Jan 012013

What a find for me!

Capturing “that one” photograph is a great adventure.  With 33+ plus years carry around a camera I still feel like a little kid every-time I go out to shoot.  Like christmas everyday.  At times it’s less about the subject.  Maybe perfect lighting that is rare or unique to enhance the subject.  A new subject, scene or unique person is always a bonus.  I dream of shooting the wild in Africa and Alaska.  Always trying to get a shot of a very unique individual.  Looking for extremes I guess.  I have mentioned many times the allusive owl is my nemesis.    As of late I have been very blessed to follow for a couple of days a small short eared owl.  He was hunting with the sun still up.  Most owls are nocturnal.  Very difficult to find and photograph.  Especially for a full time working amateur like me.


As I was traveling the dikes in farmington waiting and photographing the short eared owl something caught my eye in the deep deep rush. I saw some motion.  My new eyes hard at work……

The colors were off for a Harrier Hawk.  Too small for a coyote or small mammal.  I watched for some time and had a few guesses.  Very slowly I moved until I could get a better view.

HOLY COW!!! A Barn Owl!


I honestly had a rush of adrenaline similar to when I was charged by a grizzly in Yellowstone.  My heart was racing, palms sweating and ……well I’ll keep the rest to myself.  I have never seen a barn owl outside of a cage in a zoo or sanctuary.  I don’t think they are endangered.  Just really private.  Immediately I knew my chances of getting this beautiful critter in flight was waning.  It was very late in the day.  He looked to be in REM sleep.  Waiting for darkness to hunt.  All I could do was wait and pray.

Then off he went!  What I did next proves my almost un-conscience excitement about finding this bird.  I jump from my car, 600mm lens in hand and starting shooting. YEP handheld, after sunset, low light and a flying bird.  All I can say is I went a little crazy.  Cranked up the ISO to 3200.  Opened all the way to f4.

He started to hunt.  flying back and forth in front of me.



While hunting he would make sudden turns if he saw movement or a potential snack.

Then he would hover for a second or two ready to dive.


Did I care that I had just recently posted about how I ALWAYS shoot from a tripod?  NOPE.  Had I forgotten about my diatribes of people getting out of their cars and scaring of wildlife?   YES.  Was I lucky to even get a photograph close to sharp?  Absolutely!


If this beauty was letting me capture his talents I was breaking all the rules!!!  Sure it was flat light.  The sun had been down for a bit.  Are the photographs at a quality to produce huge prints?  Not shot at 3200 ISO.  They are special to me though.  Memories captured as I stood in crocks and a tee shirt in 20 degree temps, a foot of snow and  hand holding a monster lens.  With a crap eating grin on my face.


Eventually he realized my feet were freezing and my skin was getting a layer of frost on it.  I didn’t care.  He landed and gave me a rest.  He looked down at the sign as if he was saying that it was rest time.  Put the camera away go home and let me hunt.


Driving home I realized my incredulous actions. I thought there would be no way the shots would be good enough to keep.  To my surprise and delight they turned out OK.  I love them.  As much for the experience as the memory.   Will I ever run across a barn owl again?  I don’t know.  I do have the pixels to prove my experience and remind me of the great time I had!!!!!!!

Now I am looking for my next lucky capture!

 Posted by at 2:58 PM
Dec 302012

Went back yesterday and found my little friend again.

A Short Eared Owl.

In fact he tends to perch on the exact same cattail often.  The only problem is that in as many days as I have seen the Owl the word is out!  Cars everywhere.  Photographers out in numbers.  I still had a slight advantage.  I sat and waited at this particular spot.  Soon enough he came back several times. The crowds followed him up and the down the dikes in their cars like lemurs. I just sat and anticipated his approach.  A little secret….SHHHH….just below the cat tail in the deep rush is where he goes to eat his captures.  A nest?  Seclusion?  I’m not sure.  But I am definitely ahead of the pack.  If you compare the photographs form Friday you’ll note in the left bottom corner the bent cattail.   That’s how I first noticed he was landing in the same place.  Then I watched as he would fly low with a snack and stop on the lake side (out of view) of the deep rush.  What a beautiful animal.

Here are two photographs of the Owl on the cat tail.  One is slightly out of focus.  But I like it enough to share.


By the way.  I had another incredible find last night…..stay-in-touch……..

 Posted by at 4:13 PM
Dec 282012

The last few days we have been blessed with much needed moisture.

Snow.  White everywhere.  There just is not a better fill light for photographing birds in flight.

