Sunday, March 31, 2013

Keen Mink

This mink was very busy hunting along the coast.   It was dodging in and out of rocks lining the shore.   Every so often, the mink would poke its head up to look around.   It was keeping an eye on the humans that were walking nearby.   As the mink made its way, I went far ahead of it and waited for it to approach me.   The mink moved very fast.   Fortunately, I had guessed that the mink would spend a moment in the shade of a cedar tree.   That moment lasted for less than 30 seconds, but it was long enough for a quick portrait.   Soon the mink was on its way.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Inner Canyon View

This is an early morning view from Cape Royal on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.   The ridges in this image are more than 7000 feet tall.   Cape Royal is nearly 1000 feet taller, providing a commanding view over the surrounding canyon.

It is an awe inspiring view where one can easily be caught up in thoughts about time and history.   The layers of sandstone eroded away to form a canyon over millions of years.   Our life span is but a brief moment compared to the millennia that it took to create this astounding view.

Cape Royal is truly a spiritual place with a timeless quality.   It is easy to become captivated by this beautiful canyon.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cape Royal Sunrise - Wide View

On my first morning at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, I was able to watch the sunrise in complete solitude.   I am still amazed at how often I can be completely alone in some of the grandest landscapes on the planet.

Cape Royal is a 40 minute drive from the Grand Canyon Lodge.   It was a peaceful drive down a long, winding and dark road.   As I made my way down the trail by flashlight, I could see the faintest of pre-dawn light to the east.   As that light began to intensify, I discovered one of the most amazing views I have ever seen.   The Grand Canyon in all of its glory at first light.

As the morning wore on, I spent nearly two hours at Cape Royal enjoying one vista after another.   Eventually, I saw other people on the trail.   They were seeing a beautiful landscape too, but they had missed it.   The show was over and they would never know the difference.   With an uplifted soul, I photographed a beautiful patch of Indian paintbrush; the best that I had ever seen.  

Soon I was driving back towards the lodge, but not before I made a few more discoveries along the way.  The columbine were also in bloom and a few hummingbirds were visiting the forest as well.   This journey was amazing and I am truly thankful to those who had the foresight to set aside this unique wilderness for all to enjoy!

Yesterday, I posted another image made from the exact same location with a telephoto lens.   Please compare these two images to see which one you prefer.  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Layers...Grand Canyon Sunrise

In the summer of 2011, I was able to spend a glorious morning all by myself at Cape Royal on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.   Its amazing how few people get up to see the sunrise, particularly in beautiful locations like the Grand Canyon.   Its never easy.   Staying curled up in a warm bed always makes a strong pitch.   It is almost always worth it.   I have seen hundreds of sunrises and can count on one hand the amount of times that I came away disappointed.   That doesn't mean that I always see a great sunrise.   Far from it.   I do thoroughly enjoy the calm peacefulness of dawn.   If the sunrise doesn't pan out, there is usually something else to be found that is beautiful in its own right.   For those few days that I was disappointed, I firmly believe that I didn't look hard enough or I simply missed it.

This sunrise was the start of an amazing day.   I photographed wildflowers, hummingbirds, thunderstorms and amazing landscapes.   What could be better?

The North Rim was truly captivating.   I enjoyed the canyon views, but what truly impressed me was the forests and meadows.   I expected to see deserts when I went to the Grand Canyon.   It was however, a beautiful mountain ecosystem similar to the northern Rockies.   I found it to be a very intriguing juxtaposition to the desert of the inner canyon.

This image was created with a telephoto lens.   Telephoto lenses will compress the scene in front of you.  In this case it made the ridges of the canyon seem much closer together.   It also allowed me to minimize a relatively boring sky.  Tomorrow I will post the same view photographed with a wide angle lens.   The contrast between the two is striking.   Both images are beautiful.   I will leave you to decide which one you prefer.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Montana Mountain Goat

Reviewing old files can be a lot of fun!   This image was made during my workshop in Glacier National Park in 2011.   We saw plenty of wildlife.   I joked that we were close enough to shake hands with the mountain goats and bighorn sheep.   As you can see, it was not much of an exaggeration!

This mountain goat lumbered off the side of the mountain and walked right in front of us.  Many of the mountain goats are habituated or maybe oblivious to human contact in this area of Glacier.   While I jest about shaking hands with the goats, we made a point of keeping our distance.   Mountain goats have gored more than one person who has come too close.

