Backlit Bug

From one of last summer’s hike across the local, Missouri prairie, a Wheel Bug on a backlit Helianthus wildflower plant:

Wheel Bug

Wheel Bug

Looking forward to re-visiting this nearby prairie this summer, as well as a new prairie that was just purchased by the Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF).

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 Tripod, with ballhead
  • ISO 1000
  • Aperture f/3.5 (top photo) and f/8 (bottom photo)
  • Shutter 1/4,000 sec. (top photo) and 1/250 sec. (bottom photo)

 

 

Posted in 2015, Blog, Insect Photography, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Visions of Spring

While editing yesterday’s photo of the Monarch butterfly chrysalis, I also saw these images, which were never featured in a blog post. Also in my sister-in-law’s garden, were these beautiful flowers:

Unidentified lily from my sister-in-law's garden

Unidentified lily from my sister-in-law's garden

Unidentified flower from my sister-in-law's garden

Unidentified flower from my sister-in-law's garden

The top two are lilies and the bottom two are wildflowers, all contained in a flower garden behind her house. I always enjoy photographing all the flowers and critters they attract (birds, butterflies) when we visit. When I saw these images in Lightroom yesterday, it made me long for spring. So I’ll tease you with these beauties as our winter lingers on … but it won’t be that long until we’re all outdoors enjoying our gardens in bloom again!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Handheld, with no IS (the 180mm macro lens does not have IS)
  • ISO 1250
  • Aperture f/4.5 to f/6.3
  • Shutter 1/500 sec. to 1/640 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2015, Blog, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Travel Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Monarch Chrysalis

I came across this image while editing my Lightroom catalog last evening … another image I have not previously published:

Monarch butterfly pupa, or chrysalis

At first, I thought it was a swallowtail chrysalis, but after a closer look, it is a Monarch’s chrysalis. This was hanging from one of my sister-in-law’s flowers in one of her flower gardens, in north-central Minnesota. The image is a bit soft … it was hidden behind and underneath leaves and flowers, and situated where I could not use a tripod (without smashing other flowers, which I wasn’t about to do!). So, I had to hand-hold the camera while trying to “snake” my lens around other flowers … not an easy task! If you look at the camera data below, you can see I shot this image at a shutter speed of 1/30 seconds (without IS). The host plant’s stem appears in pretty good focus, but the chrysalis dangling in a calm wind was more difficult to capture!

The chrysalis, or pupa, is the transitioning phase of a caterpillar into a butterfly/moth. In this case, the adult would be a beautiful Monarch once transition is complete. If you look closely, you can see the familiar black “veins” of the Monarch’s wings, just below the surface of the chrysalis’ covering. When ready, this skin will split open and the new butterfly will emerge. I was hoping this would happen while I was there, but we returned home before the adult butterfly was “born”.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Handheld, with no IS (the 180mm macro lens does not have IS)
  • ISO 1250
  • Aperture f/6.3
  • Shutter 1/30 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2015, Butterfly Photography, Insect Photography, Macro Photography, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Jack-in-the-Pulpits

Today’s post comes from last spring. Towards the end of spring, I was conducting one of my “shortie” woodland wildflower workshops, and was helping one of the students photograph some gorgeous Bluebells. As she patiently worked at moving her tripod around to find the ideal composition, I decided to sit down and let her work on her own, but be there for any questions or help she may need. As I removed my backpack and sat down, I placed my hands behind me and leaned back. In doing so, I felt a rather stiff, tall plant stem. Looking around, I was shocked to see a group of 3 Jack-in-the-Pulpit wildflowers! I had often looked for these beauties, but had never found one … until that morning. Here are a few of my favorite images:

Jack-in-the-Pulpit wildflower

Jack-in-the-Pulpit wildflower

Jack-in-the-Pulpit wildflower

Jack-in-the-Pulpit wildflower

I have searched in my woods surrounding my rural home several times, but had never spotted a single Jack-in-the-Pulpit (when I purchased the land about 16 years ago, I was told that a single Jack-in-the-Pulpit was spotted in the woods … but I have never found it). Looking again in early fall, I did find a clump of red berries in my woods. After researching them, I believe these are the fruit from a Jack-in-the-Pulpit wildflower:

