Category Archives: Neil Ellls Photos

Barred Owl Joins Photo Menagerie

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

The Lord of Leisure1 Photo Gallery

Lord of Leisure writes:

Like the Red Tailed Hawk featured last week, the Barred Owl is a raptor. This particular specimen lurks in our back yard, keeping an eye out for the small varmints that routinely filch food from the feeders. Barred Owls dive on their prey from a perch.2

The “barring” on the chest is the origin of the Barred Owl’s name. This owl is also known as the “eight hooter” for its call which sounds like, “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all.” After a few beers I can do a pretty good imitation of the barred owl call.

  1. Lord of Leisure was previously known in these posts as Mr. Science. Both Lord of Leisure and Mr Science spend most of their time disguised as Neil Ellis, mild-mannered, retired teacher at a great suburban school system, who can identify a bird by its call, complete the New York Times Friday Crossword in ink, and snap a heck of a photo. []
  2. According to The Owl Pages, the owls prefer “meadow voles, followed by shrews and deer mice, the owls also feast on mammals such as rats, squirrels, rabbits, bats, moles, opossums, mink, and weasels. Birds are taken occasionally, including woodpeckers, grouse, quail, jays, blackbirds, and pigeons. They also eat small fish, turtles, frogs, snakes, lizards, crayfish, scorpions, beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers. Birds are taken as they settle into nocturnal roosts, because they cannot catch birds on the wing. They will also swoop down to the water’s edge to catch frogs, other amphibians, and occasionally fish. Barred Owls are attracted to campfires and lights where they forage for large insects. Prey is usually devoured on the spot. Larger prey is carried to a feeding perch and torn apart before eating.” []

Red-tailed Hawk Lands In Lord of Leisure Gallery

red tailed hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

The Lord of Leisure1 Photo Gallery

Lord of Leisure writes:

Animal (bird) photography is not my forte. It requires too much patience.

But, I do have a long lens and a bedroom window that affords a view of the woods behind our house. In addition, we also have bird feeders that the lovely and talented Hippie With Tiara keeps filled.

Consequently, raptors are regular winter visitors in our neck of the woods. I’ve captured shots of three hungry birds of prey that have come to keep an eye on the bird feeders in hopes of a meal.

Today’s exemplar is the Red-tailed Hawk, commonly seen perched along roadsides. These are not really bird hunters but they would be attracted to squirrels or other varmints that would hang out near the feeders.

  1. Lord of Leisure was previously known in these posts as Mr. Science. Both Lord of Leisure and Mr Science spend most of their time disguised as Neil Ellis, mild-mannered, retired teacher at a great suburban school system, who can identify a bird by its call, complete the New York Times Friday Crossword in ink, and snap a heck of a photo. []

The Enticing Colors Of Zion Canyon

Virgin River - Zion Canyon (click image to enlarge)

The Lord of Leisure1 Photo Gallery

Lord of Leisure writes:

Driving the main road along the Virgin River in the valley floor of Zion Canyon, I was struck by the blue sky reflecting off the river as it curved away with the yellow trees and red sandstone of the canyon walls in the background. After 15 minutes of wrestling the tripod through the brush covered riverbank, we were in position to take this shot.

I like the way the diagonal line of the water leads the viewer into the picture and then the sweep of the yellow trees takes the viewers eyes around the bend deeper into the picture where the light shines on the distant canyon wall.

  1. Lord of Leisure was previously known in these posts as Mr. Science. Both Lord of Leisure and Mr Science spend most of their time disguised as Neil Ellis, mild-mannered, retired teacher at a great suburban school system, who can identify a bird by its call, complete the New York Times Friday Crossword in ink, and snap a heck of a photo. []

Double Arch Alcove – Zion Canyon's Special Effects Department

Double Arch Alcove - Zion Canyon (Click on image to enlarge)

The Lord of Leisure1 Photo Gallery

Editorial Note: A glance at the sidebar on the left will show that “Lord of Leisure Photo Gallery” is now a full-fledged Heck of a Guy Blog category. All of Lord of Leisure’s photos can be found by clicking on the link at Lord of Leisure Photo Gallery Category

Lord of Leisure writes:
This photo features the Double Arch Alcove which is located along the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek in the northwest section of Zion Park. To reach the Double Arch Alcove requires a three mile hike along a trail that follows the creek, crisscrossing it dozens of times.

This picture displays the two elements that make photography in the Desert Southwest special: light and sandstone. Light that shines directly on sandstone reflects with a very warm color, but when that light is reflected onto another sandstone surface the result is an eerie glow of reds, oranges and yellows.

In this instance, the nearly two thousand foot wall of sandstone in this picture is bathed in the light that has been reflected from the opposing wall of sandstone. Without the reflected line this north-facing wall would be in deep shade with barely discernible colors rather than the vivid hues seen here.