This morning was the first morning of our trip.   We saw an incredible sunrise, at least a half dozen big horn sheep, a half dozen mountain goats, a deer eating glacier lilies, hoary marmots, pika and some of the best mountain scenery on the planet.  It was the beginning of an amazing journey.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Merganser Extravaganser!

On Saturday, I found four pairs of red breasted mergansers that were beginning to court.  These colorful birds usually don't allow you to get very close without the use of a blind.  On this evening, they were too involved with impressing the opposite sex to care about a strange photographer on the shoreline.   They continually chased each other back and forth, often swimming within ten feet of me!

With the sun setting, the lighting could not have been better.   The temperature was warm and spring was in the air.   For nearly an hour, the mergansers put on a show, with the males showing off a strange dance and calling to impress the females.  

This was an amazing opportunity for close up images of birds that are usually very skittish.   It was one of my favorite moments in nature.   The tranquility of the setting, combined with the extraordinary viewing experience of the mergansers made for a very memorable evening!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Beautiful King Eider

This weekend I was fortunate to be able to find and photograph a king eider, not once, but twice!   The king eider is a rare visitor to Massachusetts.   Hailing from the arctic, king eiders will occasionally winter in the coastal waters of New England.  

This male king eider is extraordinary, because he regularly comes close to shore, while most of his brethren usually stay hundreds of yards or more from the coastline.   He doesn't seem to mind small crowds of birders and photographers who gawk at him and hundreds of his cousins, the common eider.

The king eider looks distinctly different from the common eider, which should make him easy to spot.   However, he keeps a very low profile while swimming among the hundreds of common eiders.   He is nearly impossible to spot without the aid of binoculars, even though he is often within fifty feet of the shoreline.   This duck is crafty and unpredictable.   He seemingly hides behind the other eiders and frequently changes directions.   All of the other eiders seemingly swim in the same direction, rarely changing their order.   The king eider darts in and out of groups and often tries to make a positive impression with ladies.   The ladies however usually rebuff him and chase him off.

On both days, it was a group effort to keep track of him.   There were as many as ten people trying to keep an eye on him and he would regular baffle all of us at the same time.   His telltale grey head, reddish orange beak, yellow bulbous forehead and nearly all black back distinguish him from the male common eiders.   He looks to be smaller than the common eiders, but I think that he is purposely keeping a low profile.   A few time he craned his neck up to get a look a round.  At those times, he seemed to be the same size as his common brethren.

This drake seems to be very interested in finding a mate.   Most of the females do not seem to be interested in him.   Although one seemed to take a liking to him for a few minutes.   I wonder if the two of them could actually have children.   I think it is likely, based on all of the strange cross breeds that show up in the birding world.   It doesn't seem to be too much of a stretch for one type of eider to be able to successfully mate with another.

This eider's colors seem to be a bit on the pale side compared to photographs that I have seen of other male king eiders in full breeding plumage.   I have two uneducated guesses about that.   First is that he may be a bit on the young side.   Maybe it is his first breeding year and he hasn't fully developed his plumage yet.   The bulb on the front of his head does not seem to be very large compared to photos that I have seen of other eiders.   The bulb is supposed to be quite large on male king eiders in full breeding plumage.

My second theory is that it is still early for king eider to mate.   He may not be displaying his full plumage yet, but maybe it will develop even more in the near future.   An ornithologist with much more knowledge about the breeding habits of king eiders than I have, would probably have a lot more to say about this.   I can only guess and wonder.

Photographing this rare bird was a lot of fun.   I get a kick out of finding uncommon birds.   I am not sure why.   I think it is a lot like collecting a rare baseball card or stamp.   Their rarity provides a little sense of adventure and excitement.  

Being out in early spring with such beautiful weather can't be beat.   Particularly after a long winter.   Visiting this king eider was a fantastic way to spend the weekend!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Bird Photography Workshop

Bird photography is one of the most rewarding, interesting, and exhilarating types of photography.   It is also one of the fastest growing types of photography.   More and more photographers are trying their hand at bird photography every year.   Are you ready to give it a try?   Join me at my next bird photography workshop!

