I have been doing DSLR photography since 2007. I love it, and I like being able to express certain passions of mine through the medium of photography. I have experience shooting all kinds things, including: weddings, newborns, birthdays, parties, family portraits, funerals (yes, funerals), MMA events, school portraits, etc... But my biggest passion is wildlife, and my specialty--if I have one--is wild horses.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Good Friday in the desert

This is the old stallion that I've been calling "Gandolf." Every spring, when I get back out to the desert, I worry that I won't see him; I worry that he'll have lived out the last days of his life, as he is quite old. So, after not seeing him for my first 3 trips this spring, I was absolutely elated to see him yesterday. It was a glorious reunion. He and his companion horse--3 Socks--ran up to me, and posed for a few minutes, and gave me some great shots, which I appreciated. Mostly, I was just happy to see him. He seems to have fared pretty well over the winter. He looks good; healthy, and even a little spunky this spring. And he's got a new battle would. Check out that bite mark above his left nostril. That had to have hurt!!! I wish this horse many, many more glorious days as patriarch of the Onaqui herd.

The herd has 7 or 8 new colts so far, and still 1 or 2 mares looking pregnant. So we'll see. I fell in love with this new one. I'll admit, I wanted to cuddle her, and feel her soft fur. She's going to be a great-looking horse.

I have a few shots of this fight. These are 2 or 3-year old horses. They're not competing for females yet, but it won't be long. And this fight went on for probably 5 solid minutes. It's a little tricky to see from this angle, but I wanted to show you this behavior; they often fight from down on their front knees, in a kneeling position at times. I generally only see it in the younger males. The adult stallions really get after it, trying to inflict damage, and assert certain dominance over the others.

I think this black horse is probably a younger sibling to 3 Socks, as he also has 3 white socks, but a slightly different mark on his forehead.

What a show these two gave me!

The stallion on the right has been one of my favorites for a couple years running. I love his markings, and suspect he actually has a lot of mustang blood. His head is shaped a little differently from many of the horses out there. As well, his back is flatter; not as pronounced in the saddle. He's a tough horse, and this was the first time I'd seen another stallion challenging him.

I really love how this image turned out. I think this one will hang on my wall very soon.
We didn't have great light on this trip. It was quite cloudy, but we were happy not to get rained on, and the wind wasn't too bad; just enough to blow the dust a bit when the horses would stir it up. I love the dramatic effect it adds to an image.

After the fight is over, a parting gesture; "We'll meet again."

After a couple of hours shooting, it was time to go. I always like to back off and leave before the horses are actually ready for me to. It's give and take out there, and I want to maintain a respect for these horses. I don't want them to feel me pushing them. So I back off early, rather than overstaying my welcome. Just as I was loading things up in the car, this gorgeous paint stallion runs nearby, and takes a roll in the dust, before getting up and running up the hill to be with the rest of the herd.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Osprey Nest

I had fun trying to capture some shots of this osprey pair this morning.

Osprey are also known as "sea hawks." They live near waterways, where fish are plentiful.

Adding material to the nest.

A field was flooded, due to the high water table in the area. It made for a pretty shot.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The most amazing 2.2 million acres!

Bison bull

Bighorn rams

This was a fun Grizzly. A group of us photographers were waiting for a pair of wolves to return to an elk carcass. As we waited, this beautiful bear surprised us. She must have walked within 15 yards of me and some other guys, startling us, to say the least. But she made her way across a river, and then walked along this trail, where we were able to get some nice shots of her.
Same Grizzly as above

The eyes are a window into the soul. And, certainly, Bison have souls. I wonder what he'd say if he could speak to me...

