Wedding Ring Lost and Found

•February 27, 2021 • 19 Comments

On Thursday, February 4, 2021 friends Werner Baumgartner and Wiebe Gortmaker and I traveled to the Sax-Zim Bog, in northern Minnesota, in search of the Great Gray Owl to photograph. The forecast was not friendly. The weather was predicted to include sub-zero temperatures, overcast skies and maybe some snow. If we had the flexibility to change our reservations we would have done so. But the schedule was set in place 5 weeks prior and trying to make changes in the last week before departure was just not possible. So we “bit the bullet” and traveled to one of the coldest places in the USA in the hope of finding the Great Gray Owl.

I have never experienced such cold. Not even in the Arctic or in Alaska or in Svalbard, Norway (a few hundred miles south of the North Pole). One morning, the temperature on the rental car thermometer was minus 32 degrees. Things just don’t work well at this heinous temperature. Automobile doors don’t open, doors don’t close, cars don’t start and hands are in pain. But, we soldiered onward. We drove the roads in the Bog and all the way to Two Harbors, MN, where the owls were rumored to be found. In the 4 days that we were there, we never did see a Great Gray Owl. They probably had far more sense than their human friends and retreated to where it was warmer and protected from the wind. The temperature never got above zero degrees and I discovered another side-effect of very cold temperatures – hands, fingers and skin shrink.

The shrinking effect must have contributed to the fact that one evening I looked at my hand and was shocked to discover no wedding ring. Oh no, the ring must have slipped off of my finger during the numerous times that I removed my gloves. I immediately searched all of my gloves (I had three different pairs, including heated glove liners), but no luck. I searched the rental car several time, but no luck there either. No ring in my luggage or camera bag. We traveled many times to the Sax-Zim Bog Welcome Center to photograph birds at the feeders and for restroom breaks. So I searched the outhouse next. What fun looking into every crack and crevice in the outhouse building for my wedding ring. I even lifted the lid. Not sure what I would have done if I had seen it in the pothole. I did not find it.

We cut the trip short because of the lack of owls. We went home somewhat dejected, I more than the others (lost ring and a previous visit 2 years ago resulted in no Great Gray Owl photographs, either). I did photograph a few birds at the Welcome Center feeders. Really glad the feeders were kept operational. See images below:

When back at home in Silverthorne, Colorado, I was discussing our disastrous trip with photography friend Bob Karcz. I blame him. He is responsible for getting me so excited to photograph the Great Grays at the bog. His trip one month earlier resulted in 7 sightings and hundreds of phenomenal photographs of the Great Gray Owl including flight shots with a vole.

Bob said, “contact Sparky about your ring”. I did not know Sparky Stenaas. But Bob knew him. Bob somehow gets to know every person within a 1 mile radius of where he is photographing. Must be that mid-western thing (he is from Wisconsin).

So, I sent an email to Sparky (Director of the Friends of the Sax-Zim Bog organization).

The next day I got a phone call from Sparky:


Wow, can you imagine? Heather-Marie Bloom, a Welcome Center host and Naturalist was near the out-house when she spotted something shiny in the snow. My Ring! Amazing, what are the chances?

The ring was packaged and shipped FedEx to my home shortly thereafter. It arrived a few days later, safe and sound. See photo of ring. It needs a little repair work, but that was the case before I lost it. I designed the ring 17 years ago and had it fabricated by Summit Gold Jewelers in Frisco, Colorado. It is a 3 panel rendition of the northern end of the Ten-Mile range (in Summit County, Colorado) with the famous Peak One in the center panel in semi-precious gems inlaid in gold. It would have been impossible to reproduce this ring.

I am indebted to the Friends of the Sax-Zim Bog, Sparky Stenaas, Heather-Marie Bloom and to my friend Bob Karcz.