I will be offering a two part bird photography workshop in conjunction with the North River Sanctuary of the Massachusetts Audubon Society.   Part one will be on Thursday, May 9 from 6-8PM at the North River Sanctuary in Marshfield.   During part one, we will discuss the basics of bird photography including ethics, equipment, photography techniques, bird behavior and how to locate our feathered friends.

Part two will be on Saturday May 11, from 7-9AM at the Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield.  During part two, we will practice the techniques we learned in part one.   Daniel Webster features a variety of birds and habitats and it is truly a beautiful landscape.  With a little patience and a lot of practice, we will be able to make some beautiful avian images.

The two part workshop will be limited to only 18 participants.  It is geared towards beginner and intermediate bird photographers, but all are welcome!  The fee for the workshop will be $25 for Audubon members and $30 for non members.  You can find out more info and sign up here: or by calling 781 837 9400.

The bird featured in this post is a red breasted merganser at sunset.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Snowy Sheep

I stopped by the Soule Homestead this afternoon to photograph their sheep in the snow.   I have returned to this location many times with an image similar to this in mind.   All of the elements are there for an amazing photograph.   Today, most of them finally came together.  

The sheep were cooperative and the falling snowflakes were quite large.   The yellow straw and the wool subtly added a little color to this near white out scene.

This image conveys a piece of the classic, romantic notion of a New England winter...

Boston Globe Article

The Boston Globe published an excellent article on the "Photographing the Beauty of the South Shore" exhibit.   The article features photos by my friends Cynthia Brown, Carol Smith and Carissa Bousfield.   The amount of interest that has been generated in this exhibit has been wonderful.   I truly have to thank my friend John Galluzzo for coming up with this idea and applying for all of the grants to make it possible!    You can read the article here:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Free Flower Photography Workshop at the Williams Trading Post

On April 27, I will offer a free flower photography workshop at the Williams Trading Post in Middleboro.   The Williams Trading Post will have hundreds of colorful flowers that we can use to create beautiful images.   We will discuss a variety of techniques including macro photography, kaleidoscope zooming and a review of the basics including composition and exposure.   Tripods and macro lenses are helpful, but not necessary.  Photographers of all experience levels are welcome.

I hope you will consider joining me for an exciting photography adventure.   The workshop will begin at 11AM and run until we get tired of smelling the roses:)

You can read about a previous flower photography workshop at the Williams Trading Post on my blog here:

Below is a link for directions to the Williams Trading Post.,+Wareham+Street,+Middleborough,+MA&hl=en&sll=42.036922,-71.683501&sspn=2.129653,5.410767&oq=williams+tr&hq=Williams+Trading+Post,&hnear=Wareham+St,+Middleborough,+Massachusetts+02346&t=m&z=13

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Snowy Owl Image featured on "South Shore Massachusetts"

"The Visitor" one of my favorite snowy owl images is featured on the "South Shore Massachusetts" Facebook page.   "South Shore Massachusetts" highlights all of the events, news stories and happenings that are important to people on the South Shore.   With more than 18,000 likes, it is a very impressive page.   You can check out "South Shore Massachusetts" here:

You can read more about the image and this owl's fight with a peregrine falcon here:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Saving the Wolves...

Brad Hill a nature photographer and biologist has taken up the crusade to protect wolves.   A resident of British Columbia, Hill recently discovered that wildlife management officials in Canada are using neck snares to trap and kill wolves.   These snares usually cause very painful and prolonged deaths for the animals that they trap.   The snares were banned by an international treaty for the humane treatment of animals.   Canada is a signatory member of the treaty and is using the snares in violation of that treaty.   Mr. Hill has started a petition to get the Canadian government to stop using the snares and to protect the wolves.  At the bottom of this post, I have left a link for you to sign the petition too.   Please consider taking five seconds out of your life to help these amazing animals.

This issue has caught my attention because the U.S. has recently allowed individual states to start hunting wolves again.   All of the wolves around the Yellowstone ecosystem and elsewhere are now in danger of being shot and killed.   This has been done  primarily to appease ranchers who have lost livestock to the predation of wolves.   What irritates me is that this new policy was sneaked in as part of our December budget deal.   In order to save our country form the fiscal cliff, our legislators felt it was necessary to shoot some wolves.   I am sure that saved us from financial disaster!

