Western Meadowlark lifting off – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 640, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or called in
This Western Meadowlark image was taken last month on Antelope Island State Park. I meant to post it earlier but forgot because I got so busy trying to set up my new computer. Life outside of bird photography does get in the way at times.
If you have ever tried to photograph a Western Meadowlark in flight or lifting off you probably know they are very fast and that it is a challenge because of their speed. I should have bumped my ISO up to get a faster shutter speed when I took this image to freeze the action of the wings but I’ve also grown to appreciate how a touch of blur can add a sense of movement to an image like this. The face, bill and eye are sharp and in my opinion that is what is most critical.
I feel fortunate to have the opportunities to photograph Western Meadowlarks here year round.
More Western Meadowlark images
I’m taking a break today from posting photos of my recent trip to southwestern Montana to share an image of a Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) family from here in Utah that I created a few days ago.
Burrowing Owl family – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 235mm, natural light, not baited
I should mention that not all of the birds from this family are shown in this frame, there are possibly 4 more owlets that aren’t perched on the sagebrush with the rest of the birds. I’d sure love an image where all of them were present.
I shouldn’t anthropomorphize but I can’t help but compare this image to some of the family portraits I have seen of my family and other families.
Juvenile Burrowing Owl on the far left: “Ok, I’m here, standing straight and giving you my best side. Take the photo already!”
Juvenile Burrowing Owl, 2nd from left: “I hate having my photo taken, I’m a little shy so I will hide”.
Adult Burrowing Owl, 3rd from left: “Where the heck are the other 4 kids?”
Juvenile Burrowing Owl, 4th from left: “I’m the clown of the family!”
Adult Burrowing Owl, 5th from left: “Junior, stop being a clown and smile for the camera”.
Juvenile Burrowing Owl, 6th from the left: “Wait, I have got something in front of my eye!!”.
I remember how challenging it was for my mom to get us all in the picture, to have us all looking at the camera, how my brother was always making silly faces and then the flash blinding us all. Those memories makes me laugh now.
I had to zoom back to 235mm to fit all of the owls into the frame.
More Burrowing Owl images
I’ve been having fun photographing Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) lately and it is a joy to have them in my viewfinder again.
Adult Burrowing Owl lifting off – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 350mm, natural light, not baited
The light I had when I photographed this adult owl lifting off from the Sagebrush wasn’t ideal, I would have liked more shutter speed to freeze the motion. The brighter area at the top of the frame is a strip of sand on the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake.
What happened after this frame was very interesting because the owl came closer to me and snatched a dragonfly from the air then flew off with it to the ground near another bush. I have never seen a Burrowing Owl do that before.
More Burrowing Owl images
When I photograph Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) I can’t resist smiling, especially when they are juveniles. Just seeing them makes me grin.
Burrowing Owl chicks on Sagebrush – Nikon D200, f11, 1/250, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
These chicks were perched on a Sagebrush not long after the sun had risen. They are fairly young but able to fly. The creamy colored chest lacks the spots of darker brown that older juveniles have. Before I began to photograph these juveniles I changed my aperture to f11 to get the birds in the depth of field so that they would both be sharp, it worked out quite well.
The owlet on the left side of the frame didn’t stick around long but I was able to get several shots of the two of them that I liked.
More Burrowing Owl images
While looking through my archives a few days ago I came across two images, one of sand dunes at Fort De Soto County Park in Florida and the other of sand dunes on Antelope Island State Park in Utah. I remember that I took both images because I loved the sky, the vegetation on the dunes and how they both make me feel so connected to these two locations that I am deeply attached to.
Sand Dune at Fort De Soto in early morning light – Nikon D70, handheld, f6.3, 1/160, ISO 200, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 70mm
I created the image above while walking Fort De Soto’s north beach early in the morning of July 20, 2007, the sun had crested the horizon and had just begun to light up the dunes. Although Fort De Soto has many dunes covered with beautiful Sea Oats, in this image I liked how the Sea Purslane hugged the dune and how the tips of the plants seemed to glow with the early morning light. The sunlight had not yet lit up the surface of the Gulf of Mexico but had started to light up the tops of the storm clouds hanging in a bank off of the coast.
When I look at this image I can smell the salty air, the sand under my feet, the breeze ruffling my hair and the warmth of the sun’s rays warming my back.
Fort De Soto County Park is one of my favorite locations to photograph birds, scenery and clouds. More of my thoughts about Fort De Soto can be read here ”My Love Affair with Fort De Soto“.
Sand Dunes on Antelope Island State Park, Utah – Nikon D200, handheld, f11, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 18mm
I was camping on Antelope Island State Park when I photographed the image above the evening of March 30, 2011. I thought the sky was captivating with the swirly, layered clouds against the warm tones of the sand and the yet to green up Sagebrush and Rabbitbrush that grow on the oolitic sand dunes there. So very different from the dunes at Fort De Soto but they are equally appealing to me.
Antelope Island State Park is another of my favorite locations to go to photograph, it seems I always find something to catch my eye and tug at my heart there. I recently did a three-part series of articles I titled “Wild and Wonderful – Antelope Island State Park” on the scenery, the wildlife and the birds. I could not fit it all into one article.
Just two simple images from two different locations that whisper “home” to me.