Jack-in-the-Pulpit wildflower fruit

Jack-in-the-Pulpit wildflower fruit

The information I found on the berries indicates that they can be quite irritating to skin or when ingested. The berries contain needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate that can cause irritation to sensitive or broken skin when touched, and a burning and swelling of the lips and tongue if eaten. Reading this, I decided to wait a while to be sure the berries were ripe, then I would plant some of the berries (while wearing protective gloves) to try to get more growing in my woods. However, a couple of weeks later, the seeds were all gone … guess the birds beat me to them! This year, I have marked the location I found the wilted plant and red fruit; once I find them this year, I will beat the birds to them!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 Tripod, with ballhead
  • ISO 500 (plants) and ISO 800 (fruit)
  • Aperture f/3.5 to f/8
  • Shutter 1/15 sec. to 1/640 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2015, Blog, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Photography Workshop, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Bald Eagles As Seen by Others

Today’s post features a few images captured by workshop attendees on my recent “Wintering Bald Eagles” workshop on the Mississippi River. I asked everyone to send me 3-4 of their favorite images they captured during the 3-day workshop and here is what I received.

From Pat G.:

Bald Eagles fighting over a fish

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

From Wanda O.:

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

From Karen W.:

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

American White Pelican

As you can see, everyone saw beauty in action through their viewfinders! Another interesting fact is that all participants, as well as myself, were using Canon equipment. Typically, there will be a near-even mix of Canon and Nikon, but this worked out as a Canon workshop! :o)

And in the evenings, we worked at improving our editing skills in Lightroom and Photoshop, and tips/techniques on the sometimes harsh exposures and capturing birds-in-flight, in sharp detail. Given the great shooting conditions, the quality of birds available to us, and the fun we all had, I’ll likely lead another workshop on the Mississippi in early 2017 :o)

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon Rebel bodies
  • Canon and Tamron telephoto lenses, 300mm maximum length
  • All Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO variable, depending on the current shooting conditions
  • Aperture setting variable, depending on current shooting conditions
  • Shutter speed variable, depending on camera shooting modes and current shooting conditions

 

 

Posted in 2016, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography Workshop, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: Just Hangin’ Around

Today’s “Fun Friday” post comes from my rural Missouri front yard. As I was driving up the gravel driveway the other afternoon, I found this juvenile Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor) hanging upside-down from a tree branch that drooped over the driveway. After parking the car, I grabbed my camera and got a quick couple of shots of this little guy, then left him to himself:

Juvenile Common Raccoon hanging in tree

Cropping the image in Lightroom, here is a close-up of the youngster:

Juvenile Common Raccoon hanging in tree

Raccoons are common around my home, but I’ve not found one just “hangin’ around” before! Actually, I believe this little guy has been residing around the house for a while. A few evenings ago, one of my rural neighbor’s dogs were barking up a storm in my front yard. With the help of a flashlight, I looked out to see the 3 dogs surrounding this same tree. As I moved the flashlight around, I could see a pair of glowing eyes in the tree. I walked out near the tree, scared the dogs off and noticed a juvenile raccoon cuddled up among the branches of the tree. So I’ve got a sneaky feeling that this little guy is the same one the dogs were after just a few nights ago. Probably a juvenile that mom recently kicked out and he’s busy feeling his way around on his own!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 800
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/2,000 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Fun Friday post, Mammals, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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More Bald Eagle Images From Day 1

Today’s post includes some more images captured on Day 1 of my recent “Wintering Bald Eagles” photo workshop. Starting out extremely cold, the day ended up still cold (but a few degrees warmer) and the steam burned off, leaving us with some nice, blue skies with a few, puffy white clouds dispersed across the sky. Here are a few of my favorite images from Day 1:

Adult Bald Eagle fishing

Adult Bald Eagle fishing

Adult Bald Eagle fishing

Adult Bald Eagle fishing

Adult Bald Eagle fishing

Adult Bald Eagle fishing

Immature Bald Eagle soaring over the river

 

Adult Bald Eagle fishing

I’m starting to get some of the workshop participants’ images, so as soon as the rest arrive, I’ll post what they saw/photographed.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 3200
  • Aperture f/16 to f/22 (caused by shooting in Tv mode, at 1/1600 shutter)
  • Shutter 1/1600 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography Workshop, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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A Steamy Situation, and More

