A Cold Christmas Morning


Every Christmas day for the last five or six years I take a walk around the down town of Elkhorn Wisconsin. This year the weather was dry with clear skies and an amazing view of the stars, but the temperature was about 1 degree Fahrenheit. A little too cold for me to enjoy, this Christmas morning. With very few people moving around this morning I just stopped my vehicle in the road and stepped out for a minute to grab a quick image and then back into the warmth and comfort of my truck.

This year inspired by the theme a Christmas Car Town. A title Elkhorn that has been used to describe Elkhorn since the 1950’s. I decided to use some alternative processing techniques. What caught my eye this year was the 1887 School Building and the sleigh located on East Walworth and the school on North Jackson St.

More Images Of Elkhorn.

Christmas 2020

I enjoy walking around the town square on Christmas day. I started this a handful of years ago, since there is little foot traffic and very few if any cars parked or driving through. To me this town is an iconic Holiday setting, with all the decorations and beautiful buildings. Elkhorn Wisconsin has been known as the Christmas card town. A title that, as I understand it, dates back to about 1952. In my mind it is a fitting description.

One of my favorite views this season was the newly place M-60 tank that was moved from Whitewater WI to Elkhorn, this past summer. Someone had placed a beautiful wreath on the gun barrel. Overnight some fresh snow had fallen and a little fog developed in the morning. I couldn’t help but take a few minutes and enjoy the moment. The tank is located on the town square in Veteran’s Park, surrounded by large oak trees and an amazing view if the local buildings.

More Images Of Elkhorn.

The Browns Of November

The amazing colors of Fall have passed and we are left with a with short window of fantastic browns. November is a great time to explore the trails. keeping in mind being safe with all hunting seasons but especially gun deer season.

The amazing reds, yellows, oranges along with others have left us. What is left, is beautiful pallet of browns ranging from light tan to a dark chocolate and everything in between. The leaves are still crisp and not covered with snow. The sounds that they make is magical as we walk the trail, crunching and swishing as we walk. Details in the structure of the plants are clearly seen without all the flowers and leaves. Life isn’t dead, it’s just moving on with the cycle of life, getting ready for Spring. Many plants have already distributed there seeds, but some such as the cattails and are still working on it.

When I was a Boy Scout we tasted the edible roots of the cattail and used the fluff as fire starter. These are but a few of the wonderful uses of this plant. I plan to explore the uses of this beautiful brown and bountiful plant.

Get outside and explore some of the wonderful browns today, hopefully I will see you on the trail.

Art Prints

Peak Design Capture PRO Clip Review

I wrote this review of the Peak Design Capture PRO clip, a couple of years ago but since I am still asked about this clip I thought that I would update it.

A couple of years ago, I and a friend went backpacking in Glacier National Park, I had rigged up a way to carry my camera, a Canon 7D. I had used a small case with a rain cover that I suspended off of my pack straps in front of me at chest level, I really didn’t notice the weight, but what was the most annoying and dangerous was that it obstructed my view of the trail.  I hadn’t noticed it being an obstruction in Wisconsin but walking narrow trails in the mountains was completely different. So after a short day hike I opted to carry my phone as my only camera.

PD Capture Pro Clip Amazon Link

In 2016 we spent 10 days day hiking in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Tetons and backpacking in the Wind River Range near Pinedale Wyoming. I had picked up a peak design capture pro clip. With this clip I have been able to carry my 7D on my day pack and backpack with no problems and no notice of extra weight even though I know it is there. I was questioned by a couple of people on the trail asking about what I was using, a short demonstration on how easy it is to clip on and off was all that was needed to have them asking where can they get one. I should have packed a couple to sell on the trail.

Another couple along with my wife and I spent a week in the Denver area not long ago, of the many things that Denver has to offer is it’s wide variety of breweries and tap houses. Having this clip attached to my belt with my Sony A5000 was so much better than having a camera hanging around my neck all day. When you have a camera hanging around you can often get the attention of others, sometimes this is good other times it better to be inconspicuous, and I didn’t have to worry about leaving it somewhere. 

