Do the Dew!

Back from Des Moines. It was a mixed bag. Spent a day at the Neil Smith NWR, with the highlight of capturing images of some Ebony Jewel-Wing Damselflies … a blog post with some images is forthcoming. Then, wonderful weather! After a rather warm day on Thursday, a cold front passed overnight and Friday thru Sunday had highs in the 70’s!

The art show was a rather mixed bag, also. Sales at the show were completely atypical for me. I usually sell tons of smaller sized prints and then a single, large piece. This year, I sold only a handful of small prints, but several large pieces! And Sunday was atypically slow. Why? I think a couple of things were affecting the show. First, the show was under new ownership, and I understand that when that happens the show is usually affected. In fact, the television ads for our show seemed to be non-existent this year, when compared to years past. Second, with such wonderful weather, the outdoor art show likely kept some people from attending our indoor show. But in any event, I met lots of wonderful art and nature lovers!

This was also a show of mixed emotions for me. It was at this show last June where my wife had a cardiac arrest, and passed 3 days later. Although it was tough at times, I also feel some sense of closure. She will always be missed.

Today’s post features an image I captured a few days before traveling to Des Moines. While photographing prairie wildflowers at a local conservation area, I came upon this dew-covered moth:

Dew-covered Moth in meadow

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod, with ballhead
  • ISO 800
  • Aperture f/11
  • Shutter 1/60 sec.
  • This image is a result of stacking 15 images in Helicon Focus software, to give an image with greater Depth of Field

 

 

Posted in 2017, Blog, focus stacking, Insect Photography, Macro Photography, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: A Vandal Busted!

(Note: I’m not able to respond to social media right now. I am busy setting up my booth for the “ArtFest Midwest: The ‘Other’ Art Show” art show in Des Moines. If you are a follower and live in the area, the show runs 10:00am – 6:00pm on Saturday, and 10:00am – 5:00pm on Sunday, in the Varied Industries Building of the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Stop by and say “Hi” and see some of my newest paper and metal prints!)

Are you like me and wear a lot of hats? I think most of us do. Case in point, last week I played “law enforcement” and captured a rural vandal in action:

Raccoon caught in live trap

And now, the rest of the story: It has been many years since I’ve been able to grow my own tomatoes, and I LOVE fresh tomatoes! In fact, many times I have sat down for lunch with 2-3 large tomatoes and had lunch! But a busy travel schedule made it nearly impossible to raise my own tomatoes. The few times I tried, I would always come home to find brown, wilted plants … always beyond recognition and the ability to come back, all due to drying out in the hot summer heat.

But with my greatly reduced travel schedule this summer, I decided that I would put out some plants this year. So I bought a 4-pack of cherry tomatoes and a 4-pack of larger tomatoes, and planted each plant in a large pot. Then the pots went on the back deck, where they would get plenty of sun and be close enough to be able to easily water and care 0f.

But one morning last week, I got up and looked out to find 6 of the 8 pots void of tomato plants. The “missing” plants were lying on the deck along with a great deal of the soil from the pot. Just nights before, I had spotted a juvenile raccoon on my covered front porch (where he had pulled down a hummingbird feeder and had tore open a plastic bag with two, young banana plants. So seeing the tomato plants lying on the deck was no real surprise … I knew who the bandit was!

That evening, I placed my “live trap” out, baited with a piece of bread, to try to capture the vandal. But when I checked on the trap the following morning, all I had was an opossum! Opossums can be a bit irritating … bumbling around and knocking over empty pots and pooping on the deck. But their poop is a “dry” residue that can be quickly and easily swept up. So I opened the cage and let the opossum make a run for the woods … he was faster than most opossums I have seen! That next evening, I re-baited the trap. In the morning, I had my vandal, a masked mammal! I loaded up the trap and drove to a wildlife area about 15 miles away, where I opened the trap and watch the masked villain run into the distance, following a water stream.

