Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year...

I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy new year. This was my second full year of blogging and a few things have changed since the first year and even first part of this year. I started going more places and more often to photograph wildlife. Because of that the blog has not turned into a wildlife blog but it is the one thing I post more often. I got the chance to meet more great people by doing this and I am thankful for that.

I am not where I want to be but I have grown this year in my photography skills and my post processing skills. I also added some new equipment. My son Shane started a blog and has been more active in photographing wildlife with me. I will cherish this time we spend together and hope it continues when he becomes an adult.

The blog has grown also. I seemed to have lost a few regular viewers but since I started posting more wildlife I gained many more new viewers. All my numbers are up over last year in hit, pages viewed and time spent on the site. I want to thank everyone that has stopped by once or every day.

By the way it is Thursday so stop by Shane's site for a new post.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back To Elk County...


I recently worked up a few photos from the Elk rut back in September to mix in with the whitetail photos from SNP. This bull was photographed on September 30, 2009 with the Nikon D90 (that's for you Heather for when you get your D90). Really how could this bull not be cool, he is bugling and has a small branch on his head. Once again I want to thank Willard and Coy, if it wasn't for there blogs I would have never started going to Benezette and SNP.

The weather won again like it has so many times this year. For months Shane and I planned on traveling to Benezette this week to photograph elk in the snow. Well last weeks rain put an end to that. I had a friend check the status of the weather for me on Sunday night and I found that the snow no longer exist in the area. They are to get lake effect snow later this week but with me heading back to work that will be no help. Our next plan was to go to Shenandoah for a couple of days and photograph the deer in the snow. Well they had the opposite problem, to much snow and skyline drive was closed. I did find that they opened it up today in the area we like but it was to late. We are still making the best of our time together during his Christmas break, a Washington Caps game Monday night, movie yesterday and we our trying our luck at the Conowingo dam today. With getting into working weekends it will mean I will make all those trips to catch the wildlife in the snow while they still have antlers without Shane.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Amish Way Of Life...



A few weeks ago my son Shane and I headed to the Conowingo Dam in Maryland in hopes of photographing some eagles. It just didn't work out. We seen upwards of 40 bald eagles but they were not flying but setting on the rocks across the river. If was fun seeing them and we will try again a few times this winter. We did stop and photograph these Amish people baling hay. I can't imagine how hard a life it must be, yet the simple life is probably much better in many ways.

It is Tuesday so please visit Shane's site for a new post.

Monday, December 28, 2009

More SNP Whitetail Closeups...

I do not have much to say today so enjoy the SNP 8 point closeup. This was taken on the day after Thanksgiving when my son and I went for the day. It is the same deer that was posted a couple of days ago but it is not the same photograph. The way the weather has been cooperating I will never get anything new to post on here.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you all have a safe and happy time, and of course I hope Santa got you everything you wanted. I am betting there is no Nikon 200-400 f4 lens under the tree for me. I guess I will just keep saving my money.

This photograph was taken on one of the beaches in Hawaii during our vacation this past year. That's it for now, presents need to be opened and dinner eaten before I head to work at the fire station today.

Please keep our military in your prayers and mind today. There is many men and women that are off keeping our great country safe and free that can not spend time with there families on this holiday.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Could This Be One Of Santa's Reindeer?

Could this be one of Santa's reindeer or just another SNP buck? I think it can be what ever you want it to be. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. For many of us we have jobs that requires us to work no matter what day it is. For newer firefighters this can be a difficult thing to work on Christmas but for some of us that have done it so many times it just becomes another day and part of the job. I do not like to see anyone lose a life or their home because of fire but after many years you learn to not let it bother you. Christmas is a different story, one never gets over responding to a house fire on Christmas eve or day and seeing a family with children lose their home and belongings because of a fire. Lets hope everyone has a safe Christmas and that firefighters all over the country get to set in the firehouse bored wishing they were at home with their families.

Go visit Shane's site for another new post, please.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Sparring Bucks...


