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Great-tailed Grackle Portrait

Great-tailed Grackle Portrait

Quotation MarksGrackles (Quiscalus mexicanus) are not the most popular of birds, mostly for their convocational habits that create a proliferation of egesta and caviling. However, they are indubitably pulchritudinous in their shimmering ebony and indigo raiment! This gallant fellow is a stunning example of God’s aestheticism and virtuosity.

—A. deLeeuw

“Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” Psalm 45:11

Arizona, U.S. | 1/320 | F8 | ISO 200 | 300mm

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Leave A Comment, Written on September 12th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Latest Tweets
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Western Gull: A Coastal Bloom

Western Gull: A Coastal Bloom

Quotation MarksGulls are notoriously difficult to identify, and because I am a complete neophyte to seabirds, my identification could be mistaken. However, I believe this is a 2nd Cycle Western Gull (Larus occidentalis), meaning that although it is an adult, it has not reached its adult plumage or breeding age.

Western Gulls acquire their adult plumage in their 4th year (or 8th molt), and generally begin breeding at the same age. Interestingly, western gulls who begin breeding at this age have a higher annual mortality rate than gulls who put off their first breeding a year or two (Cost of Reproduction and the Evolution of Deferred Breeding in the Western Gull). They do generally live for 15 years, but can live up to 25 years in the right conditions, so they still have many breeding years left.

Gulls are definitely ubiquitous along California’s coast, but is still one of God’s blossoms!

—A. deLeeuw

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.” Isaiah 35:1

California, U.S. | 1/640 | F13 | ISO 320 | 420mm

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Leave A Comment, Written on September 10th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Latest Tweets
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RAINFALL: Liquid Sunshine

Liquid Sunshine

Quotation MarksRainfall, especially when one lives in the desert, is a blessing indeed, and I wanted to capture this liquid sunshine with my camera while in Fern Canyon. God promises, “I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit.” Leviticus 26:4

—A. deLeeuw

California, U.S. | 1/2.5 | F40 | ISO 100 | 300mm

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Leave A Comment, Written on August 31st, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Landscape
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Female Black-Chinned Hummingbird in Flight

Black-Chinned Hummingbird in Flight ♀

Quotation MarksI was excited to capture this shot of a female Black-chinned (I believe) hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri), seemingly hanging in mid-air. She was flying in bright sunlight, so when I adjusted the shutter speed for exposure, the background disappeared into blackness, providing this cool effect. The yellow bits on the top of her beak is pollen from the flowers upon which she had been feeding.

—A. deLeeuw

Arizona, U.S. | 1/640 | F5.6 | ISO 200 | 300mm

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Leave A Comment, Written on August 29th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Latest Tweets
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PEACOCK: Variations on a Theme

PEACOCK: Variations on a Theme

Quotation MarksI must confess, I am not much of an “artist,” and in fact I have absolutely NO images in my head at all. You know when a character in a television program says something like, “Close your eyes and relax. Now, tell me what you see?” I am usually thinking, “It is so dark in here.” Seriously. That is why I generally leave the Creating to God, and I simply chronicle His wondrous chef d’oeuvre with my camera. Thus, when I do “create,” I must literally view and manipulate the elements on my palette. Thank You, God, for Photoshop, where I can arrange and rearrange the design elements in endless iterations—size, color, opacity, orientation, etc.—to my little OCD heart’s content.

I was recently challenged by one of my favorite photography groups to create a photographic version of a common 18th and 19th century musical technique—the variation. I imagine it is a particularly effective technique for composers to stimulate their creativity, and experiment with their themes and the habiliments with which they adorn them. The variation is a repetition of motifs or themes that are modified, amplified, and often become more elaborate and ornate as they develop. One of the most famous examples is Haydn’s Variations on a Theme that you can hear at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAuqxEMRapg. One of my favorite variations is Mozart’s 12 Variations in C, with a motif that is instantly recognizable by all Americans. A more contemporary example might be Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Variations. Or try the quirky Variations on Happy Birthday by John Williams. I LOVE the Happy Birthday theme on kettle drums—very inventive! Okay, enough fun, back to the topic.

The motif I selected for my graphic Variation on a Theme is the peacock (Pavo cristatus), which is so opulent and ornate in so many shades and magnifications. I expended a full day manipulating the first three peacock heads in blue, green and gold, before I was able to analyze why I was completely dissatisfied with my progress. I was seeing, and designing “peacocks,” and I needed to stop illustrating a bird, and instead use the bird to illustrate the artwork. Following that revelation, I was suddenly creating a piece of art, a kaleidoscope of patterns and facets, which is how I had conceptualized the challenge in the first place.

The final piece has no symbolism or meaning; it is very simply variations, and a closeup examination of the beauty and majesty of God’s fabulous peacock!

