Ospreys on the Wing!

It’s an Osprey Nest!

It was mid day. Not a time to be photographing much because of the harsh light. I was on my way to Hidden Falls behind Jenny Lake in the Grand Teton National Park to get an idea of how I might set up to photograph it very early the next morning. From a distance, I saw this……

Hi there! Mind if I come in?

Hi there! Mind if I come in?

It’s an Osprey nest. What seemed odd to me was the Raven that seemed intent on getting into the nest.  There was one Osprey in the nest at the time and it seem to  be defending it. I knew that there shouldn’t be any very young Ospreys in the nest because it’s just about time for them to fly south for the winter. Ospreys are fish eaters. Once the lake freezes, they’ve got to migrate to where there is ample open water for them to get fish.

We Do Not Want to Share!

We Do Not Want to Share!

As I got closer, I saw that there were two Ospreys. Both were trying to keep the Raven at bay and out of their nest. The Raven was extremely persistent so much so that it eventually won out. The two Ospreys left the nest. The Raven quickly got in the nest and got a beak full of something. I’m guessing that it must have been some fish scraps that the Ospreys had not yet eaten.

A very persistent Raven

A very persistent Raven

Nice of you to leave what's left for me. Why Thank You!

Nice of you to leave what’s left for me. Why Thank You Very Much!

While the light was not the best, I think I got a few decent shots of the drama. However, I decided right then and there that I’d be coming back in the morning when the light was better. I hoped to try to get some decent shots of the Osprey on the wing.

The two Osprey were there the next morning. While they were both squawking, one was in the nest really making a racket while the other was on a branch close by. It was as though the one in the nest was saying “feed me…. feed me… feed me!”  While the other one was saying, “Go feed yourself!” This went on for about fifteen or twenty minutes.

I should have used these on that Raven yesterday!

I should have used these on that Raven yesterday!

After a while, the one on the branch finally flew away. I knew then, all I had to do was wait and hope that the light would be in the right spot when it returned to get a decent photo.  I waited almost an hour when it finally flew back.

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As I had hoped, It flew back with a fish in its talons. As you can see, the head of the fish is gone. I’ve learned when Osprey feed their young, they kill the fish before giving it to them. Often, they will have eaten the head.  It probably serves two purposes. Not only is the fish dead for the young to eat, but they also get a bite for themselves. When their young are older, they’re known give to them live fish so they will learn to kill the fish themselves.

What have you got for me?

What have you got for me?

The youngster didn’t wait until it was served at the nest. When it saw what was coming, it flew to intercept it.  I didn’t get to see them eat the fish because they flew out of my sight with it. However, I think these shots of them were well worth my wait.  As a matter of fact, they may just be the best photographs of this trip. None the less, it was very cool to watch and photograph.

Can I have it NOW!

Can I have it….. NOW!

Some have said that I’m very lucky and I would not disagree. I AM VERY Lucky!  But ….. You know….. it seems, the more planning I do, the luckier I get.

I never did get to photograph Hidden Falls but I think these last three photographs make up for it.  What do you think?

Lesson learned……  Just because you have your mind set on one thing, keep your eyes open for other opportunities too. Some may turn out better than you might have hoped for.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these magnificent birds.

Thanks for coming by.

Bill

Photos in the Dark!

After posting this photo on my Facebook page, a few have asked how I took this shot.

This photo and a few more that you’ll see a little later in this post were taken in the dark. Because the light is too harsh in the middle of the day, I like to use that time to scout out my next mornings shooting location. I do that because it will be totally dark when I arrive at the location and I want to have a good idea of where exactly I should be and how to find it in the dark.

Taken in the darkTaken in the dark

While you might get some of the same effect in the evening after the sun goes down, I prefer early, early mornings. Most of the time no one else is there to spoil this quiet peaceful time. While setting up to take this shot, I heard a couple of elk bulging and had two beaver swim right in front of me. The only noise was that of the critters. There was no wind. Talk about a time to reflect. Yes, I know, I know!  I’m in bear country, by myself, in the dark….. but ….. Hey ………… I have my bear spray!

The technical part of this type of photography is quite simple. You’ll need a sturdy tripod, a wide-angle lens (I use a 16-35 mm), your camera turned to manual mode, the shutter to bulb mode and a remote shutter release. The remote shutter release is important because the shutter will need to be opened for more than a minute. Any camera movement will cause blur in your image during that time. The photo above was taken at 78 seconds. The ISO should be at the lowest native setting, typically 100 or 200. Oh yea, you’ll need a flashlight. I use a head lamp on red. The red light doesn’t affect my night vision.

