Ducks in a row ... through filters

Someone recently asked me what tools I employ for photo editing etc. The answer is that I use iPhoto (mostly for cropping and rotation) and I occasionally play with filters.

Filters are of much interest me -- not just the filters we use on photographs but the ones we utilize when seeing things, recalling our memories of moments or events, or listening to the news or chatter that surrounds us and sometimes invades our lives.

I think it's impossible to have visions, recollections or feelings that are not filtered by factors such as our upbringing, our experiences, the beliefs we have formed or even something deep inside that we may not have found a way to communicate yet. I think about these things when playing with photo filters.

The very photo we bring to a filtering tool is already filtered ... because it's what we've chosen to focus on, and from the angle we've chosen to do so and then we drill that vision down even further by choosing from 40-50 prefabricated ways in which to filter it, and then perhaps using other tools to filter it further. 

In keeping with that theme, the photo at the top of this post is the one I brought to a filtering program. The ones below were the versions I selected after trying 45 filters offered by Prisma ... and then I adjusted most of them further in iPhoto and conjured a short statement about each.

Just another day in the life of a duck.

Duck as a stained glass window in the Church of the Muscovy.

"A part of me is missing," said the Muscovy duck upon realizing that he was not half the duck he used to be.

True colors shine through ... always.

Muscovy daydreaming in the rain.

Muscovy alive and well in the land of the vibrant colors.

The watchful eye of the observing Muscovy. 

The statements below the pics are just the thoughts that came to mind as I viewed each of these versions. 

I love playing with filters.

Fluttering fritillaries

There are so many shiny new gulf fritillaries in the garden this week. They seem to be immensely enjoying the zinnias that are growing so rapidly due to the recent rains.

Fluttering fritillaries .... Can you say it three times fast?

The many sides of PBJ

PBJ, aka Jaysterina the Ballerina, became a housecat the day she came onto my patio and had four kittens under my table, but she still occasionally makes that rough street cat face -- the one that says "Don't come near me or I will tear you up." Not that she really would do that unless you tried to pick her up. She's plenty affectionate but does NOT like to be picked up.

Despite her boundaries, she is calm and meditative ... and enjoys sitting at the window and watching birds, lizards and squirrels -- especially squirrels. She will run from one window of the house to another to follow a bushy-tail. 

Here is Jaysterina, with her squirrel-watching face on.

Curly in the morning

One of the curlytail lizards who patrol the sidewalk was pretty happy with its first catch of the day -- a giant beetle that soon became its breakfast.

He ate every last bite.

The secret life of bananas

We have several banana plants that I love observing, especially when they're revealing the first peek at their only fruit offerings. I just love how the plant protects its fruits as if they're treasured secrets to be revealed one at a time to those who prove themselves trustworthy.

Today's emergence

I've been waiting for the arrival of this gulf fritillary ... and this morning it broke out of the chrysalis it formed on a tomato stake and graced the garden with its beautiful presence.  

Yard roundup


Mockingbirds and curlytail lizards were among the featured guests in the garden this week. But only the curlytail brought me flowers.


Northern curlytail lizard

Northern curlytail lizard

The namesake tail of the Northern curlytail lizard

And there he goes. ....


A tabby cat named Hootie

I have been kitty-sitting this week for two cats that I love --- Sugarbear (who is the sister of Lil Red Buttons, and the daughter of PBJ) and Hootie, her housemate who leads me to the cabinet where her crunchies are stored each time I visit (just in case I forgot where the special treats were hidden). I thought I would share some pics of these special kitties.

Sugarbear the cat

A tabby cat named Hootie

A tabby cat named Hootie

A tabby cat named Hootie

A tabby cat named Hootie

Hootie says: "No more photos please. I need my beauty sleep."

A future monarch

Monarch chrysalis hanging from banana plant

Because I planted so many seeds recently, I love checking out the garden after the rain. Seeds I planted just a few days ago have already sprouted ... and butterfly chrysalides are hanging like ornaments from the plants. This one has all the makings of a monarch butterfly inside of it. Hopefully I will get to see it emerge.

Fluffly little dove

Fluffy dove in South Florida

Remember when that Prisma filter app came out and I loved it so? Well, I still enjoy playing with it. The only reason I don't use it so much anymore is that I get lost in the time-consuming world of possibilities, but it's a fun thing to do on a rainy night so here's a Prisma-filtered shot of a fluffy little dove I photographed in the garden this week.