—A. deLeeuw

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Leave A Comment, Written on August 27th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Peacock Courtship
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COUCH'S SPADEFOOT: Ocular Closeup

Vermilion Flycatcher Romance

Quotation MarksThis is an amazing little toad, or to be more precise, spadefoot, as technically it is not a true toad. Like a toad, however, it is considered terrestrial, spending only short periods of the two to four months of the year that it is not hibernating, in actual water. This extended hibernation period is a necessary adaptation to living primarily in deserts, where obviously, surface water is seasonal, at best. In fact, the name spadefoot, refers to the sickle-shaped tubercles on its rear feet that elucidates the adaptations that allow it to burrow deep into the less than tillable soil, that is made necessary by the inhospitably arid conditions.

The Couch’s Spadefoot (Scaphiopus couchii) is considered the most arid-adapted amphibian of North America. Almost miraculously, the spadefoot hibernates eight to ten months of each year deep in the soil where it burrows with its sturdy tubercles. It was previously conjectured that spadefoots were awakened by the saturation of the summer monsoon rains to their abyssal cloisters, but the current prevailing hypothesis is that the low-frequency resonance of thunder and rainfall stimulate emergence.

Upon reemergence, the males promptly begin their serenade of any female spadefoots within auditory range. Considering the transitory nature of water in the desert, the 3000 or more eggs of each female hatch to tadpoles in less than a day. The newly hatched tadpoles metamorphose to adults in approximately seven to eight days, faster than any other anuran in North America, if their puddle or pool withstands the summer heat, of course. If they survive their protracted week of “larva-hood,” they can live up to 13 years in a stagnant precipitancy.

Now admit it—that is one amazing toad…er…spadefoot!

—A. deLeeuw

Arizona, U.S. | 1/400 | F7.1 | ISO 3200 | 125mm

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Leave A Comment, Written on August 20th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography
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Vermilion Flycatcher Romance

Vermilion Flycatcher Romance

Quotation MarksThis Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus) couple was so endearing in both their rearing of their first clutch, and their continuing romance as they brooded their second clutch. Mr. V was a most diligent and successful provider, and incredibly sweet about bringing constant gifts to Mrs. V as she doted on their progeny. You can clearly view the delectable green insect Mr. V is feeding his missus, and although it would not be an offering I would welcome, from the twitterpated expression in Mrs. V’s eyes, she is received it with the adoration with which it is proffered. God’s Love is manifest all around us if we buy look!

—A. deLeeuw

Arizona, U.S. | 1/500 | F13 | ISO 320 | 300mm

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Leave A Comment, Written on August 20th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Latest Tweets
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Fern Canyon Tree

Fern Canyon Tree

Quotation MarksI honestly have no idea the species of this tree, but I just love his gnarly sinuousness that communicates stoicism and humble endurance, both very admirable traits. Deep in the Pacific temperate rain forest, it was definitely low-light conditions, so to capture enough of the highlights, I managed to blow out the shadows. Still, it was such a captivating subject, and resplendent verdure, I just had to use it. I hope the stunning beauty of God’s Creation will overcome any of my limitations.

—A. deLeeuw

California, U.S. | 1/250 | F8 | ISO 400 | 70mm

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Leave A Comment, Written on August 17th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Landscape
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Costa's Hummingbird Hen Preening

Costa’s Hummingbird Hen Preening

Quotation MarksWatching birds preen, like watching fish glide through an aquarium, is one of the most mesmerizing and calming displays. This little beauty (Calypte costae) is performing her noontide ablution after multiple luncheon feedings of her doublets, which I found totally mesmerizing. Such beauty and precision in her aligning of her glittering pennae. The hues in her surroundings are almost as stunning as is she!

—A. deLeeuw

Arizona, U.S. | 1/400 | F6.3 | ISO 400 | 240mm

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Leave A Comment, Written on August 13th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Latest Tweets
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Great-horned Owlet Drooped Over Nest Box

Great-horned Owlet Drooped Over Nest Box

Quotation MarksThis little guy (Bubo virginianus) fell from his nest early on, and because the nest was so high, the Wildlife Specialist created a temporary nest as high as possible using a cardboard box. Once he grew old enough, he would sleep and perch on the side of the “nest,” as seen here. It was hysterical to see him drape his wing over one side, and fall sound asleep. He is just awakening in this photo, as you can see from his droopy eyes. Incidentally, his parents continued to care for him and his sister, who remained in the original nest, and both were successfully fledged to independence. God’s Creations are so amazing!

—A. deLeeuw

Arizona, U.S. | 1/200 | F10 | ISO 400 | 185mm

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Leave A Comment, Written on August 13th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Latest Tweets, Owls

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Nature Photography and Stories from the Sonoran Desert