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Animals

Coyote at Anahuac NWR

Had a most excellent adventure with a coyote yesterday at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. I arrived at Anahuac around 6:30 a.m. and headed to Frozen Point to try to find the short-eared owl. With the cloudy conditions, it was very dark before sunrise and couldn’t spot any activity.

Drove back towards Shoveler’s Pond and saw a couple of trucks tracking something along the canal. Found my buddy Doug in full camo pointing out where a coyote was working the opposite bank of the canal. Luckily, he started coming back towards us and we started shooting away. He eventually got back to the main road and I backed my car up and followed him for a short distance until he started hunting in the grass along site the road. It was very cool to see him jump up and down like a mousing fox.

Got a couple of decent head shots and he then came up with his prey, a field rat. He brought it out on the road and ended up playing with it like a puppy would play with a toy right in front of my car. Tried to take photos of him out my car window but my car wasn’t in the best position with my side mirror kept getting in my way and it was challenging to shoot over it. Didn’t want to spook him by opening my car door initially. Stopped taking still photos a couple of times and took video with my iPhone. I’ll post one of those later. Eventually opened my door to get an unobstructed view of him.

Parents always tell their kids not to play with their food, but this coyote was a master at it. He would pick up the rat and throw it around and then try to intimidate it by baring its teeth as he stood above it. He eventually ate the rat and then started staring at something to my right, which ended up being Doug laying down near the right side of my car. He slowly started to stalk Doug and then Doug showed up next to me.

Here is one of my favorite shots. Don’t worry Doug, I would have repositioned myself to get the shot if he wanted to play with you.

With the low light, had to use full open aperture and sacrificed depth of field to get the shot. Initially was using ISO 6400 but backed off to 3200 for this photo.

1/125 sec @ F 5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, + 2/3 exposure compensation, aperture priority, 700mm

 

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B&W Sea Otters

Here are some more sea otter photos from Morro Bay, CA.  There were two pups in the group and it was difficult to get a decent shot of them.

Converted these to B&W using NIK Silver EFfx Pro 2.

1/640 sec @ F4.5, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +2 exposure compensation, 500mm mounted on tripod

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1/400 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +2 exposure compensation, 560mm with 100-400 II lens and 1.4X III teleconverter, handheld

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1/500 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +2 exposure compensation, 560mm with 100-400 II lens and 1.4X III teleconverter, handheld

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Bighorn Sheep

Another first for me was to see Bighorn Sheep in the wild on my Yellowstone trip.  We searched for a few days in the Lamar Valley looking for them with no luck.  On our next to last day, we found two of them just outside of town.  We parking along the highway and got several good looks from them.

One of my favorites was this face to face interaction.  Not the right time of year for head butting but it was cool to see.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head.

Manual exposure, 1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400

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Manual exposure, 1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400

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Moose Encounter at Yellowstone

Here are some photos of my first Moose encounter in Yellowstone.  We found this one as we were headed to Cooke City on the north side of Yellowstone.  Jared spotted a female moose and made a quick turn around with his vehicle to try to find it again.  We ended up having to drive to the next turn-around as the snow was quite high along the road.  By the time that we got back, Doug had spotted this male bull moose walking through the trees.

We set up near the road as he walked out of the tree line right in front of us.  It was very exciting as he got into open ground in the virgin show.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter, mounted on a tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head.

Manual mode, 1/2000 sec @ F7.1, ISO 800, spot metering off of the snow

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Long-Tailed Weasel

Here are some photos of a Long-Tailed Weasel from Yellowstone.  He was originally identified as an Ermine but later was corrected to the Long-Tailed Weasel due to the length of his tail.  The black tip on their tails help them survive as raptors will go for the black tip and allow them to escape.

Meggi spotted him while will we were headed down one of the snow covered roads.  The snowcoach driver stopped suddenly, I grabbed my 500mm lens and headed to the door.  Of course, the driver was trying to grab some of his gear and hadn’t opened the door.  I started raising my voice and ended up yelling for him to “please open the door!”.  That got his attention and I started shooting from the open door.  However, the people behind me weren’t too pleased so I bailed out of the vehicle and the pursuit was on for this little critter.

In my haste to get at least a few shots before he disappeared under the snow, I forgot my hat and gloves.  Also forgot that my 1.4X was still on, so trying to quickly focus on this fast moving little critter was a major challenge.  He ran back and forth along near the road for about 20 min.  At one point he ran across the road and back and went straight for our workshop leader, Jared.  Thought that we was going to try to run up his leg.

Several other vehicles stopped while we were there to get photos.  It was lots of chaos but also lots of fun.  Had to sneak back to the bus at one point to grab my hat/gloves and take off the teleconverter.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III telconverter, handheld

1/2500 sec @ F7.1, ISO 800, spot metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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1/2000 sec @ F7.1, ISO 800, spot metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm, with minimal cropping

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Nature’s Snowplow

This bison was found in a snowbank and plowed his way to the road.  Very sturdy beasts for sure.  At this stop, I started out using my 500mm lens on a tripod and then switched to the 100-400, which was a good move.  Ended up with a good variety of shots.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 100-400 II lens, handheld

Manual mode, 1/1000 sec @ F6.3, ISO 400, spot metering off the snow

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Since the colors were muted in the snow, converted it to B&W using NIK Silver Efex Pro II

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Jumping Fox

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Yellowstone was the red fox.  Our workshop leader, Jared Lloyd, knew where to find him as we headed to Larmar Valley on the north side of Yellowstone.  He was sitting on top of a snow covered boulder that helped keep track of potential predators.

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We spent about 2 hrs photographing him in the morning and came back in the afternoon.  He had moved off of the rock and was sitting near his den along side the rock.  Got a couple of shots of him and then, in my infinite wisdom, I stepped away from my camera to see where the rest of my group was.  Of course, a snowball came rolling down the hill and spooked the fox and he quickly got up.  Missed that shot but got him as he stopped and turned towards us before entering his den under the rock.

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He ended up coming out the other side of then rock via the back door and climbed on top of the hill adjacent to the rock.  We got several shots of him in that position.  Some of us were thinking that we were going to leave at that point but Doug came walking up the road from parking one of the vehicles and said that we were going to stay put.  That was a great decision as the action picked up.  The fox finally got up, yawned several times and headed back to his rock.

He then got into position and jumped back onto the snow covered rock.  I was able to catch him in midair during the jump.

 

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