Friday, December 18, 2009

What I Really Want For Christmas!

For years now I have wanted the infamous leg lamp from "A Christmas Story". With Iona the rescue cat's medical bills we aren't buying any Christmas presents this year so here is my take on the lamp. At least I sort of have one now. Merry Christmas and be careful or you'll shoot your eye out!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hoppy Holidays!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish the hoppiest of season's greetings to my dear friends on the internet group PetBunny. I love you all!

Ken Albin

Thursday, November 19, 2009

3 Weeks Working With Iona

I've been totally tied up with taming Iona lately. It's been a real challenge but I've seen tiny improvements daily. She has now figured out how to play with her 'ball in a ring' toy. Iona is more relaxed and she is also starting to put a little weight on her bad leg. Here is a photo I took today of her resting in the window with her little stuffed toy. The surgical scar where they put the pin in is evident. I estimate she will take several more months of work before she is completely tame.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Iona Has a Godfather

Her godfather is Goldy McJohn, original keyboardist of Steppenwolf. He loves cats!

Here is Iona today. Notice her sling is gone now and I've been working with her a lot this week. She has mellowed out a lot from the totally feral cat we took in 2 weeks ago. She is doing great and will just get better over time. She took some treats from my fingers today!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Iona Update

I've been completely tied up this week working with Iona. She went in for a check at the vet Thursday. He thought he could get her out of the carrier by wrapping her in her towel but he changed his mind when she started hissing and growling. He looked her over in the cage and said everything looked good so far. Next Thursday she goes in for x-rays to see how the healing is progressing.

Working with a completely feral cat is quite a challenge. It took a few days before Iona would use the litter box regularly. She still greets me with a hiss most of the time but I think she is starting to gain a little trust that I'm not going to grab and harm her. I am feeding her Wellness kitten food. It is probably the best canned food, containing no additives or byproducts. She is about 10 months old but only 5 pounds due to malnutrition so I'm trying to build her up with good nutrition. She is eating very well. Iona has made tiny increments of progress. She touched noses with a couple of our cats through the baby gates so far. Here she is today giving me that famous "eat poop and die" look that she uses when she thinks I am going to get too close.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

After the surgery

The vet put in a pin to hold the broken humerus. The shoulder popped back in as he was working on the humerus and seems to be stable so he left it alone. Iona was bandaged and the arm was placed in a sling. She was given a long term antibiotic and a pain patch. She ripped off the E-collar about 30 minutes after she got back home but has not been picking at the bandages. Iona is eating well now and she is apparently feeling ok since she hissed and growled at me when I brought in her evening meal. She goes back to the vet for a checkup Thursday.

Friday, October 23, 2009

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

While I was at my chiropractor this week one of the workers told me about a cat she was feeding behind the building who had a badly hurt leg. I could not turn away from this poor feral kitty so I brought a trap to the chiropractor and got the cat Wednesday. She was so feral she was throwing herself against the cage violently so I took her to the closest vet there. She scratched the vet, pooped on the floor, and tried to climb the walls before they sedated her. They took x-rays and found she had a dislocated shoulder and a fractured humerus, probably due to being hit by a car. They also treated her for hookworms and fleas. I then took her to my vet to evaluate her for possible surgery. We have a good orthopedic surgeon there who said he could do 2 surgeries in 1 day. Monday he will pop the shoulder joint back into place, holding it by moving a muscle and putting in a plate. He is then going to rebreak the old humerus fracture and put in another plate.

We named her Iona and have her isolated in a room at home. She is completely feral and I have started working to gain her trust. So far she hisses and growls a lot and has not figured out how to use a litter pan. She is at least eating well so that is a start. It may take months to get her somewhat tamed since she has never been touched by a human before. Here is Iona's first photo at home.

