Arkansas, Leah J Smith Photography, Photography, trumpeter swans, Waterfoul, wildlife

Dancing Diamonds picked for Arkansas Living Magazine 2019 Calendar Cover

Dancing Diamonds Awarded Arkansas Living Magazine’s Cover photo for their 2019 Calendar. Arkansas Living Magazine

cropped-DSC_5728_1-2.jpg

Advertisements
Arkansas, Black Bear, Leah J Smith Photography, Photography, wildlife

Little Black Bear

 

Wildlife photography is my passion.  I get so caught up in the moment of seeing an amazing animal and capturing at least just one amazing photo.  It is what I love, live and dream about.  That perfect shot!

I got the opportunity to mark off another amazing item from my bucket list this week. Photographing a black bear.  Here in Arkansas you might see a bear, but seeing one is rare and very exciting if given the opportunity.

Arkansas, once know as the bear state, is loved by black bear due to its mountains which are rugged terrain, covered in trees, and abundant with water sources.  Black bear were almost extinct in the natural state in the 1930’s with only 50 bear.  Now, there are thousands and the numbers keep climbing.

DSC_9721

I recently got the opportunity to capture some amazing shots of this young male black bear.  This is a young bear recently pushed away by it’s mother just looking for food.  He was very brave and didn’t seem to mind posing for me.

DSC_9726

DSC_9854

DSC_9932

DSC_9960

DSC_9966

DSC_9819a

DSC_9774

DSC_9913

I hope you enjoyed the shots of this beautiful little male bear.  If you would like to learn more about Black Bear in Arkansas, this article from Only In Arkansas called  Bears in Arkansas is an interesting read and gives some great links to read more about Arkansas Black Bears.

Leah

d3e1b5e98385201d3ff62c1f2b318243

Arkansas, Great Egret, Leah J Smith Photography, Photography, wildlife

Great Egret

The weather here in Arkansas has been quite cooler in the last few weeks due to overcast rainy skies.  It has been great weather to take long walks and just get out and enjoy the great outdoors with my camera in tow.  During my long afternoon walks a big white bodied winged bird has caught my eye lately soaring over the pastures and ponds.

This snowy white bird know as the Great Egret, is the symbol of the National Audubon Society.  I hope you enjoy these few photos that I was able to capture and just had to share.

DSC_9625a

I watched as three glided in on snowy white wings, landing in a big tree nearby.  The birds put on a show landing and leaving the tree to go to the pond nearby.  There were three, two adults and a juvenile.  I watched as they landed in the tree and then flew to the pond feeding on fish, frogs, and anything else that they could catch.

The Great Egret is common in south Arkansas and may be seen in northern parts of Arkansas during the late summer before heading to their wintering grounds.

Nearly hunted to extinction in the late nineteenth century for their beautiful white feathers for ladies hats, they are now making a come back.  Audubon was founded for protecting birds from being killed for their feathers.

DSC_9620a

DSC_9608a

DSC_9607a

DSC_9605a

DSC_9587a

DSC_9610a

DSC_9593a

DSC_9631a

This juvenile Little Blue Heron was flying low over the pond searching for a place to land to get its next meal.  This is a smaller bird and will change color when it is mature.

I was spotted by the birds before I could get good photos while they were in the pond feeding.  So maybe next time…

DSC_9663a

DSC_9659b

If you would like to know more about the Great Egret visit the National Audubon Society Also All About Birds is another great site to read about the Great Egret.

PicMonkey Sample

 

d3e1b5e98385201d3ff62c1f2b318243

Arkansas, Leah J Smith Photography, low light, Photography, trumpeter swans, Waterfoul, wildlife

Bringing Together Light, Water and Action to Create A Dreamlike Illusion

 

Shooting action shots of an animal on the water is really exciting and can be a challenge in itself.  Bringing together light, water and action, can create an awesome effect in photography.  This series of shots of the Trumpeter Swans, right when the golden hour in photography was ending, was such a gift.  It happened at the most perfect time of day, with the most perfect subject any photographer could want, the Trumpeter Swan.

Each afternoon the swans always made an afternoon flight before nightfall.  I was setting and waiting for this to take place for hours and was just about to give up.  Since it was almost dark, I didn’t think the swans would fly.  I was beginning to believe that they had not intention of flying that afternoon.  Suddenly they were spooked by something and the bobbing of heads began.  The nervous swans gave me an indication that flight could take place any minute.  That is when something magical happened. That is when light, water, and action came together.