I really wanted to get out and shoot.  Some really fun shots can be taken in snowfall.  Too busy at work.  Dang it!  This afternoon intently working on a couple of tasks I didn’t notice a slight clearing outside.  After a storm in winter it is usually a clean and crystal clear day.  There it was waiting for me.  Needed an excuse to get out.  My drivers license expires in less than a week!!!  In no time and at breakneck speed I picked up my camera gear at home and made it to the DMV.  A full house.  A waiting list.  The last number called was 195.  I was 212.  A room full of pre-drivers, CDL’s, renewals and an impatient photographer.  As I sat and watched an hour so go by my hopes of getting to Antelope Island was diminishing by every click of the clock.  Needed a backup plan.  The DMV is less than 2 miles from Farmington Bay.  Without the appropriate ID I was finally given a temporary permit and out I flew.  My reference to flying in no way is an admittance of covering a couple of miles in less time required to eat a Twinkie….

Ending up at my favorite spot to wait and watch Harrier Hawks I noticed something was different.


The winged animal on a favorite Harrier post didn’t look like a Harrier.  In an instant it took off.


An OWL!  This cute guy flew right at me and landed on the other side of the dike.  What a beautiful bird.  I was shaking from excitement.  These days it does not take much.

If you know me and have followed my photographic antics you know capturing some pixels of an owl is my nemesis.  I have few shots. Tonight it seemed extra special.  Maybe the wait. More than anything just thrilled to see everything sharp as a tack.  Maybe just another gift for me.  As if to say hi or get my attention he then shook. Probably an acknowledging the bitter cold.

This was a short gift.  Off he went.  Right past me again.  Not a bit interested in me.

What an incredibly beautiful bird in flight!  Seemed as though he was so light he need not flap his wings.  The tops of the wings somewhat similar in color to the Harrier.


The privilege was mine as he flew so close I almost couldn’t focus.  Many other bird enthusiasts drove by not knowing of my gift.  Unless you have 20-20 vision and a keen eye, this unique critter just appeared to be a common Harrier Hawk.  This time of year Harriers easily found and more easily overlooked.

Another great gift for a wonderful month.  Might have to get out early tomorrow and do more investigating.




 Posted by at 9:32 PM
Dec 252012


What is Christmas to someone in the late stages of Alzheimer’s?   Probably nothing.  Except family and friends around to brings smiles.  And relieve loneliness.  I spend time at the local care facility.  Talking to mom.  And listening.    Not much of what I hear makes sense any more.  Though I can tell that Mom enjoys the company.  Yesterday an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints  and his family visited the care center.  The family performed a live nativity scene.  It was wonderful and beautiful.  Afterward, the Apostle Henry B. Eyring went throughout the room and shook every hand of every resident in the room.  When he shook my mothers hand I had an opportunity to photograph two people together.  An Apostle that loves and cares about my Mom.  The other person in the photograph- the nurse who cares for and loves my mom!  I will always treasure this photograph.

Probably the best gift I received for Christmas this year is another chance to capture an image of my beautiful Mom.  Because of the charity and selflessness of the Eyrings my mother was alert and awake.  Her eyes sparkled for a few minutes. She smiled.  No better gift.  Alzheimer’s is an unpredictable disease.  My Dad died from complications due to this terrible disease.  This may be one of or maybe the last time I get such a great capture of an 85 year old, dear, grand lady looking so beautiful.  My Mom!


 Posted by at 3:45 PM
Dec 222012

Technology is great isn’t it?

30+ years ago we used our photo experience and intelligence to capture on film.  Unless we had a darkroom that was it.  It forced us to “think” about each and every shot.  Literally considering all aspects of the shot.  Scenics, slow moving objects and optimum lighting made it a little easier.  When panning or trying to follow focus a subject great discipline and experience was required.  As well as good planning.  In the end 1 in 100 shots may turn out exceptional.  More likely acceptable.

Last night while waiting for a Harrier Hawk to make it’s move I received a call from a stranger.  A fellow photography enthusiast refereed to me for advise.  I was honored.  The first question she asked was do I use a tripod.  It seemed a little odd as the most important question.  Then she mentioned that she was considering buying the Nikon D800.  She was told that it required more strict compliance to the use of a tripod because of it’s high resolution. My immediate response was any camera will have a sharper image if shot from a tripod.  It reminded me and I mentioned to her there are famous professional photographers out there that “brag” about their handholding prowess.   Even lenses like the Nikon 200-400mm zoom lens.


The likes of Moose Peterson can in fact do it.  Writes about it often.  HE IS THE EXCEPTION!   What and how he shoots almost demands his expertise at handholding. Don’t be fooled we are not Moose Peterson!  The vast majority of us need the tripod.  I ALWAYS travel with at least two tripods.  One tripod is set up just for my Nikon 600mm lens.  Definitely not a hand holder!


DPS – Digital Photography School has a pretty good article about reducing camera shake.  Find it here.

When shoooting from my car I am even extreme I use a bean bag designed to hold a gimbal head.  I use this with my 200-400 and my 600.


