Fun Friday: Where’s Waldo???

Today’s “Fun Friday” post’s images were captured last week during my 2-day visit to the Loess Bluffs NWR, in northwest Missouri. At this time of year, one of the highlights at the refuge is often the number of Snow Geese that lay over at the refuge and feed and rest up for the remainder of their migration southward:

 

But often, they are not this restful:

Snow Geese Frenzy

Snow Geese Frenzy

Snow Geese Frenzy

What makes them that way? Well, one of the most common causes is the feared Bald Eagle flying over the flock:

Snow Geese Frenzy

Bald Eagles are natural predators of the Snow Goose … and they know it! During the fall bird migration, the Snow Geese will move southward (from the Tundra regions) as the water freezes. As a result, the Bald Eagles will follow the Snow Geese on their migration southward, feeding on wounded and ill Snow Geese.

Interestingly, on occasion I have witnessed a lone Snow Goose get injured when this frenzy occurs. They often break a wing in the frenzy, disabling them from flying. As a result, they are easy targets for the Bald Eagle.

Back to the post title … if asked, could you find Waldo in the flock???

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D and 7D Mark II bodies
  • Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS lens (matched with the 7D), and Canon EF 500mm f/4 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (matched with the 7D Mark II)
  • Handheld (7D), and Bogen 3221 tripod, with Wemberly gimbal head (7 D Mark II)
  • ISO variable
  • Aperture variable
  • Shutter variable

 

 

Posted in 2018, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Fun Friday post, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Poetry in Motion

Today’s post features one of the magical moments of being in the field, photographing the Trumpeter Swans. During last week’s 2-day trip to Loess Bluffs NWR, I had the fortune of having several groups of Trumpeter Swans flying very close by as I photographed from the tour route road. Here are some of my favorite memories:

Upon entering the refuge, shortly after sunrise, the activity was already in progress (the Snow Geese were beginning to stir, in the background):

Trumpeter Swans in flight

As I settled in along the auto tour route, this pair of adult Trumpeter Swans were caught flying straight towards me:

Trumpeter Swans in flight

A short while later, a single adult Trumpeter Swan flew across, in front of me:

Trumpeter Swan in flight

I was “lucky” to see this pair of adult Trumpeter Swans as they flew across the refuge waters, very low:

Trumpeter Swans in flight

All of these images were captured on the first day. I’ll likely have more from Day 2 to share.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D and 7D Mark II bodies
  • Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS lens (matched with the 7D), and Canon EF 500mm f/4 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (matched with the 7D Mark II)
  • Handheld (7D), and Bogen 3221 tripod, with Wemberly gimbal head (7 D Mark II)
  • ISO 400 and ISO 500
  • Aperture f/5.6 and f/8
  • Shutter 1/1000 sec. and 1/1600 sec.

 

 

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A Wonderful, Musical Bird

Today’s post features some of the graceful, Trumpeter Swans that have started to fly into the Loess Bluffs NWR (formerly called Squaw Creek NWR). As their name implies, when they communicate, it sounds like a chorus of trumpets being sounded! I particularly love watching these large birds as they take off from the water, and as they land. And nothing more enjoyable than to have a close-up flyby of a group! (I’ll share some of those in another post).

In this post, I’m sharing some of the “quieter” swans, captured while they foraged and rested in one of the refuge pools:

In this first image, an adult Trumpeter Swan:

And an adult and cygnet (cygnets are young swans, not yet white like the parents):

Adult and Cygnet Trumpeter Swans

And a mixed group of adults and cygnets:

Trumpeter Swans

And in this final image, a cygnet stretches it’s wings while resting on a muskrat hut in the refuge waters:

Coming up … more Trumpeter Swan images!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon EF 500mm f/4 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC
  • Bogen 3221 tripod, with Wemberly gimbal head
  • ISO 250 and ISO 320
  • Aperture and f/8
  • Shutter 1/640 sec. to 1/2000 sec.

 

 

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Fun Friday: ‘Bottoms Up!’

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day yesterday!  I spent the last couple of days at one of my favorite locations in Missouri to photograph nature … the Loess Bluffs NWR (formerly called Squaw Creek NWR) … most of the time I still refer to this wonderful location as Squaw Creek.

Today’s “Fun Friday” post was captured on the first day:

Pair of Trumpeter Swans feeding

Do you recognize these beautiful birds?  This is a pair of Trumpeter Swans, feeding from the bottom of one of the refuge pools.

There were well over 100 migrating Bald Eagles, over 300,000 Snow Geese, over 100 Trumpeter Swans, and countless numbers of ducks and Canada Geese at the time of my visit.  So expect to see more wonderful bird photos over the next few days!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon 500mm IS lens, with 1.4x Teleconverter attached
  • Bogen 3221 tripod, with Wemberley version 1 gimbal head
  • ISO 320
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/2000 sec.

 

 

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Wood Duck Drakes from the Kayak

While looking for a specific image in my large collection of nature images, I ran across a few from a few years ago, that I never published. The Wood Duck drake (male) is such a colorful duck and always fun to photograph.  Although they are typically quite skittish, wearing camo clothing in a kayak often offers such wonderful views. In today’s post, these images were all taken during a morning shoot, from my kayak, in the early morning hours at Amarugia Highlands Conservation Area (MO), not far from my rural Missouri home:

Wood Duck drake

Wood Duck drake

Wood Duck drake

And this final image is a bit “fuzzy”.  Trying to hold a 500mm lens/2x Teleconverter in a kayak, and with a moving subject in low light, is … well, quite challenging!