Muscovy life

A Muscovy duck on a South Florida lake

Five years ago, I knew nothing about Muscovy ducks .... and then I relocated to a place with a small lake that many Muscovies call home. The ducks were not shy about approaching me and introducing themselves, and I've since learned much about them and how they live.

One of the things I've witnessed is their tendency to hang out in packs of around 7 ducks that operate as a tiny community with its share of squabbles and issues. Despite their differences, they tend to -- for the most part -- bed down together at day's end in one spot alongside the lake.

Within their unit, there always seems to be one male duck who is in charge and he's typically surrounded by the female ducks in that small group ... perhaps in part because he chases all other male ducks away from them as needed. It's a big job that he seems to take very seriously.

If you've ever witnessed Muscovy ducks mating, you may understand why female ducks might want this sort of protection.

The duck pictured above, who I have come to call Gravy Train, has been the "duck in charge" for awhile now ... but he seems to have an apprentice, a duck (pictured below) who is training for the position of top duck. 

Up-and-coming top duck on a South Florida lake

I have been seeing the younger duck above since he was about three-inches tall. Initially, I would see Gravy Train trying to chase him off as he grew up ... but now he lets him hang - at least on the outskirts - possibly because it's exhausting to continuously attempt to stop a duck who is trying so very hard to be a part of something. Or perhaps because these ducks are so inter-connected and he has a soft spot for the younger duck (who may be his offspring).

These are the things I think about while watching the neighborhood ducks. This -- and the fact that I wish female ducks could become empowered enough to have a more satisfying life ... one which did not involve becoming beholden to male ducks for protection or sitting on nests for weeks on end only to give birth to adorable chicks which are typically stolen from them and eaten by predators.

It just seems like such an incredibly hard -- and heartbreaking -- life. 

Ibis flash mob

Ibis in the Flamigno Pond at Flamingo Gardens

When the Ibis flash mob descends upon the flamingo pond at Flamingo Gardens.

Flamingo dreams

Flamingo sleeping at Flamingo Gardewns

There are few things more calming than watching the namesake birds at  Flamingo Gardens in Davie. 

Here is a movie I made of the flamingos awhile back. It's called Flamingo Dream.

The tails of two tabbies

My two favorite kitties in the world.

The curious wood stork

If I could be privy to the thoughts of any one winged creature, it just might be the wood stork. They strike me as birds who are keenly observing and amused with the world that surrounds them.

After the rain

I feel like that big rain yesterday brought something really good. Suddenly everything seems greener and I'm seeing more growth in the garden, even in just one day ... and there were so many more little fish swimming in the water.

I also saw a very excited heron making its way around the lake, as well as a limpkin, no doubt looking for apple snails. Meanwhile, zebra longwings fluttered all around the garden, and dragonflies were abundant by day's end.

The photo above depicts one of two dragonflies I spotted at the end of the day. I am still thinking about those wings.

And here's another dragonfly  that was hanging around the garden.

The chrysalides

I currently have 5-6 chrysalides hanging on one passion vine in the garden. Some contain future zebra longwing butterflies while others hold gulf fritillaries. Up close, they're amazing ... Some resemble a series of faces and little windows that reflect the light that surrounds them.

Even viewed upside down, the chrysalides are impressive. They're like entirely new creatures ... with antlers.

Bottlebrush on the street

I first came to Florida when I was 12 and visiting a sibling who had a bottlebush tree in their yard. Recently I've begun seeing these trees again -- first at Flamingo Gardens and more recently on a morning walk. This morning, I walked that same route but the bottle brush blooms seemed to be waning ... and then I looked downward and found that they had simply found a new location to grace with their beauty.

Zebra emerging

Taking photographs always reminds me of the cycles of nature. Today there are at least 5-6 chrysalides on one passion vine.

Last May, I photographed many zebra longwing butterflies emerging from their chrysalides on this plant .

Because I'm still in the process of organizing some of those photos on Flickr, I'm just now reviewing some of them. I particularly like this one where the zebra longwing is, for the very first time, viewing life outside the chrysalis as a winged creature. Doesn't its eye look just like a tiny soccer ball?

I am always so happy to see one of these break out, even more so when I had the honor of watching them form the chrysalis from which they emerged.

Rise above

When the noise of this world becomes too loud, rise above it.