Jim's Blog - Posts & Particulars

The Prize -

January 15, 2015

To win is to garner the prize. But what is the prize and what of its meaning? Well for this energetic White Breasted Nuthatch, the little sunflower seed was just what he was hoping to garner on this cold and windy December afternoon. Food, energy, the sustenance of life; yes, survival was what winning the prize was about for him. At that same moment my thoughts of a prize were quite different and not nearly as meaningful. It was late afternoon and I had submitted to using supplemental LED light and a slow shutter speed of 1/60th second at f/6.7. My hope was that I could manage to trip the shutter at the same time he stopped moving. If he stopped moving that is, as these little foragers are constantly on the move. Fortunately he did pause momentarily and I was able to capture a sharp photo during his split second of proudly displaying his trophy for all to see. And that was it; I had my prize as well. Like the Nuthatch and I, the prize takes on a different meaning for each of us. Each day is different with demands and rewards that vary with the conditions and need. Some trophies such as the sunflower seed are indeed important and impactful. Others, like my getting the shot are really just minor and for the most part momentary. Even if a thousand cards are printed and sold of this photo, my accolades would be minor in relation to the importance of that instant in time to this little creature. So it is with each day, the impact we have upon each other and ultimately, the prize.

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Golden Glow

January 13, 2015

It’s kind of amazing how some of the birds adapt readily to someone being in the area while others remain shy and flit away upon the slightest sound or movement. The woodpeckers are a striking example of this behavior. Little Downy’s will land within a foot of me and peck away while the Pileated, Red-bellied and Flickers will skedaddle on a whim. On this day though, Mr. Red-bellied was pretty comfortable being where he was. It was really quite amazing how toasty the little guy appeared as he clung to the tree on this winter’s day. As I framed the shot, I wasn’t quite sure how the photo was going to turn out. The back lighting was pretty intense with the mid-day sun reflecting off the leafless trees. On top of that, the snow-covered ground intensified the glow back towards the shadowed but warmly colored woodpecker. As it turned out, I was able to capture the details and with some post-process dimming of the highlights and lightening of the shadows the little fellow came out looking like the handsome fellow he was.

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Warmer Days -

January 12, 2015

Following a series of below zero Fahrenheit nights and daytime temps that weren’t much higher one can’t help but dream of summer days and water that isn’t frozen solid. Ahhh. Just to wiggle your toes in warm mud.

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Admiring His Work -

January 10, 2015

Whether it’s baking a cake, tilling a field, designing a bridge or nursing the ill, nothing is much more satisfying than a job well done. In this case, Mr. Pileated has pretty well tapped his way through the section above him. Time to sit back and admire.

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The Leaf -

January 8, 2015

This isn’t the first time that I’ve placed this photograph under the spotlight. Still, it seems appropriate to feature the moment again this evening. As was the case today, it was a cold and blustery winter’s day that this leaf settled into a little nook around the corner of our house. Mighty winds had blown a fresh snow about all during the day and yet no other debris remained in sight. Only this single, brown leaf with deep veins and arched curves remained. Simple? Yes. Yet with that lone bit of creation on a sparkling canvas it seemed to deliver a sense of peace and promise that all would be well. It was just another brief moment in time that I was fortunate enough to capture before the gusts and gales sent the leaf on its way; never to be duplicated again.

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Rise to a Glorious Day -

January 6, 2015

On a cold winter morning in Minnesota it can at times be hard to find inspiration to rise and shine. It’s below zero again and you can hear the wind chimes, still hanging from the porch ceiling as they did last summer. But you fill your thermos with freshly brewed coffee, bundle up and step out into the true meaning of crispness. The crunch of each footstep resounds and the impact of each tire tread with the ice packed road echoes across the frozen land. Such was the morning of this winter sunrise scene from last winter when the thin clouds and cold dry air caused one to sit back in awe as the sun shivered over the frosty horizon. No, not every morning greets us with colors this awesome. However, it is a magnificent model of what can sometimes be in wait for us. Every day is a gift no matter what the wrapping paper looks like. Sometimes, the beginning is as plain as a brown cardboard box. The prize is still there; however, it’s a little harder to find.

Sunrises & Sunsets

Rise to a Glorious Day

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Cummin' Round the Bend -

January 5, 2015

Sometimes the direct approach isn’t the quickest and surest way to find what you’re after. As with this handsome Red-bellied Woodpecker, there are those times when you have to circle around and make an alternative approach. While I really liked the composition of this shot, I wondered if I’d be able to get the light settings close enough to recover the detail of both the tree and the stately male's plumage. With the contrasting sun- light and shadows I had to change the settings from what I normally would use and also take a different route. As it turned out, he found what he was after and I was able to capture a keeper shot.