Thank you,



Shooting and Processing Video for Wildlife

•November 16, 2020 • 3 Comments

I was asked to do a presentation on shooting and processing video for wildlife by the Mile High Wildlife Photo Club ( I do have some experience shooting video. I do not consider myself a videographer, but rather a hybrid shooter that loves to photograph wildlife and be able to switch to video when the opportunity presents itself. I love to shoot video and I have many, many video clips that can be found on my website (, YouTube and stock agencies, including National Geographic.

Click on image to see a video of the presentation:



Bucky the Baby Beaver

•July 31, 2020 • 15 Comments

When I was just a little boy, I would marvel at Bucky the Beaver on TV commercials for Ipana Toothpaste.  You have to be of a certain age to remember that cute beaver mascot. Never did I think that I would someday see and photograph the cutest of wild beavers – Bucky the Baby Beaver.

Baby Beaver Kit – A curious baby beaver emerges from the water, sits on its haunches and looks at the world around it. Coulter Bay, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.


The event took place in Coulter Bay Marina in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. We (friend Bob Karcz and I) had just arrived after a 10 hour drive from Colorado when we heard about a beaver family living on one of the docks at the Coulter Bay Marina. The beaver family built its lodge at the entrance to one of the marina docks, blocking the use of the dock. Rather than remove the lodge, the Park Rangers protected the lodge by chaining off the entrance, even if it meant the loss of one of several of their boating berths. Thank you Park Rangers.

National Park Service Dock Blocked by Beaver Lodge

It was evening and we sat in awe on the shore until dark photographing these playful, curious baby beavers. They would swim in an out of the lodge, up to the shore, climb up in the grass and pose for the photographers. The cutest ever.

Baby Beaver Swimming – A baby beaver kit swims to the shore to discover its new world. Coulter Bay, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.


Baby Beaver Watching Warily


Baby Beaver Drinking Reflection

Cute Kit



Beavers learn at an early age that grooming their fur is essential to keep it waterproof. Watch this short video of an adorable baby beaver as it grooms its fur:



Blocking an NPS dock is a serious offense and could not be allowed to go on indefinitely. What was the Park Service to do? Somehow the beaver parents got the message – they had to relocate. Was it the hoard of photographers and tourists that convinced them the current location was no longer viable or was it a normal event in the lifecycle of the beavers that they move to a summer home or was it the Park Service beaver whisperer that communicated the fact that it was time to move on.

How do beaver parents relocate their family when the kits are to young to swim long distances. The parents carry them in their mouth, of course:

Kit Gets A Ride

Kit Gets A Ride

Beaver Kit Gets A Ride To New Home

Parent Beaver Returns for Next Kit

Parent Beaver Returns for Next Kit


The entire family was relocated in this fashion. As soon as the last kit was moved, the Park Service dismantled their lodge. What great timing.


Least Tern Most Spectacular Dive

•August 1, 2019 • 1 Comment

While exploring one of my favorite spots for great egrets (Jones River Landing, Gloucester, Massachusetts), I watched a beautiful white bird hover over the water about 40 feet high, then tuck its wings and dive straight down. The bird was a Least Tern. It dove straight through the surface of the pond and came up with a fish in its beak. Least Terns are a protected species during the nesting season. They nest in and around Cape Ann during spring and summer.

I was immediately excited to try to photograph this behavior. The challenge was to follow the bird as it plummeted to the water and hold the camera in position as it broke the surface. Too slow and I would miss the wing position, splash and point of entry. Too fast and I would overshoot the dive point and miss the Tern emerging from the water.

Fortunately, I have had some experience photography diving osprey. See my blog post:(

It took several attempts but the Tern continued to dive for fish until I had an acceptable series. Thank you Mr. Tern. If you look carefully you can see a fish in its beak.

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Bear-ly Breathing

•July 13, 2019 • 9 Comments

There I was attempting to photograph an elk that came running out of the bushes. It is rare to see a lone elk, especially one in such a rush. They usually travel in herds so I was ready for more elk to emerge from the bushes. But, Oh No, it was a black bear that came pouncing out, it stopped and starred straight at me.

