My golden doodle contributed to the inspiration of this post with her reflection in my entryway, which was taken with my new RF 50mm 1.2 lens. You may wonder why someone focused on wildlife photography needs a 50mm lens. Well, I’ve read that it makes a good portrait lens, more on that later.
2022 ended up being a great year from a personal, professional and photography perspective.
On of the highlights from this year included taking the dive into mirrorless photography in March with getting a Canon R3. I’m loving the features in mirrorless cameras and haven’t touched my 1DX III since picking up my R3. I’m really glad that I didn’t wait for the R1 to come out.
Took a couple of amazing trips to Yellowstone in January and Alaska in June. This was my 4th trip to Yellowstone in winter and it likely won’t be my last as it’s such an amazing place. Got my dream shot on this trip of a black wolf staring at me with his yellow eyes.
Made my second trip to Alaska for coastal brown bear photography, which is my latest obsession. The bears were amazing, although we didn’t see the cubs like last year. However, made up for that with my first attempts at taking video with my new camera. Got some amazing slow-motion video of bears opening clams with their claws. Video adds another dimension to the storytelling of my wildlife photography, and it has been very exciting to add it to my portfolio.
After returning from Alaska in June, spent some quality time taking photos and videos at Bolivar Flats, on the Texas gulf coast. Quickly found that it was a little more challenging to take video of fast-moving birds than the slower moving bears. However, I’m very pleased with the results. Have been collecting some of my favorite bird videos to enter into the 2023 Audubon photo contest, so be on the lookout for them.
In total, made 50 trips to local areas around Houston for wildlife photography. Can’t wait to see what photo ops 2023 will bring.
The major highlight for 2022, and the reason to get a 50mm lens, is that my daughter is pregnant!! We are thrilled for Heather and Jack with their baby due in May. Next year will involve lots of baby photo shoots with some outfits already being purchased for Christmas gifts this year.
Happy New Year everyone!! 2023 is going to be amazing! Hopefully will have time for some wildlife photography. Already have two major trips planned with hopefully a third one as well. More on those later.
Couldn’t resist heading out to take photos this morning with sun finally coming out while I’m on vacation. It was a little chilly in Texas at Anahuac NWR with 18 deg temperature and windchill at 0 deg F. Geared up with some of my winter Yellowstone clothing and got there about 1 hour before sunrise.
Some of the birds around Shoveler’s Pond were hunkered down but the raptors were out in full force as they still have to eat. Saw a juvi bald eagle flying at a distance, took a few photos and followed him towards the woodlot. Rounded a corner and spooked 2 other juvi bald eagles that were sitting on the fence line. Didn’t see them until they took off.
Captured this one as he was looking up while playing with the other eagle. They were too close to get a decent shot of both of them in the frame together.
1/8000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, 700mm (R3 + 500F4 + 1.4X), handheld out my car window
Broke one of my golden rules yesterday at Bolivar Flats on the Texas gulf coast: have your camera ready at all times when driving off the beach. Saw this male northern harrier sitting on a fence post along the road and my camera was in the trunk. There was a good reason for that as I couldn’t get the lens off of my fluid head. Went past the harrier, stopped, took my camera off my 500F4 and put it on my 100-500, and headed back to the gray ghost.
He was very cooperative and let me get several photos before he flew away. Luckily for me, he landed on the other side of the road, which allowed for more photos and some video in better light. He was finally spooked when another car came down the road.
The not so fun part of this encounter was that I was getting eaten alive by mosquitos. Didn’t have bug spray on as there were no mosquitos on the beach, but they were very intense along the grassy area leaving the beach. Had taken my jacket off so plenty of exposed skin for the feeding frenzy that took place in my car. As they say, everything is bigger in Texas, including the mosquitos. One of those times that you just grin and bear it as it’s always worth a little blood letting for a good photo op.
1/1600 sec @ F7.1, ISO 1000, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 500mm (R3 + 100-500), minor cropping off left side.
