Getting eyebrow close with a big macro lens is always an exercise in “damn the torpedos”. When ever I dive into a flower rich environment to catch bees in action, I run the risk of pissing some body off lol. To date I have never been stung. I’ve had a couple of wasps dive bomb me though. Probably because I was too close to the entrance of their rock nest (cave). I spend hours every month of the summer chasing these guys. I have some new technology this year so we will see how they come out.
I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys this summer. The limitations of the optics are such that deep focus fields in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.
With ALL Macro shots, light is your friend. The more, the better. Putting your camera on manual and adjusting to f22 (for deep focus) makes a pin hole in the lens reducing light tremendously. So the more light you have to begin with, the better your image is going to look. Adjusting higher ISO (camera sensitivity) is your only way to get more out of the light you get from a pin hole. You can’t do a time exposure of a moving bee so 1/250th is your floor and I often take images at 1/3000 to freeze wings. Bright sun is always best…📸
These birds are masters of their domain. This is 50 feet up at the top branches of a Cottonwood Tree. This Pair has set up shop with the left bird returning from a hunting trip. For a shoreline wading bird, these guys handle the high tree life roost without a miss. The nest is just off frame right. I am lucky to have the topography such that I can get to their height across a lake from their nesting site. I am about 150 yards out for this capture.
Blue Herons eat a pile of fish…. but its diet also includes frogs and other amphibians, reptiles, insects, and even small mammals if they are in striking distance. While it’s pointy dagger like beak has developed for catching prey, an unusual tongue also helps. No teeth in that mouth though their avian dinosaurian ancestors certainly had teeth lining that mouth cavity. The hunting behavior was handed down generation after generation though and these guys are exemplar walking metaphors to dinosaurs. Some did survive the extinction at the end of the Cretaceous after all… The avian dinosaurs 🤔
Herons whole anatomy is all about fishing along wetland edges though. They even have specially adapted neck vertebra/muscles that enable them strike like a rattler at prey but they don’t usually catch and release lolol. I note that catch and release is a human invention not seen in nature unless you consider cat’s playing games with their prey……
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.
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.
A tad out of season is this Bee on a Summer Day. As I type this a cold weather front is incoming tomorrow so a little summer bluster here for you today.
I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more trickle in this winter lol. Its nice to keep the season in perspective. Looking ahead 3 months ago is healthy if you have the images. This wing detail is pretty good and the overall focus dang good considering how close I am and how fast this is happening. . The limitations of the technology are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.
Bumblers are sort of rare these days mid winter We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I’ve seen a flying bumbler this year. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys 🤠
I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-November kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year. Here in March, anything is possible weather wise. Our biggest snows are in March and April.
Our here in the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was a wonderful veiled sky with a diffuse sun and a dense cloud deck above. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me.
To use the head of a shoot of grass to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Grass contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves abound. Over the years I have found that “you are where you are during the final minutes of sunset”. My mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fact with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use a seed head.
I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun. I WAY prefer to use “cellulose” filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here I’m letting this stand of grass moderate the amounts of light coming into the camera. Even a few percent help. Any photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You onlyhave just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow along. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷
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.
A tad out of season is this Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock
I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more trickle in this winter lol. Its nice to keep the season in perspective. Looking back 6 months ago is healthy if you have the images. This wing detail is pretty good and the overall focus dang good considering how close I am. The limitations of the technology are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.
Bumblers are sort of rare these days. We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I’ve seen a flying bumbler this year. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys 🤠
The detail deep in the flower is amazing.. The first hard freeze took care of all that opportunity 😖 Now there is about a foot of snow on the ground.
I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-november kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year. This posts Dec 8th….
Bad Horn Day for sure. So how do you have to sleep to get that “Cow LIck” or is that Pronghorn? Might be chilly out for this shot… (-2F). I love it when I get a Pronghorns breath. Frosty!
Shed Horn Sheath.
That appears to be a pretty sharp point on his right horn. I doubt it grew that way. I suppose he might have broken it off or is shedding the sheath (most likely). He actually might do some damage with that horn if he ever get’s big enough physically to be a “contender” in the rut. You know it’s all fun and games until someone puts out an eye. Designed to lock up in a fight, horns shape is sort of standardized. . Having said all that, this is a late migrator working his way down to the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. The Pronghorn “herd up” about 30 miles south of my place for the winter. Those grasslands are part of the American Serengeti. down there. They have been over the rut for weeks now.
I have never found a full sized shed Pronghorn sheath. I have only found one SMALL example. I’d like to think I have a pretty sharp eye for things left on the ground having been a dinosaur/fossil hunter all my life. Patterns and shapes stand out in my mind like a starburst against the black sky. They disintegrate pretty fast I suspect.
