I just wanted to post a few images I got last week on a resaca (oxbow) near Brownsville. It seems there is always something good to photograph, even in the hottest part of the summer. I was surprised that none of these birds showed serious signs of molting.
Remember, you can click on an image to enlarge and sharpen it. Clicking on the right edge of a photo will show you how to advance to the next image.
Ducks like to perch and remain motionless for long periods but photographer patience will pay off. The ducks have to stretch or fly every little while.
I waited two hours for a green kingfisher to fly on to this perch. The nice head tilt came while she was looking upward for avian predators.
Grebes have to stretch, shake off excess water, and move around. They don’t seem to have the patience for sitting and resting. That great background color is sunset light bouncing off the resaca.
My annual Instructional Photo Tour to the Big Bend National Park during late March and early April this year was the best ever. Because of exceptional rainfall winter rains, the park was abloom and flush with color. Many who have visited or worked in the park agree that this spring bloom was a once-in-10-years event.
Take a look at the photos which follow and note the color explosion which we haven’t seen in past trips. Don’t forget to click on the right edge of a photograph to increase the size and sharpness for better viewing.
The scene above greeted us as we prepared to cross the Pecos River at the upper end of Amistad Reservoir. After stopping at the overlook for a leg stretch, I spotted red cactus blooms along the cliff below. One hour later, after thoroughly photographing the landscape, we were back in the car and headed west.
I decided to add a touch of “canvas” to the background on this image. The Photoshop filters offer some exciting options to get the most from a print. This image was a little north of Castolon Store in Big Bend Natl. Park.
I think I was sitting in some dead dog cactus while shooting this photo at nearly ground level. Sometimes I get caught up in the moment and forget to inspect the ground closely before getting in close to the subject.
It’s a 5 mile round trip from the highway to Dog Canyon in the northern part of the park. The photography group loved the hike, the wildflowers and the cliffs.
The Chisos Basin “window” is always our first planned photo stop in the park. When clouds are present, the window is always exceptional during sunset.
Bluebonnets added a lot of nice color this view of ruins near Cottonwood Campground looking north to the Chisos Mountains.
One of my favorite views of the Rio Grande as it turns toward the Boquillas rim at sunset.
We just had to stop for one (or was it 50) more wildflower photo before exiting the park after 4 fantastic days. The sun was just coming up as we unlimbered the tripods near Panther Junction and the Chisos Mountains.
Finally, I got time to sit down and look through this season’s images from the Block Creek Natural Area during late April. They had a lot of rain this year, so the timing of bird nesting and things like that were a little off. Nevertheless, we had a great week with two groups of photographers, back to back. I’ve got a bunch of images to show you a sample of what the group got, so let’s get to it.
Don’t forget, clicking on an image will give you the enlarged and sharpened view.
The first things I noticed when I arrived the day before our photographers was that the barn had been painted and the entrance road had a new surface. The big oaks in the back yard provided the perfect frame for the barn.
Larry and Sharron Jay had lots of fresh flowers in the greenhouse and throughout the grounds.
The Last Chance Forever folks brought a variety of owls and hawks to the Block Creek Natural Area to educate our photographers and to use as subjects for a morning photography session.
I was experimenting with the HDR Toning component of Photoshop and discovered that it can help make some photos much more fun to see than when they are processed “normally”. The rooster below was one of the most colorful birds I’d ever seen so I couldn’t help but boost the colors into another level.
This woodpecker was hanging upside down while working on this dead oak branch. I thought the shot would make more sense if rotated to a vertical pose.
Almost everyone in our group got shots of this beautiful male eastern bluebird.
So, we saw a lot and photographed most of it. I did leave out some historic buildings we worked with just down the highway from Block Creek NA. The area has a lot to offer outdoor photographers.
A few months back, some of you may recall that I was chattering more than usual about the photography opportunities at Transition Ranch near Uvalde, Texas. During the dry spring of 2014, I helped the owners select photo blind locations and I showed them where to find golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos. After a few days at the ranch, I was really excited about the possibilities. Then, when April arrived this year, the ranch was drenched with record amounts of rainfall.
Here are a few of the images I captured at Transition Ranch while guiding two groups of photographers at mid-month. For best viewing, click on an image to enlarge and sharpen it. Click on the right center of each image to advance through the images.
House Finches were abundant in spite of heavy rains.
Frequent rains through the winter and spring made it impossible to complete photo blinds for golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos. Although shy, they should come to water in this dry country during a normal spring and summer.
With abundant moisture, came abundant wildflowers and blooming prickly pear cactus.
Some of our photographers got excellent photos of painted buntings and Montezuma quail. I can’t wait for next year…may it be just a little drier.
*** I’ve got a Canon 7D camera with battery grip and a 100-400 mm Canon IS lens (not the new model) for sale. Both are in great shape. If you are interested, let me know and/or make me an offer. I’ve still got the boxes, papers, straps, etc. for them.