The total cost of her medical bills will be around $2000. As a retiree on a limited income this is really draining our bank account. We asked our vet to let us put in a donation jar but they refused. I am asking for your help. Please buy a nature photograph or greeting cards from my site at Fine Art America. It will go to help pay for Iona's medical bills. I know she is only one feral cat but it is everyone's responsibility to care for these poor creatures. Please help.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Toilet Bowl Incident

The other morning after I suddenly woke up with Sam's claws in my feet I went to the restroom. When I raised the toilet seat Sam the Man promptly jumped into the toilet. I dried him off and he immediately chased another cat through the house. Here is Sam after he finally collapsed from exhaustion.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Silver Springs - Last Photo Set

Here are the last of the better photos taken recently at Silver Springs, Florida. It was a very enjoyable outing though I am sad that the park was almost totally vacant. The economic collapse has really hit parks like this one hard and I only saw about 10 cars there. My fear is that places like this will fold up over the next year and we will lose some of the true nature gems in Florida.

My photography is available as framed,matted prints and greeting cards at
Fine Art America.

Yes, llamas have an attitude! You can see the smugness in the face of this guy.

This rhea certainly was not shy. She followed us around and was very curious about the camera.

Yes, I know they were just enjoying the morning sun but I can't help but think of this as a reptilian conga line!

Flocks of migrating white ibis were just starting to fly into the park.

Though it's not a nature photo I couldn't resist throwing in this shot taken from a glass bottomed boat. It is a set of underwater statues used in several of the old I Spy television episodes. They also wound up in a James Bond movie as well, serving double duty. They are fiberglass but the scene reminds me of those photos you see in National Geographic of sunken Greek statues.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Silver Springs #2

As promised, here are 4 more shots taken at Silver Springs, Florida. My nature photography is available at my website on Fine Art America as prints or greeting cards.

This set includes a cormorant, a goat with a smug attitude, a screech owl that was injured and could not be released back into the wild, and a giraffe. Hope you like them!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Silver Springs Trip #1

All of the photographs seen here can be purchased as greeting cards and prints at my website hosted by Fine Art America. Of course the art site photos are higher resolution. Please consider supporting a starving retired teacher by purchasing a nice nature photograph professionally matted and framed.

Well, I took a day trip to Silver Springs, Florida Friday. It's been ages since I've been there and I knew I could get some interesting photographs. In fact I have an embarrassment of riches in the number of nice captures so instead of choking the post with a large number of photos I will break them into several posts of 4 shots each.
Please bear with me as I share these over the next week and I hope you like them.
The first set is a flamingo, crocodile, barn owl, and yellow-bellied slider turtles.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Washington Oaks and Big Talbot Island Parks

I've been a busy photographer this week! First I went to Washington Oaks Park. Here are some shots from there. My photos can be purchased at

This motorized parachute was cruising above the beach.

The beach has a strange set of eroded coquina rocks there that make for a very artistic view of the ocean.

The algae covered rocks there were fascinating

and this little sandpiper was happily looking for morsels along the beach.

Next I went to Big Talbot Island and fed the mosquito population there. Wow, 95 degrees never felt so hot!

Here is a pretty little zebra longwing butterfly I found.

There is a funny story behind this ghost crab shot. I was trying to get down an embankment to the beach. The sand gave way under my feet and I slid on my tush the last 6 feet, winding up directly in front of this startled guy. I grabbed the camera and got a few good closeups of him before he recovered his senses enough to scurry away.

Speaking of crabs here is an Atlantic horseshoe crab I found at the edge of the water.

This poor osprey never did find a fish for lunch while I was there.

We will say goodbye to the beach there with this closeup of one of the dead oaks laying along the beach. There are hundreds of them there due to erosion, giving this section of beach its nickname "the Boneyard".

Till next time have a good week!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another Nature Walk

Hi all! I've been going crazy the past week because my Nikon D5000 had a recall to fix a potential power problem so I have been without my baby! It's back now so I spent yesterday hiking 4 miles along a local nature trail. Here are three photos I took. As always, my photos are available as prints/greeting cards from my Fine Art America website.

This photo is of berries from the possum haw shrub, found near swamps. It adds a bit of color to the drab summer landscape.

and this one is another flying great egret. I never get tired of watching these beautiful creatures.

