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Welcome to the Pine River Review. Our sight is dedicated to our little homestead located along the Pine River tucked inside the Chippewa Nature Center's 1400 Acres of wild in Michigan's lower penninsula. We love to share our pictures, video, comment, and our own homespun music. Step inside our world as we celebrate this beautiful nook!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

World Bird Wednesday LVIII


Refrigerator Soup


Let me tell you about a Firehouse custom. These cold mornings at Engine 23, it is my first responsibility to make soup from the left overs of the previous days lunch and dinner before we go out to check for frozen hydrants. It is a long standing tradition, born in the misty past, that the driver of the Engine (me) makes the soup and God knows the firehouse is nothing without tradition. Every morning during hydrant season; the days between October 1st and April 30th we check each fire hydrant in the city for leakage once a month. That involves driving around in the big rig, jumping off and hand dipping each one with a weight strung to the end of a rope. If the string, as it's pulled out, brings with it a splash of water, that hydrant is in danger of freezing solid and must be blown out dry with compressed air down below the frost line. A frozen hydrant wastes precious time in the effort to put the wet stuff on the red stuff. 
   Making soup and checking hydrants are twin rituals, like the steady tick and tock of a grandfather clock. The dependable morning rite starts the steady rhythm of the day, it makes the Firehouse: Home. There is no recipe for refrigerator soup, in the 112 years it has been improvised in Engine 23's big kitchen, never has it been made twice the same. It may start with corned beef, sausage, chicken, fish, veal, ham, pork roast, or it may have no meat base at all. I've seen times when there were no left overs at all, then we'd have a go with a creamy potato and onion probably.
   What so ever survives the night gets chopped up in the morning and put into the soup. Tradition! 






    For awhile we tried to name the soup du jour.  Names like "The Chiefs Out of the Loop Soup" came in moments of inspiration. However; the magic is not in the naming but in the preparation. For me a work day begins with chopped onions and the din of a hundred peculating conversation when sixteen A-type firehouse personalities, all hopped up on black coffee, are pressed around the chopping block as our shifts change. It is not a polite group and many a delicate soul has been diced up and thrown into the boil. There is often a bruised ego in the broth!



   World Bird Wednesday reminds me of refrigerator soup, warm, filling, and invigorating no mater the ingredients. While the fixing's are always different and the proportions at times preposterous, it is the shared experience of making soup that adds subtlety of flavour and aroma, like three bay leaves.
   The firehouse and WBW are as much a cooking school as anything else. You get to taste it all and watch it being made. Secrets are revealed. The traditions of every cuisine meet and melt, they become a part of your personal experience.
   Here in the Detroit Fire Department, the Black guys can cook Chinese, the Hillbillies prepare a mean Mid-eastern, the Asians throw down on soul food, and the Latins can kick out a Polish Wedding in a heart beat. There's no point getting your britches twisted. Superficial expectations diminish and the lines we mistook for boarders become pleasantly blurred because, in the end, we'll all wind up together in tomorrow's soup anyway! 





   This is the home of World Bird Wednesday. A place for bird photographers from around the world to gather and share their photographs and experiences as they pursue Natures most beautiful treasurers, the birds.
   You don't have to be a Bird Watcher or expert photographer to join in, just enjoy sharing what you bring back from your explorations and adventures into nature!

   World Bird Wednesday will be open for posting at 12 noon Tuesday EST North America through midnight on Wednesday.

CLICK THIS PICTURE!






#1. Simply copy the above picture onto your W.B.W. blog entry, it contains a link for your readers to share in the fun. Or, you can copy this link on to your blog page to share WBW. http://pineriverreview.blogspot.com/

#2. Come to The Pine River Review on Tuesday Noon EST North America through Wednesday midnight and submit your blog entry with InLinkz.

#3. Check back in during the course of the next day and explore these excellent photoblogs!


The idea of a meme is that you will visit each others blogs and perhaps leave a comment to encourage your compatriots!

Come on it's your turn!




