Thursday, February 25, 2010

Front Window Snow Birds...

With all the snow we have been having lately I have not been out to take photographs with the exception of our trip to Elk County. But I have been taking advantage of the birds that are enjoying are full feeders in our front yard. We have been keeping the feeders filled and the birds, our cats and our family have all been enjoying it.

Don't forget it is Thursday so please visit Shane's blog for a new post.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bull 2D And A New Lens...

I have already filled you in on our trip north over Valentines Day so there is nothing more than to share a few photos taken on the trip. The first photo is of Shane photographing bull 2D from the pickup truck in the town of Benezette. After a quick lens change I was able to photograph the bull and Shane capturing the moment.

Speaking of a lens change shortly before this trip my wife was kind enough to allow me to get a loan for a new lens, the Nikon 200-400 VR F4. It was killing me to get out and use it and this trip was the first chance. Now for my critique on the lens, the first thing I learned when we encountered the herd of 75 or more was that I was to close to get full body shots. I had to keep backing up and finally settled for some close ups. I know it is hard to complain about being to close and I think that will be a very limited problem. The other thing is after shooting the 70-200 VR F2.8 for the last year I do not think the 200-400 is as tack sharp as that lens. It may just be in my head and not really true as with anything there is a learning curve. You be the judge of sharpness, yesterdays cows and last weeks bull were shot with the 200-400, today's were taken with the 18-135. I am looking forward to using the lens in the future photographing wildlife.

This from the PGC on the health of our elk. Samples taken from the 43 elk killed by hunters in the 2009 hunting season have all tested negative for chronic wasting disease CWD, according to Walt Cottrell, the Pennsylvania Game Commission's wildlife veterinarian. Samples also tested negative for brucellosis and tuberculosis. CWD, feared by game agencies because of its potential for devastating deer and elk populations, was first identified in 1967 in Colorado and has been confirmed in New York and Maryland, as well as in 11 other states and two Canadian provinces but not in Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More From Elk County...

Last Tuesday I made a post about a our recent trip to Elk County, today I will fill you in on the how productive our trip was. On Saturday our first stop was on the Quehanna Highway just outside of Medix Run. There we encountered a herd of approximately 20 Elk, mostly cows and calves with a couple of spikes and one bull. Of course the bull was camera shy and we never got any photos of him. From there we moved on to Benezette and up Winslow Hill. We never really seen Elk in the places we watched them in the past, the town was quiet but in the area of the Elk Diner we encountered a herd of 75 or more. In the herd was a couple of spikes, the mature bull posted last week and a rag horn along with many cows, many showing signs of being with calf and numerous calves.

A few of the cows apparently were not bread during the rut as the bull was still showing signs of the rut lowering his head, bugling and chasing the cows around occasionally trying to mount some. He was answered numerous times by the satellite bull that was staying with the herd but away from the larger bull. This made the trip even better since Shane has never been with me for the rut so it was the first time he got to experience this type of activity. Leaving there we encountered a bull 2D along with two spikes and a rag horn in town (most of these you will see later). We did see one other bull as we were headed back to Medix Run. To see over 100 Elk the first afternoon made it a successful trip right from the start.

We went back Sunday morning and seen the same herds as Saturday but they did not provide the same photographic opportunities as they did on Saturday. We also lucked into a couple of turkeys on Winslow Hill and a flock of 30 or more just outside of Benezette. Of course none provided the chance to photograph them. We were lucky enough to photograph a red tailed hawk in the area of Dents Run, he stayed close to the road and would fly from spot to spot stopping long enough for us to get off a few shots. We only spent the morning and missed shooting in the snow because we wanted to go back to our room and watch the Daytona 500. Monday morning was not as good only seeing about 20 Elk and four gobblers but we still had a great time.

I am guessing we missed out on some better photographic moments as I was to scared to drive the other roads for fear of getting stuck in the snow, something you do not want to happen in an area without cell phone coverage and limited people. Look for many more photos from the trip in the near future. And tomorrow a message from the Pennsylvania Game Commission on the health of the Pa. Elk herd.

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

Monday, February 22, 2010

More Flying Bird Photography Practice...

A couple of weeks ago I posted photographs of gulls flying at a local lake, the same day I was practicing panning flying birds I photographed this mallard coming in for a landing. I think my bird photography is getting better but I still need much more practice. With spring and summer coming I should get plenty of practice in the future.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Another Experiment...

This is another experiment in textures. The photograph was taken last month at the battle of the buldge event at the Gap. Setting around I got the idea of blending a photo with the American flag. After trying numerous flag textures this is the one I liked best. What do you think of it? And again I would like to remind everyone that if you click on my photographs they will get larger.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Back To SNP...

