Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sun slipping behind the fog, Acadia National Park

Photograph of the sun slipping behind the fog in Acadia National Park

As we watch the sun set on 2015, I can't help but wait with anticipation for the sun to rise on the new year. This past year was a really busy one, and while I don't see signs of that changing in 2016, I do hope to find a way to make more of an effort to connect with nature on a regular basis. I discovered my need to use nature photography as a meditation while in California for graduate school, and it's been exciting to see the recent articles (like the cover story for the January issue of National Geographic) supporting what I found to be intrinsically true. So as I look forward to 2016, I wish you all the best for a great year filled with family, friendship, love, and quiet time spent in nature!


This image from the slopes of Cadillac Mountain was the only landscape I selected for my Favorite Photographs of 2015 post. I had previsualized a number of photographs that I hoped to work at on the trip, but the ever present coastal fog had other plans. For about 20 minutes on our first evening in the park, I had my only chance at seeing a sunset, and I think that this is my favorite frame from that experience. What was most surprising to me was how quickly the fog descended down from the summit of Mount Cadillac once the sun slipped behind the fog for the last time.

View more photographs from Acadia National Park.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Favorite Photographs of 2015

As we prepare to turn the page on another year, I always enjoy looking back on my work to create a post for Jim Goldstein's Annual Favorite Photographs Blog Project. I'm disappointed to report that I failed miserably at my new year's resolution to spend more time reconnecting with nature, especially through local parks, this year. However, I did have a handful of special opportunities with my camera, including wading birds in southwestern Florida in the spring, baby piping plovers on Plum Island over the summer, and a very foggy trip to Acadia National Park in August.

If you're interested, here are my favorite photographs from 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009. Without further ado, my favorites from this year are below in no particular order.


Reacquainted with the sunrise
It was great to be out for the sunrise again a few times over the summer, and especially to share those golden moments with the breeding piping plovers at Sandy Point State Reservation on Plum Island. The chicks were adorable enough on their own, but it was fun to try to capture the moments of interaction with their parents.
Photograph of a piping plover chick approaching its parent in early morning light



Least tern delivers a fish, Sandy Point State Reservation
The beaches on Plum Island are a breeding ground for other coastal birds as well, including least terns. This pair nested fairly close to the perimeter of the protected area, providing a great view into their tender moments. Here, one partner brought a fish back to the other as it incubated the eggs. I'm disappointed that I clipped the wing tip in this frame, but I still love that both beaks are on the fish during the exchange.
Photograph of a least tern delivering a fish to its partner



Little blue reflection, Bunche Beach Preserve
I had a lot of fun over two mornings in southwestern Florida watching the wading birds during low tide at Bunche Beach Preserve. There was a great diversity of species, but the little blue herons were particularly photogenic. Here, one appeared to walk across the still water of a tidal pool.
Little blue heron looks like it's walking on water in southwest Florida



Curious piping plover chick, Sandy Point State Reservation
These tiny chicks really were a highlight of my summer. I saw them unexpectedly on an outing in June, and then I just had to keep coming back. They were quite curious about all of the photographers lying in the sand to see them, often coming well within my 8' minimum focusing distance. I came home with a lot of images to consider for this list, but this on with the exaggeratedly shallow depth of field was my favorite.
Shallow depth-of-field photograph of a young piping plover



Sun slipping behind the fog, Acadia National Park
Our annual trip to Acadia National Park was wonderful, but we fought the fog the whole time. I had hoped for multiple sunrises or sunsets above the fog, but as it turned out, the first evening was the only chance we had. This image was taken from the trails below the summit of Mount Cadillac as the fog swirled around us.
Photograph of the sun slipping behind the fog in Acadia National Park



Hungry least tern chick, Sandy Point State Reservation
Late in the summer, it was fun to see the young birds growing up. It was interesting to note the difference between the piping plovers that had to feed themselves from their first day and the young terns that relied on their parents to bring back each meal. Here, this least tern was kicking up sand as it impatiently watched its parent circling overhead with a fish.
Photograph of a hungry least tern chick calling out to its parents



