Tag Archives: Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

A Stormy Day At Cross Trails Pond

Stormy Cross Trails Pond

I’m up early because the inside of my cheek is killing me. I had a back molar implant put in this past Wednesday and my cheek got the brunt of some burring work on the cap and the upper back molar. Bleah. So, I can’t sleep. I’ll take an aspirin after I have something for breakfast later. Whenever I can’t sleep, I get up, turn on the laptop, and work on photos. I’m still (and will be for months, I’m sure) cleaning up my photo website and I happened upon this image in my Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge gallery. It was an awesome morning on that June day. Sometimes, going to the refuge was a hit or miss prospect. I either saw lots of birdlife, like here, or no birdlife. On this stormy morning, not only were there large numbers of egrets and spoon bills, but the clouds were awesomely dramatic. Out of all the images I took at the refuge, this photo numbers as one of my favorites.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved

 

 

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Filed under birds, Brazoria NWR, nature, Photography, Seasons, summer, Texas, Wildlife Refuge

It’s Almost Year End

It is.  It’s almost the end of 2015 and I, for one, am ready for it to be done with.  Except for my boob job in January, it’s been a pretty shitty year I’ll admit.

N6A0653_Becky and Her Baby

My 89-year old mother became ill in early February and subsequently died on the 19th, one day prior to my elder sister’s birthday.  We can’t thank our lucky stars enough that we were both there to care for Mom at the end of it all.   From then on, life and work went to hell in a handbasket.  I’d break into tears every time I thought of Mom or thought of (or heard or saw) something that reminded me of Mom, My sister and I constantly second-guessed ourselves concerning Mom (woulda, coulda, shoulda).  I found myself working for a horrible boss who made my work life miserable.  I was not in the least interested in photography.  And my entire life revolved around being Executrix of Mom’s estate.

Poor Mom.  She thought she was leaving my sister and me with a nice little nest egg of her savings.  As it was, my sister and I spent every single penny of that nest-egg savings getting Mom’s house up to snuff so we could finally put it on the market; fingers crossed that this sale goes through smoothly so we can be done with it.  These upgrades included a total re-grade and re-sod of the entire front, back and side yards around the house (including the addition of what they call “French drains” to get the standing water to drain into the ditches around the house thanks to the horrid spring thunderstorms Texas constantly experienced all April and May); installation of more foundation pillars in the hallway; patching and repainting the cracks in the walls caused by the foundation work as well as the house’s normal settling issues here in southeast Texas; re-carpeting the hallway, one bedroom and the large den; getting the electrical issues worked out; installing a new roof to replace the one damaged by a freak April hailstorm; fixing the garage door, removing all of the high-tech hurricane storm shutters; and a number of other smaller issues  – all required by the home inspector’s and the structural engineer’s report and the current realtor’s suggestions to make the house more – well – salable.  This work has all taken two months shy of a year since Mom’s death.  It’s been an albatross around my neck and I can’t thank my sister’s husband enough for all of his help – his 30 years in the construction business has enabled me to keep from going mad and throttling most of the people and businesses within this horrid little Podunk Texas town in which I currently reside.  My experience this year has lead me to believe that there is absolutely no business here in this town that is totally trustworthy.  At least, not when it comes to dealing with a divorced, middle-aged woman such as myself.  Fuck ‘em all, I say.

As you can probably tell by now, this entire experience has given birth to the New Me:  Angry White Woman.

I don’t take shit off of anybody anymore and I’m far more vocal about my feelings, opinions and beliefs (this includes my political and non-religious leanings, much to many of my Facebook friends’ annoyance).  I have discovered I am also far more willing to stick my neck out at work and push back to the dirty politics I experience on behalf of myself and my friends who either cannot or will not push back themselves (it’s easier for me to do it since I’m close to early retirement and I don’t have a family for whom I must provide – this allows me to follow the courage of my convictions).

It’s taken me 54 years, and I’m absolutely certain Mom’s death was the catalyst to make me realize what is truly important in my life.  Hint:  it aint work.  Work is not my life and never has been – it just pays the bills, pays for my camera equipment and allows me to travel.  No, what is really important – to me – is family and people who love me.

