Ranch Life is full of spur of the moment photo opportunities. Meanwhile down in the barnyard, after the chickens and ducks have had their fill of the grain I reluctantly give them. It was early smokey morning red light that day. The sun was fairly high just emerging from the smoke pall that morning..
I hate to feed yard birds too much so they will hunt bugs (their job). This image of course are the wildling beggars that come in from all over every morning to clean up the mess left behind by the domestics.
I have never caught 5 Meadowlarks all flying in the same frame. (I’ve tried). The “one” on the left is actually two. There are some Juvenile Red Wing Blackbirds about with one dead center flying. All mixed with adult Red Wings… It was a feast for the wild birds short on grain in this drought year plus water is 50 feet away. I understand why they show up here. My domestic birds have been fed here for 15 years every day. I suppose that sets up a series of expectation by local wildlife. Particularly that which can fly over our deer resistant fences.
The barnyard is fenced in well. We mostly keep predators out with low electric wires. Our cats go through it but they have lived here for years. They know the best places.
As I work photographically the good population of Meadowlarks this year, opportunities to set up are rare. Chances to actually get your camera adjusted from slow moving landscapes to freeze very fast moving birds are rarer. Timing a take off and having the bird actually in the zoomed frame you established earlier. About a 1/2 dozen adjustments from where the camera was to where it is now. All my encounters are random in our “back yard”. (We have a big back yard).
Meadowlarks are not the best fliers from my observations. They are a little “stubby” perhaps for their body shape. What they lack in aerobatic prowess, they more than suffice as singers and lookers. In a perfect world it would have had it’s wings up showing off it’s yellow breast to the camera.
I consider this kind of bird capture very difficult 4.5 out of a possible 5 on the hard scale. It takes very fast reflexes and a degree of anticipation to time this. Obviously a fast shutter speed, medium f-stop and adjust ISO for your lighting. If you have a LOT of sun then kick that f-stop up to 22, 1/1000th at least then ISO last to bring in the exposure you need. Machine gunning the camera taking 5 or more images a second won’t help much. This takes place in the first 1/4 of a second. It’s very hard for me to do at least lol.
I’ve taken many photos of Meadowlarks over the years. Not so many flying up close like this. They are very fast fliers. Seems to me I always under estimate how much shutter speed is necessary to freeze their wings. Small birds and Bumblebees from now on will be 1/4000th of a second. (This was 1/1000th. (ISO 500, F8, 1200mm) I have images of dozens of birds launching/ taking off. I have maybe 5 or 6 of birds landing over my photographic career. Each of those I saw the birds incoming and was able to track it machine gunning the camera as fast as it will go. All my bird encounters are random out in the backcountry. I don’t feed birds except my barnyard flock.
In most photographic endeavors, more light is your friend…. Preferably bright sunlight. I had previously focused in this pine bough so I was just waiting for the bird to show up. Watching this same bird for 1/2 an hour come and go from this branch. I finally was able to bring one in. It’s like throwing darts in the dark through a really long lens which is required to get this kind of up close and personal shot.
Meadowlarks are abundant this year and I suspect all will be fat with grasshoppers. Unfortunately this is a grasshopper year too. There are enough grasshoppers to WAY over feed every bird in the area. We keep about 60 yard birds (ducks and chickens) in our barnyard. I’m feeding less so small herds of ducks are ranging around our yard to eat anything in site. The Meadowlarks will have a good year with easy pickings for their clutches.
What is a disadvantage to us (grasshopper) is a buffet to another species. Kind of like this business climate. I hope they eat themselves good an chubby. We are currently getting golden yolk free range chicken eggs that MIGHT taste a bit this year like grasshopper guts…… Could be wrong…. 😜
If you remember the Clint Eastwood films like “Any Which Way You can”, the upon the command “Right Turn Clyde”, the Orangutan would “signal” a right turn. Usually punching someone in the face (who deserves it of course). Well this capture is one of a continuing series of my snaps involving right turn signs. This was just too fun not to publish.
