This week, I'll start of with some industrial architectural shots.
Just in case you're tired of all those colorful bird pictures I usually post.
This is the Pensacola Bay Bridge, typically called the Three Mile Bridge by locals, across Escambia Bay between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze. Officially it's the General "Chappie" James Jr. Bridge, but I don't know anyone who actually calls it that.
We had gone looking for sea birds near the bridge, but the weather was bad and there wasn't much in the way of wildlife except for some waterlogged pigeons and a few sad looking seagulls.
So I took pictures of the bridge instead.
I shot these images from beneath the Gulf Breeze (south) approach. There's a park there, which is mostly roped off and non-functional due to construction of the bridge and damage from Hurricane Sally in 2020. There's a larger park on the Pensacola end that is likewise damaged and mostly closed to the public -- and ironically contains the visitor center for this area. The storm massively damaged the bridge due to astounding negligence on the part of the construction company which failed to secure their large barges against the storm surge. The bridge was brand new at the time, still under construction, and had just opened a single span for traffic. The barges broken loose in the violent Cat III storm, some drifted across the bay and grounded miles away, but several smashed through the bridge itself and the popular fishing piers and then an enormous barge mounted crane fell onto the roadway damaging the piers and dropping a full span into the water. The bridge had to be closed and traffic rerouted 30 miles around the bay for nearly a year. It was a major disaster with huge economic impact to the area. By the time they got the bridge repaired and the second span completed years behind schedule and many millions over budget, there wasn't any money left to fix the parks or the fishing piers.
Here's another view, different orientation.
I shot the images in color, but converted them to black and white in post-processing because I thought that was more suited to the ultra modern Tomorrowland feel of the scene.
We now return to our regularly scheduled broadcast.
On the west side of Pensacola, near Perdido Key, is a small state park call Big Lagoon. It's a haven for birds and wildlife, used by kayakers, hikers, and campers. A small bit of wild surrounded by increasing urban sprawl and beach condos.
It's a bit of drive for me, especially in morning rush hour traffic (the park doesn't open until 8AM, so I'm always in the thick of traffic on the way over). But it's often worth the hassle for the shots of birds and other wildlife.
Science doesn't really know why mullet jump out of the water like this.
There are many theories: to remove parasites, to avoid predators, as a form of communication, a possible mating display. Me I think they are fish astronauts leaping into space just to see what's up there.
I will say that if you want an exercise in patience and skill at photography, spend some time trying to get a decent shot of a jumping mullet.
Here's one of my favorite birds, a brown thrasher.
And as I noted on Instagram, if there isn't a pro wrestler who goes by the moniker The Brown Thrasher, there should be.
Kestrels are small falcons, common to much of North America and Europe. They are fierce little raptors. Falconers raise them to hunt mice and grasshoppers. They are fast maneuverable birds and hard to capture in detail. I'm not particularly happy with the quality of this shot, but it was the best one I got that day. So, it'll have to do.
This snowy egret is a relative of that great egret up above, little smaller with distinctive yellow mask and socks.
I was sitting in my yard comparing various settings between the Z9 and Z8 Nikon cameras. I'd screwed something up on the Z8 and was attempting to figure out which of the several thousand menu settings I'd changed.
Eventually I sorted it out and was able to reconfigure the Z8 without having to reset it back to factory baseline. And I learned a few things along the way. That's always good.
And finally, today's solar eclipse from the Florida Panhandle.
No ring of fire here, we were too far outside the eclipse's path. And it was cloudy, but the skies cleared just long enough for me to get a few decent shots a bit after totality. This is a handheld shot using the Nikon Z8, a Nikkor Z 400mm lens, and an ND100 filter so I could point the camera directly at the sun without frying either the sensor or my retina. As I noted on Instagram: I do have a solar filter for my 12" refractor scope, but it's for the eyepiece and won't work with the camera mount. And I don't have an ND100 or solar filter for the big 600mm lens and the Z9. And the 600mm uses a rear mount internal filter anyway and I'm not really comfortable pointing that very, very expensive beast at the sun and letting it heat up the internal components. So, 400mm on the Z8 is the best I could do. And frankly, I'm not really sure how I'd get a better shot with bigger glass. I'm perfectly happy with it. Particularly given that the skies were only clear enough to see the eclipse for about 10 minute anyway.
That's it, that's the week in pictures from Stonekettle Station.