I felt that I was safe because of the fence between us. But, Oh No it jumped right thru the fence and into the pond.


I thought that I was still safe with the pond between us. But, Oh No, it started swimming towards me.

I backed up slowly, my heart racing, continuing to photograph, and remembering that my car was unfortunately 200 yards away. Then the bear did a U-Turn and swam back to where it jumped in. I have no idea why the bear turned around and swam back, but I was able to breathe again.

Fish Fight to the Finish Video on ABC Television

•March 23, 2019 • 18 Comments

Delighted to report that my Slow-Motion video “Fish Fight to the Fish” has been acquired by ABC Television for use in their “Right This Minute” segment. Kinda funny to watch where they have placed it and the style of the show. Sorry for the commercial preceding the video.

Fish Fight to the Finish Video



Right This Minute TV Show Segment


A Bald Eagle would rather steal a fish from another eagle than catch one for itself. This seems to be the standard behavior on the Chilkat River in Haines, Alaska. The chum salmon do one of the last spawning runs on the Chilkat River in November each year. Bald eagles by the thousands converge on the sand bars and river banks of the Chilkat River for their annual feast. There is much competition for the spawning salmon, and the eagles will fight and steal from each other to get their share. Wildlife photographers from the US and foreign countries also converge at Haines to photograph this spectacular event.

Photographing bald eagles on the Chilkat river is very challenging photography. They fly, attack, steal at varying distances from the photographer across the braided river gravel bars, often in poor light conditions. Strong daylight is limited to about 10am to 2pm at that time of the year in Alaska. Weather is always a factor. Every year that I have been to Haines (3 times over 4 years) to photograph this event, it has snowed. Snow can be good. It provides a very different setting, but also very dim light. A photographer needs good light to capture the action of these amazing raptors.

The eagles are flying about almost constantly:  up and down the river, across the river to the trees along the river banks where they often consume their prey, and frequently overhead. I was standing on the shore of the river handholding my camera, scanning for some action, when squawking and screeching could be heard overhead. I looked up and saw two eagles fighting with one another. I did not have time to think. My arms reacted. I had about 2 seconds to focus on the eagles, start my slow-motion video and follow them while they crashed through the trees and down into the snow behind a log only 50 feet away.  I held my breath, watched and waited. It took the eagles about 5 minutes to recover from their crash, then the victor emerged from behind the log, flying almost straight at me with the fish in its talons. I reacted within seconds and was able to photograph it as it flew past me just yards away. After my heart restarted, the playback of the video confirmed that I had a winner.

Hatchling to Fledgling

•October 21, 2018 • 7 Comments

Hatchling to Fledgling

Several years ago, a friend showed me the location of a hummingbird nest on a tree branch near a popular trail in Dillon, Colorado.  On a number of occasions over the years I would look for the nest to see if there was any activity.  The nest was about 6 feet off the ground and very difficult to see into the interior and even more difficult to photograph.  I never did see any activity and the last time that I looked I was not even able to locate the nest. I assumed that it was abandoned and it fell out of the tree.

I searched up and down the trail in frustration trying to locate the nest. A broad-tailed hummingbird was flitting about and started buzzing me. I watched carefully as the hummer hovered and slowly descended to a branch right in front of me and landed on this stub.  To my surprise, it was not a stub, it was a nest. This nest was only five feet off the ground and with a clear line of sight from the trail. The hummer was sitting on the nest. There had to be either eggs or babies in the nest.  Finally, my lucky day.

When the hummer flew off, I could see that there was one baby hummingbird in the nest. Probably just a few days old. The period of time from hatchling to fledgling is about 21 days. Once they fledge they are ready to fly and migrate south. They fly solo, on their own in just a few days after fledging.  This is Just amazing to me.

