Too Close For Comfort

A couple of weeks ago, I took my camera gear out to my wildflower garden to photograph some caterpillars that were feeding on my wildflower plants. On the way to the garden, I ran across a large Robber Fly that was sitting on a large rock with a grasshopper. I carefully set up my tripod and started to capture some images. Unfortunately, the sound of the camera’s mirror slapping back down after the image was captured, frightened the fly and off he flew with the grasshopper. But I did manage to get one, and only one image:

Robber Fly with Grasshopper

Often when photographing insects in the macro mode, this will happen. It can be very difficult to shoot some insects at close range, without frightening them away. Fortunately, I had composed the shot and set the Aperture setting to a very large setting (to minimize the background clutter), and I captured the Robber Fly with his eyes in sharp focus. I wish I had used a slightly smaller Aperture so that I could have gotten more of the fly and part of the grasshopper in focus. But when shooting insects (or any animals), always be sure that the eyes are in focus.

By the way, being able to clearly see the small structures of an insect is one of the things that draws me to macro photography.  :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with Graff Studioball SB-QR ballhead
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/4.5
  • Shutter 1/125 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Insect Photography, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Photography Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Got Milk?!

While photographing the Mountain Goats along the Mount Evans Highway, this nanny goat made a mistake … stopping to survey her surroundings. Seeing this, Junior thought it was time for an afternoon snack!

Mountain Goat nanny nursing a young kid

At this age (approx. 7 weeks old), the nannies seem to be trying to wean the kids, but that doesn’t mean the little ones shouldn’t try!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6, IS, shot at 260mm
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/16
  • Shutter 1/320 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Fun Friday post, Mammals, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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California Pass

While editing images last evening, I found this landscape from “the top of the world”. This image was made from the top of California Pass (elev. 12,960 ft.), in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. Wildflowers were literally everywhere as we jeeped up and over California Pass. I decided to play with focus-stacking with this shot. I shot 3 images, varying the focusing point of each one. When I returned home, I combined the 3 images into one, using Helicon Focus software. Here is the resulting image:

California Pass landscape

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF28mm-135mm, f/3.5-f/5.6, IS lens, shot at 127mm
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with Graff Studioball SB-QR ballhead
  • ISO 200
  • Aperture f/16
  • Shutter 1/125 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, focus stacking, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Travel Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Pastel Paint

While jeeping in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado this summer, we came upon a “lifer” wildflower for me … the Yellow Paintbrush, also known as the Western Paintbrush (Castilleja occidentalis). That makes 3 different colors of Paintbrush found in the area! A short time ago, I featured a rose-colored Paintbrush (“Shades of Red”) and (“Yankee Boy Basin, Colorado”). In another post, I will feature the typical red paintbrush that I am used to seeing in the Midwest, where I live. I was told that the 3 different colors grow at different altitudes (I didn’t write it down, but I think that the bright red grows at the lower altitudes, the rosy paintbrush grows at a bit higher altitude, and the yellow paintbrush grows even higher).

Here is a Yellow Paintbrush bud, just beginning to open:

Yellow Paintbrush wildflower

And an open paintbrush flower:

Yellow Paintbrush wildflower

And, still playing with focus-stacking techniques, I shot 15 individual images, each with a different focusing point on the flower, and later combined them using Helicon Focus software:

Yellow Paintbrush wildflower

A very interesting wildflower! I especially love the contrast of the cream color to the burgundy veins and leaf margins.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with Graff Studioball SB-QR ballhead
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/16
  • Shutter 1/30 sec. to 1/80 sec.

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, focus stacking, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Travel Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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American Pika

As a followup to yesterday’s post on the American Pika (“Florist Wanna-Be’s”), today’s post includes some images made while I was sitting among the rocks and photographing these cute little critters. I wasn’t really expecting a close encounter with them (past experience has shown that these little guys are typically very skittish and don’t tolerate humans very well), however this trip was much different. I had one pika come up and sniff my boot! I even had one that was so close, my camera/lens couldn’t focus on him! The likely reason I was able to get so close this time, was that I was quietly sitting down among the rocks and not moving around much. Animals are much more relaxed when you are down low, and not moving around much (not a perceived threat).

Here are a few of the images I captured:

American Pika on rock

One pika stopped a short distance from me and began preening:

American Pika preening

And this next little guy was very inquisitive, coming right up to my feet (too close to photograph, but I grabbed this shot before he got that close):

American Pika on a rock

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6, IS + Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 300mm to 475mm (a couple of the images are cropped a bit)
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 2000 (all photos)
  • Aperture f/7.1 and f/8
  • Shutter 1/400 sec. to 1/500 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Mammals, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Florist Wanna-Be’s

Towards the end of my Mount Evans photo trip, I found a sweet spot where American Pikas (Ochotona princeps) were bountiful and busy … collecting wildflowers and grasses. For those not familiar with the pika, they are very small mammals, about 7″ to 8″ in length, weighing 4-5 ounces. They look eerily similar to miniature rabbits, giving them common names of “whistling hare”, or “piping hare”, due to their high-pitched “squeaks”. They live only in high altitudes (usually 8,000 to 13,000 feet), along talus slides of loose rock. The main predator of the pika is the weasel.