Since then, my tomato plants have been safe and are looking quite nice … even have some blooms on the plants! Can’t wait for another tomato lunch!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • This image was captured with my Android phone’s camer

 

 

Posted in 2017, Blog, Fun Friday post, Mammals, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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My Newest Butterfly Magnet

Today’s post was captured in my rural Missouri butterfly garden a few days ago. The flower is a coneflower, one of 3 plants I received last July in a beautifully arranged planter at my wife’s Celebration of Life service. Last year this plant had a few flowers on it, but this year it has really blossomed into one of the highlight plants in the garden. It regularly attracts butterflies, especially Fritillaries. Here are a few of my favorite images from a recent Fritillary visitor:

Fritillary butterfly on a Coneflower

Fritillary butterfly on a Coneflower

Fritillary butterfly on a Coneflower

In the last image, did you notice the small, green bee coming in to check out the coneflower? Stay tuned … I’m sure I’ll have many more butterfly images from this colorful plant!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 250
  • All images shot at 400mm
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/1250 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2017, Blog, Butterfly Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Sunrise On Snowball Hill

(After a short hiatus last week, I’m now back at the computer. It was a stressful week as my air conditioner went totally out on Tuesday evening and had to be replaced. Replacement occurred Friday afternoon, after a week of hot and humid weather, with comfort index reaching as high as 105F! And to top that off, my refrigerator began going out; I moved all the important food items into a spare refrigerator in the basement and will be looking to replace the failed refrigerator soon.)

Today’s image was captured a couple of weeks ago on Snowball Hill Prairie, in rural Cass County, Missouri. I got to the prairie a bit before sunrise and set up to capture the sunrise coming over the eastern horizon, from atop Snowball Hill. The wildflowers blooming are Verbena Rose, a spring prairie wildflower. And the plants that look like oak tree leaves are Compass plants, which always align their leaves in a plane that runs north-south. These plants will continue to grow and will bloom into glorious yellow wildflowers in July:

Sunrise Over Snowball Hill Prairie

To assure focus throughout the image, this image was made by combining 3 different images, each focusing at a different point within the frame.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Tamron 17-35mm, f/2.8 lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod and Ballhead
  • ISO 200
  • Aperture f/16
  • Shutter 0.5 sec.
  • Image is a focus-stacked image, combining 3 images of varying focus points

 

 

Posted in 2017, Blog, focus stacking, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Sunrises/Sunsets, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Vista House Viewpoint

Today’s post comes from a viewpoint along the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, just a short distance east of Portland. I arrived at the viewpoint before sunset, hoping to get a nice sunset image. But it wasn’t to be. As so often happens, a total lack of clouds prevented some nice color over the Vista House, sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Columbia River. Although the sunset never really developed, the view is still a great one!

Vista House Viewpoint

Vista House Viewpoint

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 28-135mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens, with IS “Off”
  • Bogen 3221 tripod and Ballhead
  • ISO 200
  • Top photo shot at 65mm; Bottom photo shot at 135mm
  • Aperture f/19
  • Shutter 0.7 sec. (top photo) and 1.5 sec. (bottom photo)

 

 

Posted in 2017, Blog, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: Looking For a Meal

A couple of days ago, I decided to take Rubber Ducky (my kayak) out for a sunrise paddle at a nearby Missouri Conservation Department waterway.  It was a wonderful morning … nice and cool, very little wind, a gorgeous sunrise, and a host of hospitable creatures. One of the colorful inhabitants I found was a Prothonotary Warbler that was busy poking around an active beaver lodge, looking for an insect snack:

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

I always love finding warblers as I kayak the waterways. Being in such a low-profile watercraft, it is very easy to get close to many of these lovely birds. More kayaking images coming up, as well as a few more from “the Gorge”.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld from the kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 1600
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/320 sec. and 1/400 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2017, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Fun Friday post, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Be Aware of Your Surroundings

After photographing the barn and wildflowers in my previous post, I picked up my tripod and equipment and prepared to move to another location. At that moment, I realized I had another image in front of me … snow-covered Mt. Hood was clearly visible to the left and behind the wildflowers I had been photographing. So a short move of the tripod, to get the balsamroot and lupine in front of Mt. Hood, was made and this image captured:

Wildflowers in front of Mt. Hood

Thus, another cardinal rule, especially when photographing in unfamiliar places, is to always check your surroundings and be very aware of what’s around you! By the way, I really wished I was much closer to Mt. Hood with the wildflowers, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to scout out a closer location. If you are familiar with this area in Oregon and know of some locations where wildflowers grow in front of a clearly visible Mt. Hood, please let me know. I plan on traveling back to the Columbia River Gorge in the future!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 70-200mm, f/2.8 IS lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 100
  • Aperture f/19
  • Shutter 1/45 sec.
  • This image is a focus-stacked image, combining 6 images in Helicon Focus to achieve focus throughout the image

 

 

Posted in 2017, Blog, focus stacking, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Photography Tips, Travel Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Choose Your Lens Carefully!

