Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving...



I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Hopefully you are all spending time with your loved ones, eating big meals and watching football. If you are traveling I hope you have a safe time of it. As for me I find myself working once again this year (this is three years in a row). With any luck no turkeys will be burnt in the city and it will not start out with a cardiac arrest as it did last year. It is hard to imagine how the volunteers coming from the suburbs would be able to save the mans life like we did last year after we are replaced with a volunteer force in this time of declining volunteers. But while we are still on duty we will continue to protect the citizens to the best of our abilities at all times.

I photographed this flock of turkeys in late September while in Elk County to photograph the rut. There was maybe 20 in the flock but they did not give me much of a chance as I had to shoot them through the opposite window in the truck.

Follow the link to view more great Camera Critters from all over the world.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Same Buck Different Lighting...

This is the same buck as yesterdays second photograph but in a different lighting. Once again I tried to incorporate some of the environment but not as much. With this crop the emphasis is still on the buck but he does not fill the entire frame, I have left him with a sense of space and a place to look and walk to. The lighting is also much different than those of yesterday, this photograph was taken early in the morning when the sun was barely up. One can tell just how low the sun is by looking at the shadows from one antler onto the other. At this time of the morning in the Big Meadows often times the images take on a golden yellow to reddish color lighting. This is not something that is just captured on memory cards but is plainly visible to the eye when there. The one thing you will note from my trips is that you will see many of the same animal in different poses and actions. When working a small area you see the same bucks and does or bulls and cows everyday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Learning To Incorpotrate The Environment...


I have been trying to tell myself when I am out photographing wildlife that I need to get different shots than I am used to taking. One of my favorite photographers is Thomas Mangelson, the one thing that sets him apart from others is his ability to incorporate the environment into his wildlife photographs. Often I find myself filling the frame with the wildlife and not enough of the environment that tells the story of what the animal is doing. I also have a bad habit of wanting to take those portrait type photos. None of these things are bad as long as I take in the whole picture and photograph the wildlife and its surroundings and habitat. While in Shenandoah National Park earlier in the month for the whitetail rut I attempted to do just that many times. Sometimes I was successful other times they found the delete button with me wondering what I was doing. These are just two of the examples that I kept, what do you think. Should they have found the delete button also? In the first photograph this nice nine point buck was driven off by another nine point numerous times, on this occasion after running aways through the big meadows he decided not to try it again. In the second photo this buck was working one doe in the back part of the Big Meadows one cold morning, I spent a fair amount of time alone with him and her snapping away.

You will notice a difference in the photos even though they were both taken in the same general area. This is attributed to the lighting. The first was taken on a warm sunny afternoon and the second on a cold morning after the sun came up and went behind the clouds (ISO 1000). Lighting is so important to photography and the natural light and time of day can drastically change what an image looks like.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Back To Elk Country...


After leaving the elk alone for almost the last two weeks to post coyote and whitetail deer photos, I thought this might be a good time to give you a break from that and return to the elk post for a day. These were taken along the Dewey Road in Elk County late September during the rut. I have spoken on the elk rut that much that this is not much left to say. I need to begin posting something other than big game, I have visited Wildwood lake recently and just visited Conowingo Dam yesterday with Haney. Maybe some bird or military photos are in order for the future.

Friday, November 19, 2010

More From The First Day At SNP...





After photographing the buck I posted yesterday I traveled onto the Big Meadows area in search of more whitetails. But not before running into another photographer that was shooting Nikon equipment and top of the line new products at that. As always that was a mistake as I now have it in my head that I need the new D7000 body to replace the D90. If I only had my last purchase of big lens and wimberly paid off so I could buy it.

Back to the whitetails, the deer did not come out to great me and ask me to photograph them like they did in the past. In fact the deer seemed to be scarce sticking to the woods and really making me work for it. On of the first things I noticed was that there were none in the meadows, then I noticed all the apples laying under the apple trees. That seemed strange until I ventured into the woods to find many acorns at ever step. I guess the combination of many people being there on the weekend along with all the food in the woods gave the deer no reason to venture out. I did see a few but nothing worth photographing until the sun was almost setting behind the horizon. At that time in SNP along with early sunrise everything takes on a golden color that can be found in the first three photographs. Note the little buck with the broken antler and broken tine off of the other beam. The one thing I have been trying to get at SNP with no luck is some silhouette photos of the deer during sunrise or sunset. I had no luck this trip in getting them with the exception of this one shot, which happens to be the little buck with the broken antler. The trip did pick up but not the way I expected, more on that later.

To enjoy more great Camera Critters from around the world follow the link.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

First Buck Of The Rut...



On Saturday November 6Th I traveled to Shenandoah National Park to photograph the whitetail rut. The plan was to leave early in the morning and stay until Thursday morning November 11. As usual things didn't go exactly as planned. It was almost noon until I got leaving, brother firefighter Randy O'Donnell called me about a retired mans breakfast they were having that morning for guys that worked at the Mechanicsburg Navy Base Fire Department. I worked there before leaving for Harrisburg in the 80's. They have had the breakfast before but for some reason I was never able to attend, I decided I was not going to miss this one. I am glad I went, I got to see men I worked with and have not seen for over 20 years. It was a great time and I hope to get to do it again next time.