I actually pay attention if there is or isn’t little piles of bird poop on top of signs. I make mental notes which posts and sign poles are well used. As I drive around, I watch well ahead at the next high point perch. Just looking around to see who is (or is not) there. Sometimes I can drive right up on birds enjoying the high king of the local “hill” vantage point. In a grassy field of a square mile area, a single sign post can be quite an attractant to the local avian cadre.
I saw this Meadowlark WELL ahead. Carefully approached to stop as close as I dare (in my Ford F150 Raptor). I have to turn about 45 degrees minimum in the roadway for a photo. All to be able to point a long lens at something. More times than not I just pull into the ditch off the road. Almost every image I take from the road has a “Right Turn Clyde” component involved. Usually it’s necessary for me to line up the shot.
There will be more Right Turn Clyde images in the series. They happen more than you might think lolol.
The Cotton Wood Trees are freshly leafing. Still some cold days to come and the Cottonwoods flowers were out a week ago. About to test the thinest branches at the crest of this 50 foot tall Cottonwood Tree. These birds are roughly 5 pound, 5 foot tall fully grown Great Blue Herons. That’s a big bird coming in for a landing. You can see the wind due to the flowers all blowing from right to left. A 15 – 20 mph gusty wind was blowing. The branches were moving left to right. Sometimes dramatically from the wind that afternoon.
This female had just returned from it’s feeding mission around the area. They usually hunt within a few miles of their rookery. In this pretty high gusty winds, she had to land on a moving target. She nailed the landing as she was essentially levitating not moving and just dropping inches a second. These Avian Dinosaurian descendants are AMAZING masters of the sky. This a shift change with a neighbor watching..
I’ve spent some time watching Heron’s over the years. Building a nest near the top of 50 foot high cottonwoods one stick at a time is a story of a lot of trips by the male. Identification is usually because the male carries sticks to the nest and I’ve never seen a female do so. The male does the stick supply route over and over again but it’s the gals job to build the house. She will carefully weave and cajole all the loose sticks together.
I’ve seen them land and take off in all wind situations. This shot shows one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever seen a bird make. Floating down as delicately as spider silk in the breeze. It’s amazing to watch a fine motor skill control stall speed in the single mph digits.
Location: The Heron Rookery in the wetlands at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
Well a “White Throated Swift” if I read my audubon ID correctly. They are silly fast birds. Getting one launching from it’s home…. lol. My reaction time isn’t as fast as in my youth. As a geologists I’m less interested in the bird instead of the WONDERFUL geology behind it. I’m always thinking about Cretaceous river systems operating up here in the rock record. Geologists read rocks like a book. The local rocks make for a great story ! ..
Transition to geology:
Indeed this Swift is a cliff dweller exiting that dark subsoil homestead built out of the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance formation Cretaceous River bottom sediment exposed here. Those various “rocks” are all different kinds of mudstone “pebbles”. These were rolled down a very large paleo-river. Each rock torn up from the clay river bottom up stream then rounded along the way. There is a nice mix of clast sizes represented in the wall. The current velocity in that paleo-river obviously carried these pebbles to cobble sizes down river only to dump them here at this spot. That river lost it’s ability to carry this material leaving it behind for me to observe 66 million years later. No fossils in this debris which represents the source’s likely-hood of having bones in the clay. (way long discussion ommitted).
Somewhat more recently, rain water has very carefully washed the sand away from the pebbles showing this well exposed “cobblestone surface that is resultant from that pre-historic river depositional event. Notice I didn’t say “flood”. Floods wash sediment down stream as well as scouring clay chunks out of the floor of the stream. It’s the cessation of that flood that leaves this kind of debris as these transported mud clasts behind. Slower velocity drops the suspended and saltated load instantly. This pile of river gravel was eventually covered by another river cycle of deposition. The next depositional event overlapping rinse and repeat millions of times. The same river swept back and forth across the Cretaceous piedmont filling the epi-continenal sea at the time. Dinosaurs skinny dipped in these rivers sands/cobbles.