Parent Hummingbird Feeds Chick

Parent Hummingbird Feeds Chick

With my Sony A7R3, Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM lens, mounted on a tripod, with a wireless remote trigger, I watched and photographed the hummingbird nest from August 5 to August 20, 2018 until after the baby fledged. From a series of video clips and images. I have created this short movie (50 seconds).

Hatchling to Fledgling




•April 18, 2018 • 14 Comments

Tanzania – a land of relentless wildlife beauty.

If Looks Could Kill – A very close leopard stares with intensity from its grassy hiding place. Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania, Africa

Beth and I had the good fortune to travel in Tanzania on a photography safari. So much wildlife, it made my head spin. Wildlife at every turn on the dirt roads, of which there are thousands of miles. How the guides manage to navigate the terrain with no signs or maps and in Ndutu no roads at all, is an impressive skill. We photographed in Lake Manyara National Park, Ndutu Region, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Ngorongoro Crater (see map).

Tanzania Africa

Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Ngorongoro Crater, Ndutu, Lake Manyara National Park, Serengeti National Park,


The weather was hot, dry and dusty (a real challenge keeping the camera gear free of dust), but clear for wildlife photography. Twelve days of game drives in safari vehicles that were specially fitted for just 2 photographers. Since it was Beth and I together in one vehicle, I essentially had the entire vehicle to myself for my photography. The vehicle had an open roof with no “pop top” – a real advantage in that there were no roof posts to get in the way of the visibility or camera sweeps. With three camera bodies with lenses (Sony A7R3, Canon 5D4, Canon 7D2, Canon 500 mm F/4, Sony 100-400 GM F/4.5-6.3, Canon 24-105 F/4 ),  I could shoot in any direction in seconds notice.

Rich in His Safari Vehicle


Classic Shots

There are two classic photographs that I wanted to capture: 1) Acacia tree at sunrise and 2) the Lilac Breasted Roller bird in flight.

Serengeti Sunrise – The sun rises over the Serengeti grassland under an Acacia tree. Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti Sunrise image took 5 attempts, 5 mornings in a row. One must have the right location, the right camera lens, the right distance from the tree, the right clouds, the right camera settings and the sun in the right position relative to the Acacia. And a lota luck! It finally came together in the Serengeti National Park with the expert help of my guide, James, on the 5th attempt.

Beautiful Lilac Breasted Roller in flight with wings down. Ndutu, Tanzania

The lilac breasted roller is a difficult bird to photograph in flight. It flies quickly and erratically. While standing in the safari vehicle we drove through its habitat and scanned for the bright, beautiful blue colors of the roller in the trees. Trying not to disturb the bird we would drive as close as we dared. Then we waited for the bird to fly. I was rewarded with this flight shot. Wings down is my favorite position


The Safari Guides

The safari was organized by Roger Clark, a friend and fellow member of the Mile High Wildlife Photo Club. Roger contracted with Roy Safaris (Arusha, TZ), who provided the vehicles, the guides and the incredible expertise for finding and identifying wildlife (all their guides must graduate from Wildlife Guiding College). This was Roger’s eighth trip to Tanzania.


Our Guide James


The safari guides for the four vehicles in our group.


World Class Accommodations

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Brunch in the Bush

After an early morning game drive (start at 6 am to get into position for the sunrise shots) of several hours we would regroup, circle our “wagons” and have brunch in the bush.

Brunch in the Bush


Navigating the Family Tree

We watched (seemed like hours – we came back several times to see them) a mother leopard and her cub move around in the limbs of a tree. When it came time for them to descend the leopardess climbed down with agility and poise. The cub however, was reluctant to climb down. We could see the hesitation as it seemed to be judging the distance and the difficulty. Finally it descended with no problems. Mom must have been proud. Interesting how the tails are straight, up and at a slight angle for balance.

Navigating the Family Tree – A leopardess first and then her cub descend a tree that has seen much family activity. Serengeti National Park.


