Taking In A Cold Morning At The Pond
Yesterday morning I went down to a familiar pond to see if the eagles were out playing. This has been a weird year for the eagles. The pond that I go to has been frozen over for a lot of the winter, and the eagles never really seemed to show up. When I pulled up yesterday there were two eagles in a tree. In a few minutes there were four. One mature and three up and comers. The real stars of the day though were the herons. They were doing more fishing than the eagles were. They aren’t nearly as cool to photograph as they grab the fish, but they are fun to photograph.
The Eagle Grabs A Fish
One immature eagle did grab a fish while I was there yesterday morning. The eagle swooped down into the light and did just what I hoped it would do. With the light so harsh from the back I needed the eagles or other birds to fly in just right. This eagle pretty much did that. No matter how many times I see the swoop and scoop it is still an amazing thing to see in person. Maybe if they are staying around for a while I can see this again before they fly back to wherever they are from.
Watching The Bald Eagles Of The Wabash Again
It has been a slow winter as far as bald eagles goes so far. That is until yesterday. I almost didn’t go down to the Wabash River because it has been so slow. I had other things that I wanted to get done. When I pulled up and saw a long mature eagle sitting in a tree I decided to stay a while and see what exactly was going to happen. The lone eagle was behind a branch, but sometimes you just have to wait a while to see what happens. Another eagle joined it, and they sat out along a branch almost posing for me. There was not great action photos yesterday, but this was enough to start the season.
Thoughts On The Tamron 150-600mm Lens
I knew when I bought this lens that it would not stack up to the Canon 600mm f/4. There is a reason there is a $10,000 difference between the two lenses. For some reason this lens so far does not seem to be functioning properly for me. When the subject is still it is okay. When the subject is in motion though there is a weird look to the image. I can’t really put my finger on it, but it is almost motion blur. I am shooting at a high enough shutter speed, but I did have the image stabilization on. Maybe that has something to do with it. I need to run another test with the IS off to see if that makes the image better.
A Hawk Takes Flight On a Warm Winter Day
Yesterday I was out looking for a couple of birds. I really wanted some action from the snowy owl, and when that didn’t pan out I went looking for bald eagles. Neither of those two species would cooperate with me so I ended up just driving around for a while. This is the time of the year when I go a little stir crazy as far as photography goes. I have a Saturday with nothing in the books, and of course three events all nearly at the same time Sunday to shoot that I have to pick from. I spent most of the day Saturday with my family but took some time when the light was good near sunset to go out and try and make a picture. Thankfully this hawk was sitting perched for me or I would have come away with nothing. The reach of the Tamron 150-600mm lens on my crop frame Canon 7D Mark II really helped me make this picture. One of these days the stars will align, and I will be able to get in a good test of this new lens.
Just Before You Go
I knew this hawk was about to take flight. I can’t see into the future or anything, but I have some knowledge that some may consider gross. It is science though. The hawk dedicated while I was looking through my viewfinder. Most birds will do that just before taking flight. It must make them feel lighter in the air. If you are photographing a bird on a perch then wait for the moment after they vacate. That is when they will go.
Taking a Walk Through Prophetstown State Park
Yesterday I decided to change things up a bit. For most of the last few days I have spent my mornings just north of Lafayette watching a snowy owl sit in a field. In all of that time the owl flew once, and of course it was away from me. I realized that it really is not very mobile in the mornings. I decided to go out and look for eagles. I tried the usual places with no luck. I decided to take a drive to Prophetstown State Park to see what I could see. I found a pond in the back where some have been spotted in the past, but none were present yesterday. The good news was that there were many other forms of wildlife to capture. The first that I saw during the day were these beautiful swans on the ice. Here I isolated one by itself for what I thought was a good photo.
Using The Tamron 150-600mm G2
A couple of weeks ago I picked this lens up for a couple of reasons. One of them is that my 400mm is getting older. It is now a 22 year old lens. If the previous owner(s) took good care of it there is no reason why it shouldn’t last for a long time. The aperture blades are stuck at f/2.8 right now though. That is great for sports photography, but I keep thinking the lens is going to just give out on me at some crucial time. Having something long as a backup makes me feel a little better about it. At some point I will give my thoughts on the lens, but I really have only had this opportunity to really use it. I have shot the stationary owl with it countless times, but when the subject is moving is when you really find out a lot about your equipment. For now it seems to be doing okay.