In a recent radio interview, award winning wildlife cinematographers Jim and Jamie Dutcher discussed the problems that come from hunting wolves.   They stated that most of the predation on livestock by wolves occurs from weak packs or singular animals.   They claimed that when packs are strong, they hunt elk, moose, bison and deer.  When a pack is weak, it can be tempted to go after easier prey like cows and sheep.   They discussed that when members of a pack are killed, the pack goes into mourning and often it is split into smaller packs that are less able to kill the large ungulates that they prefer to eat.   In order to survive, the weakened packs then turn to preying on livestock.   Why then are we allowing hunters to shatter these packs?   Doesn’t that lead to an increased risk of farmers losing their livestock?

I must admit that I live in New England where we worry about coyotes eating our cats.   Wolves are thousands of miles away.   They do not cause me any problems.   Most of my limited experience with wolves comes from zoos.    My favorite moment was listening to a wild pack in Yellowstone calling to each other at dawn.   What a thrill that was!

I do sympathize with ranchers that lose their livestock.   I have no problem with the federal government reimbursing farmers for lost or underweight livestock due to predation by wolves.    I don’t mind my taxes increasing to protect the wolves.  

There is plenty of room in this great world of ours to have ranchers and wolves.   If a pack does start praying on livestock, then that pack should be removed or maybe even killed.   However, I truly believe that they should not be hunted for sport.   Leave the wolves alone unless they are proven to be preying on livestock.

Many bioligists agree that wolves are important for the overall health of bison, elk and deer herds.    Wolves tend to prey on the weak and diseased animals, which in turn keeps the herds more healthy.   Ranchers worry about bison and elk leaving Yellowstone and infecting their cattle with brucellosis.   According to the Wyoming Sierra Club, wolves can help reduce the amount of animals that have brucellosis.   Why not work with wolves instead of against them?

If you believe that wolves should not be inhumanely trapped in British Columbia, please read Brad Hill’s article and sign his petition.   Here is the link for his article “Wolf Snares in my Backyard”    Here is the link to go directly to his petition

The image accompanying this post was made  in a controlled situation at the West Yellowstone Wolf and Grizzly Discovery Center

Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review: “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis” by Timothy Egan

I recently read “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis” by Timothy Egan.   It is a fascinating biography of one of our nation's most brilliant photographers.   Curtis is on par with Matthew Brady and is perhaps more prolific than Ansel Adams, yet few people know of him.

Edward Curtis in many ways is one of my photographic heroes.   In the late 1800’s Curtis had been a poor farmer.    One day he decided to purchase a share of a Seattle portrait photography studio.   He had no experience with a camera.   After apprenticing himself to his partner for a few years, Edward started his own studio and quickly became the premier portrait photographer in the United States.   His most famous clients included Teddy Roosevelt and later, JP Morgan.  

As his fame grew, his fascination with Native Americans was kindled.   By the early 1900’s Curtis had befriended George Bird Grinnell, the founder of the Audubon Society, Editor of Field and Stream and an activist for conservation and the rights of Native Americans.   Grinnell is a titanic figure in the outdoors and environmental movement in the United States.   On a trip to the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana, Grinnell convinced Curtis to carry out his dream.    

That dream was to create the most important anthropological record in North American history.  Curtis had decided to photograph the remaining tribes of Native Americans who were still trying to live as their ancestors had.   He identified 80 tribes and determined that he would create 20 books documenting them. 

Over the next thirty years of his life, Curtis photographed the tribes, recorded their languages and wrote down their songs.   He did all of this work for free!!   He never saw a cent of profit from this monumental undertaking.   Along the way, he gave up nearly everything that was dear to him in order to complete the task.   His wife left him.   He lost his studio, his home and many of his friends.   Still, he stayed with the task despite being bankrupt.

Curtis’ work became the most important documentation of Native American life ever to be written.   Many tribes used his books to re-establish their traditions after they had been lost.   In many cases he interviewed the last living member of a decimated tribe.   He also accurately re-wrote the history of the Battle of the Little Big Horn and the Nez Perce War.   Curtis did all of this despite having only a grammar school education.

His life was full of adventure and discovery.   Yet, he was in many ways a very lonely man.   He truly gave every bit of himself to his art.  

