Back to the American West

This week I will pack for a new adventure to Grand Teton National Park in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This time next week, I’ll be rising before the sun to photograph those majestic peaks and the leading lines of the Snake River, and working sunset as well.

I will take part in my fourth photography workshop with the great landscape photographers Don Smith and Gary Hart. I began studying with them in 2013 in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, and went on to work and enjoy two more workshops in Kauai and Maui.

That first workshop experience in Bryce Canyon was stressful. I wasn’t used to getting up in the dark before dawn (around 4 am) with frigid temperatures, wind chill and high altitude (close to 9,000 feet) and to keep functioning at my best as I became more and more tired each day. While I produced some respectable (okay, beautiful)  images (see below), I managed to break my Nikon D700 camera (putting the memory card backwards and bending the pins) and had to order a new Nikon D800 midweek, with rush shipping. Fortunately, I had a backup Fuji S5 to use for a few days.

#brycecanyon, #dawn, #sunrise, #hoodoos, #light, #landscapephotography, #nationalparks, #queensgarden, #victoria, #USA
The earliest rays of morning light illuminate the hoodoo that resembles a stature of Queen Victoria in London in a section of Bryce Canyon known as the Queen’s Garden.

While the embarrassment and frustration of breaking my camera remains a very bad memory, I propelled myself forward by continuing to learn important principles of landscape photography and making friends with several very talented photographers who supported my journey then and still do today. We have kept in touch.

I also discovered the beauty and majesty of the American West and its National Parks, and I have made my journey of discovery, learning and growth continue into the future. I hope you will subscribe to this blog (type your email into the form on the right to receive an email when a new post is published) and share my new images coming up next week from Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

I welcome your feedback in comments and your efforts to expand our community with your friends who will also be interested in landscape photography and future journeys of discovery, learning and growth. If you like this blog, please recommend it to a friend.

Personal Space

Word on the street is that these White Pelicans migrated to Florida from the Great Lakes region.  Anyone who has driven that distance can appreciate how long that journey is. While they have flown a long way from home, they enjoy huddling together, wing to wing, beak to beak on this sunny evening.

#pelicans, #whitepelican, #pelican, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #florida, #southwestflorida, #birds, #sunset, #flock, #nature, #birdphotography, #wildlife
This flock of White Pelicans on Sanibel Island, Florida doesn’t mind standing in a tight pack on a sandbar just before sunset.

Portrait of a Roseate Spoonbill

“Okay, perfect. Now, stand up straight with one foot in front of the other, step into the sunlight, look at me, and hold it right there.” Snap!

If only a wild bird would follow directions like that! If only a beautiful roseate spoonbill would show up when you go out with your camera hoping to capture something interesting. In the wild, the photographer shows up often and prepared with know how and good equipment hoping that the birds and the events will happen someday.

When it is time to process a digital image, some experience with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom comes in handy. I was grateful to be prepared when this Roseate Spoonbill and I met at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

#roseatespoonbill, #roseate, #bird, #portrait, #naples, #birdphotography, #corkscrew, #corkscrewswampsanctuary, #wildlife, #success, #secrets, #howto, #birds, #florida
I could not have posed you any better, Roseate Spoonbill. Thanks for looking at the camera and stepping into the light.

Feeling Frazzled?

How is it that the “common cold” can reduce a vibrant and productive adult into feeling like this? My head aches; my appetite is gone; my nose is running, and when I try to talk, I cough. My husband takes one look at me and says, “You look terrible.”

#reddishegret, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #sanibelisland, #florida, #heron, #wadingbird, #nikon, #tamron, #birdphotography, #wildlife
This Reddish Egret on Sanibel Island, Florida shakes like a dog. Weeks after I observed this fantastic bird, I recalled this image and relate to the feeling it projects.

While I have not been well enough to write or post for several days, I am starting to feel better today.  I look forward to smoothing my feathers, clearing my vision and taking flight again soon.

Osprey On Watch

It’s March and nesting season on Sanibel Island, Florida. While the mother osprey are tending eggs or new hatchlings in the nest, the fathers can be spotted nearby on the high branch of a tree. This father osprey is manning his high branch perch, even as the branch bobs in the wind.

#sanibel, #osprey, #eye, #male, #perch, #dusk, #dingdarling
As he faces the setting sun, the osprey’s eye reflects bright yellow and he opens his mouth to cry out.

More Dance Moves (Reddish Egret)

Bird photography gets really fun when you are trying to capture unique behavior. This Reddish Egret I observed on Sanibel Island, Florida had some cool moves. I was amused by the head tilt that began his feeding dance. In this image, it looks like he is given the duck some attitude.

#reddishegret, #egret, #heron, #feeding, #fishing, #dance, #headtilt, #nikon, #tamron, #sanibel, #dingdarling
The Reddish Egret begins his feeding dance with an amusing head tilt. You can see the transmitter attached to his back.
#reddishegret, #egret, #heron, #dance, #feeding, #fishing, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #wing, #tamron, #nikon, #birdphotography, #bird
Using one outstretched wing to shade his prey, the Reddish Egret takes a better look at his dinner.

 

Reddish Egret Dance

I drove three hours roundtrip last evening to Sanibel Island, hoping to observe and photograph some birds during low tide at the Ding Darling Nature Preserve. It seems you never find what you expect to find — the white pelicans or the roseate spoonbills — but lucky for me, I met a  big bird that was new to me: the Reddish Egret.

The medium-sized heron is not too common, categorized as “Nearly Threatened,” and this bird wore a transmitter on his back. Some naturalist is keeping track of his movements. I enjoyed watching the unique way the Reddish Egret fishes by wading in shallow water and using his wings to shade the prey right before spearing it. With my 600mm Tamron lens, I had a close look and spent about a half hour tracking it as it moved about in the shallows. Of course, I had to use a tripod to steady the heavy lens.

#reddishegret, #heron, #dance, #feeding, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #behavior, #florida, #wadingbird, #bird #tamron, #nikon
The Reddish Egret shades its prey using its wings like an umbrella. Look at the evening light on its translucent pink bill.
#reddishegret, #bird, #wadingbird, #heron, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #fishing, #behavior, #dance, #tamron, #nikon, #florida
The “gotcha” moment for the Reddish Egret as it spears a fish. See its unique red and blue coloring.