Fun Friday: Who’s On First?

From my front porch, you can easily tell that fall is here. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are busy, constantly feeding in preparation for their migration south for the winter. For the past couple of weeks, my feeder has been inundated with hummers. I’ve “counted” (I use that term loosely as they flit about and chase each other, all so quickly that you can’t really get an accurate headcount … only a good “guesstimate”).  At times, it appears to be between 20-30 hummers, all females or young males (without red throats, as the young male Ruby-throats get their red throats during their first molt. This can be as early as about the fall migration time, or a bit later). One exception: last week I saw a single male at the feeder. If you look closely at the image below, you will also see a Red-spotted Purple butterfly trying to reach that sweet “nectar”.

Hummingbirds and Butterfly at feeder

The image is a bit “soft”. To prevent spooking them, I shot this image through a screen door … not the best way to capture good, optical images!

I have a love-hate relationship this time of year. I love the fall (much more than summer!) and all the wonderful color and wildlife activity,  but it comes with a price … losing my winged beauties! But over the winter, it gives me hope that someday soon they will reappear on my front porch!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens, shot at 180mm
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 1250
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/400 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Butterfly Photography, Fun Friday post, Insect Photography, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Confused: Night or Day?

After shooting the awesome sunrise I featured in yesterday’s post (“What A Way To Wake Up!”), I hiked around the prairie and photographed other wildflowers and insects. When I came to a large patch of Helianthus sunflowers, I looked up and saw the moon peaking over the wonderful cluster of sunflowers. It was a bit tricky … getting very low and shooting up high, especially with the winds beginning to pick up (Snowball Hill Prairie, being on a hill and hillside, seems to always have wind present) … to capture the wildflowers in sharp focus instead of yellow blurs. But with a little patience and timing the captures when the wind would temporarily subside, it worked out pretty nicely! Here are some photos I captured:

Helianthus Sunflowers

Helianthus Sunflowers

And then I saw the moon, high over the wildflowers:

Helianthus Sunflowers and the moon

Helianthus Sunflowers and the moon

It should be noted that to capture both the sunflowers and the moon, at extreme distances from each other, I needed to capture 2 images, one of the sunflowers in sharp focus and one of the moon in sharp focus. I later composited the 2 images in Photoshop. I really wanted to capture the situation in one image, but even using f/32 I was unable to capture crisp images of both subjects in the frame.

I’m not totally certain, but I believe these sunflowers are Sawtooth Sunflowers (Helianthus grosseserratus). This species can grow to 16-feet tall. I didn’t see any that tall, but many were taller than me :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 Tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/3.5 (top 2 images), f/32 (other sunflower images), and f/22 (crisp moon image)
  • Shutter 1/40 sec. to 1/640 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Astrophotography, Blog, Landscape Photography, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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What A Way to Wake Up!

Yesterday morning I made a quick trip out to Snowball Hill Prairie, about 20 minutes from my rural Missouri home. This past summer, I donated a one-half day photo workshop for a small group of participants at Snowball Hill Prairie, for the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s (MPF) silent auction to raise money to continue efforts to buy and protect native prairies in the state. Recently, the winning bidder of the workshop contacted me about leading the workshop in the near future. So I decided I needed to make a quick trip out to the prairie and see what is currently blooming.

During the preceding night’s weather forecast, a high likelihood of fog was forecast. With that in mind, I decided to go out well before the sunrise and work at capturing a few images of the prairie in the fog. Unfortunately, no fog was in the area (although I went through some rural fog getting to the prairie). But the sunrise was an A+! Here are a few images I captured just before and during sunrise.

A short while before sunrise, the sky began obtaining a peach color:

Sunrise over Snowball Hill Prairie (MO)

As the sun arose over the eastern horizon and fell upon the hilltop prairie, I captured some interesting photos of the background sunrise and backlit Blue Sage (Salvia) wildflowers in the foreground:

Sunrise over Snowball Hill Prairie (MO)

Sunrise over Snowball Hill Prairie (MO)

After the sun was up, but while the sky was still a tinted color, I grabbed this image of a Blue Sage (Salvia) wildflower:

Sunrise over Snowball Hill Prairie (MO)

Beautiful sunrises are more common than not, in the rural area where I live. Waking early to catch these is always a goal I have.

With several errands to run, I only stayed at the prairie for about an hour and a half, but still managed to grab lots of images I like. I will feature more in upcoming blog posts … and may be making another stop by this prairie real soon!  :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 Tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 800 (all)
  • Aperture f/22 and f/8 (bottom image)
  • Shutter 1/13 sec. to 1/200 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Sunrises/Sunsets, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Early Morning Dragonflies

During my last kayak outing, I captured several dragonflies in the early morning, as they rested along the bank of the lake:

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon 100-400mm, f/4.5-5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld from the kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/125 sec. to 1/800 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Insect Photography, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: ‘The Outburst’

While preparing for my next art show (early October in Lee’s Summit, MO … more info to follow), I began playing with my images I captured of the Perseids meteor shower this past August in the Badlands NP. With the large moon, meteors did not show up nearly as well as when the moon is much smaller. So, I began picking several images and compositing them into one image. Here is the final product I came up with:

Perseid Meteors fly over the Badlands NP

After finalizing this image, I placed an order for some to take to my next couple of art shows. I will be adding information to my website soon, on my two upcoming art shows.  Likewise, I will be adding information on a one-night class in “Photographing the Night Sky”, that I will be teaching in October.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Rokinon 14mm, f/2.8 manual lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod, with ball head
  • ISO 3200
  • Aperture f/2.8
  • Shutter 30 sec.
  • Nine images were composited into one image, via Photoshop CS5