The loveliest thing about shooting around water is that every time you shoot,  something special and magical has a big chance of happening.  In this case it was  all dependent on the moving of the water, the light and shutter speed.  Shutter speed is so important when you are trying to capture a moving target.  Shutter speed refers to the length of time your camera shutter is open allowing light to enter.  The faster the shutter speed the less time the sensor is exposed to light.  This gives you different effects at different speeds.

The swans splashed on top of the water as they made their way across the pond.  Light hitting the water droplets shown like diamonds around the swans.   This gave my images a surreal look that captured the Trumpeter Swans in a dreamlike illusion.  I hope you enjoy photography magic……..

DSC_5709a

DSC_5714a

DSC_5719a

DSC_5718a

DSC_5729

DSC_5731

DSC_5723

DSC_5728_1

d3e1b5e98385201d3ff62c1f2b318243

PicMonkey Sample

Ducks, Mallard, Photography, wildlife

The Mallard Duck

The Mallard Duck is one of the most common of all dabbling ducks in North America.  Here in north Arkansas you see the Mallard arrive around November, and they may stick around until the first of March.  They are not as common here on the farm as the Gadwall or the Ring Neck duck, but I do see a few from time to time and I always get so excited when I see that bright green head.

untitled-1-of-1-jpga

The reason the male Mallard gets its nick name “Green Head”  is not hard to see.  When the sun hits its head there is such a brilliant green color that sometimes even gives it a blue color. Its black tail-curl is one of its unusual traits along with its amazing color.

untitled (1 of 1)-32untitled (1 of 1)-43


The Mallard duck is a beauty with wing feathers of blue and is considered one of the most colorful of all ducks.    DSC_0326

untitled (1 of 1)-30

The little female standing on the log is just as beautiful, even though she lacks the beautiful green head, she makes up for her beauty in many other ways.  Her wings are stripped in blue just like the male Mallard and her body feathers are stripped in beautiful brown pattern.untitled-1-of-1-29-3ab To me, she is just as beautiful as her handsome mate.

untitled (1 of 1)-29

The Mallard is a dabbling duck and can be found in any wetland habitat.  They eat from the bottom of ponds sticking their tail in the air as they dabble on the bottom for food just as the two Gadwal are doing below.

untitled (1 of 1)-44

DSC_0323

Photographing water foul can be very challenging, and capturing a duck in flight can be very rewarding.   There is nothing more beautiful or exciting than a flawless photo of a duck..  It is always exciting to go through your photos and be amazed at what you have captured on your camera.

untitled (1 of 1)-31

Setting, watching and listening to ducks fly over your head and land on a pond or lake is quite amazing.  They have very sharp eyes and can see you very easily setting on the ground.    You want to make sure you are well hid and covered where they cannot see your skin such as your face or hands.   Looking up when they are trying to land will make them fly away and they will not land.

DSC_0328
untitled+(1+of+1)-321

med (5)
untitled (1 of 1)-2

A fact that I found interesting is how long the Mallard can live.  The oldest one on record was 27 years old and was shot in my home state of Arkansas in 2008.  The bird was banded in Louisiana in 1981.

Until next time….

PicMonkey Sample

Arkansas, Deer, Ducks, Geese, Mallard, Photography, trumpeter swans, Uncategorized, Waterfoul, White tail deer, wildlife

Capturing A Moment In Nature


The past year I have been working on a project that I have wanted to do for a while.  I just received a proof and I would like to share the cover photo of my new book.  Capturing A Moment In Nature due out in the fall of 2018.  I am excited to see my project completed and I cannot wait to share it with you.  A book that is filled with some of my best images and wildlife photography tips.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

c9e54eab7c706b8ad84c9372c702cb3d

PicMonkey Sample

Deer, Photography, White tail deer, wildlife

A Great Wildlife Image is Pure Magic

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


Pure magic…..  That is what a great wildlife image truly is. As I sat in the blind waiting on the buck deer to appear, I thought to myself.  A great wildlife photo is truly magic.

There is so much that goes into capturing great photos of wildlife, and I want to share with you some of those amazing aspects.