After you’ve hiked to your spot and set up your camera on the tripod, do your best to compose the shot in the dark.  Once you’re all physically set up, set the aperture in your camera to a high f-stop number like f-19 or f-22. Set your focus to the infinity indicator on barrel of the lens. Be careful not to go past the infinity mark as some lens will allow you to do.  That seems to cause everything be slightly out of focus. I don’t know why it does but…….

Now comes the fun part. In bulb mode, the shutter will remain open once it’s activated and close when you release the shutter button. Using a remote shutter release allows you to trigger the shutter without touching the camera. Depressing the shutter button on the camera can cause the camera to move which will cause blur.  Hold the shutter release button on the remote, then start to count. As stated above, the first photo was taken at 78 seconds. Once you release the shutter, look at your LCD to see how the photo looks. If it’s too light, time the next shot for a few seconds less. If it’s too dark, hold the shutter open a little longer. Keep doing it until you’re satisfied with the results. That’s it…. Almost!

Grass is removed

Grass is removed

It’s only ALMOST done because it’s dark and sometimes when you’ve composed the shot, you may have some distractions in your photo that you didn’t notice while composing it. In my first photo, you will notice some grass in the bottom left area of the picture. I didn’t see it because it was so dark out. It took all of 2 minutes to get rid of them in post processing.

But it's Dark Out!

But it’s Dark Out here at Oxbow!

Blue time at Oxbow

Blue time at Oxbow

Don’t be discouraged if after all your planning and scouting for your location, you wake up to find fog has rolled in. Don’t go back to bed! ….. Don’t do it!

The fog had rolled in on the morning I had planned on getting some brilliantly colorful shots of Oxbow in the early morning glow. Because I was there before everyone else, I got the blue light photos you see above. Then, I waited. Before the sun had burned off the fog, a lot of the photographers that had showed up left because they knew the light would be harsh once the fog lifted. I’m glad I stayed!

Fog was starting to lift

Fog was starting to lift

By using the same technique, but not holding the shutter open nearly as long, you can get shots like these. While I didn’t get the photos of Oxbow with the billion colors of early morning light, I’m still happy with what I did get.  All in all, it was a terrific morning!

Beautiful Morning at Oxbow in the Grand Teton National Park

Beautiful Morning at Oxbow in the Grand Teton National Park

I hope this tip gives you something to try…… but ……. remember, you’ve got to be patient and you must get up before the sun to get these types of shots.

I know, I know………… But It’s DARK OUT!

Thanks for stopping by!

Bill

Ocicat! …. What’s an O. C. Kaht?

I was doing some street photography last Sunday in Jackson Hole, Wy when I saw this person with his cat approach a police officer’s car.  While the person appears unique, it was the cat that really caught my eye. The fact that it has spots and was clinging to its human seemed a bit unlike domestic cats of which I’m familiar.  This one actually seem to enjoy being held and was harnessed.

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While I couldn’t hear the conversation, it was quite long and seemed very friendly. Things just didn’t seem like they appeared so I waited to try to get better shots of these two intriguing subjects.

 

_BBA9643 Once the conversation ended, this is the shot that I got. His body language seem to say “Go away and leave us alone.” As I walked along side him, I tried to engage him in conversation but it was clear by his short answers to my questions that he didn’t want to be bothered. I was still intrigued because he didn’t seem to be what he appeared to be….

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After a short while, I noticed that he had put the cat on the ground in the town square and was allowing some girls to photograph it. He even let one of them hold it for a photo.  I quickly went over to them to see if I could get more photos myself. I think when I literally got on my belly to take this photo and shared it everyone, the man softened up and became more friendly.

 

O. C. KAHT

O. C. KAHT

He definitely was not what he appeared. He was very articulate and while his clothes were a bit weathered, he was immaculately well-kept and his teeth where snow-white. He was quite interesting. He told me that the cat was a special breed. I thought that it might be an Ocelot but he quickly told me that it would be illegal to have a wild cat as a pet in Jackson Hole. This cat was actually an Ocicat. It is named so because it resembles its wild Ocelot cousin. However, they are not bred from Ocelots. They are quite unique because they don’t seem to have the indifferent temperament of most cats. They tend to be more like dogs. None the less, it is a very Kool Kaht!

Ocicat

Ocicat

This Ocicat, actually has his own website, www.ocicat.com . Visit it to learn more about them. While I didn’t get the man’s name, I’m not sure he would have told me anyway, I think I may have figure out who he is. If I’m correct, he’s a noted author but I’m not going to say who I think he is because I want to respect his privacy and I’m not really sure.