This last photo has a little story behind it. The poor male grackle spent 30 minutes fluffing his feathers out and loudly singing to a nearby female. She completely ignored his advances. Ah, the neverending story of love!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Oooh, a cool snake!

I ran upon this guy while traveling down a local nature trail. It is a dusky pygmy rattlesnake, a very poisonous snake with a reputation for being extremely aggressive and vicious. It rarely kills humans but can cause intense damage of tissue and loss of digits.

I am attuned to wildlife and my wife has nicknamed me Dr. Doolittle. I think they can sense that I don't mean them any harm so animals are almost never aggressive towards me. When I saw this little guy sunning himself I slowly dropped down and worked my way up to him until I was less than a foot away. He showed no aggression or nastiness and did not even rattle. Their rattle is a high pitched buzzing sound similar to a flying bee. He very obligingly posed for this shot. Lovely golden eyes!

You can purchase any of my photos as prints or greeting cards at Fine Art America.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Another Visit to the Guana Preserve

The nature photos shown here are available from my gallery at Fine Art America as prints and greeting cards.

My better half Karen accompanied me to the preserve this time. I had great luck with the bird photography but not much in the way of insects since it was cloudy. Here are a few shots:

This is my favorite shot, a beautiful snowy egret in the shallows of Tolomato River.

and here is a nice shot of a seagull skimming the water. Flying birds are very difficult to capture without blur. I used a shutter speed of 1/1600 sec to get this one.

I also like this closeup of the much maligned thistle. This is a white thistle flower.

Karen wanted to say hello to everyone. She is still bandaged from the dog attack I talked about in an earlier post, but the stitches are out now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pet Photo of the Month

OK ladies and gentlemen! Ellen needs your help so she can appear on the channel 17 TV station this month. PLEASE vote daily for her. You have to register but it is quick and they do not share information with others. Thank you so much for helping to put cute little Ellen over the top in this contest.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Horror to begin this. Last weekend I was outside taking photographs when I heard the neighbor scream "No, oh my God!". I didn't know what was happening but I knew someone was in trouble so I ran over there. The person in trouble was my wife Karen. I did not know that she had gone next door to ask them if they knew anyone who might be missing a cat that was recently found down the street. The neighbors have a large mixed breed dog they normally keep inside an invisible fence. That afternoon they had the dog out in the backyard letting it run around. When Karen arrived the dog ran up and attacked her, ripping open her left arm and taking out a large chunk of flesh. I ran inside and grabbed a roll of paper towels to wrap the arm in and rushed her to the emergency room. The xray showed no bone involvement so they cleaned out the wounds, stitched up most of the wounds, leaving the largest one partially open to drain, and bandaged everything up. A tetanus shot, antibiotic, and pain medication completed the visit and we went back home. Monday she went to our regular doctor who restitched everything, trying to close the wounds better. She went back Tuesday to check for infection. The wounds are healing slowly but with no infection so far. She will have some bad scars but no nerve damage or movement problems once it heals in a month or so. I watched the cleaning out process and saw how bad it was. The large wound with missing tissue tore through the fat layer. One of the puncture wounds went through the muscle layer almost to the bone. She took the week off because as the city chemist she did not want to get the wounds around some of the nasty germs she works with. She also wanted some time to heal and let some of the swelling and bruising go down. Fortunately there has not been a great amount of pain after that first day. Karen is just taking it easy this week. She is going back to work next week and the stitches come out in about another week.

Here are my thoughts about all of this. The neighbors were both very shaken up by this and wanted to euthanize the dog. We both asked them not to do this because we did not blame the dog. In his mind he probably thought he was defending his home from an intruder. No, we are not going to sue the neighbors. They are kind people who we have known for years. I do think that no one has a need to have a vicious dog like that as a "pet". They got it at the local shelter when they found out it was scheduled to be killed so their hearts were in the right place. It was a horrible accident that should not have happened. The only thing I really blame them for is not knowing their dog well enough to anticipate something like this happening. Too many people are like that these days. Part of the "Southern good ol boy" mentality is that dogs are not really family members. For that reason the neighbors spend a lot of money on keeping up shots and getting the invisible fence and not enough time working with the animal to get it accustomed to strangers. If they aren't going to better civilize the dog then it should stay inside the fence at all times. I would rather see them work with the dog so it is not half wild. So many people are ignorant that way and bad things often happen as a result. When it does they are shocked and blame the dog. I blame the owner for not doing a better job. Dogs and cats left outside with minimal training will always remain feral, or something close to it. My dad was the same way for years. Dogs and cats were considered to be more like livestock than pets and you didn't form a close bond to them. It makes me upset to see this but it is the norm rather than the exception. I know from experience with taming feral cats that almost any animal can be civilized if you are willing to put in the time for it and have a high degree of empathy for animals. We have taken cats into our home who were so wild they would try to claw our eyes out if we touched them. Every single one of these cats are now a part of our family and are well adjusted. Yes, a couple of them are still shy and have to be approached on their terms to pet them but none of them were untrainable.

I have real concerns about raising dog breeds that are naturally aggressive. There are probably some individual dogs out there that I could never adequately civilize. Why would anyone want an animal like that except as a some type of warped status symbol of power? This dog does not seem to fit into that limited category. I really think that with proper training and incorporation into the family this could be a very nice animal. He appears to want to please his owners and that is a good sign. I just hope they follow through and work with this dog. In the meantime Karen has learned the hard way not to assume that other people regulate and train their animals properly. I think if she goes next door in the future she will call first.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Best 2009 Photography

I was recently honored by the Boulevard of Photographers in their photo challenge. They have selected my "Sandpiper on a Golden Beach" for inclusion in their Best of 2009 Photo Anthology book. This is a competition judged by a staff of professional photographers and my photograph was selected out of thousands of submissions. I am very proud of this achievement as a semi-professional photographer. If you are interested in purchasing greeting cards or a framed/unframed print of this photograph you can do so at Fine Art America

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New Gallery Opening!

Boy, these posts are starting to sound like a ton of self promotion! I am just so excited that my photography has taken off so well please forgive me for updating about it. I have sold several framed prints so far. It gives me a great feeling to know my work is appreciated. I opened another gallery at Fine Art America. They have a huge assortment of frames and mats to choose from for each of my photographs. They also have excellently done greeting cards that you can customize. You can save quite a bit by purchasing larger packs of cards. The photo here is a new one I took of a spittle case from the 2 lined spittle bug. The detail is amazing. I am always in awe of how these little insects can make something as intricate as this.

Labels: landscape, nature, pet, photography, sales, wildlife

Saturday, August 1, 2009

New Gallery!

I have just opened a new gallery on the internet. Click on this Link to Imagekind to get to it. The nice thing is that you can order my photos as matted prints or greeting cards with no muss or fuss. The prints are very high quality, coming from uncompressed png files from 12-29 mb in size. I have been uploading photos all day to it and since they are so large it takes forever! It will make for prints of the highest possible quality and I took special care to reduce noise and balance the colors and lighting of each photo before uploading them. So far I only have 6 photos uploaded but they are some of my best work. I will be adding to the galleries as fast as I can over the next month so check back and look at the new material that shows up. The photo at the top is a low resolution version of one of the pet photos on the site. It is our Ellen shortly after we adopted her and she is a cutie! Think of my photos when you have the need to buy a unique gift for birthdays, holidays, etc... I get a small percentage of each sale and it would really help to supplement my meager retirement pension from teaching. I love photography and I think it shows in these pictures.

I will still have my photos for sale by digital upload in a somewhat compressed form for use on websites, greeting cards, and whatever else you can think of for them. In a later post I will give you another link to many of my other photos for sale to be uploaded. You can contact me at if you are interested in any of them.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Kan Write But I Kan't Spell!