 

 

Posted in 2016, Astrophotography, Blog, Fun Friday post, Landscape Photography, National Park, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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A Rare Sighting

During my last kayak outing, I was both surprised and pleased to catch some rarely seen birds … the Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum). These birds typically keep to heavy thickets, making it difficult to spot them. But while kayaking, I was fortunate to see a total of three, out in the open. The one sitting alone in the tree is an adult (as evidenced by it’s yellow eyes), while the image with two birds contains one adult (yellow eyes) and one juvenile (grayish eyes). Here are some of my favorite images captured from the kayak:

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

Another great example of how kayaking can get you close to otherwise, hard-to-see birds.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon 100-400mm, f/4.5-5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld from the kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/1000 sec. to 1/4000 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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More Flying Beauties

Today’s post features some more winged beauties I photographed in my rural Missouri butterfly garden a few days ago. I’m hoping the rain eventually ends so that I can get back out and photograph more of these beauties. As fall approaches, a lot of the fall wildflowers (several species of asters) are preparing to bloom and if like last year, there will be tons of butterflies, moths and caterpillars feeding on these wildflowers shortly.

Here are a few of my favorite images I captured a few days ago:

A Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) was one visitor:

White-spotted Skipper butterfly

Most of the “other” butterflies are skippers. I’m not sure, but I believe these next couple are Fiery Skippers (Hylephila phyleus):

Skipper butterfly

Skipper butterfly

And a single Gray Hairstreak, also called a Common Hairstreak (Strymonmelinus) was found:

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon 100-400mm, f/4.5-5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/1000 sec. to 1/2500 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Butterfly Photography, Insect Photography, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Kansas City’s “Sea of Red”

Today is a non-nature day post. On Sunday, I attended the 2016 Kansas City Chiefs football home opener at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. My daughter, Jami, invited me along with her and her husband. Since the last time I attended a Chiefs football game was long ago (approx. late 1980’s or early 1990’s, when I took Jami to a game), I was tickled to go! Unfortunately, cameras are not allowed, so I had to photograph with my Droid’s camera.

With a “new and improved” parking system, we quickly found out that it was new, but certainly not improved. We left home with time to get there to do a short tailgate before game time. But by the time we got the car parked, it was about 5 minutes before kickoff. We decided to postpone the tailgate party until after the game. But because tons of folks were in the same situation as us, it took us quite a long time to enter the stadium, due to long lines. As kickoff approached, the Stealth B2 bomber flew low overhead (it sneaked up on us and were not able to capture photos). By the time we entered the stadium, the score was Chiefs 3, Chargers 0.

The way the first half went, we really didn’t miss anything by getting in late, except for the introduction of players, the B2 flyover, and the first series of plays (resulting in a KC field goal). At the end of the first half, the score was Chargers 21, Kansas City 3 :o(  But halftime was very interesting. A team of 4 Navy SEALs parachuted from an overhead plane and landed in the stadium. Here are a few images captured with my cell phone:

Navy SEAL parachutes into Arrowhead Stadium

Navy SEAL parachutes into Arrowhead Stadium

Navy SEAL parachutes into Arrowhead Stadium

Navy SEAL parachutes into Arrowhead Stadium

Navy SEAL parachutes into Arrowhead Stadium

Navy SEAL parachutes into Arrowhead Stadium

Early in the fourth quarter came, the Chiefs were still down a bunch. But the Chiefs made a history-making comeback in the fourth quarter, preventing the Chargers from any more scoring plays, while making 3 touchdowns and another field goal! With only seconds in the game, the score was tied, 27 to 27. As overtime began, KC won the coin toss and elected to receive. Continuing their comeback, they began driving down the field towards the endzone:

KC Chiefs drive to the endzone in overtime

KC Chiefs drive to the endzone in overtime

Then, Quarterback Alex Smith called his own number and dove into the touchdown (under a rather large pile of players), winning the game … Chiefs 33, Chargers 27!

QB Alex Smith dives into the endzone to win the 2016 home opener

The endzones clearly indicated the touchdown as fireworks erupted! Great job in the second half, Chiefs! (PS – need to work on the first half of the game, now!)

Fireworks in the endzone at KC Chiefs game

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Droid phone
  • Images downloaded and edited a bit in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Sports | Tags: , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: A Special Visitor

A very special visitor appeared in my new butterfly garden a few days ago, a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris thysbe) dropped by for a visit. Seeing this little jewel flitting about and collecting nectar, I ran inside the house and grabbed my camera. Here are a few of my favorite images I captured:

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

I am always thrilled when I see one of these beauties. Usually, I find them among some of the prairie wildflowers, especially the Monarda species, but seeing one just outside my front door, in my new butterfly garden, was even more exciting! I’m hoping after our rains stop (remnants from Newton), that I can spot this lovely creature again!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon 100-400mm, f/4.5-5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 500 to ISO 1250 (shot some of the bottom images at ISO 1250 to help stop the movement of this quick fellow)
  • Aperture f/5.6 to f/8
  • Shutter 1/400 sec. to 1/1,600 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Insect Photography, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Skipping Along in the Garden

Another butterfly that is busy in my butterfly garden right now is the Skipper. Every trip to the garden allows me to find several of these small butterflies, flitting about the wildflowers and butterfly bush. Here are some of my favorite images:

Skipper butterfly

Skipper butterfly

Skipper butterfly

Skipper butterfly

In another post, I’m going to feature the “key find” in the butterfly garden, one of my favorites among the wildflowers.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon 100-400mm, f/4.5-5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/1,250 sec. to 1/2,000 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Butterfly Photography, Insect Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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