Friday, July 31, 2015

Cadillac Mountain in predawn light, Acadia National Park

Photograph from the summit of Mount Cadillac in predawn light in Acadia National Park

I'm already looking forward to a trip to Acadia National Park in August. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the weather will cooperate and provide some coastal fog for a sunrise from the summit of Cadillac Mountain. One photographic regret I have from my years in the SF Bay Area is that I didn't spend more time photographing the sunset from above the fog on Mt Tam. I'm always drawn into these kinds of pictures, and we'll see if I'm lucky enough to have a chance up in Maine. Regardless, I know Acadia will be a very fun vacation for my dog, who had a blast in the park last year.

Anyway, this was one of my personal favorites from last year's Acadia trip. I enjoy the cool colors of the predawn light before the warmth will soon explode over the horizon. I like too that you can see the headlights of a car as it makes its way up the road to the summit to join the throngs of people awaiting the rising sun.

View more photographs from Acadia National Park in Maine.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Overcast pronghorn portraits, Yellowstone National Park

Photograph of an alert pronghorn at the edge of the forest in Yellowstone National Park

During our 2011 road trip through Yellowstone National Park, we spent plenty of time driving the loop roads looking for wildlife. On this particular afternoon, some nice high-level clouds moved in and provided lovely diffuse overcast light during what would otherwise generally be a non-photographic time for me (~2pm in the afternoon). It provided a great opportunity for a chance encounter with a pair of pronghorn close to the road near the Lamar Valley.

Photograph of a curious pronghorn glancing to the side in Yellowstone

I really liked this setting for these portraits with the edge of the evergreen forest in the background. Most of my photographic opportunities with pronghorn came in more traditional prairie grasslands, so it was awesome to have a chance to diversify the setting with this series. This pronghorn hung around for a while and was kind enough to pose for a series of portraits as it observed the gathering crowd.

Photograph of a pronghorn watching a gathering crowd in Yellowstone National Park

View more of my pronghorn photography.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bull moose in the forest, Grand Teton National Park

Bull moose in the forest in Grand Teton National Park

Perhaps even more than wanting to photograph pronghorn on our 2011 road trip, I really wanted to have a chance to add some moose to my galleries -- and Grand Teton National Park did not disappoint! Each of our three mornings in the park were spent searching for moose in the sagebrush before they moved into the forest in the early morning. The Gros Ventre River corridor was a hotspot, leading so some very memorable morning encounters.

View more of my photographs of moose in Grand Teton National Park.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Herd of pronghorn at sunset, Grand Teton National Park

Photograph of a small herd of pronghorn at sunset in Grand Teton National Park

On our 2011 road trip through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, the chance to photograph pronghorn was high on my wish list. I've long been fascinated by this species, and on our first evening in the park, we were treated to some up-close visuals right along the side of the road. The light was fading fast, so I barely managed any reasonably sharp frames, but it was a really special encounter so see this herd up close. We would see pronghorn in Grand Teton National Park only a few more times in our 3 days there and always at a far distance. Though we were treated to some very nice breakfast encounters with a small herd of pronghorn each morning as we drove through the Gardiner entrance to Yellowstone throughout the next week.

View more of my pronghorn photography.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bison on the prairie at sunset, Grand Teton National Park

Photograph of a bison on the prairie at sunset in Grand Teton National Park

I'm changing things up a bit for this post and delving into the archives. I was recently thinking about the awesome trip we had through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks in 2011, and I recalled that there were still some images I had marked to process but never did. One such memorable experience in Grand Teton National Park was watching a herd of bison grazing on the prairie while the sun set behind the mountains. It was so impressive to see the large bison herds, but these two images of a solitary bison feeding on the expansive prairie captured the serenity of the sunset scene.

Photograph of a bison on the range in Grand Teton National Park

View more of my photographs of bison.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Little blue heron shows off a silver fish, Bunche Beach Preserve

Photograph of a little blue heron that caught a silver fish in Florida

This little blue heron (Egretta caerulea) put on quite a show for me as a watched it hunt for a half-hour at Bunche Beach Preserve in Fort Myers, Florida. It had a terrific success rate as it struck at fish below the surface of the tidal pool. Here, it proudly showed me a full view of its silver prize before quickly swallowing it whole.

Browse more of my photographs of herons and egrets.

This post shared with Wild Bird Wednesday -- follow the link for this week's posts!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Snowy egret amidst snowy reflections, Bunche Beach Preserve

Photograph of a snowy egret hunting in a tidal pool in front of other white birds

The reflections were really fun to work with as the tide was rising in these quiescent tidal pools at Bunche Beach Preserve in Florida. By elevating the camera a little above the water it was possible to capture reflections of an entire bird. When I dropped my lens down to essentially resting on the ground, the reflections became wondrously elongated -- as shown here with this snowy egret in front of a backdrop of white ibises.

Browse more of my photographs of egrets and herons.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Piping plover chick exploring the beach, Sandy Point State Reservation

Photograph of a baby piping plover searching among the shells on the beach

I've been pursuing clean foregrounds and backgrounds on the beach with my shorebird photography lately, but it was really exciting when this tiny chick started walking toward me through the tide-line of shells.