Ngorongoro Crater

For many years I have been hearing about this famous crater for its wildlife. I was excited to experience this seemingly magical place. It did not disappoint. The crater, also know as a volcanic caldera is 17 km across and has a flatish bottom. One can stand in the safari vehicle and look across the crater in any direction and can see wildlife almost to the far rim. While wildlife can move in and out of the crater, it does act like a natural fence that creates a concentration of animals. It is famously known as the home of the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, cape buffalo). I was not interested in photographing the Big Five as an objective, since there are so many beautiful birds and other wildlife to photograph. But when reviewing my images, I did realize that I had captured the Big Five.


180 Degree Surround Panorama

Surround 180 degree Panorama, Ngorongoro Crater; Click on image, Click again on circular arrow, Click and Drag.


Heron on a Hippo

We were eating brunch by a pond after a morning game drive when I watched a grey heron fly over us and land on the back of a hippo in the pond. I jumped up, grabbed my camera and ran to the pond’s edge to photograph this unusual sight. Then the heron jabbed down into the water and came up with a fish. What a surprise to me and the fish.

Catch on a Hippo – A grey heron catches a fish while standing on the back of     a hippopotomus. Ngorongoro Crater.


The Black Rhino

The black rhino is critically endangered, because of the rising demand of rhino horn. There are only about two dozen rhinos in the crater, so seeing one is an event to be remembered. We did see one black rhino, but it was a long shot.

Canon 7D Mark2, Canon 500 mm lens+2x TC or 1600 effective millemeters:

Black Rhino, Ngorongoro Crater


The Serval Cat

What is a Serval Cat? Basically a wild cat. I had never seen one, not even in a zoo. I never expected to see on in the wild since they are very stealthy. But on the way back to the lodge, one dashed across the road right in front of our vehicle. I jumped up and started shooting as the cat slipped through the tall grass. With a one second of look-back, I was able to get this image. What luck!

Serval Lookback – A rare Serval cat slips away stealthly but turns to look back through the grass. Ngorongoro Crater

From 20,007 Images to my Top 40

My Top 40 Images

Svalbard and the Polar Bears

•November 7, 2017 • 10 Comments

Not many people have heard of Svalbard, Norway. It’s in a remote part of the world. It is 700 miles north of the northern coast of the mainland of Norway and 800 miles south of the North Pole. It’s an archipelago of 2300 glaciers and one town. The town is Longyearbyen and is considered to be the most northerly town on the planet at 78 degrees north latitude.

How does one get to Svalbard? View this Google Earth video of the route from Denver, Colorado to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway:

           Google Earth Video of Flight From Denver to Longyearbyen


Svalbard and Longyearbyen are remote and very unique places. Check out these fun facts:

  1. Longyearbyen was founded by an American – John Longyear; Population is 2600 residents. 78 degrees north latitude. Also known for the Global Seed Vault.
  2. Town is built on stilts – melting snow and mud in the spring can make for serious flooding.
  3. Snowmobiles are the mode of transportation in the winter. Over 4000 snowmobiles for 2600 residents.
  4. Longyearbyen is surrounded by a polar bear zone. If you cross from the safety of the town into the bear zone, you must have a rifle or be driving a car. Best to have both.

Entering the Polar Bear Zone

Entering the Polar Bear Zone



5. Reindeer wander throughout town and can be found everywhere.

6. Can’t have a cat as a pet – they threaten the bird life.

7. Can’t be unemployed – it’s illegal – must show proof of employment to live there.

8. More polar bears than people on Svalbard – approximately 3000 bears as compared to 2600 residents.

9. Because of the permafrost, it is illegal to die in Svalbard. The bodies do not decompose. The last body to be buried in the Longyearbyen cemetery was in 1940.