This is not something I see everyday lol. Owls bolt quickly if approached or I don’t see them at all. They blend in rather well. I was “quietly” driving down low in a wash/gully in my UTV. Owls as a whole, stay tree perched. This one was eating a tid-bit of something, perched stationary on the side of a hill/ground. He was VERY well camo’d and I just caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. His feathers are a disruptive camo to your eye. I have NO idea how I saw him… 😄
A Great Horned Owl is a big bird with plenty of presence. They can live 15 years in the wild and have up to a 5 foot wingspan. The predators body can be up to 25 inches long and they weigh as much as a blue heron at 5 pounds. They are all about claws and beaks though they have some of the best disruptive Camo colors/pattern I’ve ever seen. These guys are easy to recognize due to their “plumicorns” which are feather tuffs resembling horns. . They are not ears. I understand they are the most common owl in the Americas. They range from the Arctic to South America. Interestingly, the male Great Horned Owl is Smaller than the Female but has a much lower pitched call than his mate. “Hoo, H’ Hoos”!
My path taken here is the proverbial “Low” road . This ground is a wonderfully dissected steep topography. Low ground between the fingers of the drainage reaching to the higher hills nearby . This forest has the spirits of dinosaur walking about as fossils do roll out of the golden Cretaceous River Sands here. It seems to me that all the Dinosaurs didn’t die at the end of the Cretaceous with the meteor/bolide that “killed the dinos”. That Extinction Level Event (ELE) killed 80 percent of Life on the planet . Took place a mere 66 million years back if you believe a geologist/paleontologist.
These two could have cared less I was slowly moving in their general direction. They are just starting to build their next with the male bringing sticks to the female. She is the construction engineer of the two. He’s the classic hunter / gatherer. I believe these two killed a Red Tail Hawk I found under their nesting area a few weeks old carcass. Both flew off this AM from the harrassment. So I went to tend to a game trail camera along that tree line. Thusly I drove under the trees in my Black pickup. Screeches above… I watched from a terrible vantage an acrobatic chase routine of Herons getting bombed by 3 Red Tailed Hawks located in this treeline. I’ve seen all sorts of aggressive behavior and posturing between the two different species fighting for the good nesting spots. Raptor/Heron Wars!
I believe these guys more or less consider my truck just a noisy/smelly Black Angus Cow playing Sirus XM 56 most of the time. What’s good about my Ford Raptor is that when I’m moving it runs normally. When I stop, it shuts off to save gas. It is by far the coolest thing they could have built into the truck for photographers.. The vibration from running engines has ruined more than a few images of mine over the years. The Auto-off feature is WONDERFUL. If you take your foot off the brake, it starts before you can hit the gas. It’s all effectively way more quiet by far than my old Trail Friend a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
I had just left my drive way to photographically “chase” the light for this Golden Hour at sundown here on the ranch. Before I leave, I set my longest lens camera for the lighting at the time with the anticipation of catching some animal running/jumping/flying or otherwise trying to blur my otherwise in focus landscape image. Nice puffy clouds for Spring in Wyotana..
I work everything manual including focus on my cameras. So I physically have to twist the lens to get a bird flying at least 50 mph like this in focus.. So I have to stop my truck, bring the camera to bear, it only takes a few seconds….. Moving bird…..close to me, the landscape blurred as I was tracking this Raptor with a 28 inch long 1200 mm lens.
I really don’t see a lot of Bald Eagles up here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. They certainly are not rare in the area but tend not to hang out up here. I see them on carcasses/road kill all the time. They also hang out on the river valleys where they fish as opportunists. But to find one coming across my high ridge land ground is sort of an unusual thing. We have some wetland areas on our place where “most” of my other eagle sightings occur. They tend to hang near water which of course is where most animals levitate to. Ranchers are no exceptions. 😜
As Canada Geese migrate, they make nightly stops here on open water which was getting rarer as the season went along. Migration consists of these big birds moving from where there were born, to warmer areas, then back to their birth place.