The author, Timothy Egan, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, did a masterful job researching the tale of Curtis and weaving his story into a page turner.    Egan managed to make this historical biography as fascinating as any novel.   This was a hard book to put down!

I must admit that I am fascinated by Native American culture and history.   Pairing that interest for me with photography makes this book a can’t miss.   However, I have tried to read about Curtis before only to be bored senseless by other authors’ bland writing styles.   In this case, I am confident that Timothy Egan has created a masterpiece that would entertain and educate anyone, even if they held no interest in photography or Native American Culture.

You can purchase the book here:

The first image that accompanies this post is entitled "The Bird Woman's Tipi".   It was made at the Lodgepole Gallery & Tipi Village at the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, MT.    You can read more about the image at this earlier blog post

The second image is a self portrait of Edward S. Curtis.  It is a public domain image.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Middleboro Gazette Article about "Photographing the Beauty of the South Shore"

The Middleboro Gazette published a nice article about the "Photographing the Beauty of the South Shore" exhibit.  This article featured an image by my friend Kathy Kenney.   She made a very nice image of reflections on one of the waterfalls at Oliver Mills Park in Middleboro.   Kathy followed my advice of returning to beautiful locations often, to discover their true beauty.  She returned to Oliver Mills Park well after our workshop and was able to capture a very colorful reflection.  

Most people assume that it takes only a moment to click the shutter and create a stunning image.  While that may be true, the real mark of a photographer is the willingness to return to favorite locations in all season and in all weather. The amount of effort and time spent in the field is what sets apart novice photographers from master artists.   Anyone can travel to Oliver Mills Park and make a waterfall image.   To capture it at its best, you need to be patient and visit frequently.

You can read the article here:

Monday, March 4, 2013

Another Patriot Ledger Article and Video!

On Saturday, I was interviewed by Sue Scheible of the Patriot Ledger about "Photographing the Beauty of the South Shore".   The interview was video taped and it has been produced on their website.   The video includes myself, Emily Simmer, the office assistant of the North River Sanctuary of Mass Audubon and Cynthia Brown, one of the participants in "Photographing the Beauty of the South Shore".

It is a little odd seeing myself in the video discussing photography.   Now I have a better idea of what my students are seeing when I teach my classes.   I can't help but laugh at myself:)

Here is the link to the article:

Here is the link to the video:

One of the main themes of these workshops was to return to a location frequently to get the best images.   The photo accompanying this post was made after many attempts over a period of years.   These swans spend a lot of time swimming through fantastic reflections.   However, they usually hang out too far away to make a good image.   On this day, I asked a farmer whose property abuts this pond, if I could photograph from his land.   He was very agreeable and even showed me to a dock, which brought me much closer to the swans.  It was worth it to return to this location again and again!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Humble Gratitude

The "Photographing the Beauty of the South Shore" exhibit had a wonderful opening today.   Many people attended the exhibit.   They saw many beautiful images of many beautiful parks.

I would like to thank all of the cultural councils that provided grants to make the workshops possible.   Thank you also to the many photographers who attended the workshops.   I especially want to thank all of the photographers who submitted their images to the exhibit.   Your work truly made for a wonderful collection of photographs!  Special thanks goes to John Galluzzo who set up many of the workshops and applied for all of the grants.   Of course the staff and volunteers at the North River Sanctuary were fantastic!  

Finally, I would like to thank Cynthia Brown, who I presented with a certificate of appreciation and one of my snowy owl images ("On the Fence" for being an outstanding workshop participant.  She not only attended every workshop, she would often present us with history and botany lessons about the parks we visited.   My favorite lesson was about the sweet pepperbush, which can be used as a soap.   With her help we learned how to add a little water to the plant to turn it into soapy bubbles.   It was very interesting!  

Little did I know that Cynthia would also present me with a photograph!   She would often hang back behind the group taking pictures of us making images.   When we went to Betty's Neck in Lakeville, I had espoused about my favorite tree, the Beech, for its golden leaves.   She managed to capture the best side of me while I was setting up for some close ups of the Beech leaves.   As a thank you on behalf of all of the workshop participants, she presented me with a framed 8x10 of this image.   I truly appreciate her efforts.   It is not easy making me look good:)

The other image in this post is my favorite of the Beech leaves that I photographed while Cynthia was photographing me.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in or supported "Photographing the Beauty of the South Shore"!
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