The Flock Mentality
I like this photo for a couple of reasons. One is that if I were to clone out the three geese not in line it would look like a composite of one goose flying. Sometimes when you go out looking for one thing another good shot flies overhead. This will never win me any awards, but it was fun to make today. For the price of admission (free) I had a heck of a time yesterday morning. I need to make more trips out to Prophetstown. Maybe the eagles will show up for me next time.
An Unexpected Trip To See The Snowy Owl
Yesterday I left the house to make some photos of the Wabash River from overhead. On the way home from the zoo with my daughter I noticed that the ice was flowing pretty heavy down the river. I thought that I could look great from directly overhead. I will have more on that tomorrow. When I had made my picture I jumped in the car to warm up a little. I decided to check on the snowy owl sightings to see if our friend up north was still there. There were recent sightings so I happily made the drive up there to see it. I had my 400mm lens in the car in case I came across any bald eagles. When I pulled up to the area I saw one familiar car driving away, and a new car parked with someone looking into a field with some big glass. It turned out that it was a 1200mm lens pointed right at a snowy owl. The owl was too far away to do anything with so I waited…and waited…and waited. After about and hour and half the owl took off and flew to the barn near where I was parked. The photo above was one that I captured during that flight. I have plenty of static photos of the bird, but now I had some behavior! I am an action sports kind of guy so I like it when I get to track something. Tracking a bird this small at f/2.8 is a chore, but a fun one.
A Second Chance
The flight was over almost before it began, and the bird was now resting on top of a barn. I moved down the road a little to photograph it there, but it was too far behind the barn. I drove down a side road near the area to see where it went, and I watched it fly the other way off of the barn. I then sat for over an hour again in a spot where I had the light working with me and waited for the bird to take off again. Right about when I was ready to give up it took flight again. I flew right by me and landed on top of a telephone pole. A little patience on the day resulted in two great opportunities to get some shots of the owl in action. At this point the light was almost gone, but the timing was perfect.
Having Fun In The Wild
I love shooting sports. There is no doubt about that. On a weekend like this one where nothing was going on though I had a void to fill. Photographing wildlife is a great way to fill that void. In sports you get excited when you make ‘the shot’. In wildlife photography you wait a lot longer for moments so when you get them it is even more exciting. This was a fun way to spend a couple of hours out in the middle of nowhere. Soon the owls will go back north, and this opportunity will be gone.
A Bonus Photo
As I was heading home I saw a couple of deer out near me in a field. I grabbed my 400mm again and made this picture out of my window. It will never win any awards, but it was fun to make.
A Great Day With Dharma and Wotan at Wolf Park
A couple of years ago I was able to photograph the wolves of Wolf Park from inside of the enclosure. At first I was not too keen on the idea. I mean have you seen the movie The Grey? Seriously though I started going to Wolf Park in 2011 as I was started to really figure out this whole camera thing. I learned a lot out there photographing the wolves through the fence. The chance to photograph them without the fence between us was too good to pass up.
Adding More Wildlife To My Schedule
When I photograph sports or people it is always pretty easy to figure out when that is going to be. It is something that gets put on the schedule. What can sometimes be forgotten is the things like wildlife photography that is very fun for me. This year I need to work on making sure I get out to make these pictures for myself as well as the stuff that I get paid for.
On The Lookout For Owls
Above is one more of the photos that I made on Christmas Eve when I lucked into a huge group of Short-Eared Owls. It was an amazing sight, and it made the fact that the snowy owl was not doing anything interesting very easy to take. This was the first and the last time that I have seen such owls in the wild. At some point I need to study these owls a little so I can know where to find them a little easier. For now I will just thank the stars that I wandered down the right country road on the right day.
The Fickle Nature of the Snowy Owl
Earlier today I went out looking for the snowy owl again. I had to make the rounds around the block a couple of times before I saw one. When we finally saw the owl it was on top of a light pole with a man out of his van underneath it making photos of it. When he got back into his car the sound of the door combined with the tractor passing by must have been too much for the owl as it then flew out into the field nearby. We waited quite a while for the owl to move, but it never did. We did get to see the owl, but I think that the amount of people coming around to disturb it have made it more leery of people. I have made my posed pictures of the owl. I would love to get some shots of it exhibiting some behavior. Maybe I need to rent some long glass and invest in a blind.
