Favorite Bird Photo

Dec 6th, 2010 | By | Category: Current Topics of Interest, Photography
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My friend Randel, who I met through the astronaut selection process, loves photography and we started to share some of our favorite photos. I love pelicans and it just happens that his favorite bird photo is also a pelican. I have always loved the way they fly in formation and dive bomb for food. They are strangely awkward, yet graceful at the same time. I love watching them land in trees because they are so big and awkward. Here, is the photo I sent to Randal plus a second one I really like. I took this picture one summer when I was working at Kennedy Space Center doing field work with their ecology scientists. I used my Nikon D70s with 70-300 telephoto lens. It was a great summer and I took a lot of pictures of birds, alligators, raccoons, etc.

Perfect (KSC)

Lift Off (KSC)

Here is Randel’s Photos, which I absolutely love. He also provided a great back story for these photos that is linked to my father. The Story goes:

I was in Key West last spring on a really challenging SCUBA trip. From Sunday to Thursday we dove twice a day and covered about 4 different wrecks. I was taking a SCUBA wreck diver course. Lots a fun and I learned a lot…but it was definitely at the limits of my SCUBA abilities and a real challenge each day. Your father’s ship, the Vandenberg was the last ship we were diving for my certification and it was arguably the most difficult of them.

Vandenberg is a HUGE ship. Where she sits, it is almost 100 feet down just to get to the top superstructure. She sat on a strong gulf current of about 4-5 knots that day and the sea swells were somewhere around 6 to 8 feet. It took a lot not to get sea sick and once in the water, it took a lot of upper body strength to pull yourself down the anchor line to the Radar Dish area on the Vandenberg. If you let go of the line…the current would easily have taken you a mile away from the dive ship and if you turned your head too far sideways, the current would rip the your SCUBA mask right off your face. It was a bear!

The good news is that the high current made visibility excellent. There was no way I could dive the whole ship on 1 tank of air, but at least I could see about 80 feet of the ship in either direction. I wondered if your dad might have stood on the exact same spots on the ship that I was SCUBA diving. If you moved against the current, the only way you could travel was to pull yourself hand over hand on the ship. If you wanted to go with the current, you had to be very careful to let go at just the right moment so that you safely drifted (really fast) to the next hand hold. It was the hardest dive of my life…but also the BEST dive of my life.

Long story short, we get back on the dive ship to head back to Key West. I’m EXHAUSTED…but in a good way. About three miles from port, this huge Pelican starts trailing the dive boat and ends up flying perfect formation with the boat in the boat’s slipstream. The Pelican was no more then about 5 to 10 feet away the whole time. He was HUGE. Folks on the boat are going crazy about this Pelican. I was super tired, but I was able to get to my Nikon and snap a few high speed shots.

Glad I did.

Pelican_1

Pelican_2

Pelican_Close_Up

Pelican_Soar

Here are some more interesting pictures from that fun summer at KSC.

Spread out (KSC)

Tagged (KSC)

Packing it In! (KSC)

Touched (KSC)

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