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on Jan 6, 2021 in Wildlife Photography

1st Day of The Year

Downy Woodpecker captured by D6 / 800f5.6 AFS Shortly after I built vs3.0 of our water feature at The Ranch, I planted the woodpecker perch. Many looking at it wonder why a ten-foot-tall, dead top of pine is planted in the ground four feet from the water feature basically in the middle of the property. If you’re not a backyard bird photographer, you would simply check it off as odd. But for you folks who follow my blog, it’s pretty much operation as normal for me. I’ve put up dead sticks for a long time for backyard bird photography. Well on New Year’s day with the nice light, I set up on the woodpecker perch to shoot for the first time. Red-shafted Flicker captured by D6 / 800f5.6 AFS Why did I wait so long? The woodpeckers, Red & Yellow-shafted Flickers, Hairy and Downy (along with magpies, nuthatches, and Clark Nutcrackers) have been coming to the perch regularly for about 45 days. Before that, it was pretty hit or...

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on Dec 15, 2020 in Wildlife Photography

Falling Snow Background

Steller’s Jay captured by Z7 / 800f5.6 It’s that time of year when falling snow can be incorporated in your background to help tell your story. Capturing it is pretty straight forward if you think about it like you would shooting burred water or a blurred plane prop. It’s all a matter of how fast the snow is falling vs. shutter speed. The faster the snow fall, the faster the shutter speed. The slower the snow fall, the slower the shutter speed. In this case, the snow was blowing pretty hard so my shutter speed was 1/100. You might have tried this photo but didn’t have the results you desired, what to check? The first thing I would check is the background, is it dark? You need a background that is darker than the snow in order to see the snow. Gray and green are naturals. Next, did you use flash as I did here to bring out the color in your subject? If you did, was the power...

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on Nov 18, 2020 in Wildlife Photography

How They Can Blend

Pronghorn captured by D6 / 180-400VR When we look at critters, we often, at least I do, wonder why they have the coloration they do. Some, like the Rhino or elephant, don’t really need to blend so are just gray all over. The Polar Bear can blend when they are lying so they can catch their prey. Others like the Pronghorn especially when young need to totally blend in. But how does one blend in when they are partially orange and white? The answer is not always obvious. Pronghorncaptured by D6 / 180-400VR In the late fall when winter’s first snows have fallen and the last of the falls grasses are still exposed, you can quickly see why the Pronghorn have adapted to their color scheme. The further away they are, the more they blend, and when your predators have a finite range they can see, then they have a chance at survival. Though we saw one Pronghorn taken down on our latest travels, the rest of the herd...

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on Nov 6, 2020 in Wildlife Photography

The Amiable GBH

Great Blue Heron captured by D3 / 600mm There isn’t a wildlife photographer who doesn’t owe a debt of gratitude to the Great Blue Heron. They patiently put up with us in the beginning of our passionate pursuit of wildlife photography. This big bird makes us feel successful. Being a bigger bird, they have more confidence permitting us to get closer physically to them. At the same time, being bigger we don’t need to have as big lens or lots of skill to get a good images size in the viewfinder. We comeback with photographs that make us feel successful, so we move to other subjects that challenge our skills knowing we conjured them with the amiable GBH. But many don’t go back to the GBH, I often hear, “I’ve photographed them a lot already.” Which of course, we’ve all done but have we don’t it well? Have we made the common, uncommon? Great Blue Heron captured by D6 / 180-400VR The Great Blue Heron is the species, subject...

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on Oct 27, 2020 in Wildlife Photography

It Finally Happened

Blue Jaycaptured by D6 / 180-400VR I’ve photographed every Jay in North America over the past forty years. One, the Blue Jay has eluded me and while I’ve seen them forever, I’ve had no luck getting glass on them. A very common bird who thousands have photographed, I wasn’t one of them until finally, today. I love Jays! I had one in Santa Barbara at the house that would come down and take peanuts from me. In Mammoth, we had Squeaky, a Stellar Jay that would keep us company around the property. I photographed them a lot! When we moved to The Ranch, one of the first things we found was a pile of blue feathers, a Blue Jay that had been taken out by the resident Cooper’s. I figured they wouldn’t come around much after that. So a month later when we heard a Blue Jay, I thought there might be hope. In the last month, we’ve had four pop in and out of the feeders but were...

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on Oct 16, 2020 in Wildlife Photography

Catch ‘Em Headin South

Marbled Godwitcaptured by D5 / 800mm The birds are heading south right now and in really great numbers. You can see for yourself for your area with BirdCast. One even set another record going from Alaska to Aukland, a Bar-tailed Godwit who made the 7500 miles journey in 11 days. Dang! It takes fuel to do this and that’s when we want to photograph them, refueling. We don’t want to cause them issues feeding, just photograph them doing such. And if you are there right now, you’ll photograph many in their breeding plumage like this Marbled Godwit. Marbled Godwitcaptured by D5 / 800mm The best way to get the photograph is actually real simple, just requires a little biology and technology combining. First, find their food source. Second, find the best background. Third, Position yourself so you’re at the distance you need for the image size you desire with the food source between you and that background. Fourth, place yourself in that spot and then wait for the birds...

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