Concert Recollection: Which One Are You R, E or O

This has actually been a summer full of concerts.  If you recall, I previously posted on the Alice Cooper concert (link here) we attended on our anniversary.  Next up on the list was the Mississippi Valley State Fair.  This year’s rock act … translated as NOT a country band… was our boys from Chambana.  Anyone that has ever attended the University of Illinois (like say me) is very familiar with one of the Illini’s most famous music products.  If you are thinking the Elvis Brothers are even Hum at this point you need to think a little higher on the charts.  Need another hint?  How about they were a “rock” band until the lead singer lamed out and started putting out top 40 love song crap — I Can’t Fight This Feeling .. SHUDDER.  That should be more than enough clues to know we went to REO Speedwagon.  REO is actually one of those bands that brings back a lot of memories – first, they have that whole college connection, their lead guitarist and writer for a large majority of their non-lame years is from right here in Peoria (actually I believe it is East Peoria, but Wikipedia had it as Peoria) and their High Infidelity Tour was the first concert my brother Ron ever took me to.  I was still in high school (81) and he took me up to Champaign  to see the concert (my brothers and I all received degrees from the U of I although some are more impressive than mine).  I can still remember just about everything about that night – what a blast.  This is one of the reasons I get ticked off every time they play their lame crap on the radio – marring up my memory.

There are some interesting things about the Mississippi Valley State Fair held in Davenport Iowa.  For one thing they do their concert tickets in a very creative way.  You basically buy a fair pass that let’s you in to EVERY concert they schedule during the fair.  As a result, the ticket to the fair runs in the 30 or so dollar range but depending on the lineup it can be an extremely good deal.  It should be pointed out that you can share your passes – we actually share the pass with Linda’s family and friends on the dates during the week.  This ticket process works quite well – the fair is always a revenue generator, the bands are guaranteed their money and they get good bands that actually WANT to come and play.  Our own HOI fair needs to take a few lessons.  Add in the fact they understand the profit machine and encourage alcohol purchases you have a recipe for fun and entertainment – if not on the stage, then in the crowd – they actually sell multiple beers to people and hand them out in bags of ice).  Oh, when it comes to crowds.. these shows are packed!

Now REO happens to be one of those bands that sound a lot beefier live than they do on their studio albums.  I recollected this from the concert back in ’81.  I am unable to put my finger on it, but I think it is the deeper base and drums that tend to get overpowered by the guitars and keyboard mixing on their albums.  In contrast to the previous concert, they are now officially OLD.  This is probably more of a statement on us than them, seeing as how we bought tickets to see them – hehehe.  All in all I thought it was a pretty good concert.  They know why the people are there and accommodate them by playing all their classics – in our case everything except In Your Letter which I amuse myself by singing it as “Henrietta” – try to get that out of your head the next time you hear that song – I also use My Pool Hall Ace for the Police My Poor Heart Aches which brought a big laugh to my Sister-in-Law Eilish who pointed out my error while singing along in the car – it stuck!   It was well worth our money and the crowd (it was packed in the stands and on the track) was in to it.  This despite a major screw up by Cronin at the beginning of the concert.  Note to performers – LEARN THE NAME OF THE TOWN YOU ARE PLAYING IN.  Sure, you travel to many towns throughout the tour, but how hard is it to have a roadie ask a local before the start of the show?  Included in some banter with the crowd are “Davenport [cheer], Moline [cheer] and Bettencourt [wtf?]”  Where the hell is Bettencourt?  – nowhere around us, that’s for sure.  I would let it go if he would not have said it AGAIN later in the concert.  Hey Kevin.. it’s Bettendorf.

Hit the jump for some comments on scenes from the crowd.

Continue reading Concert Recollection: Which One Are You R, E or O

Yep, They Also Have Those in Cheeseland

It’s officially time to close out the first Birds of Wisconsin series. Following previous series endings I thought I would throw up some miscellaneous birds captured over the course of our stay in the Dells area. I tend to highlight the unusual or more flamboyant birds on the blog, but I try not to discriminate against the more common aviary when out on a shoot. Hell, sometimes that is all that comes back in the tin based on what we were able to find out in the wild on any given day. There are definitely times when the more common bird shot ends up being my favorite of the shoot but I know my readers are not generally here to read about birds they can experience in the backyard any day of the week. Regardless, I still like to end with random shots that caught my attention in post processing.