These geese are amazing birds with up to a 75 inch wingspan weighing between 5 and 15 pounds. Now a 15 pound bird is a LOT of bird. Big Males are nothing to mess with if they are being territorial and habituated to humans in city parks etc. They never stick around up here to give me a hard time so far. They will violently attack any creature that is a perceived threat to their goslings including humans.
The Canada Goose is literally the largest goose in the world. Having said that, there is a subspecies of canada goose that is the smallest goose species in the world as well. The oldest captive goose lived 40 year with 30 years being common in captivity. 10-25 in the wild is typical. They mate for life but if one mate is lost, they will take another.
True Story here on ranch…
I have some experience with geese chasing me. Never fought one. I did however have a confrontation with (captured them by hand) a wild 30 pound bird or 2 before (turkey) that was in our log house under construction at the time with no windows in the building yet. A flock of 1/2 dozen turkeys were inside. Not wanting to clean up the mess, it was my job to get them out…. I went in with safety glasses, a light jacket and gloves. I have determined that turkeys while flying through missing windows do well. Not so much flying out the same windows blanks in a log wall. (to the light). I had to catch each one of the birds Stuck on running around the room from me rather than trying to leave via the window. Dinosaurs all. Just no tail and teeth.
This is not something I see everyday lol. Owls bolt quickly if approached or I don’t see them at all. They also blend in rather well. Magic in the backcountry.
I was quietly driving down low in a wash/gully in my Polaris Ranger Crew. Owls as a whole, stay tree perched. This one was eating a tid-bit of something, perched stationary on the side of a hill/ground. Never got a look at what. He was VERY well camo’d and I just caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. His feathers are a disruptive camo to your eye. Makes you dizzy.😄 The path taken here is the proverbial “Low” road . This ground is a wonderfully dissected steep topography. Low ground between the fingers of the drainage reaching to the higher hills nearby . This forest has the spirits of dinosaur walking about as fossils do roll out of the golden Cretaceous River Sands from the famous “Hell Creek/Lance Formations. here.
It seems to me that all the Dinosaurs didn’t die at the end of the Cretaceous with the meteor/bolide that “killed the dinos”. That Extinction Level Event (ELE) killed 80 percent of Life on the planet . Took place a mere 66 million years back if you believe a geologist/paleontologist. MOST dinosaurs did indeed die but the ones that did’nt had feathers, a tail and teeth. Their modern descendants are flying around us now. There are two types of Paleontologists. (BAND and BAD). Birds Are Not Dinosaurs and Birds are Dinosaurs. Most are the Latter.
I have a few dozen good captures from this encounter but I have bigger “fish” to fry at the moment lol. . This G. H. Owl.
Early in the Spring of 2019, the Cotton Wood Trees were not even leafing. The trees flowers were out. The thinest branches at the crest of this 50 foot tall Cottonwood Tree are about to get tested. This bird is a 5 pound 5 foot tall fully grown Great Blue Heron. That’s a big bird coming in for a landing.
You can see the wind due to the flowers all blowing from right to left. A 15 – 20 mph gusty wind was blowing. The branches were moving left to right sometimes dramatically. 10 feet below this frame is this birds mate and nest with several eggs. This bird had just returned from it’s feeding mission around the area. They usually hunt within a few miles of their rookery. In this pretty high gusty winds, he had to land on a moving target. He nailed the landing as he was essentially levitating no moving and just dropping inches a second. These guys are AMAZING masters of the sky.
I’ve spent some time watching Heron’s over the years. Building your nest near the top of 50 foot high cottonwoods one stick at a time is a story of a lot of trips by the male. The male does the stick supply route over and over again but it’s the gals job to build the house. She will carefully weave and cajole all the loose sticks together. I’ve seen them land and take off in all situations. This shot shows one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever seen a bird make. Floating down like a single feather.
Location: The Heron Rookery in the wetlands at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
Great Blue Heron Launching is a capture from early in 2019.
Spring time, the trees are just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I’m busy searching this tree line for the missing Great Horned Owl Nest as well. Earlier that season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot.