I photographed this feeding American Oystercatcher and landing willet last winter in the Laguna Madre shortly after sunrise. Of course, water dripping from the bill or having the wings spread is really cool, but it’s the reflection that makes the image.
Click on the image to enlarge and sharpen for viewing.
Canon 7D camera and 500 mm IS lens, ISO 400, 1/1600 second @ f 4 from the World Birding Center board walk on South Padre Island.
Canon 7D camera and 500 mm IS Canon lens, Feisol cf tripod with Wimberly Head, ISO 400, 1/4000 second @ f 5.6
I am working my way through thousands of images collected through the winter and spring. Keep watching for fresh newsletters with photos from Big Bend National Park, Block Creek Ranch, Transition Ranch and more.
I hope most of you take the Texas travel and outdoor magazines, “Texas Highways” and “Texas Parks & Wildlife”. If so, you may have seen several of my photos in May and June. It’s always a big thrill to be published, especially in magazines that do such outstanding work. Look for the cover on the June issue of …Highways and several inside shots as well (the May issue has several, too). The May issue of Parks & Wildlife included several bird photos for a story on the “The 12 Most Beautiful Birds in Texas”.
The following images come from some photography outings I led this past April in the Rockport and Galveston area for FeatherFest.com. Many birders and photographers gather in Galveston each spring for the festival and what better place than Galveston to do it?
If you click on the photos, they will enlarge and sharpen for your viewing. Advance through the slide show by clicking on the right edge of any image.
This was a rainy day shot, so I was most happy to have a new Canon 7D Mark II in hand. I had to crank it up to ISO 1600 for this capture at 1/2000 sec @ f4 from a tripod.
The pelican shots were made from a boat. I was leading a group of 5 happy photographers who went home with thousands of nice shots of one of Texas’ most interesting birds.
This photo and the following bird photos were shot from a boat as we spent two days on the water with Captain Kevin Sims in a Pre-FeatherFest photo shoot.
Most of the colonial nesters need structure (brush, sunflowers, etc.) to support their above-ground nests.
One afternoon following our boat trip, we found an old Rockport cemetery full of fancy spring wildflowers.
The flower shot was done with a Canon 5D Mark II and 24-105 mm lens from ground level, hand held, 1/30 second @ f16, ISO 400. By getting on the ground for this shot, I was able to get below a strong wind and capture a perspective most photographers pass by.
A few days ago, I spent a Saturday afternoon at the Santa Clara Photography Ranch with owner, Dr. Alberto Gutierrez, and friends Randall Ennis and Terry Guthrie. Photography was a little slow that afternoon, so I came back for a couple of hours on Monday morning. Each trip yielded some keeper images; I’m sharing 4 of them with you in this newsletter. Later that week, I guided photographer Gary Kramer on the Ramirez Ranch at Roma, Texas where we wanted to get plain chachalacas and other birds.
I’m still trying to catch up with editing several thousand photos from Galveston Feather Fest, Block Creek Natural Area, Transition Photography Ranch, South Padre Island, Rockport spring nesting birds, an Arizona bird photography workshop and shots from the Laguna Seca Photography Ranch. I’ll be posting images from those shoots in coming editions of this newsletter.
Please send along your comments and ideas if you wish. If you will click on the image, it will enlarge and sharpen. Advance through the slide show by clicking on the right edge of each image.
These green jays were captured on a stormy morning at the Roel Ramirez Ranch near Roma, Texas with the Canon 7d Mark II and 500 mm IS lens at ISO 800, 1/200 second @ f4 in aperture priority. Within minutes of this capture, my shutter speed declined to 1/15 second as a rapidly approaching thunderstorm forced us to abandon the ranch for photo blind.
This painted bunting was taken with the Canon 7D Mark II camera and 500 mm IS lens from the car window just after sunrise. ISO 800, 1/2000 second @ f 5.
I got this shot by anticipating the flight path of the flycatcher and pre-focusing to get the bird just as it flew from its perch to the water. Quick reflexes and the ability to read the bird’s body language helped me get this photo with the Canon 7d Mark II and Canon 70-200 mm lens with 1.4X teleconverter at ISO 400, 1/3200 second @ f 5 (hand held). I try to keep a camera and zoom lens handy in case something large or very close appears that precludes using the 500 mm lens.
As the sun was setting, I captured this image with the Canon 7D Mark II and 500 mm lens from a Wimberley head and Feisol tripod at ground level at ISO 500, 1/1000 second @ f5.
I’m always looking for behavior and/or action to make the image more interesting. Warm evening or morning light helps a bunch, too.
I’ve been photographing around the Starr and Hidalgo County area of south Texas this past week or so. Cloudy weather dominated most of the winter so it felt good to feel some rays.
