Confessions of a Deer Hunter

Buck Blending In

I spent quite a bit of time during my youth hunting in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Along with my family and friends, I was convinced that the first day of deer season was a national holiday! In truth, I invested far more time in preparation for deer season than hunting. It was simply part of the process of being as well-prepared as possible for harvesting a deer. During my early teens, I gave serious thought to becoming a Pennsylvania Game Warden, as I could imagine no better job than being outdoors every day and getting paid for it! And although I never bagged a buck or became a Game Warden, I learned quite a bit about nature, wildlife habits, topographical maps, and many other subjects. The learning process and being outdoors was far more important to me than actually shooting an animal. When I rekindled my interest in photography, and my Nikon cameras and lenses replaced my rifles and scopes, I put many of the skills I had learned as a hunter to work in photographing deer and other wildlife.

Buck Blending In

Over the last five years, I have been photographing quite a few of the animals inhabiting Hartwood Acres, a historical landmark consisting of the former estate of the John and Mary Flinn Lawrence family, and 629 acres of pristine forest. Red-tailed hawk, whitetail deer, turkey, raccoon, and fox are regular inhabitants of the park. Rumor has it that coyotes have been spotted as well.

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Yellowstone and Glacier Trip Photos

Yellowstone NP #1

Here are some photos that I decided to share with you from Yellowstone NP and Glacier NP from my trip across the Western USA. I have not done much processing on these yet, which I am hoping to do during the next few weeks. The images from Yellowstone NP are from the Nikon D5100 that I was testing – all images from my Nikon D3s were on the card that I unfortunately lost somewhere in Yosemite NP. All landscape images of Yellowstone are lost, so I only have some wildlife + wildflower shots to show.

While in Yellowstone, there was not a day when I did not see black bears. First day I was super excited about seeing a bear cub walk alone and eat flowers, so I took several hundred pictures of him eating, resting and playing. My favorite picture was with the cub sitting in between many wildflowers. Of course those pictures are all gone, so it is only a memory. During the next bear encounters, I only photographed when the bears were close. For the first couple of shots, I would use the Nikon D5100 and then switch to my D3s, due to better and more accurate autofocus. Here are some images of bears from the Nikon D5100 + Nikon 200-400mm f/4 VR combo.

This is a black bear that some call “Cinnamon” bear:

Yellowstone NP #1

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Best of 2010 – Wildlife (Part 2)

Burrowing Owl in Flight

This is the second part of the “Best of 2010″ for Wildlife series. The first part can be found here. If you are looking for the technical information on how these images were shot (shutter speed, ISO, etc), the information is preserved as EXIF data in each file. Lola and I specifically preserve EXIF data in all of our images, so that our readers could learn from us.

Roseate Spoonbills

1) Roseate Spoonbills 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

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Best of 2010 – Wildlife (Part 1)

American Pika

Before posting two more landscape wallpaper collections, I decided to publish some wildlife images from 2010. There will be two parts and this is the first one. Unfortunately, I did not do much wildlife photography in 2010, so I only have a few images to share. Please note that all of these were taken in a natural habitat and the wildlife was not disturbed or hurt during the process :)

Geese at Sunrise

1) Geese at Sunrise

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Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II + TC-20E III

Coyote eating Vole

NOTE: I have recently posted the detailed Nikon 300mm f/2.8 VR II Review.

I have been super busy performing tests on over 12 lenses (more on that later), including the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II and the new Nikon TC-20E III. It was very painful to find the TC-20E III, but I got one on my hands and I have been extensively testing it with the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II. I have also been comparing the results with my Nikon 200-400mm f/4.0G VR, so I will soon publish some very interesting findings for those, who are interested in high performance telephoto gear for sports and wildlife photography.

For now, here is a sample of the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II with the TC-20E III at 600mm:

Coyote

And here is a 100% crop:

100% Crop

Amazing sharpness and contrast, I am truly impressed. Here is the same coyote caught in action with the same lens combo:

Coyote eating Vole

More to come!

Birding with Nikon D3s

Pheasant running

I took Omar and Ozzy on a quick road trip today for some nearby birding at Barr Lake State Park after work. On the way to the park, I spotted this Ferruginous Hawk on a pole and took a picture of it:

Ferruginous Hawk

The focus was dead on and all sequential images came out tack sharp, as expected.

As we arrived to the park right at sunset, we found a deer, along with a killdeer roaming around the park :)

Male Deer

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Best of 2009 – Animals

Channel Islands Side-Blotched Lizard

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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Yellowstone: Wildlife

Wildlife #1

I’ll be honest, this part of the Yellowstone tour is probably the most boring one, as I simply do not have any good pictures. I know, it is a shame and it really sucks that I couldn’t capture anything good after coming back from Yellowstone, where wildlife is abundant and all over the place.

Ultimately, I wanted to capture nice images of wolves, black and grizzly bears, foxes, coyotes, various birds (eagles, hawks, owls, etc) and so on and so forth. I’m not sure if it was the hot weather, too many people or just bad luck, but we just didn’t see much wildlife at all. Sure there were deer, elk, bison and some mountain birds…but I have seen them all in Colorado and I can capture them close right here pretty much any time of the year. I read various booklets, asked rangers and other people and still was not able to see anything special.

Let’s start with raptors. Basically, raptors are abundant and can be found everywhere in the park. If you drive along the lakes and rivers, you will most definitely spot Ospreys and Bald Eagles. Ospreys are everywhere and I saw at least 10 of them, whereas Bald Eagles are somewhat rare (only saw a couple).

Wildlife #1

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