Somethings are natural. Even if your the only one doing it!
When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.
Charles Evans Hughes
I love Birds, wildlife and all moving things. And insects. Especially spiders. They crack me up. They think they are so tough. Little man syndrome. Many times I have photographed these little hairy, multiple legged, comedians and made good friends at the same time. Remember Tara. She was the most friendly tarantula I have ever spent time with. She was my buddy on the road for a few days. In the car she liked the dash the most. I think it was the heat. In the Hotel room she liked the recliner. She thought she was queen for a night. Really, how many tarantula’s stay in the king suite at Holiday Inn express? I kinda spoiled her.
Some spiders are more difficult to photograph. For instance the jumping spider. Had one jump right at the camera and landed on my face. Or maybe the Daddy long legs. No, not Mr. “high pockets” Henry, my 9th grade science teacher. The spider with long legs and eats other spiders. They must drink Red Bull all day. They don’t stop for nothing. Especially a photographer.
The spider in this photograph was real fun. His only problem was that he kept trying to climb onto the lens. I had a 200 macro lens at it’s closest focus distance. About a 1:1 ratio. Eventual I let him stay on the lens. He did his research then climbed back down. If you look real close, he has a huge SMILE on his face. The smiled appeared right after I said cheese and smile!
Though this photograph I took in California depicts a time before I was born, I wish I could be there. Today I left my cell phone and IPad home. Don’t tell anyone OK? Mondays are filled top to bottom with meetings. I arrived at the office at about 6:00 am. Left at 6:30. I am sure that when I check my phone tomorrow (if my guilt does not cause me to look tonight) it will be loaded with voicemail. I did look at my EMAILS and caught up on them tonight. Now understand that I am paid well. I was paid very well when I was 22. When I went home at night back then, work stayed wherever my truck had been that day. No invisible connections to a hand held device that kept me on a 24-7 clock. No computers or machines linked with clouds or wires or magical wavelengths to my boss or the whole world. Years ago home was HOME not an extension of work.
Today there is literally no time to think or relax. Something is always pinging, ringing, gonging, beeping vibrating or just simply lighting up! Now rest is only while in the RESTroom. To some that is even a place to converse on one of the handheld machines as nature takes its course. Lunch means sit in a meeting, rushing through the fast food establishment or shoving down a bacon cheeseburgers that had been sitting under the warmer at the store all day. The actual lunch break is walking the 300′ to the store and back.
I remember sitting at my in-laws home on their back patio after work when I was first married. We talked with eye contact. Voice fluctuations and emotions indicative of the subject. There was no question what the words meant. You actually looked at a person as they spoke the words. NO LOL. We laughed out load. No little smiley faces. Just smiling faces. Real relationships. No sexting. Only beautiful music and loving eyes. NO PORN. NONE. ZERO. NADA. Sure there was magazines at some stores. No accidental clicks on the typewriter to bring up on a screen unwanted visuals. I did have a friend show me his mom and dad’s Joy of Sex book. Today the same book would be comparable to a burger commercial.
I cherish my time at my house at bear lake. No phones. Very bad Cellular service. Only a couple of regular TV channels. And quiet. Really quiet. Much like the photo does to my soul my house at the lake calms my spirit, my body and my senses. This year I am going to communicate with someone on the bus at the airport, on a plane and waiting in line at the grocery store. At the doctors office waiting room I may break out in song. Bet that will bring the heads up out of the machines. How about a little less time on the machines and a little more time looking up at each other see the beautiful world around us!
Recently my wife and I went to San Diego. About 3/4 of the day for work and two days for fun. Between her teaching and my work we don’t get much time together. Of course part of my luggage was camera gear. With a bit of feeling of guilt I talked her into going to the beach. She new without asking what my sneeky motive was. It was fun. I always love to watch wildlife!
Recently I have been traveling to western Nevada. Driving! I carry my camera everywhere. For about the year now my life has been absolutely crazy busy. Today I thought too bad. I’ll make time to exercise my passion. This last trip to Nevada I left pretty late. About half way I had this beautiful sunset appear. Believe me the drive to eastern Nevada from SLC, Utah is no treat. But this was a treat!
I’m always falling back to black and white photography. Whenever I travel for work it seems that I see through black and white eyes. Recently I was near Arches National Park. Consistently the results of shooting there is black and white prints. Yesterday while on a very long drive from Boise, Idaho to Winnemucca, Nevada, I stopped at a small acreage of sand dunes. It was a blast! Here is a few shots from Arches and the sand dunes.
What happens when you add wolf to Yellowstone? So far history is showing that the park becomes healthier. One consequence of adding the Wolf to Yellowstone is that the elk population has dropped dramatically. As of February 2013, the northern herd, which is only a portion of the park’s entire elk herd, has declined from a high of more than 19,000 before wolves were reintroduced into the park in 1995 to a low of 3,915 Elk. As Yellowstone’s most abundant ungulate, elk comprise approximately 90 percent of winter wolf kills and are an important food for bears, mountain lions, and at least 12 scavenger species, including bald eagles and coyotes. Competition with elk can influence the diet, habitat selection, and demography of bighorn sheep, bison, moose, mule deer, and pronghorn. Elk browsing and nitrogen deposition can affect vegetative production, soil fertility, and plant diversity. Thus, changes in elk abundance over space and time can alter plant and animal communities in Yellowstone. I search for these incredibly beautiful mammals. In the spring they are in full velvet.