These are the two bucks that I posted the last two days sparring. I thought I would give you a chance to meet them separately. If you look at the 4x4's head you will see his ears layed back. I mentioned about a larger buck showing up and these two breaking it off. When the ears layed back I must say I got a little excited thinking maybe a fight would ensue. It did not, this buck headed in the direction of the other one. The other one wanted nothing to do with him and turned to walk away, the 4x4 quickly took off after him and they ran about 30 yards before stopping. Unfortunately that was the end of it.

I hope you are not getting tired of SNP whitetails. I really enjoy watching and photographing them and that is all I have to post for now. If I am lucky I will have some elk photos in the snow very soon to post. I may even have some more whitetail photos from here in the snow in a few weeks. This blog did not start out to be a wildlife photography blog but I can see it has evolved into that. That is what I enjoy shooting the most, it is very relaxing and stress free. I will continue to post other things as they come up.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More Sparring Bucks...


This is a continuation of yesterday's post. For those that love photography they will understand but for those of you that do not shoot much, photographing these bucks can be a difficult time. I shoot on manual only, full manual. I know many will shoot in a priority mode normally aperture priority. With the deer in the woods it can be difficult to get the right vantage point. Obstructions become a problem as well as the deer moving and getting into a position that is just not good for photography. The twigs branches and grass can also be a problem, the auto focus will pick up on even a single strand and want to focus on it making all the photographs soft and bad. For that reason I switch to manual focus for shots like this. The other problem is changing from shade to sun and back, one is constantly making adjustments to the settings to get a good photo. And in this case the bucks had partial shade and partial sun. The camera needs to be set for one or the other or a happy medium in between. Some of these problems can be fixed in post processing, I just have allot to learn about that.

It was mentioned in the comment section before and I wondered myself about these two bucks. Could they be siblings? From grooming each other to the good natured sparring they did it almost seemed like an older buck teaching a younger (brother) buck. These same bucks sparred later in the afternoon and I was lucky enough to see it and get a few photographs, they will appear later. These are different photos not the same one cropped closer. Note the inside of the ear of the spike buck, it has a "4" tattooed on the inside. Could this be the way they tag the deer in SNP?

Please stop by Shane's site today for a new post.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sparring Bucks...



These photographs were taken at Shenandoah National Park the day after Thanksgiving. The two bucks were also featured in a December 2 post grooming each other. They spent a good ten minutes grooming each other before they began sparring. It lasted another ten minutes or so before another larger buck showed up. At that time the bigger buck shown here broke it off and lowered his ears. Unfortunately nothing happened between the two. I tried to get better unobstructed views but this was the best spot I could find in the woods.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mallards In Flight...


More from my walk at Wildwood Lake last month. The mallards just didn't want to get close while flying but I wanted to practice photographing birds in flight so I fired away. I was more pleased with them than I was the geese photos I posted a few weeks ago.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More Of The SNP 9 Point...

This is the same 9 point buck I posted on November 16 and again on November 30 with my son. This was taken the same time as the November 16 photograph during the rut at SNP. You will see more of this buck as I also got photos of him rubbing a large tree and some good close ups of him on my second trip south. I will start posting more photos from my second trip soon and will always let you know if they were from Thanksgiving or the rut trip. A couple more weeks and the park will open back up. I can't wait to try and got some photos of the deer in the snow.

Today is Thursday and that means a new post on Shane's site (SNP whitetails). Please stop by and don't forget to comment good or bad, it is the only way he will learn.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It Taste Better If You Work For It...


By now my regular viewers know that when I make a trip to photograph wildlife I get as much mileage out of the photos as I can. If you would like to see something different then please sponsor a trip for me to go someplace to take photos. I guess for deer it is like a cow the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. It just seems to taste better if you have to work for it and these two 4x2 and 4x4 bucks are doing just that.