As noted in previous posts, the color in the photo accurately depicts what we saw with our eyes.

  1. Lord of Leisure was previously known in these posts as Mr. Science. Both Lord of Leisure and Mr Science spend most of their time disguised as Neil Ellis, mild-mannered, retired teacher at a great suburban school system, who can identify a bird by its call, complete the New York Times Friday Crossword in ink, and snap a heck of a photo. []

The Overwhelming Colors of Zion Canyon

Zion Canyon (click image to enlarge)

The Lord of Leisure1 Photo Gallery


Editorial Note
: It’s a cold, windy, wet, overcast day here in the outermost frontiers of Chicagoland. The post I had planned to publish today lacked the luminosity necessary to counterbalance the local meteorological conditions. Lord of Leisure’s startlingly vivid Zion Canyon photos,2 however, are more than a match for the weather and are capable of brightening any day.

Lord of Leisure writes:

This shot was taken in fading light near dusk. The overhanging rock allows one to trek behind the waterfall in the photo. The distant canyon wall reflects enough sunshine to backlight the falling water and illuminate the red maple in the center of the scene.

This was a long exposure that required a sturdy tripod and an equally sturdy Hippie With Tiara, to whom I am grateful for not only accompanying me but helping lug said sturdy tripod3 for many hours on these expeditions.

  1. Lord of Leisure was previously known in these posts as Mr. Science. Both Lord of Leisure and Mr Science spend most of their time disguised as Neil Ellis, mild-mannered, retired teacher at a great suburban school system, who can identify a bird by its call, complete the New York Times Friday Crossword in ink, and snap a heck of a photo. These days, he is also a very happy Mizzou football fan. []
  2. See previously published The Spectacular Hues Of Zion Canyon []
  3. “Sturdy” in the context of “sturdy tripod” can be translated as “heavy, bulky, and awkward” []

The Spectacular Hues Of Zion Canyon

Zion Canyon (click on graphic to enlarge)

The Lord of Leisure1 Photo Gallery


Editorial Note
: After a too long hiatus, the Lord of Leisure Photo Gallery returns with photos from Zion National Park. After previewing these, I find myself reverting to clichés such as “breathtaking” and “awesome,” which are so attenuated from casual use that they fail to convey how deeply impressive these scenes are. Thank goodness, we have photos, eh? Regardless, I think viewers will be as impressed as I am with these pictures.
Lord of Leisure writes:

Zion National Park in Utah offers spectacular vistas for photographers, especially in the fall and spring. Heeding the consensus among the knowledgeable sources I polled that the potential for such shots in the fall season peak in early November, Hippie With Tiara and I arrived October 30, 2007 to spend a week stalking scenes that displayed the colors of fall set against the backdrop of Zion Canyon’s magnificent sandstone walls.

From conversations with residents and photographers who were returning to Zion after shooting there previously, it appears, even after discounting for the inevitable “You should have been here last year” comments that locals are apparently obligated to make whenever they spy someone photographing an outdoor setting, that 2007 had been too dry to produce optimal colors in the Park.

We also shared our week at Zion with a high pressure system which resulted in sunny, warm days that were a pleasant environment for hiking but a subpar one for photographing fall panoramas, an effort abetted by overcast skies – or better yet, a bit of rain – to bring out the characteristic yellow, orange, gold, and red hues.

Zion Canyon is, however, so rich in dramatic content, opulent textures, and brilliant pigments that even when it is not at its photographic apogee, it rewards those who willing to trek through its trails and brush in search of the “right” location with tableaux featuring soaring sandstone cliffs with vertical drops of 2,000 feet into a labyrinth of slot canyons, interlaced with windows and tunnels like a piece of stone lacework, all presented in hues that range from muted grays and yellows to riotous, almost oversaturated colors that seem to put the viewer at risk of chromatic overload. Oh, and there’s also a river with a waterfall or two.

Today’s photo was shot with one of my favorite techniques, using with a long telephoto lens to reach out and isolate a small portion of the scene. This simplifies the composition and allows me to concentrate on form, color and texture. In this case, the attraction, in my eyes, is the fascinating variety of color (primary and pastel) in the vegetation against the backdrop of the canyon wall that was itself bathed in sunlight reflected from the opposite side of the canyon. Some of the colors are, at least to one raised in the less gaudy spectrum of the Midwest, so unexpected that I find it necessary to note that the photo is an accurate representation of the scene as viewed that day.

  1. Lord of Leisure was previously known in these posts as Mr. Science. Both Lord of Leisure and Mr Science spend most of their time disguised as Neil Ellis, mild-mannered, retired teacher at a great suburban school system, who can identify a bird by its call, complete the New York Times Friday Crossword in ink, and snap a heck of a photo. These days, he is also a very happy Mizzou football fan. []