During my last trip out west I was able to spend a few days in Yellowstone. This was the earliest I had ever been in the park (mid-April). In fact they were just starting to reopen the roads in the park. The park is different every time I go, but the changes from season to season are of course more dramatic. I am usually in the park in the fall. At that time of year I rarely see bear because most of them are in the high country feeding on pine nuts, trying to put on weight for hibernation. But in the early spring they are just coming out of hibernation, are very hungry, and can be found down in the low country feeding on the carcasses of animals that have died during the winter, as well as anything else they can find. I saw bear every day in fact one day I found six different bears, four grizzly and two black bear.
Here are some images I was able to make of a grizzly bear that I was able to spend a couple of hours with. This particular bear was feeding on roots along a hillside near the Lamar Valley. As I was going through these images I was surprised to see how the bear’s body position could have a profound affect on the mood of the image.
In this first image we have the quintessential teddy bear, big round face, innocent eyes, and a chubby roly-poly body. This image to me has a nice restful, quiet feeling about it; the bear looks cute and cuddly.
In this next image the bear has risen on his hind legs to get a better look at something on the other side of the next hilltop. For me this image is humorous, the bears vertical body position makes me smile. It also makes me curious about what has captured his attention.
This final image has a completely different feeling. In this image we have direct eye contact, the bear’s paw is raised showing those big scary claws, his body posititon leads you to believe he is getting ready to turn and charge. He looks as if he may be thinking about having a photographer for dinner. (Not to worry Mrs. Z nothing could be further from the truth). It is really just smoke and mirrors, I knew when I made this image that the bear’s body position and direct eye contact would give this image a tension a feeling of impending confrontation. The truth of the matter is that, the bear just happened to glance back at me as he was slowly walking away.
This past winter I took a quick trip up to the Michigan’s upper Peninsula to try to photograph the snowy owls that had been seen hanging around the Rudyard area. I was up there for three days, the weather did not really cooperate I only saw the sun one time right around sunset on the second day. The sun peeked out from beneath the clouds just before it set, the gray background in this images is the dark storm clouds to the east.
Hey everyone I am still alive. Sorry that I have not been able to do a post for a while. But I have been travelling a lot lately, I have only been home three days in the last month. Most of that time was spent out west, where I shot Greater Sage Grouse dancing on their lek, spring bears in Yellowstone, I even hauled the floating blind out there to do some waterfowl. It was a great trip very productive, I shot over 8,000 images, photographing many subjects for the first time.
I do apologize for not being able to post. Moving forward however, I want you to know that I am going to try something different, I am going to try and do smaller posts more often, my goal is going to be, to try and do a post every Wednesday.
For this post I would like to share a couple of images I made late this fall. In November I made an exploratory trip down to Jasper Polaski Fish and Wildlife area in Northern Indiana. Jasper Polaski is a staging area used by sandhill cranes as they migrate south. I think it is one of the best places in the Midwest to photograph these birds in flight. The birds start to gather in late September with their numbers peaking around mid November, when there are usually between 10,000 and 15,000 birds.
I was there one morning and the birds were gathered in the Goose Pasture viewing area. The morning was perfect not a cloud in the sky with winds out of the southeast. I mention the wind direction because it is very important in this type of photography. Birds will usually take off and land into the wind. Winds out of the southeast means that when I set up with the rising sun at my back most of the birds would be flying toward the southeast at a perfect angle towards me. If the winds were out of the west and I had the rising sun at my back most of the birds would be taking off and landing toward the west facing away from me, not very photogenic.
As soon as the sun comes up the birds start leaving the pasture, singly and in small flocks. The birds are heading out to the surrounding farm fields to feed for the day. It took about three hours for all of the birds to leave the pasture, at which time I packed it up. I suppose I could have worked them feeding in the fields during the rest of the day, but I had somewhere else I had to be. In the evening the cycle reverses itself and you photograph the birds as they fly back into this same pasture.
I took hundreds of pictures here are a couple of my favorites.