Message learned…… Always be kind and share your photographs with your subjects. It may open new and interesting doors.

Thanks for coming and please stay tuned for more street photography from Jackson Hole, Wy.

Bill

A Tribute to Dumisani

THE MAGNIFICENT DUMISANI! 20110809-095744-_BA14356 No one can feel more sad than I with the passing of our beloved Dumisani.  I have spent many, many hours over the last 12 years at the lion exhibit at the Kansas City Zoo talking to guests about lions. While we’re not suppose to have favorites, I have to admit Dumisani was mine. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve shed tears since his passing for I will miss him greatly. That being said, I would like to celebrate his life with you as I saw him with some of my favorite photographs of him. I wish I had taken more. So, here goes……

During sunny days on cold winter days, he seem to love to sleep next to his rock which I’m sure radiated some heat. 20120304-124918-_BA11667 From time to time he would look up and change positions. He probably wanted to be sure all was well in his kingdom. 20120304-124020-_BA11647 He seem to love his rock even on warm spring days. 20101024-121513-_BA18697 In the summer, he would often seek the shade in several different places. 20110628-141519-20110628-141519-IMG_0001.DNG-3 The photo below is one of my favorites. He seem to be hiding in the shade out of sight from the public. You had to look through a bunch of bushes to find him.  Notice that he’s still looking over his kingdom which includes dandelions. 20110508-105037-20110508-105037-IMG_0001.DNG I really loved it when he would come close to the viewing area. Children of all ages would be in awe when he would sit or lay down just a few inches away for them. They loved him! 20090809-112109-_BA18355 I’m sorry to say that I didn’t get many of him with his pride. Those of you who remember seeing him with his pride, the photo below should remind you of what you most often saw. As I’ve told many guests, “We think of them as The King of Beasts but some times I think of them as The King of Sleep.” As you know, they nap/sleep 18-20 hours per day. 20120422-113517-_BA12989 It is true that in recent years he started to move a little more slowly. 20110809-095447-_BA14339 But I will always remember him the way in which he was…. 20090809-112020-_BA18350-2 Simply Magnificent!

You will be missed Big Guy but I will never forget you. Rest in Peace!

Eagles Having Breakfast Until…..

These three immature eagles seem to enjoy sharing breakfast with each other yesterday morning at Squaw Creek National Refuge until…..

Eagles sharing breakfast

Eagles sharing breakfast

An uninvited guest drops in to see what they were having for breakfast…..

Where did he come from?

Where did he come from?

They didn’t seem to like having this uninvited guest join them. I wonder why?

Let me get a closer look

Let me get a closer look

The mature eagle goes right for their meal._BBA9295-Edit

The immature eagles quickly get out of its way. As you can tell, the old guy doesn’t seem too worried about being out numbered.

MMM... This looks good!

MMM… This looks good!

It as though it’s telling the immature eagles its intentions which they may not like.

I believe there's only enough for one... ME!

I believe there’s only enough for one… ME!

Then it looked and sounded like the old guy was laughing at the youngsters. Perhaps it was just saying “Thanks!” What do you think?

Say What?

Say What?

While the others protested, the old guy flew off with its early morning catch of the day.  The immature eagles flew after it but to no avail.

Thanks for breakfast guys!

Thanks for breakfast guys!

This all happened in about two minutes time frame. I was so lucky to have been at the right spot at the right time. I almost didn’t stop to photograph the three eagles eating because they were so far way. The mature eagle showing up was a terrific surprise.

Even with my 200-400 mm lens with the 1.7x converter, I knew the photos wouldn’t be all that great. They have been cropped so that you could see what’s going on a little better. That’s why they are so soft.  I hope you’ve enjoyed them anyway..

I got so lucky to witness such a cool event and I just had to share it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Bill

Coyotes or Hawks

It was only 11 degrees and dark out when I left my car in search of those coyotes that I’d seen the day before. I wore plenty of layers but had only a pair of thin gloves on. It’s important for me to be able to feel the controls on my camera. I was hoping my fingers wouldn’t get too cold.

It was important to be in place with my predator call before the sun came up. It’s about a mile hike to where I was headed and did I say it was cold?  There was no way to be quiet as the snow was crunching loudly as I walked. Perhaps once I set up and stayed still, whatever I spooked away would come back once the sun came up.

