Best of 2009 – Animals

This is a part three to the “Best of 2009″ pictures for “Animals” category. To be honest, I haven’t done much wildlife photography this year, because I was busy photographing birds, landscapes and portraits. After seeing a small number of animal pics in my photo collection, I decided to try to capture more wildlife this year, if I can.

Unfortunately, one of the worst computer disasters hit me last year, when my hard drive died and I lost two very precious weeks of photographs. Those photographs were priceless – I captured a fox with 5 fox kits in their natural habitat: playing, cuddling with each other and chasing, capturing and eating mice. All of those photos were lost for good and I was only able to save a low-resolution version of a couple of pictures that I sent over email to a fox rescuer. Honestly, if there was a way to save those pics, I would have traded them over everything else I got in 2009…that’s how valuable they were for me. I resized those low-res images of foxes and I’m attaching them here. Although they are not as good when it comes to quality, I still love them.

Red Fox

1) Red Fox 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

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Best of 2009 – Birds

I had a hard time picking my favorites and I’m sure I didn’t do a good job, but anyway – here are the non-raptor bird pics that I liked from 2009:

Tricolored Heron

1) Tricolored Heron 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

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Best of 2009 – Birds of Prey

I’m starting to upload the “Best of 2009″ images for your pleasure :) I apologize that it took me so long, I just didn’t have much time to go back and look through all the pictures. Hopefully you will like these – I’m providing them at high resolutions, so that you can use them as your desktop wallpapers.

More to come tomorrow!

Rough-Legged Hawk

1) Rough-Legged Hawk 808×1200 Vertical Wallpaper

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Best of 2009 – Introduction

Well, I’m not even a quarter of a way into selecting the best of 2009. Lots of pictures and almost no time, but I’ll get there :)

For now, enjoy these two picks at 1920×1200 resolution for widescreen monitors. If you have a lower resolution widescreen monitor, the picture should scale back to fit your screen. If you have a square monitor, then you are out of luck :) Let me know if it a problem and I can make an attempt to go back and crop it.

Grand Canyon BW

1) Grand Canyon 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

Antelope Canyon

2) Antelope Canyon 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

To save the images to your computer, right-click the above links and then select “Save Target As” or “Save Link As”.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Death Valley – Part 2

As promised, this is Part 2 of the trip. The first part of the Death Valley trip is covered right here.

As I later found out, apparently, having water in Badwater Basin is a rare occasion. Although there were only a few spots with water in them, I still got off the car and took some pictures:

Badwater Textures #1

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Death Valley – Part 1

I won’t go too much into what Death Valley is, since you can read all about it right here. This was my first time in Death Valley and I absolutely loved it! It was only a single day trip, but definitely a full and busy one :)

I got there late at night and stayed at the Amargosa Opera House in Death Valley Junction, which is also a hotel. Man, the place was spooky!

Amargosa Opera House #1

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My favorite raptor photo of the year

This image of the Harris’s Hawk is so far my favorite raptor picture of the year. It is very challenging to take pictures of birds in flight and this one actually came out pretty well – the eyes are sharp and fully directed at me, which I really like in the photograph. There is one more image that is better than this one in terms of position of wings, but one of the wings got cut off from the frame (I was shooting hand-held) and it ruined the picture :(

Harris's Hawk in Flight

The above image was captured with a Nikon D300 and Nikon 300mm f/4.0 AF-S lens.

Sand Dune Panoramas

After many hours of stitching and tweaking panoramas, I’m finally able to post some of the best ones from the Great Sand Dunes National Park. I had to resize and cut the below images, because some of the panoramas were too long.

Once the thumbnails fully load, click on the first image and it will bring up a separate window with a full version of the panorama. Then click on the next button on the right hand side of the image to view the rest of the panoramas. The images are 1200 pixels wide and they might not fit on your monitor – in that case, you can scroll left and right using your scroll-bar on the bottom of your browser.

I captured this first panorama on a small stream that was running alongside the dunes. The stream was very shallow and I simply stood on it, capturing the stream, the dunes and the mountains in the back:

Sand Dune Panorama #1

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Great Sand Dunes

I have finally finished sorting through the photographs of the Great Sand Dunes National Park that Sergey and I visited a couple of weeks ago. Although it was very windy and rather cold, the weather was just perfect for photography with the beautiful cloud patches in the sky and rapidly changing light.

I have a very nicely stitched panoramic version of the below shot that I will upload for your viewing pleasure later. This was one of those “accidental” point and shoot shots that I didn’t even think would make it to the website. I got out of the car, shot one horizontal and 9-10 vertical shots for panorama and left the location. Once I got home and stitched the panorama, I wished that I had stayed a little longer :)

Great Sand Dunes #1

We then found a parking spot and decided to hike for a few miles up the sand dunes. While crossing a very shallow stream, I stood right in the middle and took a couple of shots of the mountains, the sand and the water:

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Hawk eating a mouse

While driving with my kids to a local park for birding, I saw this hawk flying around very low. I was slowly making a turn and continued watching the bird to see what happens next. All of a sudden, the hawk dove into the ground and I knew he was going to have a catch. Then he flew up and I clearly saw some sort of a rodent in his claws. I quickly grabbed my camera and drove towards a pole where he sat to first kill the rodent, then to consume it.

Click “read more” only if you are OK with seeing some gruesome details of a hawk consuming a mouse. Although there is no blood in the animation, some people might feel sick watching this, so I’m just warning you :)

Hawk with a mouse

Hawk with a mouse

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