I’ve shared numerous pics of my two dogs on this blogs and even one or two of my wife – so I thought I’d try some different companions. I went out earlier this week hoping to get a few good birds in flight photos but nothing much was flying around – luckily, it turned out to be baby duck day at Lake Murray with numerous groups of newborns cruising the Lake. I zeroed in on this couple of sibling “companions” as they went about their business.
I know the rules said you can never get enough cat photos but I hope that also applies to ducklings – even though these “companions” sometimes appeared to be going in different directions…..
Well, today is my birthday….(approaching the age of dirt) so I wanted to share a special photo with all of you who have helped make my blogging experience so enjoyable for the last couple of years. This is a photo of the momma fox that I introduced you to a few days ago – with one of her two kits. Watching them was certainly an incredible experience and one that I will remember for a long, long time. I hope you enjoy this photo and that it brightens your day a little – sharing it with you has made mine.
It wouldn’t be a visit to Yellowstone without a Moose making an appearance or two. It was interesting that all the moose we saw were very consistent in their state of antler development – all of them had sort of “handles” coming out of their head but had yet to branch out into the more recognizable rack. The other common denominator was that all of the ones we saw were pretty calm around people – there was one that we found in the same place numerous times always with a crowd of people pretty close by taking photos. This one was a little farther away but I thought it was a more natural shot of the Moose in its environment.
I really enjoyed Ming Thein’s article – it was a great intro on what to look for and a good checklist of things to think about. I especially agree with the idea that it is best to spend some time in whatever environment you are shooting to understand the subjects, their behavior, and how they interact with the environment. As someone who spends a lot of time trying to make good captures of wildlife, this approach and the patience that goes with it (not normally one of my strong points), is critical. Interestingly enough, I read an article yesterday from a noted street photographer who said exactly the same thing. The other thing that I liked was Ming’s thought about eliciting an emotional attachment. The photo that I chose for this weeks challenge (I think) demonstrates at least those two aspects of my photography. This is a pretty simple photo of a Momma Bison and her calf but there were THOUSANDS of opportunities to take this kind of photo (and I admit I took numerous shots that didn’t do what I wanted them to) but this is the one that I was looking for. I wanted to capture the quiet and comforting relationship between mother and calf because 1) it is probably the only way to make these imposing animals actually look “cute” and 2) it immediately invokes a happy emotional reaction in humans that we feel for most youngsters and their families – independent of species. From a technical view it may not be a great photo – but it made me happy when I saw it and it still makes me smile when I revisit the scene. I hope you enjoy it also…..
We had several different encounters with this good looking female fox. We first saw her by a water hole and got a few good photos but then had more encounters later – more to come on that but I wanted to introduce you to one of the highlights of our Yellowstone trip.
While up in Yellowstone we frequently ran across groups of Big Horn Sheep up in the hills. There were groups of males together and groups of females close by. The males were often more fun to watch as they would practice their ramming skills against each other. The females were far more calm just content to graze on the hillsides. This is a photo of an young adult male being accompanied by a juvenile male. I think these are truly majestic animals.
This one was a pretty easy choice for me since I was checking out a new lens combination at the San Diego River inlet last evening. This very cooperative lesser blue heron gave me a good test subject as I took a variety of photos. Of course herons are great examples of long, graceful curves that are constantly changing as they move around. Here’s my curvaceous beauty for the challenge.
Finally, an answer to that age old question……they scratch! During our trip to Yellowstone we found definitive proof that this is a favorite thing for them to do. From the very young like this yearling cinnamon cub…..
to her Mother in her all black outfit….
For those of you who follow this blog, you might recall a post I made a few weeks back entitled “Bored Photographer” (5-10-13). It was a not-so-clear photo of a bee in flight taken because I was….around the house and bored. I was almost in the same situation today but I had a new toy to play with – a new telephoto prime lens that arrived this week. Two of the aspects of this lens that are supposed to make it special are its sharpness and its nice bokeh (the blur in the background). So I went into the backyard with the intent of waiting for a hummingbird to fly by when I noticed some bees hovering around one of our bushes. Long story short – I wanted to duplicate the photo that I took a few weeks ago with the new lens. I am pleased to say that, at least to my eye, the captures are MUCH clearer and detailed with a very pleasant blur which isolates the subject from the background. I hope you agree. OBTW – this was taken handheld at 1/640 sec on a dull, cloudy morning.
