Dove in south texas are mostly prized for the ability to provide a reason to go hang out in a field all day with some beers and good friends. They are related to the pigeon, and well, basically are just rural pigeons that because you call them dove you can eat them. They are decisively more skittish which makes taking their photo sort of fun.
The coastal bend wild life contest is winding down and I am rocking out. I have had three back to back awesome shoots. Over the past three months I have spent more time behind the camera that I have ever spent before. I have learned how to sit in the blind for 4 hours or more and how to keep my heart rate down when a mammal comes into the cross hairs of my lens. I no longer see a deer and assume that it is going to attack me. It has been so amazing getting better at something I love.
Now comes the really hard part– choosing the best of the best. The past 4 days have dedicated to biting off a chunk of sorting through the 3 months of photographs. I calculated an estimate of between 15,000- 18,000 photos that were shot during the contest. I was a little shutter crazy at the beginning. 🙂
I think this is one of the most important, and un-teachable parts of being a great photographer- selecting the best image. Often times I end up with a good shot and 15 images that are more or less the same. One is a little sharper, the next a little more to the right, the next a little more to the left. It’s madding and tedious and so super important.
Here is a lady cardinal from late February. I was sort of smitten with the maiden cardinals at the time. Their coloring is subtle but in a way more beautiful than their uber recognizable male counterpart. Their beaks are a bright vermillion-orange which is made all the brighter by their grey feathers.
Life has been busy. Maybe you can tell from my less than verbose Pelicans! post. We traveled out to the desert again, one of us with a bad ankle and a good attitude and the rest of us with a lot of sunscreen. Big Bend National Parks is one of those amazing places that if you ever get a chance, you cannot miss. I managed to pack a full battery, thank goodness, but after shooting on the D4, heading back to my D3200 was, well- let’s say less satisfying. We learn more and more about the park every time we visit. This time we managed to find the Hot Springs (which were ahhhhhmazing), hike off trail at night, and backcountry camp. We took the truck which has 4 wheel drive, so weren’t limited to certain areas of the park. It also meant that we could camp at one of the wilderness spots away from all about two other campsites. This meant no bathrooms and no showers- but who cares! We are in the desert!
We took a mattress pad type thing with us and slept out in the open, under a blanket of stars, tucked inside sleeping bags (or tucked inside two if you are me). It did get a little chilly at the lowest point at night- but nothing so uncomfortable I haven’t already forgotten about it.
I say he here, but I have looked up various first page google results and found that the only way to tell little boy and girl coyotes apart is that boys have a penis and girls have nipples (thanks ehow). I have some mighty close shots of this coyote and I can’t detect either. So perhaps a girl that has not mated or had a litter yet? The coyote’s tail was between it’s legs a lot of the time too, so I didn’t really get that sweet a peek at what was hiding underneath. I looked up pictures of the two sexes on google image and it seems like the males sort of have closer eyes and a more brilliant look. Every time I make my mind up that it is a lady, I then mentally, say, no no it’s got to be a boy. I really don’t know, dear reader- do you?
My sister in law really liked this photo and asked that I send it to her, so I figured I would share with all of you as well.
I had some great luck in the blind the other day, capturing some good, but gory, shots of vultures, caracaras and a coyote. At the time I was busy clicking away and didn’t realize exactly how gross the scene was, but now looking at the photos I am a wee weary of posting them to world wide audiences. If you want to see more gore, leave me a comment to egg me on!
The picture I choose for tonight was cropped out of a larger scene where the vultures were having an eating orgy. Pardon the slight graininess, please.
Caracaras are also known as Mexican Eagles, which are famous for killing rattle snakes. They are in the falcon family, however they are slower than most falcons and their eating habits closer resemble those of a scavenger. The bird below is an example of the male of the species. The female is easy to tell because she doesn’t have golden feet like the male, or the bright gold color of her beak.
I took out my father in law’s 400 lens again yesterday to practice with it. One thing that no one tells you when you get interested in photography is that you are going to have work on your biceps. I had the monster on the tripod for while, using it more as binoculars than as a camera, hunting the tree tops for songbirds. Oh, and by the way, if you didn’t know, birds fly pretty fast. This makes them a pain in butt to try to photograph. Worse than babies, I swear. Those birds.
This one managed to sit still long enough for me to snap a clear shot. I like to photograph the local natives but I never have any idea what type of bird or bug it is. Always- if you know- please write me a comment letting me know the name. I got sick of looking up, so I tried using my head and turned a water spigot on for a little while to see if I could seduce some birdies into a bird bath. While the water was running I snapped mostly boring photos, but this crooked mesquite tree looked pretty good.
I did manage to get several shots of birds on the spigot but there was a small branch that I couldn’t see thorugh my viewfinder but was clear as gray smudge across the photos when I loaded them up onto my screen. Removing the 400 from the tripod I played with the sunlight as it hit the streaming water. I focused my attention on shutter speed and got these beauties.