Thanksgiving Dinner

I no longer have family here in Texas.  They all live out in the Pacific Northwest, and sooner rather than later, that is where I will move.  I am making my plans little by little.  I don’t want to grow old and spend my remaining days alone in a Texas nursing home, waiting to die, far away from people I love and who love me.  Besides that, I’ve never been a huge fan of Texas and am ready for the next adventure further west where the mountains and my family live.

I’m also trying to regain my photo mojo.  I’ve done a few small photo projects this year, including:

Storm Front On The Refuge

Portrait Of A Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night HeronAnoleSpiny Backed Orb Weaver

Using my new 11-24mm, 100mm macro, and 500mm prime lenses at Brazos Bend State Park, Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, and around my home and my mother’s home;

Jupiters Eye On The HelldiverWaiting For SunriseThe Rising Sun 2The Rising SunKnife Edge Fly ByAleutian P40K WarhawkGrumman TBF AvengerJapanese FighterTexas Raiders Taking Off

Spending a wonderful sunrise photo shoot as well as an entire day in the photo pit at the 2015 Wings Over Houston Airshow;

Pirate Spooks On Stage

Reaching Across The Stage For A Toast

Dessert At The Kings Feast

Preparing To Serve The Beef

Feast Staff 2015

Halloween Becky In The POW Pub

Pirate Spooks

A Witch And A Zombie

Performing my duties as staff photographer for The Merchant Prince and capturing images for his use out at the 2015 Texas Renaissance Festival;

A Crown For A Princess

Photographing my newest great niece whom I have never met until last year (for only 20 minutes before getting to the airport) and who is now almost 3 years old;

_83Q5951_83Q5973_83Q6720

And photographing my company’s annual gingerbread decorating event.

I haven’t really taken any photo holiday because almost all of my annual vacation days were spent caring for Mom and thereafter taking care of the estate.  I did take a short trip to visit my sister and her family in eastern Washington over Labor Day, spent a weekend in Santa Fe NM during the Memorial Day holiday, and visited my sister and her family, again, during Thanksgiving.

My main vacation is coming up and I hope it will be the jump start to much more photography in 2016:  I’m going to be spending 10 days in Europe (including Christmas and New Year):  8 days in London and 2 days in Paris.  Everything is paid for, I printed out all of my tickets, and I am all packed, including my camera backpack:

  • Canon 5DS body
  • Canon 5DS-R body
  • Canon 1DX body
  • Canon 11-24mm lens
  • Canon 24-105mm IS lens
  • Canon 24-70mm IS lens
  • Tripod, a gazillion memory cards, a small Canon flash, a couple of wireless shutter releases, and lots of extra, fully-charged batteries

I’m not taking my 70-200mm lens because it’s heavy and my backpack is already heavy enough (plus I’m taking two suitcases as well as my laptop bag with travel laptop, mouse, memory card readers, 2 external hard drives – 1 TB each, iPhone, iPad, book, and folder with all of my ticket information for the various venues I will attend).  I can only take so much – don’t even ask me what I’ve packed in the suitcases (grin).

I apologize for not publishing more blog posts.  I know one is supposed to do that to keep readership and to keep one’s writing skills in tip-top shape.  I’ll get back into the groove, I promise.  I’ll have free WiFi in my London and Paris hotels, so I know I’ll be editing photos and writing about my experiences, uploading to both my Facebook photography page as well as my Twitter account.  I may even publish a post while there.  For now, stay tuned to forthcoming imagery from my 2015 trip, as well as the trips I have planned for 2016.  I plan on making up for lost time.

N6A3701_Seahawks Becky Cap

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Filed under 1DX, 5DS, Attitude, Aviation, birds, Brazoria NWR, Brazos Bend State Park, Canon, Canon 11-24mm, Canon Lens, Equipment, Landscape, Life, macro, nature, Photography, Texas, wildlife, Wildlife Refuge

Storm Front On The Refuge With A Canon 5DS and 11-24mm Lens

Storm Front On The Refuge

I understand why storm chasers like chasing storms.