Ever been out shooting and not quite sure which lens to use? Today’s post, captured during my recent Columbia Gorge trip (Oregon) is a good example of how different lenses can dramatically change the image you capture. During my second visit to the Rowena Plateau area of the Tom McCall Nature Preserve, I decided to “travel light” as I hiked, and to venture into an area I had not checked out on my first visit to the area. So I only took my macro lens and my wide angle lens with me.

After shooting for a couple of hours, I was quite a ways from the car (where I left the other lenses), when I came upon a landscape scenic that I desperately wanted to capture: a beautiful patch of Balsamroot wildflowers in the foreground, and an old wooden barn in the background. I immediately realized that my 70-200mm, f/2.8 lens would have been my lens of choice with the scene in front of me. But it was in the car. Since it was a little too far to go back for the 70-200 lens, I decided to shoot with the wide angle lens and see what I could get. Here is my favorite image with the wide angle lens:

Balsamroot wildflowers and wooden barn in background - wide angle

Unfortunately, you can’t even see the barn in this image, unless you really strain your eyes! Do you see it? It is about in the center of the image (left-to-right), and on top of the little plateau that comes from the right. Nothing like I envisioned capturing when I saw the scene before my eyes!

A couple of days later, as I was starting my return trip home, I decided to stop here once more (it was only 6 miles off my route home) and try the 70-200mm lens. Arriving right before sunrise, I shot some images of the sunrise (I’ll post on these later). When the sun was overhead, I hiked to the area that contained the barn. Setting up my tripod at the same location, here is the image I captured with the telephoto lens:

Balsamroot wildflowers and wooden barn in background - telephoto lens

Definitely more like I envisioned capturing on my previous trip! And the barn becomes an important part of the image. This image also points out an important factor of shooting landscapes with a telephoto lens. The telephoto lens gives us a nice, compressed look. This compression impacts this image in a couple of ways. First, it compresses the balsamroot wildflower patch into a much larger-looking patch of wildflowers. Second, the area between the flowers and barn is greatly compressed, making the barn much more an active part of this image. And if you are shooting in a mountainous location, where several distinct “layers” of mountains can be seen, the compression of these layers can be quite dramatic.

So the question arises, “Why not take the telephoto lens with me the first time?” Well, the answer to that is weight. As I age, carrying around camera gear is becoming more difficult, especially when hiking uneven ground, and I constantly work at finding ways to lighten the load. In this instance, it just wasn’t a good choice. But at least I had an opportunity to return with the telephoto lens at a later date!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body (both images)
  • Tamron 17-35mm, f/2.8 lens, and Canon 70-200mm, f/2.8 IS lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 400 (wide angle image) and ISO 100 (telephoto image)
  • Aperture f/11 (wide angle image) and Aperture f/22 (telephoto image)
  • Shutter 1/4 sec. (wide angle image) and Shutter 1/45 sec. (telephoto image)
  • Wide angle image shot at 17mm; Telephoto image shot at 200mm
  • The telephoto image is actually a focus-stacked image, using 3 images combined into one (to assure sharp DOF throughout image)

 

 

Posted in 2017, Blog, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Photography Tips, Travel Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Indigo Bunting

Today’s post comes from my recent visit to the Loess Bluffs NWR, in northwestern Missouri. As I drove the auto tour route, I was fortunate to have a beautiful, male Indigo Bunting up close. As I sat in my vehicle, using it as a blind, I photographed this beauty for several minutes before it decided to move on. Here are a few of my favorite images:

Indigo Bunting male

Indigo Bunting male

Indigo Bunting male

Been very busy with lots of things going on, but hope to have more Columbia Gorge images edited and ready to share very soon. Stay tuned!

Photographic Equipment Used:

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

 

 

Posted in 2017, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Waxing Crescent Moon

Hope your Memorial weekend went well. My weekend was spent working around the house, trying to get caught up on some of the backlog of “things to do”. As I was finishing up the work yesterday afternoon, I noticed the waxing crescent moon overhead. As soon as it got dark enough, I grabbed my camera and tripod and captured this image:

Waxing Crescent Moon

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon 500mm, f/4 IS lens + Canon 2x Teleconvertor
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with Wemberly gimbal tripod head
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/125 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2017, Astrophotography, Blog, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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