I recently had the opportunity to photograph migrating birds along the Mexico – Texas border. It was a total luxury to be able to shake the covid quarantine blues and get out in nature again which I missed dearly.
It seems fitting to post this on Memorial Day not only because the white color of the perch and the red and blue on the Painted Bunting remind me of the Stars and Stripes but because of my profound thankfulness of not only the men and women of the armed forces but the men and women of the medical community whose heroic efforts in fighting and controling covid 19 made this trip possible.
Sitting quiet in a blind for 4 hours where the temperature was over 100 degrees made consistent focusing a challenge! But with these birds as your reward it was totally worth it.
One of the most interesting behaviors to watch was the Painted Buntings bathing ritual. They would come into the pond and bathe twice before leaving with their mate.
Time…….the word has so many different meanings and uses. The one commonality we all share is that we never have enough.
A lot of people have asked why I stopped blogging so suddenly. The short answer is I ran out of Time. For the last few years I have been dealing with a personal tragedy and I realized I needed Time to heal. In typical Vinnie fashion I took 100% of the excess energy and Time I had after being daddy and a great Sheppard of my investors money and put it toward finding myself. As the healing process moved forward I realized a part of me suffered and that part was my love of photography. I missed it and I needed it. I use photography to exercise the right side of my brain. I also love the serenity of being in remote locations at sunrise or sunset, a place usually devoid of others at that time. Sunrise to me is as if God is renewing everyone’s spirit and soul, at least that’s how I feel after each and everyone. It’s a symphony of life that knows no boundaries or limitations.
While I wasn’t sure if this day would ever come….blogging again or even updating My Website….I realized I missed getting behind the camera and sharing visual stories. There is something special about an image. Its a slice in time, something specific to think or meditate about. In part the Time required to capture that story was also Time I needed to find myself. One helped the other. Like so many things in life the two had a symbiotic relationship. So I dusted off my bucket list and with the excitement and apprehension of a child headed for the first day of kindergarten I took my camera out and made many clicks. The place I chose to start my new journey? Magee Marsh in Ohio. I couldn’t think of a better subject, “migration” given my personal situation was a migration of sorts.
So now I’m bringing my camera with me everywhere again. I just returned from Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks which I will share with you all soon. And I have a trip to Yellowstone planned for January (I never had the fortune to visit Yellowstone and now I’ll be there twice in six months)!
In order for anything to grow and flourish it needs Time. Your family, job, relationships, photography…..all need Time. Make sure you are devoting all the Time you can to the things you love. My hope is the investment of Time to something I love so much will help guide me through my own personal migration.
This weekend was CT Trail Days. Since the weather was spectacular I thought I would visit a local nature center to celebrate :-).
I have to admit that I do not particularly like any of these images, it was just nice to get out, hike for a few hours and make some images. The location I visited was the New Canaan Nature Center.
Away from the Red Bellied Woodpecker, the other backgrounds are too busy for my liking….and style. I like natural settings, I just like cleaner backgrounds.
Ideally I think this location wood be best photographed with a tripod while sitting in one spot. I think my movement had the effect of scurrying the wildlife. That is a little odd for a public location, you would think the wildlife was more acclimated to people. However, that won’t stop me from returning.
Images captured with Nikon D4s and 80-400 VR III on Lexar digital film.
I have been looking forward to this product update ever since it was rumored that Nikon was working on it.
(Image courtesy of Nikon USA)
I finally had the opportunity this weekend to take the lens out and see what it can do. I am very impressed by how this lens feels in my hands. Attached to my D3x it feels great and carries well on the Vulture Strap A2 that I have also been testing.
I visited the Bristow Sanctuary in my town to see what fall images and possibly birds I could photograph.
As you can see from these images the lens is very sharp. Focus is extremely quick and the quality of the images out of the camera are sensational. I especially love the tree and leave reflections in the image above.
I also like the detail captured in the tree and Downy Woodpecker above.