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Filed under 5DS, Canon, Canon 11-24mm, Canon Lens, Equipment

Webs

Spider And Web

Whenever I feel restless and in need of some photographic therapy, I head out to the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, a little less than 20 miles from my home in southeast Texas.

This past Saturday morning, I headed out that way with the intention of getting to my favorite spot in the refuge to capture some scenery shots with the ground-hugging mist floating above the landscape.

As I drove along the refuge road, I noticed all these spider webs sparkling in the morning sunlight.

Sunlit Webs

Strung Up

Web

Naturally, I had to stop.

Of course, this meant by the time I arrived at my favorite spot, all the mist was gone.

Web

That’s ok.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Note:  capturing images of dew-dappled silken strands strung across the air from one tree/fence post / plant stem to another is a bit of a challenge with a telephoto lens.  The lens simply doesn’t want to autofocus on something that ephemeral, choosing instead to either focus beyond the web, or not at all.  I probably should have used the manual focus except my eyes just don’t focus as well as they used to and manual focus on anything other than infinity is a chore.

For the images above, the ISO ranged from 400 – 500, shutter speed ranged from 1/125 – 1/320, f-stop ranged from 5.6 – 7.1 and the focal length was 400mm.

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Filed under Brazoria NWR, nature, Photography, telephoto lens, Texas, Wildlife Refuge

Common Sunflower

Common Sunflower

As usual on a weekend, I find myself restless and wanting to get out with the camera rather than tackle the chores that need to be done at home. Outside was rain and thunder, and I thought – even though it was 1:00PM and not a prime photography time – I’d take the short drive to Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. Mind you, I already knew that I wouldn’t be getting any stellar bird images with my 70-200mm, and I couldn’t be assured of any dramatic clouds. Nonetheless, I gathered the gear together and headed out the door.

What I *did* manage to find were flowers I either had not previously seen, or simply didn’t feel like photographing – like this common sunflower.

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Filed under Brazoria NWR, flowers, nature, Photography, Wildlife Refuge

Saturday Evening on Big Slough

Evening At Big Slough

Today (Saturday), I won’t be going outside for any photography. It’s a typical hot, hazy blue-white sky with no clouds (clouds make for interesting images and I may have to post a blog about that).

Instead, I will be cooking (lots). I save my weekends for bulk cooking, the results of which I then package up and put in the fridge for the coming work week’s lunches. I’ll also be picking up my spare bedroom and uploading more photos to the U.S. Copyright Office.

So, I must content myself this weekend with images such as this one, taken on a Saturday evening during the 2012 Memorial Day weekend overlooking the body of water called Big Slough (pronounced “slew”) at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.

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Filed under Brazoria NWR, Landscape, nature, Photography, Texas, Wildlife Refuge

Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

Although I have a full plate of things to do around the home during the 2012 three-day Memorial Day weekend, I still tend to get a little stir crazy if I can’t go out and photograph something during my time off.

While I may bitch about living in southeast Texas (being a gal from the mountains, I’ll always be doing that), I readily admit that it’s rather nice to have two very interesting photographic ops right at my back door:  Brazos Bend State Park, and the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.

Right after visiting with my mother on Saturday morning, I grabbed my cameras, loaded them, tripod, and myself into the car, and drove the 20 miles south-southeast to check out the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.

Map

I’ve been there before, but that was back in 2007 (if I remember correctly).  At that time, the road to the refuge center was only paved for maybe 2 miles, and the remainder was all gravel.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find that now, in 2012, the entire road to the refuge center is paved.

For the photos you see here, I used my Canon 5D Mark II cameras and my 16-35mm and 70-200mm lenses.  I carried everything in my new Lowepro Fastpack 350, which, btw, is AWESOME!  I am going to Mesa Verde NP and Arches NP later this year, and wanted something that would carry a camera and long lens, as well as water, snacks, etc.  Ok, sorry, I went off on a tangent.  The 16-35 lens was attached to the tripod for landscape shots, and I hand held the 70-200 lens (with IS turned “on”) for the wildlife and more close-in images. I find I hand hold this lens more often as not, eschewing the tripod ring.  I was pleasantly surprised upon post processing that I really only had to do a very little editing for light/brightness and a teeny bit for sharpness details on some (but not all) of the photos.  The light was just right that day – very sunny but with some interesting clouds.  So I kept the ISO at 200 and the aperture around 7.1.  Oh, and I gotta tell ya, a long lens is a must-have for this area.  Unlike Brazos Bend State Park, there are not many places to comfortably get up close and personal to the birdlife, and there is slim-to-no parking alongside the one-lane gravel road past the refuge center.   My 70-200mm was ok, but what I really needed was a lens 400mm or more.  But….one makes do with what one has.