I was driving through near Canyon Junction when I came upon a small Bison herd. It was raining, and I hadn't had much to shoot at that day. So, I pulled off where this pair were putting on a decent show of head butting. Of course, when I got stopped, they also stopped, but I liked this image; almost a mirror image.
Photographers sometimes do stupid things, in order to get good photographs, or photographs at all, as it turns out. I knew of a sow Grizzly, who would make her way down into this pretty valley in the mornings, her 2 cubs trailing behind. The problem was, that valley was still 500 yards off of the beaten path, out of reach of a decent telephoto lens. Sure, I got some shots, but nothing close to being print-worthy. I decided to make a plan; I'd get to that area long before anyone else did (in the dark), and I'd hike out to just off the valley, within 80-100 yards of where that mama Grizzly had been hanging out. The next morning, I arrived at this place, very early. I was indeed the first one there. I wore my camo rain gear, so I'd be dry, and inconspicuous. I hiked out to what I thought was a great spot, and set up my tripod and camera in the limbs of this great big, fallen pine. "Perfect," I thought. I stood there for over an hour, quietly. I noticed a couple of cars pull up, back out at the road, from where I had viewed the sow the day previous. But they had no idea where I was; I was hundreds of yards away, and well-hidden. I waited, and watched, and waited, and watched some more. No sign of the Grizzly family I was waiting for. Without warning, from behind me, a big boar Grizzly ran into the little meadow I was now watching. Startled, but excited, I hit my shutter button and started shooting. The Grizzly stopped about 50 yards from me, and looked around; he couldn't see me, but he could most definitely hear my shutter clicking away, and was trying to figure it all out. I was growing ever nervous, now that he was paying attention to my direction. I hadn't packed any bear spray (REALLY STUPID), and my pistol in the car would do me no good out here (I'd hate to be the guy who shot a bear anyway). With the bear still curious about me, I let my finger off the shutter, and got ready to back out of there, slowly. (Boy was I ever fighting the instinct to run, knowing full-well, I'd become a Grizzly's breakfast if I did.) After about 2 minutes of quiet, the big bear started to move up the mountain, away from me; he seemed very intent, and I had only slowed him up.
Well, realizing how bad that all might have gone, I packed up and got out of there. Back to the road for me. When I arrived at the road, I began talking with the other photographers who had now been there a good while. I didn't tell them where I had been. (I was feeling a little dumb by then.) One guy had a 600mm lens and a 1.4X teleconverter; he was serious. I started shooting the breeze with him, and daydreaming about the day I might have such an expensive rig. I looked up the mountain, and could see a dark bear sitting, and a blonder bear trucking up and over the peak as fast as she could move. I asked the guy next to me if I could peak through his camera and lens to show him what I was seeing. What I found was a little tragic and sad, though that's often the way nature plays out. That big male I had encountered, and who had seemed to intent on getting up the mountain, had gone up and gotten hold of one of that mama's cubs. And that blonder bear, I believe, was the mama, running to save herself and her other cub, having lost the one. I was heart-broken.
Well, sometimes nature isn't "pretty." I don't like thinking about that cub being attacked and killed by the large male. But male Grizzlies are known to do that, in order to bring the females into estrus, and also to ensure that their own genes are the only ones being passed on. I will say that I'm glad Yellowstone is wild enough for nature--even the ugly stuff--to play out.
Male Red Fox.

This was a great surprise. I stopped when I saw this coyote hunting ground squirrels, just off the road a bit. When I got out, and watch him catch one and eat it, I saw this badger come up behind him. My first thought was, "Oh man! I'm going to get some amazing shots of a standoff between these two!" I was extremely excited at that prospect, especially since I had just missed a fight between a female fox (the mate of the male above) and a badger.
I was completely caught off-guard to see these two were actually partnering up and tag-teaming the squirrel holes. They each showed zero animosity toward the other. There were simply working as a partnership. The one would check one hole, and the other would check or wait by a possibly escape hole. It was fascinating.

Bull Bison, Slough Creek
This Grizzly came strolling down a hill, where I had been set up, trying to get some shots of some baby badgers on a den. He came within 25 yards of me. He locked eyes with me just for a moment, but never stopped walking. He headed over to Slough Creek, jumped into the river, swam across and got out the other side, and then carried on up and over a hill. These are the moments I live for.
2012; This was the first time I had ever photographed--or seen--a baby Sandhill Crane. Pretty awesome to see this little family.

Turkey Vultures.