After getting to my selected spot, I set everything up making sure the light would be at the right angle should the coyotes show. Just when the light was almost bright enough, I had my first visitor. It came from behind me and flew only a few feet above my head.  I was hoping that it was an owl but…

It flew only a few feet above my head

It flew only a few feet above my head

It’s a Red-tailed Hawk! As you can see, there’s hardly enough light. Surely, it was looking for a quick meal.

I can hear it but what is it?

I can hear it but what is it?

It stayed on that branch for quite a while trying to figure out what was making the noises that sounded like a coyote pup. Early morning light is terrific. It really makes everything have that soft golden glow.

If I move closer, maybe I'll see breakfast.

If I move closer, maybe I’ll see breakfast.

It suddenly moved to a lower branch to get a closer look.

I just don't get it!

I just don’t get it!

Then one step… branch closer.

Even a little closer!

Even a little closer!

It still didn’t seem to be able to determine what the noise was all about so it flew to another branch probably to look at it from a different angle.

Maybe if I move over here I'll see it better.

Maybe if I move over here I’ll see it better.

It stayed there for quite some time then flew to a pole that was behind the pine tree where I was hiding.  It knew I was there alright because it had looked at me several times. Even though I was only about 50 yards away, it didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence.

Moving away

Moving away

It stayed on that pole above me for some time then flew back to the tree where the predator call was hanging. By that time, I’d been photographing this hawk for about an hour and the good light was fading. I had been out in the cold for about two and a half hours and my fingers were frozen. It was time to leave. As I walked to the tree to get the predator call, the hawk just stayed there only a few feet above me. It didn’t see me as a threat at all. VERY COOL!

Bye Bill! It was fun.

Bye Bill! It was fun.

This was the last photo that I took of it as I walked away.

The coyotes never showed. That’s not totally unexpected. I’ve read that because of human activity, they seem to have become more nocturnal than they once were and now do much of their hunting at night.  After all, I first saw them yesterday just before sundown.

I thought that I might have better luck seeing them in the evening so I decided to try again closer to sundown.  Three in the afternoon seem like a good time to start. The temperature was in the mid 30’s so it was much warmer than this morning. Yes, after quite some time, my fingers finally did thaw out. :-)

Well, about the only critters that came by were these guys. As you may know, they have excellent eyesight and hearing. Once they spotted me, they were on the run!

YIKES! Let's get out of here!

YIKES! Let’s get out of here!

Red-tail came back for a little while but went on its way to do some serious hunting.

Looking for dinner

Looking for dinner

As I was gathering my gear to leave, I noticed these critters watching me. Notice the little one on the left side. It was especially fun to watch as it frolicked around. I never get tired of watching them especially when they’re so inquisitive.

What do you guys think he's doing?

What do you guys think he’s doing?

While the coyotes never showed, I still had a great time photographing some wonderful critters especially the Red-tailed Hawk. It was great to be out even in the cold. Hope you enjoyed this post.

Thanks for stopping by!

Bill

Found those coyotes!

A biologist friend had told me about them but I hadn’t had much luck finding them. We had a pretty good snow storm yesterday and it seemed like the Polar Vortex returned, so I was quite sure not many people would be out to spook them so I went looking for them. I started my search about an hour and a half before sunset. It was a bit chilly, only 19 or 20 degrees, so I didn’t bring my normal 200-400mm lens. It’s heavy and I thought the 28-300 mm would be easier to carry just in case I slipped or fell on the ice or snow.

Well after about a 40 minute hike, I saw something in the distance looking back at me! Then, it sudden disappeared, sort of… (Now, these photos have been cropped so they aren’t as sharp as I’d like but I thought you might like to see what I’ll be going after very early tomorrow morning.)

I hope he didn't see me!

I hope he didn’t see me!

Can you see it trying to sneak away and not be detected? Then suddenly, there was two of them!

We had better hightail it out of here!

We had better hightail it out of here!

They would not let me get any closer than 100 to 150 yards or so to them but what a treat to finally see them.

Lone Coyote

Lone Coyote

Now that I know where they are, I’m going back tomorrow morning before dawn. I’ll  bring along a predator call to see if I can call them in closer. I’ll also have my big lens so maybe, just maybe, I’ll get lucky again. With wildlife photography, as you know, there are no guarantees .

As I was leaving the area, I looked behind me to see this beautiful sunset. Even if I had not seen the coyotes, the sunset was worth being out in the cold this evening.

Red at Night, Sailor's Delight!

Red at Night, Sailor’s Delight!

Thanks for stopping by!

Bill