Backlit Beauty

On my last visit to the local Missouri prairie, there was not much wildflower activity. A few blooms here and there, but most plants are going to seed and browning up. However, I found this interesting orb spider web at the edge of the woods. It is a web built by an Arboreal Orb Weaver spider (that’s the owner, in the middle of the web). The web was backlit by the sun, making the web really stand out against the dark background, caused by the heavy woods:

Orb Spider web

Orb spider webs are always fun to photograph!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 560 mm
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/125 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Insect Photography, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Leave a comment

Fun Friday: Peek-a-Boo, I See You!

Ever sense someone or something is watching you? That happened to me this past week while kayaking in a Missouri Conservation Area. I was sitting still near a beaver lodge, waiting for some activity to begin. I kept looking at the lodge, then up in the sky, in case some Wood Ducks flew over. All at once, I sensed I was being watched. I turned around and looked at the beaver lodge, just in time to see this little guy intently watching me:

Common Raccoon

Apparently, he was on the backside of the lodge and foraging around the shallow water. Either sensing, or hearing me, he looked over the lodge to check me out. I had a very similar experience at this location just a week before, so it might be the same little guy. :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 520 mm
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 6400 (conditions were foggy and right at sunrise)
  • Aperture f/22 (shot this with way too small an Aperture; had it at f/22 to capture greater depth of field with Wood Ducks in the fog)
  • Shutter 1/8 sec. (Thank Goodness for IS!)

 

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Fun Friday post, Mammals, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
1 Comment

An Accepting Young Red-tail

After I completed my kayak on Tuesday morning, I loaded up the kayak and headed to the nearby natural prairie for a quick hike around the upper meadow. Upon completing that, I began the drive back to my rural home. Since the kayak area was on the way, I made a short detour to drive through and see if anything interesting was happening. As I drove down the gravel road, a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) abruptly flew up into the air (he had been in some tall grasses at the edge of the road) and flew across the road in front of me. As he started to land in a small tree by the road, I noticed he had a mouse in his talons. Not wanting to miss any photo opps, I drove another 1/8 mile and turned around. I immediately got my camera ready (set the correct ISO, aperture, etc.), rolled down the passenger window (he would be on the passenger side as I approached the tree), and began driving back to the tree in a slow manner.

I feared he had only landed in the tree for a brief stop, before moving on to another location. But he was still sitting in the small tree and was beginning to work on his capture. I slowly pulled to the edge of the road (the opposite side where the hawk was located) and captured several bursts of images. After I was sure I had a few decent images, I slowly pulled away to leave this youngster with his meal.

Here are a few of my favorite images (CAUTION: the last image is a bit graphic). As I pulled up to the tree, he was busy devouring the mouse:

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk

After finishing that bit, he looked up momentarily to check out his surroundings:

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk

Then resumed his meal … yep, definitely was a mouse:

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk

Murphy’s Rule #231 was in effect during this capture … “If there’s any limbs, I will be behind them!”¬† :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 560 mm
  • Handheld from the window of my pickup truck
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/1250 sec. to 1/1600 sec.

 

 

 

Posted in 2014, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Leave a comment

Woody Look-Alike

Enjoyed another kayak outing yesterday morning. The beavers were not cooperating again. Instead of out and about on such a nice, fall morning (air temperature was a crisp 38F when I began the adventure, a bit chilly but I love the crisp, fall mornings on the water!) I heard them inside the lodge, gnawing on some tree limbs they carried inside. I hung out for about 90 minutes, but all three beavers were “no shows”, so I decided to kayak around and see if something else was happening.

As so often is the case, I came upon a totally unexpected, but welcomed event. A Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) was busy pounding his large beak into a dead tree that was standing in the water. As I carefully and slowly approached him (they tend to be quite skittish) he was so busy with his activities that he really didn’t pay much attention to me. As he worked his way up/down and around the tree trunk, he placed himself in front of some awesome fall colors, and at rather close range:

Pileated Woodpecker

 

 

 

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

The pileated woodpecker is thought by many to be the model for the old “Woody Woodpecker” cartoon character. There definitely is a big resemblance! The pileated woodpecker is one of our largest woodpeckers, approximately the size of a crow. And quite loud when he calls out!

