Archive for May 30th, 2009


Yearling Buck: A Year in Pictures

Learning and understanding how to use a camera continues as a challenge.  I’ve missed more shots than I’ve gotten.  Yesterday, I practically stepped on one of the foxes before I realized it was there, and, of course, missed the shot.  I also saw the dominant doe with the female yearling but forgot to adjust the light settings on the camera, completely forgetting that I had it set for low light because of cloud cover just as the sun broke through the clouds.

I’ve been photographing these deer for about a year now.  My first shots of Big Boy last year while in velvet are known to my friends because I couldn’t stop talking about how he walked through a field with me and let me photograph him.  In my own words, it was a very cool day.  When I took the picture below, I didn’t realize at the time I was taking pictures of Big Boy’s son and daughter.  The shot isn’t very good, but I had absolutely no clue how to use this camera then.  And while on most days I still feel clueless about photography, I still manage to get some decent shots.


He’s curious about people but his parents have taught him well.  He knows to run and hide from humans, though his curiosity gets the best of him and sometimes he will walk right up to within thirty feet of me.  He’s about thirty feet from me in this shot but I didn’t have the auto-focus set right, so instead of focusing on him, the camera focused on the bush to the right.  I’ve since learned how to resolve that issue.


Throughout Fall and early Winter I kept seeing these deer, but continued to miss the shots.  In this shot I saw them running through the beach picnic area and the crunching snow beneath my feet scared them even more and they seemed to go into hyper-gear.  The four of them jumped and leaped and bounded in every possible direction and this is the only shot of them that remotely looks like a deer.

I spent the rest of Winter practicing on Eagles, Ducks, Geese and anything else I could find to take pictures of, while still trying to find the deer and get their picture.  The snow and ice melted and moving around in the park got easier and quieter.  In March I found where Big Boy and his family reside and started getting some nice shots.  I’m still kind of surprised that he tolerates me around him and his family.


After taking this shot and getting home to look at it on my monitor, I realized I had taken pictures of the two fawns from last Fall and decided to return to the same part of the park to get more shots.


With patience and practice I slowly began getting better shots of him and his sister as they grew.


And, finally, after reading some of your blogs, pestering my professional photographer friends, reading the camera manuals and thumbing through The KISS Guide to Photography; I got this shot.  I had vowed at this point not to name them because they’re not pets.  They may be used to humans but they’re still wild animals and I don’t want to think of them as pets, so I won’t get too close and scare them and cause them to run out in front of a car.  I just kept referring to him and his sister as the yearlings.


Later in the Spring, he began staying close to his mother.  She’s very attentive and affectionate with the yearlings but more so with him at this point.  I knew why.


Could it be she was saying good-bye?  A few weeks ago, I noticed the females had grouped together and while I couldn’t get shots of them, the males had also grouped together.  As spring progresses, the females go off on their own because the younger does have to learn about birthing.  The males group together to defend their territory and distract potential predators from the females.  Behavior I noticed a couple weeks ago when I took the shot below.


I had gone back into one of the areas where these deer live and found the yearlings by themselves.  They jumped to their feet and separated.  The female yearling moved further back into the brush, while the yearling male moved closer toward me and kept himself between her and I.  I’ve been calling him Braveheart ever since.  I saw him again yesterday and he’s not hanging out with his mom and sister anymore.  He’s running with Big Boy, and he’s in velvet.


(click any picture for a larger view)


On This Day, May 30: Decoration Day

May 30, 1868

Civil War dead honored on Decoration Day

By proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, the first major Memorial Day observance is held to honor those who died “in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” Known to some as “Decoration Day,” mourners honored the Civil War dead by decorating their graves with flowers. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

The 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances that had taken place in various locations in the three years since the end of the Civil War. In fact, several cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Mississippi; Macon, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; and Carbondale, Illinois. In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon B. Johnson, declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo–which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866–because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

By the late 19th century, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day, and after World War I, observers began to honor the dead of all of America’s wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. It is customary for the president or vice president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. More than 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually. Several Southern states continue to set aside a special day for honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day.

“Civil War dead honored on Decoration Day,” The History Channel website, 2009, [accessed May 30, 2009]

On This Day

1416 – Jerome of Prague was burned as a heretic by the Church.

1431 – Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen, France, at the age of 19.

1539 – Hernando de Soto, the Spanish explorer, landed in Florida with 600 soldiers to search for gold.

1854 – The U.S. territories of Nebraska and Kansas were established.

1883 – Twelve people were trampled to death in New York City in a stampede when a rumor that the Brooklyn Bridge was in danger of collapsing occurred.

1911 – Ray Harroun won the first Indianapolis Sweepstakes. The 500-mile auto race later became known as the Indianapolis 500. Harroun’s average speed was 74.59 miles per hour.

1913 – The First Balkan War ended.

1922 – The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC.

1958 – Unidentified soldiers killed in World War II and the Korean conflicts were buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

1967 – The state of Biafra seceded from Nigeria and Civil war erupted.

1989 – The “Goddess of Democracy” statue (33 feet height) was erected in Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators.


May 30, 1971

Mariner 9 departs for Mars

The U.S. unmanned space probe Mariner 9 is launched on a mission to gather scientific information on Mars, the fourth planet from the sun. The 1,116-pound spacecraft entered the planet’s orbit on November 13, 1971, and circled Mars twice each day for almost a year, photographing the surface and analyzing the atmosphere with infrared and ultraviolet instruments. It gathered data on the atmospheric composition, density, pressure, and temperature of Mars, and also information about the surface composition, temperature, and topography of the planet.

When Mariner 9 first arrived, Mars was almost totally obscured by dust storms, which persisted for a month. However, after the dust cleared, Mariner 9 proceeded to reveal a very different planet–one that boasted enormous volcanoes and a gigantic canyon stretching 3,000 miles across its surface. The spacecraft’s cameras also recorded what appeared to be dried riverbeds, suggesting the ancient presence of water and perhaps life on the planet. The first spacecraft to orbit a planet other than earth, Mariner 9 sent back more than 7,000 pictures of the “Red Planet” and succeeded in photographing the entire planet. Mariner 9 also sent back the first close-up images of the Martian moon. Its transmission ended on October 27, 1972.

Mariner 9 departs for Mars,” The History Channel website, 2009, [accessed May 30, 2009]

May 2009
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