Tag Archives: brown

What Makes This Image Of A Brown Pelican So Powerful?

If there were ever a case about the sheer visual power of a black and white image it would have to include “Brown Pelican”.   Color is popular in the art world; there is no denying it. After all we see in color, dress by colors, and each of our world cultures have, in their own way, given colors specific meanings.

So why then is there such artistic fascination with the unseen world of black and white? What is the draw? We are able to see an object painted black or one colored white, but we don’t visualize the world in such a way.

This lack of an ability to simply turn color in the visual world off truly belongs to the realm of the artist. Artists love to take that which cannot be seen but by definition must remain imagined and bring them into the forefront of our understanding.

Thus we have Brown Pelican.   This is a typical brown pelican. Very much like its name, this bird really isn’t much to look at in its natural color. Its weird shape and large size draw more attention than the plain brown of the plumage.  For lack of better commentary, it’s just  a large brown bird.

Don’t misunderstand; the bird is graceful and powerful in its own right. There are plenty of fish in the sea that fear the mere presence of such a creature. Its wings spread out in the tropical sun, gliding over the surface of the water with eyes fixed upon the fish below.


But, the color! The color is a burnt sienna brown. The wings are brown. The head is brown. Even the magnificent beak is nothing more than a shade of boring brown.   Yet, if we take this image and remove the color an incredible sight opens before us.

Stretching Pelican
Stretching Pelican

The wings become these awesome shades of blackness slowly contrasted with brilliant peaks of white. The feathers of the tail and body almost look rigid with the white sharp contrast set against the black interior of the feather.   The feathers almost look like a metal armor.

Indeed, each feather suddenly renders a level of detail and structure previously hidden to the human eye.   Such detail brings new ideas and thoughts into focus. We see armor plating where there is none; we see rigidity where there is only softness. The bird becomes artistic and open for interpretation. The wings, feathers, and even head suddenly take on a new atmosphere. It’s up to the viewer to decide the overall meaning, but that is what photographic black and white photography is all about.

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Introducing Coyote

Sleepy is a portrait of a sleepy coyote looking over his shoulder to see what I’m all about. Obviously, I seem to have slightly disturbed him from his morning siesta. It was a generally hot day so he had already found a nice cool spot in the shade to sleep off his early morning breakfast.

This shot was a real challenge for me. When I saw this magnificent animal he was laying in the shade under a tree behind a chain link fence. Going up to the fence to take the shot was out of the question and the fence was too high for me to prop the camera over it.   So, I had to use the manual focus on my lens and stand at just the right focal distance from him to clearly focus his body and yet not see the fence between us.

The Coyote is a member of the canine family is found all over the United States and Mexico. In Texas, they are a common sight in rural areas and at night you can sometimes hear them howling and yapping. They stay away from people generally, but because of incursion of habitat and urbanization of creek beds and forested areas have caused them to have more contact with humans.

They have also learned that it is easier to hunt for the food people throw away and not try to catch their normal diet of rodents and rabbits. Once they have a taste for scavenging trash bins, it is very difficult to get them to stop.

While they pose no real danger to a human, in fact they usually run away, the real danger comes when a pet owner lets their cute Pomeranian outside at 3 am. Lap dogs, toy breeds, and even some cats are a menu item for coyotes. There is a real chance they may end up eaten if a hungry coyote sees them.

A coyote will not usually attack a larger dog and unless it threatens them. They are even known to attempt mating with them. The result is a coyote mixed breed. It’s relatively rare but it has happened. There are rumors in southern states that wolf and coyote mixes have begun to appear. This has caused a lot of concern for farmers and the well-being of the livestock.

Not this guy though. Our friendly coyote is more concerned about napping than anything else.

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Do You Know What This Meerkat Expression Means?

This cute meerkat has his ears pinned back and looking at the sky is a forlorn almost begging way. Perhaps praying for a nice juicy insect to pass by for breakfast? When I cam upon this scene I felt that this meerkat’s position and attitude were very strange indeed.

At first he was standing upon a rock on both his hind legs and searching the horizon for any predators. All of a sudden, this little guy takes this pose and remained that way for several seconds. I was fortunate to take the shot because my attention was originally placed upon his companion, which stood by out of frame to his left. However, he had darted back to the safety of a tunnel opening.