This close encounter made my whole morning worth the trip out! But on the way out of the area, I had another wonderful encounter with another, usually skittish creature¬† … I’ll share that in tomorrow’s post!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 560mm
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/200 sec. to 1/500 sec.

 

 

 

Posted in 2014, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Leave a comment

Raw Beauty on the Inside Passage

Today’s post comes from November 2008, on a photo trip to the Chilkat River Valley to photograph Bald Eagles. To get to the area, I flew into Juneau, Alaska and then took the Alaska Marine Highway (the state ferry system) to Haines. The ferry ride was an early morning ride that started out about 6:00am and went til we disembarked in Haines, approximately noon. Along the way, the raw beauty of Alaska’s Inside Passage was never ending. As soon as the sun began to rise (about 10:00am this time of the year in Alaska!), the sunrise reflection off the water behind the ferry was magnificent:

Alaska Sunrise

A little later, we moved past the first of two lighthouses, the Sentinel Island Lighthouse:

Sentinel Island Lighthouse

Sentinel Island Lighthouse

That was followed by the Eldred Rock Lighthouse:

Eldred Rock Lighthouse

JimBraswell-MMK2-6686-EldredRockLighthouse-6

The Inside Passage is always such a gorgeous place to visit … even in the winter! I’ve been thinking about this trip and right now I’m tentatively planning on another visit to the Chilkat River Valley in 2015, including a ferry ride from Bellingham, Washington to Haines, Alaska. I’m even thinking of doing a weeklong photo workshop at that time. I’m currently trying to work out all the logistics of such a trip. If I end up doing one, it will be a small group size … probably only 3-4 people. If interested, shoot me an e-mail (showmenaturepix@hotmail) and let me know. I’ll e-mail final details to you, before I publish to everyone else, if I decide to run this tour.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 1D Mark 2 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens, shot at 100mm to 390mm
  • Handheld from deck of ferry, with IS “On”
  • ISO 200 (all photos)
  • Aperture f/6.3 to f/8
  • Shutter 1/30 sec. (thank goodness for IS!) to 1/400 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
1 Comment

A Thing of Beauty

During my kayak outings over the past few mornings, I have consistently run into a pair of juvenile hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks (Buteo lineatus) I believe (if I’m wrong on the ID, please let me know). Their regular activity has been for one of the hawks to fly into a dead tree, closely followed by the second one. With the second one arriving, the first one always launches and flies away … with the second one not far behind! They both are skittish, so capturing images of them have been a bit difficult. But on my last outing, I was surprised to see one fly over and into a nearby dead tree. I was able to capture a few images as this one flew overhead and landed into the tree:

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

I’d really love this next shot if only the head was visible! As with most sports being “a game of inches”, nature photography is “a game of fractions of seconds”! One common misconception is that a camera with the ability to shoot up to 10 frames per second will allow you to capture all the great action shots. In reality, 10 frames per second equals one shot every 1/10 second. Trust me, there is a whole lot of time between those 1/10 second intervals!

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 560 mm
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/800 sec. to 1/1000 sec.

 

 

 

Posted in 2014, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
1 Comment

A Group of Woodies

Yesterday’s kayak outing was pretty uneventful with regards to beaver activity. Again, they were inside the lodge, gnawing on wood pieces they transported inside … hmmm, seems like they’re active outside the lodge on an every-other-day basis!

But I did manage to capture some other interesting wildlife, including a pair of juvenile Red-shouldered Hawks (I’ll feature them in another post) and a cute image of a raccoon that I will feature for this next week’s “Fun Friday” post. I also had a few Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa), which I’m featuring today.