Tuesday, December 20, 2011

World Bird Wednesday LVII


  A Mark in Time

    What marks the passing of 2011 for you? Perhaps there is a new baby in your family or maybe you've discovered your passion and are ready to begin your life's work in earnest. A year is a convenient measure of time, beginning and ending for us Michiganders in the shivering cold of winter. A single day is a life time in microcosm; it's bookends a long sleep. It is useful to think in such terms, to take an accounting of our experiences and then stack them in orderly rows. I sought to understand the ebb and flow of my life by making a timeline and writing down under each year the noteworthy things that had occurred. At first it was easy. Kindergarten in '58, High School in '71, Heart attack in '07...but then, there were many lost years, like 1996, that stared back vacantly. Once a carpenter friend sought to explain the passage of years to me by stretching out a metal tape measure to 75 inches. "This," He remarked,"represents the average life expectancy of a human being." He went on to ask my age and grasped the ruler at that mark and inch number 75, pinching off a messily 17 inches in the process and letting the rest dangle in a mess on the floor.
"And this is all you've got left."
I am not so tough that I didn't get a cold shiver at this graphic display.




As a bird photographer the passing of a year is measured in photographic moments, those peak experiences when you, nature and your f-stop come together in kumbaya harmony. For this WBW and perhaps the next I'll be poking through the ashes of year 2011's findings to stir the fire and enjoy the warmth again.
  
The arrival of my 400mm Canon 5.6 L lens in the early going of 2011 clearly put its mark on this, my 58th trip around the sun. I took around 30,000 bird shots this year, the vast majority had the 400mm on board. The first Eagle pictures taken with this rig took me completely by surprise, there was more raw power here than I could have ever hoped for. Like a novice magician tapping his wand and garbling the incantations, it was difficult to predict how and when the magic would explode. Who knew taking pictures could capture shaman like views of a hidden world? I was hooked, and with the fervour of the newly converted I went out daily to polish my approach.

   Suzanne and I took a week in Florida where her hard won vacation was turned into a field trip. She was slowly coming to terms with her boyfriend losing his mind to bird photography. My driving had become particularly erratic as I automatically scanned the tree lines for raptors, these near death experiences concerned her, a cracking hawk picture was not something she was willing to give her life for, but for the most part, the people close to me have been amused by, and tolerated my fixation.
   Like they had a choice! 


  
 Has this year made an indelible mark on your life? Were your calm waters stirred? Has your sense of wonder been awakened? Have you lost sleep over the excitement of a new discovery? These are the small things I pray for and wish for you this Holiday Season.
   It is no wonder we mark the winter solstice with a beautiful variety of celebrations across this planet. At the heart of it, all the world's creatures share a common desire for an abundant life. We are all not so lucky.
   Maybe we should all make that call today, surprise an old friend who spends long hours alone, or put a strong arm around someone elses troubles.
   Remember please, this simple advise: You are the blessing, share it.
  That is a mark worth making! 




   This is the home of World Bird Wednesday. A place for bird photographers from around the world to gather and share their photographs and experiences as they pursue Natures most beautiful treasurers, the birds.
   You don't have to be a Bird Watcher or expert photographer to join in, just enjoy sharing what you bring back from your explorations and adventures into nature!

   World Bird Wednesday will be open for posting at 12 noon Tuesday EST North America through midnight on Wednesday.

CLICK THIS PICTURE!

#1. Simply copy the above picture onto your W.B.W. blog entry, it contains a link for your readers to share in the fun. Or, you can copy this link on to your blog page to share WBW. http://pineriverreview.blogspot.com/

#2. Come to The Pine River Review on Tuesday Noon EST North America through Wednesday midnight and submit your blog entry with InLinkz.
#3. Check back in during the course of the next day and explore these excellent photoblogs!

The idea of a meme is that you will visit each others blogs and perhaps leave a comment to encourage your compatriots!


Come on it's your turn!