The first most important things that you need to know is animal behavior.  You need to know your subject.  You need to spend time with them.  Knowing them could mean the difference in getting the shot, or watching the golden hour pass you by.  You need to know the behavior of your subject such as this deer in my case today.

Last fall I sat and waited for this buck deer for over two hours.   I had seen a doe come out and run up the trail toward me.  I thought with any luck, there may be a buck deer to follow shortly behind her.

dsc_0455And sure enough, here he came.  He came right up the same trail that she just traveled.  That is something that one should know.  If I had not known how the White Tail buck deer behaved during rutting season,  then I might have just gave up and went to another spot.

Patience is also another important trait you need to have in photographing wildlife.  Without it, you will never be successful.

dsc_0502

Knowing that there might be a buck deer come out behind her made me stay and wait.

This little eight point just took his sweet time coming towards me.  I was holding my breath in hopes that he would come close enough to get some fantastic shots, and he did.

dsc_0484

Knowing what your subject is feeding on, where they stay during the day and their movements at certain times of the day,  will help you to get a chance at that great shot.


dsc_0550

dsc_0546

Animal behavior can sometimes be unpredictable, but it can give you a great advantage if you know just a little bit about your subject ahead of time.

PicMonkey Sample

Greater Roadrunner, Photography, wildlife

Seeing Eye to Eye


Low impact Photography

Getting down and dirty at your subjects eye level can give you big impact when it comes to photographing small animals.  Capturing these photos of the Greater Road Runner is a example of this type photography.
When you think of the road runner, you think of the cartoon where Wile E Coyote chases the road runner but never prevails.

SHOP AMAZON

untitled-1-of-1-13

The Greater Road Runner is a bird that never stands still for very long periods at a time.  He seems to me a very nervous bird that darts and runs constantly as he makes his way across a field or down a road ditch.

untitled (1 of 1)-14

Shop Amazon Outdoor Recreation and Sports
This very distinctive bird with its crest on top of his head, that sticks up when he gets excited, can out run a human, catch a snake, and live in the worst climates on earth.  I had the opportunity to get down on its level and capture this active bird as he made his way across a field in front of me.   This made the Roadrunner appear bigger and more dramatic.

untitled-1-of-1-3

Another tip I would like to mention with this type photography,  is shooting in manual mode when it comes to focus.  Manually focusing on your subject will keep your camera from focusing on an object in the foreground.  This will keep your subject in focus and not just being a blur.


untitled (1 of 1)-17

This type perspective to photography not only works for wildlife but also can make a field full of flowers look like a forest, or it can turn an insect into a monster.

MY EQUIPMENT

PORTFOLIO of the Trumpeter Swan

PicMonkey Sample

Ducks, Geese, Photography, trumpeter swans, Waterfoul, wildlife

My Equipment

untitled (1 of 1)

One thing I love in life is photography.  I am so hooked on taking my camera and going on a hunt for the perfect photograph.  Wildlife is what I love the most.  I have taken many photographs of wildlife in and around the farm in which I live.  It is my passion and I would love to share a few pointers and some of the images that I have taken with you.

dsc_0530

The first few years that was I first became interested in photography, I didn’t invest in a very expensive camera.  I bought a Nikon D5500 Camera and a Nikon AF S NIKKOR 55-300 lens.  This is a great little camera and the perfect lens for starting out.  this lens is a kit lens but it does do a decent job.  The reach is fair and you can take some really good pictures.  This little camera is a wonderful camera.  Later I graduated to a Tamron SP 150-600mm.  This is a great lens, and the reach is wonderful.  Also it won’t break the bank.  I have enjoyed the lens so much that when I graduated up to the Nikon D500 that I use now, I stayed with this lens.


I always shoot in RAW mode, and I use Adobe photo shop and Adobe Lightroom to develop my photos.  I do not like to adjust my photos very much.  I love the natural look that my camera gives the photos.  I adjust only what i have to adjust and leave it at that
dsc_0609

The Tamron lens is also wonderful for action shots.  You need a sturdy tripod to hold this lens steady.   Along with the Nikon D500 it is a handful to use free handed.  It can be done as I have done many times but you need some muscles.    I really love this camera and lens together.

untitled (1 of 1)-33
untitled-1-jpga