First of all, I would like to wish my fellow Americans a Happy 4th of July! I also want to thank the countless numbers of Americans who have sacrificed so much so that my family and I could enjoy the freedoms that we do today.
Putting in your time is an important part of wildlife photography. I am often amazed by how many people think I can walk up to a wild animal and just take its picture! Sitting and waiting, watching and learning, sometimes for hours is a normal part of the job for me. Sometimes putting in my time pays huge dividends and other times it does not. Putting in my time this past weekend had some really big payoffs.
I am an incredibly poor sleeper. I only require about 6 hours sleep a day to function at 100%. Incredibly fortunate for someone who needs to rise at 4:30-5:00 everyday. High tide in the Hamptons was running early this weekend. I used my local knowledge of the area to concentrate on a strip of Dune Rd. where I knew I would find some tidal pools. I hit the area right on the mark.
These images were taken as the tide was just going out, trapping a large amount of bait fish in a tidal pool. Because I put in my time on a previous trip, I had a really good idea where to go. Within minutes, a large group of Snowy Egrets, at least 25, descended on the pool and provided me with the photographic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel!
So next time you go out to find some wild creatures to photograph, make sure you come home with more than just images. Knowledge of your subjects is a powerful thing.
Images captured with a Nikon D700, 600 f/4 with 1.4 TCeII on Lexar Digital Film.
This is a really special opportunity for me. My images in the BT Journal are the first images I have ever had published professionally. I can never thank Moose and Sharon Peterson enough for their help and guidance during and after the program. I am truly honored to have my images included in this great publication. Below are 3 of my favorite images from my time in the MLP
As Moose states in the BT Journal article, I always wanted to photograph Moose. I can’t wait till the fall so I can get back up to Baxter and have another crack at some more images. I hope to one day make it to Alaska to photograph the bigger Moose of the species.
The thing I love about this last image is the fact that you can tell which bird is harassing the female osprey, Being able to capture the red in the Red Winged Blackbird made the image special. This Osprey nest is one I worked for several months on Long Island. Moose encouraged me to keep working nests so that I could not only learn about the species biology but also document it through my photography. I look forward to returning to that nest this Spring.
Let me start off by wishing my wife, family and friends a Happy Valentines Day!
Moose Peterson announced on his website over the weekend that he will be hosting another Yellowstone Adventure next winter. I have had visiting Yellowstone on my bucket list for a while. I hope to visit Yellowstone in the winter and fall. I hear the difference between those two seasons is amazing! Since Moose is one of my mentors, signing up for this adventure was a no brainer. Yellowstone in the winter is a killer for big game and landscape photography. What a combination. It will be a great time!
You will find below a link to all the details. From what Sharon (aka Mrs. Moose) told me, there are only a few spots left for either of the 2 weeks so if you are interested I would call right away. If you are going on this trip next winter, let me know. We can plan on freezing together. Temperatures this week were -30!
Recently I spent some time at Greenwich Point Park. In short order, I have become very fond of this location. I have seen several species of gulls, ducks, swans, eagles, starlings and geese in just 2 visits. I plan on spending a lot of time here over the winter. Why over the winter you may ask? This park is closed to non-Greenwich Connecticut residents from March 1- December 1, this is why I have not been there before now. 🙂
The only problems I have seen so far are the crowds. One visit was during the week while the other occurred on the weekend. During the week there were a lot of people, on the weekend it was mobbed!
Even with the crowds, I plan on heading down there this weekend, MLK weekend, to see what I can find!
You might remember reading in a previous post that one of the local parks I photograph birds, Mead Pond Park in New Canaan, Connecticut, had its pond drained. The pond was drained because silt built up over the years and made the pond too shallow to support the wildlife that made the pond their home. This problem became evident when moss and algae formed over the entire surface of the pond. In fact, when they drained the pond they found it was only a few feet deep in some locations. This work took several months and unfortunately for me meant that all of the ponds birds went to other locations.
This weekend I went over to the park to check on the work (I have been checking monthly since the work started) and was surprised to find that the pond was full again!
I made some images of Canada Goose that had returned to the pond. Ice had formed and we had a dusting of snow the night before. I also watched a Red Tailed Hawk circling in the distance. The pond had been home to a breeding pair of Red Tailed Hawks and their 3 chicks this spring. They left the park however when the bulldozers and construction equipment came, go figure!
I’m really glad to see some of the wildlife returning to the pond and look forward to photographing there in the future. It will be great to see what new species inhabit the pond now that the ecology has hopefully been improved.
Its hard to believe that I started my post Bucknell life with little true appreciation for what my friend calls our wild heritage. Post college life quickly moves from building a career to raising children. Then the kids grow and find outlets of their own that usually don’t include their dad! As personal time becomes more abundant, I am finding myself hiking and traveling to remote places to experience some of the solitary beauty our planet has to offer.
We are so blessed to be able to share a planet with other creatures. One of the reasons I spend so much of my free time photographing wildlife is I feel in some way I am speaking on behalf of the animals. I strive to make better images so I can speak on their behalf with more emotion and impact. Its strange how life has a way of changing. 24 years ago I only spoke on behalf of capitalism. Now I am a capitalist that is trying to speak on behalf of nature and wildlife.