Wood Duck drake

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 1D Mark II body
  • Canon 500mm IS lens, with 2x Teleconvert3r
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 800
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter various speeds

 

 

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Funny Looking Elk?

Today’s post features a recently published image that found it’s way into the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s magazine, “Bugle”. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) is a non-profit organization, located in Missoula, Montana.  Their mission is “to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.”

RMEF contacted me about two months ago and wanted to use an image they found on my website in their November-December issue of “Bugle”.  When I reviewed the image they were inquiring about, I found it was of a male, Eastern-collared lizard.  Sheepishly, I had to ask them if they realized that the image was not of an elk. The responded by saying they were doing an article on Peck Ranch, a 23,000 acre Missouri Conservation area, in southern Missouri. Peck Ranch was the site where elk were re-introduced in 2011.  And in 2000, the Eastern-collared lizard was re-introduced here.

This past week, I received a check and a couple of copies of the magazine. Here are some images I captured:

Cover of “Bugle” magazine:

Cover of Bugle magazine

My image of a male, Eastern-collared lizard:

Male Eastern-collared Lizard

And the one-page article:

Peck Ranch Article

I might note that it wasn’t a cover photo … but page 18, so not too far away!  Maybe next time :o)

 

 

 

Posted in 2018, Blog, Nature Photography, Reptiles and Amphibians, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , ,
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Six Years Ago, Today

With the sound of gunfire seemingly all around my rural Missouri home (firearms deer season opened a few days ago), I’m re-posting a blog post from 6 years ago today … enjoy!

This past weekend I drove to central Kansas in hopes of photographing some rare and endangered Whooping Cranes that are migrating to their wintering grounds at Aransas NWR in southern Texas. Unfortunately, as we reached our destination, the area was under a severe storm. Winds of up to 90 mph were recorded, along with a deluge of 2″ of rain (in a very short time) and hail up to 2″ in diameter. Seemed the Whoopers were frightened off … imagine that!

But, just as every cloud has a silver lining, every trip to a National Wildlife Refuge has a good side, too. During my brief stay at Quivira NWR, I was able to photograph some really nice White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) bucks as they wandered the refuge and wooed the does. Here are a few of my favorite images of some of the bucks we encountered:

White-tailed Deer buck

White-tailed Deer buck

Pair of White-tailed Deer bucks

White-tailed Deer Buck

 

Ironically, about an hour later I left the refuge. Along the highway, an even larger buck ran out in front of me.  $3,000 later we were able to pick up our car at the body shop!  I had insurance, but needless to say I still haven’t recouped the “travel costs” from this trip!  :o)

 

 

 

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Fun Friday: Playing in the Snow

Today’s post comes from Mother Nature. Receiving our first snowfall of 2018 yesterday and overnight, I got up this morning and launched my drone for some aerial photography over my rural Missouri home. Hope you’re enjoying this beautiful snow, too!

Rural Drexel Home in first 2018 Snowfall

In this next image, you can’t see my home but it’s behind the large clump of trees in the foreground:

Rural Drexel Home in first 2018 Snowfall

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone, with built-in camera (24mm)
  • ISO 100
  • Aperture f/2.8
  • Shutter 1/640 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2018, Blog, Drone Photography, Fun Friday post, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Springing Into Fall

On my final day in Ha Ha Tonka State Park, I decided I was going to explore and find a way to get to the water movement that Bobbie and I could hear, but not see. The evening before, I sat down with some maps and discovered a trail that should take me close, if not to where the sound was coming from.

The hike was not long, but it was an interesting hike … up a steep grade, then a winding, rocky trail through some gigantic boulders (passing “Balanced Rock”), then down a winding trail. At the end of the trail, the woodlands opened up to a wonderful scene … water rushing over boulders, as the underground spring entered the Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks!  Here are a few “HDR” (High Dynamic Range, I’ll explain later) images I captured:

Spring flowing into the Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks

Spring flowing into the Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks

Spring flowing into the Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks

And at this point, the spring water enters the lake, where fall colors lined the lake :

Spring flowing into the Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks

A beautiful, fall scenic from the lake! As I mentioned, all of these images were “HDR” images. HDR is a technique often used to create an image that combines all range of tones throughout multiple, identical images (all exposed a bit differently), resulting in a single image where the range of the tones of the image is greatly expanded. This is most useful when the range of tones in a scene range from near black (i.e., shadows/shade), through the mid-tones, and even very bright highlights (i.e., in these images, the often bright rock walls).

In another post, I will share some more images from this area. Besides capturing images for HDR work, I also captured images for “Focus Stacking”. More on that later.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 28-135mm IS lens and Tamron 17mm, f/2.8 lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod, with ballhead
  • ISO 100 (used slow ISO to help “slow down” the water movement)
  • Aperture f/22 and f/32
  • Shutter variable, ~1/4 sec. to 0.7 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2018, Blog, HDR, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Travel Photography, Waterfalls | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Naturally Speaking

Today’s post comes from my recent trip to Ha Ha Tonka State Park, on the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. Along the Natural Bridge hiking trail, this naturally-formed bridge was formed a long time ago, in the rocky terrain of the park. Here are a few images I captured of the Natural Bridge.

As you approach the bridge, from the parking lot:

Natural Bridge

And on the backside of the bridge:

Natural Bridge

It is from this backside, where we found our Halloween spooky face:

Ha Ha Tonka Scary Face

Next, I’ll share some interesting water images that I captured along the Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks (still within the park).

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 28-135mm IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400 and ISO 800 (with changing light availability under the tree canopy)
  • Aperture f/8 and f/16
  • Shutter 1/45 sec.

 

 

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