Next to the refuge center is a boardwalk across Big Slough (pronounced “slew”), leading to  a plowed path called Big Slough Trail.  I didn’t go very far down the path because:

1)  The mosquitoes were horrible (they must have been as large as egrets!) and I forgot to wear bug repellent (I was in too much of a hurry to leave the apartment and that is one of the things I forgot, although I did remember to apply sunscreen and grab a hat).

2) As  far as I can tell from my walk and the map, this trail doesn’t  lead down to the water’s edge, which is where you really want to be to get those bird shots.

So I did some landscape and flower photography along the boardwalk before heading out along the gravel-road auto tour.

Note:  the Texas wildflower book I own is total crap and didn’t list half of the flowers I photographed.  I ran some searches online and couldn’t come up with much either, so many of these flowers won’t have captions to them.  If you think you know what the un-captioned flowers are, do let me know.

Sea Oxeye

6983_Sea Oxeye

Tropical Sage

6992_Tropical Sage

Unknown seed pods.

6996_Seed Pods

Unknown yellow flower.  There were a number of “look-alikes” in my useless wildflower book, but none of them really fit this image.  So I don’t know what these flowers are called.

7067_Unknown Yellow Flower

Unknown little white flowers.

7099_Unknown White Flower

Unknown red flowers.

7115_Texas Flowers

7122_Unknown Red Flower

Basketflower (at least my wildflower book has something).

7151_Basketflower ORIG

7182_Basketflower Hiding

7204-2_Basketflower

Unknown white flowers.

7165_Unknown White Flower

Unknown little purple flower.

7191_Unknown Purple Flower

Big Slough views from the boardwalk.

7632-2_Big Slough View3

7635_Big Slough View2

7638_Big Slough View REV

Big Slew inhabitant

7000-2_Dragonfly CROP

7034-2_Dragonfly On Branch

7107_Dragonfly and Blue Ripples

Nope, I didn’t see any American alligators.  It was hot already and I’m pretty sure they wanted to stay in the water to remain cool, rather than sun themselves in the growing heat.

After my visit to the refuge center boardwalk area, I climbed back into the car (followed by hoards of mosquitoes) and started along the gravel road auto tour.  It’s basically one-way, although they don’t have arrows – instead they have signs with numbered stops (which means there is probably a tour guide within the center  that I should have gone in get).  It’s practically impossible for one car to pull over to allow a car from the opposite way to pass you….as I can attest….

7220_Path To My Car

7662_The Trail

Texas coastal marshland and wetlands as far as the eye can see.

7654_TX Coastal Marshland

7667_Reflections

7675_TX Wetland

Gull-billed tern taking flight.

7358_Gull Billed Tern in flight

Ibis in the water.

7419_Ibis In The Water

Red-wing blackbird.  You can’t  see its red markings in these photos but I did when it spread its wings out.

7421_Red WingBlackbird ORIG

7421-2_Red Wing Blackbird

Ahhhh…..Progress (??)

7352-2_Progress

If any of you are interested, I just published to my Blurb Bookstore a 150-page journal titled Texas Coastal Images.  Half of the journal is filled with totally awesome photos taken in such places as Brazos Bend State Park, Port Aransas, Padre Island, and the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge and the other half is nothing but blank lined pages for writing/artwork.  It would make a great gift for yourself or someone who is a fan of coastal Texas landscapes, flowers, and wildlife (mainly birdlife).  Click on the book link on the left side of this blog and it will take you directly to that particular book in my bookstore.  You can preview the pages of this journal and see for yourself the Masterpiece that I have created.

Hey, it’s all about marketing! Winking smile

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Filed under birds, flowers, nature, Photography, Texas