Eyes of the tiger – resting in his den and watching visitors at the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Tampa Florida.
Neither place is intended to be a good photo-op (lots of fences and obstructions) – you have to be lucky to get a good image. The geometry and light in the scene above worked well, but it’s the only animal photo I made that day that I like.
Volunteer caring for residents at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary
So why am I writing about these if they’re not good photo ops? This is supposed to be a blog about photo ops, right? Well, we met several volunteers at each place and learned a great deal from them about wildlife in captivity. If you care about wildlife then there are things about captives that you should know.
Seeing wild animals such as whales in their natural habitat is exciting and inspiring. Seeing them in captivity, knowing some of the background on how they’re captured, bred, and kept is depressing. The tiger in the photo above was well cared for and kept in nicer conditions than many others. Although sometimes big cats can be returned to the wild, this tiger will never be released. Wouldn’t it be better if they’d never been captured at all? Places like the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary and the Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary are doing their best to care for large, wild animals that can’t be returned to the wild. But there are so many of these animals that they’ll never be able to keep up.
I know you don’t come to this site for editorials and commentary, but thanks anyway for stopping by and reading this. And if you care about this subject, you should click on the links in this post to learn more.
The human capacity for evil, ugly, cruelty is overwhelming if contemplated in isolation. To stay sane and somewhat unafraid, we must consider it in concert with our greater capacity for good, kindness, and beauty. Of all the events from this day 10 years ago, we should remember the uncounted acts of heroism, bravery, and kindness. On the other hand, our enemies should remember how we overcame that evil and that no matter how long it takes, we will bring them to justice.
Once again we pause to reflect and thank all those that serve or have served our country and helped keep us free. Please know that we appreciate your service and can never thank you enough.
The Flag of the United States of America, flying at the Fort Matanzas National Monument, near St. Augustine, Florida.
Many in our family have served in the military.
Lynn’s Grandfather, Harold Christensen was a Navy pilot in the second World War. As an electrical engineer I enjoyed hearing him talk about working on the top secret team that developed radar for use on aircraft. Lynn’s father, Doug was also in the Navy. He was stationed in Pensacola after WW II. Both Lynn’s Grandfather and father been gone for some time. We miss them.
My Mother’s brother, uncle Jack was in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. He never said much about his time in the service and passed away a year or two ago. We miss him too.
My Dad and his brother were both young men during World War II and both were in the Army. My Dad started high school just as WW II broke out and he enlisted as soon as he could. After basic training in Florida and some additional training as an intelligence recon scout, he shipped out to Europe. By that time, the war had ended and he was stationed in Furth, Germany – just outside Nuremberg as part of the occupation. He was there during the time of the Nuremberg trials. Dad had several stories he used to tell about his time in the Army. Most were quite fun, although I never heard him talk about the trials. I’m not sure if all his experience was happy, but those were the only ones he shared with us. He passed away quite a while ago, and of course we’ll always remember him.
I didn’t know much about my uncle’s service until we visited him just after Christmas last year and I asked about it. Msgr. Edward V. Rosack (we called him Fr. Ed) also joined the Army Signal Corps after he graduated from high school during WW II. He was older than my father and served in the Pacific Theater of Operations for about two years. His tour of duty took him to the Hawaiian Islands, Marshall Islands, (Einewetok, Kwajalein, the Palau Island (Angaur), Mariana Island (Saipan), Ryukyu Island (Okinawa), Korea (In chon) and Yokohama, Japan. As a member of the 3922nd Signal Service Company of the 3117th Signal Service Battalion, his outfit was awarded the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon with one bronze star (Angaur, Palau Islands). Watching Ken Burns “Pacific” mini-series recently brought home what a great sacrifice and profound experience it must have been for him and everyone else in those battles. I can only imagine the hardships and horror that he and others endured. I wonder if that is at least partly what drove him to become a man of peace for the rest of his life. Sadly, Fr. Ed passed away in March of this year, not long after we visited him. We’ll always remember him too.
I’m going to depart from my usual practice of one subject per post and include three different ones in today’s entry.
Photos and information on a visit to Gatorland, yesterday.
An update on this blog after three years of publication
A political comment
Feel free to read the portion you’re interested in, or indulge me and look at all three.
