I am now the owner of a long zoom lens- and am totally intimidated by it! It is heavy (4.5 pounds)and very zoomy (up to 600mm), but so much fun! Until yesterday I had only used it in the driveway (it has been rainy and dreary), but I finally took it out for a short walk at Willow Lake. I was fortunate to have my photo assistant (Lonnie) with me to carry the tripod (I didn’t attach the lens to it until we got out to where I was setting up). I know my friend, Carol carries her much heavier gear on a tripod over her shoulder, and I even watched a Moose Peterson video on doing it this way- but I was nervous about handling the new gear, not having the special tripod head etc. But once I was by the lake, it was all fun!
The shot below was taken as we walked to the lake. It is the same spot where I took reflections shots earlier this month. Normally there is no water here. This was taken before I put the big lens on; I just used the lens which I happened to have on the camera, my 50mm.
As you can see from the above shot, it was very overcast and even more unfortunately, there were no herons or egrets there to greet me. So once I got the tripod set up, I had some practice with the ducks who were reluctant to pose and were mostly swimming away from me. I have a lot of shots just like this one:
Not too impressive, I know, but- take my word for it- he was very far away! And it’s all good practice!
This is Emily, a Swainson’s Hawk, who posed so nicely for this portrait that I decided on an old-fashioned look for the editing. Normally I dislike sepia, but it seemed to suit the image.
I seldom photograph birds, especially since my friend, Carol, has set the bar so high with her amazing, professional quality bird photography (oh, THAT’S what a bird photograph should look like!)- but I went along with my camera club on an outing to the Arizona Raptor Experience. It was fantastic! We were there by 7:00 a.m. and had beautiful light for most of the morning. And the birds were magnificent!
I’m not posting any action shots- although I did get 3 acceptably sharp shots out of dozens I took. It was operator error- my camera and lens did pretty well. I did get some pretty raptor portraits.
Today it’s a Harris’s Hawk (which I always thought was a Harris Hawk). Tomorrow will probably be a Swainson’s Hawk. See you then!
This morning I was out with my macro lens, trying to capture the early morning light on the flowers when I became aware of some movement across the street.
It was a javelina!
He seemed on a mission and continued up the hill and up the driveway of our neighbor’s house, where I lost sight of him.
We have lived here almost three years and, although herds of javelinas can be seen throughout Prescott, especially in early evening, we had never seen a javelina in our neighborhood until today. I know from neighbors that they are around, but they seem to avoid my camera. In fact, last month something rooted up all our bulbs in the front flower bed- and damaged some of the drip system. And now I have a potential suspect!
Unfortunately, my 80mm macro lens was on the camera, so I wasn’t able to zoom in on our visitor. The first two photos are cropped.
FYI, javelinas are collared peccaries, not boars or pigs. They are usually in small herds or family groups and can be aggressive.
And they sound like this! http://www.desertmuseum.org/books/audio/javlina_medley.mp3
It’s been over a month since we left Yellowstone, but I still am going through my photos. Here is a shot of the chapel with an elk grazing outside.
And below is a very early and very cold morning view of the Yellowstone Justice Center. Can you spot the elk in this photo? 🙂
You might think that I was finished with bison photos- I see them every time I go to Yellowstone, after all. However, on this last visit I saw got to see bison doing something I knew they did, but had never viewed. On the last day of our visit (the same day we saw the bighorn sheep), my son-in-law pointed out a small herd of bison crossing the Gardiner River. This is probably a typical sight for him, but, for me, it was something new to photograph.
Every time we made the short drive from Yellowstone to Gardiner, Montana, we would see bison gathered at the river munching on the grasses. The steam rising from the water gives a misty appearance to the scene, contrasting with the icy banks. We stopped several times to take photos; I never get tired of this scene!
I had fun with some creative edits on the above two shots using Topaz Simplify and textures.
The one below is probably my favorite edit. I used both Topaz Simplify and Impression, as well as textures. I desaturated the bright blue sky to create a monochromatic look, which is more pleasing to my eye.
On Monday, I mentioned here that I photographed one of my “bucket list” animals while in Yellowstone last week. Well, here it is- a Big Horn Sheep (or Sheep Horn Sheep, as Henry calls them)!I have been coming to this part of Yellowstone 2 or 3 times a year for five years, and this is the first time I’ve been able to get a photo like this. It has become somewhat of a joke in our family- we drive by the sheep area every time we go into Gardiner, and I never see them. I’ve seen a few blurry sheep tushies scrambling up the rocks and once a ram walking quickly away- but never anything that I could really photograph. And they are there most of the time- just not when I’m there!
So you can imagine how thrilled I was when my son-in-law spotted this guy conveniently posed atop the rocks by a pullout! And he’s a beauty- look at those horns!
I’m very grateful to my eagle-eyed son-in-law for finally getting me this shot!
Yes, we are back home from Yellowstone! We actually arrived in Phoenix last night, but we spent the night and did some shopping before heading up the hill this afternoon. We got home an hour ago- and we’re already unpacked, the laundry is going, my photos are uploading (still!), and my husband is out at the store picking up something for tonight’s dinner.
I took a ton of photos (darn burst mode!), and it will take a week or so to go through them. Expect to see some darling boys (and dogs), some elk (of course), more bison, lots of snow, the hot springs, and some photos of one of my bucket list animals (a very common one at Yellowstone that had thus far eluded me)!