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

World Bird Wednesday LVI


Close at hand!
I have been sticking close to home this week while our skies have been heavy with thick cloud banks and not much help for bird photography. When a little bit of good light did brake through, it didn't last long, so I keep my camera close at hand and ready to react. There was no shortage of feathery subjects willing to model for the mixed nuts and seeds that stuff the feeders hung in the Maple tree just outside. A picture window is perfectly placed to observe the action. Sliding open the little side windows that frame the big glass makes it possible to take good unobstructed shots while leaning over the back of the living room couch, coffee and computer still close at hand. This is easy living! The light is excellent from this pampered perch all morning when the sun does shines. A little further out on the lawn a cherry tree has been hopping with Cedar-waxwings. When I see them massing high in the poplar or tamarack trees I whip on my coat, sneak outside and hide close by as they swoop down to harvest the cherries. They, along with the chickadees, titmice, cardinals, woodpeckers and jays are my cheerful companions, a reliable antidote to the low light winter blues.
   This has been the extent of my birding adventures this week: My own front yard and couch!




"If we could but paint with the hand what we see with the eye."
                                                                                                                 Honore de Balzac


It's much easier to take pictures in full light and often we will try to push the limits of the available illumination and try to artificially produce a picture that appears well lit even when it wasn't in the first place. Our post processing tools give us a good push in that direction, to make of a thing something it never was. But what of the scene as the eye saw it? Dimly lit and atmospheric. Doesn't that tell it's own story? Of course it does, but the limitations of our cameras to capture such moody, under lit scenes as our eye sees them is difficult to achieve. Our Birds don't always inhabit a brightly lit branch but you would think so given the vast majority of saved images. It really is only a very small part of the story. Birds make their living in the rain and snow and endure the long dark night. There is living detail in the shadows. I am thinking of Rembrandt's Night Watch or Van Gogh's Starry Night. Could we paint such scenes with a camera?


    You get the Idea. When my stretch of days ended at the home front, it was time to turn towards Detroit and fight fires. Wouldn't you know it....the sun blazed for the trip down. After days of thinking about Dutch painters and such matters dreary skies bring to mind, I visited Dow's ponds on the drive out and Bam! Just like that I captured today's header photo of the Common merganser walking on water and a nicely lit eagle maneuver.
    All said and done, it was nice to be back in the sunshine!



This is the home of World Bird Wednesday. A place for bird photographers from around the world to gather and share their photographs and experiences as they pursue Natures most beautiful treasurers, the birds.


You don't have to be a Bird Watcher or expert photographer to join in, just enjoy sharing what you bring back from your explorations and adventures into nature!


World Bird Wednesday will be open for posting at 12 noon Tuesday EST North America through midnight on Wednesday.

CLICK THIS PICTURE!

#1. Simply copy the above picture onto your W.B.W. blog entry, it contains a link for your readers to share in the fun. Or, you can copy this link on to your blog page to share WBW. http://pineriverreview.blogspot.com/


#2. Come to The Pine River Review on Tuesday Noon EST North America through Wednesday midnight and submit your blog entry with InLinkz.

#3. Check back in during the course of the next day and explore these excellent photoblogs!

The idea of a meme is that you will visit each others blogs and perhaps leave a comment to encourage your compatriots!


Come on it's your turn!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

World Bird Wednesday LV


The Zen of Flight Photography


  We started the week with a good dose of snow and so it seems winter's long night has begun in earnest. Cold weather out of the North-West can often mean clear skies with the bright luminescence of a low arching December sun beaming through the trees. This is prime time to try and pull off some small bird-in-flight captures. When ever I see a good song bird flight picture I'll stop and take notice. They are a rare commodity. Getting one by accident is a pipe dream, achieving it with purpose is time consuming and baffling. Many methods have been tried to achieve good results and often successfully so. Consider please photographer/genius √Čtienne-Jules Marey of 19th century France who managed to apply multiple time lapse images of a flying pelican onto a single negative. The quality of this image taken in 1882 still holds up brilliantly some 130 years later. To this purpose Monsieur Marey invented a photographic machine gun that could shoot twelve frames a second. My sophisticated Dslr camera of today shoots only seven. 




