After The Rain

I Had to share this beautiful rosebud taken after the rain this weekend.  Here in Arkansas the temps have cooled down and we had a much-needed rainy weekend.  This beautiful pink rosebud caught my eye.  I love the way the camera catches the water droplets on the leaf and the way the water runs down the stem of the rose.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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….

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Animal Behavior cont…. Walking On Water

Last week I posted some photography tips, and I talked about one of the most important… Animal Behavior.  
This story begins on a cold January afternoon.  It was the kind of cold chill that went to the bones.  It was overcast and the sky was draped in gray.  I knew where the swans were that afternoon and I just had to go see if I could get some decent shots.  I took out walking carrying a load in my backpack.  My camera, a couple of lens, and my trusty tripod.

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When I arrived at the pond where the swans were feeding.  Some of the swans were on the pond bank and some were in the water.  I noticed that they had company.  A few cows were standing on the same side of the pond as they were except they were on the opposite end.   I noticed the birds were getting a little nervous moving around more and more.  I climbed up the pond bank keeping as low as possible crawling on the damp cold ground.  There were two adults in the group, a Pen and Cob, along with five young Cygnets.

Since spending many hours watching Trumpeter Swans, I have learned when they are not happy and when they are not going to stick around.  This group was not going to stick around long.  The adult male Pen was the first to get very nervous.  The cows kept getting closer to the group and that did not suit the Pen at all.  Cattle are very strange when it comes to something they don’t see every day.  They were curious and just as scared as the swans.  I kept holding my breath hoping that the swans would stick around just a little bit longer.

The male Pen started bobbing his head up and down and calling out to the group.  This made all the swans nervous and now all the group were bobbing their heads.  All the swans got in the water and started swimming toward the lower end of the pond.  The Cob was telling his group to get ready.  Every swan lined up side by side with the Pen in  the center.  I knew this was not a good sign. They were lined up for what seemed like an eternity to me, bobbing their heads and honking back and forth to each other.  I lay there on the ground waiting while holding this huge heavy lens up afraid to let my guard down and miss the shots that I knew were to come.

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The Pen lifted his angel wings high into the air.  I knew this was going to be show.  All of his group were lined up evenly at his sides.  In the photo above you can see the adult Pen in the center lifting his wings, the adult Cob is on the left side at the very end.

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When he started to take flight, all of the swans started to lift their wings and take flight.   None of them were going to stick around.

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All the swans took off with the Cob waiting until the very last to leave.

Knowing animal behavior and having patience is so important.  If I had not known the reason that they were bobbing their heads, communicating, moving around, lining up to take flight, I would have not known to be ready.  You must have the patience to stay and be ready to get the shot.  Not knowing all these important aspects will make you miss that great shot you only dreamed of capturing.

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I will let the photos tell the rest of the story…

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And the walked on water…….

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Seeing Eye to Eye


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.

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A Great Wildlife Image is Pure Magic

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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

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Low Light Photography

There are two hours in the day that photographers call the golden hours. These two hours are the first hour of daylight when light is first peeping its head up and becoming visible. The second golden hour is at dawn when the sun makes its last appearance and God takes his paint brush and paints the most stunning colors in the sky. These two hours are the golden hours of photography. This is when you want to be out there catching the light in your camera lens.

The photo above of the Trumpeter Swan was taken when the sun was shinning its last rays of light on the water and giving the swan a pink glow. It was such a magical hour and I hope to do it again someday when I can catch the light just right.

Magic can happen when you least expect it. When sun light hits the water it can cause some pretty awesome effects to happen in a photo. The swan above brings its head up from eating the grass on the bottom of the pond and shakes the water from its head. As the sun reflects off of the drops of water there is a magical array of droplets that surround its head.

The afternoon I took the above photo it was almost getting too dark to capture an image.  The Trumpeter swans were restless and decided to take flight.  I had capture the images in very low light.  This is what happens in low light photography at the the golden hour.  Droplets of water are reflected by what little is left of the sun.   Trumpeter swans dancing across the water with type of light gives you an awesome photo.

I hope you have enjoyed this little excerpt on the golden hours of photography.  I encourage your comments and love to hear each and everyone of them.  Until next time…

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