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on Mar 19, 2020 in Wildlife Photography

Sheep Are Comfortable with Low

Bighorn Sheep are much more comfortable when we are below them so their escape route UP a slope is not cut off. This very basic piece of their biology, once you use it you can get incredibly close to sheep. These Rocky Mtn Bighorn are no different. This basic knowledge not only gets you close physically but in the frame, gives sheep a prominence. It’s a win-win for wildlife photographers. But like everything in photography, you can take this knowledge one step further. My primary rig is the D5 / 180-400VR which works great for big game. This group of ewes though didn’t wanna stay off in the distance, they came right down to us which sheep do. I didn’t want to shoot down on them though, not a pleasing angle. So I flipped out the monitor the Z6 / Z24-70f2.8 and slowly, ever so slowly, bent over and shot. You can see the difference between the two photos. Next time then when you’re working with bighorn, remember getting...

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on Mar 10, 2020 in Wildlife Photography

Where’s Waldo?

Filling the frame with our critter subjects, it’s a quest for most wildlife photographers. We buy long glass, we go on long trips, we spend long periods of time in the field, all with the quest of filling the frame with eyeballs. But critters actually have gone to great pain to blend into their world, to not be seen. It’s the mystery that in large part grabs our imagination and starts our quest to photograph them in the first place. But once you have that close up photo, do you ever take a step back and take in the critter, and its world? If you have not, it’s disappearing! The Barred Owl is a big bird, bigger than a football. And like most of its feathered friends, it can completely disappear into its world. Both photos were taken with the spectacular Nikkor 180-400VR of the same individual, the top one was at 180mm fifty feet away and the bottom photo, 400mm at twenty feet away. While the bottom photo...

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on Feb 27, 2020 in Wildlife Photography

Light Time With a Critter

It was on our last morning at Zax-sim Bog, it was the ninth time in a week we had checked the Admiral Feeders looking for it, not finding it the first eight attempts. The ninth time, literally driving to the airport, we stopped one last time and we finally saw the magical Boreal Owl. The feeders are literally on the side of the road, behind them is the boreal forest of Minnesota. In theory, you literally wouldn’t have to get out of your car to see or photograph the Owl, if he’s there. We drove down the road to see a group they’re doing exactly as we desired, taking in the Boreal Owl. And that was the greatest gift the Boreal Owl gave us, time! I stood there hand-holding the D5 / 180-400VR (with its 1.4x engaged) and TC-14eIII attached at this little gem in the viewfinder looking at the boreal forest thinking, “How am I going to smack you, the viewer right between the eyes with this little...

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on Feb 4, 2020 in Wildlife Photography

Unique Survival Strategy

There is a scene in Jeremiah Johnson where they get their dinner by throwing rocks at some birds on the ground. If you meet a Dusky Grouse, you can see how exactly how that is true. About the size of a chicken and I’m told, really tasty, the Dusky Grouse (formally Blue Grouse), when found, is a real easy bird to photograph. That’s because, they seem to be missing the “be very very scared” gene. You don’t need a long lens, you just need light. A lot of folks with iPhones found this out for themselves last week in Yellowstone when this male repeatedly performed for folks at point-blank range. A number of times, it literally flew to the ground right at folk’s feet. They had to WATCH where they stepped so they wouldn’t squash it! When going about its normal routine, you could watch them feast on these very small fungi that live on the limbs of the Ponderosa Pines. He would walk about the branches in search...

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on Jan 23, 2020 in Wildlife Photography

Winter – Respect Their Space

One of my favorite times of year to photograph big game is in the winter. The two main reasons are all based on their pelt. They have their winter coats and often extra fat levels so they look their best. At the same time, those pelts which any other time of year help them blend in, really make them stand out. And in the winter, the basics of getting close physically really pay off big. Food is an obvious attraction but water, not so obvious, is even a bigger attraction. Free water, water not frozen, can be really scarce and they still have the same needs in the winter and summer for water. Knowing this basic biology can really produce some great images. It takes very little to stress a critter in the wintertime. The same old mantra, calories in, calories out, still counts. This is even truer in the winter when both food and water helps keep them warm as well as functioning. I’ve seen too many times...

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on Dec 27, 2019 in Wildlife Photography

What Happened to Those Canoes?

“What happened to those canoes?” If you’re looking at a bull moose with no antlers, it looks like a cow moose and this time of year, that’s what you’ll see. You can tell it’s a bull without its antlers because you will see the buttons, base of the antler (like in the above photo). If you want that bull moose shot in deep snow with its canoes, you gotta be in the right place in late fall, early winter where there is snow and the bull moose still have their antlers. They shed them during late fall/early winter to get rid of that extra weight so they don’t have to fight them and the deep snow. Moose, deer, elk have antlers and shed them (they are called sheds) and Bighorn Sheep, Mtn Goat, Bison have horns because they don’t shed them. In the late fall, the Bull Moose needs those big racks, or canoes, to better hear with. While they do use them in “battle” (the clashing a sound...

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