Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Photographing Mule deer on Kolob.

Had a great day photographing Mule deer on Kolob.

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My very best friend Eldon Pierce got a new camera so we had to go try it out. We saw lots of deer and around 40 head of Elk. Evening is a great time to see some really nice deer right now.

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As you can see there are some excellent bucks out there.

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It was also great to see the Elk. I love to see them in Zion. We were not able to get close but they add nicely to the scenery.

Elk on Kolob

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Moving my blog

I have moved my blog to a new location. Please join me and sign up for email notifications. http://cameraoutdoors.blogspot.com/

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Yellow-bellied Marmot is not just another rodent.

Yellow-bellied marmots are one of my favorite photographic subjects.

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I know they just look like overgrown rats with short fluffy tails to most but to me they have several redeeming factors that boost them up the scale from the other lowly rodents.

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For one thing, they inhabit the upper elevations above 7000 feet and are, to me, a symbol of the high country. They often live in the same rock pile with one of my other favorites, the Pika.

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They live in family units and warn each other when they spot something that might be dangerous.

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They have beautiful coloration especially when the sun hits them just right.

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They are easy to sneak up on for close photographs and they pose so nicely for the camera. (Notice the defiant look and the articulated limbs.)

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For these reasons, I find Marmots almost impossible to pass up when I see them in the wild. I have actually sold several marmot photos including one or two cover shots for Varmint Hunter magazine.

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Marmots are easy to find. Just look in almost any rock pile above 7500 feet and you will quickly notice them basking in the morning sun or scurrying about feeding on nearby grasses and other plants. Look for them the next time you are photographing in the high country. Get to know them a little better and I think you will appreciate them just like I do.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

The California Condor: A very Personal experience with one of the worlds most endangered animals

As a wildlife photographer, I am always looking for an opportunity to get close to wild animals. Several years ago, when rumors started to fly about California Condors frequenting the Kolob area near Zion National park, I decided to investigate and see for myself.

The first time I saw them, I found five, birds near a mountain cabin at the present viewing site. They were perched in the top of a tree and on the nearby rocks.

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I took several photos and was just admiring them when I heard the rushing of the wind coming from close behind me. I instinctively ducked, slightly as a giant pair of wings passed no more than two feet over my head.

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I can still remember feeling the air pressure change which caused me to lurch forward slightly as the condor passed by. It was a mature bird with a wingspan of over 9 feet and it landed on the fence not more than 30 feet in front of me.

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I got several close photos and the experience left me with a feeling of awe for this very special bird.

Since that time I have viewed and photographed condors many times. I have watched them as they perform aerial ballets for the crowds that gather to see them on “The Day of the Condor” and since this is not a scientific writing, I can tell you that I am convinced that they enjoy putting on a show for people. I think that that bird was intentionally messing with me when it flew so close over my head.

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Because of that first experience, I feel a tie with condors and I love to share these birds with others that may come away from the experience feeling a little stronger link with wildlife.

Come join us this year on June 18th for “The Day of the Condor” from 8 am to 12 noon at the Kolob viewing site just 21.5 miles north of Virgin, Utah for a chance to see and experience one of the rarest birds in the world.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Photographing Alligators in the Everglades

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to produce and host a TV show about outdoor photography entitled "Outdoor Photo Adventures" for the Outdoor Channel. The very first show that we did was based in the Everglades National Park. Wow! What a treat for a boy from Utah to go to the worlds most famous marsh to photograph wildlife. The bird photography was great and I will talk about that later. I wanted to start this series on the Everglades with a few photos of Alligators.

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The American alligator is probably the iconic species of the Everglades. You see them everywhere you go and they behave like they own the place (I guess they pretty much do). We were there in late February which is the best time to visit the park. The water level is still low and the stormy season is over.

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I was walking along the pathway at the Anhinga trail when I came across this large male alligator with his head held high out of the water.

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I, of course, stopped and took a couple of photos (okay maybe I took several dozen) When he started to bellow. He would move up and down in the water and let out this low growling noise. I had seen enough David Attenborough specials to know that this was a mating display and was designed to drive the females crazy with passion. Within a few seconds the entire marsh came alive with the deep, rolling, sound of many love starved alligators just out of sight of the camera. Needless to say, I took many more photos but non of them do justice to the event. The video that was shot for the show adds a lot to the experience.

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This experience illustrates the point that it is great to look at others photos but it is much better to get out and see the world for yourself.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mount McKinley, What a way to end the day.

One of the absolute highlights of my trip to Alaska was the opportunity that I had to photograph Mt. McKinley. We were very fortunate in that it was visible on the evening that we had set aside. It is typically only seen about 3 days in 10 so I was excited to see the clouds part. 

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Mt. McKinley is 20,320 feet tall and is located in the middle of Denali National Park. The 90 mile gravel road, to the park's interior, is mostly traveled by buses as only a few private vehicles are allowed to traverse it. We were fortunate enough to purchase a photographer's pass so that we had free run of the road on our own time schedule. Most visitors must ride the bus, which is really quite convenient as they run every 15 minutes or so and make frequent stops. If you wish to spend additional time in one area you simply get off of the bus and catch the next one when you are ready to move on. This works well unless you want to stay late and catch the sunset on the highest mountain in North America. We were there in August and the light hung on until well after midnight. 