Some more intense steam rising from the Mississippi River images from Day 1 of the workshop:

Bald Eagle flies over heavy steam off the river

Bald Eagle flies over heavy steam off the river

Later in the morning, the sun began to rise and gave a nice yellow tint to the steam and surrounding area, as a lone Bald Eagle flew across the river:

JimBraswell-A7DMK2-0082-EagleInSteam-3

Later in the day, the steam subsided, probably due to the intense, rising heat (up to about 10F!). As things cleared up and a blue sky appeared, a single American White Pelican flew in and began fishing in front of us:

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

I’ll share some more American White Pelican images, including success at fishing, in another post, from the second day of the workshop.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 3200 (steam images) and ISO 1250 (pelican images)
  • Aperture f/10 to f/20 (shot in Tv mode)
  • Shutter 1/1600 sec. (steam images) and Shutter 1/1250 sec. (pelican images)

 

 

Posted in 2016, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography Workshop, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Playing ‘Hot Potato’

I had a really great photo workshop with the wintering Bald Eagles on the Mississippi River last week. It was a small group photo workshop with 3 participants and myself. We were graced with a large showing of Bald Eagles, as well as large numbers of Common Mergansers, a few Mallards, and a lone American White Pelican (last year, when I conducted an exploratory trip to the area, a single pelican showed up then, too).

Over the next few posts, I’ll share some of my images of the Bald Eagles, the ducks and the pelican. And once the participants send me some of their favorite images they captured, I’ll publish a “participant’s post” of their images.

Today’s post includes some images captured during one of the common behaviors seen with wintering Bald Eagles … pirating a fish from another eagle. Here is a sequence I captured on the first morning of the 3-day workshop. Shortly after catching a fish in the river, the bald eagle flies off to find a tree to eat his catch, but a second bald eagle flies in and chases him:

Bald Eagles fighting over a fish

Within a few brief moments, the eagle drops the fish and the fish begins it’s free-fall back to the river:

Bald Eagles fighting over a fish

Bald Eagles fighting over a fish

Bald Eagles fighting over a fish

Bald Eagles fighting over a fish

Bald Eagles fighting over a fish

Meanwhile, a third, observant bald eagle swoops down, picks up the fish, and carries it off:

Bald Eagle picks up a dropped fish and flies off

Bald Eagle picks up a dropped fish and flies off

I’m always amazed at the amount of piracy that wintering bald eagles get involved in. Guess it’s a bit easier taking a fish away from another eagle, than catching your own!

I’ll be posting more images captured during the workshop, over the next few days. You might have noticed the steam rising from some of the above images. The temperature that day was quite cold, ca. 3F-5F, and with the north wind, we were experiencing a wind chill of -24F (brrrrrrrrrrrr!). I’ll share some more steamy landscapes over the next few days, as well.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 3200
  • Aperture f/14 to f/16 (shot in Tv mode to assure action was captured cleanly)
  • Shutter 1/1600 sec. (shot in Tv mode to assure action was captured cleanly)

 

 

Posted in 2016, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography Workshop, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: A Simulated Cat Nap!

Today’s “Fun Friday” post comes from Hallo Bay, Alaska, the site of yesterday’s bear fight images. As fall quickly approaches, the coastal brown bears experience “hyperphasia”, a term that defines the insatiable need for the bears to gorge on food and put on as many pounds as possible so that they can endure the upcoming hibernation. During this period of time, it is quite an amazing sight to watch the bears catching and gorging on fish until they must lie down and take a “cat nap”, like this adult bear is doing:

Brown Bear napping along Clint's Creek

On more than one occasion, our small group would be hiking along the crude trail in the woods, when we would run across a napping bear on the trail. With no other way back to our destination (camp, or our boat) we would have to sit down and wait for the bear to wake up and move, before we could resume our hike. Fortunately, the bear would awaken and waddle off within about an hour … so we could be on our merry way again … although it was in the dark, at least once! Ya gotta love it!  :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 10D body
  • Canon EF 300mm, f/2.8 IS lens + Canon 2X TC (total of 600mm)
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with Wemberly gimbal head
  • ISO 200
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/80 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Fun Friday post, Mammals, National Park, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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