Here is a female writing spider, Argiope aurantia, found in my back yard this morning. This species has always been a favorite of mine. I know some people are terrified by spiders but this one won't bite unless provoked and is a great spider to control insects in the yard. You may also appreciate the fact that the female is a great parent, protecting her eggs from other predators until she dies during the first hard freeze.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Road trip!....Well, beach trip anyway

I dedicated a morning to Vilano Beach photos this week. Getting up early and down there by 5:30 AM hurt but I wanted to get some predawn shots, dawn shots, and general daylight shots of what I could find interesting. I used the new Nikon D5000 for the photo shoot and the 55-200mm lens for most of the photos since they were almost all distance shots. I plan on going back for some macro shots of beach debris at a later date. I took 192 photos and have been going through them. I came up with 9 good photos from the bunch. Here is a sampling. Remember that these are lower quality jpegs and the originals are large files that have better sharpness.

Early dawn Vilano Beach jetty

Sand Piper running from the waves

Dawn at Vilano Beach

Hunting breakfast at dawn

Indian blanket wildflower

I never get everything I am looking for on a photo shoot but I think these shots capture the spirit of the beach pretty well while I was there. As always, high quality versions of these and many of the other photographs on this blog are available for digital upload for use on websites, greeting cards, etc... for $6.00 each in 4-6 mp jpeg format or $20.00 for 35-70 mp uncompressed high quality TIFF files. If interested contact me at for details and to arrange the upload.

I will have some exciting news in about 8-10 days to post about a way to purchase my photos on canvas, professionally matted and framed, as well as on greeting cards. Think 'unique gift' for special occasions! Till next time I hope all of your dreams come true.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lord of the Dragonflies!

You've heard of Lord of the Flies. I am starting to feel like the title. I must have done something good to a dragonfly in an earlier life because every time I go out to take photos they come up and pose for me. This one flew up to me on a photo excursion to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm two days ago. I went to take alligator and bird photos and I got a few nice shots I will post later but this little female amber wing dragonfly came up and demanded that I take her picture so I obliged. Amber wings are tiny guys on the order of an inch long. They are fairly common in nature but since they tend to hang out over swamps and ponds a lot of people never see them. To combat their tendency to be bird lunches they have developed the skill of imitating wasps. They fly and sit more in a manner similar to wasps than dragonflies and this fools many predators into leaving them alone.

I took 180 photos at the alligator farm and weeded them down to 5 great shots. One nice thing about digital photography over film photography is you are not always worrying about saving film. I have a 6gb card in my D5000 camera so I can take more than 1000 full size photos. The battery only lasts for around 500 shots before recharging so shot capacity is not a limiting factor and you can snap as many extra shots as necessary to ensure you find that perfect shot.

One thing I found out quickly is that I really need a more powerful telephoto lens. My 18-55mm lens is wonderful for closeup and portrait shots but I missed some potentially wonderful shots of birds because they were just too far away. This weekend I am going up to get a 55-200mm lens so I can cover those far away shots as well. Other than that I am very pleased with the new Nikon D5000 camera. I am still learning the intricacies of it but a lot of my earlier photographic knowledge learning in the stone age film era still applies to this new era of digital photography.

I have a new artist web page to sell photographs at Fine Art America. Right now I am just privately selling uploads of my images for use on websites, magazines, and other use. In the near future I am going to also be selling through their website so I can expand my sales. If interested in a photograph you can contact me at and I can easily arrange an upload of it for you. I will post a seperate blog post for this at a later time. I am very excited to be able to offer the type of photos I am best at taking rather than just sticking to bland stock photographs for sale on microstock sites. I enjoy taking the type of photos that I would be proud to see framed on my walls so this is what I am offering.

That's about all for now. I am going to be finishing my current batch of photos today and uploading them. Till next time!

Monday, July 20, 2009


I was fooling around with the Nikon D5000 this evening trying to learn more about it. The better half was on the computer so I asked her to turn around for a quick shot. She had just come in from work not long before and was not "made up" for this but I think it is a nice offhand shot of her nonetheless.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An Inquisitive Anole

These little lizards hang out on the house sunning themselves in the afternoon. This guy was very curious about the camera and not the least bit shy.