I know both photos have a different color cast to them. Is one correct and one wrong? Beats me, the warmth of a photo and a color cast present or not present is one of the hardest things for me to do when I am processing the photos for the blog or print. I will say the first photo was taken in the afternoon as clouds were rolling in with a front and the second photo was taken early in the morning just after sunrise. Does that make them both right or is one or both wrong?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Spiders...


I mentioned last week that Shane and I visited the Conowingo Dam with no luck. While waiting for the eagles to fly (they never did) we noticed these spiders and decided to get a few shutter releases in any ways. Now I do not own a macro lens so these were taken with my D300 with the 70-200 F2.8 lens with the Nikkor 1.4 tele converter still attached. I just got back as far as was needed and zoomed in until I was able to focus on the spiders. The I had to tightly crop when post processing. There I promised the occasional break from elk and whitetails.

It is Tuesday again already so visit Shane's blog for a new post, he has dipped into his SNP whitetail photos. It makes it easier for me to post something else today and still get a wildlife fix.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Yes I know, More Whitetails From SNP...


video

At first I was going to apologize for posting Elk after Elk and then whitetail ofter whitetail, but then I realized that it was my blog and that is what I like to photograph and post. Besides I don't have anything else right now. But I will keep trying to mix things up once or twice a week. The photo is what it is, a nice doe posing behind a rock. The video last 29 seconds and is a nice 4X4 buck standing in tall brush. If you turn your volume up like last weeks video you can hear it raining and at one point you will hear the buck also. I don't think the video is soft, when viewing it larger it seems sharp but effected by the dense fog we had that day. Taking photos was almost impossible most of the time.

I recently picked up the November-December issue of Bugle magazine. If you get a chance to pick one up the cover shot is by Ronald "Buckwheat" Saffer and is a great shot of one of our local bulls. There is also a fitting tribute to the late Yellowstone icon bull elk number 6 entitled "Elvis Has Left the Building". The article is not very long but good with numerous photos of this famous bull.

Friday, December 11, 2009

More SNP Whitetail Videos...

video

video

A couple videos from SNP to end the week. The first one is the only one I took the first day when the weather was good, just playing around while waiting for something to happen, it last 29 seconds. The second one was taken during the heavy rain and fog the second day. It is nothing special but I like watching the young antlerless deer eating and watching the action, it last 22 seconds. My videos are kept short because at the present time I have nothing to edit them with. They are exactly as they came from the camera. In order to keep the size small enough to upload to blogger they need to be about 35 seconds or less. I still have allot to learn about shooting video with the DSLR and need hours of practice.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More SNP Whitetail Close Ups...


Since I did the two antlerless deer close ups yesterday I figured I would go with the two buck ones today and get past them. You have seen this 4x4 and 2x2 in other post and may even see them again. It is amazing how many post I can get out of one and a partial day of shooting in the park. It also shows that I really need to get out and do some more shooting to get some fresh content on here. On the up side I have noticed a difference in the viewers coming to this site and they are nature lovers looking for photos just like these.

It is Thursday and that means visit Shane's blog for a new post.

I asked the question yesterday about a potential blogger problem. It looks like it is my home system as what I said was occurring didn't happen at work, my I-touch or my laptop. Time to upgrade at home and get something faster anyways.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Rain Won't Stop This Doe From Eating...


As you all know I have a thing for close ups, I am working on that and will make an effort to drop back and take in the whole picture. I also have a thing for photographing any wildlife, fawns, button bucks, antlerless deer or the large bucks. I will not change that I like them all even if they are not monster bucks. This antlerless deer was one of the few to step out of the fog in the pouring rain to allow me to take a few photos while she ate. In the second photo note the acorn on her lower lip.

**BLOGGER PROBLEM**Who can help me out? I have noticed recently that a number of my photographs do not get larger when I click on them. Instead a box comes up that says file download and gives three options, open, save or cancel. I can go into the post delete the photos upload them again and they work. Some that worked before like the one of my son and the nine point buck now do it. It is also doing it on my Fire blog. Is it a blogger problem or something on my end? Help?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

SNP Piebald Buck...