Little blue heron in morning light, Bunche Beach Preserve
It was a really long winter in Boston this year with record snowfall, so it felt great to fly south to Florida for a few warm days in March. For me, nothing beats a sunrise photographing birds in the sand and it was almost too easy there. I would just set up next to a tidal pool, and it wouldn't take long for a flock of birds to arrive.
Little blue heron at sunrise on Bunche Beach, Fort Myers, Florida



Piping plover parents, Sandy Point State Reservation
The brooding behavior of the piping plover parents was wonderful to witness, like in this case when all four chicks scooted underneath. However, these moments of calm were short-lived -- the chicks would be off running in four separate directions soon!
Piping plover chicks snuggled under their parent's feathers in Massachusetts



Roseate spoonbill feeding at Bunche Beach Preserve
A highlight of our Florida trip was the chance to photograph this juvenile roseate spoonbill feeding in a tidal pool. It offered a lot of stately poses, but I like the more comical expression captured in this frame the most.
Feeding roseate spoonbill splashes water at Bunche Beach




Sunday, December 6, 2015

Bighorn sheep surveying the valley, Yellowstone National Park

Photograph of a bighorn sheep ewe watching over a valley in Yellowstone National Park

From the archives of our trip to Yellowstone National Park four years ago. We saw a ton of wildlife each day, but this is one species that for some reason I haven't yet posted to my blog. We saw the sheep almost daily on the cliffs above the road to the Gardiner entrance to the park, and on our last full day there, we decided to hike a trail up to their elevation to try for a better view. We met this very friendly ewe along the way, and she led us to the larger flock. It was a bit disappointing that there were no adult males in the group, but we did get a great encounter with a few dozen females and lambs.

View more photographs of bighorn sheep.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Focused snowy egret, Bunche Beach Preserve

Photograph of a snowy egret hunting in a tidal pool at Bunche Beach

I had only a handful of chances to get outside with my camera this year, but thankfully they were pretty productive. This snowy egret is from a March morning spent at Bunche Beach Preserve in Fort Myers, Florida. It really was almost too easy to get close to the birds there. I would just lie down on the mudflats next to a tidal pool and it wouldn't take long for the birds to start filling it in. The reflections in the slowly rising tide were really fun to play with too.

View more photographs of egrets.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Sanderling feeding at low tide, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Photograph of a sanderling pushing its beak through the sand at Parker River NWR

A belated Thanksgiving to you all! I hope you enjoyed your meal and socializing socializing with family and friends as much as this sanderling did the day before. A busy semester has kept me inside since September, so it felt great to finally get out to the beach for a sunset on Wednesday. While the temptation is always there to search for snowy owls on a winter trip to Plum Island, I was focused on finding a flock of shorebirds to photograph. I started my trip at the Lot 6 beach, and from the crest of the dunes I saw a small flock (about 30 birds) of sanderlings and dunlin. It didn't take too long to win their trust, and it felt awesome to lay out in the cold sand as the flock surrounded me. The extreme low tide this week seemed to provide an extra feast for the birds, as there were many places where the whole flock dug their bills into the sand while making quite an excited and loud ruckus of "peeps." The party scene ended abruptly though when something spooked the flock and they took off up the beach. While I didn't get to photograph them in the best light of the day, it was still invigorating to spend time with shorebirds again.

View more photographs of sanderlings.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Boulders and reflections in Bubble Pond, Acadia National Park

Photograph of boulders and forests reflected in Bubble Pond, Acadia National Park

Bubble Pond was a location that we didn't see on our trip to Acadia National Park last year. The parking lot was rather small (maybe room for 10 cars?), so it took a few tries before we were able to walk the carriage road along shoreline. Like most of the ponds in the park, the water was wonderfully clear with views of the rocky bottom. There was only a light wind crossing the pond when we started out, providing nice reflections as well -- offering a simultaneous view both above and below the surface.

