Tuesday, October 29, 2013

On the Water: Raystown Lake

Yesterday, as I read today's weather forecast calling for mild temps reaching a high of nearly 60, I decided to burn a vacation day and spend today on the water.  Arriving at the James Creek boat ramp before sunrise I found the lake enveloped in a thick bank of fog.  It wasn't until after 9:00 am that the fog lifted enough to see the sun.

After the fog burned away I was motoring slowly along the shoreline with the electric motor when I spotted a little Pied-billed Grebe.  Scooping up the Canon 60D with the Canon 100-400 lens I slowly eased the boat towards the grebe.  While pied-billed grebes are normally more tolerant of humans than most of the duck species this particular bird was far more tolerant than most.

Not only did this little bird allow me to approach but it resumed fishing and rewarded me with a shot of it surfacing with a minnow grasp in its bill.  A few minutes later it again surfaced only a couple of feet from the boat with a tiny bluegill but none of the shots were sharp enough to be usable.

As the grebe swam about I was able to capture a number of reflection shots with this being one of the best of the series.

Appearing to stand up in the water, the little grebe shook its body apparently to dislodge water that had become trapped under its feathers.

Pied-billed Grebe shaking off.

Freshly fluffed the grebe swam towards the waters edge and dived; in search of fish.  Satisfied with the grebe photo-shoot I took the hint putting the camera down and picking up the rod.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Whitetail Rut Begins

A young buck feeling the stirrings in his body of his first very rut cruises along the edge of a meadow.  As he nears 1.5 years of age he senses the changes in his body as his neck thickens and his interest in females increases.

Just the morning before the first killing frost of the season covered the ground and again on this morning with the temperature hovering around 30 degrees everything is again coated in white. 

Pausing at an overhanging branch the little buck licks the branch

And rubs his face and scent glands marking this as his spot.

Pawing the ground directly under the branch he clears a small patch of earth on which he urinates.
It's his first rut but it seems the little fellow knows exactly what to do to attract the girls.    

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chincoteague Images

Wildlife photography during my recent trip to Chincoteague was greatly hampered by the government closing of the federal lands but the waterfront provided plenty of other opportunities.

This sunrise shot made from Chincoteague Island with the Assateague Lighthouse to the right is one of my favorites from the trip.

Another composition of the same scene shown in the first image.

A Great Blue Heron perched on the roof of a small building sitting over the salt marsh along Chincoteague's eastern shore made a nice silhouette against the morning sky. 

Docked in the Curtis Merritt Harbor, a fishing boat catches the last rays of a setting sun.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Limpy in the Evening

During my recent trip to the Pennsylvania elk range a good number of bulls were frequenting the Winslow Hill area with an old bull, known in the Pa. elk photographic community as "Limpy", carrying the most impressive rack.  The following shots were taken during the course of one evening when he was pursuing a very trusting collared cow.

It has been quite a privilege to have photographed this impressive trusting animal for the last five years.  Hopefully he will be around for a few more seasons.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Dawn & Dusk, The Beautiful Bookends of the Day

Each morning on Chincoteague I met the dawn overlooking the water.  While each morning was pretty, it was our last morning when the sky became the most spectacular.  Note the "forbidden" Assateague Lighthouse to right of center.

By going vertical I was able to capture more of the color reflected in the water as well as the grass in the foreground to add depth to the image.

The cross in Memorial Park, dedicated to the memory of all Chincoteague sailors lost at sea, photographed against the rising sun was one of my favorite images from the trip.

With the NWR closed my wife and I looked elsewhere for scenes of interest.  We spent our last evening on a pontoon boat sunset cruise.  The cruise was well worth the cost as our captain was very knowledgeable about the area, its history, and knew his business when it came to setting up good photo-ops, maneuvering the boat for the best light and subject angles.

Canon 6D, 24-105mm @24mm, ISO-100, F5.6, 1/20th Sec.
Returning to dock well after sundown I was able to use the forward movement of the boat to create the unusual foreground in this sunset shot.  I would estimate that our boat speed was in the neighborhood of 20 MPH. 

Monday, October 07, 2013

This Land is THEIR LAND

My wife and I spent a few days last October staying on Chincoteague Island with much of our time spent on Assateague.  Even with Hurricane Sandy approaching it was a very enjoyable time spent on the two islands with many good wildlife photo opportunities particularly in Chincoteague NWR.   As autumn approached this year we decided to again spend a few days enjoying what the Chincoteague area had to offer. 

When the government shutdown was announced on Tuesday I knew that it would undoubtedly effect our vacation and a quick search on the web confirmed my fears.  After discussing the situation with my wife we decided to go ahead with our plans and try to find an alternative to spending time on the beach or in the refuge. 

Upon arriving in Chincoteague we went straight to the causeway and bridge connecting Assateague to Chincoteague.

The sign said it all...

Anyone wishing to enter the federal land supposedly owned by ALL of the people of the United States of America were being met by armed federal officers along with a contingent of Chincoteague Police.

A small group of demonstrators were moving across the causeway as we drove out and spoke briefly with the officers.

The demonstration was peaceful.  The armed guards remain at the bridge refusing entrance to all.
This is the story at federally owned lands all across America, we the people are being denied the use of our land by a group of politicians.  
As for myself I have written my representative to let him know that I hold him personally responsible.  

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Elk in the Fog

Thick fog enveloped Winslow Hill every morning of my recent trip.  The elk here are quite tolerant on humans so getting close enough to photograph them was not a problem even with the limited visibility.

A common mistake when photographing in fog is to under-expose the image.  The camera's meter cannot accurately set the exposure automatically in fog.  To correct the exposure it is necessary to compensate anywhere from +.5 to  +1.5 stops.


When properly exposed, fog shots can be some of the most memorable images from an outing to Pennsylvania's elk range.