Longyearbyen Cemetery

Longyearbyen Cemetery

Longyearbyen Cemetery

Longyearbyen Cemetery

My photography adventure started in Longyearbyen in August 2017, where I boarded a 45 meter Swedish coast guard ship outfitted for wildlife touring. We were searching for photographic opportunities:  seals, arctic foxes, reindeer, walruses, whales and, most importantly, the polar bear. We sailed for 8 days through wind, rain, fog, sunshine, calm seas, heavy seas, all around Svalbard, in fjords, in bays, around islands, on islands, near glaciers as far north as 82 degrees north latitude, all with 24 hours of  daylight per day, in search of the elusive polar bear.

 Our GPS Track In and Around Svalbard

Our GPS Track In and Around Svalbard

When the bears were sighted from the ship, the Zodiacs would be launched in minutes. We could approach quite close to a bear on the shore, as close as 25 meters at one point. With professional gear including telephoto lenses, we were able to get some amazing images.

Zodiacs Launched

Zodiacs Launched

Bear Targeted

Bear Targeted

The expedition was organized by Svein Wik, . Svein is an accomplished Norwegian wildlife photographer, organizer and chief guide for the expedition. I highly recommend a tour with Svein.

Carcass in Sight

Carcass in Sight

On A Sperm Whale Carcass

On A Sperm Whale Carcass

We traveled north into the drifting pack ice. This is the home of the polar bear, where the seals are abundant. The seal is their main food source. A single adult seal can sustain a polar bear for a week. We sailed as far north as 81.3 degree north latitude in search of this apex predator. With keen vision, the second mate spotted a yellowish discoloration standing out from the pure white “snow-bergs” a mile to our port bow. It was a polar bear pair. The zodiacs were launched, and for the next three hours we were treated to one of nature’s finest photographic opportunities:  a polar bear mother and 1-2 year old cub huddled on a “snow-berg” in beautiful golden sunset light.

How Close? - 27 meters

How Close? – 27 meters

It was past dinner time, but no one wanted to leave. We continued to shoot until cards filled up and arms became weak with fatigue. I shot over 1000 images in 3 hours. I was exhausted, both mentally and physically, and welcomed the comfort of the warm ship and hot meal.

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And a video clip of the scene:

The adventure also included photographic opportunities of arctic foxes, walruses, blue whales, bearded seals. These will be the subject of another post in the near future.

I returned to Longyearbyen a very happy photographer. It was one of my most amazing photography adventures ever. I now have an unquenchable thirst to return to Svalbard  to do it again.

This was one week of a multi-week adventure traveling in Norway with wife Beth and friends who live there. Norway is a beautiful country with beautiful people and has recently been rated the happiest country on the planet by a 2017 United Nations report. If you have not been there already, then put it on your bucket list.

To view more of my polar bear images click:

Polar Bears

To view images of our Norway trip:


Pika Flower Power

•October 23, 2017 • 13 Comments


Flower Power

The American Pika gets no respect.  When seen, most people think it is just a mouse. No, it is not a mouse. With short ears and a short tail, it is closely related to the rabbit.  They live at high alpine environments where cool temperatures provide them with ideal living conditions. They are industrious little mammals, constantly gathering grasses and flowers during the non-snow months to store in their numerous caches called haystacks. It’s a wonder that they remember where these caches are hidden.  When dry, the haystacks are carried to the pika’s den where they provide food throughout the winter when the mountains are covered with multiple feet of snow.

Pika Packing

Pikas can be heard when they use their high-piched “eek” or chirp to warn others of predators, including encroaching people.  You can hear the chirp in this video:

The pika will use its sharp teeth to clip grass and flowers, stuff its mouth with the bundle and run and jump at top speed to store the bundle in the haystack. Watch this video of a pika running and jumping towards me, the photographer, as it carries a bundle to one of its caches:

Pikas are very sensitive to climate change. They need cool temperatures to survive.  As average temperatures rise, the pika will seek higher and higher elevations. As average temperatures rise they will overheat and perish. Climate change is a threat to their existence.

More images of this cute critter in action. The images and video clips were made on Loveland Pass, Summit County, Colorado:

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