Feb 262012

I work with “P”

She is quite a lady.  A great example as mother. An incredible and vivacious partner to her husband.  A great asset for and to me.  She has recently found herself thinking deeper than usual.  Looking a little beyond if you will.  I look to her for help with about anything.  Now I am looking up to her even more.  If that was even possible.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“P” exemplifies what matters within.  I am blessed to know her.
Today was filled with several emotions.  Friday while visiting my mother at the Care Center the fire alarm went off.  Holy Cow!  That was an experience I won’t soon forget.  Visiting my Mother today reminded me of what a “Grand” lady should be.  Music touched my heart today.  A new group I downloaded singing gospel songs.  And I had some time late today to visit my  critter friends at FBWR.
The Geese are congregating. Looking for nesting sites.  A few Harriers around.  And I think I caught a glimpse of an owl!!!!!  Guess where I will be after work tomorrow for about an hour….
A few shots taken today.  All with my 200-400mm lens.  Shooting wide open at ISO 1250 at 1/3500 of a second.  Did a little work in post.  Ran through Color Efex Pro 4, Midnight filter.  And erased back the birds to the original exposure.
 Posted by at 10:59 PM
Feb 242012

My son and I had time together tonight at FBWR.

We love the humor in birds.  Though this time of year there is little to enjoy we still laughed at the Gulls and Coots.  It was frustrating because twice I asked him to get out of the car to get a mated Malard pair to fly.  The light was incredible.  But both times I missed the shot.  Too busy talking.

We did get some more Gulls fighting over fish morsels.  And a lolely Malard taking a bath!



 Posted by at 8:26 PM
Feb 232012

I recently received and email from one of my blog followers.

They basically said that anyone can get a stop action shot of a bird with a $11,000.00 lens and a $5,500.00 camera.  They said the real test was to shoot at low shutter speeds and capture a great shot of a bird.

I love a challenge.  Especially when it comes to photography.  Remember that I am the one that says over and over if you take enough shots eventually one will be good.  But this is a particular shot with a particular challenge.

Got to FBWR just as the sun was setting and found a mated pair of Northern Shovelers.  The Northern Shoveler has a large spoon bill.  They are very colorful.  Just like most they ducks take off and fly very fast.  A challenge to get a sharp stopped action shot.  And more difficult to get a sharp image in low light.  I know that from experience to freeze a shot like this the shutter speed needs to be above 1/4000 second.  With a duck maybe even needs faster shutter speed.  So to complete the challenge I needed to get a slower shutter speed and pan the camera with the shoveler at the same rate as the bird.   I decided on 1/1200 of a second at f/4 and ISO 3200.  The shot should have motion in the wings and a sharp head/eye…….

As I left the beautiful Utah Sunset stopped me in my tracks. Took a couple for the heck of it.  Incredible color!


 Posted by at 8:56 PM
Feb 222012

It appears some White Faced Ibis’s have never left the refuge.

It’s been a really weird season out there.  Monday I captured an Ibis as it passed by.  The local DWR people told me don’t usually see the Ibis around in the winter.   Again, it’s been a weird year…..

 Posted by at 9:49 PM
Feb 212012

The American Coot or sometime called the “Mud Hen”

This 13″ to 16″ waterfowl is not a duck.  It has large lobed toes instead of webbed feet.  It is the only “duck like” bird with a white bill.  They are excellent divers.  And seem to be the least afraid of us two legged creatures.  Especially when photographing from a car.  Or in this case, yesterday I sat for awhile and the Coots got used to me and came back to their fishing grounds.

To get this type of  shot I always try to keep the shutter speed above 1/5000 of a second.  It is critical because the bird moves very fast. I always shoot in aperture priority mode.  And as usual I shot wide open with an aperture of – f/4.  With the ISO at 800 the camera gave me a shutter speed of 1/6400 second.  And as usual I compensated by -3.

The shot was clean and pretty darn sharp.  Got the Coot running on water!

 Posted by at 9:24 PM
Feb 202012

Got a kitchen pass today.

From early this morning until late today was chasing the light.  Fun to the max.

At Antelope Island captured the buffalo there.  And in this photo some hitch hikers……

Brewers Blackbirds……..MTK!

 Posted by at 10:51 PM
Feb 182012

Don’t tell anyone I was at FBWR today.

Supposed to be working on projects.

I snuck over for almost exactly one hour.  My daughter lives less than 1/2 mile from the refuge.  I was dropping stuff off to her and her hubby.  Just happened to have my camera gear with me :-D.

