Sanderling captured by Z 9 / 800AFS

We owe a lot to Sanderlings, they keep chasing the sea back into its place. Laying down in the sand using a panning plate to see their world from their point of view, the waves appear to be a tsunami. There are times when watching these LBJs I forget to take their photo as I so get into what they are doing. Take this individual. Just seconds after this photo was taken it did a complete 180, ran less then a foot, reached down and plucked a little worm like critter from the wet sand and sucked it down. How did it know it was there? It come in with the tsunami? Did it make some noise? How with all the chaos of the crashing waves did it find a meal? It’s just amazing how such a little critter in what appears to be a brutal world goes about life with such glee, always dealing with a tsunami!

A Sweet Adieu

Sunset of Fort Desoto captured by Z 9 / Z24-120

It was a delightful evening with the gulf breeze on our back as we photographed the gathered birds. Then the light turn that color, you know what I’m talking about, the color and feel signaling the end of the day. I turned to see a flaming orange ball coming down on distant Fort Desoto. This is why I have that “landscape” lens in the bag. I took off the Z400f4.5 and attached the Z24-120 and enjoyed the brief show. It was quite the fiery end to the week but it a solid week of really good bird photography. It was like it was all planned for our parting, a sweet adieu.

Flight is a Beautiful Thing!

Great Egret captured by Z 9 / 800AFS

Venice Rookery, FL is a very special place where new life is celebrated every spring. Courtship of the herons and egrets is part of the excitement, eggs and nestlings is some more but the best part is the unscripted. Whether vying for platform space or spouse attention, all the bird species present so some type of display. Great Egrets seem to have as part of their theatrics flight chases and typically it’s just a couple that constantly go at it. So it was yesterday at the Venice Rookery. Once I saw the two who wanted to challenge each other in the air, I followed them as they postured with my finger on the shutter release for when they took to the air. Then I would follow the chasing egret in the viewfinder. Then it was simple panning with that one individual, shooting when the background looked good. And in that split 1/1200 the camera captured that elegance that flight is a beautiful thing.

Love is In The Air!

Great Egrets captured by Z 9 / 800AFS

It’s been way too long so it felt so good to be back at Venice Rookery. Can’t see it in this image, by this pair had a little two day old in the nest. They seemed to huddle together to keep it warm against the chill of the morning air. The perfect way to start Valentines Day!

30 Million?!

American Bison captured by Z 9 / 180-400VR

We could see the white out heading our way from the west, the increasing wind told us a change was fast approaching. Hayden Valley, Yellowstone Nat’l Park is no place to be in winter during a white out because even gravity won’t help you find your way. And amidst this coming weather chaos three Bison bulls plod along looking for last falls grass they can browse on buried under the three feet of snow. There are about six thousand Bison in the park today but finding them can be a challenge in winter so the three bulls we’re focused on are a treat. I stand out in the minus temps, the wind that’s starting to howl not dampening my imagining what the scene would have been when in the 1700s with thirty million Bison roaming the west. After being blown away by the sight, I probably would have moaned it was impossible to get just one lone animal in the frame. Now I moan about just finding the one animal to fill the frame. As I shoot, I think about this paradox as the one Bison I see appears and disappears in the blowing snow. It’s about then the bulls in the distance completely disappear as the snow increases, Mother Natures signaling its time to get out of Dodge. As we roll to the north to get out Hayden, my mind comes back to that thought, thirty million?!

Wind’s Snow Sculptures

Yellowstone snowscape captured by Z 9 / Z50f1.2

Snow is this magical form of water that dances down to settle on the landscape at the will of the topography and wind. Often it’s just a carpet of white undulating with the land reaching for the horizon. Then there are times when the lands and wind come together to create the softest of sculptures lasting at times, just for hours. It requires cold temps creating very light snow that doesn’t stick to itself. It seems forever, these natural art forms have fascinated me causing me to point my lens at them trying to capture their fleeting time. This past week in Yellowstone i think, think I might have found my own personal recipe for bringing those sculptures home.

It all starts with a snow storm dropping a minimum of an inch of new snow. If it’s falling on old snow that has already started to melt, if can take more than an inch of new, You then need that breeze to work its magic, Finally you need the soft light so you have the ever so slight shadow, It’s that shadow that brings life to the sculpture. What I found this year bringing home so many images I like is the lens. The Z50f1.2 with its “normal” angle of view and its really shallow DoF brought to the viewfinder what I’ve been looking for. The final ingredient I like to add is exposure, top photo was +1/3 and the bottom was +2/3. Might not have been enough but it works. I realize snow for some does nothing for them and while others, they don’t wanna see anymore of the white stuff. There’s no question I’m a bit different. I go out when it’s -26 with the Z 9 looking for winds snow sculptures.

Yellowstone snowscape captured by Z 9 / Z50f1.2
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