Overall this lens is highly recommended and might displace some of the other lens in my back given the weight savings. This lens will also make a great big game lens for times I need to carry both a 600mmf/4 and the 80-400. The space and weight savings over a 200-400 are significant. All and all I am very happy with this purchase.
I have some exciting news. The BT Journal, published by Moose Peterson, has recently put the issue in which I was published, on their iPad APP! Here is a link to the BT Journal iPad APP. I hope you decide to purchase the issue and use the APP. The BT Journal is one of my favorite wildlife/wildnature photography magazines and it is even better now that you can read, hear and watch the magazine on the iPad!
Also, here is the LINK to the original post where I talk about my time with Moose that led to the BT Journal publication.
We are not God’s only creatures that enjoy the sun. (Don’t know if you can tell from this small image but there is a dragon fly on the alligators nose, also sunning itself :-))
Here are some facts about the American Alligator:
The American Alligator is the largest reptile in North America. It has a large, dark (usually black), slightly rounded body and thick limbs. Unlike the crocodile, the alligator has a broad head. The alligator uses its powerful tail to propel itself through water. The tail accounts for half the alligator’s length. While alligators move very quickly in water, they are generally slow-moving on land. American alligators mainly eat fish, turtles, various mammals, birds and other reptiles.
While they do not have vocal cords, male alligators bellow loudly to attract mates and warn off other males by sucking air into their lungs and blowing it out in intermittent, deep-toned roars.
In 1987, Florida declared the alligator their official state reptile!
Image captured with Nikon D3x, 600mm f/4 w/TCe-2.0 III on Lexar Digital Film.
I received some very interesting correspondence regarding last Monday’s post (link here). The responses were mostly complimentary but some seemed to infer a message that I was not trying to convey. After reading all the comments on the post and some direct emails, I think I was not clear in my message. So I will be blunt today. I love birding and bird photography. My post was only trying to share the fact that I have differing expectations when I undertake one vs. the other. I wasn’t trying to infer that one needed to take sides or that one activity was superior to the other! There were some comments about both birders and bird photographers (mostly photographers) not behaving properly and maintaining a philosophy of “get the shot at all costs”. I have seen this behavior myself and think it is wrong. We as birding/wildlife advocates need to do whatever we can to stop any behavior that would jeopardize the welfare of the wildlife we are observing. I have always practiced “No image is worth the welfare of the subject” during my wildlife photography and viewing attempts.
One interesting perspective came from Robert Mortensen over at Birding is Fun (link here). I really enjoyed how he used the umbrella to describe different aspects of birding that make up its own ecosystem. I think that umbrella could be expanded to encompass all wildlife, not just birding. But Robert’s post started me thinking a little differently. I have a few ideas that I am going to let germinate but plan on sharing with all of you shortly. Again thanks for the great “debate” and all the comments. I’m glad so many of you enjoyed the topic and hopefully you are thinking differently about this as well!
Well Google+ has already paid some dividends. I started using “Sparks” and selected “birding” and “wildlife” as topics I was interested in. Sure enough the first story that came up was that the State of New Hampshire had just created a new wildlife website (www.wildnh.com).
I had the good fortune to visit one of my favorite Osprey nesting locations this weekend. This site is just killer at sunset…..when there are Osprey sitting on a nest of course :-).
This was the first time I had a chance to visit this particular nest during the current breeding season. I have been here a few times over the last few seasons. This was the first time I have had a female feel threatened by my presence which I thought was odd given the nest was in a populated area. Since she seemed to be agitated, I grabbed my tripod and moved away as not to stress her. I’m sure you have heard the saying, “No image is worth the welfare of your subject”. I have never felt threatened by an adult Osprey before but she was definitely getting close overhead as I was retreating.
Once momma landed on the nest I slowly and gradually made my way back to the nest. She seemed fine with this.
I wasn’t really sure what the Osprey and her chick were focused on in the swamp, it was out of my view. But you can see here that they were not very happy. The male Osprey was watching about 150 yards away from atop a pile driven into the swamp.
Images captured with a Nikon D700 600 f/4 w/ 1.4 TCe-II on Lexar digital film.