This may have been a first for me, if I had ever seen another Piebald deer it was when I was young and do not remember it. This was taken the first morning at SNP durring the rut and was my first shutter release of the day. The way the morning started had me excited about the trip. Deer right away as I entered the park, a buck a short distance later and once the sun began to come up deer close by. As I started driving I encountered this buck with another small buck plying around with there antlers locked up. I did not get a shot at that but after getting out of the truck and cranking up the ISO I did get a few of this Piebald.

Piebalds are rare typically occurring in less than 1% of the deer. They are more common in areas like this where they are protected from hunters. I was told that there is at least two piebald does in the park also, one known as Dottie that is around the Skyland area is may be as old as 13 years. The piebald coat ranges from a very slight amount of white hair to almost totally white coats. Unlike true albinos, piebald deer have brown eyes and black hooves. The piebald condition is frequently associated with other harmful physical conditions, including skeletal deformities (e.g., dorsal bowing of the nose, short/deformed legs, curved spine, short lower mandible, etc.) and internal organ deformities.

Today is Tuesday but then I guess you already knew that so you know what I am about to say next. Visit Shane's blog for a new post.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pearl Harbor Remembered...




I hope everyone remembered what today is, it is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941 Americans were attacked on our own soil by the Japanese. Everyday Americans should remember soldiers who served our country and those who continue to serve our country today. On this date in 1941 2,403 people lost their lives, 21 U.S. ships were sunk or damaged and 188 aircraft were destroyed. Please take this day to remember them and our Armed Forces.

These photographs were taken in July when my family and I traveled to Hawaii on vacation. This was the best part of the trip for me. If you have been reading this blog for sometime then you know I am very patriotic and next to wildlife the U.S. military is one of my favorite subjects to photograph. These photos show the memorial over the U.S.S. Arizona, the third photo is portions of the Arizona that can be seen above the water, two of the photos are a plaque and a wall listing the dead inside the memorial. Remember if you click on the photos they will get larger.

I would like to thank all veterans past present, deceased and alive that have worked hard to keep this great country safe and free.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanks For Posing...

Yep that is just what this young buck did, pose for photographs. He was at big meadows feeding close to the sign I posted a couple of weeks ago. Willard snapped his fingers over his head to make the buck look up making this photo possible. It was just like shooting kids except the bucks listen better. If you have not noticed when I started these post from SNP I added a label for it to the left. Have a great weekend, Brad.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Video Day, SNP...

video

video

No photographs today, at first I thought I needed to post a photo with the video but then I realized, these were taken with a DSLR. I had to set the white balance, ISO, aperture and shutter speed just as if I was taking a still. These were taken the second day of my trip to SNP, both give you an idea of the lighting conditions as it was raining and foggy. Both also show antlerless deer, the first being 32 seconds. It is nothing exciting but it does show and antlerless deer up close chewing gum. The second video last 38 seconds and shows three deer feeding. Sorry I did not have them all in the frame all the time, I was to close to make that happen with the lens I was using.

It is Thursday so please visit Shane's site for a new post.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Grooming Bucks...


I am sorry for the obstructed views but when you are photographing in the woods you do not always get unobstructed shots. These two bucks groomed each other for some time. I changed positions twice to get three different angles but I could not find a location that gave me clear shooting and I did not want to disturb them and stop the action. I will take what I can get and just enjoy the fact that I got to watch this for some time. These two eventually sparred for awhile before a larger buck broke it up. Those photos will be posted in the future. I failed to mention, this was the day after Thanksgiving trip with my son.

I was recently asked to join another blog called Support Pa. Elk. The purpose of the blog is to educate the public and try an make a difference in the hunt zones in and around Bennezette. To many bulls are killed each year that are acclimated to humans and have no fear of them. They do not provide a fair chase and are equivalent to killing a tame animal. Stop by and try and make a difference in these animals lives.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More Elk Cows and Calves...