I’m always looking down with my eye’s to the ground and I walk in the backcountry a LOT. Most folks don’t know the males do in fact shed their horns. This Pronghorn buck still has one to go. The Horns will grow back pretty quickly in the spring.
Moon Resting on Wolf’s Head Butte is one of my favorite Moon “Cradle” capture.
Satire: I’ve found that the Moon will often take just a second to rest on a comfortable spot before the effort to rise to it’s zenith. Some of these buttes have what I call “Moon cradles” where the moon can settle down for a moment. Fortunately, it never sits there for long. 😜😜
Back to my normal programming.
Getting terrestrial objects in focus along with the moon…. Be still my heart. It’s a hobby of mine within my larger photographic world catching the moon resting on things. I do get some requests for information on how to do this.
In a nutshell, you need a 400 -600mm lens, distance, timing, topography and a full moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera. A short 3 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. Longer exposure means more light into the camera.. I did this handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.
One of the last of the 2019 Bee images “Bumble Bee Pollen Mining” on a wildflower naturalized up in the shelter belt (woods) west of our homestead. A bit out of season lolol.
This image ended up with a particularly deep focus for this kind of work. Much of the image is fairly sharp which is noticable to me at least as I’ve done a few of these lately lolol📸
Mini-Lesson for working on Manual: This particular ultra macro lens has a ring of LED’s around it’s periphery which helps tremendously in cranking up the f stop numbers to give yourself a deep focus. For something less than an inch long….from about 2 inches away…pretty deep field of focus….. So this has a Manually set High F-stop# of 36 with this lens = deepest field of focus possible (thick) but you loose light gathering ability the higher the fstop number. You also loose a little sharpness due to diffraction. Light has to come from somewhere, so you need to select a longer exposure speed and or turn up ISO (camera sensitivity) higher to gain more light. . But higher ISO numbers give you grain soo…double edge sword. Only three things to adjust in manual really….. 😎
Anybody got a cell phone photo like this? They would work for this kind of photography pretty well I believe. Except the getting stung part lolol. (In full disclosure I’ve never been stung doing this. I’m just a really bright extra sun incoming with this illuminated lens.
This picture postcard capture in the frost and snow shows a mom and interesting son (fawn) . The very distinctive young one has both a split left (his) ear and UNIBROW lolol. That with the little black chin goatee beard has totally ID’d him as “Mr. Uniibrow” to me.
I’ll watch ‘Mr Unibrow” over the years as he grows up. He’s a member of a group that stay close to my homestead using a stock tank in our corral to water. I will be a star in years to come. He’s about 7 months old now. He’s distinctive enough I’ll have images of him from now through 4 years anyway assuming he survives.
There are many smaller groups of deer that separate from a bigger herd that dispersed in the spring. Mid to late winter shortly after the rut (December) the smaller herds start to join up and by spring I have several herds of 30 or 40 animals running about in different parts of the ranch. Each herd geographically controlled by water availability and location. They don’t care about ranch boundaries so I share some of them with other local boundary ranches.
This is a 1200mm telephoto shot. Getting this close without a long lens is usually an accident in the winter. It’s a lot harder to get close to the deer when you can’t get off the road lolol.
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 🙂
We don’t get a lot of Trick or Treaters up here and I believe this Coyote isn’t interested in treats… I’m thinking more trickster here.🎃😄 I think we have gotten 2 small groups of “trick or treaters” in about the last 8 years. They were lost I think and saw just the yard light lolol. Pretty remote up here…. 🙁
At any rate, this Game Trail Camera footage of this fellow is actually showing it squatting marking the spot with the number 2 I think I stepped in tending the cameras… Sniff Sniff… This is one of those Caught in the Act moments around 1AM that moonless night. Pitch black Infra Red flash, no visible light but maybe a slight reddish glow at the camera. Click!
Game trail Camera images all have various problems for me to fix. But to a one, are candid and of course, they are working when I’m not so I’m all for them lol. It takes a couple of trips to collect all the chips about once a week. Some will go all winter without me being able to access them so spring thaw can be helpful in my photo output :).
The Green Iridescent Bee is gathering pollen from this surviving Aster after the freezes of late. This may be one of the last outdoor insect photos of this year.
This little guy is about 1/4 of an inch long total so this is an “UltraMacro” shot with a 2x mag factor at about 1 inch distance from the bee. There are lights around the optic so the slight yellow colorcast is due to that. I corrected it best I could without washing out the actual yellow of it’s body.
How to get 1 inch away from a bee….patience, and it is very much of a photo-yoga application. Smooth movements with no sudden changes of direction help tremendously lolol. Second finished image from this Photosession timeline and is a 2×3 aspect up to 36 high.
This little 4×4 Mule Deer Buck is very used to me now. When a deer is this close and grazes, he is at peace with the situation . At the end of the summer, I work my way inside of groups sometimes. Surrounded by photo opportunities so to speak. I get to work the light from the inside out lol.