Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wildlife at the Water's Edge

 While spending a few hours on the water Tuesday I was treated to an encounter with an immature bald eagle.  I first noticed it as it flew at tree top height along the shoreline.  Apparently sighting a fish it dove into the water and reemerged with empty talons.  I wasn't able to get to the camera in time to capture the dive but was able to capture it here as it prepares to land on a stump.

As I approached slowly with the boat the eagle soon took off flying along the shoreline as it gained altitude.  Later in the day the sound of a loud splash drew my attention to the other side of the lake just in time to see the eagle rise into the air.  The distance was to great to determine if it's dive had been successful.

The muddy shoreline is a favored place for the numerous killdeer to feed.  These birds, while being somewhat wary, will allow a fairly close boat approach if it is done slowly. 

The lake is currently drawn down a considerable amount to facilitate dam repairs.  The lush grasses covering much of the former lake bed do not go unnoticed by the deer.  This doe & fawn, after grazing the young grass, stepped into the lake to quench their thirst and cool off during the midday heat.

Edge, that place where one habitat type meets another, is always a good place to find wildlife.  Edge can consist of the transition between grassland and brush, cropland and woodland, etc.  The water's edge is as good as any and sometimes better than most so whenever you are near the water's edge keep a good lookout for wildlife; your efforts will not go unrewarded.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Rainbow

 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
Genesis 9:13

Sunday evening my wife and I attended a southern gospel concert held at a local church featuring Jeff & Sheri Easter.  The uplifting music of the evening was the perfect backdrop for what was to come... A stunning Rainbow gracing the eastern sky upon our arrival home moments after sunset.

After soaking in its splendor for a few minutes it dawned on me that I must in some way try to capture the scene.  If you have ever tried shooting a full rainbow I'm sure you understand the issues.  Typically a normal lens is not sufficiently wide to capture the entire rainbow and if a wide angle lens is used the rainbow can be rendered too small to truly capture its beauty.

Knowing that I didn't have long to work I hurriedly set up the tripod mounting the camera with a 24mm lens to shoot vertical and composed a series of five overlapping images.  These images were then combined in Photoshop CS5, cropped and adjusted into this final image.

I'm not sure if shooting pano's in the vertical format was a tip I picked up from reading Scott Kelby or if it came from Moose Peterson's book Captured.  Regardless of where the tip came from it worked splendidly!   


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Shots

Each season presents one with its own unique photo opportunities.  Autumn with its colorful leaves and rutting ungulates followed by the snow, ice and eagles of winter slipping into spring as the waterfowl migrations move northward, vegetation takes on a mantle of green and flowers burst forth into bloom. 

As summer follows spring Butterfly numbers begin to increase and young animals sightings become more numerous.  An evening spent at a nearby meadow although somewhat uncomfortable because of the biting insects was nevertheless enjoyably spent photographing the beauty of early summer.

The thistle, just beginning to bloom, is attracting the colorful fritillary butterflies pictured here.  As there are so many varieties of fritillary I will not attempt to identify which variety is pictured here. 

A young cottontail back lit by the evening sun sits with ears aglow; maintaining an alert surveillance of its surroundings. 

Its curiosity won out when it moved to within a few feet to investigate.  While it was watching I stayed busy capturing its close-up image; an image so close that even the small tick attached to the side of its face is quite visible.

This little rabbit showed no fear as it stared me down.  It closed the final distance quickly leaving me in a position from which it was impossible to get to the viewfinder of my tripod mounted camera.  The Canon 60D's articulating LCD proved up to the task as it allowed me to focus and make the shot.

Seasons come and seasons go.  As I ponder the question of which season is my photographic favorite I conclude that my favorite is what ever season it happens to be at the moment.

Note:  After a long absence from blogging my son, Chad, has resumed weekly posting.  Take a moment to pop over to see his incredible images and inspiring text.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Brown Thrasher

Immature Brown Thrasher

Although quite common in my area during the breeding season the brown thrashers had continued to elude my lens until this close encounter with an immature bird.  Brown Thrashers, while closely related to the mocking birds and gray catbirds are much more secretive; preferring to spend much of their time in heavy cover.  Their preference for cover, a diet of insects usually uncovered by scratching among fallen leaves, and their natural wariness has all worked to their advantage in avoiding my previous attempts at close-up photos.

Brown Thrasher preening

Thus when this young bird selected an exposed nearby perch I was quite pleased to add yet another species to my growing collection of bird images. 

Alert to my presence

After much calling and flitting about in the surrounding bushes the adults finally convinced the young bird to become concerned over the possible danger that I presented.  Even with all of the commotion they were creating the young bird eyed me intently for a few minutes before it decided to fly into the safety of deep cover.