For starters, here is …. a bird

It’s brown dominant with vertical striping with a white breast which basically translates to a near impossible bird to identify with any confidence.  Primarily I liked the composition and of course the glint in the eye.  I could take the normal stab and say it might be from a sparrow family say maybe a Song Sparrow but I usually rely on what I call the eye triangle to really classify a sparrow – it is hard to explain in text, but if you happen to see a picture of a sparrow, look at the side of the eye and you will see a about a 30 degree triangle (per eye side) that is pretty solid in coloring.  This specimen does not really have that which pushed me to the finch options but this one was too large for that class.  Next up was a juvenile Common Redpoll but they tend to have more stripping in the breast area.  20 minutes later of thumbing through the guides brought on the conclusion it was “a bird”  Feel free to take a guess if you would like.

In stark contrast, the following bird is easily identifiable and one we are fortunate to have in abundance where we live.  I have always liked the Cardinal but it does tend to bring a small feeling of remorse thanks to an errant shot with a BB gun when I was growing up.  As you can tell that event has never faded but I’m ahead of the game having saved a number of them since then (example here).

Again, I really liked the composition of this one (and another successful glint capture), but the other aspect you cannot tell from this shot is how far away it was.  We had just returned from to the car after walking a trail when I heard that all too familiar song.  Eventually it was spotted sitting in mass of branches in a far away tree.  I had the Beast out and somehow managed to keep it still enough to get a decent shot.

Hit the jump to see the rest of the set

Continue reading Yep, They Also Have Those in Cheeseland

A Devil Pecker… But Not Sure Which?

I’m a little off my schedule at the moment due to the little issue I had to take care of in the last post.  With that all past us now (and if you still think Linda isn’t the 2012 UB you need to go back and read the finely tuned analysis on the previous post), I can try to get through another entry in the Wisconsin Birds series.  This one is actually a bit of a mystery and hoping one of my fine readers can help me out a bit.  We were up on the cliff trail above Devil’s Lake when I heard a very familiar drumming a little ways into the woods (opposite cliff side).  I’ve been diligently searching for a Pileated Woodpecker without much luck so every time I hear that rattle I jump into search mode and start tracking.  Anyone watching me would have been trying to hold back a laugh.  Finding woodpeckers can be difficult in a dense forest – I swear their drumming echoes off of every try in the area.  Usually I walk to what appears to be the center point of the echoes and move my head in various directions looking for the the sharpest rattle position.. then walk a ways in that direction and repeat.  It looks stupid to onlookers, but it is effective.  After about 3 cycles of this I came upon this:

My initial guess through the viewfinder was a Downy Woodpecker.  Some doubt crept in as I was taking additional shots.  The most interesting aspect was the bird had a yellowish tint to it – most noticeable behind the head and on the breast below the legs.  Depending on how the light hit it, there seemed to be some yellow tint in the white areas on the back and wings.  We have numerous Downy’s where we live and I’ve have had a lot of opportunities to photograph them.  To my recollection, all of those Downy’s had very white highlighting and breast markings.  I tried changing positions to get a better shot of the head but that was difficult to do and still avoid all the branches.  The shot below was the best result, but a foreground branch managed to sneak in.  This shot, however, brought up an additional concern.  That beak is larger than most of the Downy’s around here which are smaller in relationship to the face.  They also look sharper than the one sported by this specimen.

Hit the jump to read more about this mystery bird.

Continue reading A Devil Pecker… But Not Sure Which?

