During a recent trip to South Texas I found this red eared slider sitting on an old log. It was an extremely quiet morning around Ibis Pond at Estero Llano Grande State Park. The birds were not too active on this day but this image was one I could not pass up. While this turtle is native to much of the Southern United States and Mexico, its popularity in the pet trade has made this an invasive species elsewhere due to their release by pet owners. While I have many concerns with the pet trade (exotic pet trade in particular), I will leave that to another post. In this part of the world, and in this image, the red eared slider is in its native habitat and thriving in a balanced ecosystem.
I used the gear below to capture this photograph (to see a description of this and other gear I recommend, please see my gear recommendations page).
I have been getting that question a lot lately as I all but disappeared completely from my blog posts. However, I have been here and busy as ever. I have continued my nature photography exploits but I have nearly doubled, tripled even, my involvement in sports/action photography. For the past year, the sports photography has dominated my time and since I’ve tried to keep this blog dedicated to my wildlife/nature pursuits, I didn’t blog about the sports stuff. So, let me give you a brief update on my near-term plans: 1) I will get back to my first photographic passion (nature photography), 2) I’ll continue expanding my sports/action photography, and 3) I’m committed to getting a YouTube channel started that will mostly be about nature and sports/action but since I plan on doing that for fun, I’ll share other things that I enjoy (gear reviews, BBQ, and other general interests).
WHATS NEW ON MY BLOG?: I have added a new page for Gear Recommendations. I find that I’m always answering questions related to gear so I put together this page to help others.
That’s it for now but I’ll leave you with a few sample nature images. I’ll update you once my YouTube channel is up and running. Until then….
Fall Cabin. Canon 7D MkII | ef-s 10-22mm | ISO 200
Fall 2016 in Central Georgia has not been the most prolific. The temperatures have been hotter than normal and there has been little to no rain thus far. The colors have simply not been as abundant or long-lasting. Nevertheless, some colors do exist and the challenge for us as photographers is to find and make a pleasing image. The challenge for me was particularly great today because I also had to contend with shooting at the wrong time of day and the contrast between light and shadow.
I drove out to this old cabin and was pleased to see some colors extending above the cabin roof. Given that the colors extended high in the trees, I shot this image in a vertical orientation. While you can envision the peace of sitting on the rockers on a cool fall evening, there is one thing that the image simply cannot convey to the viewer….the deep scent of the pine cabin. I stood at the doorway and took a deep fresh breath, then hit the trails in search of another image.
Until next time…Good light and keep shooting.–KEVIN
You may recall that in 2014 I wrote a blog post about “Making Hummingbird Backgrounds.” I’d actually be surprised if you remember that but you can enter those terms in the search tab if you care to refresh your memory. Anyway, two years later and those backgrounds are still in use. For the past two weeks, I’ve had female and juvenile ruby-throated hummingbirds but today, the male showed up. While I like the females and juveniles, it is the male with its iridescent gorget that gets photographers excited. Those brilliant colors add a dash of pop to the images.
To capture this photo, I used a 5 flash setup. Each flash was set at 1/16 power and placed in various positions to light the bird. I had one dedicated flash aimed at the background and 4 at the hummingbird. My camera (Canon 7D MkII) was set to Manual mode, ISO 200, f18, 1/250. I used a 70-200/2.8 with 1.4x converter. Because hummingbirds drink, move back and hover, then drink again, I prefocused on a spot where I anticipated the birds would hover. Each time the birds hovered, I pressed the shutter button. I’m looking to improve this image by adding an additional flash and incorporating a flower if I can find a suitable one at a nursery since there are no natural blooms around my home.
Last year I made a voyage to South Florida and came away with some spectacular photos. This summer I returned once again with the hopes that I would find terns and skimmers on their breeding nests. I was a bit pessimistic, though, knowing that the area had been hit by tropical storms. Unfortunately, the area where I was photographing was hit too hard and none of the nests survived. I trekked a couple miles along the coast trying to find some survivors but it was a desolate sight. Such is the way of the wild but those birds will nest again and hopefully, next year mother nature will be more merciful.
Although I did not find any nesting birds walking along the beach, I did come across a Willet probing for prey. While fairly common in some areas, they have seen declining numbers due to a decrease in possible nesting sights attributed to coastal development in California. While wildlife is equipped to survive natural disasters, those due to man can have long-term harmful consequences. I’m not one of those who thinks you have to choose a side between man and wildlife. On the contrary, life is about man and wildlife living together. After all, man’s first home was in a garden. We do, however, have to remember to respect each other.
Willet. Canon 7DMkII | ef 500/4.5 + 1.4x | ISO 1250 | f 6.3 | 1/5000
I hung out with this willet for about half an hour watching him probe the sand and scurry through the water. There wasn’t a soul around other than the two of us and soon the willet would move on leaving me alone. So, I sat back and listened to the waves for a bit before calling it an evening…and what an evening it was.
Until next time, good light and keep shooting…KEVIN
I’m back after a bit of a delay. 2016 has been an unbelievably busy year and I’ve had to sacrifice the time I would normally dedicate to my blog. One does what he must and while I had to do that…right now, I must share the following image with you.
Whitetail Buck: The Flehman Response
This beautiful whitetail buck is exhibiting a behavior that many hunters and avid naturalists alike recognize and commonly refer to as…the lip curl. Technically, this is called the Flehman Response, which is a name derived from the German verb “to curl.” This is a breeding behavior that occurs between late October – early January in the USA based upon geographic location. Bucks in Northern states (e.g. Iowa) may hit peak breeding time in November whereas in South Texas, peak breeding occurs mid-December to early January. So what purpose does the lip curl serve? Basically, the lip curl exposes an organ in the nasal cavity and allows a buck to get a deep whiff of something. In this case, he is trying to get a deep whiff of a lady friend with whom he hopes to hook up with…if you know what I mean.
Until next time, good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN
I returned to South Texas last December and visited my favorite photographic ranch, the Santa Clara, owned by Dr. Beto Gutierrez. I had the good fortune of photographing there the last year before I moved out of state so I know how special this ranch is for photographers. Dr. Gutierrez has poured his passion into making this the prime destination for anyone wanting to photograph the gems of South Texas. This Black Crested Titmouse came to have a drink and I was able to capture this wonderful reflection. The raised crest made this one extra special.
Until next time, good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN