Dog-tooth Violets in Full Bloom

A few days ago, I posted some images of Dog-tooth Violets that were recently found in a Missouri woodland (Dog-tooth Violets Beginning to Bloom). These images showed the violets in a state of “partial bloom”, with the flower visible, but the petals are still hanging down. As the blooms mature, these petals arch upward, resulting in a splendid display. Here is one of these beauties in full bloom, with the petals upright around the bloom (this is a focus-stacked image of 5 separate images, to get a greater depth of field, while still rendering the background out-of-focus): Dog-tooth Violet in full bloom I also found a few more violets that were captured “stuck in time” with the petals making their upward move, but not quite there: Dog-tooth Violet wildflower as it begins to bloom Dog-tooth Violet wildflower as it begins to bloom I absolutely love seeing these guys as they announce spring is in full-swing! Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon EF180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod, with Kirk Ent. HD ballhead
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/4
  • Shutter 1/500 sec. to 1/3200 sec.

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, focus stacking, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Happy Earth Day!

In celebration of Earth Day, I’m reposting a post I made a little over a year ago. While photographing brown bears at Hallo Bay, Alaska, in 2012, I was able to walk among some really great ones … not only bears, but some of the world’s top videographers. They were in the process of filming a new DisneyFilm, “Bears”, which is being released this Earth Day 2014. Quite an honor to be able to witness these greats in action, as well as chat about some of their experiences over dinner in the warm galley! The film “Bears” is now out and for the first 2 weeks of playing, DisneyFilms will be donating a portion of the proceeds back to Mother Nature, so take some time out to enjoy our Mother Earth, the bears of Hallo Bay, and support her at the same time! Here is the post I published in 2013:

 

If you saw the preview of the new DisneyFilm bear movie that I posted the other day (“Grab Some Popcorn …”), I’d like to go behind the scenes and share some images and stories of my visit to Hallo Bay Bear Camp, where the new movie is being made.

As I mentioned, I was photographing the beautiful coastal, brown bears of Hallo Bay at the same time that a film crew from DisneyFilms was capturing video and stills for the upcoming movie “Bears”, scheduled to be released on Earth Day 2014 (April 18). During the downtimes, I was able to talk to some of the crew and get some video tips (I’m new to capturing video on a DSLR), as well as some great stories! First, here are a couple of bear images I captured during that trip:

Brown Bears on the Hallo Bay coast

Brown Bear feasting on a fresh salmon

 

And here are some of the images I made of the film crew (note: we always stayed some distance away from them, so the noise of our cameras’ motor drives was not captured by the video):

The film crew heads out to film the bears, along the coastline of Hallo Bay, Alaska

Note: I thought my equipment was heavy, but seeing these guys haul all their gear around every day made mine feel quite light!

In this next image, Simyra (one of the natural world’s best guides) is leading one of the crews to film the bears:

Simyra (Hallo Bay guide) leads some of the film crew to the field

 

Here, the crew is trying to determine the best shooting angles (I was positioned across the creek from the crew):

DisneyFilms crew looking for "the right spot"

 

As with still nature photography, you often have to wait for the subjects to come within shooting distance. In this case, the film crew watched a bear as it chased salmon up the creek (guess they already had plenty of that shot!):

DisneyFilms crew waiting for the brown bears to show up

 

When we were in camp, I heard some great stories from Gavin, one of the Emmy-award winning videographers. He had some videos that he had made of one of his projects in the UK … moving a camera, via remote, down the streets (and even around corners!) via overhead wires, while everyday people and activities went on. Quite an interesting project.

And I got to see a unique piece of filming equipment, although I was not able to see it operate. Gavin had brought along a remote-controlled cart, with large, bubble-style wheels, that he was using to try to capture some 360-degrees footage of bears playfighting. To operate, he would mount his video camera on a gyroscope that was attached to the cart. Then, when a pair of young brown bears would start playing, he would run the cart, in a wide circle, around the bears, giving the sense of the viewer walking around the bears. Look for that sequence in the upcoming movie … I’m sure it will be outstanding!

Meanwhile, I’m really looking forward to the release of this new film on Earth Day 2014!

By the way, Gavin was featured in several of the “North America” series, including some interviews with him at the end of the shows.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Mammals, National Park, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Partridge Pea

One of the wildflowers I see every year around my Missouri countryside, but have never posted about, is the Partridge Pea (Cassia fasciculata). This common wildflower still has some time before it blooms … typically it blooms anytime from June through October. It grows about 2 feet tall and each plant can have from one to several flowers, about 1-inch across. Seeds from this plant are eaten by quail, as well as other birds. Here are a few images of the Partridge Pea:

Partridge Pea wildflower

Partridge Pea wildflower

Looking from the “backside” of the plant, here is a good closeup of the plant’s leaves, which I always see and identify well before the flowers start to appear: Partridge Pea wildflower

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon EF500mm, f/4, IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (total of 700mm) – I had this setup for photographing prairie birds
  • Gitzo 1258-LVL carbon fiber tripod, with Kirk Ent. HD ballhead
  • ISO 320
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/400 sec.
Posted in 2014, Blog, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Wildflower ID Help Requested

(Note: Since posting this early this morning, my friend Ana has sent me some links that tend to indicate this is a “White Wind Flower”, or Anemone caroliniana. Looking at some more images, I agree with Ana … thanks, Ana!)