My 17 Favorite Critter Photos of 2017
I really think that I had an amazing 2017 with the amount of cool critters that I was able to see and photograph. Almost off the bat I was able to capture a few photos of bald eagles grabbing fish out of the Wabash River. From there it was a fun year finding new and interesting wildlife to chase. After fruitlessly looking for a few years I was finally able to photograph a few owls as well. This was a fun year for wildlife, and here are a few of my favorites.
17. I spent a lot of my year waiting for eagles to do something. Often they would just sit in the trees doing nothing. At some point you start to get bored and you try and make an image out of that. Here the light was hitting the branches just right to make that work.
16. Usually I don’t use my iPhone when making photos of wildlife. Here in Ocean City, Maryland though I was able to do just that. While crabbing on a pier one of the crabs came right up to me. The phone was the only thing that I had available so I made the photo with it.
15. When we go to the Indy Zoo the first thing that the girls always want to do is to see the butterflies. Of course I have my camera so I go around and try and find something interesting to photograph. Here we found a female that was fending off many males. One male comes in close to the female here.
14. This year I finally made it up to see the Sandhill Cranes at the Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Area. They were amazing to watch as they spent some time here before continuing south. Here one grouping takes off out of the marsh.
13. More fun at the zoo. While the kids watch the animals I like to have fun photographing them. I will probably not go on an African Safari in my life so I like to pretend that I am on one while I am there. It is fun to try and make photos of the animals that don’t look like they were made at the zoo.
12. I spend a lot of time in the winter waiting for bald eagles to do something. While I am waiting I am also looking for other things to photograph. Here a flock of geese came by in great formation giving me a good photo. I don’t know that I came away with a good eagle photo that day, but I did come away with a cool silhouette photo.
11. When I made this photo I called it “The Bald Eagles of the Apocalypse” With the sun lighting up the clouds behind the eagles that is what came into my mind for some reason. This is another example of me waiting for the eagles to do something. It sounds boring, but at times it can be fun coming up with shots while I am waiting. This is one of my favorites from those times. Continue reading “Top 17 Critter Photos of 2017”
Going Out To Find Owls On A Snowy Day
As we woke up on Christmas Eve and the snow was pouring down I had one thought in mind. The owls would look amazing in the snow. At first I resisted the urge to go out and photograph in the snow. It was wet and slick out there. I finally decided that I would not get many chances in life to photograph a snowy owl in the snow so I took off to the spot I thought that they would be. As I was driving down the road looking for a white owl on a fence post I realized that I saw many brown blobs on fence posts. With the snow coming down it was impossible to tell what the blobs were. It was then that I saw the small earred owl staring right at me. The owl did not seem distressed, but rather inquisitive at what my camera and lens were poking out of my car window. I was allowed a quick photo shoot, and then I was on my way. When you have what you want it is pointless to stay too close to the bird. I had a mission of finding a snowy owl after all.
Finding The Owl Up High
I knew the general area that the snowy owl was hanging out in, but not quite exactly where it would be. I had places I hoped it would be for background purposes, but you can’t be picky when it comes to something like this. I spotted the owl up on a electrical pole, and I knew that I would not have a great picture. That is fine because just seeing them is pretty cool.
When Things Go Right
After seeing the snowy owl I made my way back to the road where I saw the one short earred owl earlier. At this point there were seven owls lined up on both sides of the road. They were pretty active flying over the fields looking for food. Here I really liked the way this photo looked with the fresh snow and the way the owl was posing for me. Then as I was framing up the shot an owl flew through the background making an image that I really liked. I like to get in tight, but this had a painting quality to it I thought.
Using the Canon 7D Mark II
I really go back and forth on my Canon 7D Mark II. At times I love the camera and the look of added reach that it gives me. At other times I feel that it doesn’t perform the way that I want it to. Here mounted on my Canon 100-400mm lens it worked just fine for me. I had a few soft frames, but that could have been chalked up to operator error more than anything.