Earlier that season before leaves were in the way, I was able to see clearly all 6 nests in this “rookery”. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction. They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings.
These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes long the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas. I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀. Northern Wyoming/Southern Montana is certainly known as/located in their breeding areas.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. “Turkey Evasion Pattern Alpha”
These two missed attending dinner today as I had a camera not a shotgun (in my hand anyway 🙂 ) This capture show 2 wild turkeys coming in for a landing in a hoar frosted environment. I’ve raised small flocks of turkeys and even the “tame” males have attitude to deal with. These guys are a force to be reckoned with if you ever get cornered by one with an agenda. 😜
Short Narrative for Thanksgiving lolol. Enjoy your time with family and friends. God Bless
The hardest part of this capture Robin Red Breast Beast, is that the guy was really trying to get me….
This was a classic “Rinse and Repeat” shot opportunity. The bird didn’t want me there. He would go to the same spot in the nearby tree and fly at me and my 200 pound mastiff. Over and over and over again. The dog was not concerned. I was sipping a cool drink in the shade naturally. Comfortable in my chair fortunately. I happened to have an 800mm telephoto. A Sony Alpha 7RII camera attached nearby. Rinse and Repeat as I said. Give me enough chances and I’ll get the shot lolol.
I literally had dozens of chances at these shots and got quite a few as these cameras rapid fire very well. It’s always nice when the bird is predictable. You can aim for the focus and the lighting spot you want him in.
The trick is to time the click to the bird traversing the zone of focus. Light is rare under a tree . There is no direct light under the canopy.. You have to compensate for the lower light level somehow and ISO comes to mind. You need your speed and your f-stop to freeze the action and to give one deep focus. The ISO has to be the compensator. Turn it up ….make it grainy as a price….
There are a few more of these that will be trickling into my work flow. They all come from the same timeline over about an hour in my yard. The pair of birds this guy was part of raised their fledgeling just fine. Photos of it elsewhere too. You must have to watch.
This is a full framed image. It is not much of a crop. 3×2 feet
Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes is literally a photobomb in real life.
I was of course amazed at the lighting coming from that mornings veiled Sky. Shooting the veiled sun strong enough for silhouettes to form fools the observer to thinking this wasn’t a very bright sky. I’m shutting down the camera to light (high fstop, low ISO, and fast shutter). By Looking at the furnace in the sky, we need a fast shutter. Convenient if a couple of really fast hawks come flying by. 🤔
So I’ve got that camera/long lens set up pointed from about 300 yards back from the Windmill. The trees are Full sized old grown Pines at 30 to 40 feet high but they are 500 yards distant up a slight ridge. Telephoto lenses crush perspective distance. This is a long focal depth of field because of the higher f-stop setting I chose. High fstop takes away excess light AND gives you deep focal fields. (from the windmill to infinity here).
Looking through the eyepiece at the time with fingers on the setting options (3 only in manual mode to learn about). . I had it all focused and as the birds moved through the focus field they lit up on the video screen. The camera highlights things that have high contrast with their backgrounds. This shows focus areas. An advantage of quality mirrorless cameras is that they can tell you things. What you see is what you get with them.
Robin Head On Close is just that. Territorial Robins are in the spring.
Of course I’m mixing and matching seasons as I post these days. This was this year (2019) however. This guy was dive bombing me sitting back in my side yard sipping on an umbrella drink and a telephoto that goes macro at 15 feet. He always went back to the same perch. Telegraphing his intentions is a weakness in his approach. He would stoop just before he leaped giving me enough reflect time to click the shutter. Of course I use a camera giving me 10 frames a second (then) and I just wait for him to fly into my focal plane.
He really didn’t bother me much, finished my sippy drink plus took a few dozen good frames. I got the best part of the deal. My dog was more shook up by the constant busy nature of the bird. His prey drive was wanting to kick in but I discourage that unless it’s a person as I trust his judgement. Good King Corso, 220 pounds…Robin didn’t care and was all Kamakazi in it’s actions. 20 minutes was enough shooting. Half of photography is knowing when to leave the first shooting location and look for another.
At midday when the sun is shining brightly, look for soaring “kettles” of Sandhill Cranes Riding Thermals over grasslands. These groups appear as barely visible wisps from afar with the unaided eye.. I think there is around 300 here…(Rough guess). Circling, right side coming at the camera the left side going away in the spiral.
The birds are using the thermals and keeping their flight muscles toned for the journey that lies ahead. Off to Nebraska First where they gather by the thousands on the Platte River where they put on some fat.
Several species of Sandhills (at least 6) with 3 being non-migratory and the rest are migratory. Cranes are diurnal or daytime migrants and use thermals to their advantage. They will hitch-hike a ride with the thermal higher and higher up to an altitude of a few thousand feet. They then will glide southward in wavering lines losing altitude as they go until they reach the next thermal, spiraling upwards to repeat the process. Rinse and Repeat is the play of the day. This method of migration is highly energy efficient, more so than the powered heavy on-flapping flight of other species such as the Canada Goose… On a good day with the right thermals, cranes can travel up to 500 miles but 200 to 300 miles is more typical. Finally in the late afternoon, they seek a wetland of some type to noisily roost in for the night. They depart the next morning with weather permitting, until they reach their next destination on the journey.
This Flock was following along the back edge of a snow storm that lasted a day. They were clearly waiting for it to move on so they could get past it and hung out just circling round and round getting higher with each revolution. Eventually they headed south toward the back of the snowstorm visible in the distance only to find another thermal and jump on board.
Location: Somewhat over the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana Borderlands.
The Great Blue Heron Landing Head On here lives in a wide range. The species ranging to exotic places like the Caribbean, the Galapago’s Islands and the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch lolol. Now why several mating pairs (6) hang out up here about 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole, or in the Galapagos….hummm Choices. 😂
These are Big backyard birds (yes I have a big backyard AND they are big birds lolol). They are 4.5 -5.5 pounds fully grown and can stand 5 feet tall with a 5 foot wingspan. I had one take some really nice KOI fish I had in a 500 gallon tank built into my deck. I had kept these Koi about 10 years outside all year. (I’m sort of an advanced aquarium hobbiest)….
That tank is heated with a trough heater in the winter. I have a LARGE choke cherry bush mostly over the deck tank. I thought it impervious to attack or being seen from above but one of these intrepid hunters saw the water under the bush. It ate about 1000 bucks worth of ornamental big KOI with each one being over a foot long. About a dozen of the (beautiful fish) disappeared I assume over a few days. I never noticed until I saw him by our barnyard pond looking for frogs the ducks might have missed about the same time I noticed he was hunting my backyard (literally). Now our back yard is sort of large at 5.5 square miles here at the ranch but we still have wading “backyard” birds hang out here.
Note: I since have regrown a dozen now 6 year old KOI in that tank currently. Waiting for the next “visit” from a Great Blue lolol. The choke cherry bush is massive overhead of the tank….better design perhaps 🙏
Heron Rookery on Ranch
Actually there are a lot of frogs and fish in the waters up in the borderlands of Wyotana where these guys nest. I don’t see these birds walking around skinny lol. As a grou of 6 pairs, I’ve seen them raise usually raise 5 or 6 chicks and then head out for places unknown. .
I can’t really see them after mid May when the Cotton Wood trees they nest in leaf out. Their nests are 50 feet up the big mature trees over a lake here on the ranch. The rookery is adjacent to a tall hill such that I can get at the tree top level about 200 -300 yards away depending on the angle. I have some serious good images of Blue Herons taken over the years. I’m just starting to scratch the surface of the portfolio with this image. I have many more to finish. This whole winter is going to be finishing images 🙂
This gathering of Mountain Blue Birds Migration Ready was caught the passing through of what looks to be a Common Flicker swooping in the middle of the flock and disrupting this gathering and scattering a few lol… Something had to set the camera off and usually its a warm body going through it’s infra-red detection grid.