View more photographs of Acadia National Park.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fog shrouded sunset on Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

Photograph from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park of the sun setting behind a fog bank

As I've written in my last few posts, this year's summer trip to Acadia National park was all about the fog. I had daydreamed about having the chance to photograph the warm colors of the sun rising or setting behind a bank of cool coastal fog -- and our first evening in the park was my only opportunity. We experienced all of the other sunrises or sunsets from underneath a heavy layer of coastal fog.

It was a tenuous experience looking for the right location to catch the sunset at an elevation below the summit of Cadillac Mountain, which was fully shrouded in fog. The rolling moisture was ever-shifting, leaving some moments of deep, dark grey and others of clear views over the park. Thankfully, the fog that was slipping down the slopes from the summit stayed above our elevation during the last few minutes of the sun's descent toward the fog bank horizon. In fact, the constant motion of the fog gave me multiple opportunities to catch the "final" moments of the day -- after the sun had set, the fog would shift and provide another opportunity to watch the sun slip further behind. So even though I had only one evening to catch the sunset, at least I had a couple of rapid-fire opportunities at the time.

It was surprising how quickly the fog covering the summit crashed down to our location after the sun slipped behind the foggy horizon for the final time. Just a few minutes after taking my last image for the day, we were full-on in a cloud, getting soaked by the heavy mist on the brief hike back to the car.

View more landscape photography from Acadia National Park.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Dynamic coastal fog rolling through the valleys, Acadia National Park

Photograph of rolling fog spilling through valleys in Acadia National Park

The fog was incredibly dynamic as it rolled across the landscape in Acadia National Park. As we awaited the sunset on the western slopes of Cadillac Mountain, the skies above and below us were constantly changing. One moment we would see far into the distance across Mount Desert Island, as in this image, and in the next moment we were fully enveloped in the fog. In fact, the photograph that I posted yesterday of a fog-shrouded scene was taken only 1 minute after this one!

View more photography from Acadia National Park.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Fog and granite, Acadia National Park

Photograph of a granite outcrop under fog at sunset in Acadia National Park

On our first evening in Acadia National Park this year, after enjoying some delicious crab and lobster rolls as our welcome to Maine dinner, we planned to drive up Cadillac Mountain for the sunset. As we approached the bridge to Mount Desert Island, we could already see that the summit was hidden by fog rolling in from the coast. However, the fog had not yet slipped all the way down the slopes, so some of the intermediate elevations were clear. We joined a fleet of cars parking in the pullouts along the road and awaited the sunset from the granite outcrops. In the hour or so we hiked around the area, the ever changing fog would bury us completely and then fade away with a steady rhythm. This photograph was taken at the edge of one of these mountain breaths, where setting sun cast a warm glow in the cloud of fog surrounding us.

View more landscape photography from Acadia National Park.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Embracing the fog, Acadia National Park

Earlier this summer, I wrote about how I was hoping we would luck out with the coastal fog on our annual trip to Acadia National Park. I had some images planned in my mind to shoot from the top of Cadillac Mountain above the marine layer as the sun rose or set. Well, I suppose you always need to be careful what you wish for! We had fog everyday of our trip, but only one brief opportunity to be above it on our first evening there. The fog settled in heavily and hung around for basically our entire trip, except for a few breaks in the middle of the day. So while I didn't score the images I was dreaming of, we were offered a totally different experience than last summer -- we now realize how lucky we were to have four completely clear days in the park last year!

Photograph of the fog rolling over Upper Hadlock Pond in Acadia National Park

Of course, I've also written many times on this blog how living in the San Francisco Bay Area taught me to appreciate the inherent beauty of coastal fog, and this trip made me stand by those claims. I tried my best to embrace the fog that enveloped Mount Desert Island, which meant stepping back from expectations of the grand landscapes of coastal Maine, and instead focusing in on the smaller, but still remarkably beautiful landscapes available at closer range.

Photograph of fog descends over Upper Hadlock Pond in Acadia National Park

This pair of photographs was taken from the shoreline of Upper Hadlock Pond on our final morning in the park. Once again, we scratched our plans to arise well before sunrise as the forecast was calling for the heavy fog to hang around. We chose the path around Lower Hadlock Pond for our morning hike, but I couldn't pass up this view of the fog descending the hillsides as we passed by the upper pond.

View more photographs of the impressive landscape of Acadia National Park.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Song sparrow in blooming lupine, Point Reyes National Seashore

Photograph of a song sparrow perched in blooming yellow bush lupine

I've written about this plenty of times before, but strolling the trail to Kehoe Beach while the wildflowers are blooming in Point Reyes National Seashore is sight to behold. The air is thick with their sweet aromas, and the birds are abundant among the blooms. On my summer trip last year, I walked this trail almost daily looking for opportunities to photograph song birds as they bounced about the branches. The dominant color along the trail was yellow, and this song sparrow perched on a yellow bush lupine with wild mustard behind.

View more of my photographs of sparrows and other song birds.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

California quail in song, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Photograph of a quail singing in a bush in Golden Gate National Recreation Area

After spending some quality time photographing this California quail singing from the top of a branch of coyote brush last summer, I took another lap around the Tennessee Valley Trail. I didn’t see much on my traverse, but when I returned, this friendly quail had moved to a different perch even closer to the trail. His new location certainly didn’t tamp down his vigor, so I took advantage of the opportunity to make a few more photographs of him throwing his head back and calling out his lovely song.

View more of my quail photography.

Submitted to Wild Bird Wednesday -- follow the link to check out this week's posts.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Bobcat near Abbotts Lagoon, Point Reyes National Seashore

Photograph of a bobcat in Point Reyes National Seashore

I knew it was going to be a productive trip to Point Reyes National Seashore for me last year, when I encountered this bobcat on my first evening in the park. After landing in California I grabbed some supplies for the week in my old stomping grounds (including a burrito from my favorite taqueria!) before heading out to Marin. For my first foray into the park I decided to look for quail in the coastal scrub near Abbotts Lagoon. I had some luck with birds near the trailhead before starting to hike toward the coast. I didn't get too far down the trail though before spotting this bobcat searching for rodents in the adjacent field. Much to my delight, the cat started working its way toward my location near the small drainage pond along the trail. It definitely noticed that I was watching, and it gave me a wary eye as it approached before disappearing into the reeds at the edge of the pond. I stayed in my spot on the trail for a while longer to see if it would emerge, and surprisingly it stepped out even closer to me. It seemed to want to get a better look at its observer, spending a few minutes looking my way before slipping back into the vegetation. I would see this cat working the fields near the pond multiple times during my trip (though never at this close range again), and I suspect that it may have had a den there.

Photograph of a bobcat in California looking to the side

View more photographs of bobcats.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mule deer behind the dunes, Point Reyes National Seashore

Photograph of a mule deer behind the dunes in Point Reyes National Seashore

Continuing with my run of fog-shrouded images from last summer, here is a mule deer doe (above) and her juvenile (below) enjoying the summer wildflowers in Point Reyes National Seashore. I began my day in the park with a morning drive out to Chimney Rock and encountered this pair along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. The backside of the large dunes of the outer peninsula are in the background, and if it wasn't for the fog, the Pacific would be visible beyond them.

Photograph of a young mule deer in the tall grass

View more of my photographs of mule deer.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Trail through the fog, Point Reyes National Seashore

Photograph of a trail through wildflowers under heavy fog in Point Reyes National Seashore

Following on my theme in yesterday's post about switching my mind's eye into landscape mode, here is another photograph from last summer along the Tomales Point Trail under a heavy layer of fog. I've always enjoyed the wind-driven shape of these stately cypress trees, and they were even more engaging as they faded in and out of sight through the fog. My early June trip happened to coincide with an explosion of lupine and wild radish along the trail, which added an amazing amount of color, as well as a thick scent of pollen, to the scene.