I can put you onto some lightly used photo equipment at really good prices. Yours truly has a Canon IS 100-400 mm, slide focus lens that is in great shape and very sharp. Make me an offer. A Colorado friend, Joe Zinn, has a Canon 1DX camera with low frame count and an excellent 600 mm lens (not the new model) for $6,000. These will be sold together. If you are interested, let me know and I’ll discuss these with you and/or put you in touch with Joe.
Here are some recent photos. Click on an image to see a larger and sharper version. Click on the right edge of a photo to advance.
I put my favorite photo first. It took two hours of patient waiting for this light and pose.
This is a second burrowing owl sleeping on a rocky slope. I photographed him for almost two hours while lying on my side with the camera and 500 mm lens on a bean bag.
I used a Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 70-200 lens and 1.4 x teleconverter to get this photo at 1/3200 second, f4.
By placing native fruit or bird seed near a perch, you can capture very natural looking images. Also, note the clean backgrounds form most of the shots in this newsletter…they are no accident.
Some native brush is starting to bloom, so I took advantage by using cuttings for bird perches.
Anticipation and pre-focus! I captured some of these images at Laguna Seca Photo Ranch north of Edinburg. (www.lagunasecaranch.com)
At sunset three days ago, this little nine-banded armadillo came walking boldly to the photo blind water hole at Santa Clara Photo Ranch northwest of McAllen. (www.santaclararanch.com)
Oklahoma in November is normally an incredible place for wildlife and landscapes. Anticipating that, I put together a little photo tour this past autumn and four of us headed for the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge at Lawton. We were shocked on the morning of the first day when we awoke to high wind and plunging temperatures. In spite of the unusual weather, we tried to anticipate what the animals would be doing. It turns out they did just what we wanted to do…find a place behind the hills and in the canyons to soak up some sunshine and keep out of the wind.
So we dressed for the cold and headed for the hills. The group got some amazing shots and I can only imagine how well they would have done without the wind and cold. Here are a few of my images to show you what is possible in southern Oklahoma in November.
You can click on an image to increase its size and sharpness. By clicking on the right edge of a photo, you can advance through the slide show. Enjoy.
This wild turkey gobbler was part of a flock we photographed from the car. I highly recommend a high quality bean bag for a Wichitas trip.
After an hour of patient sitting in a low spot near this burrow, I was rewarded with several interesting photos of these prairie dogs. This shot was done with the Canon 7D, 500 mm lens, 1.4X teleconverter, and Gitzo tripod with Wimberley head. I was wearing camouflage to help me blend into the landscape.
A new 70-200 mm lens was mighty handy for big game photography on this trip.
Elk are plentiful at the refuge, but always hard to photograph from a car. In fact, the refuge flourishes with wildlife including many great bird species and landscape opportunities. Its oak covered hills and extensive grasslands can hold a photographer’s interest for many days both in autumn and spring.
Two weeks ago, I was in Rockport leading a “whooping crane” photography tour that turned out to be much more than that. After starting the week with a lot of cold and drizzle, our last day and a half were fair days with a lot of photography ops. The group was composed of seasoned veteran photographers and a beginner, but everyone got a pleasing number of wildlife and landscape subjects during the week. Here are some of the subjects I captured with the camera while working with the other photographers. Notice that I didn’t have a lot of room left to show the whooping crane images after including some of my other subjects. I was particularly taken with the green-winged teal that allowed us to photograph them while they bathed and rested.
Just click on an image to enlarge and sharpen it. Clicking on the right edge on any shot will advance you through the photos.
These cranes were photographed from a ground blind near Goose Island State Park. I was pleased with the similar pose between the birds. Since I wasn’t using a “high end” camera, I didn’t dare push the ISO enough to get sufficient depth of field get both birds in sharp focus.
The bird in the image below had a deformed beak but it managed just fine at feeding time. I’ve seen several at Bosque del Apache Refuge in New Mexico with an upper mandible curving down over the lower mandible like a crossbill.
With birds in flight, I try to maintain at least 1/2000 second shutter speed to insure the photo “freezes” the birds.
We often see a good variety of photo subjects during the return trip from a whooping crane outing. Although the light is sometimes a little harsh, who can resist a long-billed curlew profile.
A bird in flight under white skies often needs to be overexposed by 2-3 stops to get the bird’s undersides and darker areas at proper exposure.
I decided to try the image above as a black and white and was quite pleased. Seeing the calm waters as we left a nearby restaurant, two of the group’s photographers convinced me we should return for some night shooting. This photo was captured at 10:30 PM.
By watching the nervous head bobbing and erect posture of a wild duck, it can be easy to anticipate “launch”. I have to remember to pull back on the telephoto power to leave room for the rising bird and outstretched wings.
One of our photographers photographed this bittern while it was catching anoles on tree trunks at the edge of a marsh.