Today’s post features an unidentified white wildflower I found at Prairie State Park in southwest Missouri last May. It was growing on a prairie, not far from the road, in some heavy grasses:

Unidentified white wildflower

If you look closely, you will see that the backside seems to be purple in color. This is a beautiful wildflower and I’m hoping someone out there can help me identify it. And I’m hoping to find more of them at the park in a few weeks.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon EF180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Gitzo 1258-LVL carbon fiber tripod, with Kirk Ent. HD ballhead
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/160 sec.

 

 

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A Little Birdie Told Me

Today’s post features some gorgeous wildflowers I found last spring at Prairie State Park in southwest Missouri. At the time, I had not a clue as to what I had found growing along the top of one of the prairies. Fortunately, my friend Gerry Williamson (@USWildflowers on Twitter) posted a photo of these guys a couple of days ago. Thinking they looked familiar, I went back to last year’s images and quickly found my “unknown” wildflowers … the Bird’s-foot Violet (Viola pedata). Some more common names I have found for this wildflower include pansy violet, and hens and roosters. Here are a couple of images I captured last spring:

Bird's-foot Violet

Bird's-foot Violet

I think you will agree they are very beautiful works of Mother Nature! And why are they called Bird’s-foot Violet? The leaves of this plant (not clearly shown in these images) are deeply disected “like a bird’s foot”. And thanks, Gerry, for helping me identify these beauties! And

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon EF180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Gitzo 1258-LVL carbon fiber tripod, with Kirk Ent. HD ballhead
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/8 and f/11
  • Shutter 1/640 sec. and 1/320 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: Time for a Nap

Sea Otter napping while floating along the water

While kayaking outside Tutka Bay, Alaska, I came upon this Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) who was just hangin’ out, catching 40 winks. As I kayaked past him, he lazily opened one eye, just enough to watch me coast by.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5 – f/5.6, IS lens, shot at 390mm
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 800
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/2,000 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Fun Friday post, Mammals, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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From Buds to Blooms

After our recent cold snap and snow, yesterday I went back to the nearby woodlands where I love to photograph spring woodland wildflowers. As I had suspected, the Virginia Bluebells were really beginning to burst into bloom. I couldn’t “weed out” my favorite images, so I decided to feature these 6 images. See if you can pick out a favorite:

Virginia Bluebell wildflowers

Virginia Bluebell wildflowers

Virginia Bluebell wildflowers

Virginia Bluebell wildflowers

Virginia Bluebell wildflowers

Virginia Bluebell wildflowers

I’ll be spending more time at this wonderful place over the next few weeks as more wildflowers are beginning to poke through the leaf litter. And May Apples are up and actively growing, but no “apples” yet. It appears they are trying to move the calendar “up” :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon EF180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Gitzo 1258-LVL carbon fiber tripod, with Kirk Ent. HD ballhead
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/3.5 to f/16 (changed to get varying depth of field)
  • Shutter 1/20 sec. to 1/200 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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Dog-tooth Violets Beginning to Bloom

Last week on my hike through a woodland area near my Missouri home, I came across a lot of Dog-tooth Violets (Erythronium albidum), also sometimes called the Trout Lily. These are beautiful little wildflowers and I watch for them every spring as they seem to appear overnight and burst into a wonderful, little wildflower. In this image, I captured 15 images, each with a very small depth of field, then combined them together to get a single image with the entire wildflower in sharp focus (“focus stacking”):

Dog-tooth Violet wildflower as it begins to bloom

 

This bloom is still in it’s initial stages. Within a very short time, all of the white petals will recurve and fold upwards, like this one I found last spring:

Dog-eared Violet

Dog-toothed Violet (Trout Lily)

I’m hoping to find more of these beauties when I resume my woodland walks!

Photographic Equipment Used (top image):

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon EF180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Gitzo 1258-LVL carbon fiber tripod, with Kirk Ent. HD ballhead
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/3.5
  • Shutter 1/500 sec.
  • 15 images captured and stacked in HeliconFocus software

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, focus stacking, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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Total Lunar Eclipse

I’m back from a short break. After a freak accident and a resulting death in the family, I’ve been away for a few days. I’m back for now, but will likely be away from the computer some more as we get all details ironed out and matters taken care of. In the meanwhile, enjoy a few more posts.

I was up all night last evening, finally hitting the sack at 5:00am this morning. But Mother Nature was on my side and, after a day of snowflakes and cold weather, the night skies opened up (with only a scattering of low clouds every now-and-again), allowing me to capture the total lunar eclipse. This first image was made at the height of the eclipse, when the moon looked a reddish-orange: Total Lunar And if you missed the eclipse, here is a composite I put together of the eclipse, from start to finish: Total Lunar Eclipse - composite of the eclipse And if you missed this opportunity, another one will be coming around in October. Let’s hope we have some nice weather then, too! Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 1D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF500mm, f/4 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC = 700mm
  • Bogen 3221 tripod, with Wemberly gimball head and made using a Canon TC-80N3 Timer Remote Controller
  • ISO 500 (with exception of “blood red” shot, which was shot at ISO 1000)
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/60 sec. to 1/320 sec.
Posted in 2014, Astrophotography, Blog, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: Anybody There?

Great Egret

Wading birds, in particular the herons and egrets, can be comical to watch. As in the case with this Great Egret (Ardea alba), they will often cock their heads at an angle, conjuring up all sorts of possible captions! In reality, they are simply working at minimizing the glare from the water so that they can more easily spot their aquatic prey (fish, frogs, crayfish, etc.) in the water.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 1D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5 – f/5.6, IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 220 mm
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 1600 (due to early morning, low light level)
  • Aperture f/9
  • Shutter 1/100 sec.

 

Posted in 2014, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Fun Friday post, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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