View more of my photography from the Tomales Point area of Point Reyes National Seashore.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Impressionist's landscape under the fog, Point Reyes National Seashore

Photograph of a wildflower filled valley in Point Reyes National Seashore

I'm looking forward to a trip to Acadia National Park later this month, which means I'll need to switch my photographic eye to landscape mode. I really wish that I was a better landscape photographer. With wildlife, it comes fairly naturally to me to create images that have the potential to build an emotional connection with the viewer. In some ways, I think it can be easier when you have a clear focus of attention on a living, breathing creature. The eyes provide that necessary window to pull a viewer directly into the scene, and there's always a dynamic component related to the perceived motion (or lack thereof) of the animal. I have yet to find a consistent way to generate an emotional connection through my landscape photography. I feel it strongly while viewing other photographer's work, but it still remains an elusive challenge in my own.

On my trip to Point Reyes National Seashore last summer, I was primarily focused on wildlife, but I made a conscious effort to try to capture the scenic aspects of the park as well. I have such a strong emotional connection to the Point Reyes landscape, and I would love to be able to express just a sliver of it through my lens. I walked the Tomales Point Trail a couple of times on this trip, and each time that I passed this valley bathed in wildflowers it caught my attention. I tried a number of times to create something that expressed my draw to this scene, and the closest I came was in this image under a dense layer of fog. The wind was barely blowing and the birds were quiet, as if the world was weighed down by the fog. The soft colors under the heavy air and remarkable density of blooms in the valley seemed to be cast by an impressionist's paintbrush. The stillness and serenity of this stop along the trail are still etched in my memory.

Ultimately, my efforts to create an impactful image fell short of my intentions, but with failure comes the opportunity for growth. Artistic expression would likely go stale without the constant pursuit of improvement, so I'm looking forward to the challenge. Acadia is another landscape that I felt an immediate connection with, and I hope I'll be returning from my upcoming trip with an expression of that connection.

View more of my landscapes from Point Reyes National Seashore.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sanderling in the last rays of sunlight, Parker River NWR

Photograph of a sanderling on the beach at sunset

I'm always preferential to the sunrise when I have the chance, but last autumn I had a couple of really successful sunset trips in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. I spent about an hour working with a friendly flock of sandpipers at the Lot 7 beach in pleasant evening light, but as the sun prepared to slip behind the dunes this sandpiper really started glowing in the warm final rays.

View more photographs of sanderlings.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Least tern delivers a fish, Sandy Point State Reservation

Photograph of a least tern delivering a fish to its partner

While I was watching this least tern incubating its two eggs on the beach, I had the pleasure of observing its partner bring it a fish. In the excitement of this unexpected moment, I unfortunately clipped the tips of the wings of the bird who stopped by only briefly enough to hand off the fish and fly off again. While I'm excited to have a nice record of the moment, I'm a bit bummed that I made such a technical error. I waited around for a while longer to see if I would be lucky to witness another exchange, but unfortunately it never came. A valuable lesson that I've heard before, but failed to execute, is that when photographing birds that are likely to flap their wings (like in this case, or especially with birds that are bathing in shallow water), it's always better to zoom out and leave extra space. You can always crop away the excess later, but you can't regain the tips of those wings in post-processing.

Photograph of a pair of least terns on their nest sharing a fish

View more photographs of terns.


Submitted to Wild Bird Wednesday -- follow the link for this week's posts!


Monday, August 10, 2015

Reddish egret chasing a fish, Bunche Beach Preserve

Photograph of a reddish egret flapping its wings while hunting

On my trip to southwest Florida in March, one of the most exciting species to see, other than the roseate spoonbill I've previously posted, was the reddish egret. This bird was a lifer for me, and we first saw one at quite a distance through a docent's scope at Ding Darling NWR. At the time, I had no idea that I would have the privilege to photograph one at relatively close range each of the next two mornings at Bunche Beach Preserve. They are such a beautiful species, and their goofy running, jumping, and flapping behavior while chasing fish was really a sight to behold. Its comical movements reminded me quite a lot of Big Bird from Sesame Street!

View more of my photographs of egrets and herons.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Willet on a quiet morning, Bunche Beach Preserve

Photograph of a willet in a tidal pool at Bunche Beach Preserve

Warm morning light, still water, and the slow gait of this willet through the shallow tidal pool combine to transport me to a serene setting of quiet solitude. While the beach had plenty of action that morning, this image encapsulates the internal silence I often experience while photographing wildlife.