1. Gatorland May Day Update
If you haven’t yet visited Gatorland this year, now is still a great time. Yesterday morning, I decided to drive down there to see how the rookery is progressing through nesting season. We’ve had a cold winter in Florida and as a result, the birds are about a month behind the normal schedule. The last time I visited (in March), it was mostly the great egrets building nests, courting, and sitting on eggs. Yesterday the Great Egrets were still very active (many with large chicks), but there are also Cattle Egrets, Tri-Colored Herons, Anhingas, and Cormorants all very actively fulfilling the purpose of life.
By the way, have you looked lately at the Gatorland blog that Mike Godwin writes ? He’s posted a report on the current nesting activity (sorry – no longer available), with a lot of detail and photos. There’s also an active Gatorland Flickr group and looking at the photos posted there on any given day can give you a real good idea of what’s going on.
Here’s some of what I saw yesterday:
Pair of Great Egret chicks in nest: You can get an idea of how far along the Great Egrets are by the size of this cute pair.
Cattle Egret: This one was hiding in the brush, but still posing. The Cattle Egrets seem to be just getting started with a lot of nest-building going on.
Mother Cormorant with just hatched chicks: Not a great photo, but you can see the chicks beside the very protective mother. Their eyes were not yet open and there was another un-hatched egg in the nest, so they had to be only hours old.
Common Moorhen Chick: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a moorhen chick before, but I have to admit I haven’t been paying that much attention to this species. They’re very common in the area.
Wood Storks and chicks on nests: Mike Godwin is a great host at Gatorland. He made sure we knew where these nests were so we could photograph them. There were two right next to each other and they were very crowded and active.
You can click on any of the photos above to view them on Flickr. You can also take a look at my Gatorland set on Flickr for some other photos from yesterday (the last nine in the set) as well as from previous visits.
2. Happy Birthday, Blog!
My first post was on the 4th of May, 2007, so it will be three years old on Tuesday. Not a long time in absolute terms, but more than a lifetime for some in “internet years”.
The blog has morphed a bit since then. Originally it was just a place to share my photos, photo experiences, and talk about photo related ideas. I still do that, but I’ve added a theme around all of this: I try to find interesting places around here to make photographs and then post blog entries including links to information about the places as well as some hints on what’s there and how to photograph it. My hope is that this will be interesting to photo enthusiasts visiting the area as well as people who live here. I know I’ve looked for similar blogs when I travel.
With this one, there are a total of 89 posts so far which is an average of about two per month, although lately I’ve been doing pretty well keeping up with my goal of one post each week. Of these, 45 are tagged “CFL Photo ops”, about photo opportunities in the area.
As near as I can tell from my server logs (and disregarding spam and robots), I seem to modestly successful – at least some people are reading what I write. If I’m interpreting the CyStats log correctly, I have over 100 RSS subscribers, and about 10 – 30 visitors on average each day. They are from multiple countries, which is really nice. The most visitors I’ve had in a single day was close to 200 early this year after Jim Goldstein posted his “best photos of 2009” entry on his blog. Thanks, Jim! The most viewed page is the main page, with the My Favorite Photos of 2009 post coming in second.
The most used browser, by a slim margin is Internet Explorer (~51%), followed by Mozilla, Firefox, Safari, etc. Many people still use IE version 6.0. If that’s you – update! Modern browsers are much more capable and secure.
Recent, frequent external search terms include things like: “focus bracketing”, “gatorland photographers”, “central florida photos”, “orlando bird photography”, “alligator farm orlando”, “orlando photo ops”, “photographing birds in central flordia”, “good area to photograph fl”, “central florida places to photo”, “wildflower photography in florida”, “photographing birds in central florida”, “photographing wildlife in central florida”, and “ed rosack”. I’m pleased that people are finding my blog with those search terms.
Of course, I’m my most loyal reader. I’ve enjoy writing it, but I also really enjoy going back and reading it and looking at the photos. I guess it really is a blog in the sense of a personal journal.
And what’s up with all the weird spam comments? Do they really think I’ll let those through? Would anybody? Why do they keep sending them?
I don’t really have any plans to change the blog going forward. However, I’d really like to figure out how to encourage more genuine comment and interaction. And, I’m always open to your ideas and suggestions. Especially for places around here to visit!
3. Warning – Politics Ahead
Caution – I apologize, but this paragraph is political. It does relate to photography and nature in general. Read at your own risk.