I wish I really had made it back to SNP for more whitetail photographs, getting there the few times Skyline Drive has been open was just not possible. Even though they should all be antlerless at this point I am still hoping to make a day trip some time this month. These were both taken last year when the weather was much nicer, I long for those days.

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Cold Walk At Wildwood Lake...

Last month I decided to take a walk around Wildwood Lake in hopes of capturing some good winter bird photographs. The fact that I was the only one out freezing should have been an indicator that I belonged at home. The only thing I found to shoot was the Canada geese and this lone blue heron. It was a bright day and they were all back lit but I was freezing and not about to go home empty handed. When will spring arrive?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Finally A Weekend Trip...

After what has been a miserable winter and one trip after another canceled for various reasons, mostly weather, Shane and I finally made a trip north for elk. Saturday morning when I got home from work I loaded up the truck with the help of Linda while Shane prepared a wonderful breakfast for us. Off we were arriving in Medix Run around 1:30 p.m. and moving on to Benezette and Winslow Hill in search of any kind of wildlife we could find. It was a great afternoon seeing over 100 elk including this bull that was in a herd of 75 plus. He was kind enough to bugle and perform for us. In my next post from Elk county I will tell you more about the trip then.

Don't forget it is Tuesday so please visit Shane's site for a new post. I know he got some new photos this weekend with the D90 and 70-200 F2.8.

And how great a wife do I have? She let Shane and I go searching for elk last year during our 25 TH wedding anniversary and now this year on Valentines day. She is either a great wife or smarter that all the ones that keep their husbands and kids at home. Or maybe she was trying to get me, we go north to get away from the heavy snow and it snows there Sunday afternoon and evening then we get home Monday afternoon to find out it is going to snow here. Can a guy get a break

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Snowy Tour At Work...

Last Tuesday through Saturday is just the reason I am ready to retire and head south. We started our four day tour Tuesday morning. I went to work fully loaded and expecting to stay until Thursday morning. Since the snow didn't start until 4 p.m. I took advantage of it and went home for supper and to say hello to my family before heading back into work at 7 p.m. Everyone that lives in our area knows what Wednesday morning looked like, SNOW, SNOW, SNOW. Now you must understand that I really hate snow so 38 inches at my house in one week is about 50 inches to much.

With chains on the tower truck the day started slow. Our only box alarm of the day was for a gas leak on Liberty Street, see photos above, that is Lean Cliatt, Wagon 3 operator, Wagon 3, the crew waiting outside the home and my truck partner Brian Bastinelli returning to the tower with our air monitor. Once back in quarters John Peskie decided to ready the snow mobiles with the help of Bastinelli and DeShawn Dennis. Shortly after Mike Souder and Rob Lohin (both Wagon 3, C Platoon) put the sleds in service answering all ambulance calls. At 4 p.m. the shift was sent home with exception of five of us. With all the highways closed and most city streets impassable I will not say I understand the decision, but will not say anything else about the amount of manpower working the city or the state of emergency status on this site (I want to keep my job for six more years). At shift change Peskie and I assumed the sleds 1 & 2 positions. And we were off and running at a pace of one call every 30 minutes for the first four hours of the shift. I will admit it was a blast working O.T. on the snow mobiles.

I do not want to bore you with any more details of the tour. It finally ended Saturday morning operating at another gas leak. My butt was dragging and my back was sore, but I still had fun and am glad I chose the career path I did. Of course it would have never been so much fun if it wasn't for working with the best crew the city has.

Friday, February 12, 2010

More Conowingo Eagles, Or Space Filler...

Trying to mix things up and find something to post I was looking through my files of photos I had already played with and I found these three from my January trip to the Conowingo. The first photograph may be the best flying eagle photo I have taken to date. The next two are not that good but the subject was fantastic to see. These two mature eagles were fishing when they decided to go at it very briefly for some reason. I included the original shot to give you an idea of what I was working with. It was an overcast day and I was using the D300 with the 70-200 F2.8 with the 1.4 tele attached. At full zoom with the conversion for the sensor size this photo was taken at 420 mm. In order to try and make a print the other photo was cropped tightly. The bad part is that is is not very sharp at that distance. Hopefully the new lens will make a big difference in the future with shots like this. It was fun to watch.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Germans' At The Battle Of The Buldge...

As with most of the photographs I will be posting from the 2010 battle of the Buldge event I won't be saying much. If there was anything to say I already said it in the past. I really enjoying visiting and shooting these events. Living history is a wonderful thing.

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

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Beautiful 4X4 Buck...