This clip does not provide any weather protection, but is my favorite to way to carry my camera when hiking or traveling.

Peak Design Wrist Strap Affiliate Link

With the addition of a Peak Design wrist strap the camera is less obtrusive on the clip and secure when holding it.  Peak Design camera straps are interchangeable so you can add a normal neck strap back on when you need it.

The peak design capturepro clip uses a Swiss Arca plate to my surprise and joy I found that the Peak Design clip fits my  Vanguard VEO Tripod very nicely.  

After using this many times I have found that even my Canon 7D with a 70-200 zoom rides comfortably and is easy to access. Sometimes you want to have your camera out and available but also need the freedom of motion and two free hands to move.

Some reviews mention that you cannot get this clip on a moderately padded strap, it does take a little bit of squeezing but not too much.

Fall Leaves 2020

“Autumn is the hardest season. The leaves are all falling, and they’re falling like they’re falling in love with the ground.” Andrea Gibson.

Fall colors and textures don’t end when the leaves fall. walking, we are welcomed by a colorful carpet of leaves.  This last weekend I was able to get out and hike some trails and visit an local arboretum. Since it’s November 1st, the trees have mostly given up there leaves but the color on the ground was brilliant.

As Fall approaches, the temperature changes, gradually getting cooler and the daylight hours shorten. The chlorophyll in the leaves that give them the green color, breaks down and other chemical changes allow the colors of various pigments to show. Around the stem of the leaf, a layer of special cork like cells develop that allow leaves to separate from the branch and seal it for protection.

 

Temperature, rain and cloud cover can affect the color intensity of the leaves. An early frost can shorten the duration and intensity of color. Cloudy cool and damp days can increase the intensity of the colors.

We all have a Fall season in our lives, I hope that my Fall season can be as colorful and inspirational to others as the leaves of a tree are in the Fall.

 

 

Ice Age Trail Whitewater Segment Fall Hike

A cool Fall Sunday morning and only one other vehicle at the Whitewater segment of the IAT on Clover Valley Road. I started my hike where we worked on the bridge and boardwalk the day before, replacing rotten and damaged boards as needed. It was a good time, we had a local Boy Scout Troop help as well.

It’s past the peak color time for trees in this area but the color as I hiked on this overcast morning was amazing.

This segment of the trail is fairly flat but does have some hills easily navigated with the steps and erosion controls for the trail. During the summer months this can be a busy area since the trail passes directly next to the Whitewater State Park campground. As with all the IAT I have been on it is well marked and easy to follow. As with most trails in Southern Wisconsin the trail is strewn with good size rocks to navigate over and around. It’s always fascinates me how the glaciers moved all this material and the changes to the landscape that they made.

Hiking in the direction I started (from Clover Valley Road), soon after the campground at the top of a hill you get a beautiful view of Rice Lake and Whitewater Lake.  A bench or two are available for a respite. 

Shortly before Easterly road the trail passes under a pine tree canopy giving the look of a tunnel entrance near the end. 

According the the GPS app I was trying out it was 2.9 miles from Clover Valley Road to Easterly Road. 

Phoneskope Review

Last November I purchased a Phoneskope case for my Samsung S10. I was excited to use it with my Diamondback spotting scope. Between winter weather and other craziness going on in the world I hadn’t been able to give it a fair try until now. My goal with this was never to get the DSLR quality images. I like my spotting scope but, I understand the optics are not the best and no where near a camera lens. My goal was to get images that I could show friends what I had seen and to help me identify species.

PhoneSkope on Vortex Diamondback 20-60-80

Ordering on the PhoneSkope.com website was easy. The case consists of two parts, phone case and a adapter for the eyepiece of the scope or other optic. This is not a protective case, it offers little protection to the phone and I had some issues with it interfering with the screen protector. The case is easy to remove and reinstall when you need it. The eyepiece adapter can be a little bulky if you decide to keep the case on permanently but is easily removed from the case. This also means that you can change adapters for other scopes or like myself for binoculars or monocular.

