Gone Wild

In one of my next photography articles that I post on here Earth Images, I
promise to share some current and great images from other
photographers.  For this time, I will regurgitate a few of my old
ones.

Today’s pictures were taken from some of my older files and were done
so in a completely random fashion. They were not selected for their
quality or their subject. Soon after I decided to make this a wildlife
post, I began the task of weeding out all of the flowers, landscapes
and buildings that were living among the wild animals……so to speak.

There is no form of photography that promises the photographer more
plain old fun, than photographing animals. Especially those animals
that are wild and free. In some sense, we live through our subjects as
most of us can only imagine what it means to be “truly” free. Of
course, complete freedom in never experienced by anything, as wildlife
needs to feed and survive each and every day of their lives. No food
stamps, no government programs, no housing support, just go out and do
what needs to be done. The joy of photographing them is that they do
so with no sorrow, and very little fear. They do what God has called
them to do, and they do it the best they can. We participate in that
process through our cameras.

Certainly there can be no doubt that birds are the most popular
wildlife subject for photographers. They epitomize freedom through the
gift of flight. They are in one sense, above us, pun intended.

The most commonly seen, and often the most effective bird photography
contains a single bird in an interesting or artistic (remember, I
believe they are the artists) pose.

Below you will find a young Great-blue Heron and an immature
Black-crowned Night Heron, both photographed in Wisconsin’s Horicon
Marsh NWR, and an American Bittern photographed at Sandhill Wildlife
Area in Wisconsin. Birds often strike naturally artistic poses when
they are patiently hunting or fishing.

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If one bird is good, how about two or four or 40?  Both Pelican shots
and the Tree Swallow picture were made at Horicon.

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When I was photographing wild birds, I made most of my flight shots
with my 500mm lens sometimes with a 1.4 converter. For this one I used
a 300mm lens, allowing me to get these somewhat spread out birds all
in the picture frame.

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I actually did use my 500 for this image of 40 (give or take) Tree Swallows.

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Certainly preening birds are natural art. The birds below are a male
Northern Pintail Duck, and a Sandhill Crane.  The crane image could
also be cropped much tighter for a more artistic rendition.

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Waterfowl while in the water, were among my favorite habitats to
photograph, as I  could capture my subjects in a variety of great
angles as they bob up and down in the water. Also, landlocked birds
will rarely walk straight at us while water birds often feel safe and
swim right down the throat of our cameras. This is a winter plumaged
White-winged Scoter photographed in Lake Michigan.

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Of course, dabblers like swans, geese and many ducks will often pose
upside down. The first bird is another male Northern Pintail in a
marsh and the other a Mute Swan in Lake Michigan.

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Beautiful light does not just flatter landscapes or flowers.

If this Great Egret (Horicon again) posing in this beautiful light had
full tail feathers and was in some blemish free water, this image
would be outstanding. As is, it is mostly about the light and the
action.

When you have doubts as to the possible quality of a potential image,
snap the shutter anyway. If nothing else, maybe 11 years after you
clicked that shutter you might want to include it in your blog, like I
have.

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This young Wood Duck gently swam into the late afternoon light, and I
was thrilled it did. I am not sure where this occurred. Notice that
the wake behind the bird implies motion.

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Black birds will often look outstanding when the first or last light
of day adds a warm glow to their dark plumage. This Double-crested
Cormorant was drying its wings on a dead tree at Horicon when it began
to strike a series of wonderful poses.  I could spend the rest of my
life photographing birds in great light while they create art for me
to record.

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In the sense of animal, vegetable or mineral, we are of course animals. Within
the various classifications of animals we are mammals. For those
reasons (I believe), we identify with mammals  more than other
animals. There are reasons why dogs and cats are the most common pets
worldwide.  Wild mammals are a natural for us to relate to.

Now come on now, a bunny? There aren’t many cuter subjects than
rabbits and hares. This young (and naïve) Eastern Cottontail
(Wisconsin) was munching on the grasses that grow between the cracks
in the pavement of an old parking lot in a state park one morning, and
was very accepting of me. Really too much for its own good, but alas,
I was only there to shoot him/her with my camera so I was happy, and
my subject was calm.

