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on May 27, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

Evening Love Cranking Up

Spring has sprung on the property and Sharon’s favorite birds have come back. We have two distinct populations of Evening Grosbeaks, winter and summer. This migratory species ranges over most of North America and Mexico with our winter Grosbeaks coming south from Canada, stopping at our feeders and our summer Grosbeaks coming up from the south to stop at our feeders. Sharon carefully notes their comings and goings over the years and so looks forward to the summer population since they are so active and noisy! We were in our home for years before we first saw the Evening Grosbeak on the property. We’d seen them in the Sierra but not around our feeders. Then eighteen years ago the first one arrived in May. Couldn’t move one foot in the house without flushing them. They are incredibly shy! Then none over the winter until the following May when we had a couple of Grosbeaks. The summer population slowly grew overs the years and then about seven years ago, the...

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on May 26, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

Simple Pleasures – Score!

On my last two week bird road trip, I photographed 42 species of birds, 23 were new to my files. It was a great trip! Now I saw some gorgeous birds, some rare birds, some weird birds and lots of birds but the one that was the real joy to photograph was this Bobolink. Why? I’ve been seeing Bobolinks on wires for two decades. I have many times stalked a Bobolink, had them in the viewfinder but for every possible reason, I had never got one click of one. Not a rare bird, not an incredibly cool looking bird but for me, one of those birds I’ve always wanted only because of the challenge of getting the shot. And this trip I got one in the viewfinder, I lucked out with a clean background and nice light (not great light though) and made the click. What’s the point? No matter where you are in your wildlife photography, having a critter in your sites, preferably a “common” one that you...

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on May 11, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

Song of Spring

I’m up at Magee Marsh, OH and even with 55 degree temps and the sky spitting at me, the sound of spring is everywhere! Jake had come up here a couple of years back and said, “Dad, you gotta go” and so I’m here. He was so right! Had a marvelous day in this new Shang-ra-la seeing some gorgeous birds sing the blessings of spring. What a day! What species did I see? Lost track to be honest with you. Spent a heck of a lot of time with Yellow Warblers (top photo) cause even though common in my backyard, these are wearing their spring best and singing up a storm and point blank range. I had really good birds as well like this Prothonotary Warbler which stuck around for quite a while. With these small subjects and travel being restricted to a boardwalk, I went out with the big gun, D5 / 800mm. With the over saturated light, shot with no flash, at zero exposure comp. Only out...

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on Apr 18, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

The Grassland Drummers

This morning was twenty years in the making and it DID NOT disappoint! The Sharp-tailed Grouse was a species I sooooo wanted to photograph on their lek. I have tried over the years many times to get on a Sharp-tailed Grouse but with no success but finally two weeks ago, it came true. Why were they so important to me? This vanishing member of our great central grasslands was the inspiration for many cultures and its performance one I’d seen in photographs since I was a kid. Seeing it in person let alone photographing it has always been on my top five list of wild heritage experiences. To look through the window and see them thirty feet away at the Calamus Outfitter blind was for me, a dream come true! Smaller than the Prairie Chicken, even though they share the same habitat, they are very different. You can see how they look differently. They utilize the same habitat but evolution has changed the way they attract a mate. Where...

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on Apr 11, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

The Prairie Chicken

From inside their covered wagons, western bound immigrants heard the haunting sounds coming from the landscape before the sun rose and thought the world around them was haunted. It was spring and the Prairie Chickens in the thousands would be on their lek doing what chickens do. When the sun shined light on their “ghosts,” the pioneers realized breakfast had been provided them. The Prairie Chickens has been in trouble ever since. There are few refuges left for the chickens and we were so fortunate to spend time at one of them this past week. The amazing folks at Calamus Outfitters are conserving their habitat on their ranch and have created for us photographers an incredible opportunity to see, witness and photograph this very unique piece of our wildlife heritage. These are Greater Prairie Chickens and the calm you see in the top photo, it’s hard to imagine all that goes on for this male to find a mate and their less than 30sec moment with that female. They...

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on Mar 11, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

The Uncomfortable Crop

A great question that constantly winds up in my inbox is, “Where do you crop critters?” Unfortunately this great question has NO good answer. There is no guide, no book, no rule so in helping folks, I try my best with simply saying, “Try to avoid the uncomfortable crop.” That answer barely describes itself so with the latest askers request, I’ve posted four images here which demonstrate what I consider as uncomfortable crops. As you can see, I have these images which in itself means I saw some redeeming value if only to demonstrate, uncomfortable crop. Cropping or cutting into a critter so body parts are missing is the issue. How much can you not include and still cause it to seem, uncomfortable? The first thing I try to avoid is a crop which makes it appear I took a head down from a wall, hung it outside and took its photo. The Pronghorn and Bison are good examples of this. Too far back or too far front is...

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