Monday, October 19, 2009

Each time I make a photograph...

Little Green Heron & Dragonfly
Wiggins Pass, Florida
October 2009

"Each time I make a photograph I celebrate the life I love and the beauty I know and the happiness I have experienced."
---Ruth Bernhard

Winter arrived with a bang yesterday morning. Temperatures plummeted from the 70's at dawn to the 50's, and the wind soaked up all the humidity in the air and took it somewhere else. Had the record-breaking cool weather not arrived, I was banking on a trip I'm making next week to photograph a house in Greenville, SC for a client (and try to find some fall foliage in the Smokies!). The sludge-filled air of summer grows old by October. A big change gives us all something new to talk about.

Even the birds seemed to sense it. They've been arriving in little waves, much like their human counterparts from the north. It's good to see them all again, and chase them around on oyster bars and through mangrove islands. It's a good life, living on the sandbar, being part of the seasonal waves of life.

The first Side Street Artists show of the season on November 21 is sold out! Many of last year's artists are returning, and we'll all welcome the new ones joining us. Please come visit us. You won't be disappointed!

Nikon D2x, Nikkor 80-400 VR, floating in the kayak

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Quantum Navigation

Black-bellied Plover
Wiggins Pass, FL

"If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been much of a day."
--John Archibald Wheeler, theoretical physicist, originator of the terms "black hole" and "wormhole"

I've been (trying to) read a book that dances in and out of quantum theory. I'm not sure I'm grasping all of it - much of it is still unknown, or hypothesized, after all - but the subject, when you pare away most of the language I stumble over, is really quite fascinating, as is the history of one of its founders, Max Planck. Indivisibility, duality, the Uncertainty Principle, misbehaving electrons! Tiny does not always mean simple.

In a strange twist of tonight's research, I stumbled across an article about birds and quantum theory: Wired Magazine's "Reverse-Engineering the Quantum Compass of Birds". First hypothesized in 1978, scientists are getting pretty darned close to understanding the "cellular navigation tools" that birds use with greater accuracy than our own GPS units to fly great migratory distances. According to this article, it's all about "superoxide, an oxygen molecule that may combine with light-sensitive proteins to form an in-eye compass, allowing birds to see Earth’s magnetic field".

Biophysicist Klaus Schulten of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a pioneer in avian magnetoreception, is a guy who apparently has a fascination for winged friends that far surpasses my own. I mean, really, the guy has been working on this model for 30+ years. That's real patience and love, folks.

From the Wired articles: "According to this model, when a photon hits the compass, entangled electrons are scattered to different parts of the molecule. Variations in Earth’s magnetic field cause them to spin in different ways, each of which leaves the compass in a slightly different chemical state. The state alters the flow of cellular signals through a bird’s visual pathways, ultimately resulting in a perception of magnetism."

Sheesh, who's the evolved species now?

Oh, and if that wasn't strange enough for you, here's a black-bellied plover tidbit: this guy is the only American plover with a hind toe on it's foot.

GPS in its eye and a hind toe. Somedays, I just feel humbled.

Nikon D2x, Nikkor 80-400 VR

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Love What You Do...

Sandwich Tern
Wiggins Pass - Naples, FL

"Do what you love, love what you do, leave the world a better place and don't pick your nose."
--Jeff Mallett

September was a long month. I had eye surgery early in the month to repair a glitched cataract surgery. For anyone, but maybe especially photographers who are right eye dependent with their cameras, any surgery on your "shootin' eye" is scary business. I spent August doing my research, finding the best doctor (he operated on Tom Clancy, for goodness sake, and gave him his sight back) at the best eye hospital (Bascom Palmer, Number 1 in the nation, right across the state from me!). I opened my eyes the day after the surgery and it was magic. I had the best vision I'd ever experienced in my life.

Those who know me well know I'm not especially flush with patience, although I'm getting better as time goes on. So, really, all things considered, I did good. No driving. No computer. Rest the eye. On the 4th day, I was able to drive myself back over for my first post-op check. Passed with flying colors. Drove home. Eye was a little tired, but life was grand.

And then, on the 5th day, I woke up and couldn't see. I'm serious. Things weren't black, but they were gray and muddy and it was like looking through a gallon of vaseline. A friend drove me back over. Some mention of rogue cells and such. A change in meds, come back in a few days. Days pass. Things worsen. I get yet another ride back over (one can never be thankful enough for friends) and they take me immediately into surgery. Silly rogue cells had been doing the guppy procreation dance under the incision and were invading the inner depths of my cornea. My own body was sending cells into areas where they were not wanted, and for the ten minutes it took to warm up the surgical equipment, I sat there, thinking about all my options. I decided that this is a wonderful argument for never having surgery on both eyes simultaneously. There was nothing to do but believe it was going to be fine.

I emerged from surgery grateful for skilled hands, and spent the next ten days doing the long re-recuperation, so unlike the first surgery. Stay away from the computer. Stay away from the camera. Don't even dream of the kayak or salt water. No bright sunlight. And worst of all, do not drive. The cat and I became real good friends.

I'm back to driving now - it's October, after all - and seeing pretty darned well, although it's still healing and not quite back to that perfect vision I so briefly had. I've recently been back in the kayak and best of all, I've picked the camera up once again. The first time I looked through it, I wondered what things would look like. They looked pretty darned good. In fact, I don't know that things have ever looked quite so good through the viewfinder before. I can *see*! It made me smile. It made me say that little silent "thank you" for all things that turn out good and sweet.

Do what you love, and do it with love. Believe. It just makes the world a better place.

Nikon D2x, Nikkor 80-400 VR