Valley of Fire Photography Tour: Hummingbirds at the Visitor’s Center

I did not expect to take many photos at the visitors center, but grabbed my camera anyway. The landscaping around the visitor’s center was fantastic. The garden area in front had numerous flowering cactus. Before long I noticed some hummingbirds flying around the cactus.

I discovered this is a male Black-chinned Hummingbird. The Cornell Lab’s All About Birds website has some fantastic info about these bird. For example:

“A small green-backed hummingbird of the West, with no brilliant colors on its throat except a thin strip of iridescent purple bordering the black chin, only visible when light hits it just right. Black-chinned Hummingbirds are exceptionally widespread, found from deserts to mountain forests”

The site also tells us:

  • This is one of the most adaptable of all hummingbirds, often found in urban areas and recently disturbed habitat as well as pristine natural areas.
  • A Black-chinned Hummingbird’s eggs are about the size of a coffee bean. The nest, made of plant down and spider and insect silk, expands as the babies grow.
  • The Black-chinned Hummingbird’s tongue has two grooves; nectar moves through these via capillary action, and then the bird retracts the tongue and squeezes the nectar into the mouth. It extends the tongue through the nearly closed bill at a rate of about 13–17 licks per second, and consumes an average of 0.61 milliliters (about one-fiftieth of a fluid ounce) in a single meal. In cold weather, may eat three times its body weight in nectar in one day. They can survive without nectar when insects are plentiful.

Hummingbirds are a challenge to photograph so I really got into the task. I also enjoyed watching a bird that I don’t see on the east coast of the US.

Fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee Summer 2019

In the spring of 2019 I had the idea to find a fishing charter service to catch Landlocked Salmon in Lake Winnipesaukee. I did some research and decided on Salmon Patrol Charters out of Guilford, NH.

The first trip on June 16th, 2019 was fantastic! Chris and I caught a couple nice salmon in the high teens to low 20 inch range.



Jack caught a nice fat Rainbow Trout somewhere in the high teens for length.


We went again on August 4th and got to enjoy a beautiful sunrise in addition to some great fishing. I made a panorama of the sunrise from three different photos.


Johnny’s friends Carter joined us for this trip. We had great luck fishing and landed some nice fish.

Fishing on Winnipesaukee August 4 2019-6


Fishing on Winnipesaukee August 4 2019-5


Fishing on Winnipesaukee August 4 2019-4

During the August 4th trip, Captain Parent had mentioned that he was booked every day for the month of August. So I felt fortunate when he sent me an email about a week later asking me if was interested in a charter on August 17th that had opened up due to a cancellation. I immediately said yes. Jack and Johnny could not join me for this trip so Carter and his dad, Jeremy, came along instead.

Despite a weather forecast that mentioned clouds and showers, it was a beautiful morning on the water.


We got our first bite about 15 minutes after leaving the dock.








I’m looking forward to more trips in 2020!






Back to Key Largo

I’m back in Key Largo for the week to participate in a Coral Restoration dive on Earth Day (Friday).
Monday was my first day back in the water since last June. I was a great day of diving with several good sightings.

I spotted this turtle on Molasses Reef.

The Eagle Rays are back! The dive guides have been telling me the sightings have increased just during the past week or so. It should only get better as we get closer to summer.

We finished the day with a dive at Ball number 16 on Molasses Reef. We were lucky enough to see a good sized nurse shark in addition to an Eagle Ray and a Green Moray Eel swimming in the open.

Seals on Johns Bay – Sunday July 18 2010

I had the photo opportunity I had been waiting for all week for. Sunday morning we went on our last kayak trip of the week. The tide was going out and the sun was shining. It was ideal conditions for seals to haul themselves out on the rocks. I had the Pentax k2000 with the 55-200mm lens and video camera with me in the kayak.

Eileen and I approached using the “small pine grove” island as cover. As I expected, they were skittish and many of them slipped off into the water.

This little guy crawled back up to sun and was watching Eileen as I slowly floated around the end of the island for the photo.

I like the composition of this shot since it has a seal, seagull and lobster buoy.

This is another good shot where I got pretty close to a seal without him getting skittish. Its a nice profile of the seal with a house across the bay in the background.

Pico Mountain Ski Trip

Another Monday and another ski trip adventure. This week I went to Pico Mountain Ski Area in Killington, VT. I had never been there and had always wanted to go. Like many people I had always gone to the larger and more glamorous (and higher priced) Killington Ski Area next door.

