Nature up-close

I’m not absolutely sure this one is quite fair.  While we were riding around in Cades Cove, there were several instances of deer who stood for long periods near the historic cabins.  They kept sticking their heads under a spot in the building and didn’t move even when bunches of people were near.  I heard sometime later, that there are salt licks put out for the deer and I assume that’s what they were after.

In this case, we were taking shots of Dan Lawson’s place and I wandered around the back to see the out-buildings.  I noticed one of the members of our group standing at the back side of a barn and not moving so, I ventured over there.  I found Lou Ramondi watching this deer and taking shots like this and the deer was not about to leave.  Since the subject was so cooperative, I got a few myself.

Here is what the deer really seems to have thought of us:

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Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
110mm @ f/10 – 1/160 sec – ISO 400

Simple but beautiful

It really is amazing to look closely at birds we see all the time.  This House Finch is one of those feeder birds that people see all the time but don’t pay much attention to.  The female is pretty much a monochromatic brown but the males have that beautiful glowing red color.

I caught this little guy on a tree branch that was in a shaft of sunlight in the late afternoon.  I love how you can see all the detail in the feathers and that head that looks like it was dipped in fire-engine red paint.  I guess when it comes down to it, there really isn’t anything in nature that is plain and boring, we just aren’t looking closely enough.

Male House Finch
Roswell, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/9 – 1/400 sec – ISO 800

Sunrise Spoiled?

Before I experienced this, I was sure that the best thing you can hope for when going out for a morning shoot is a beautiful sunrise and a clear sky.  Now, I’m thinking that a foggy morning is an awfully good alternative.

On our trip to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the group was out taking advantage of the misty beauty of a morning.  The original stop here was to grab a few shots of an iconic view of one of the roads that cuts through the park.

 

 

We got those shots but, as it often happens, the unexpected opportunity appeared.  Just a few steps from that iconic spot, was this road running off into the fog – even better!  And then, in the distance, the sun starts to burn through the fog.  Not a bright sunrise but this hazy-bright spot in the sky.  Eerie and beautiful all at once.

Another lesson in being sure that you look around before you give up on a location.  It’s called working a site and it often gives you results that are not what you planned.  Planning is great and can give you excellent results but keeping your eyes open can give you even more.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
31mm @ f/11 – 1/15 sec – ISO 100

Curious Cardinal

What can I say, it’s David Akoubian’s fault!  I guess I was asking for it when I got his opinion on upgrading my long lens.  Now, I’m addicted to watching the birds around my house and trying to get just one more good shot.  On the positive side, the new Tamron 150-600 makes getting good shots a lot easier.

I sit out in the yard and watch the birds, hoping that they will land in a spot that will have some light, not be blocked by miscellaneous branches and where the birds are posing for me.  At the same time, I find that the birds occasionally seem to enjoy watching me.  When this female cardinal stopped at one of the few “perfect spots”, she kept cocking her head to the side with an expression like “what the heck are you doing?”.

Yeah, photographers are kind of crazy.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/6.3 – 1/125 sec – ISO 200

Eastern Towhee

The towhee is one of my favorite local birds not only because of it’s beautiful coloring but also because of it’s call.  I have been told that it is not good to imitate bird calls because this makes the bird think there is another of their kind competing for territory.  Not sure if that is completely true but I can’t resist answering their calls and hearing them return the song.

I had more of a challenge getting a good shot of this bird than I was expecting.  They seem to be very aware of my presence and quite skittish when anything moves nearby.  I sometimes have trouble distinguishing the towhee from a robin when sighting them from a distance.  The coloring is similar but the towhee has a much more slender build and has a white under-side where the robin is mostly orange underneath.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/9 – 1/100 sec – ISO 800

Lots of Baby Birds

I’ve been watching the birds in my backyard and spending most of the time looking at the feeders I have out.  There are lots of interesting birds that come visit the suet and seed feeders but there are also some that prefer to stay on the ground.  The Brown Thrashers seem to like the ground most you see them jumping about looking for insects more than on the feeders.

I discovered that there must be a nest at the edge of my yard because there are 2 fledglings there who hop about and flap their wings waiting for mom and dad to come feed them.  The babies are out of the nest and able to fly but they still seem to prefer food delivered directly to them.

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I also noticed a behavior that I’m not sure why it happens.  The babies will lay flat on the ground and spread their wings out, looking as though they were injured.  I would think they are either trying to cool off or rid themselves of some kind of insects. They will lay like this for a good while and then jump up and hop away.

It really is amazing how much there is to see just going out the back door.

Brown Thrasher and young
Roswell, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/14 – 1/125 sec – ISO 800

Red-headed Woodpecker

I didn’t realize how many woodpeckers we have right in my own backyard.  I was actually trying to capture a different one when this specimen came into view.  The one I had seen earlier was a Red-bellied woodpecker but this is the red-headed variety.  The two are similar but the red-bellied one has red on the back of the head only.

All of the woodpeckers seem to be quite fond of suet feeders but they are also easy to scare away.  At first, this one landed on the side of the dogwood tree where my suet feeder hangs but when he spotted me, zipped around the back side.  You can see he peeked around the side in the first image and only hopped out after a while of checking the situation first.

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I call this bird “he” but since the plumage of the male and female of this species are the same, I don’t know which this is.  I’m sure the birds can tell the difference so, I guess that’s all that counts.

Red-headed Woodpecker
Melanerpes erythrocephalus

Roswell, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/9 – 1/100 sec – ISO 800