    
                 Marey's images pushed the study of anatomical motion light years ahead. His books: La Machine animales/Animal Mechinism and Le Vol des Oiseaux/ The Flight of Birds, was followed by Le Mouvement in 1894, famously illuminating in great detail many mysteries including how a cat always lands on it's feet and that indeed, all four horse's hooves do leave the ground simultaneously at a full gallop.
    Photography and Enlightenment had begun a intriguing relationship.



   If the trick of capturing a Bird in Flight was pulled off so effectively in 1882, then why is this accomplishment still so intoxicating to every bird photographer great and small to this very day? Perhaps it has more to do with the singular experience of taking such a picture than the picture itself.
   Only up to a point, and a very fine point it is, can nature photography be planned in advance. (By the way, is that a tether knotted to Marey's pelican's foot?) When the day begins it is impossible to predict what birds we shall see and know the time of their arrival. We are seekers, open to opportunity. Ours is a reactive pastime, and an impressive level of concentration is required to simply observe, let alone pull off the mechanics involved in photographing our prey. A great shot is always just around the next corner and our reflexes are set to snap it.
   No one, and no technology is fast enough to track a song bird in flight at close quarters. Coupling that limitation with the need for shutter speeds in the vicinity of 1/2000 of a second and a cracker thin depth of focus it's easy to see why folks rehearse their in-flight photog' skills on lazily gliding gulls.
    The advanced practice takes total immersion; a Zen like focus on the Here and Now. That and $2000 worth of camera gear! 



A White-breasted nuthatch in flight. A moment in time.

    My technique involves picking a cubic foot of air near a feeder and shooting picture after picture as the yard birds streak through it. 99.9% of these attempts contain nothing but clear air and are nudged into the waste basket. Out of focus and blurred birds round out the last 1/10 of one percent. As a meditation exercise the student of Zen presses a stick in the sand and in a flash of inspired motion attempts to scratch a single perfect circle, an endless endeavour to momentarily experience perfection. How can anything so inherently frustrating lead to Nirvana? You'll have to ask the Buddha that one. To achieve a bird in flight capture we apply the same demented principle to a camera. The truth is the effort to take these pictures puts you 100% in The Present, the razor thin chasm between the past and future.                                             I don't think the animal kingdom in general devotes much time to such aesthetic pursuits as reaching harmony with the Universe. They don't need to.                        It is Humankind's special delusion to see itself as separate and insulated from Mother Earth like the thermos bottle in your lunch box.
    

A Black-capped chickadee in full bloom.

    Perhaps that lucky strike photo is all the proof we really need that if only for a moment, we too can delve into the kind of transcendent oneness a cat experiences when it lands softly on it's feet after a great fall or view the mystical mastery a bird has over it's wing tips as it manages the million micro maneuvers that sees it safely to it's perch.
   Bottom line: Small bird in flight photography is fun and does require your full awareness. The rare good pictures are Bliss, a souvenir from from a momentary glimpse of heaven!



This is the home of World Bird Wednesday. A place for bird photographers from around the world to gather and share their photographs and experiences as they pursue Natures most beautiful treasurers, the birds.

You don't have to be a Bird Watcher or expert photographer to join in,  just enjoy sharing what you bring back from your explorations and adventures into nature!

World Bird Wednesday will be open for posting at 12 noon Tuesday EST North America through midnight on Wednesday.

CLICK THIS PICTURE!
#1. Simply copy the above picture onto your W.B.W. blog entry, it contains a link for your readers to share in the fun. Or, you can copy this link on to your blog page to share WBW. http://pineriverreview.blogspot.com/


#2. Come to The Pine River Review on Tuesday Noon EST North America through Wednesday midnight and submit your blog entry with InLinkz.


#3. Check back in during the course of the next day and explore these excellent photoblogs!

The idea of a meme is that you will visit each others blogs and perhaps leave a comment to encourage your compatriots!


Come on it's your turn!