Reflections on 2022
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.
Black Wolf in Yellowstone
One of my goals after seeing a black wolf in 2018 was to get a better shot showing their yellow eyes. Mission accomplished from my recent Yellowstone trip.
After he came out of the woods with his mate, he stopped and looked in my direction. Great pose for a full frame uncropped photo.
1/1000 sec @ F7.1, ISO 400, manual mode, 700mm, handheld while sitting in a snowbank
He walked to our left and then made his way closer. In this photo, he had just turned his body slightly towards us and looked at me again with his right leg in motion for just the photo op that I was hoping for. He only looked at me for 2 seconds but was able to get a few shots off. The eyes have it!
It’s always a thrill to see a wolf in Yellowstone. Got lucky on 2 of my 4 trips to see them up close.
We saw a male black wolf and a female walking down the road on one of our trips in the snow coach. They left the road and went into the woods. We drove past the crowd of people trying to see them and stopped at a field next to the woods. They came out of the woods and walked parallel to the road at a distance and then came closer. Looked like they were going to give us a show by mating, but it didn’t happen.
1/1000 sec @ F7.1, ISO 400, manual mode, 700mm, handheld
Here is the beautiful female.
Got home yesterday from a trip to Yellowstone with 7 days of shooting in the park. Spend 3 days in a snow coach from West Yellowstone and 4 days driving on the northern range from Gardiner. It’s always a great time to be in Yellowstone in the winter. The animal activity was slower than normal this year likely due to the lower snow pack in the park but still had some great photo ops with wolves, moose, bison, coyotes, bald eagles and a large herd of big horned sheep.
Used manual mode while shooting in the snow. Only used my tripod once since it is much easier to use a Black Rapid strap for my 500mm lens when bailing out of the vehicle for some fast-moving action shots.
Found this frosty bison close to the road as he was using his head to push away the snow to get to the grass in -16 deg F temperatures. Was hoping for colder weather for more frost.
1/640 sec @ F7.1, ISO 2500, manual mode, 700mm, handheld
Yellowstone Coyote – Head Shots
To cap off my coyote encounter at Yellowstone, the coyote almost face-planted while nearing the top of the hill. The snow must have gotten deeper or the hill was steeper causing him to almost fall into the snow. He was able to maintain his laser focus on what he was looking at and didn’t miss a beat.
Minor cropping off of the left side of the frame on these head shots.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm lens, handheld while sitting in a snowbank.
Manual mode, 1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400
Yellowstone Coyote Full Frame
Here is a full frame shot of the Yellowstone coyote as he went around me after jumping up the hill. Was a very good day.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II, handheld while sitting in a snowbank.
1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400, manual mode
Yellowstone Coyote Among the Cattails
Yellowstone coyote on his way to the small creek before he ran up the hill. Full framed shot without any cropping. Saw this composition coming as he got near the cattails. Used back-focus button to get him in focus and then recomposed to put him in the lower left corner with the cattails in the top of the frame.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II, handheld
1/3200 sec @ F8, ISO 800, manual mode
Once-in-a-Lifetime at Yellowstone
Our second coyote encounter on Day 1 at Yellowstone was incredible. One of our workshop leaders spotted a coyote crossing the river at a distance. We got out of the snow coach and walked down the road to try to get a better view of him. He got up on the bank and made his way to our right in the snow, catching some food along the way.
Three of us went with Jared further upstream and waited for him to come to us. While sitting in a snowbank, got some cool shots of the coyote working his way along a small winding creek at the bottom of our hill. Was very happy to get those shots and expected him to continue along his way at the base of this hill.
All of a sudden, he took off and ran/jumped up the hill directly towards us. Luckily didn’t have my tripod or would have missed some of the shots as I had to lean back and to my left to shoot as a small tree got in the way.
He bounded up the hill while glancing from left to right with making direct eye contact with me several times. He would blast up out of the snow, which created a cool ring of snow around him. As he got closer, began to wonder if he was going to run right into me so I briefly lifted my head up to see how close that he was getting and he veered off to my left, leaving me with some full frame shots as he went by.
He kept going up the hill while almost face-planting into the snow allowing for a couple of cool head shots. At the top of the hill, he looked back at us and then went down the road like nothing happened. He left us with the thought “What just happened and did we capture it?” Downloading my photos revealed that I got 37 out of 40 photos in the sequence in focus when he ran up the hill in about 75 seconds. Have a 12 frames/sec camera really paid off.
I keep having these once-in-a-lifetime photography experiences in Yellowstone, which will ensure that I keep going back. Thanks again Jared and Doug. One of my favorite Yellowstone encounters ever.
All photos were taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens, handheld
Manual mode, 1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400, 500mm