Broad-tailed Hummingbird – a photographic lifer

Perched female Broad-tailed HummingbirdPerched female Broad-tailed Hummingbird – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited or set up

Photographing hummingbirds in the wild* can be daunting and fast paced, so fast paced that there are times I don’t often have time to properly ID them in the field.

Yesterday while photographing hummingbirds I noticed the plumage on the back of one bird looked different but it wasn’t until I was able to view my images on my computer screen that I realized that bird was a female Broad-tailed Hummingbird which is a photographic lifer for me. I don’t normally count a bird as a “lifer” unless I have photographed it. So I was tickled to find out I had another lifer even though I didn’t ID the bird in the field.


*I don’t photograph hummingbirds at set ups which are elaborate outdoor “studios” that some times have fake backgrounds, feeders with flowers as props in front of or covering the feeders and a multitude of flash units set up. That isn’t my style of photography at all, I want to photograph my subjects in the wild doing what they want to do when they want to do it where they want to do it.


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Beautiful Pollinators

Wild Sunflower and pollinatorsWild Sunflower and pollinators – Nikon D810, f13, 1/500, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Yesterday the light wasn’t great in the morning but I did get out to take some images an Antelope Island and there were plenty of pollinators out and about. Just this one Common Sunflower blossom 5 different insects which included two bees, one tiny fly, a beetle and a type of slender wasp.

Bumble Bee pollinating a Bee PlantBumble Bee pollinating a Bee Plant - Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Then there were a few skipper butterflies that didn’t get close enough to get decent images of but the Bumble Bees were.

Bumble Bee in flightBumble Bee in flight - Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

And they were actively going from one bee plant to another. This one’s pollen baskets were so heavy its legs dangled down.

Rufous Hummingbird flyingRufous Hummingbird flying - Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

There were also a few hummingbirds zipping from flower to flower with their wings making a buzzing sound that compliments their soft chirps.

Perched Rufous HummingbirdPerched Rufous Hummingbird - Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The bees, butterflies, beetles and hummingbirds will soon be gone but they have pollinated the plants which will soon set seed and the cycle will begin all over again next spring.


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Sandhill Crane and a stormy sky

Sandhill Crane and a stormy skySandhill Crane and a stormy sky

In March of this year I spent several days photographing Sandhill Cranes in southern Utah where the light and the weather could rapidly change. This Sandhill Crane flew in when a snow storm was hanging over the mountains to the northwest as the sun came up.  I thought the light on the crane was beautiful against the drama of the background.

“On motionless wing they emerge from the lifting mists, sweep a final arc of sky, and settle in clangorous descending spirals to their feeding grounds. A new day has begun on the crane marsh.” Aldo Leopold

For me it is always a joy to see a new day begin with the sight of Sandhill Cranes and to hear their clangorous calls as a new day begins.


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A juvenile Black-necked Stilt at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Resting juvenile Black-necked StiltResting juvenile Black-necked Stilt – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

During the month of August there are thousands of Black Necked Stilts and their young at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in northern Utah. Earlier this month I had an opportunity to photograph this juvenile as it rested along the auto tour route.

Black-necked Stilt juvenileBlack-necked Stilt juvenile - Nikon D200, f8, 1/500, ISO 200, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

After a few moments the juvenile stilt stood up and gave a great view of its extremely long legs. It won’t be long before the stilts and some of the other shorebirds here migrate south for the winter, after all it has already snowed in the mountains.

Where did the summer go?


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Brown Pelicans flying into the sunset and floating on the Gulf of Mexico

Brown Pelican flying into the sunsetBrown Pelican flying into the sunset – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light, not baited

I worked up two older Brown Pelican images to share this morning taken at Fort De Soto in 2009 and 2008. I was photographing birds late one evening at the north beach when I spotted a lone Brown Pelican heading from the shore towards Egmont Key just as the sun was setting. I don’t normally care for silhouettes but I took the shot any way and really enjoyed how it came out.

I use this image to remind myself that even though I might not think the lighting conditions are the best it is some times worth ignoring the rules, testing my skills and experimenting to create visually appealing and unique images.

Elegant Brown Pelican in breeding plumageElegant Brown Pelican in breeding plumage - Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 160, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light, not baited

This Brown Pelican image is well exposed because I had good light when I created it and it is visually appealing yet it does not have the drama of the sunset image. That said, I enjoy both of these images for what they are and there is room in my portfolio for both styles. I need to step outside my comfort zone more often.

Life is good.


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