Game Trail Camera Captures
Besides my Sony Alpha 7RII Pile, … I run a network of 26 Game Trail Cameras (for you new guys). For every “Great” photo from a Game Trail Camera like this I look through thousands of out of focus and over/underexposed images. Great ones do occasionally happen like this though lolol. My collecting SD cards from Game Trail Cameras and viewing the contents take up hours every week these days.
I find many good captures among the numerous random clicks they collect. Maybe 1 in 100 is a good image that I can fix and use here. This one is 1 in 2 or 3 thousand lolol. I actually do get multiple flocks of migrating birds on a regular basis toward the end of Autumn. Autumn was on a tuesday this year I remember all too well. Then it was winter and it’s stayed cold mostly for the last month. The Blue Birds have all headed south where there are live insects to hunt.
Each and every image from a game trail camera is problematic from a professional photo-finish standpoint and this one was no exception. Those images (to a one) take me a “bit” to “fix” before I would publish them and put my name on them. THere are all sort of .jpg artifacts and borders around high contrast areas that I have to go over very tediously to correct. Having said that, this is a full sized 2 feet by 3 feet image lol. Portrait aspect.
This is the modern version of a multiple exposure showing the escape and evasion flight path of ONE Sharp Tailed Grouse.
The plump prairie bird was watching me, very alert…. As I SLOWLY approached, he eventually had his personal “Line in the Sand” crossed thus began the rapid fire camera snapping him at 10 frames a second, me adjusting focus manually as I find that anything auto on a camera will usually mess me up more than not so I’m done with them…. Have been for years now📸
A tad bit of work was necessary in the digital darkroom to “edit” this series of 7 images into one. The question is, which bird image actually belongs to the grass (hint, it’s not the bird IN the grass lolol. He was there, but in a different image and I put him into that grass….. there are 7 different images of this same bird in his E+E flight.
Location: miles into the backcountry of the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands
As this Bee Approaching the Dinner Table (Hollyhock), I had to anticipate where it was going to Bee.
Photographers notes: Everything is mostly out of focus but the bee. The focal depth at 9 inches (closest focus for this Sony 90mm Macro) from the bee with this lens is perhaps 1/2 inch deep even with a lot of light and high f numbers. Anything in that 1/2 thick plain is sharp, anything else is blurred. Somethings are ultra sharp and others not so much. That is part of the Macro game is figuring out where that zone is and waiting around at very high shutter speeds 9 inches from the “approach” angle to this flower. I was 90 degrees and focused on the center of the flower ….Hang out and wait (remember when it was warm? ) for a bee to come by at a busy landing strip…. Hold that photo-yoga position number 15 for as long as it takes.😄
This is harder than catching flies between two Chopsticks with all due respect for Mr. Miyagi.
A few more bee photos will straggle onto my posting schedules still left over from summer and some reposts over the winter to remember those warm days.
To freeze a Dragonfly in Time and Space, you need to be patient and persistent. You also need to understand that dreaded M for Manual on the top of your camera. A cell phone isn’t going to do this, a DSLR on anything but manual has no chance either. Sooooo, here’s the trick… (catching a fly in between 2 chops sticks is easier) 😂
Photographers notes: This is an 800mm telephoto in direct bright sun (requirement) with your f stop on that long telephoto being f22 ish for a longer depth of focus field. He had to fly into a little zone about an inch thick at 15 feet away (minimum focal distance for my 800). That lens acts like a macro at 15 feet. IT is on a Sony Alpha 7RII giving me 70meg raw files or 40 meg .jpgs depending on what I tell it to do.
So I’m following a moving dragon fly and trying to catch him in an inch wide zone, and almost fill the frame at the same time. (this is a full sized image not a crop except for the sides of the formerly landscape aspect). I’ve never used autofocus, I don’t think it would work on this anyway. I set up a zone and let the dragon fly…fly into it. Machine gun clicks at 10 frames per second.