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Snow Coming In -

January 2, 2015

It’s winter in Minnesota. The wetlands are frozen over and snow clouds are blowing in. Yet it is obvious that beauty abounds. With the winter solstice present, the low angle of the sun enhances the contrasting clouds while enriching the forest and grasses below with warm light and long shadows. Tomorrow may be cold and brutal but this is a day to rejoice.

Woods & Wetlands

Snow Coming In

What Will the New Year Bring -

January 1, 2015

What will the year bring? As with this Pileated fellow, the only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know. However, the key is you. It’s each one of us. The contributions we make, the acts of kindness we demonstrate, the compassion we extend and the love that we show may not seem to make a big difference in our lives. But to someone else, it may be the inspiration that leads them to the greatest year they have ever had. It’s your choice. Have a Happy New Year and Great 2015.

Pileated Woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus

What Will The Year Bring?

Autumn at Bow Lake -

December 30, 2014

Life passes by all too quickly. If you’re like me, you’ve put off many things in life. The phrase goes something like, “Maybe in a couple of years we’ll…..” and you add in what it was that you’ve put off for the umpteenth time. Or maybe you’ll say this line that I’ve heard all too many times this past year, “I was going to do that but then life got busy.” Life got busy! When in the world isn’t life busy? So it was that a year ago we made a commitment to check something off the bucket list; the Canadian Rockies. This photograph of Bow Lake and Crowfoot Glacier in Banff National Park captures but one of hundreds of memorable sites and moments from that trip. Was it expensive? Yes, kind of. Was it worth it? Definitely and we managed to get it checked off of our bucket list. However, we really didn’t gain any ground on completing the list. You see, before we even left Calgary, a return trip was determined as a must do. While we were enthralled by the autumn beauty of this area we continuously found ourselves asking each other, “What’s it like here in the spring?” Yes, we will be back. No, it won’t be in the next 3 years as we have other wonders of the world on the list and we want to soak in some of those experiences as well. But we will be back and plan to extend that stay.

Banff National Park

Autumn at Bow Lake

The Stretch -

December 28, 2014

For the Black-capped Chickadee and other small birds, being quick is a great asset for staying out of trouble. However, staying on alert and keeping a keen eye out for danger are the prime talents required for remaining clear of trouble in the first place. This little fellow has learned that it’s best to take one last good look in all directions before partaking in a meal. And that means even if you have to stretch to see over a fallen tree.

Footprints -

December 27, 2014

Most times in life we really don’t know for sure which path to follow, if this is the turn to take or if the high road is safer. The only thing that is certain is that we must move forward. We must move on with our lives. Yes there will undoubtedly be slippery spots or fallen branches to maneuver around. At times, the road may even be washed away. But we must continue to seek our path. We must move on. And when in doubt, reach out. There are others that will walk with you and cast their imprint so that you will not be alone.

Winter Scenes


Brilliance On A Gloomy Day -

December 25, 2014

It's Christmas Day. A day of joy and celebration for many across the world. However, amongst all of this festivity there exists for some an aching heart, hurt, fear, uncertainty and feeling of helplessness. Such is the case right now for a few families I know. You likely are aware of many more. So for those who are sick, the anxious families and the individuals in despair I dedicate today's post. May the vivid and bold colors of this handsome Pileated fellow brighten your day, extend a sense of hope and peace and warm your soul.

Pileated Woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus

Brilliance On A Gloomy Day

A New Approach -

December 21, 2014

Sometimes you have to try a new approach. That was the case with this female Pileated Woodpecker. She'd pretty well cleaned out the decayed tree trunk standing up behind her. She'd peck at the tree, look down at what had fallen out on this log below, and then she'd hammer a few more times. Finally, she came down below and began pecking away at the log and meticulously collected the morsels she had dislodged from above. Made for terrific viewing and a wonderful chance to gather some photographs. Here's one of the captures below.

Autumn Poplars

December 18, 2014

There's a real beauty about roaming the many designated wildlife areas in our state. The autumn season is definitely no exception. Gold and red leaves, white poplar trunks and brown shades of vines and grass present a tapestry of tones and colors that almost anyone will enjoy. It's no wonder the critters find the habitat so welcoming. Still, I would hesitate to guess how many of us just drive on by these secluded treasures each day. Check them out. You'll be surprised how many of these designated lands are close to your home. In the meantime, checkout this and many other examples of seasonal beauty on my website, jim-rook.com . Then just sit back and relax.

Forest & Woodlands

Autumn Poplars

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