Late October is always one of my favorite times with the Wings Over Houston airshow. I’ve been going since 2005 and just love it. Was lined up to go to the drive-in show with some friends but it got rained out. Had already bought tickets for the weekend so went on Saturday. It ended up being a cloudy day with limited ceiling so the planes couldn’t fly their normal routines. Didn’t feel like going again on Sunday, which was a mistake as it had some sunshine. There is always next year.
I’ll post some of the Blue Angels photos later. All of these shots were taken with my Canon R3 and 100-500 lens, handheld.
F-16 demo team put on a great show. The female pilot rocked it.
F-15 from Louisiana lit up the sky with a short routine
Aero L-39 Albatros
You never know what you may encounter in Alaska, like this coastal brown bear walking through the grass. Immediately got down on one knee to get eye level with the bear for these two uncropped photos. This is a 3rd year cub taken on the second day of another amazing adventure in Alaska
1/1600 @ F11, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, -2/3 exposure compensation, 451mm (R3 + 100-500), full frame
It pays to break the rules sometimes, and in this case, a butt shot paid off. This bear was walking away but I kept shooting as my autofocus stayed on her head. You never know what you may get, and in this case, it’s a very unique perspective showing off the bottom of her foot and claws.
Lying in the wet mud while photographing bears at ground level in Lake Clark Alaska is an incredible experience that continues to fill my soul with pure joy.
1/640 @ F8, ISO 2000, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation, 500mm (R3 + 500F4) mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley gimbal, cropped
The large boar is showing how hot and bothered that he is while chasing his potential mate. That isn’t dust around him. It is steam coming off his hot body in the cool Alaska morning air. Used negative exposure compensation to darken the scene to emphasize the highlights.
It was towards the end of mating season for the coastal brown bears from Lake Clark National Park. Love was in the air with lots of mating action going on.
1/2000 @ F7.1, ISO 6400, evaluative metering, -2/3 exposure compensation, 500mm, R3 + 100-500, uncropped
We caught this coastal brown bear walking through the lupines along a bear trail at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge in Alaska. Our guide and trip leader lead us to the end of that trail when they saw her enter that area. Was great timing as she slowly walked towards us, and we got out of her way.
The RF 100-500 worked very well on this trip with using it everywhere except the mudflats, where my 500F4 was the workhorse. It was much easier to lug around.
1/2000 @ F8, ISO 5000, evaluative metering, 451mm, R3 + 100-500
Made it back to Lake Clark in Alaska for some more bear photography this year with Marc and bear guide extraordinaire, David Rasmus. Had a great time to say the least.
Last year was spent following Crimp and her cub around. This year, we saw Crimp on our first day and she was mating as she had kicked her cub out a few weeks ago. We did see her 3rd year cub and he pretty much looks the same, just larger. He was hanging out with Old Sow’s 3 year old cub on one of the days.
On this trip, we spent more quality time with the bears digging up clams on the mudflats, which I loved. Being able to get full framed shots like this still blows my mind. This bear is displaying an interesting behavior using the top of her paw for a table to eat the clam, which I don’t recall seeing last year. They have amazing dexterity with their claws and use them like fingers to pry apart the clams.
1/1600 @ F11, ISO 6400, evaluative metering, R3+500F4 on Skimmer ground pod, uncropped
Took this photo during my first Galveston FeatherFest field trip to Bolivar Flats Audubon Shorebird Sanctuary on the Texas gulf coast. I led four trips to Bolivar Flats again this year in April with this one being challenging with the weather that morning. The wind was blowing at 25 – 30 mph with heavy surf for this area. If it wasn’t for FeatherFest, I typically would have stayed home in those conditions, which makes me wonder how many great photo ops that I’ve missed over the years by not going in adverse conditions. This outing was unique as only one participant, Peggy, showed up for this trip.
In this photo, a group of dunlins and one ruddy turnstone were hanging out on a batch of seaweed that was bobbing up and down with the waves. A small wave came in that made the first dunlin launch up into the air. This group would then feed off of the material that washed up on the mound of seaweed.
I finally made the dive into mirrorless cameras with a Canon R3, which I’ll provide some more information on in a future post.
Taken with Canon R3 with 500mm F4 IS II lens, 1.4X teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head
1/1000 @ F11, ISO 4000, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation