Raptor Portraits

Recently, I had an opportunity to visit the raptor project’s show at Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center. If you ever get a chance to visit Johnathon Wood and his birds of prey, it’s a show worth watching. Mr. Wood is a wildlife rehabilitator and works with raptors that have been injured, nurturing them until they are able to be re-released into the wild. Unfortunately, some birds injuries are too severe, which would prevent them from being able to survive on their own. However, Mr. Wood provides for these birds and travels across the country educating and entertaining the public.

Until next time, keep shooting. –KEVIN

Aplomado Falcon. Canon 7D | 70-200/2.8 @ 200mm | 20mm Kenko extension tube

Aplomado Falcon. Canon 7D | 70-200/2.8 @ 200mm | 20mm Kenko extension tube

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American Kestrel. Canon 7D | 70-200/2.8 @ 200mm | Kenko 20mm extension tube

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Barn Owl. Canon 7D | 70-200/2.8 @ 200mm | Kenko 20mm extension tube

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Gyrfalcon. Canon 7D | 70-200/2.8 @ 200mm | Kenko 20mm extension tube

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Eagle Owl. Canon 7D | 70-200/2.8 @ 200mm | Kenko 20 + 32 mm extension tube. The background was horrible behind this bird so I came in tight for an extreme facial portrait. This bird’s eyes are bigger and more efficient than a human’s.

Create Your Own Artwork…Inexpensively!

Canon 7D | 50/1.8 @ f18 | 30 sec exposure | ISO 200

Canon 7D | 50/1.8 @ f18 | 30 sec exposure | ISO 200

CLICK ON IMAGES FOR BETTER VIEW

I have been extremely busy these past couple of weeks as I go about the business of preparing to defend my doctoral dissertation. I’ve also had a bit of bad luck these past two weekends and have been forced to postpone my wildflower photography trip to the Texas Hill Country. To make matters worse, it appears I’m going to have to postpone the trip a 3rd week in a row as my Canon 7D now needs to be sent in for repair.

Just prior to my camera issues, I stopped at Wal-Mart one afternoon and noticed the flowers pictured here. At a cost of $4.88, I decided to buy them and have some fun lightpainting. Once all in my household were sound asleep, I arranged the flowers on my kitchen table and started shooting. I photographed an individual flower, then a pair, and finally found a pleasing arrangement with all four flowers. With a small streamlight stylus penlight, I painted each of the blooms with light. I was quite pleased with the way the images turned out.

Until next time, KEEP SHOOTING. — Kevin

Canon 7D | 50/1.8 @ f18 | 30 sec exposure | ISO 200

Canon 7D | 50/1.8 @ f18 | 30 sec exposure | ISO 200

Can I buy a vowel please…..

What a difference one little letter can make. My wife was browsing on Yahoo earlier today and for a moment was sure I had found some type of trouble. Thankfully, that person trending at No. 2 is not me. However, I’m sure they would like to buy a vowel to replace that letter “a.” So just in case any of you confused that person with me…I’m still in my home enjoying highlights of The Master’s golf tournament.

Until next time, Keep Shooting. — K. HURT

That's not me. :)

That’s not me. 🙂

Photographing Red-Winged and Yellow-Headed Blackbirds on the Mexican Border

About a month ago, yellow-headed blackbirds were migrating through South Texas. Since I do not have any images of those birds, I was anxious to try and get a good one. I heard that the yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds were congregating at a local grain elevator so I took a drive to investigate the area. When I tell you that there were birds hanging around, I mean there were BIRDS hanging around. It was a sea of black. However, this was not going to be an easy photographic task. Well, if a guy could work an area enough, perhaps the task would be easier, but showing up and trying to isolate a bird on a nice perch, in the right light, and with a nice background was not just going to happen.

Yellow-Headed Blackbird. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm

Yellow-Headed Blackbird. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm

I found the yellow-headed blackbirds and I longed for a great shot. On my scouting trip, I managed to find one perched on some barbed-wire as I was driving around. One of the grain silos served as the background so I opened up the aperture to its widest setting (f4.5) and blurred the background. At a focal distance of 500mm, I was able to narrow the field of view and isolate this one bird from the others on the fence. This would be my one and only good image of this particular bird. I would make about three return trips (morning and evening) trying to bait them to an open field next to the grain elevators. While my efforts with the yellow-headed blackbirds on a natural perch were unsuccessful, I was able to get some nice images of the red-winged blackbird. I didn’t have any good ones of this particular bird either so I was happy to get them.

CLICK ON IMAGES FOR A BETTER VIEW

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I will say that the experience of shooting at this location was a first for me. The grain elevator is within view of the Mexican border. As I was driving on a dirt road scouting the area, I was pulled over by the U.S. Border Patrol and asked about the nature of my business. I didn’t mind being questioned and detained for about 10-minutes as they have a tough job to do to help secure our borders. Anyway, I was cautioned about photographing there because of the dangers associated with the drug cartels that frequently cross through the area. I’ll admit that made me a little uneasy, but the reality is that this is life on the Mexican border and the dangers are the same across all the ranch country. So, I kept on shooting. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Until next time, Keep Shooting and may all your images find the best light. –KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Nine-Banded Armadillo

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Although these 9-banded armadillos range throughout most of the Southern United States, parts of the Mid-west, and most of Latin America, Texans have a particular affinity with it as we have claimed the Armadillo as the state mammal of Texas. Although edible (known as the poor man’s pork), it’s not on anyone’s menu that I am aware of and you won’t hear anyone talking about going Armadillo hunting. The armadillo gained in popularity due to its association with the national beer of Texas, Lone Star. The company’s old commercials claimed that a giant armadillo would come by and rip the roof of an establishment in order to get to the beer. Later commercials coined the slogan, “I know about the armadillo,” which implied that a person drank Lone Star.

One hot summer day, I had the good fortune of having this armadillo come for a much needed drink at the pond. Before dipping his mouth in the water, he stopped and looked in my direction. The 500mm I had mounted was too much lens to capture the whole body but it was just the right lens for a nice portrait. Thank goodness the light was great.

So until next time, I’ll leave you with one question, “do you know about the armadillo?” I do. –KEVIN

Here is a link to an old Lone Star commercial, for those with an interest.

ImageSpotlight: Bobcat

Bobcat. Campos Viejos Ranch, Starr County, Texas.

Bobcat. Campos Viejos Ranch, Starr County, Texas.

I was going through some older images and found this nice surprise that I had overlooked. Anyone who has ever shot with me knows that I normally carry two cameras in the field, one full-frame camera with a 500mm mounted to it, and then a crop camera body typically mounted with a 70-200/2.8 lens. When a subject is too close for my 500mm, I switch to the 70-200 lens. That has always been a good 1-2 punch for me.

On this hot summer afternoon, I only had one camera body and I had the 500mm attached to it since I was photographing birds and smaller mammals at the pond. This bobcat suddenly appeared from the brush and within seconds, he was too close for the 500mm. I contemplated switching to the 70-200 but feared that I would lose the shot while switching lenses. So, I opted for a few tight portraits. The image on the blog header was of this same bobcat and one of my favorites from the shoot. Giving my attention to that image, I overlooked the photo spotlighted here. When I went back through these files, I was pleasantly surprised with it.

So, that’s it for now. Life has me extremely busy trying to get other things done so that I can prepare for an upcoming Texas Hill Country wildflower trip. More on that trip in the near future…Until next time, keep shooting. –KEVIN