More Elk county Elk cows and calves. There is really not more more that I can say that I have not already said. So visit Shane's blog for a new post, really go visit.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Another Trip To SNP...


It did not take me long to learn what I was missing out on earlier in the month. And like Elk county I have already began to take advantage of wildlife within a three hour drive. Working 10 out of 12 days over the holidays doesn't leave much time for photography, but with my son and I both off last Friday we decided ahead of time that I trip for whitetails was a must. Like the last time we were up at 2 a.m. and gone just before 2:30 a.m. heading down the interstate with visions of bucks dancing in our heads (I had to sneak a Christmas thing in there). We watched the weather all week and by Thursday night is was looking better, the rain had stopped so I did not have to drive in the dark and the rain. For those getting a little older or should I say more mature with fading eye sight a drive in the rain and dark is no fun. As we crossed the mountain between New Market and Luray my spirits went up when I noticed there was no fog present. That was a good sign that the meadows would be clear.

Just after 5 a.m. we pulled up to the entrance at SNP to find the darn cones up blocking it just like last time. You have got to be kidding me, not again, I felt like giving out the Charlie Brown AAAGGGHHHH!!!!! About ten minutes later a car pulled up next to me rolled down the window and inquired about the closure. After telling them what I knew (nothing), I said didn't we set and talk like this a couple of weeks ago? I quickly got a "your Brad, what are you doing here again". I have no idea how they remembered me or my name, maybe it was because I am sooo sexy, yes lets go with that one. Shortly before 6 a.m. a ranger showed up and inquired as to my destination. I said big meadows, then it was why are you going there. My reply was my son and I would like to see and photograph the whitetail deer. I then asked her when the park would be open and she said, it is now you may proceed. Now where I come from you do not take away cones and drive on unless you want trouble so I had no intentions of doing it in a national park.

Luckily we over heard the ranger warning the ladies of snow and ice around the 30 milepost in the park. We are back on the road and felling better again knowing we will still get to our destination before day break and it will not be foggy. But unlike other trips in I am not dodging deer. As we get to the area of the snow and ice the white knuckles came out on the wheel. Wow! it was slick. Time to shift into four wheel drive and downshift the truck. It was to bad we were not photographing in that area as everything was covered with snow. Next stop the visitors center at big meadows for the rest rooms. At this point I am thinking like the last trip we will pull out and the deer will be all over the meadows, I will be happy and Shane will be amazed. There was none to be seen. Not only no deer but no people were out. I don't mind the second part. And did I say it was COLD, well it was. The temperatures were in the 40's but it was very windy and it went right through you. Good thing we dressed in layers prepared for the cold.

For the day we seen between 50 and 70 whitetails, 17 that were bucks. Some I seen on the last trip, some were new and fantastic. We got to photograph deer while it snowed and sleeted on us, bucks grooming each other, playing and occasionally fighting. We did not see any of the other wildlife we expected or were hoping for but Shane did get to photograph a Peregrine Falcon (a piebald last trip, falcon this trip maybe it will be a bobcat next time). He now has subjects for future post including video. I have many more whitetail photos to share and even a greater excitement at getting back in January in the snow. Shane and I had a great boys day out and I look forward to many more with him. I do not think I seen your buck Jeff, but keep watching for others that you have probably already seen. Speaking of bucks I already photographed, the nine point buck with Shane was posted here on November 16TH. And for everyone out there I do not condone getting this close to a wild animal, they are unpredictable and can not be taken for granted. A larger lens like I used on this shot should be used to photograph wildlife.

Then came the drive home, tired with no one to keep me awake since Shane slept the whole way. The wind was very strong on the highway, it made you drive the entire distance with both hands on the wheel trying to keep the truck in a straight line. But I would not change a thing and I can't wait to do it again.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hawaii Revisited...