It is the beginning of the rut at Yellowstone, and the bull elk are coming around to check out the females. The sounds of the bugling bulls wake us up at night, and we have to look around as we walk outside, because the bull elk are dangerous and unpredictable. Yesterday, two beautiful males with huge antlers appeared on the lawn and proceeded to circle each other and the tree between them, before engaging in some clashing of antlers. The fight didn’t last more than fifteen minutes or so, but the tourists gathered, getting ever closer until the rangers appeared to make them back up. I was in the relative safety of the front porch, but ready to run inside if they got closer.
Even elk mothers have to spend time taking care of their babies. Here is one of the mama elk grooming her baby out on the lawn. You might notice the little ears just visible behind the baby; another baby is lying close behind.
I’m used to being surrounded by elk at my daughter’s house here in Yellowstone, but yesterday we had a special visitor! It was pouring rain, but I managed to take this photo through the latticework on the back porch. Yes, he saw me, but I was very far away and using a zoom lens. I chose to edit this photo in black and white, because a bison just doesn’t look right on a bright green lawn!
Several times over the last few years, we’ve seen owl babies in a huge nest waaaaay up high in a tree by the Visitor’s Center at Mammoth in Yellowstone. When I’ve photographed them, the images were never sharp, because they were too far away. We came later this year, after the owl babies had already fledged, so I didn’t think we’d be able to see any. However, the babies were still in the area, and one evening, I managed to get photos of this guy on the roof of one of the residences near our daughter’s. Despite being a juvenile, he still has the fierce, don’t mess with me look of his mother!
Penny, the puppy, isn’t the only baby around here. As usual, the house here at Mammoth is surrounded by elk for a good part of the day, and there are quite a few babies in the herd. This one was getting ready to follow its mother across the road.
Posting from the archives today- here are some butterfly images that never made it to the blog.
When we visited Butterfly Wonderfland, we were immediately captivated by the big beautiful blue butterflies that flew all around us, seeming to never land- except for on the sidewalk! We would come upon one here and there lying motionless on the walkway, seeming to soak up the warmth before speeding away. The sidewalk didn’t appeal to me as a very natural background, but I did finally snap a few photos of them this way. As I took the 800 plus photos of the thousands of butterflies among the flowers and leaves, I was so frustrated because of not being able to find any blue ones on the leaves and flowers. I tried to capture them in flight, and all I was able to get were little blue blurs in my photos.
Among the butterflies I photographed was this beauty above with its richly patterned wings. I mostly saw them feeding on fruit set out in dishes on the ground. It took almost an hour before I realized that these were the blue butterflies I had been looking for; their wings are blue on top and brown below! Named Blue Morpho, their contrasting wing colors make them seem to appear and disappear as they fly, confusing predators (and photographers!).
Linking up with Friday Finds today.
A few weeks ago we had some drama in the front yard involving a brave bunny and a scared (and scary) snake. The short version is that, as I was looking out the window, the cute bunny in the front yard hopped, almost running, across the yard and leapt onto a LONG snake (which I had not noticed was there). In a flash, the bunny and the snake were rolling around, the snake was attempting to climb a post on the front porch, and then the snake slithered to safety inside an small evergreen tree out of the bunny’s reach. The bunny stalked that snake for two days- and then no more action.
Flash forward to yesterday. . .
Carol (who is staying with us) and I were getting ready for the day, when my husband informed me that there was a “little snake” in the back yard. I went out and was horrified to see a very large (probably 4 feet long) snake slithering around under the apple trees. It looked like the snake in the Snake and Bunny Saga. I grabbed Carol’s camera with its fancy 400mm zoom lens and clicked away- from a safe distance. When she joined us, I reluctantly gave her camera back and eventually got close enough to take photos with my 18-200mm zoom.
Carol identified our heretofore unknown snake as a Sonoran gopher snake- and, sadly, we found that he has a hole under the apple tree where he apparently- ummmm- LIVES!
To sum up, we have a big snake LIVING in our back yard. I thought the bunny had scared him away for good. So, besides birds and butterflies, we have lizards, toads, bunnies, and a snake. And at least one tarantula- but that’s a whole other story. I considered this as we sat outside last night drinking wine and enjoying a delicious grilled meal- about 10 feet away from the snake’s “HOUSE.”
I’m trying to be a grown-up about this.
Although I have been taking photos since I’ve been back from our trip, I keep finding Yellowstone photos that I haven’t posted here. (no wonder- I took hundreds!). I can’t promise these will be the last. . .
Yesterday morning we noticed some activity on the road (park employees going up the hill, throwing rocks, not letting tourists out of their cars etc.) in front of my daughter’s house at Yellowstone; she mentioned casually that it was probably a bear. The bears are hungry and know that the elk mamas have their babies hidden in various spots around the area. I always try to act somewhat cool and un-touristy about these things, but eventually had to go outside with my camera. I edged around the side of the house and came upon two young black bears partway up a tree, with the park workers patiently waiting for them to come down. When they did, the guys chased them across the road, but they kept returning, especially the cinnamon colored one, who was not the least bit afraid of humans. Within a short while, there was a group of photographers with their long lenses gathered outside- how do they always know where to go? My husband and I went to town, and were surprised to see that the cinnamon bear was still on the hill across the street when we returned; the female elk had ganged up on him and chased him off the lawn. We haven’t seen any more of the bears since then, but it was a reminder that we are in Yellowstone and in bear territory.