One of the behaviors of the pika is that they collect plant greens, then scurry back to boulders near their homes, where they lay them out to dry in the sun, curing the “hay”. Once dried, the “hay” is stored inside the den, deep among the rocks. Since pikas do not hibernate, it uses the dried and stored vegetation as a food source during the winter.

Here are a few images I captured of the pikas as they scurried about, collecting wildflowers/grasses and returning to the rocks.

The collection begins:

American Pika collecting wildflowers and grasses

Once the mouth is full, the pika begins his journey back to the rocks, stopping at several rocks along the way:

American Pika with wildflowers

American Pika with wildflowers

Any good florist knows that a good flower arrangement needs some greenery, too:

American Pika with wildflowers

I was also able to get some close encounters with these little guys on the trip. I’ll feature some closeups in another post.  :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6, IS + Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 560mm
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 800 (all photos)
  • Aperture f/8 (all photos)
  • Shutter 1/250 sec. to 1/1000 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Mammals, Nature Photography, Travel Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Regal

A couple more favorites from my summer visit to Mount Evans:

Mountain Goat nanny and kid

Mountain Goat

I never tire of seeing the magnificent goats along the summit of Mount Evans!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6, IS, shot at 190mm (top photo) and 284mm (bottom photo)
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 500 (top photo) and ISO 250 (bottom photo)
  • Aperture f/16 (both photos)
  • Shutter 1/500 sec (top photo). and 1/200 sec. (bottom photo)

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Mammals, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Late Afternoon on Mount Evans

One evening, I stayed on Mount Evans late enough to capture the late afternoon’s low light:

Late Afternoon on Mount Evans

Late Afternoon on Mount Evans

A short time later, the sun began disappearing over the distant mountains:

Sunset on Mount Evans

Mount Evans is a lovely place, any time and any location!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF28mm-135mm, f/3.5-f/5.6, IS
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400 (top 2 photos) and ISO 6400 (bottom photo)
  • Aperture f/16 (top 2 photos) and f/22 (bottom photo)
  • Shutter 1/40 sec. (top 2 photos) and 1/20  sec. (bottom photo)
  • Note:  Bottom photo is an in-camera HDR image, made with 3 exposures that varied by 1.0 EV, and handheld (I was very surprised to find the quality of this kind of shot!)

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, HDR, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: Enjoying Life & Playing Hard!

Today’s Fun Friday post comes from my visit to Mount Evans, Colorado, where I ran into a large family of Yellow-bellied Marmots (Marmota flaviventris). One attending adult and six babies were all in a small rocky area, just off the Mount Evans Highway. I’ll share some “family portraits” in a future post, but today’s post highlights the playful duties of the babes:

Yellow-bellied Marmot kids playing

Yellow-bellied Marmot kids playing

Yellow-bellied Marmot kids playing

Yellow-bellied Marmot kids playing

Yellow-bellied Marmot kids playing

Watching the little ones sparring, they reminded me of the young Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, always challenging each other and jumping on one another! And note the sharp claws and teeth on these youngsters.

When I first sat down on the rocks to photograph them, all of them stayed perfectly still and just stared at me. However, after just a few short minutes, they began their play. And they allowed me to inch in closer as I continued to photograph them. All were very accepting of me. In fact, Mama Marmot left the babies and again headed for my car (you might remember the post I published with Mama at extremely close range, while she approached my car) while I continued to photograph the playful babies.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 1D Mark 3 body
  • Canon 100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens, at 400mm
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/6400 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Fun Friday post, Mammals, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Wooly Thistle

One of my favorite wildflowers of the Colorado Rockies is the Wooly Thistle. Here are a few of my favorite images I captured during my stay on Mount Evans this summer:

Wooly Thistle wildflower

Close to sunset, I captured this backlit image:

Wooly Thistle wildflower

Here is a closeup of the “wool”:

Wooly Thistle wildflower

And even with all the sharp spines, the American Pika loves to collect and transport clippings of the Wooly Thistle plant, back to his den:

American Pika with Wooly Thistle wildflower in his mouth

Hmmm, I think I’d look for something a bit softer, and a bit less sharp in my mouth! Speaking of Pika, I’ve got some posts coming up with these cute little “Rocky Mountain Miniature Rabbits”.  :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body (flowers) and Canon 7D body (Pika)
  • Canon EF180mm, f/3.5 macro lens (flower closeups) and Canon 100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens (Pika)
  • Handheld
  • ISO 200 to ISO 800
  • Aperture f/3.5 to f/8
  • Shutter 1/100 sec. to 1/2500 sec.

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Landscape Photography, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Travel Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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