Just as the title says I am revisiting our Hawaiian vacation again today. I mentioned a number of times that I will mix things up from time to time. Of course I also post what I have and sometimes that gets difficult. If it makes you feel any better I will be making a trip back to Elk County and the SNP in the near future so I should get some new Elk and Whitetail photographs, LOL. No they may be different, they could have snow in them and that is my plan.

The first photograph was taken from Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. This is a place I would like to visit again, but I want to spend days here photographing the birds and enjoying the scenery. The second photograph is the Halema'uma'u Crater. It is two miles across and 400 feet deep, and believed that the lava feeding it is from two miles below. If you click on the photos they will get larger, that is the way most of my images are.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

More SNP Whitetails...

There is not much to say that I have not already said about the trip to SNP for the whitetail rut. This young 4X2 buck was photographed my first morning in the park. I hope everyone enjoys their Thanksgiving and gets plenty to eat. For me it is another day at work. That should bring a few oven fires, a regular for us on Thanksgiving.

Don't forget to visit Shane's blog today for a new post.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shane...


How about something different today, like a couple of photos of Shane while vacationing in Hawaii. The first one tells allot about Shane, he just had to have his photo taken with the Monkey, you ask him why. The second was taken on our cruise ship, he though he was part of the press corp.

Speaking of Shane it is Tuesday so visit his blog for a new post.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wow! What A Huge Buck...

I guess by now you know I was just kidding about a huge buck. You should have also figured out by now that I don't just photograph rack bucks but also does and small bucks. I find the beauty in the animal not just the rack and enjoy watching any deer.

I just realized that other than the video I never really told you about the trip. I learned about Shenandoah National Park by viewing Willard's blog. We tried twice before to get there in the last year but weather or something else always seemed to mess up the trip. When I noticed the Hills were there for the whitetail rut I emailed Willard to see if the week I had available would be a good time to go. His reply was it should be the peak of the rut. He got me, just kidding Willard. When photographing wildlife nothing is a given from the weather to the animal. I awoke at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning two weeks ago and was on the road by 2:40. After driving over three hours I pulled into the Big Meadows the same time as Coy and Andy. Shortly after Willard and Billy came pulling in. They told me the places to go and we set off in search of whitetails. The weather was a little warm with increasing clouds. The typical rut activity was not present. The bucks were not curling their lips, chasing the does or locking up with other bucks. I seemed to be the only one tickled by the days events. But of course I had never been there and didn't know any better. For the day I seen upwards of 100 deer and about a dozen bucks photographing many. The trip out of the park was an experience in itself dodging deer along the road on almost every turn.

The next morning I awoke to rain and fog. Getting in the park before sunrise I ran into Willard and Billy again, they quickly departed for home but I was determined to get some whitetail photos. Seven hours later I left the park after seeing about 25 to 30 deer and three bucks. I did get some decent videos and a few good photos. The next morning I got to the park about the same time only to find it was closed. It snowed the night before and I was informed it would be about two hours before they opened the park. I decided to wait it out. I never said I was very smart. An hour and a half later I was told it would be another three or four hours because of black ice. I am not that stupid, I left for home. All in all it was still a good time and the first of many return visits. I hope to get back in January for some whitetail and snow photos. I really need to quit looking at Willard and Coy's blogs before they get me in trouble for taking off every chance I get. But then maybe my wife likes me being gone.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Blooms For The Birds...

I have been posting mostly wildlife and have mixed things up on occasion. Recently I posted a few Hawaiian and Pa. birds, what good is birds without blooms. I have no idea what this flower is and didn't take the time to look it up, it was photographed in Hawaii during our July vacation. Surprised I photographed a flower?

UPDATE to today's post. I added four more links to my links on the left. If you like wildlife these are sites you will enjoy, http://sullivanshollow.blogspot.com/, http://rangersadventures.blogspot.com/, http://hannibalsanimals.blogspot.com/, and one for the firefighters out there http://statter911.com/. Stop by and check them out sometime, you won't be sorry.