Thursday, June 30, 2011

Finally....

A few years ago I noticed a blue flag iris like this growing at the edge of a pond in summer. I never took any photos, but really liked how it looked.


At the time I didn't even know what kind of flower it was.


Over the next couple of years I noticed the flower growing near different ponds and lakes I visited.


Every time I found them, either the flowers were past their prime and not looking the best or I didn't have my camera with me.


This past weekend everything changed.



I went looking to photograph elk near Clam Lake Wisconsin and only saw two elk after sunset. Needless to say, I didn't get any elk photos, but I did find a great looking blue flag iris growing at the edge of a small pond.

 

The first evening I found the flower I only had a couple of minutes to take pictures before the sun went behind the trees and I lost my light.


So I was there the next morning by 6:30 to get another shot at it. In my head I had an idea of the image that I wanted to create. 

I'm glad I went back because I was able to get the photo that I had imagined and a bunch more as well.

Looking for Wisconsin elk

One afternoon my dad and I drove to the Clam Lake area looking for elk.

Just a few minutes into our drive we saw a group of mallard ducklings and I was able to get this image.

 

Once we got to Clam Lake we started driving some of the roads hoping to find elk. It has been my experience that the only way to get decent Wisconsin elk photos is to locate them from the roads and shoot from the car.


We found this painted turtle soon after we started driving around. I learned a long time ago to photograph the subject I do have when there is good light. So on this day, the turtle in the hand was worth two or more possible elk in the bush.

The turtle wasn't particularly patient with me so we left her to find an appropriate place to lay her eggs and got back to elk.


No elk, but we did see lots more painted turtles. I kept an eye on the clouds and sky planning for possible sunset shots and located a patch of wild lupines that would still be in sunlight later on.


The shadows were getting long and there were still no elk to be had when we headed to the lupines.


As I walked into the patch of flowers it was quickly apparent that a black bear had been there too. Flowers were knocked over and every couple of feet there were bear sized areas where all of the plants had been flattened as the bear sat on them.


I was glad the bear had walked through first, as I could follow its path and knock down a lot fewer flowers myself. I tried to create some decent images before I lost my light.

 

I silhouetted this lupine as the sun got low on the horizon.

 
I was optimistic as we headed for Day Lake hoping to capture some good sunset photos. It turns out, the light never really showed up, but quite a few mosquitoes did as I watched the sun dip below the horizon.


I made only a few images and sat down to enjoy the view as daylight slipped away.


Here I am watching the colors fade after a fun afternoon photographing elk with my dad.


A good couple of days for young birds

I spent last weekend near Lake Superior and was lucky enough to find and photograph a couple of different young birds like this mallard duckling.


 For several years I had been hoping to find a cooperative duckling and finally I got my chance.


This killdeer chick is almost as big as an adult but still unable to fly.


I really like the patterns and coloring of killdeer. The orange ring around their eye is very distinctive. This chick is big enough that it almost has its adult plumage.


In the last month I've had a lot of luck capturing images of birds, landscapes, and different critters that had alluded me for a long time. I hope it's the start of a positive trend. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Little Help From My Friend

So the light wasn't very good, but I really wanted to make some photos. That left me with flowers, or......frogs. I asked my kids if they wanted to help me catch a frog or two and maybe we could get some good frog pictures.

The boys were eager to help so we headed off to a nearby pond hoping to find big beautiful frogs. We did. Like this adult male green frog with a very yellow chin and neck.


We caught a couple of very good looking green frogs and briefly transported them for easier working conditions. 


The frogs were both males and had a lot of yellow on their throats and chins.


My son Josh played frog wrangler while I photographed the frogs. He helped the frog to stay on a rock; wet, and happy, while I took photos.


With my son and the frogs showing great patience I was able to get some pretty cool images.


After a little while we took the frogs back to their pond and let them go.


It had been awhile since I photographed any frogs and it was lots of fun. 


As an added bonus we found some polliwogs. This polliwog is a green frog in the middle of its transformation from a tadpole to an adult. So cool to find frogs with tails.


Here's a look behind the curtain at how these images were made. It seems my son has had enough, so it's time to finish up.
 
 
 
 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A few more fawn photos


I was in northern Wisconsin and spotted this white-tailed deer doe nursing her new fawn. I didn't have my camera with me so I went to get it.



Once I had my camera in hand I approached the deer hoping to get some photos. The doe ran off and the fawn quickly dropped to the ground and lay prone.



After a short while the little deer got up and ran into the woods. With some diligent searching I was able to locate it again, this time in its new and improved hiding place.



It had been more than twenty years since I last found and photographed a fawn this small, so I was feeling really lucky to have the opportunity again.



I quietly talked to the deer while I worked to get some good photos.



The fawn was laying in a small woods mostly in the shadows.



The sun was getting low on the horizon and every now and then a little light would filter through the trees and fall on the bedded deer.



Just before leaving, I took this last photo and thanked the fawn for its patience. About twenty minutes later I went back to see if the fawn was gone and it was. The doe had returned and the two of them had walked off.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's Been Awhile


It had been more than ten years since I had gotten close to a new born white-tailed deer fawn in the wild. And more than twenty years since I was able to make any photos of one. A few days ago my luck changed and I got to spend some time with the fawn above.



I spotted the small fawn standing with it's mother and went to get my camera. On my approach, the doe ran off and her fawn dropped to the ground and lay there. Being motionless is a young fawn's primary defense. 

Just after birth the doe licks her fawn clean and make it as scent free as possible. The fawn then lays in a sheltered location and rests while its mother eats or rests nearby. The doe moves away from the fawn so it doesn't draw the attention of any possible predators.



As I approached the fawn I talked quietly to it and worked quickly to get the photos I desired and limit the stress on the little deer. After I finished photographing the baby white-tail I left, and it was still lying motionless in the grass at the edge of the woods. About twenty minutes later I went back to where the fawn had been laying and it was gone.

What a great evening in northern Wisconsin. This was the second new born fawn I had been close to in about a week and this time I was able to get some pictures. Talk about good luck.


Monday, June 6, 2011

What Luck



I stopped to photograph wild lupines along a road in the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area near Grantsburg Wisconsin. I wasn't having much luck with the flowers but noticed that a lot of dragonflies were landing nearby. So I changed lenses and decided to try and photograph the dragonflies instead.




The good news is that I did better with the dragonflies than I had with the flowers. The photo above is of a four-spot skimmer on a lupine flower. 

Later in the afternoon shadows fell across the flowers near me and the dragonflies moved about 30 yards away to be in the sun. So I picked up my camera and tripod and walked towards the dragonflies. Just as I got there I heard something moving in the grass and leaf litter. I realized it was a snake and tried to catch it.

The snake looked similar to a garter snake but was much faster than any garter snake I had ever caught. It took some quick action on my part, but I did catch the snake.

I was thrilled when I realized just what I was holding in my hands. I had just caught a ribbon snake, and it was only the second one I had ever seen or caught in Wisconsin. The photo at the top of the page and this one are both of that snake reflected in water.





 Ribbon snakes are very cool and very different than the garter snakes they resemble. The first noticeable difference is their speed, they are really fast. They also have a more slender body and a much longer tail. I could see a place about 6 inches from the tip of its tail where the tail could detach if a predator grabbed it. The snake I found had one injured eye (not shown in the photos), but still had all of its tail.

It took some real creativity for me to make any successful photos of this snake and I am really happy with the images I created of this not often seen Wisconsin critter.