Grizzly Bears of Alaska Photography Exhibit

•January 22, 2016 • 9 Comments

You are cordially invited to view my “Grizzly Bears of Alaska” photography exhibit at the Arts Alive Gallery, Breckenridge, Colorado.

As the Featured Artist for the month of February, I will have my framed and unframed prints viewable at the gallery from February 1 to February 28, 2016. The exhibit features grizzly bears and their cubs.

A reception will be held on Saturday, February 13, 2016, 4-8pm at the gallery.

I look forward to seeing you and sharing wildlife stories.

Grizzly Bears of Alaska Announcement

Last One Over The Fence

•January 7, 2016 • 5 Comments

Mule deer can easily jump a fence. It does take confidence and skill. In this case a small herd of 6 does and one buck encounter a barbed wire fence. Five does jump and one goes under. They also get plenty of practice since the ranches and range lands are cluttered with fences in Summit County, Colorado. Some landowners, considerate of the wildlife, will remove the bottom strand to allow wildlife to move easily under the fence. If only that were the case for all ranchers and fences. No doubt, this one deer will eventually learn to jump over the fence.

Under the Fence

Under the Fence

The buck patiently watches and waits until all of its herd members have cleared the fence. Then it easily jumps over the fence to lead the herd across Ute Pass road, over another fence, then out into the range land in search of grazing vegetation.

347A7705

All Clear?

          Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 Mark 2, 1/2000 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800

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        Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 Mark 2, 1/1600 sec, f/8.0, ISO 640

On another occasion and location last spring, I was able to capture on video a small herd of mule deer jumping a fence. All it takes is one to start:

Follow the Leader

 

Fall Colors in the San Juan Mountains

•October 21, 2015 • 9 Comments

One of the many benefits of living in Colorado is experiencing the fall colors of the golden aspens. While Silverthorne and Summit County offer breathtaking views at this time of the year, the San Juan mountains in southwestern Colorado will blow your socks off!

With my wife Beth,  friend Matt Shetzer and his Jeep Wrangler-Rubicon, we traveled the many jeep roads in the Ridgway, Ouray, Ophir area of southwestern Colorado at the peak of the fall foliage colors. Some roads were so rough with steep embankments that they brought an extra level of excitement and appreciation to the majestic views that we encountered.

Last Dollar Ranch at Sunset

Last Dollar Ranch at Sunset

 

The Mount Sneffels Range is surrounded by golden aspen fall folage and has a new dusting of snow.

The Mount Sneffels Range

 

San Juan mountain range and golden aspens as seen from Last Dollar Road, Ridgway, Colorado

San Juan Mountain Range as seen from Last Dollar Road

 

View into village of Ophir from Ophir pass, Colorado.

View into village of Ophir from Ophir pass, on a very narrow, steep jeep road.

 

The Photographer Setting Up A Shot

The photographer setting up a shot, taken by Beth Seeley

For the full set of San Juan Mountains fall foliage images, please see the gallery on my website HERE .

Hope that you enjoy.

Rich

Grizzly Bears – Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

•October 13, 2015 • 7 Comments

The least visited of all National Parks in the US national park system is Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in Alaska. It’s no wonder. One can reach the park only by plane or boat. No cars can get there. It is located on the shores of Cook Inlet about, a one-hour flight southwest from Anchorage. The landing strip is the beach! It’s not as easy to land as you might think: the pilot must first scan the beach for grizzly bears.

This park is home to dozens of grizzly bears (aka brown bears, aka coastal bears). Technically, a brown bear is not called a grizzly bear until it is 100 miles inland from the coast. On the coast they are called brown bears. However, I will be calling them grizzly bears because I love the sound and emotion that is evoked.

The sows (adult female bears) and their cubs inhabit the beach during the month of July, digging for clams at low tide. The salmon are also running at this time. As the salmon run peaks in early August, the boars (adult male bears) move in causing the sows with her cubs to move out. Boars will kill cubs to force a sow into estrous. A very grizzly way of life!

I had the good fortune to spend a week photographing sows with cubs, including 2 spring cubs (born in the spring) during the third week of July 2015. We stayed at the Alaskan Homestead Lodge, which I highly recommend. The trip/tour/workshop was organized by my good friend Matt Shetzer.

Just Fishing

Just Fishing

My heart skipped a beat or two when this sow charged right in my direction. She was just chasing a salmon, but I did not know it at the time. She stopped about 25 feet in front of me, close enough to make me step back a few steps.

Solace for the Spring Cub

Solace for the Spring Cub

This spring (born in the spring of the current year) cub swam out half-way across the stream, panicked, then turned around and paddled back to mom, where it received solace and comfort at a time of stress.

It’s a good thing these bears can read (note the sign on the left):

Grizzly Crossing

Grizzly Crossing

To view the gallery of grizzly bear images, including the spring cubs click:

Grizzly Bear Gallery

Bears occasionally stand up to view their surroundings and catch the scent of any threats. View this video of one sow standing:

Grizzly Sow Standing

Spring Cub Family Drink From Stream

Bear Hugs  – watch how two bear cubs stay warm together.

