One new photograph, almost every day of the year

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2017—Quaking Aspen

On the Mill Creek side of the road to Lundy Lake, off Hwy. 395 just outside Lee Vining, the aspens are turning.  The winds kept them quaking.  Even with a fast shutter speed (1/640) I had a hard time getting the leaves in focus as they jiggled in the wind.

Aspen leaves.jpg

2017—Smoky Yosemite

Late Sunday afternoon we stopped at Olmsted Point to check out the stunning view of Half Dome.  Fires in the valley prevented anything but hazy photos.  A few adjustments in Luminar revealed the smoke that was obliterating the view.

Fires in Yosemite.jpg

2017—Early Morning Minarets

It’s been a while since I’ve done any landscape photography.  I have two trips coming up soon that will focus on landscape so I’m looking forward to honing my skills which seem to be a bit rusty.  Saturday morning in Mammoth Lakes, the sun rose behind us as we watched the colors change over the Minarets.  The Minarets are a series of jagged peaks  in the Ritter Range of the Sierra Nevada mountains, a part of the Ansel Adams Wilderness area.  This is a three-panel panorama of the view.

 

  Minarets 3 panel-Pano-1.jpg

2017—The Ears Have It

It’s been almost a year since I visited Chugach State Park in Anchorage, AK to photograph moose with Moose.  That was an incredible adventure that I won’t soon forget.  On our last full day there, we spent hours with a group of about a dozen bull moose that were grazing and resting.   Among my favorite images from that day are those featuring a bull moose curled up on the ground, watching us.  I posted one image of that moose here.  The image below is the same moose with one major difference…the position of the ears.  Most of the images I took of this moose show his ears laid back as in the referenced image, which is possibly an indication of aggression.  We were required to stay at least 25 yards or so away from them as I recall and none of them made any aggressive moves toward us.  But they were clearly concerned about our presence there.  Of the dozens of photographs I took of this moose, only two show his ears forward.   There are several subtle differences between these two photographs including the direction of the moose’s huge antlers, the position of the head and shoulders, and of course the ears.  As I venture deeper into wildlife photography, I continue to learn some of the nuances that can affect the success of a photograph.  I wish I had been more aware of these subtleties when I was photographing this bull.  He does look less concerned in this shot than the previous one but his antlers aren’t as impressive.

Moose repose ears forward.jpg

2017—Lone Pine

Sunday afternoon, we drove home from Mammoth Lakes through Yosemite National Park and stopped at Olmsted Point on Tioga Road, elevation 8300 feet.  We followed the short trail over glacier creased granite to view the north side of Half Dome and Tenaya Canyon.  Sadly, smoke from a fire in Yosemite Valley made the view  hazy but I found this stunted lone pine struggling through a crack in the granite to be quite photogenic.

Lone Pine Yosemite.jpg

2017—Change Of Pace

I’m heading down to Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern Sierra for a few days.   It reminded me of my quick trip (5 hours)  to Yosemite in June of 2016 en route to Mammoth Lakes with my photo buddy Richard and our friend Dave.  This is a shot of the Three Brothers taken on that whirlwind visit.

Eastern Sierra-Yosemite 2016411-1.jpg

2017—And, Yes, More Hummer Photos

These shots were taken late on consecutive afternoons, about 24 hours apart.  I decided to experiment with changing the aperture so that the depth of field was not as shallow to see what, if any, difference that made in the shots.  The background was the same in both,  deep shade against the fence and shrubs.  I kept adjusting the exposure compensation to try to keep the shutter speed at a minimum of 1/250, although the shutter speed changed constantly as I moved the camera to focus on the hummer and it dropped to 1/160 in the first shot.  I also set the camera to high speed flash sync so that the shutter speed could exceed 1/250 sec.  I’m still using the Nikon D500 with 300mm lens. 1.4x teleconverter and two SB5000 flashes for hummingbirds but m thinks my Big Bertha needs another shot, too.

I took the first shot at 5:57PM, September 25.
f/5.6, ISO 1600, 1/160, Exposure  Compensation -2.3, Flash Compensation -1.7

I took the second shot at 5:47PM, September 26.
f/11, ISO 1600, 1/400, Exposure Compensation -4.7, Flash Compensation -1.7

Despite the difference in aperture and shutter speed, the photographs are very similar but I think the faster shutter speed in the second shot kept the background darker.  But, the wing on the hummer in the first shot appears more in focus than the wing in the second shot despite the slower shutter speed.  Obviously, more experimentation is in order.

Homer jr. at salvia f5.6

homer jr. at salvia f-11.jpg

2017—High Island Feeding Frenzy

I’ve been reviewing my photographs and came across this sequence from Smith Oaks Rookery on High Island, Texas from April 2017, taken five months before Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc in the area.  I was so fascinated by the behavior of these feeding chicks that I took dozens of photographs of their frenzied feeding at intervals throughout our visit there.

There always seems to be a runt in the litters.  Connie and I witnessed at least two chicks falling from (or perhaps being pushed out of) the nests and being devoured by the alligators that lurked in the water under the nests.  At first, I was worried that the runt in this nest wouldn’t be able to compete.  I was wrong.  The runt appears in the first shot in the front right.  And, by the second shot, it had grabbed onto the adult Egret just as enthusiastically as the other two, larger chicks.  In the third shot, the difference in size is quite apparent.  And just to show that the adult Great Egret still has an eyeball after the chicks have practically gnawed it off, the last shot shows the eye looking normal.  Of course whether the bird still has sight in that eye is questionable.

Nests in the rookery are practically on top of one another.  It is a very crowded place.  Two large chicks in another nest are visible behind the feeding frenzy, and Roseate Spoonbills and more Great Egrets are visible in the surround trees.  I hope that the area can recover from the damage wrought by Hurricane Harvey.  By the looks of the rigor with which these Great Egret chicks are feeding, my guess is even the runt  survived the hurricane.

Egrets Feeding 1 High Island.jpgEgrets Feeding 1 High Island

 

Egrets Feeding 2 High Island

2017—Sixth Sense

Late Monday afternoon, I took my camera, double flash set up, and a glass of  Michael David Sixth Sense Syrah out to the patio to wait for Homer Jr.  He has dethroned Homer as my resident hummer.  I’m really looking forward to his gorget filling out into that glorious gem-like garnet color.   In the meantime, I wait and watch.  I’ve developed a sixth sense (thank you Michael David) about his movements and I’m familiar with his feeding routine and  know just about when to pay attention because he’ll be feeding soon. The salvia I brought in has been a success.  I’m thrilled to be able to photograph him at a flower instead of trying to keep a feeder out of the photograph.

Afternoon hummer 3.jpg

 

2017—Glowing Mums

It was bright out at midday and the sun was shining directly onto the mum mound (the potted mum looks like a giant mound of flowers).   The 105 mm macro lens has an extremely shallow depth of field so with the lens wide open only a fraction of an inch of the flowers was in focus.  The low ISO (100) and the fast shutter speed (1/2000) and -0.7 exposure compensation, made the area surrounding the flowers very dark and the lighted area seemed to glow.  It reminded me of an effect of the Topaz Glow filter but I did not use any filters on this.
Glowing Mum.jpg