I digress, the faster shutter speed (which sucks up light) has to be fast fast fast at least 1/2000th of a second or more to freeze wings.. I was about 1/1500th here… Just a TAD too slow and a compromise to get more light… . Faster shutter = less light and your already loosing light from the f22 adjustment). You give up light for focal depth and fast shutter…. You have to compensate somehow….. (only three things you really can adjust on a camera , ISO, fstop/aperture size and shutter speed)
So that leaves ISO (camera sensitivity) to balance your image and gain that light back…. Less is better when it comes to ISO since too much will make your image grainy. Note how fine the grain is on this image. IT’s the last priority though because it lets you get the shot which is an important thing lolol..
Catching a Bumble Bee Frozen in Flight and being able to do it reliably is a challenge for every photographer. The depth of focus at 9 inches away (where you have to be to get a shot like this with a 90mm macro) is around a 1/2 inch thick so getting a very rapid fire camera really helps as well as one that will take 1/6000th or higher shutter speeds. This is not a crop. Full sized file as it were.
Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands….in our garden with the hollyhocks…
Bee’s wings Blur because they beat at 230 per second through a 90 degree arc. If you set your camera around 1/200th of a second and catch a shaft of light just right….. You’ll get a nice wing blur. You have to pick a flower at right angles to shafts of light from the sun. Then as the bee rises off the flower and into the light, it will light his blurred wings. if your timing is right. (at 12 frames a second I had one come out). Kind of a tough shot to get again I’m thinking lolol.
This Flock was having a Grackle of a good time for sure. I have caught several large flocks of birds with this particular camera in this particular place all summer. I’m not moving either lol. These birds are Grackles. Nice of one of them to set off the Game Trail Camera right then. lolol.
This Flying Ghost in the night was no doubt aware of my ducks sleeping about 200 yards over my Game Trail Cameras shoulder. Based on What I know about that foot diameter electric pole (at least) behind him…..He’s a BIG BIRD…. 1:49AM as I left the time stamps on this one. Just a few days back. Light of a 3/4 moon…
I really enjoy having the game cameras to give me this perspective on some nocturnal habits. I think this is a large raptor but I suppose it could be the same great horned owl I’ve photographed under better conditions with a “real” camera…
Last post of the day, it’s actually Sunday night as I type this. It will post at 9 on the 25th …..
To catch a Bumble Bee Fly Up Close and Personal…takes some planning. First I have to get within 9 inches of my subject for maximum magnification. WIth a LOT of light, I can maybe get 1/2 an inch focal depth at 9 inches (f22). Somebody could do the math but it’s not a deep focal field. It’s more like catching a fly with two chop sticks. You have to think ahead of the bee. You know…. “Be the Bee”😂 More importantly, you have to focus where the Bee is going to Be lolol.
Old Glory Flying at night, in a heavy drenching downpour about as heavy as it gets (not much lightning in this storm though) There was enough wind to inflate even the totally soaked flags. I often saw water whipping in sheets off the flags but catching that on film under these conditions will wait for another day (and lens). This was from about 100 yards away with the flags back lit (365 days a year ) dusk to dawn by a 400 watt LED stadium lamp. I was in our huge metal barn (about the size of a regulation foot ball field/indoor) arena type building. It was absolutely deafening under all that heavy rain in there with all that metal roof. Catching rain drops moving like this occurs at a very particular setting point with shutter speed being the key. Mostly your options are: Freeze the flags, go fast shutter or see the rain, go slow shutter so you have to play with your settings on this kind of opportunity.
Have a great day all, I’m actually posting this on sunday for your enjoyment today. I think my autoposting system is working.
I try hard to read and respond to all comments live real time though. 😀 Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana.
Catching a Bumble Bee Fly By with a macro lens is sort of like catching a fly in chopsticks. It’s a very similar anticipation of where the bee is going to be. Notice I’m focusing in front of the flower. The focal depth is a plane about 1/2 inch thick so either side of that and the bee is out of focus (timing). Bees wings are very fast swinging a 90 degree arc at 230 beats a second. You need really bright sun to freeze this action with any camera.