Archive for April, 2010


Whitetail Deer: Light and Understanding

In photography trying to master light conditions and how light affects a photo can make or break the photo as much as understanding how your subjects behave.  I enjoy how the last hour of sunlight works with these deer.  The side-lighting in the picture below creates a light and dark side.  While deer are innocent creatures they also are wild animals.  The innocents will watch a potential predator even when very close, waiting for the predator to make a move.  The wild animal will stomp its foot as if to say, you get out of here.


This yearling has set aside its fear and stepped out from behind cover.  Stomping its foot, it clearly tries to establish itself as the boss ‘round here.

Observing their behavior I’ve discovered that Whitetail Deer have strong family values with family groups remaining together for several years.  They have a social hierarchy with each individual responsible for a set of tasks.  Understanding those tasks has allowed me to get very close to these deer and given me the chance to take photos.


Last summer this doe surprised me when she stepped out of her cover spot and let me walk up on her.  We eventually got to within ten feet of each other.  Why would she allow me to walk up on her?  Why would she stay within ten feet of me when deer are flight animals?  Nature has programmed them to run away from threats.  Why didn’t she run?  Her job within the social structure of the family is to distract the potential predator, while the dominant female moves the fawn away from me.  I like the way the setting sun has created a soft glow around her.


Same thing this big buck is doing.  He stepped out into the field and then led me about a half mile away from where we first encountered.  He’s leading me away from the fawn – probably the yearling above – and allowing me to get some nice photos of him.  The sun is setting and the forest’s trees behind us have created long shadows lending darkness to the image.  When he had led me far enough away from the fawn, he ran back to where he had been.  Which leads to one of my favorite photos taken about two weeks later.


When the bucks go into velvet, those antlers are very sensitive.  Every little branch that hits or brushes up against them causes a type of pain male humans are familiar with.  To a buck the antlers are everything.  They use them to display their virility to the does and to ward off other males as potential suitors for those does.  Because of the antler’s sensitivity, older breeding bucks will hang out in fields during the summer and will only run for cover when they absolutely have no other choice.

Lighting will make your photos enjoyable, and understanding how your subjects behave will allow you the opportunity to get photos of your favorite wild animals. 



Sandhill Cranes at Sunset



T-28 “Trojan” Trainer

The US military likes its toys.  Big, fast, high-tech expensive toys.  Fortunately they have learned how to make them last.  The T-28 has been around for over sixty years now and is an essential part of how the US military takes care of its expensive equipment, by making sure the pilots who fly those very expensive aircraft know how to fly them.









Eastern Phoebe

I wouldn’t know a Dark-eyed Junco from an Eastern Phoebe, but I figure I have a fifty/fifty shot on this one.  So I’ll go with Eastern Phoebe.  And that’s my final answer.




Whitetail Deer: Two Year Old Buck

I’ve been taking pictures of this young buck since he was about two months old.  I had followed a group of four deer into the woods, photographing along the way.  Their footsteps must have masked the noise of mine because I ended up hunkered down in the brush without being noticed by the deer at the bottom of the hill.  This young buck had been feeding and slowly working his way up the hill when he noticed me.


The bucks should begin growing their antlers soon.  Below is the same deer and it looks as though his antlers have started.  These photos were taken about ten days ago.



The Disadvantages of Weekend Photography

Or maybe a better title would be three steps forward…two steps back.

The weather turned this weekend into something less than cooperative.  Rainy and cloudy, I sat here cursing my working-class existence, while going over the photos I took on Thursday. 

Every time I shoot I learn something.  This weekend I learned to make sure the lens is firmly attached to the camera.  I missed out on several shots because of that error. 

Also, I seemed to have forgotten what I learned the weekend before, when I got some really nice photos.  I got those photos because I changed the ISO setting on my camera.  I usually try to shoot in ISO 100, but last weekend as the light faded I had the presence of mind to switch to ISO 200 while shooting the deer in dusk’s lowering light.  This weekend I forgot that little trick and got lots of blurry deer shots.

Both of these inconsistencies can be attributed to not shooting as often as I should.  Last weekend I spent three days shooting photos and ended up getting some nice shots.  This weekend I shot only on Thursday and made the kind of mistakes made when not practicing something often enough.

I did manage to get some nice shots of an American Robin.


While the deer had gathered into one place – probably because the park personnel are busily preparing the park for the beginning of tourist season – the birds seemed strangely absent.  I didn’t see any Hawks, Falcons or Osprey.  Some of the smaller birds – Sparrows and Bluebirds – could be seen and there was that Owl which kept hooting during midday though I couldn’t find it.  Maybe there was just too much movement in the park for these critters?  If that’s the case, then I’ll have to adapt a new strategy to compensate for the tourists who will far outnumber the park personnel on weekends.

April 2010

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