This beautiful 4X4 buck was photographed on the Thanksgiving trip to SNP. Shane and I followed him for some time but unlike the 4X5 I posted numerous times this guy did not want to cooperate one bit. He constantly moved away from us seldom looking up and looking towards us even less. Being in the woods when he did look up it was often difficult to try and get a photograph of him. Maybe we will see him on our next trip and he will be more cooperative.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Battle Of The Buldge, 2010...

It took me a little over a week but finally some Battle of the Buldge photographs. I do not plan to post them on continuous days but mix them in with other subjects. For those of you that are regulars to this site you have heard me talk about this event before. The last weekend of the month for three or four days re-enactors from all over come together at Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania to reenact the Battle of the Buldge. Saturday is open to the general public for four hours, that is to short for me. I did not get the shots I got last year partly because I spent more time with some of the subjects and also because the area that they perform the two public battles in got thicker than last year, of course the snow that was on the ground last year helped also.

Now before any of you say this is not a WW2 soldier, he is. This guy and his friend were playing the part of 28TH Infantry Division, they were a Pennsylvania National Guard unit that was federalized in February 1941 for one year. They trained at the Gap before being sent to Camp Livingston, North Carolina for different training purposes. This gentleman was portraying a soldier from the 112Th Infantry Regiment of the 28TH ID in February 1941. He and his friends were super in posing for photographs and educating us in the parts they were portraying.

These photographs were all taken with a 50 mm f1.4 lens. They were all shot wide open and up very close. The depth of field was in the shot not the post processing. The three photographs are the same shots just processed differently. As I said in the last couple of weeks textures are new to me so you tell me what you think, am I getting the old looking effect or do they not look realistic. Also witch one of these three do you like best?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Panning Practice...

Lately it has been difficult to come up with new photographs. My plans to go to SNP were constantly cancelled because of Skyline Drive being closed do to snow and ice, trips to Benezette were cancelled because the snow was gone there and by the time it showed up again finding a few days in a row to go became difficult. Around here wildlife has been scarce, I have looked and spent a number of days looking for water fowl. More often than not I was the only crazy person out with a camera freezing in the cold wind. Even the feathered friends other than Canada Geese and a few mallards didn't want any part of the frozen lakes and cold wind. I recently purchased a new lens and can't wait to use it for more than photographing birds from my front window. Its day will come as a trip north for the elk is planned in the next couple of weeks and a trip to Florida is on the agenda for next month. It will really get a testing there shooting the birds.

In preparation for that trip I went out a couple of weeks ago to practice panning. I did not care what birds were flying at the lake that day, if they were flying I was shooting. I am hoping to get some more practice but with the new lens soon, I do not want to wait until a blue heron or spoonbill flies by to try panning with it for the first time.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Yep, More Wildlife...

I don't know what I am going to do when I run out of elk and whitetail photos. I guess that means more trips north and south to get more. In March I hope to get to Florida for some new bird photos and I should be making some day trips to do some shooting. Until then I hope you still enjoy the shots I already got at these locations.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

More Caps Photos...

A few more today from watching the Washington Capitals practice in Arlington. The first photo is Dave Steckel. We watched Dave help lead the Bears to a Calder cup a few years ago and are still enjoying his play with the Caps. The second photograph is of Nicklas Backstrom. Nick might be the most underrated player in hockey, he is one of the stars and leaders of the Caps. I can see him winning an MVP award in the future if he keeps shooting the puck instead of setting everyone else up for the score.

Yep, it is Thursday already so please stop by Shane's site for a new post.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Back To The Big Game...

This bugling bull was photographed during the Pa. rut back in September. It was taken late evening as the light was fading quickly. To get the shot I had to shoot at ISO 1000, 1/60 second at f4. With any luck I will have some Elk photos in the snow to post soon.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Two Favorite Hockey Players...

Today I thought I would post photographs of my two favorite hockey players. The first is two time MVP (three time after this season) Alex Ovechkin talking with coach Bruce Boudreau and the other is my son Shane. By the way this was another attempt at textures and blending options in CS3. With the battle of the Buldge photos coming soon I am trying to get some practice at aging those photos.

It is Tuesday already so please stop by Shane's site for a new post.

Monday, February 1, 2010

4X4 Buck Videos In Rain...

Both of these videos were taken at the same time on November 11 in SNP during the whitetail rut. This is the larger 4X4 I posted photographs of previously. The first video last 14 seconds and shows the big buck walking through the woods, you can see how foggy it was with limited visibility. If you turn up the volume you can hear just how hard it is raining. The second video last 20 seconds and even though the buck steps behind a tree you can still see him shake the water from his coat much like a dog does. It is something that most people don't get to see.