I have mentioned before on previous posts that the professionals don’t waste-time capturing Gulls.  To them it’s a waste of pixels.  For me it’s great PRACTICE.  Never be perfect but more practice will make me better.  So I stop, study and photograph a ton of gulls.  The eagles never really came this year.  At least no more than about eight.  And they stayed far away from the recent crowds that have gathered at the refuge.  The gulls are not as proud or as shy as the Eagles.  However with the crowds they rarely land in the water to fish near the crowds.  Crouds being defined as any number of people out of their cars walking to the birds for a closer shot.  Kinda like sneaking up on big game with a BB gun.   The birds won’t have it.  So they dive, snatch and fly.  Makes for good practice for me.  The trick is to get the focus  on the bird before it hits the water.  I follow the bird as it dives and start clicking just before it hits the water.  Believe it or not at 8 or 9 frames a second not many frames are caught.  But some may turn out pretty darn cool even for gulls!!!!!!!


This next shot hit home for me.  The gull flying right at camera.  Tack sharp fish and gull eyes.  Taken just milliseconds after the snatch…………


 Posted by at 5:28 PM
Feb 162012

How many times have you been driving down a road and Quail run or fly across the street in front of you?

It happens to me often.  Must be in my car a lot.

Most of the time I have my camera with me.  Sometimes even the big guns.  This day about two weeks ago I crossed paths with the Quail.  And had all my gear!  What I photographed was whimsical and weird at the same time.  So here is the Gambel’s Quail I saw and photographed.  This is the male……


I am sorry but the thing on his head cracks me up.  Some of the male species in the animal world have to be a little embarrassed.    My bird handbook says these Quail like to take dust baths.   Helps with bugs, etc.


Wow.  A bit crazy.  Had a hard time keeping the camera and lens steady I was laughing so hard.

The male got down into the small impression and watched.  Didn’t really make much sense of it all.  The female getting all down and dirty and the male just sat and watched.  And another looked on.  I really wish I could read Quail minds.  What the heck?


Watch some of their crazy antics here.

 Posted by at 10:00 PM
Feb 152012

It’s hard to go anywhere in Utah’s desert and deserted areas and not hear the beautiful songs of a Western Meadowlark.

This little 9″ bird is not a member of the lark family.  It’s actually belongs to the Blackbird family.  Known for it’s song it is quite common in areas near my home.  Stop just a few miles from home, turn off the engine and the radio and I am serenaded by these cuties.  They are very shy.  Most approaches even in a car  are met with the fast fly away of the Meadowlark.  With the advantage of a very long lens, a 1.7 teleconverter and some tricky driving I captured this beauty in flight.

Don’t try this at home.  Should only be performed by experienced foolish photoraphers desperate for a new shot of a common bird!

A little trial and error.  I drove by the bird at the posted speed and he didn’t fly away.  In fact he only flew when I cam to a full stop in my car.  Simple solution. Shoot while driving.  I know there is a law passed about texting and driving or at least being distracted while driving.  I think driving and photographing are OK.  Here is the deal.  I was antelope island.  I have a Wimberley head on a window mount for my car.   I mounted the camera and lens on the Wimberley and drove very slow by the Meadowlark.  Probably 2 MPH.  Drove with my knee while I shot the bird.  No cars in sight in either direction.  Hey I got the shot!!!!!

 Posted by at 10:56 PM
Feb 152012

It is the one we dream about.

When times are tough I step out and put the camera to my eye.  Takes me away from pain and anxiety.  There is something very therapeutic about watching and photographing the wildlife we are so blessed to be surrounded by.   Lately life seems a little too full.  I am truly blessed.  Hate complaining.  Thank goodness I have this passion/hobby.  I am not sure what I would do without it.

A photographers dream as I have mentioned before is to get a particular shot.  A tack sharp photo of wolves fighting over a carcass.    Or that familiar photo of the bald eagle just as it’s huge talons  are snatching a fish from the waters.  The dream we have is sometimes a shot we have seen captured by others that we want to capture ourselves.  In my case one shot in particular is a hawk flying right at me tack sharp eyes. Wings fully expanded.  Proof of flight.  With my one bad eye and the dependence on the auto focus technology my luck has been cut short more than often.  True luck is to be lucky enough to be in a position to have a hawk fly direct at you. Not a domesticated hunter. The real deal.  A wild hawk.  Out in the wild.  Typically they will fly away or at least fly right or left of camera position.

For some reason with a pile of personal bad luck this past while I lucked out today with “spot”.   Spot is a young female Northern Harrier Hawk I have posted about before.  Today she seemed to know my mental state and gave me a break.  She has a few perches at FBWR that she can be found on (if you know where they are).   Drove right to one of them.  The perch about 60 yards from the dike and gives her a little personal space.  About the time I got my camera on my window mount she took off.  Right at me!!!!  The first couple of clicks were slightly out of focus.  The third shot was right on.  I about cried when she appeared on my screen at home.  May be fate.  Maybe a coincidence.  I think she had a sense that I needed a boost and gave me the chance to capture her.. at her very best!!!!!!

 Posted by at 10:22 PM