Wood ducks are one of my favorite ducks to photograph. They are so colorful and always have a rather rambunctious attitude! But they are also very skittish, mainly due to the fact that they are hunted. So I was quite surprised when a trio of “Woodies” approached my kayak, within about 30 feet at one point, and continued to swim past me! I was decked out in camouflage, and my kayak is painted a flat, “army green” color, so I don’t think they knew I was there. I kept my movements to a slow pace and they all seemed to be okay with me being there. The hen (there were 2 drakes and 1 hen in the group) seemed to constantly stare at me, but was not frightened off. I think she must have been hearing my camera as I snapped off images. Here are a few of my favorite images. The first couple show the ducks as they emerged from the fog:

Wood Ducks

Wood Ducks

Once out of the fog, their beautiful colors were much more evident:

Wood Duck drake

Wood Duck drake

Wood Duck drake

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 560 mm
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 800 and ISO 1600
  • Aperture f/8 to f/16
  • Shutter 1/200 sec. to 1/320 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
2 Comments

Lucky Three’s

Today’s post is the story of “my lucky three’s”. On Wednesday, I make my first kayak outing in several months. Following the Midwest drought of a couple years back, we just haven’t had the rains we typically get, and the areas I kayak have not had sufficient water for kayaking, for some time. But the recent rains have seemed to have remedied that, so I decided to see what wildlife I could find.

I was hoping for some Beavers, one of my favorite kayak subjects. On Wednesday (Day 1), I had zero luck. On Thursday (Day 2), I decided to try another location that typically is good for beavers. As I reached the beaver lodge, there were no beavers in sight. I patiently waited for about 2 hours, but no activity, whatsoever. But I did hear gnawing from inside the lodge, along with the occasional “whining” noise the juvenile beavers sometimes emit.

Yesterday (Day 3), I headed back to the location where I had heard beavers on the previous day. At first, I again only heard the sounds from the lodge. But about 30 minutes later, the beavers began leaving the lodge and swimming in the area water. There were 3 of them … and on Day #3! Here are a few of my favorite images from yesterday’s kayak outing. In the first 2 images, a juvenile beaver is swimming in the large pool of water, with fall colors reflected in the water:

Juvenile American Beaver

Juvenile American Beaver

In the next 2 images, one of the juvenile beavers climbed out of the water and onto a downed tree, not far from my kayak:

Juvenile American Beaver

Juvenile American Beaver

After this post is published to social media, I’m heading back out to see if I can have some more encounters! Maybe “lucky 4′s”?¬† :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC, shot from 300mm to 560mm
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400 (all images)
  • Aperture f/7.1 to f/8
  • Shutter 1/80 sec. to 1/320 sec.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Mammals, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Leave a comment

Fun Friday: Where the Boys Are

I believe that was the name of an old Connie Francis movie or song. In this instance, it is a group of Wood Duck drakes (males), flying after a Wood Duck hen (female). While kayaking this week, Wood Ducks were very common as they are tending to band into somewhat large groups as we start to head into the fall migration. In this situation, a single hen flew overhead with a group of drakes:

Wood Ducks

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 460mm
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 3200
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/800 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Leave a comment

Forgot How Nice It Is!

To kayak and photograph wildlife, that is. I was unable to kayak for the past few months as our area continued to be in drought conditions. But recent rains has once again allowed me to hop back in the kayak and maneuver it through the Conservation Areas, looking for wildlife to photograph. Yesterday morning I made the first of (hopefully) many kayak outings. One of the highlights was catching a pair of juvenile Common Raccoons (Procyon lotor). One after the other, they appeared out of heavy vegetation and swam across a small pool of water, emerging onto a downed tree. Here are a few of my favorite images:

Juvenile Raccoon

Juvenile Raccoon

Juvenile Raccoon

Unfortunately, I didn’t spot any Beavers at this location. I suspect the long, dry spell has relocated them to another area. This morning, I am planning on another outing to another nearby area … one where Beavers will likely be seen :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 3200
  • Aperture f/7.1 and f/8
  • Shutter 1/80 sec. to 1/250 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Mammals, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
2 Comments