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Reflection Lake is located near Wonder Lake at about the 84 mile mark along the way. This is a great vantage point from which to shoot the mountain but it takes a long while to get there and if you stay until the light is gone. You will end up camping somewhere near it. We had a 20 foot motor home so that made it quite convenient. 

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We arrived at about 8 pm and set up the cameras. By the time we had set up, the clouds had opened up and the mountain was glorious. I started snapping photos and was able to try many different compositions. I continued taking pictures for over 2 hours. 

At one point I turned around to see a bull caribou standing on the hill behind me. I had to stop long enough to photograph him as well. 

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About 9:30 pm I decided to try a panorama and shot 6 photos with the idea of stitching them together in Photoshop later. The panorama turned out to be one of my favorites and it hangs on my wall as a 17 x 70 inch print to this day. 

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Many of the photos that I took, even later than that, turned out beautifully as well. I especially like the alpen glow affect on some of the later photos.

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This is a moment that I will never forget. I will always be grateful for the chance to visit Alask

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The desert is great right now.

This has been a very good week. With the temperature hovering around 70 degrees in the daytime, this is the perfect time to get out and see some of the incredible reptiles that are found in the Mojave Desert.  I have taken 4 trips onto the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve in Washington County and have seen 3 Desert Tortoises and several lizards.  I am still looking for snakes and will let you know what I find.  Here is a look at some of the species that I have seen so far.

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Zebra-tailed lizard
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Side blotched lizard
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Leopard lizard
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In a couple of weeks it will get really hot and the reptiles will be spending less time above the ground.  Now is the time to get out and walk in our beautiful desert.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A great morning in the desert

I had a hankering to get out in the desert this morning and see what was up and moving.  One of my favorite things to do is get up early on a spring morning and go for a walk as the day begins to warm and the reptiles begin to wake up.  this morning I spent a little time on the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve in Southern Utah.  I was richly rewarded by finding a desert tortoise feeding on the fresh fillery (storks bill) that grows here in the spring.  They love it and it is very valuable for them as they build food supplies to get them through the heat of the summer.  They only come out for a few short weeks in the spring to feed and mate and then again when it cools in the fall for more feeding.  This is the best time to see one if you never have.

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I also found the Quail out and feeding.  This Gamble Quail took off on the run when I stopped to take his picture so I whipped out my trusty ipod, went to my Audubon bird app, hit the Gamble quail call and he popped up on the top of this bush to check me out.

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Lastly, I ended up at a place that I frequented 44 years ago.

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Fools names and Fools faces.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Baby bear and momma bear

I had a great time photographing the animals from Triple D Game Farms last week. 

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This baby Black bear was exceptionally cute. 

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This is the only way you would ever want to photograph a bear cub. If you were to see one in the wild, you should move away very carefully. 

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Don't turn and run just back away as quietly as you can.

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The most dangerous thing about finding a baby bear is that mom will always be close by. 

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If she sees you she will be very upset. You can try telling her that it was an accident but she won't believe you. You can try telling her that her cub is the cutest one on the mountain but that won't make any difference either. 

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Mother bears have no sense of humor so don't try joking with her. Basically, if she sees you, your toast.  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Jumping Mountain lion video

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This is the video from two nights ago.  It was shot by my son Alex.

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I think it is pretty sensational.  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Triple D is in town

I got a chance to warm up a little with the guys from Triple D Game Farms today.  It is still not too late to get in on the shoot on April 18th to the 20th if you would like.  It is a great opportunity to get some great wildlife shots.  See this post for more details. http://outdoorphotoquest.blogspot.com/2011/01/thee-are-just-few-examples-of-what-can.html

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Photographing Harbor seals in the Kenai Fjords.

Another fun time in Alaska was taking a boat from Seward into the Kenai Peninsula. There were many glaciers in the area so it was common to see ice floating on the water. The Harbor seals take advantage of the floating bergs for a place to rest, protected from sharks and Orcas.

Harbor seals are the most widely distributed of all pinnipeds (walruses, eared seals, and true seals). In fact they are often referred to as common seals. Adult males reach a length of around 6 feet and will typically weigh just under 300 pounds. Females give birth to a single pup which she will raise without the help of the male. The pups are able to swim soon after they are born and grow quickly thanks to the mothers rich milk.

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Harbor seals are fish eaters and are not too specific as to what species they will feed on. They can dive for over ten minutes and have been known to reach depths of about 1500 feet. Most dives are shorter and may only reach a depth of around 60 feet. 

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As you can see from these photos, they can vary in color from dark brown to a tan and are covered with spot patterns that can be used to identify individuals. Females can live for up to 35 years while the males usually die before they reach 25. Currently there numbers are estimated at around 6 million world wide. As you can see, they are not in any trouble in most areas.

We had a small chartered boat so we were able to move around freely. This allowed me to have a choice between a light or medium background. Depending on whether the water was reflecting the blue sky or a white cloud. The water was very calm on this particular day, allowing me to use a tripod from the boat. I was always careful to ask the captain to shut down the engine for each exposure as the vibration would have created unsharp images.

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Let me know what you think.