Photograph of a newborn piping plover chick on Plum Island, Massachusetts

This interesting setting provided some variations in color and pattern to set up the scene and really helped to illustrate just how tiny this young chick was.

Photograph of a baby piping plover chick surrounded by seashells at Sandy Point State Reservation

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Least tern on its nest in the sand, Sandy Point State Reservation

Photograph of a least tern incubating its eggs in a nest in the sand

This summer, I have primarily been enthralled with photographing the piping plover chicks at Sandy Point State Reservation in Massachusetts, but there are other species of breeding birds in the park as well. While there were a handful of little tern chicks running about the beach already, this adult was taking care of its two eggs nestled into a small depression in the sand.

Least tern looks as its two eggs at Sandy Point State Reservation in Massachusetts

View more photographs of terns and gulls.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Peeking piping plover, Sandy Point State Reservation

Photograph of a piping plover chick peeking out from behind its mother

I took a trip out to Sandy Point State Reservation on Plum Island again last week, and the baby plovers are growing up. There were two youngsters with this parent in the early morning light, which were significantly larger than when I was there in June, but not yet fledged. I did see a couple of really young chicks too, as well as an adult plover that appeared to be incubating a nest. What a special place that relatively small stretch of beach is with all of the breeding birds.

View more of my photographs of plovers.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Reacquainted with the sunrise

Photograph of a piping plover chick approaching its parent in early morning light

I’ve written many times on this blog about my love of experiencing the first light of the day. While the brilliant colors of sunset are just as visually pleasing, the sunrise provides a much stronger fuel for my soul. With the less than ideal amount of sleep I get during the semester, coupled with the lengthening days of spring feeding into summer, it had been a long time since I felt the warm glow of the first rays touch my face. Even though Plum Island is over an hour away and we were near the earliest mornings of the year due to the solstice, the gravitational pull of the chance to photograph tiny piping plover chicks in warm morning light was strong enough to get me out for the sunrise twice last month and again earlier this week. There’s magic at the leading edge of the day, and it feels great to be reacquainted again!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Spoonbill reflection, Bunche Beach Preserve

Photograph of a roseate spoonbill reflected in a tidal pool

The smooth surface of the shallow tidal pools at Bunche Beach Preserve made for some nice reflections all morning. It was surprising to experience how quickly the flooding tide rose across the flat expanses of exposed mudflats. I initially placed myself a few yards from the edge of this pond, but after about 15 minutes of photographing this juvenile roseate spoonbill, the water had reached my location. Thankfully, the bird soon opted to fly off to a different pool, making it a much easier choice to stand up before being completely soaked through.

View more photographs of this juvenile spoonbill and other wading birds.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Little blue heron in an infinite sea, Bunche Beach Preserve

Photograph of a little blue heron in a tidal pool at Bunche Beach Preserve

On this morning last March, I had enjoyed photographing wading birds in the warm sunrise light further up the beach at Bunche Beach Preserve. As I was walking back to the car, some high-level clouds moved in and provided wonderful diffuse light for this lone little blue heron as it hunted in a shallow tidal pool. Combining that with a low-angle approach, and this small tidal pool appeared to extend all the way to the horizon.

Photograph of a little blue heron in a still tidal pool in Fort Myers, Florida

View more photographs of herons and egrets

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Piping plover parents, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover chicks snuggled under their parent's feathers in Massachusetts

I must say, after watching the job these piping plover parents have on a few separate mornings last month, I’m glad it’s not my responsibility to keep track of the chicks! These tender moments of warming them together in a single group seemed to be short-lived, as a few minutes later all four chicks will inevitably be running in four separate directions around the beach. It’s amazing to me that the adults are able to keep track of them all!

Eight baby plover legs stick out from under a parent at Sandy Point State Reservation

View more photographs of piping plovers, as well as other plover species.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Close encounters of the adorable kind, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover chick close-up at Sandy Point State Reservation, Massachusetts

One of the most fun things about photographing these piping plover chicks as they explored the beach outside of their roped-off protected area at Sandy Point State Reservation is how curious they were. On many occasions, as I was quietly lying in the sand nearby, the chicks would come well within my minimum focusing distance of 8 feet. No complaints here though – it was a great chance to pull my eye away from the viewfinder and enjoy a close encounter of the adorable kind.

View more plover photography.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Piping plover chicks in morning light, Sandy Point State Reservation

Fluffy piping plover chick in early morning light on Plum Island, Massachusetts

I took a Friday off in June to do some photography. The forecast wasn’t great, and I almost canceled my plans, but a Thursday night read of the Plum Island bird sighting reports convinced me to go. I had seen that folks were still spotting some sandpipers that seemed late to leave for the tundra, so the potential chance to photograph some peeps in summer colors was enough to get me to drag myself out of bed early. I had a delightful time wandering the beach and watching the courting rituals of least terns, and it felt great to have my camera in hand again. After the best light faded, I decided to start heading back to my car – and much to my surprise and delight, I saw a small flock of tiny plover chicks zig-zagging across the sand. Limited time in harsh light wasn’t enough, so with some helpful suggestions from my wife, I went back for sunrise on Sunday and then again a week later when this pair of images was taken. Multiple plover families were cruising the beach and drawing quite a crowd of photographers each morning.

 Piping plover chick at Sandy Point State Reservation

View more of my photographs of plovers.