Sunday, June 19, 2011



 The Lancaster Pennsylvania home of James Buchanan, 15th president of the United States of America.

 Wheatland; rear view

With this weekend marking our 17th wedding anniversary my wife and I planned a visit to Wheatland.  James Buchanan, the only US president ever to be elected from our home state of Pennsylvania made this spacious mansion his final home.  The home has changed little since Buchanan resided here and much of the furnishings are original.  The hour long house tour is quite a bargain as one steps back into history.

 Behind the mansion stands the facilities; the only brick outhouse I have ever seen!

 A look inside shows that the "facilities" were built to accommodate persons of all sizes

Our little tour group paused at the rear service entrance for a group shot.

Feeling that this post required just one more shot my wife & I stopped in at Buchanan's Birthplace State Park near Mercersburg to photograph the monument erected there. 

After serving a distinguished career in public life Buchanan's presidency, at a time when the country was being torn apart by the slavery issue, is viewed by historians as weak and ineffective.  By trying to appease both sides of the thorny issue he succeeded in appeasing no one.

Friday, June 17, 2011

On the Water

So many of my outdoor adventures involve the water; waterfowl photography in the wetlands, waterfowl photography at a lake, or an outing combining photography with fishing.  Here my "ride" sits ready; fishing rods in their holders and the 60D with the 100-400mm nestled on top of the camera bag where it can be picked up quite handily.

Tools of the panfish trade, an ultralight spinning rig, marker buoys, marabou jig, and a pack of Berkley Crappie Nibbles.

A nice Bluegill comes to the boat after falling for the nibble tipped jig.

And the Canon photo gear comes into play when a Killdeer is spotted feeding along the muddy shoreline. 

Combining wildlife photography and fishing has been a win win combination allowing me to practice two of my favorite activities simultaneously. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wetland Chance Encounters

I am accustomed to spotting wood ducks, hooded mergansers, and mallards during my frequent visits to the wetlands but during a recent visit I was surprised to spot this unusual pair.  The mallard showed all the signs of wanting to flee but with his partner showed little concern.  In the end the mallard's fear won out as the pair glided off to a quieter area of the marsh.

What kind of duck is it?  Darned if I know, probably a domestic cross breed that found it preferred the marsh over waddling around lawns and barnyards.

Green Herons frequent the marsh but the surrounding willows overhanging the water's edge seldom allow a chance for a photograph.  My normal sighting occurs when a green heron flushes from cover.  That all changed when this heron pick a high observation spot near my hide.  I shot a few images, none noteworthy.  Suddenly something caught its attention and for a moment its crest lifted.  The raised crest imparted the little bit of extra oomph I was looking for.

When I pick up the camera and head into the outdoors I usually have a particular target species in mind but ofttimes return having captured something unexpected.  On this particular outing my goal was to check in on the young mallards, wood ducks and mergansers.  I didn't encounter any ducklings on this visit but the odd duck and green heron more than made up for it. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Moving into Summer

By the calendar we still have a few days to go but with the heat wave that has settled across our region it feels as if summer is already upon us.  I haven't shot much lately and have spent very little of the long precious evenings on the computer.  Other task such as lawn mowing, planting and weeding our vegetable garden along with other interest like fishing or reading a good book on the deck as the sun creeps below the horizon has kept me outside enjoying the warm weather as this year's cold wet spring becomes a memory.

With the onset of summer the yucca highlighted by the setting sun is nearly ready to bloom; a reminder that summer is nearly here. 

After all of the frenetic mating activity among the local Wood Ducks that I photographed early this year a recent visit to the wetlands revealed the fruits of their labors. 

Growing like the proverbial weed this years hatch of ducklings are doing very well.  The ducklings spend little time with their mothers now dispersing throughout the marsh to forage alone or in pairs.  Although this habit does not allow the ducklings the advantage of having a watchful adult maintaining a lookout for danger it does reduce the likelihood of a predator being able to capture multiple ducking in one attack. 

Considering how quickly this duckling went from calmly feeding to fleeing at the click of the shutter from about fifteen yards away it doesn't appear to require the attention of an adult to keep it safe.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Veggie & Cotton Tails

Walking about my garden this evening I was struck by the simple beauty of the yet small plants lit by the setting sun.  Retrieving the camera from the house I utilized live view and the flip LCD to make some low angle shots of my tomato plants

And green beans

I do hope that the lush vegetation in the surrounding fields holds the culinary interest of our resident cottontails.  I must utilize a high fence to keep the deer from eating the produce but have never had any unacceptable damage from the rabbits.