The 2012 UB Results Are In

UPDATED 8/18/12 – see jump for further details based on biased comments

Well, it’s time to let the cat out of the bag, quell the suspense and end the betting.  That’s right, the results of the 2012 U.B. Competition are now compiled and ready for the reveal.  Sadly, I must admit that once again Linda and I were shut out of the ribbons in the local Heart of Illinois Fair Photography Contest.  The good news for me is that my Honorable Mention earned previously at this prestigious competition still reigns as the big pond champ and therefore is the overriding decider for any close results between us in little pond events.  And let’s just say that previous win did come into play in what turned out to be a close race.  As is customary, we picked up what remained of our confidence from the HOI fair and headed on up to the Knox County Fair.  Historically, we have done quite well at this smaller venue and we were optimistic with this year’s batch.  Well, I was until Linda revealed she actually stayed behind on picture drop off day to help “arrange” the pictures for them.  As she was telling me this she had a sly smile and evil glint in her eye.  This was clearly tampering putting the whole competition under formal protest.

After work we headed up to see how the judging went.  Note, a ruling on the protest had not been made yet but it would not matter if I came out ahead.  Turns out, it was really close this year!  Here are my entries.

Not bad eh?  Not one, not two, but three first places, only one 2nd place and what turned out to be a tipping point – one third.  One of my pictures (and only one for me) did get blanked.  I am not sure what the deal is, but these photography judges have no love for B&W Raven pictures.  It isn’t pictured above, but I personally think it is a great shot with a nice gray range.  The moth was in the Insects category, the two birds were obviously in the Birds category and the squirrel and bear shots were in the Wildlife category.  The latter took us awhile to figure out since there was another category called Animals which we eventually decided (correctly) was for pets and domesticated animals.  This is probably a good time to point out that I let Linda basically pick the shots I entered into the HOI Fair.  It occurred to me (after the fact) that there was waaaaay to much at stake to let my opponent choose my entries – we all know how devious she is!  Learning from my mistake, I went back picked my own entries and re-worked some of the post processing.   The Stilt, Moth, Squirrel and Bear were all new entries for this fair.  The Ravens in love shot was a carryover (but Linda was doing her best to get me to replace it with an inferior shot).  All turned out to be good decisions.  Another important point I’ll make is Linda decided to encroach in my domain and enter the Wildlife category with her Tiger pictures.  Let’s just say my little squirrel ate it for lunch.

Like I mentioned earlier it was a close competition but the deciding factor came on pick up day.  While we were gathering up our pictures one of the expert photography critics was hanging out in the building (obviously waiting to see who we were) heard our name and unprompted turned and said “I really liked that shot of the moth!”  I politely thanked the expert and gave a great big smile towards Linda.  Thank you for the kind comments but more importantly thank you for handing Linda the umbrella for another year.

She is definitely stepping up her game and keeping me on my toes.  I might have to pull out the big guns next year to stay on top.  By the way, we were a little worried when we went to pick up our pictures.  Another individual noticed us stacking up our pictures and recognized which ones we were picking up – he proceeded to tell everyone we were the Doerflers – our eyes started darting around anticipating a pitchfork carrying crowd to come and run us out their county.  It turned out all good, they even thanked us for participating in the categories that actually grew this year.  We loaded up the car, went over and picked up our winnings and called it another successful contest season — well, one of us was feeling more successful than the other hehehehe.

Continue reading The 2012 UB Results Are In

The Good and the Ugly – A Wisconsin Twofor

Been a little hesitant to make another post after the blistering I took for the less that tack sharp images from the previous post.  This was mainly due to a few of the following shots being a little bit off as well.. hey, let’s go with the “style” excuse.  Actually, there is a reason for the ones below that are less than crispy.  All of these are flight shots taken while hand holding The Beast.  I’ve been working out but it’s going to take some extra reps and protein before I’ll feel comfortable chasing birds across the sky with an 8 pound glass.  I also have not committed to limiting the travel of the glass so once it focuses off the bird it is burden to get it back on target.  This isn’t so much an excuse as it is a celebration of success when one hits the tin in decent condition.  All in all, the following set isn’t that bad .. not gallery potential.. but still worth posting.

Today’s set features not one, but TWO birds and not those tiny Finch types.  When these fly over your head you take notice and every critter under 3 pounds has a near heart attack.  Although, if it isn’t already dead or prefer the water, these two birds are probably going to leave it alone.  One is a majestic bird of grace and color (the good) and one makes you wonder if they were designed by Wes Craven (the ugly).  Both were taken at Devil’s lake near Baraboo, Wisconsin.