And bears can Stroll in Style

Hope that you enjoy

Rich

Osprey Dive, Catch and Kill

•June 1, 2015 • 10 Comments

The osprey, also known as a fish hawk, is an amazing raptor to watch and photograph. They are the only raptor that will dive underwater to catch fish. They will dive from as high as 100 feet and plunge talons first into the water at speeds of 50 mph to grab a fish. Often they will go as much as 3 feet deep to hook a fish with their talons.

I had the good fortune to find a location in Maine, where the osprey fish in a concentrated area on the St. George river, within photographic range. A fish weir in Warren, Maine creates a “traffic jam” as millions of alewife (herring) swim upstream to spawn in Lake Saint George. The “jam” is so thick with fish that it turns the river to a shade of black. The osprey and seagulls have a feeding frenzy.

While looking at the images on my camera, I was startled by a loud splash 50 feet from where I was standing on the river’s edge. An osprey dove right in front of me. Had I been paying attention, instead of reviewing images, I may have had that “killer” shot. But I did get a few good images. Some of the best ones are in the sequence below, which hopefully tell the story:

Hovering - Spotting the Fish

Hovering – Spotting the Fish

Dive

Dive

Plunge

Plunge

The osprey has a third eyelid called the nictitating membrane that covers and protects the eye as it plunges into the water. It is transparent and can be seen in the image above.

Splash Down

Splash Down

Emerging

Emerging

Watching an osprey emerge from under the water surface, at first using its wings as paddles, then with enough momentum to use them to get lift, dragging a fish along the surface and finally into the air, is like experiencing the poetry of nature.

Got Fish?

Got Fish?

Getting Lift

Getting Lift

Gaining Momentum

Gaining Momentum

Caught One!

Caught One!

Heavy Lifting

Heavy Lifting

Full Payload

Full Payload

Up Up and Away

Up Up and Away

Delivery to Nest

Delivery to Nest

The osprey will orient the fish so that it aligns with the slipstream to reduce drag. Next stop is usually to a tree or to the nest where it is consumed.

Hope that you enjoy.

Rich

 

Osprey Mating Call

•May 19, 2015 • 3 Comments

I am very fortunate to have 6 osprey nests within a 30 minute drive of my house. All appear to be active. I am able to observe at least one of these nests on a daily basis and occasionally even photograph them. It is always a thrill to see a pair return to a nest as a harbinger of Spring. They will settle into the nest, build it up with new nesting material to make it a comfortable home, then begin the process of starting a family.

Now I am not a voyeur, and osprey sex is not on the top of my list of events to photograph, but when this unique mating opportunity presents itself, I am ready with my camera as the images and video below will attest:

Approach

Approaching The Nest

 

Ready to Land

Ready to Engage

Chicks Under Construction

Chicks Under Construction

 

 

 

I am happy to report that at the last few observations of the nest,  it seemed that at least one osprey was on the nest continuously – a good sign that eggs may be incubating.

 

Stay tuned.

 

Rich

 

 

Home Delivery

•April 20, 2015 • 6 Comments

I wish that I could say that this was a carefully planned shot. But no, it was just luck.

I was focused on the one parent bald eagle in the nest with its eyes just above the edge of the nest. It was a snowy, overcast, cold morning and I was looking to capture an image of the bald eagle in a snowy nest. So there I was photographing the eagle in the nest when its mate just flew into my viewfinder frame and landed in the nest. I did not see it coming. Fortunately, I just was in the midst of a series of shots (at 10 frames per second) for about 1-2 seconds when this happened.

Eyes Over The Snow

Eyes Over The Snow

Home Delivery

Home Delivery

 

Luck can happen. Especially when I discovered that the previous frame had the wings clipped at the top of the frame, and in the next shot after this one the eagle had landed.

Also, for my photographer friends, I was about to lower the shutter speed to 1/1000 sec for the portrait shot of the eagle in the nest in order to lower the ISO, which was very high. Again, fortunately, I did not adjust the setting before the surprise arrival. At 1/1600 sec, the shutter speed is a bit slow for good bird-in-flight photography. Fortunately, it was slowing down to land and wings were up (slowest wing velocity) and 1/1600 sec worked. At 1/1000 sec it would have been blurred. Double luck.

Lower ISO would have been much preferred, but I am impressed at how well the 7D Mark 2 handled the noise at ISO 3200. Camera Raw noise reduction was applied.

Maybe it makes up for all those thousands of missed shot where planning was involved.

Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS, Mark 2, handheld

1/1600sec, f/5.6, iso 3200, @400mm.

Home Delivery – It’s a cold snowy morning in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, but our bald eagles continue to deliver the goods.

 

Rich

 

 

 
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