Eventually last night with the sun in good form the Harrier Hawk took off.  I was ready.  Two photographs later I was done.  In this age of technology I still need to remember to use ALL the tools I have.  I have been shooting manually for a while.  I would focus by hand and look through the viewfinder and using the “Focus Indicator” to know if I was in focus.  That was then with bad eyes.  If you look at last nights post I had the great opportunity to photograph a beautiful pheasant not far from where I was shooting the hawk.  I remembered to set my camera to autofocus with the pheasant.  I think it’s obvious!

 Posted by at 9:41 PM
Dec 212012

The cataracts are GONE!

New lenses in place and can almost see perfectly.  The doctor told me at about arms length the vision may be a little blurry.  I’ll take it.  No more glasses.  It’s great.  The only hick up is my computer screen is almost exactly arms length away.  I am Ok with that.  I download files, watch Les Miserable, and the like on the big screen at arms length.  Up close and personal is my big Wacom.  It sits right at the edge of the desk and provides me with great sharpness even still without glasses.

Tonight I had to get out and photograph something!  ANYTHING!  I went to my dependable spot in Farmington.  Holy cow I was not disappointed.  Found this incredibly colorful and beautiful pheasant. Did I mention that everything is a little brighter and more colorful without the cataracts?   I sat for quite a while hoping it would come to me.  I knew that if I approached it he would be gone in seconds.  Again I lucked out.  As you can see there was very little precious light left.  Right as he hit the ray of light the capturing started.  Got a couple of fun shots.  Man it was so fun to be out, see again and capture God’s beauty!!!!!!

 Posted by at 10:06 PM
Dec 132012

In am a little rushed with this post.  My plane boards in about 10 minutes.

I am in Gillette, Wyoming.  December in Gillette. Holy icicles BATMAN!  The wind blows constantly.  Super cold.  The ground frost level drops inches to feet every night.  The deadline for the opening will not change.  Regardless of temps and weather conditions.  Who runs a project like this?  Mr. Hall.  This man is makes Clint Eastwood look like a Sesame Street character.  He’s tougher than the space shuttle skin.  He uses language that at times I don’t really understand .  A tiny bit rough around the edges.  A biker with more miles on a Harley than A flight to mars.

To say I like this old, sneering, cussing, big teddy bear is an understatement.  We have a pretty good understanding.  He complains in his low almost imperceptible raspy voice. I listen.

He is good at what he does. As good as anyone.  There are several people of his same title that I look to and enjoy working with.  But only Mr. Hall makes me smile for a few days after our visits.

 Posted by at 1:13 PM
Dec 092012

I am in between eye surgeries.

Fixed one this last week and fix the other in two weeks.

Have you ever thought about what a blessed day we live.  I went into a room to have my God made lens in my eye removed and replaced with a man made lens!  All in about 15 minutes!  Pretty cool……Unless you are diagnosed with severe claustrophobia and Panic Disorder.  It’s a couple of my “ism’s”.   Ok so picture this. In a surgical center.  Behind closed doors.  Laying down.  With a tool digging out the old lens in my eye and being told DON’T MOVE?  Really?

Now my vision is all askew.  And the doc threatened me to NOT rub my eye or look through any kind of viewfinder.  Too much risk of pushing on the eye!  I have discovered again that my photography passion is much like a caffeine, or drug addition.  In a good way.  I love the adventure of seeking “that” shot.  And really love getting back home and bringing the photo’s up on my Apple 30″ cinema and my 24″ Cintiq.  I couldn’t wait any longer.  Hey my lens are all autofocus now.  I can point and shoot and hope?  Even use live view if I needed.  So I did….


I looked for texture color,

Composition being a key to most photography


Shape and Textures


I found this mural behind the 31 flavors store.  My bet is that it has been there for years.  Never noticed it until yesterday


It always requires a little thought when shooting reflective or very light colors against white.


Lighting made this shot.  Pulled up and noticed the effect of the headlights and had to record this one.

I will be so glad when I can put my eye to the camera.  See the whole scene.  Examine the focus.  By the end of the month (still God willing) I will have 20-20 vision again.

Can’t Wait!!!!

 Posted by at 6:52 PM
Nov 242012

This is the time of year that deer bucks fight over the ladies (Doe’s) .

They are hard to find this time of year.  I have made a few attempts to catch the Bucks when they are butting heads with other bucks over the ladies.  Until today I have never photographed a buck keeping a herd of doe’s to himself.  It’s real close to watching the bigger Elk during the rut.  The only other buck near by was a very young buck.  Probably a year or two old.  The big buck kept the younger buck from getting TOO close to the ladies.

For the short time I was photographing the buck stayed fairly close to one particular doe.  Even with 30 or so doe’s close by.

The sun was just about to drop below the ridge when the buck realized he needed a rest.  Happily surrounded by doe’s and only one teenage buck.


 Posted by at 8:50 PM
Nov 232012

Ever tried driving in reverse, looking out the drivers window, with the camera and lens over the left arm, photographing a running Coyote?

Not me!

That would be breaking the LAW!

 Posted by at 8:05 PM