When the image you hoped for doesn’t materialize

From far above the river I saw this great blue heron standing still on the rocks below. It was right on the river’s edge, waiting patiently for a passing meal. I carefully made my way down over fallen tree limbs and loose rocks. As I got closer I would stop occasionally and make a few photographs. After about five minutes I’d edge myself closer and wait and shoot some more. Then scoot a little closer still. I eventually got myself into a good position about 15 to 20 feet away.

From the moment I first saw the heron I imagined a photo of a good size fish struggling in that stiletto beak. I waited over an hour, sitting uncomfortably on solid rock, hoping for the bird to snag a catfish or bass from the water. There were several attempts, yet each came up empty. From my perch above I could see the occasional shadow of a fish swim by, but the heron either didn’t see it or it was too far out of reach to even try.

At one point another heron landed nearby. It was apparently just a little too close for comfort and this one chased it off. Then as it made its way back to its fishing spot I made this shot. Ultimately, other obligations made it impossible to stay any longer so I never got the fish-in-beak shot. But I’ll be back. And so will the herons. I’ll get the shot. Just going to take some patience.

Great blue heron at the potomac river near great falls, Virginia.

Sometimes the image you hoped for doesn’t materialize.
But that shouldn’t mean you come away with nothing.



Civil War at the C&O Canal

This past weekend I met a group of Civil War re-enactors at the Canal. After talking to the men honoring the 7th Pennsylvania Reserves from 1861 I learned a good deal about what drives some to go into Living History representations. Very thoughtful fellows. Hope you enjoy:

What First Amendment?

United States Park Police, Mounted Division. Washington DC. (Judge Mark Kearney's Ruling.)

United States Park Police, Mounted Division. Washington DC.

U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has ruled that there is no First Amendment protection for recording or photographing police officers unless you are clearly protesting their actions. Weird, I know. But here are his own words:

– We find there is no First Amendment right under our governing law to observe and record police officers absent some other expressive conduct.

– Fields and Geraci essentially concede they spoke no words or conduct expressing criticism of the police before or during their image capture. They instead want to persuade us “observing” and “recording” police activity is expressive conduct entitled to First Amendment protection as a matter of law. In their view, observing is a component of “criticizing” and citizens may engage in speech critical of the government. We find no controlling authority compelling this broad a reading of First Amendment precedent. 

This Judge thinks observing and recording police is against the law!

This means if you wanted to, say, take that groovy new camera you got for Xmas down to The National Mall and make a video–accompanied by stills–of your hometown for your YouTube friends and followers, and you wanted to include everything you think that makes up the fabric of your DC life experience: museums, Memorials, restaurants, galleries, parks, tourists, cityscapes and yes even police officers, Capitol Hill Police, Park Police riding by on horseback… you know, just observing the daily life of your city… this judge thinks you are not protected by the First Amendment! He thinks it would be OK for the police to arrest you and fine you for the innocuous act of taking their picture or making a video that happens to have them in it.

Is this a great country or what?

Here is the ruling in full. You should read it.


Antietam Battlefield, Dunker Church

Civil War Re-enactor just awakened, in his night cap.

Behind him is the Dunker Church. Antietam Battlefield. Site of the bloodiest day in American history. Some 23,000 men were killed wounded or missing after just twelve hours of fighting. General McClellan’s troops outlasted General Lee’s. As they rested for what could have been the final crushing blow, Lee took his army back over the Potomac in retreat. And so the Great Civil War lasted another two and a half years. McClellan was soon relieved of his command by Lincoln.

This kindly fellow is a secessionist re-enactor. Eager to chat, he regaled me with facts and figures of the battle, peppered with much praise for anything and anyone of the South and much derision of anything and anyone of the North. Funny, that.

Civil War Re-enactor.

Early morning sun. Re-enactor, Dunker Church behind him.


Potomac River Gorge. The Book is Here!

I’m very proud to present, after many years of documentation and exploration, the Potomac River Gorge book. A real, actual, physical book to sit comfortably on your couch with while gently paging through the imagery of one of the gems of our National Park Service.

You can click on the link below to see a preview. Then click on the second link to go to the Blurb Bookstore and pick one up for yourself… or for someone you love. Or both!

Many thanks and have a happy holiday season!


Keep The Parks Open !

According to the National Parks Conservation Association, if congress and the President fail to come to an agreement by January more than 200 million dollars will be cut from an already deflated NPS budget. This will mean various closures throughout the system. It will mean layoffs and work stoppages. As many as 9,000 Rangers could be let go. Park hours will be cut and some parks will be shut completely. The Parks budget today is 15% less than it was ten years ago. Cutting it drastically further would have devastating impacts on the entire system. Not to mention on the millions who love and visit regularly these national treasures.

Please take some time and call your congressional representatives and Senators… or at least visit the NPCA website and sign their petition. You can find it here: Take Action

A bull elk on a snowy morning in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

A bull elk on a snowy morning in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Washington DC from A Cessna 172

It’s not a view many people get to see nowadays and it requires a great deal of paper work, patience and luck. But when it all comes together, it is still way cool to fly over Washington DC.

This is the view looking west at the National Mall and the various museums and galleries. Capitol Building, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Memorial are easy to make out. Supreme Court, Native American Museum are visible. And that big group of red roof buildings on the right? That’s Federal Triangle, part of the Pennsylvania Ave. National Historical Site.

Love this city!


Downtown Washington DC aerial view. Looking west.