I ordered the case on a Sunday and it arrived at the end of the week. Besides the case and adapter it included a nice draw string bag, a handwritten thank you note and a piece of candy.

How It Works

As I said previously the case is easily installed on the phone. The Phoneskope fits the eyepiece snugly, so you don’t have to hold it, but comes off and on easily. Phoneskope has an app that you can download and offers some additions that your standard camera apps probably do not offer.

This isn’t a complete list but some of the major points that I like.

  • Photo/ video.
  • Stabilization.
  • Timer- one second, three seconds and 10 seconds.
  • Watermark add.
  • Change between camera lens if you have that option with your phone.

My Thoughts

The case works very well and is a quality product and design. As I suspected better optics/ spotting scope would help a lot. Then again I wasn’t looking for contest winning images. I like the video better than the still images.

I am not at all putting my Vortex Diamondback 20-60-80 down, it is a great scope for the price and I love it.

Images turn out the best in bright Sun light but then it’s difficult to see focus. Having a jacket or something to place over my head to block the light would help.

Low power on the scope works the best for images, higher power is more distorted.

If your looking to have images to share with friends at a low cost, this is a great option.

Winter Leaves

For what ever reason, I often enjoy hiking by myself. Finding trails and areas that are not being highly traveled. This can also be achieved by hiking in extreme weather or early or late in the day.

When hiking during the winter extreme low temperatures of around 10 degrees Fahrenheit or less starts to make the snow squeak when you walk on it. The colder it gets the more squeaky the snow gets as I walk on it. This sound reminds me of eating fresh cheese curds. Maybe it’s just time for lunch.

Leaves can catch the eye when hiking during the winter, adding color and shape to the landscape. These leaves that remain are referred to as marcescent or marcescence. It may be on all or part of a tree or plant. Many Oaks seem to hold on to their leaves. As best that I can find, the reason why some trees retain their leaves is unknown but there are some theories. Such as helping to protect the plant from animals such as deer.

What ever the reason they make for a better looking landscape during the cold and snowy Wisconsin Winter.

My Bird List 2019

This isn’t a complete list but it is definitely a list. I consider this my first real year of birding since my goal was to bird as much as possible and identify at least 50 species.

My birding year started out pretty good birding in the Dominican Republic in February. I definitely learned a lot about being prepared for a new area. In late February I had shoulder surgery and was unable to do much at all except therapy until late April and early May.

In November I finally visited my local Audubon chapter and participated in some bird walks. Some days were brutal along the shoreline of Lake Geneva but it was worth it.

Identifying various bird species is definitely a challenge foe and takes some time to look up but I am getting better. I am also starting to use a Skopecase for my phone so hopefully I will be able to photograph the birds I see and look at the details later after it flies away.

The bird(s) that were the most exciting for me this year was the Rose Breasted Grosbeak and the Pileated Woodpecker. I had never seen either of these birds but in one day I saw 11 Rose Breasted Grosbeaks. The Pileated Woodpeckers we observed near Bigfoot Beach in Lake Geneva. The first time two flew into a tree about 30 feet or less from us. The next time we observed them entering and exiting a hole in a cherry tree.

The list below contains 66 species.

