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Mike & Dawn / Anna & David

Our first day in Alaska we spent driving up to Denali stopping at every overlook. The weather was great with clear skies. I took this photo of Mt. McKinley from Denali State Park on the drive up. They said we only have a 20-30% chance of seeing the mountain due to weather on any given day. We had a 95% chance to see a bear.

Denali Mount McKinley

When we got to Denali we decided to drive into the park. You can drive the first 15 miles. At the turn around their were tour buses stopped on the bridge. That’s when we saw out first Grizzly Bear. We parked the car, got our camera equipment, and started taking photos. The bear was across the Savage River. We moved down the opposite shore taking photos. That’s when the bear charged across the river right at us. The Park Ranger on the bridge was yelling for us to run back and get in the out house. I didn’t get a shot of the bear running across the river at us because I was moving to a new position. The bear passed us by. After the excitement I was able to get this photo of the bear a little later at a safe distance.

First Grizzly

We learned a lot during our first hour at the park. 1. There is a good reason to maintain a safe distance from bears. Apparently 300 yards. 2. Bears can run very fast. 3. The best camera is the one you have with you. Our friend Anna had a point and shoot and got the photo of the charging bear.

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crash Landing

Somehow this entry was deleted. Will have to repost later.

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A Great Start

Originally we were booked from Baltimore to LAX to Denver to Anchorage and it was going to take us 19 hours to get to Alaska. I used miles to get free tickets for my wife and I on United. Unfortunately United wouldn’t let us book the better outbound flights on a free ticket.

So this morning we went to the airport bright and early prepared for a long day. When we checked in, the United worker behind the counter offered to change our flights to the much quicker rout through Chicago. This cuts about eight hours off of our travel time today.

To say the least we are very excited.

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Felts Audubon Preserve



Bluebirds, originally uploaded by bmthomas.

Felts Audubon Preserve
4600 24th Avenue East
Palmetto, Florida

This was a rare treat for me. My mother had told me about Felts Audubon Preserve last year. Unfortunately it is only open the first Saturday of the month from 0800 to noon. This was the first time I had been around on the first Saturday of the month.The preserve is run by the Manatee County Audubon Society (http://www.manateeaudubon.org/felts.html). According to their pamphlets it consist of 27 acres and they have seen over 100 species of birds have been seen at the preserve.

We were the first to arrive. I highly recommend getting there early/first because it did get a little crowded.

We saw a number of small birds including Eastern Bluebirds, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Palm Warbler, Tufted Titmouse, American Kestrel, and a Wood Stork. When we arrived we saw a pair of mating Red-shouldered hawks. We saw these hawks repeatedly through out the day. According to locals they have seen owls and painted buntings. I was really hoping to get a good bluebird photo and to see a painted bunting but didn’t.

If you are in the area on the first Saturday or the month, I would highly recommend a visit.

Red Shouldered Hawk Red Shouldered Hawk

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United States Navy Chief’s Team

Ride Across Maryland (RAM) 10th Anniversary

Results Not Excuses

Retired Chief Petty Officer Kirk Towner is Team Captain of a RAM team of active and retired Chief Petty Officers, 25 plus have agreed to participate with a goal of 125 plus.

Request the CPOA consider a donation to this great cause in honor of one of our own Chief Petty Officer Dabet Valez. Fort Meade CPOA and Patuxent River CPOA have each donated $500.00 to the team. Suitland CPOA will donate $25.00 for every member that participates in the ride.

Team membership is open to family, friends, and the public for those interested in supporting the team for this great cause. You can ride with on the ride or in your heart by joining the team virtually.

To join the team you do not need to ride, you can drive and meet us in Ocean City or be a member virtually and at heart. If you are able to make a donation or join the team, it would be much appreciated. Every little bit helps in the end for the donation that is provided to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Details of the ride and lodging information can be found on the website. Francis Scott Key is the host and is a great place to stay.

Type Kirk Towner in the link below to be taken to my page with the team link.

http://rideacrossmd.kintera.org/faf/search/searchParticipants.asp?ievent=318513&lis=0&kntae318513=31BD65AC683246909DB78DB3CA63B381

Thanks you for your support!

Cheers, Kirk (krtowner@comcast.net 410-693-8184)

United States Navy Chief’s Team

Ride Across Maryland (RAM) 10th Anniversary

5-7 June 2010

Results Not Excuses

Retired Chief Petty Officer Kirk Towner is Team Captain of a RAM team of active and retired Chief Petty Officers, 25 plus have agreed to participate with a goal of 125 plus.

Request the CPOA consider a donation to this great cause in honor of one of our own Chief Petty Officer Dabet Valez. Fort Meade CPOA and Patuxent River CPOA have each donated $500.00 to the team. Suitland CPOA will donate $25.00 for every member that participates in the ride.

Team membership is open to family, friends, and the public for those interested in supporting the team for this great cause. You can ride with on the ride or in your heart by joining the team virtually.

To join the team you do not need to ride, you can drive and meet us in Ocean City or be a member virtually and at heart. If you are able to make a donation or join the team, it would be much appreciated. Every little bit helps in the end for the donation that is provided to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Details of the ride and lodging information can be found on the website. Francis Scott Key is the host and is a great place to stay.

Type Kirk Towner in the link below to be taken to my page with the team link.

http://rideacrossmd.kintera.org/faf/search/searchParticipants.asp?ievent=318513&lis=0&kntae318513=31BD65AC683246909DB78DB3CA63B381

Thanks you for your support!

Cheers, Kirk

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Smoker’s Hands


I won first place for this photo last night at the Arundel Camera Club. The judge really seemed to like the photo. I actually took this photo several years ago but it didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. I have entered it into contest before but not placed.

For an upcoming contest with the theme of “old” I dug this photo out and reprocessed it.

To transform the original into the final version, I used Photoshop CS 4 to sharpen the image. Then I sharpened it again and lowered the opacity to taste. So this is very over sharpened. But it worked to give me the effect I wanted. This really brought out the wrinkles in his hands and detail in his shit.I also cloned out the writing on his zipper tab. I found it distracting.

Here is the original

Smoker's Hands

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Merry Christmas

Christmas Balls (Helicon Focus)

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Playing With Smoke

Smoking Pipe

Smoking Gun #1

I wanted to create an image of a smoking gun for a still life. I had a SB800 1/8 power on a stand and snooted to camera left to light up the gun and knife and behind/below the table is a Metz 48 on 1/8 power also snooted pointed up and back towards camera to light the smoke. See the following photos for the setup.

Smoking Gun #1 Setup (back)

Smoking Gun #1 Setup (front)

Since I already was shooting smoke I thought I would go ahead ang get a shot of a smoking pipe. The only difference between the smoking gun and the smoking pipe shot is that I turned off the SB800 and used a gold reflector to reflect the light from teh Metz 48 back down to illuminate the pipe.

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Deer Silhouette

Originally uploaded by bmthomas

I entered this in the Arundel Camera Club Novice Digital Open Competition on 1/14/2009 but did not place. The judge said I should clone out the birds in the sky. There are three birds that look like birds and are reflected in the water. According to the judge, all of the other birds looked like dirt and should be cloned out.

Here is a cleaned up version per the judge’s comments.

Deer Silhouette

What do you think?

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