Duck on Branch (Be Prepared)

A male Wood Duck at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.

A male Wood Duck at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.

NISQUALLY, Wash. — During winter, I usually am toting my long lens and often run into hunters.

“Big lens,” many will comment.

“Big gun,” I usually reply.

Though a lot of birders and wildlife photographers bristle, I enjoy my encounters with hunters. After all, we’re both looking for the same thing, and we’re both going to shoot it, albeit me with a camera. We also both usually have gathered intelligence the other can use.
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Sol Duc Splash

Salmon Cascades in Sol Duc Valley, Olympic National Park

Salmon Cascades in Sol Duc Valley, Olympic National Park

If you’ve ever been photographically challenged by the likes of the indifferent dog, recalcitrant relative or churlish child, try Mother Nature on for size. She can be as fickle as any subject, requiring planning, alternatives and flexibility.

To wit, I recently visited my “home” national park, Olympic (Wash.), with the goal of shooting Sol Duc Falls, one of the most photographed waterfalls anywhere. The weather was supposed to be cooperative – cloudy, which is the usual state of affairs in the Pacific Northwest, even in the spring and summer. Clouds and forest are allies when photographing moving water, which we’ll discuss in a moment.

However, I failed to come up with anything special, even after returning early the next morning. On the access road out, I stopped at a marked spot, “Salmon Cascades,” that I reflexively passed three times before because of a camera icon on the sign, which said to me that everybody and their brother made a cheap picture there.
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Gambling on Sunrise

Sunrise at Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Sunrise at Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Outdoor photography is probably not for the financially meek. In addition to all the gear and travel, it’s also going to cost a good 10 of your usual 40 winks.

That’s because purveyors of the heavy lidded lifestyle swear by the so-called “Golden Hour” – the first half hour after the sun rises and the last half hour before it sets. Give or take. As you’ll see in a later post, I’m on the give side at sunset.
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Loon-y Jordan Pond

Stars over Jordan Pond, serenaded by loons and coyotes.

Stars over Jordan Pond, serenaded by loons and coyotes.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine – Much of what I read about the East’s first national park referred to Cadillac Mountain as its crown jewel. If that’s true, Jordan Pond is at least Acadia’s centerpiece.

With its crystal clear glacial water and the two Bubble Mountains sitting like camel humps beyond its northern shores, Jordan Pond is the park’s most instantly recognizable landscape.
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Grieving Gear

My Nikon D800 captured its own end.

My Nikon D800 captured its own end.


She’d been with me only about a year, but had photographed my wife, dog, daughters, parents, artists, raptors (though no rappers), the holidays, Seahawk heaven. She’d ushered me from sports to landscapes and wildlife, accompanied me to four national parks, four national wildlife refuges, and my 10th wedding anniversary, helped me win two competitions and get my first outdoor image published in a magazine.

I have another Nikon body that is faster, but not nearly as magical as the D800. She’s the one who helped me become a “real” photographer and for that she’ll not be forgotten.
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