I always get hung up on taking wildlife photos that I sometimes forget that people might not know or understand the magnificence of places like the Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. These parks are huge and they encompass many different environments from snow capped mountains to river carved valleys. It is impossible in a week to spend enough time to enjoy all the aspects of the parks that are incredible in their own way. Given my (and my friends) preoccupation with the wildlife, we didn’t spend alot of our limited time to take scenic photos even though we certainly took it all in during our stay. Today I thought I’d post just a couple of scenic shots to provide context for all the wildlife photos that I have been (and will be) posting. The first photo is one of the scenes that I always think about when I think of Yellowstone. It is in the Northeast corner of the park and is a great example of the joining of the rivers, the plains, and mountains. I took this photo on the day I got to the park – I think it also captures the changing nature of the weather which seems to be in constant flux this time of year.
The second shot is from the complete other end of the Yellowstone/Grand Teton area. This is from an overlook of the bending Snake River below the imposing face of the Grand Teton Mountain Range – one of the prettiest ranges in the country (in my opinion). This was an unusual picture for my trip as I was down in that area of the parks for a total of 4 days and this was one of the few times that I got to see the peaks of the Tetons…..
As wildlife photography is my favorite genre, Fleeting is a concept that I am very intimate with – seemingly every opportunity is characterized by the quickly changing and imminently vanishing nature of….nature. It almost like all the creatures have minds of their own! In any case, to me nothing captures this aspect of photography better than birds. In many cases they will come close and pose only to quickly depart the scene as you raise your lens…. This is one of those moments where my lens caught a quick view of that moment. This was taken during our Yellowstone trip a couple of weeks ago…..
We were riding down one of the roads in North Yellowstone when we saw this coyote walking down the center of the street in front of us. As we pulled closer, he (or she) moved closer to the side of the road but he wasn’t yielding the whole road to us. As we pulled ahead, and moved onto one of the turnouts, he seemed perfectly content to follow us into the field and continue to get his picture taken. Several other cars/photographers had joined in the fun by this time. Here’s a photo I took as he was passing by….
As he kept going past us, I was also able to take this photo to give a better view of the entire animal and its surroundings with the beautiful snow capped mountains in the distance.
Some of the other photographers were also able to capture the scene. Dan Munson was nice enough to send us this photograph of the coyote passing by me. I tried not to move as he approached me head on and then just gave me a glance as he passed by….nice. Thanks for sending the photo Dan!
Since I’ve already shown two of the largest inhabitants of Yellowstone (the Bison and Bear), I thought it was time to add a contrast to one of the smaller mammals – the Yellow-Bellied Marmot. These guys are pretty frequently seen among the different rocky landscapes around Yellowstone. They are closely related to groundhogs and, as can be seen below are very cute and photogenic.
On the day that I drove up to Yellowstone, I passed through Grand Teton National Park on the way. It was a pretty rainy morning but there were a few breaks in the downpour. During one of those breaks, I drove up upon a large “bear jam” where there were probably 50-60 cars parked by the roadside. I, of course, jumped out my car with my camera and saw the bears a long way out in the field by the road. I took a couple of long range shots but the bears luckily turned around and came back towards the road. Between the crowd and the rangers it wasn’t easy to get a clear or close shot but I was able to get a few.
Another photographer next to me told me that this was Grizzly 399 and her 3 spring cubs and that they were making a fairly regular stroll through the area. He also told me that this was 399’s second consecutive set of triplets and she had also had many other multiple births over the years – she was definitely doing her bit to maintain the local bear population. The cubs were very well behaved other than the fact that it was near impossible to get a good look at all three of them and Mom in the same photo. In any case, I was thrilled to see Mom and youngsters for a short time period before the family ran off into the woods…..
While up in Yellowstone with my Scottish friends, I was surprised that they do not have hummingbirds over there – and had never seen one. I took this photo in my San Diego backyard on Thursday to send to them as just a quick snapshot of our frequent visitors. I always find these guys fascinating. Whether you have them around your locale or not, I hope you enjoy.