Common Loon4/21/18Harrington Beach State Park
American White Pelican4/2918Horicon Marsh
Trumpeter Swan4/29/18Horicon Marsh
Mallard4/29/18Horicon Marsh
Blue Winged Teal4/21/18Lions Den Gorge
Green Winged Teal4/21/18Lions Den Gorge
Red Head4/29/18Horicon Marsh
Ringed Neck Duck4/21/18Lions Den Gorge
Common Merganser4/24/19Schlitz Audubon
Wild Turkey4/22/19Kiswauketoe
Sandhill Crane4/28/19Kiswauketoe
Kildeer4/24/19Kiswauketoe
Ringed Billed Gull4/21/18Harrington Beach State Park
Mourning Dove4/22/18 Delavan Arboretum
Snowy Owl12/09/17Coal Dock Park Port Washington
Belted Kingfisher4/21/18Lions Den Gorge
Red Headed Woodpecker05/01/19Kiswauketoe
Downy Woodpecker4/10/19Kiswauketoe
Hairy Woodpecker07/01/17Home
Northern Flicker4/10/19Kiswauketoe
Blue Jay05/06/19Kiswauketoe
American Crow4/21/18Harrington Beach State Park
Black Capped Chickadee4/21/18Lions Den Gorge
White Breasted Nuthatch4/23/19Price Park
Marsh Wren4/29/18Horicon Marsh
Ruby Crowned Kinglet4/24/19Schlitz Audubon
Blue Grey Gnatcatcher4/24/19Schlitz Audubon
Eastern Bluebird6/24/17Hartman Creek State Park
American Robin05/06/19Kiswauketoe
Wood Thrush5/19/19Dorothy Cairns
Hermit Thrush4/24/19Schlitz Audubon
Grey Catbird5/18/19Retzer Nature Center
European Starling4/22/19Troy Center
Brown Thrasher4/30/19Scuppernong
Yellow Warbler05/08/19Kiswauketoe
Magnolia Warbler5/18/19Kiswauketoe
Yellow Rumped Warbler05/06/19Kiswauketoe
Palm Warbler05/19/19Dorothy Cairns
Yellow Throated Warbler05/10/19Dorothy Cairns
American Redstart05/05/19Retzer Nature Center
Norther Waterthrush05/19/19Dorothy Cairns
Scarlet Tanager05/19/19Dorothy Cairns
Northern Cardinal05/18/19Kiswauketoe
Rose Breasted Grosbeak05/06/19Kiswauketoe
Indigo Bunting05/07/19Home
Eastern Towhee04/28/19Kiswauketoe
Savannah Sparrow05/05/19Retzer Nature Center
Dark Eyed Junco11/29/19
Bobolink05/18/19Retzer Nature Center
Brown Headed Cowbird04/10/19Kiswauketoe
Red Winged Blackbird05/18/19Retzer Nature Center
Common Grackle04/29/19Home
Baltimore Oriole05/11/19Nine Springs
Scotts Oriole05/30/19Home
House Finch07/01/19Home
American Goldfinch05/06/19Home
Pileated Woodpecker11/16/19Bigfoot State Park
Bufflehead11/16/19Bigfoot State Park
Green Heron02/05/19Punta Cana
Great Egret02/05/19Punta Cana
Hispaniolan Woodpecker02/05/19Punta Cana
Grey Kingbird02/05/19Punta Cana
Hispaniolan Woodpecker02/05/19Punta Cana
Greater Antillean Grackle02/05/19Punta Cana
Bananaquit02/05/19Punta Cana
Tree Swallow04/28/19Kiswauketoe

Celebrate Winter

“WINTER IS NOT A SEASON, IT’S A CELEBRATION.” – ANAMIKA MISHRA

The start of winter (Astronomical), December 21, 2019. A comfortable day to enjoy a hike on the shortest daylight and longest darkness of the year. There isn’t much color in the winter landscape of Wisconsin apart from some red berries usually associated with Bittersweet vines. As I hiked, the morning light backlit the leaves with some warm light, it was an beautiful moment.

Hiking Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy in Williams Bay Wisconsin was a great place to be this winter solstice. The trails were soft and some were closed for repair work on the boardwalks.

Solstice vs Equinox

Each year we have two days that mark a solstice and two days that mark an equinox.

Solstice A solstice is when the Earths poles reach the maximum tilt towards the Sun. This happens around June 21 and around December 22 each year. In the Northern Hemisphere this would be the Summer solstice June 21 and the Winter solstice December 22. The Summer solstice is the longest daylight and shortest night. The Winter solstice is the shortest daylight and longest night. This is the reason for the seasons.

Equinox Around the dates of, March 21 and September 23, are the Equinoxes. This is when the Sun is directly above the Equator. This makes for an equal length of day and night.