I came to find out that our lonely sentry was unfortunately not praying. Nor was he begging for food from some passerby. He was instead sending a clear visual signal to the rest of his gang that there was an aerial predator nearby.   I was too busy with the camera to actually look in the direction he was looking to see for myself what could be hunting him.

According to National Geographic, if a meerkat sentry sees any airborne objects that are big enough to be a predator, they will crouch down and bark out a Prayerwarning before running to the safety of their extensive tunnel system.   This system is quite good at protecting themselves from the hazards of falcons and other birds of prey.

However, they do not seem to be able to distinguish these dangerous birds from the occasional airplane or helicopter flying by and will show this behavior for them also. Very likely it’s a better safe than sorry instinctual response that causes this reaction. Of course when you are a meerkat and weigh about a pound and a half, it means you’re a a big heavy weight in the meerkat world.  So fear of any flying animal larger than a swallow makes perfect sense for survival.

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“Meerkats, Meerkat Pictures, Meerkat Facts – National Geographic.” National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. <http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/meerkat/>.

How Lizards Become Artists

Our lizard friend in the work Hidden 2 U is a wonderful reminder of how nature completely executes the artistic ideals of color, form and function.  Lizards will change their skin colors to help blend in with the surrounding environment.  Useful for both hunting prey and hiding from predators, lizards depend on this ability.  More importantly, it works.

But the unique thing about a lizard’s skin coloring is that while many similarities among lizards of the same species exist, they are not all the same. Each lizard’s pattern and ability to change color is an individual skill of that lizard.

Hidden 2 U
I See You….

An artist will look at this lizard and admire the colors and shades of brown and grays  used to blend into the tree behind it.  The patterns are exquisite and effectively manage to communicate the goal of the lizard and his reasoning for using the colors and patterns he does.

The lizard creates an inspiring artistic display of color and how color either hides or elevates a subject into our field of vision and wonder. The mere presence of the lizards camouflage not only beautifies the tree, but it provides a focal point for our interest.  The blended skin pattern the lizard so flagrantly attempts to pass off as part of the tree, only manages to command our attention to its uniqueness.

The fact that we see this lizard shows a functional failure of the lizard to hide.  But the failure is not a complete one.  As an artist, this lizard is successful. We know what his purpose is.  We understand the meaning behind his changing scales and flattened form.   His work is communicating effectively.

Indeed, His hard work and dedication to the art of color and form manipulation pays off.  For as I sat taking his picture, whole groups of people walked chatting and blind to this arboreal treasure hanging literally two feet from their heads.

Thus, we see once again that nature indeed has the best artists.  Nature provides the best examples of uniqueness and the inspiring ability to manipulate color, texture and form to meet its needs.  There is little doubt that nature does offer the most original forms of art for us to view.

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The Art of a Texas Hayfield

I was sweating in 78° F weather in Dallas, Texas last week.  Today I’m freezing in a balmy 32°F with new terms in my vocabulary like cobblestone ice, thunder-sleet, and frozen fog.   Unusual?  These things happen in Texas.  It’s a sign that winter has started in a serious way.


Now some of the unlucky few whom have never seen the lands around Dallas or Fort Worth may ask yourselves how such a temperature difference can happen.   The answer lies in our location.   To the north and west of the metroplex you see a lot of what our picture Hay Fields of Texas shows.   There are no trees, no hills, in fact nothing that would stop one of the famous “Blue-Northerner” cold fronts that dip down from Canada.  This is an example of what the saying “In the middle of nowhere.” means


Indeed, Hay Fields in Texas is exactly that. This is a picture of a flat agricultural farm that grows hay feed for cattle or horses on the drifting southern edge of the Great Plains.   There is nothing but flat land and desolate lonely telephone poles.


Artistically, it’s not as barren as the view may suggest.  The flatness and straight line of the horizon elevates the impression of barren nothingness.  This line blends with the pale blue sky and the contrasting brown of the field.  The lines of the field, however, present an interesting pattern that serves to beautify the hayfield.  It’s shape short lines and black, white and tan patterns are out of the ordinary and motivate our eyes to study it closer.


Overall the sudden change in colors of sky to land and natural lines found in the image serve to inspire our curiosity.  What could be so flat?  Where could such a place be?  How can we as people surrounded by buildings and tress imagine some one actually living in such a strange place?


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