As I pass the Killington Access Road I noticed that the peak of Pico is hidden in a cloud.

Exploring a new mountain is always fun. I had both my camera and video camera with me. There was a light snow in the air as I got on the lift. At Pico you need to take the Golden Express Quad first and ski down to the Summit Express Quad to reach the top.

It was kind of strange riding the chairlift up into the cloud covering the summit.

No view from the top today. The top of the Forty-Niner trail is interesting because the trail winds between small islands of snow covered trees.

Using Google Earth helped me to learn a bit more about the view I see at all these ski area. The mountain in the foreground is Deer Leap Mountain.

The body of water visible down the valley on the left is the Chittenden Reservoir.

This is the view north looking at Deer Leap Rock and beyond towards Doubleday Mountain.

The summit stayed in the cloud most of the day with an occasional flurry coming through.

This is the view from high up on the Forty-Niner trail. In the distance is Kent Pond off of Route 100. Behind that is Doubleday Mountain to the left and Shaw Hill to the right.

It was a fantastic day! I really like the nice wide trails and excellent grooming at Pico. The crowds were sparse and I often had the trail all to myself. I will be sure to return to Pico in the future!

The Grapes of Wrath at the Hopkins Center

I went to see a play based on the Steinbeck classic The Grapes of Wrath at the Hopkins Center last Saturday night. The show was excellent! If you have read the book or have been curious about the story I would recommend this play.

It’s a powerful story of a family leaving the “Dust Bowl” of the Midwest hoping for work in the fruit orchards of California and a new life. They arrive only to discover the farm owners are exploiting the workers and paying starvation wages. In addition to the Study Guide I discovered a fantatic overview and analysis Website about the story at While class and economic divide is a major theme in the story, I think there are many lessons about human nature, compassion and family as well.

There will be an 8pm show on February 25-27 and a 2pm show on February 28th, 2009.

Facebook, my latest obsession

I am new to the world of Facebook so I am still on the journey of discovery. A friend that did not know much about Facebook asked me what is was all about. I had to think for awhile before answering, “It is many things to many people with networking and communication as the commen thread.”

I initally made a Facebook  profile to join the AIGA NH/VT group. Once I got a profile started I  started to wonder what other groups were out there. I was glad to find a group had already been started, which I quickly joined. If you visit the and have a Facebook profile (or want to make one) please join the group. It would be cool to see the membership grow. A few people also told me about an Upper Valley (NH/VT) regional group, which I also joined.

I then discovered that Facebook is more than profiles and groups. There are lots of cool Facebook applications you can add to your profile. There are so many of them it takes some research to find good ones. I am learning about many apps based on what people on my friends lists are using. Thanks everyone! In addition to the basic applications they start you out with like Status Update, Photos and Notes, I am checking out applications like:

I am currently comparing WeRead and Visual Bookshelf. More people on my friends list use Visual Bookshelf than WeRead. Anyone have an opinion about which one is better?

I just added Bumper Stickers and Causes to my application list but have not fully expored them yet.  I also just discovered the Facebook Marketplace, which seems popular with everyone on my list. Anyone have suggestions for more applications?

Thirsty Thursday – Tipperary

Cocktails on the Fly
Since the next big holiday is St. Patrick’s Day I thought we should check out a few whiskey drinks during the next month. This week we are going back to Cocktails on the Fly with Alberta Straub, to learn how to make the Tipperary.

1 1/2 oz Irish Wiskey. (Alberta uses Tullamore Dew)
3/4 oz. Green Chartreuse
Splash of Maraschino Liqueur
Splash of Orange Bitters
Add ice and stir
Strain and pour into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a lemon twist.

Be sure to read the Wikipedia article about the Green Chartreuse. It’s a ancient liqueur with an interesting history.

Photoshop and Design Podcasts

PhotoShop Podcasts

I have recently been getting into watching and listening to Podcasts on my Itunes software. It is a great way to quicklly and easily expand your design software skills without paying for courses or books. We all know how much time and effort it takes to keep up with new software and technology. I have not checked out all of them yet, but I can recommend a few.

  • Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcast
  • Photoshop User TV
  • Photoshop Killer Tips

There are also Podcasts for other applications like Illustrator and InDesign in addition to general design topics.

Mark Karl