Thursday, October 12, 2006

Well the leaves are turning, the gardens are being prepped for winter and of course that also means time to re-vamp the website. A disadvantage to being married to a US military member is the cold hard fact that you move frequently and that can often put the brakes on any career efforts. Luckily, photography is in demand around the world and I get to see it courtesy of Uncle Sam!

Take this example: Many of you know before being stationed in England we were at Lajes Field in the Azores, Portugal. What's there? 10,000 feet of runway and 6 million gallons of jet fuel. So, we got to see a wide variety of military planes come through. Trans-oceanic flights are long and boring so often pilots will bring along "reading material" to help pass the time. A flight of A-10 Warthogs from Alaska stopped in and guess what? I managed to get a photo of it landing with the magazine proudle displayed in the canopy. A couple of e-mails and voila' another tearsheet for the file. Planes from Alaska, magazine from California, photographer in the Azores. Ain't life grand?

So in my our verbose way I'm trying to tell you to 1) look for news about the upcoming web re-design and 2) be ready to see sights that only England (and the travel access it affords) can possess.


Friday, October 06, 2006

The Real Partridge Family

I am constantly amazed at how I can be doing something quite technically amazing (say, utilizing a broadband connection to share a Google Earth .KMZ file with friends and family) and in an instant be observing a wild animal turning the tables on me and observing... ME.

Case in point. This morning I was sitting here at the keyboard hard at work on the latest version of my photography website (OK, OK, I was multi-tasking and playing the My Little Pony game at the same time as Emmalea who whipped the pants off me) when that all-too-familiar bit of movement out of the corner of my eye made me pause. Just outside the office door looking quite intently at us was an honest dozen red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa). All of them for what seemed like forever but was likely only just a couple of seconds. I felt rather violated. Here I am grinding my nubby fingers to the bone pecking at keys and THEY'RE LOOKING AT ME. Insert shiver HERE!

Well, we'll just turn the tables a bit. I knew they would scatter as soon as I moved but I did anyways, slapped on the 300mm lens as well as a 1.4x teleconverter and cranked the ISO up to 800 (digital, what a God-send for adverse light situations) and snapped off a few frames as they bolted across the yard and into the side bed of plants.

Similarly we had a beautiful pheasant cock do the same last night, but at least he was polite and looked away when eye contact was made. Thank goodness I'm not one of those aberrant naked E-bay fanatics. I always keep my socks on. ;-)



Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Demise of a hen harrier

I like birds. That being said, I like some better then others and for reasons which are as diverse as the hues in a 128-count box of crayons. I'm rather fond of chicken (unless its a rooster going off at times other than sunrise, had one of those just outside out bedroom in the Azores) but as you might imagine that has more to do with dinner than anything else. I'm exceedingly fond of raptors.

While in Alaska I had the chance to observe the majestic Bald Eagle on numerous occasions. One particularly grand morning in Homer my son Jordan and I sat among them at close distance and got some incredible images. That was one of those days you talk about years later in hushed voices while sitting around a campfire sipping hot chocolate out of a tin mug that has clanged down many a trail clipped to the outside of your pack.

Today was a raptor encounter of a different sort. Mowing the lawn I noticed something hidden in the uncut grass near the rear of the property. I approached and upon closer inspection found it to be some sort of bird. Couple of pokes with a stick found it to be dead so, being the kind of guy I am, I picked it up to see what it was.

It was warm first off, not dead long at all. Not wounded, malnourished or visibly distressed. Like it just fell out of the sky. Between Jordan and I we determined (as well as we could) that what I had found was likely a female hen harrier (Circus cyaneus). Jordan was hands-on as usual and held it out so I could photograph her. Magnificent. A wonderfully curved beak, massive talons of the most extraordinary yellow and a magical pattern to her feathers. An incredible physical manifestation of God's creation in front of us. Perfectly designed to fly, hunt, eat. Sad that she is no more, I'm grateful for the chance to inspect her close up. So long hen harrier. Soar high.




Welcome to my blog where I will deposit my thoughts about being an American Yank living in Lord Nelson's land: Norfolk shire in England. This won't be a tourist's guide to this part of the United Kingdom, although I will certainly be featuring the sights around us I observe. Moreso it will be a place to record what daily life is like for a stay-at-home Dad in an 18th century farmhouse located in rural Norfolk county. You might also get to hear what it is like to be an American living overseas in these, um... unsettled times.

Sadly, it may also contain the mad rambling thoughts I have while mowing the lawn, maintaining the garden or working hard to refine my photographic skills. Please don't expect any form of political correctness (or political cowardess as I prefer) and I would certainly expect to come across such phrases as "poop" and "fart" as they seem fit. :-)