First out of the gate is the Blue Heron.  This is not an unfamiliar bird to the blog (see here) and that is because it is one of my favorite shooting targets.  They are interesting to look at and have the photo friendly trait of remaining motionless for long periods of times – perfect for longer exposures when you want to push the ISO down as much as possible.  When we arrived at Devil’s Lake, we really didn’t see a lot of birds in the water (correction.. didn’t see ANY birds in the water) which was not the way I wanted to start the Wisconsin vacation.  The large rocks around the lake made a really nice setting.  So much that Linda decided she wanted to take a few shots of her for the business site.  With the longer glass I was standing back a ways to take the shots when all of a sudden a Heron landed on a rock about 20 feet from where Linda was sitting.   I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing – we were just about the only ones in the area with plenty of more solitaire places all around the lake.  The camera settings were manually configured for portrait mode which didn’t lend itself to bird shots.  By the time I got everything adjusted, the Heron took flight again.

The battle was on to keep the glass on the bird while it gathered air under its long wings.  There is one thing more enjoyable to watch than a Heron on the ground stalking dinner and that is a Heron taking flight.  Those long wings fold out, the neck curves back and those feet come together to complete the aerodynamics.  From afar, those legs are often mistaken for long tail feathers.  Every time I see one of these creatures sailing through the air I immediately think of my early school years when they taught us about the Pterodactylus .. my favorite member of the Jurassic Period (and probably the early seeding of my desire to become an archeologist) – editors note: I am still bitter of being taught the lie of the Brontosaurus .. I also want my planet Pluto back but I’ll save that rant for another time.

Here is another shot of the bird.  I was doing my best to pan along the flight path trying to keep the single focus point on the bird’s eye – thank god for Rear Focus allowing me to keep the focus where I wanted it.  The raised tips at the extent of both wings give a nice composition.  Not sure if I like the sand coming into the frame yet, but I was at the mercy of the bird’s flightpath.

Hit the jump to read more about the Heron and the bonus bird.

Continue reading The Good and the Ugly – A Wisconsin Twofor

The Ducks that Got Away – Drats

Greetings once again all. I gave you a slight reprieve from the Wisconsin Birds Series at the end of the last month, but there are a few more to get through before closing out this series and moving on to Wisconsin Birds Series II (yep, thanks to taking so long to get through the first series, we’ve been back to the Land of Cheese and now have even more shots to share). Unfortunately, this particular post is bittersweet. On one hand it does provide support for a new checkmark in the bird list, however (head hung low, eyes wandering) it is also an unfortunate highlight of the execution fail.  Having exhausted the ponds and lakes around Baraboo, we headed up further North about 45 minutes to a County Park.  Neither of us can remember the name of that park but I do remember parking near a large observation deck positioned in the a middle of a field surrounded by a forest .  The trees here were experiencing distress from some form of bug, blight or maybe a fire – tough to tell other than an earlier walk down another supposed observation deck uncovered large construction vehicles in the midst of bulldozing some of the larger trees down.

Signs indicated a trail to a pond so we grabbed the gear and headed out.  After about 15 minutes we came upon a lonely pond and immediately thought PERFECT! Nobody around, secluded, and a clear view to the pond… and there was water fowl taking a leisurely paddle. I set the tripod down and went for the customary far shots so I would have something to show for the effort.

and…. we have come upon the very rare fuzzy duck!   Okay, okay, so it was a poorly executed shot. I am not sure exactly what happened other than likely a bad compensation for the now very overcast afternoon (the downside of now shooting only in Manual Mode) or weakness in trying to hand stabilize The Beast. In either case it was my bad and I take full responsibility for it. On further thought, it might have just been excitement knowing this bird hadn’t made it into my tin as of yet. Even with the fuzziness, you can still tell it is a Ringed-Neck Duck – both a male and his mate.  Here is another shot of just the male (no, the images do not get any better) that confirms it.

Hit the jump to read more about this new duck to LifeIntrigued.

Continue reading The Ducks that Got Away – Drats