Last week was an important week for me. As many of you know I have been working hard on my photography over the last 2 years. My friends and family will tell you that my work ethic in most things I put my mind to is second to few others. So I have been working the last several months with a mentor, Moose Peterson. I pursued Moose as my mentor (I think he wanted to have little to do with me at first!) for several reasons. Most importantly because he has dedicated his life to using photography as a communication medium in a way few others have, by speaking on behalf of wildlife. The message he communicates is one of compassion and awareness for the wild heritage that is all around us but rarely appreciated.
The message he communicates best however is the love affair he has with his craft. That message shines through with every press of the shutter he takes. There is no better way of proving this to you but to tell you to look over his website and read his new book, Captured.
The reason last week was so important is that my mentorship with Moose is coming to an end and I wanted to impress him with where my photographic skills have evolved. Doing so was important to me partly out of pride and partly because he has become like an older brother. Moose balances constructive criticism with making sure I don’t get full of myself by letting me know my skills are still a work in progress. But at the conclusion of our week together and during the 9 hour drive home from Baxter State Park, I realized that the outcome of the images I had taken over the course of the week was secondary to the other lessons I have learned from Moose (I know you are all getting confused on which moose I mean!). Most importantly, that every image I take needs to be filled with passion for it to be worth the paper or memory card I used to store and display that image.
Our week culminated in Baxter State Park with the intention to photograph Moose during the rut. I have never seen a moose in person before and I had anxiously anticipated this trip. But a Nor’easter that rolled into the area seriously dented our plans. 1 of 3 days was a complete rain out and the other 2 were gently said, not very cooperative. To Moose, these events were taken in stride. His answer to my obvious disappointment and frustration was to go and do what he does well, turn lemons into lemonade. While finding moose was out of our control, making great images wasn’t.
The program I have been involved in with Moose is Master of Light Program. If you want to seriously take your photography to the next level, I strongly suggest considering this mentorship. BTW, its not for the faint of heart, its a lot of work but the rewards are worth it if you are serious about being a better photographer. And if you think being a better photographer is only about f-stops, exposure and focusing, you have a big surprise coming!
I had the distinct pleasure to take a lot of photographs over the July 4th holiday. I spent the weekend on the eastern end of Long Island, NY. Over the last decade, local bird enthusiasts and members of the LI Audubon have erected poles with platforms for Osprey to call home. There are 5 such nesting sites that I stop by occasionally. This year there seems to be only 2 with mating pairs taking care of their young. One such nest has 3 chicks.
I worked this nest for several hours each day at sunset for 4 days. The reward was an opportunity to learn a lot about the behavior of Osprey as well as a chance to practice my flight shots and panning technique.
While at one time Osprey were an endangered species, thanks to the tireless work of scientists, volunteers and enthusiasts, the species numbers are on the rise. That can clearly be witnessed by the activity at this nest.
One other behavior that I witnessed was the Osprey being harassed by a Red Winged Black Bird. I have been told that Black Birds regularly harass birds of prey but have never seen it first hand.
What a great weekend!
I know, I know. I have done a terrible job of blogging the last few weeks. I apologize. To make it up to everyone I have some cool content I have been working on. More on that in the coming weeks.
One question I received from some “wildlife photography newbies” was “whats it like to photograph wildlife”? So I thought it would be interesting to show everyone some “scenes” from 2 of my recent Florida birding shoots. Thanks to fellow photographer Ralph Liniado for providing the photographs of me (save the emails and comments, I know I have a bald spot on the back of my head)!
The first picture is of me on Pass-a-Grille Beach. Getting low gives bird photography a whole new perspective. Not to mention a wet backside. We did a lot of “scooting” that day, and it was cold!
The result of working the scene above lead to the following photo opportunity.
The next picture of me was from the Brandon Harley Davidson Rookery, what a great place to take bird photographs at sunset!
This position on shore led to one of my favorite clicks from Florida.
Hope you enjoyed this and maybe, just maybe it gave you some motivation to get out and shoot this weekend. The weather forecast is for spectacular conditions in New England this weekend.
The recent snow storms along the Eastern U.S. left many people without power, telephone and dare I say it, internet service! The snow was so heavy on Friday there wasn’t even places for the birds to hide.
I decided to venture out on Friday because photographing landscapes and wildlife is usually better in bad weather, much to the chagrin of the photographer. The other reason I went outside was I had seen from the kitchen window something I had never seen before. During the storm, a flock of approximately 50 European Starlings attached our bird feeders. The tree was completely covered in them. I quickly found that these birds are very skittish when it comes to people. As soon as I opened the door to go out, they flew away without me being able to make 1 click.
However, as the saying goes, all clouds do have a silver lining. As I was standing under the tree with the feeders, a Red Bellied Woodpecker flew right past my head and landed in the tree. I have been trying to photograph this bird for a year. Like the Starlings, the Red Bellied Woodpeckers don’t like people. But the combination of the commotion of the swarm of birds and heavy snow was enough to camouflage me. I was able to get the lens up before the bird knew I was there. He didn’t stay long however, just long enough.
As I mentioned before I try to use the bad weather to take some landscape photographs. I tried my hand with a few black and whites which I thought made sense given the overcast skies and heavy snow.
I love trying to find interesting patterns that occur in nature. They are always there and are always changing.