On to the rut, after reaching the park I was greeted with temperatures of 28 degrees and a strong wind with snow flurries. Not what I hoped for but great for wildlife. Before reaching the Big Meadows I spotted a guy sneaking along the road, that could only mean one thing. I found a place to get the truck off the road and walked back to find this ten point buck laying in the woods. What a way to start the trip. I was content to photograph the buck where he lay but the other guy with his point and shoot camera just felt he needed to get closer. As almost always happens he spooked the buck and that ended the session. Unfortunately that happens much to often. More on the trip later as this was not like any other trip I have ever had to SNP.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Real Coyote Keeper Photograph...

This is it, note the vole spread eagle just inches from his mouth.


Today as promised is my real keepers of the coyote with the vole he captured for lunch in SNP. I know there has been other photographs taken by many other photographers that would top this but the first photograph with the coyote jumping and the vole in mid air is one of my best and favorite wildlife photographs I have taken. The lighting was decent but I was trying to keep the ISO at 400 or below, that kept the shutter speeds down causing me to miss a number of the action photos from this encounter. In hind site I would have cranked up the ISO a bit more. That is a dilemma I struggle with many times in the field often making the same mistake.

After playing with his capture (yesterdays photos) he finally picked it up allowing me to see what he had. This lasted only seconds as he walked a few feet away with it and ate it in what seemed like one gulp. He then walked away ending our two day encounter. While in SNP for five days recently to photograph the whitetail rut I only seen him one more time and that was early Wednesday morning yielding no photographs. As often as I visit SNP I have to believe there will be more encounters in the future with this fellow and other coyotes. The rest of the week I will begin to post photographs from the recent whitetail rut.

Please visit my son Shane's blog today for a new post.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 2 With The SNP Coyote...




When I posted photographs of this coyote a week or so ago I mentioned then that it would not be the last time you would see him. I also said that I got one real keeper that made the whole trip worth while, you will have to wait until tomorrow for that photo. These were taken on the second day, he was found in the same general area but had more success in looking for food this day. If you compare the previous posts with this one you will notice that his nose was covered with dirt from digging on the previous ones but on these he has a black shiny nose. Finding his food he was much more playful this day providing me a chance to get some good action photographs. As I mentioned before in two days I shot some where between 500 to 700 photographs of him. Many of those found the delete button in the camera and many more found the trash can once downloaded to the computer. But some of those were keepers providing me with my best coyote photographs to date. Now I have something to work for in the future, better coyote photos, I think I will need to work pretty hard to top them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Car Fire In Harrisburg, And A Way Of LIfe...



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On the morning of November 3, 2010 as the members of "B" Platoon attempted to get some sleep the shrill of the beeps rang out around 3:15 a.m. followed by the dispatch "Box 1-3 Wagon 3, Tower 2 report of an car fire in the area of Green and Woodbine Streets". The lights came on in the bunkroom followed by five men putting on socks and pants as they headed toward the apparatus room floor. As the men reached the rigs shivering from the cold air coming through the open bay doors, wiping sleep from their eyes and shaking the cobwebs free they donned their protective clothing as the drivers started the rigs. Out the bay doors a quick left up one block and another left down Maclay Street to Green, once on Green Street the Wagons front seat rider reported to county that we were on the scene with a well involved car fire. As the riders leaped from the rig and began stretching a hose line, I set the parking break, transferred the rig to pump gear and engaged the generator. The line was quickly deployed and the back-up man waved his hand to tell me to charge the line. The line swelled with the water and the pipe man began to attack the fire. By then the Truck company arrived and began opening the car to allow for a more efficient extinguishing of the fire and insure that no one was inside.

Within a couple of minutes the fire was knocked down and overhaul had begun. Shortly after the Battalion Chief marked control and the hose line was taken up. As the last few sections of hose were being put on the rig the beeps once again went off for an automatic fire alarm in the 1700 block of Fulton Street sending the uptown and hill rigs. The call turned out to be unattended cooking and Tower 2 was held to ventilate the building. A quick stop at a hydrant to top off the booster tank and it was back to the station to clean face pieces and fill out SCBA sheets. It's now 4:30 a.m. and back to bed in hopes of getting a couple of hours sleep, 6:15 a.m. and my watch goes off telling me it is time to get up and start the coffee, empty the dishwasher and bring in the morning paper. It is to bad that I just finally fell back to sleep.

That is a night like many I have had over the last three plus decades, missed sleep, cold nights, hot days, missed holidays with the family, sad times, injuries and aches and pains. But I would never change a thing, paid or volunteer this is the best job in the world. There is the joy of helping someone, the excitement of saving a life, the brotherhood and the adrenaline of doing the job. By the way as I sat here in the firehouse kitchen typing this on night shift I had to do so in segments as we went out the door twice for calls before I could finish this post. As I near the end of my career I find myself reflecting on the good moments more and more and the things I will miss when I am gone, this job becomes more than just a job it becomes a way of life. The photos and video were all taken with a point and shoot digital camera.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Home From The Whitetail Rut...


These photographs were taken in early October when I visited SNP, not during my recent trip. Very soon you will be seeing new photos from the park as I just got home today from shooting the whitetail rut. I left last Saturday but unfortunately I can't tell you any more about the trip because this is a scheduled post and you may be reading it before I even got home. It is back to work tonight and I am hoping for a slow night so I can get a few photos ready for posting. Here is hoping I got some good shots. With this trip over the best part of my fall wildlife photography has ended. I will still make a couple more trips to photograph the eagles at Conowingo Dam, birds at Middle Creek and locally, elk and deer in the snow but it just isn't the same.

Please visit Shane's blog today for a new post.

Update, I am home now and have added four new links for wildlife photography. All of these people I have net while out photographing and one, Larry's I have shot with in SNP each of the last two months. He is a retired firefighter from Virginia. Check them out there is some great wildlife photography there. Next week I will start to post some of the whitetail photographs I got while away over the last week.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Young Bull And Old Bull...


These bulls were photographed the same day in the same reclaimed area. The first bull is a young one maybe three or four years old. He is not ready to compete with the older bull for the cows during the rut. If he is not taken in the hunt in a few years I will get the chance to photograph him bugling and competing for the cows. When I look at the second photograph of this bull with his head back bugling it makes me want to jump in the truck and head north. Being close to a bull and seeing him do this with the fantastic sound coming from him is just one of the sweetest things there is.

These like many of my photos from this trip look dull to me and just don't seem to have the pop. I do not know if it was my post processing or the way a recorded to photo. It may be some of both or it may be because the weather was just not that good when I was there. The lighting was flat most of the time and just did not lend itself to good photography.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Elk Cows Boxing...




Have you ever seen two elk boxing? I have a couple of times but never got a photograph of it, this time was different. I was lucky enough to have the settings close, the camera facing the right direction and paying attention. Even at that I only got a few images, they were not as good as I would have liked but I finally got them. These were taken last month on Winslow Hill during the elk rut. A group of us were standing around with the tripods set up doing what we do best, talking. All of a sudden these two cows stood up and let out one of those guys, look what is going on. I don't know if anyone else got the shots or not. They were taken with the 200-400 at 400mm so it would be equivalent to 600mm. They were then cropped in to show the subject, the last photo will give you an idea of how much they were cropped and that photo was also cropped in. One of these days I will capture this just perfect, just another reason to keep traveling north.

Please visit Shane's blog today for a new photograph.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sparring Whitetail Videos...

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Today like yesterday I am taking the easy route and posting two videos. These were taken in early October in Shenandoah National Park early one morning with the Nikon D90. There was a bachelor group of five bucks all nice ranging from eight to 10 points. Unfortunately it was to early to photograph without setting the ISO high but it was just right for videos. The five sparred for sometime often breaking it off to spar with another buck. It was a thrill to watch. The first video last 31 seconds and the second last 30 seconds, if you turn up the volume you will hear their antlers coming together and the wind blowing, in the second video you hear a car go by as I was not far from the road.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Whitetails And Turkeys...

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Today is an all video day and shows what happens when you give someone like me a camera that shoots video and send them out for wildlife all alone. The videos are all short to allow me to upload to blogger and because they were all shot from in the truck there is not much for audio. The first one was taken early one morning around 5:30 a.m., I came across this buck and since there was no traffic I decided to put the truck sideways in the road and turn up the high beams. Then I got this bright idea of lets shoot some video, so I did. At one point you get the deer in the headlights look as his eyes take in the light. The next two were taken at the same place and same time the first of those taken through the windshield. It is not often I see turkeys and deer in the same viewfinder so I thought I would shoot a little video. The last video was taken from the drivers window of the turkeys as I drove slowly along side of them. Not to worry I was steering with my knees much like to people do at 75 mph on the interstate as they are texting. The big difference is I was only going about 5 mph. That's all for today.

Pleas stop by Shane's blog today for a new post.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It Almost Happened...

This was taken last month during the elk rut on Winslow Hill. These two bulls squared off with out posturing but what I captured here was it. After turning their antlers towards each other they both turned and walked away. There body stance never indicated anything would happen either. I guess it just wasn't meant to be that day.

Please visit Shane's blog today for a new post.

Monday, November 1, 2010

More Of The SNP Coyote...



I know two days in a row with the coyote, but they were separated by the weekend and a different month. These were also taken the first day I photographed him and gives you a different take as he is showing his teeth and doesn't look like the pet he did in the first post. For those of you that do not photograph wildlife you would be surprised to know that I took in excess of 500 photographs of this guy in two days. Many of those found the delete button and with digital photography it cost the same for one or 500 photos. You may wonder why take so many photos of the same animal, when I make my next post of him (I don't know when that will be) you will know why. When an animal is doing something you find yourself looking for that one awesome shot and I got it on the second day, I can't wait to share it.