As I wrote down the words in topic one above about witnessing nature in all its glory, I couldn’t help but think a great deal about the gulf coast shoreline and what is beginning to happen there to countless birds, their chicks, and other wildlife from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The impact on people who are continuing to recover from hurricane Katrina will be an additional nightmare still to come. And the news this morning reports that it will eventually reach the east coast of Florida too as the Gulf Stream current spreads the spill.
The scope of this disaster is unprecedented – and it was a remote possibility. We can’t jump to conclusions yet, but complacency and the bottom line during the design of this oil drilling rig sure do seem to be causing great damage. I wonder how many of the decisions that were made in the design were probably financial in nature and not based on the worst case outcome, which by the way is occurring? The platform was either not designed or not built to preclude or handle it.
I also wonder if there are engineering memos or PowerPoint slides somewhere warning of this type of consequence if the design went forward as planned? I wonder how many fail safes in the well shut off valve didn’t fail safe and instead just failed due to shoddy workmanship or poor design? I wonder how the engineers that designed, built, and tested the equipment on that well feel today? I wonder how their management can sleep at night? I wonder how long British Petroleum will take to bring the well leak under control? And I wonder how they will ever undo the damage they’ve done.
So far there are no answers, only questions. And thousands of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico every hour of every day.
On this day I would like to thank all of our active duty military and and all veterans who have served in our Armed Forces.
You chose to answer the call. Your commitment to freedom and your courage and sacrifices have brought the blessings of liberty to the people of the United States of America. Most of the world will never know liberty and freedom like we know it.
It may not be possible for our gratitude to match the enormity of your gifts to us. We are grateful that you stand between us and those who would do us harm. We appreciate you giving our children a hopeful future. And we pay tribute to those who offered their lives in defense of our freedom.
A view of San Francisco National Cemetery located in the Presidio, on Christmas Day, 2005 in the rain. Minolta Dimage 7Hi @ ISO 100, 28mm eq., f/4.5, 1/45 sec.
March 11, 2015 update: Please see this page for an updated disclosure statement.
We interrupt our regular programming for a statement from the owner with regard to the Federal Trade Commission’s pending new guidelines concerning bloggers, endorsements, advertisements, and acceptance of compensation for opinions posted on blogs.
I would like to make the following public disclosure of my policies concerning this blog:
The opinions, beliefs, findings, or experience stated on this blog are my own, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
I accept no compensation of any kind in exchange for any of my work on this blog.
I do not advertise or accept advertising of any kind. If you see advertising in association with this blog, it was placed without my permission.
Products, places, and services that I mention or review on this blog have been paid for by me at my own expense and not provided for review by anyone else.
I do not identify myself before I review a product place or service – reviews are anonymous.
I do not convey that my experiences are representative of what you will experience, only that they are what I experienced – your mileage may vary.
I’m sorry that it is even necessary to say this.
We now return you to our (somewhat) regulary scheduled programming.
On this Memorial Day, 2008, I would like to thank each veteran who has answered our call to defend our country.
I had a few hours off one afternoon during a recent business trip up to Rockville, Maryland so I grabbed my Canon G9 and took the subway into downtown Washington DC. It was just a quick stroll — my main photo hint for this is to take a lot more time and a lot more pictures.
The World War II memorial is new since I was there last (many years ago). This is a photo of the Florida section.
The Vietnam Memorial always affects me deeply each time I see it. The gifts and tokens placed at the wall by loved ones of our fallen veterans, even after so many years is profoundly moving.
The suicide rate of veterans is at least three times the national suicide rate. In 2005, the suicide rate for veterans 18 to 24 years old was three to four times higher than non-veterans.
About 154,000 veterans nationwide are homeless on any given night. One-fourth of the homeless population is veterans.
There are more homeless Vietnam veterans than the number of soldiers who were killed during that war.
It takes at least 5.5 years, on average, to resolve a benefit claim with the Veteran’s Administration.
More than 600,000 unresolved claims are backlogged with the Veteran’s Administration.
Approximately 18.5 percent of service members who have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq currently have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or depression.
19.5 percent of these veterans report experiencing traumatic brain injury.
Roughly half of those who need treatment seek it, but only slightly more than half of those who receive treatment receive at least minimally adequate care, according to an April 2008 Rand Report.
As a citizen and a voter, I am ashamed of these numbers. Taking care of those that protect our country is a fundamental obligation of government. Each and every one of us should demand that our elected officials honor commitments we have made to veterans who have honored us with their service. Until we do so, Memorial Day seems a shallow honor at best.