Sunset on Jenny Lake

Grand Teton National Park is such a strong magnet for landscape photographers, that many of the popular lookout points are quite crowded for sunrise and sunset. Tripods legs are interlaced, and I consider myself lucky if the people around me are cooperative and friendly.  If an inexperienced photographer starts to set up in front of another photographer who has established his spot, look out! There will be fireworks.

Our workshop group of nine had this spot on the edge of Jenny Lake to ourselves. Check!  When we first arrived on the lake shore to see a bright blue sky and backlit mountains, I wasn’t sure how much I liked the location. We had carefully climbed down a rocky hillside, carefully making our own path over boulders and downed trees. I moved to the right and left, looking for foreground elements to create an interesting composition.

As we waited for the sun to sink lower and lower, the show began. Our group became very still when the orange light show reached its peak, and every photographer tried to perfect a long exposure.

#nikon, #howto, #grandtetons, #grandtetonnationalpark, #jennylake, #sunset, #lake, #reflection, #sky, #vibrant, #log, #nationalparks, #jacksonhole
Here is my final image of the evening resulting from a 2.5 second exposure at ISO 100 and f/16, an aperture that kept the foreground and the distant mountains and sky in clear focus.

As I packed up my gear, I could hear others murmur, “Did you see that reflection on the water?”

How could you miss it?

Black Bear in Grand Teton NP

While Black Bears are not considered as dangerous as Grizzly Bears, they are still no match for a human, so we need to keep our distance and take care not to attract or provoke them. I spotted this bear quite a way up the hillside above the road, and I was able to use my 400mm lens, steadied with a tripod, to capture this photograph. (I was not as close to it as it appears.)

#bear, #grandtetonnationalpark, #grandtetons, #nationalpark, #wildlife, #sony, #RRS, #tripod, #staysafe, #keepyourdistance
Black bear grazing in Grand Teton National Park, observing a cluster of excited humans with cameras.

I have read that the Black Bear’s eyesight and hearing are better than a humans. Its sense of smell is WAY better, seven times better than that of a dog. Signs warn national park visitors not to leave food in a cooler inside a car, for a black bear might smell it and destroy the car to reach the food. Food lockers are available, but you better hope that everyone locks the locker well, or everybody’s supplies will be gone.

A human is no match for the speed and the strength of a bear. Take your photo, and then get back in the car and move on!

Moose Maneuvers

Even more exciting than spotting my first moose was watching a spontaneous show of behavior between two male moose in the presence of a female and calf. Joining a Brushback Wildlife Tour in Grand Teton National Park one evening at dusk was definitely worth the investment.

What are these two moose looking at, you might ask? All eyes are on a mother and calf grazing on the nearby hillside. The young buck just wanted to get close enough to say hello, but the senior moose (notice the superior headgear), would block his path. Young buck takes a few steps to the left, Big Moose takes a few steps to the left. A few steps to the right are also blocked.

#moose, #behavior, #male, #grandtetonnationalpark, #sony, #sony100-400mm, #wildlife, #brushback, #nationalparks, #wyoming, #nature
A younger male moose tries to approach a mother and calf, but the dominant male moose blocks his path. No way, Jose. It’s not happening! Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
#moose, #wildlife, #wyoming, #male, #rack, #dominant, #behavior, #noway, #grandtetonnationalpark, #nationalpark, #nature, #sony
As the younger male inches forward, casually munching on some grass, the dominant male keeps an eye on both the intruder and the mother and calf.

Light was low, and I had to increase my ISO to 3200 and use a tripod on the Sony aIIr7 with the Sony 100-400mm lens in order to capture these images.

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.

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.

Green Heron: Shhh, Do Not Disturb

Binoculars or a long lens (600mm) can give you a closer look at the delicate green heron, quietly perched on a branch at the water’s edge, enjoying the morning sun. A few yards away, we are quiet and careful not to disturb him.

#greenheron, #sanibel, #florida, #bird, #birdphotography, #heron, #nikon, #tamron, #reallyrightstuff
This green heron keeps a low profile in the shrub on Sanibel Island, Florida.

Wake Up Call

After breakfast, at low tide and warmed by the sun, these white pelicans decided conditions were perfect for a morning nap. Until one male pelican arrived and cried out to all of them, “Wake Up!”

#whitepelicans, #pelican, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #morningnap, #wakeup, #wakeupcall, #nikon, #tamron, #RRS, #nature, #behavior
From my perspective, this one male pelican seems to say, “Wake up, you guys!” I’m not sure the relaxed birds are convinced, as they only open their eyes.

The J.N. Ding Darling Nature Preserve on Sanibel Island, Florida is a wonderful place to observe the White Pelicans, Great Egrets, Great Blue Heron and Roseate Spoonbills in the winter months.