…morning light is magic…

Posts tagged “Brazos Bend State Park

Lying Eye Level with an Alligator

It’s been several months since I’ve been to Brazos Bend State Park so I got up last Sunday morning and decided to head that direction to check out the local wildlife.  It was very dead from a bird perspective.  The weeds growing in 40 acre lake have killed most of the action along the trail on the north side of the lake .  Luckily found this alligator lying along the trail.

Took the first shot from a standing position with my tripod to give the perspective of him near the trail but thought that it was a boring photo.  Got closer and took my camera off of the tripod and went down on one knee for a little lower shot.  Didn’t like that one either so ended up lying on the trail to get the second shot, handholding my camera/500mm lens.  Only minor cropping to panoramic format.  Needed elbow pads for that one.

The gator looked pretty calm so I walked past him on the left side of the trail.  He didn’t move his body but raised his toes up off of the ground as I walked by, which was interesting.  Got to the other side and laid down on the trail again for the last photo.

Getting down low works great for gators as well as birds, as long as they are well fed….

Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F 4.5, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, 500mm

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Aperture priority, 1/1600 sec @ F 5, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, 500mm

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Aperture priority, 1/640 sec @ F 10, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, 500mm

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Great Blue Point of View

On my last trip to Brazos Bend State Park, Doug and I didn’t have much luck with birds until we came across this Great Blue Heron that allowed us to get very close.  Too close to get anything but head shots, which is not a bad situation to be in.  When that’s the case with long necked birds, it’s time to go vertical.   Got some photos as he was facing us but kind of liked these POV shots as he was looking away.

Somehow in the move to a vertical shot, ended up moving the dial by mistake and got -2/3 exposure compensation.  I’m still not used to having the exposure compensation bar on the right side of the viewfinder compared to my 7D with the bar on the bottom.

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

1/1000 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, -2/3 exposure compensation (wrong setting)

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1/1000 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, -2/3 exposure compensation (wrong setting)

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Silent Scream

This Great Horned Owl chick was intently tracking something and trying to scream but to no avail.  Nary a peek could be heard.  Silence can be golden or deadly, if you are trying to call momma back to the nest.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4x III teleconverter mounted on tripod with Wimberley II head, 580 EX II flash with better beamer

1/160 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, fill flash at -3 stops

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Great Horned Owl Chick

With being in a major rut lately due to no photography, decided around 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning (jet lag + normal brain damage) to head out to Brazos Bend State Park.  My normal modus operandi would have kept me home with cloudy weather and the chance for rain but I really needed to get out and shoot for my own sanity.  Encountered some light rain on the hour drive to the park but blew it off as scattered early morning fog/dew/wet stuff, anything but rain.  Of course I believed the weather channel’s radar, at 3:00 a.m.  Needless to say, turned out not to be a bright sunny day.

Got there about 1/2 hr before sunrise, which was a little too early on a cloudy day.  Made my way around 40 acre lake when it started to sprinkle.  Took off my jacket, covered the camera and kept on hiking.  Not much activity except some Coots and distant Great Egrets.  Headed back up the trail to find the owl nest after installing the 1.4x teleconverter.  Found a few decent photo op’s along the way including a Northern Shoveler and a Great Blue Heron building a nest in a tree. 

Got a little more rain as I neared the parking lot and decided to put my camera in the trunk to keep it dry.  Walked down the trail to find the owl’s nest.  Had to stop under a large tree to keep out of the rain when it started to come down with more intensity.  Finally spotted the nest and started to walk back to get my camera when I turned around and saw the chick staring at me.  Began to wonder if momma was in the nest or ready to attack from another tree.  Got my gear and confirmed that the parent wasn’t in the nest, which provided some cool photo op’s of the chick.  He was very attentive and would watch everyone that came walking by, including a few nearby squirrels. 

Sandy showed up and we had a good talk while waiting for the mother to come back.  Saw a glimpse of her flying back into the tree but she didn’t return to the nest.  She ended up falling asleep in the tree so I headed home.  A potentially crappy day turned out to be a good one.  A very cool experience was had by all, well at least me.  Thanks again Doug for the tips about the owl.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4x III teleconverter mounted on tripod with Wimberley II head

1/160 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, fill flash with better beamer at – 3 stops

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1/320 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, fill flash with better beamer at – 3 stops

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Anhinga in Silhouette

On my last trip to Brazos Bend State park a few weeks ago, there was very little bird action except for this one lone Anhinga at Elm Lake.  He was drying out in their typical wings out pose.  Walked behind him and had to move off of the trail to try to get a full framed shot with my 500mm lens.  With the sun directly behind him, I backed up as far as I could go up against a tree to get this shot.  Didn’t want to go any further off the trail with the abundant local alligator population.  Used negative exposure compensation to enhance the silhouette.

Just got back from vacation and had some decent luck with Sandhill Cranes, which I’ll post later.  Still going through a few thousand photos.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens mounted on Gitzo tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head

1/3200 sec @ F4, ISO 100, evaluative metering, -2 exposure compensation

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Love Bite Gator Style

One of my goals while taking photos of the baby alligators at Brazos Bend State Park this year was to get a shot of a baby sitting on momma’s head.  Ended up having to settle for one on her nose instead.  This youngster was showing momma some affection with a little love bite to her eye.  Momma didn’t seem to mind and only collapsed her eye lid on the last photo.  The baby then looked like he was going to crawl up her head when someone walking up the trail stopped too close to them and she dove to her left into the water.  I’m sure that the baby went flying.  Wish that I had gotten that shot.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens with 1.4x III teleconverter mounted on tripod with Wimberley II head

1/640 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

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1/500 sec @ F11, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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1/400 sec @ F11, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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1/500 sec @ F11, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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You Want a Piece of Me??

This baby Alligator was holding his ground doing his best to try to intimidate the guy taking his photo.  Wasn’t too scared by this little guy but always had to keep an eye out for his mother.  This shot helps to demonstrate the narrow depth of field with a close-up shot using a 500mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter.  Had to use F16 just to get his head in focus.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens with 1.4x III teleconverter mounted on tripod with Wimberley II head

1/200 sec @ F16, ISO 800, evaluative metering, 700mm

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