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I caught this White-tailed Prairie Dog in North Dakota whilst it
nibbled some lunch. I had thousands of these little fellows living on
the 14 acres of horse property I leased in Colorado. They are much
more fun to photograph than to live with.

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My favorite subject among  little mammals near home, are the
Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels.

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Larger mammals can become an obsession for wildlife photographers. I
have been privileged to spend a good deal of time with Rocky Mt.
Bighorn Sheep and I caught these two rams in western South Dakota.

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Bull Elk, especially those tough enough to hold a harem of over 50
cows, are always worth some camera time. This one is in a village in
Yellowstone N.P., Wyoming. Most of the other bulls won’t even try him.

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In Wisconsin, Whitetail Deer are a favorite large mammal subject for
photographers. This doe was interested in me, but was unconcerned with
the Cowbird on her butt. Actually those two animals have a symbiotic
relationship as the bird is somewhat protected from hawks and such
when it is residing on a deer, and the deer gets relieved of ticks
while they are together.

As a photographer, these are the sort of moments we wait for. In this
case, I managed to get both critters respectfully sharp even with my
500 because this is a fair sized crop and we are quite a distance from
the subjects. Of course the distance between the deer’s face and the
bird is visually compressed with that telephoto lens.

This was made in central Wisconsin.

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I suppose you could call foxes medium sized mammals, but whatever we
call them, they are my favorite mammals to photograph. These shots of
a father Red Fox and two of his kits, were made in Wisconsin.

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Amphibians and reptiles are animals too. A lot of people only think of
mammals as animals but of course, for the most part, if it is not a
vegetable, a mineral or a gas, it is an animal.

I was out photographing flowers and insects when I turned and saw this
young Tiger Salamander coming right at me. I dropped my tripod to its
lowest level and pointed my 105 macro lens in its direction and got
several nice shots before I left. It continued its journey unfettered.
Often my memories of little herps like this, are as vivid and
important to me as are those of larger more spectacular animals.

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I photographed this Spiny Lizard in New Mexico, as it scoured the
flowering plants in a planted garden near the visitor center in Bosque
del Apache NWR, for insects.  It was very cooperative but I was
excited enough with my subject that I managed to cover my left arm
with cactus spines from a nearby plant.   I got them all out but my
arm hurt for the rest of the trip.  Still, it was well worth it.

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Insects, spiders and such are also in the animal family. Therefore if
they are wild and free, they are wildlife.

Dragonfly, Illinois.

I used a 75-300mm macro zoom set at 195mm to narrow down the
background for a nice, uncluttered image. My 105 would have both
introduced some light colored weeds to the scene, and forced me to
move closer.

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I love photographing all arachnids. Spiders and other such creatures
are often ignored by photographers. They are (for the most part) no
scarier than any other little critter, and they are frequently easy
subjects. I changed my usual perspective with this one as I found an
extreme profile to be a little bit more interesting and artistic than
the usual composition.

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I hope you enjoyed today’s journey into the wild. The wonderful thing
about photography is that when we can’t get out, we can still visually
experience the wonders of nature through photos.

 ===============================================================
I am sure that those who have been here a while have noticed a lack of
social/political commentary from me lately. Most are probably happy
for that, but it has been a very difficult thing for me to do. I
actually write opinion pieces almost from time to time and tear them
up. Excuse me, I forgot what century I was in, I delete them.
Political/social  subjects will come back to Earth Images, but for the
time being, I think it is best this way.My Christian writings will never stop, but they should not be about me
flapping my mouth. When I have something to say that I believe can
perhaps change the view or life for even one person, I will share them
with joy.

“It is wise to speak because you have something to say; not because
you have to say something” Wayne Nelson

“I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full.
Scratch where it itches.” Alice Roosevelt Longworth

God Bless,

Wayne
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