View more photographs of willets.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Portrait of a juvenile white ibis, Bunche Beach Preserve

Photographic portrait of a juvenile white ibis in Florida

I've been posting a series of photographs lately of tiny juvenile piping plovers, so I thought I'd mix it up with a substantially larger youngster. This handsome bird is a less than a year-old white ibis that I photographed in March at Bunche Beach Preserve in Ft Myers, Florida. Seeing this species is a highlight of any trip to Florida, and we saw probably 20 or so juveniles on a kayaking trip through the mangroves in Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Though it wasn't until the next morning that I was able to get a close enough view to see those beautiful blue eyes.

View more photographs of white ibises and other wading birds.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Piping plover parent with chick underwing, Sandy Point State Reservation

Wildlife Photography by Pat Ulrich: Plovers &emdash; Plover parent with one chick under its wing

Another interesting tidbit I came across while reading up on piping plovers recently, in addition to what I posted yesterday about plover chicks being entirely responsible for feeding themselves, is related to the role of the parents. While both the male and female share responsibility for incubating the nest, it is relatively common for the female to abandon the brood within a week of the chicks hatching. That leaves the male in charge of protecting the chicks until they fledge a few weeks later. I'm not sure if this is a male or female parent, but there is a very young chick tucked under its left wing. You can see a tiny leg sticking out and the top of its downy head under the popped-up feathers.

View more photographs of plovers


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tiny voracious predator, Piping plover chick at Sandy Point State Reservation

Photograph of a piping plover chick chasing prey in Massachusetts

When I was looking up information about how to identify a piping plover fledgling, I came across an interesting fact -- piping plover chicks are entirely responsible for feeding themselves! While watching the chicks on the beach at Sandy Point Reservation on multiple occasions this summer, I was interested to observe how much time they seemed to spend catching bugs. They appeared to be on a constant search for food, which now makes a lot of sense to me. It would also seem to explain why all of the chicks in the same clutch would often run in separate directions after warming up under their parent. Pretty incredible to think that a few hours after they hatch, these adorable tiny predators are already leaving the nest and looking for prey.

Browse more of my photographs of plovers.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Early morning blues, Piping plover on Plum Island

Photograph of a piping plover fledgling at Sandy Point State Reservation

Nothing much to be blue about on this morning (or any morning when you're out to do some photography at sunrise!) unless you're the morning light reflecting off the water in the background. I took this photograph on a mid-July trip to Sandy Point State Reservation on Plum Island, and I suspect that this is a fledgling from one of the piping plover clutches I saw as tiny chicks in early June.

View more of my photographs of piping plovers.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Curious piping plover chick, Sandy Point State Reservation

Shallow DOF photograph of a young piping plover

The uneven sand along the high tide line of Sandy Point State Reservation made for an fun setting to photograph this piping plover chick as it curiously checked out the photographer laying in the sand. At times, some objects in the wrack obstructed the frame, but when it stepped into the right location, it was exciting to capture this dreamy effect of an exaggeratedly shallow depth of field.

Photograph of a curious piping plover chick in Massachusetts

Browse more photographs of plovers in my Plovers Gallery.

Submitted to Wild Bird Wednesday -- follow the link for this week's posts.


Monday, August 3, 2015

Last rays of sunlight above the fog, Mount Tamalpais State Park

Photograph of the last rays of sunlight above the fog on Mount Tamalpais

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am enamored with landscape photographs that take place above the fog. I've seen so many glorious images of the Golden Gate Bridge draped in fog over the years, and I recall a specific image from this area of Mt Tam that appeared in a CSPF bulletin a few years back. I had always wanted to try to capture such an image myself, but regrettably never made the opportunity for myself while living in California. It took until my trip back to the west coast last summer to finally be present with the right conditions. Though as I wrote about last year, I still ended up pulling into a turnout different than I had intended as time was running out.

View more landscape photography from Marin County, California.


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