While I’m collecting images and website links from some great photographers for my next guest photographer article, I thought I would post a few of my own wildlife pictures that were made in days gone by. There are three that I do not believe have been shown before.
I have shown you many images of Yellow-bellied Marmots. All of those pictures were made in one day, several years ago when I was at Rocky Mt. N. P. in Colorado. Most are playful action pix of young Marmots, but I do have this one close-up portrait of an adult. That morning was magic for me. I never forget those special times where it is just me (and my camera) and the critters.
The photo above is one that can be used as an indicator of how current advances in camera technology, and their ability to control noise, could have produced a different and possibly better image.
The picture was made with an ISO setting of 200. Any higher ISO would have produced too much noise. That gave me a shutter speed of 1/250 sec. which was plenty for this fairly static shot, but an f stop of only f 7.1. I used my 500mm f4 lens, and was as close to my subject as focus would allow. The depth of field produced at that aperture, was shallow enough as to not allow uniform sharpness throughout each part of the face, or even every hair on that face. I could have used f 32 with an ISO of 3200 with the better cameras of today. I am seeing acceptable shots at ISO 16,000. It is a matter of taste and opinion whether that would have made for a better picture, but surely it is a nice option to have.
I have made pictures of Red Foxes on several occasions beginning in the early 1990s, but there is no question that a three-year period in the 2,000s led to more images of these guys than I ever thought I would possess. I covered the gamut of ages of fox, and sorts of images.
Our first picture is that of a half-grown fox. When the young fox finally has a coat of red to share, well, they are flat-out pretty. I got this kit and two of its siblings in a variety of poses, but I am always after at least one “formal portrait”. I thanked him/her and moved on to more expressive images.
This was made at a different location and you see a much younger kit, and that is Dad he is bugging. This father became legendary in the very short time that I and other photographers captured his family’s life in images. He was forever diligent in the protection of his five babies and his mate, and he was even better as a provider. During this growth stage of the babies, he would hunt all night, and almost all day. One rest for a couple of hours, and then right back at it again. He was patient and never cross with his kits, but at times, he would be a little overwhelmed by the attention and try to sneak off for some alone time. A pretty typical dad after all. Thank God for mom, who did very little hunting, but stayed with her babes continually.
These two pictures of Short-eared Owls are well-worn and over shown by me. I’ve never showed them together before but they were actually made at the same location, of the same group of owls, only two days apart. Lighting and habitat differences (in the pictures) make for a totally different feel or mood. I collected a lot of pictures (top) on the first day and had two hours of enjoyment, but I enjoyed those few shots I got on the second. I love that perch on a rise showing the habitat of a winter field in the second photo. I also loved the light and how it “barely” crossed the right side (and eye) of the bird. All of the elements of landscape and macro photography still apply with wildlife. We do however, have less to say about it. That is why I stand by my opinion that wild animals create their own art and we share it.
Speaking of natural art. Double-crested Cormorant.
Mammals and birds are great, but amphibians need love from photographers too. I was walking around Sand Lake in search of dragonflies/damselflies when I spotted this little frog in dappled light. If you move quietly but purposefully, they will often think you do not see them. I made some pictures, thanked the frog, and moved on to my insect photography.
Stepping out. I really only made one decision (other than technical) here. I chose the vertical format. This Sora Rail was slow dancing in and out of the reeds, and the light. If you are patient they will reward you. After 25 years of wildlife photography, mostly of birds, this was the first Sora to grace my image files. He almost looks be a little pigeon-toed. Can a Sora be pigeon-toed?
A friend and I spent a few hours with this Bald Eagle couple one chilly March morning. Their nest was barely visible but they took turns sitting on eggs, and then roosting and preening on a branch that was highly visible. This was the only shot I made of both birds, and any of their nest. Ultimately you do a lot of “taking what they give you” when you photograph wildlife. As always, I said thank you when I left.
I made this image from a Mississippi River Lock (& dam) and it shows that Bald Eagles are versatile. Any other pictures I’ve ever made of Bald Eagles with fish, show the traditional fish in the talons behavior. Bald Eagles will actually eat almost any kind of flesh/animal, and they will carry it off however it seems convenient at the time. They are great survivors and the only thing that ever had them on the ropes, so to speak, was the pesticide DDT.
Wading birds are the most naturally artful in the bird world, and the Sandhill Crane is a wading (and field) bird. They are easy to track and photograph in flight and they rarely fly alone. I love the way the first and last bird are in almost the identical body/wing position, while each of the two interior birds have their own personal position. I know what you‘re thinking. If you ever so carefully examine the first and last bird you will see that their right wing position is very slightly different. Take note as well how the wing tips are splayed out. In other words, no I didn’t clone one bird to increase the size of the formation. Honest.
I love photography whether it be landscapes, macros of all kinds, non-nature subjects, or wildlife. That having been said, wildlife photography sort of fills that cavity in our heart, in a way other forms of image making do not. If I were still making pictures, you can bet that wildlife would still be an important subject for me and my camera. Photographing wildlife can be peaceful, or exciting and furious. It can happen so fast that you hope you and your camera were good enough to keep up. It can also take hours to get that one picture. I usually tell landscape photographers to get a macro lens, or some extension tubes or something, to get down and see the world in miniature. Long lenses are expensive so I don’t normally suggest wildlife photography as a primary photographic direction for anybody. Just the same, if you go that way, you won’t regret it.
Why so few comments?
It occurred to me that visitors to Earth Images might wonder why comments are so rare here. Doesn’t anybody but me (you) read this blog? No, you are not alone in reading this blog.
It is true that many photography blogs get dozens of comments with every post. How well-known the writer/photographer is, seems to have little to do with it. Writers who are well-known in the photo “how to” business, get lots of comments. An example would be Rob Sheppard, a fine writer who used to be the editor of Outdoor Photographer Magazine. The other example would be those who are well-known in a geographic area, and most of their posts concern photography in that area. One example of that might be if a member of the Wisconsin Birding Network (this area), consistently wrote informative blogs about where he/she found birds, and then gave good info on how they made specific pictures of those birds. Blogs like that easily have way more comments than even those from the world’s best known photographers. Some of the world’s top image makers never get any comments, some get a comment or two each post, and others get eight or nine comments each time. Those in the latter category seem to answer the comments by others. When readers discover that, they add their own comment..
In my case, comments were more plentiful in days gone past, but this has never been a blog that has received a lot of comments. One reason, is that Earth Images is not just about photography or nature. I have written articles on many controversial subjects, and I often take controversial stands on those subjects. That has angered some into leaving Earth Images (while I gain a different audience), and understandably frightened others away from the comment section. I always knew that those posts would bring those results. Sometimes you just got to say what you got to say. A couple of my personal friends do comment, but most prefer to write private emails or personal messages on Facebook and that is just fine with me. Ron (has articles on Earth Images) used to comment quite a bit but he and I have headed in separate directions now. Gary was a great commentator, who tragically died in an auto crash.
In general, the amount of comments in a blog, does not reflect the amount of readers of that blog. It does reflect the subjects and attitudes of the writer, which does at times, reduce the amount of comments this blog receives.
Comments or no comments, I appreciate each and every one of you., Wayne