Coming off a harsh Yellowstone winter some of the Elk look pretty ragged as a portion of their winter coat hangs on them.
The amazing thing is that the Elk antlers while in “velvet” can grow an inch or more a day. That’s amazing if you think about it. As thrilling as the late summer rut is, this time of year the elk are absolutely gorgeous!
Elk have played an important role in the cultural history of a number of peoples. Pictograms and petroglyphs of elk were carved into cliffs thousands of years ago by the Anasazi of the southwestern U.S. More recent Native American tribes, including the Kootenai, Cree, Blackfeet, Ojibwa and Pawnee, produced blankets and robes from elk hides. The elk was of particular importance to the Lakota, and played a spiritual role in their society. At birth, Lakota males were given an elk’s tooth to promote a long life since that was seen as the last part of dead elk to rot away. The elk was seen as having strong sexual potency and young Lakota males who had dreamed of elk would have an image of the mythical representation of the elk on their “courting coats” as a sign of sexual prowess. The Lakota believed that the mythical or spiritual elk, not the physical one, was the teacher of men and the embodiment of strength, sexual prowess and courage. My bet the drawings and depictions of Elk did not reflect some of the unusual positions elk take to scratch and shake of insects.
Like other large Mammals in the park the elk can be taxi’s for black birds……
I really do search out photo opportunities with the Elk. Early morning travels are almost exclusively for Elk now that the population has dropped. For the most part, it’s more difficult to find the big guys. I did photograph numerous cow elk. It’s just not the same photo in the end.
A week of shooting elk in Yellowstone did produce one shot I will keep close………..
What is the most common animal sighting at Yellowstone?
If you watch them long enough there are interesting behaviors they exhibit. The first day at Yellowstone I was enjoying watching and photographing a group of Buffalo. It didn’t take long to realize one of the new mom’s was severely injured. Injured bad enough that she didn’t move much.
When she walked she dragged her back left leg and limped on her front right leg. I really doubt it was a sickness. It appeared to be an injury from a predator. She had a beautiful calf that didn’t even seem to realize her condition. After nursing and nap the calf would run all over the place!
For a few days the mother and calf could be found in the very same vicinity. Then on my 4th day at Yellowstone they were both missing. When last seen they stayed in an area in Hayden Valley. With her injuries I suspect they became a dinner meal for the local Wolf pack in Hayden Valley.
The buffalo are pretty active right now and there is a lot of heading butting going on…
In Lamar Valley surprisingly there was significantly more calves. This calf was tired. It’s a lot of work being a calf at Yellowstone.
Often the buffalo are a main attraction for black birds that take advantage of he bugs stirred up as the buffalo move around.
I always look for my daily “artsy fartsy” photograph!
Lastly meet ELVIS!!!
The increase of the wolf population and the decrease of the Coyote population at Yellowstone has created the opportunity for the increase of the Red Tail Fox population. Up until only a few years ago coyotes were found around almost every corner. It is not the case any more. I would typically take away from yellowstone thousands of Coyote photographs. This last trip NOT ONE photo. Not even one Coyote sighting. The Fox and the Coyote have similar hunting and scavenging technics. The first time I saw a coyote jump up and dive straight down on a mouse I about lost it. Since that first time I have watched coyotes for hours hunting. Much less time has been spent with the fox. They are not a public critter. They run when greeted by US two legged weirdo’s. With more fox I had more opportunities this trip. I had to plan better for the shots than with the coyotes. High on Mount Washburn I found a hunting fox. I was much lower in elevation than she was so the opportunity to get a nice ridge shot presented itself.
This cute gal was hunting but not having much luck finding a snack. I was hoping like crazy for her to do the jump-dive thing on a rodent. For a video of a Red-tail Fox diving into snow click here. If that does not make you laugh? Finally she started her approach and then up she went. At that point I remembered I was shooting with my Nikon DF not the D4s. I keep the D4s on the 600mm lens. The D4s shoots at 11 frames per second. The DF shoots at best 5 frames. DANG IT!!!! At least I got the dive shot….
This next shot was the killer! I never got the belly shot before. All I could think was that must really hurt. They must have a nose made of steel. Unlike diving into snow (like in the attached video) to dive head first right on it’s nose? OUCH!!!!
Another great adventure that day. And big laughs.
Here is link to Wikipedia about the Fox.
(By the way I need to edit my blogs better for spelling, grammar and mistakes. My last post I said I had taken 300,000 photos this trip. Uh 300,000? It was more like 30,000. Still a ton but more closely to what really happened)