed emotions.  While we absolutely love the sights and smells of autumn we also fully understand that the next season is just around the corner.

The end of summer is the season where the elk have pretty much reached the climax of their antler growth.  The rounded ends of their tines are now more pointed and the soft velvet begins to come off.  While this velvet doesn't look all that tasty to me the elk snack on it at every opportunity.  It's actually loaded with all kinds of healthy nutrients and minerals.  On a recent trip to Winslow Hill we got up close and personal with a nice bull shedding his velvet.  By the way he is already beginning to show signs of aggression and that will escalate as the rut begins.

 This was a nice respectable 5 X 6

 In the image below it's pretty obvious that the velvet has pretty much been stripped away on the one side while the other is pretty much intact.

 Okay, how many more pictures do you need to take before I get some privacy?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mother Nature Shows Her Fury and Strength

Kinzua Bridge was an enormous iron structure that was erected in 1882.  At that time it was the highest railroad bridge in the world.  It stood 301 foot high and spanned 2,053 feet with Kinzua Creek in the valley below.  The original bridge was constructed of wrought iron and in 1900 this was replaced with solid steel to accommodate heavier trains.  Unfortunately they had the right idea of replacing the wrought iron with structural steel but didn't replace the iron anchor bolts.  This turned out to be a fatal mistake for the aging bridge.

Up until 2002 this historic icon of the Pa Wilds carried excursion trains across the Kinzua Valley much to the delight of young and old.  In 2002 an inspection revealed some damage and structural weakness and the bridge was shut down to train traffic.  On a Monday, July 21st 2003, Mother Natured displayed her awesome fury as Kinzua Bridge got hit with an F1 tornado with wind speeds of 71 to 112 miles per hour.  The anchor bolts failed and the tornado made easy work of 11 of the 20 towers leaving a mass of twisted steel and devastation.

Years after the tornado wiped out the bridge there was much controversy as to the future of this bridge.  Would it be rebuilt or would the park simply be closed down and left to be taken over by nature.  It was finally decided to use part of what remained and after making sure it was safe, build an observation deck.  Yesterday, we decided to take advantage of the nice day and blue skies and check it out.

We walked out on the bridge and felt completely safe strolling out to the observation deck.  At this point our confidence turned to apprehension as we cautiously approached the glass panels making up part of the decking.  Our first steps out onto the glass were a bit unnerving but that feeling quickly passed.  It was truly an awesome experience and the project very well done.  Even though we have seen the twisted steel several times from the far bankside overlook, seeing it up close and personal from the observation deck gives you a whole new perspective.  We highly recommend checking this place out for yourself.

Looking down at the twisted steel gives a whole new perspective.

This shot was taken with the lens aiming down through the glass deck.  Note the reflection of the clouds along the fringe of the picture.

Taking advantage of a quiet day on the bridge.

Taking time out to catch a few rays.

There will be many weekends where this just won't be possible due to crowds.  We decided to take advantage of this opportunity.

This shot was taken from the observation deck and shooting toward the parking area.  I liked this shot, hope you do too.

Hope these towers are strong now.  Wonder if they replaced the anchor bolts!!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fooling the Fluttering Fool!

Over the past couple weeks I have spent several relaxing yet frustrating hours trying to capture decent images of the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds in our backyard.  Taking pictures of Hummingbirds can be quite a challenge.  They are flighty little critters and seem to be quite protective when it comes to other Hummingbirds trying to move in on their feeders.  It's actually quite amusing because there are lots of feeders on our back deck but they still are greedy little birds and just don't like sharing.  They will chase each other time after time and as a result nobody gets to eat.  Makes no sense to me!

Hummingbirds are amazing though.  They are amazingly fast in flight.  When I tried to use a flash, they actually out ran my shutter when they saw the bright flash.  I did manage to get some decent pictures in flight without the flash and was able to stop their beating wings.  I was pretty pleased but of course still wanted more pictures.  Today I decided to go for more detail and capture images when they were not in flight.  I set up the camera on my tripod and attached the wireless remote and waited patiently.  They didn't keep me waiting long thankfully.  When I was reviewing the images I was rather surprised at what I saw and it prompted me to learn even more about these little birds that weigh in at an amazing 1/8th of an ounce. 

The male Ruby Throated Hummingbirds have the beautiful iridescent ruby colored throat while the females do not.  Amazingly enough that brilliant ruby throat area can appear very dark colored in certain light.  Look at the pictures and you will see what I mean.  The same bird is shown with and without the brilliant Ruby Throat.  You will also notice a spider web on one of the pictures.  This web extends from the beak down toward the throat.  Sometimes a Hummingbird will feed off insects that are trapped in spider webs.  Did you realize that Hummingbirds have little feet but they can't walk or even hop.  They sleep by clutching a branch and at times will swing downwards upside down and continue to sleep.

These tiny birds made me come to a certain realization today.  I will be selling my 70-200mm f4 and also my 300mm f4 IS and be purchasing a 70-200 f2.8L IS.  To get good pictures of Hummingbirds it a balancing act.  You need a large aperture to get rid of a distracting background.  You need a fast shutter speed to freeze the action.  You also want the lowest ISO for the sharpest image.  I believe the f2.8 will be a great lens and I won't have the overlaps in focal lengths.

Take notice that the Ruby color is not brilliant in the picture

 Okay, I know what you're thinking, this ain't no Hummingbird!  As I shot the many images of Hummingbirds I couldn't help but notice the family of Bluebirds that annually take up residence in our Bluebirds houses.  I took a few minutes to take a so-so image of this pretty male Bluebird.