Category Archives: bird photography

Migratory Geese Flying at Dusk

 

I had traveled around the levee roads a few times the afternoon this picture was made last year.  A lot of the geese had lifted off the ponds from a ‘scare’ and landed over in a field of stubble. After one more round on the levee road during the ‘sweet light’, where I managed a few nice photographs, I decided to wait it out and see what might happen if the birds flew at dusk. I was pushing the limits of the time allowed to be in there, but no ranger had come along, so I was staying until they came by. I’m so glad I did! When the geese lifted off, the full moon had also broken through the clouds a bit, and the combination was very exciting! It expressed what I wanted, the mood and mystery of how they fly at night by the full moon. I managed a few frames before they dissipated, and I went away happy out of the gate with the ranger not too far behind!

It’s the season for migrating geese, ducks, and cranes in northern and central California. At any given time, you will see flocks large and small all around the farm fields and refuges  along the Pacific Flyway. There are layers of birds in the sky, going every direction, making that a rather difficult picture to make, so I was looking for ‘less is more’ photos, where all I needed were a few birds to line up in a V, or at least be close to that, and I got lucky with this one image. I won’t tell you how many you ‘toss’ because they are just a ‘bunch of birds in a mess’! I got lucky with a great sky behind this silhouetted group, I cropped this to be a more panorama format because it emphasized their shapes and brought a better balance to the overall frame. No matter how pretty the sky was, negative space can still throw a composition off. But I saved the original, so if someone really needs that space for text, I’ll have it. 

Thanks for visiting. I’m planning to get out there in the next few weeks to create some fresh images of this wondrous annual event.

 

 

And by the way, I used DXO Optics for noise reduction on this 3200 ISO file from a Canon 5D MK III and it was amazing how it cleaned up the raw file. I’ll be posting more comparisons on the blog soon. stay tuned.

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The Power of Your Voice

Nature needs your voice!

You may not know that considerations are underway by our current Department of the Interior whether to declassify lands that are presently national monuments, such as the newly designated Bears Ears in southeast Utah, the new Berryessa Snow Mountain (California), Giant Sequoia (not the national park section!) The Carrizo Plain, Sonoran Desert, Grand-Staircase National Monument, and the list goes on – 22 in all.  Seriously. 

Aside from your political beliefs, consider the implications of losing these wilderness spaces, and the value that they have as places one can go and ‘lose oneself’ and merge with the whole of nature. As a landscape/nature photographer, these and other public lands are often the source of my photographs, but those photographs are the outward expression of the inward inspiration that I receive while being in these wild, special places, places that take my breath away – and not from hiking, but from the sheer joy of seeing fantastic geology, flower-filled meadows, rushing streams, and wildlife. 

Preserving wild, natural places, is, in my mind, essential for mental health. of us all. Even if we never visit these places, the human mind needs to know that there are places that we can ‘escape to’, a safe zone in nature, away from it all. It’s a primeval base need within us all, whether we are conscious of it or not. If you use local or regional parks for your time with nature, a walk, a hike, a paddle on a lake, then you have felt some of that refreshment, that rejuvenation, that comes from being in nature. These national monuments are land much like a ‘local’ park, just on a grand scale.

National Monuments serve to preserve the integrity of  wild areas that might otherwise be abused by extractive industries, and in some cases provide a buffer zone to those processes just outside of their borders. Many also preserve space needed for wildlife to survive, let alone thrive. And ironically, with the crowds that populate our national parks these days, these monuments are oasis where one can still find solitude, without the crowds, and they are wonder-filled, too, although perhaps not on the grand scale of the national parks nearby. But to the animals, and those of us that go there, they are essential.

I know that not everyone sees ‘eye to eye’ on issues like this, but if you feel strongly about the need for these lands, please consider taking a moment and make your voice ‘heard’ in the public comment period for these monuments on the list.  You can read the information and comment here:

https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOI-2017-0002-0001

The public comment period for the other monuments ends June 10th, EXCEPT for Bears Ears – that ends May 26th, so please, if you plan to comment, do so soon.

Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.
― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire


 
 

Also posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Conservation, Landscape Photography, nature photography, USA Tagged , , , , |

Telling stories of the Etosha Pan

My wildlife photography has mostly been about telling a story – by capturing a moment, a gesture, an interaction, of the animal(s). While I love portraits, too, gestures make the picture more exciting and storytelling to me. 

Last August-September, our tour group spent time in Etosha National Park, a park teeming with wildlife and birds. It was a drought year, but that made the animals more concentrated around and at the water holes and certain savannah areas where there was still grass to graze. I set a goal to capture stories – in just one frame. That meant observing the animals closely and watching for signs of behavior or gesture. Our guide was great – he would call out what he thought was about to happen, which helped us all learn to see the ‘telltale’ signs after a while. But even he couldn’t predict all the moments that we saw, which made it fun for him, too.

In the main blog picture, ostriches, as it turns out, love to eat the acacia blossoms. Only they don’t just pluck them off the thorny branches; they toss them

in the air as they feed on them. Once I saw this, I knew I had to get a photo of it. It took a lot of tries to get the timing right, and this was one that I just love because the ostrich has such a happy look on it’s face! And why not when there’s food to eat! 

In the images below of the zebra, knowing they were very social animals, we just had to stay long enough to watch and see what might build between groups or pairs of them. First, there was the wonderful ‘necking’ and this mother and child were so sweet; then there were three ‘bad boys of the plains’ who were biting each other…

Mother and young zebra necking, a social and bonding activiity amongst zebra. Etosha National Park, Namibia.

And on our way to lunch we encountered a group of Black-backed jackals who were seeking shade to rest up and cool down. This wash with a small cliff was right near the road and our vehicle and it was perfect position to watch and photograph. I waited for this one to finally relax and put its head down, to tell the story of resting in whatever shade they could find. It’s eyes are open slightly, because it was still watchful, but it’s head is tucked into the edge of the wash in a way that tells the story. 

It’s interesting to watch the hierachy of the animals as they visit the water holes. An oryx trumps zebra – if it decides to charge them. But then again, maybe it’s a lion outside the frame that trumps them all? not in this case, but that would have done it – they would all scatter. 

In the end, I made a lot of single-image stories on this past trip and I am really looking forward to our journey this September into both Etosha again, as we’ll be finishing off our Caprivi Strip & Botswana Photo Safari with a visit to eastern Etosha. There are going to be many more stories to be told on this entire journey!

Thanks for visiting,
 

 

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More Namibia Photographs

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In all my crazy travel schedules this past summer/early Fall, I only did one post from our fantastic tour in Namibia! I can’t believe it. So here’s another posting from that journey.

The trip was amazing this year, too. Because of the extreme drought there were a lot more animals around the watering holes, almost too many at times, making it a little chaotic photographically – but oh-so-exciting to experience! We managed to get in the air over the dunes at Sossusvlei this year, weather was perfect – and I always love a good ‘top-down’view of the world. Each place we went, was a new experience, even for me, because the light, the people, the conditions – were all different. Fog in the Deadvlei was awesome! There are way too many pictures to show here, so go on over to my Website to check out the rest.

We plan on doing “The Wonders of Namibia” photo tour again in 2018. Meanwhile, enjoy the images and start planning ahead to join us!

I’ve added a new gallery in recent work on my website for this tour, too.

 

Click on these to see larger versions, especially the last one with the hidden oryx in there!

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Thanks for visiting,

 

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