Friday, December 22, 2017

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Wolf Morning

I just returned from Yellowstone after 10 days volunteering for the Park and teaching with Angela for Yellowstone Forever. One of my most memorable mornings was watching and listening to the Mollie Pack howl. A magic moment seen by only about a dozen other Park visitors.

Technical: Unfortunately the focus is soft and not archival quality. Lesson: Images and clips do not have to be perfect to be magical.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

One Morning, Two Badgers

I wanted to see a badger and on this morning in the Badlands National Park I was lucky to see two in widely separated locations. I had watched this one go to bed in a prairie dog burrow the day before so it was only a matter of time before he woke up and I found him hunting. The second one was hunting with a coyote. the coyote split and it continued hunting allowing me to stalk within range and get some nice tight footage. As you can see in the first half of the video the badger was intensely curious but did not run until it got downwind of me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Partners in the Hunt

I saw a similar pair hunting last year and had to get a photo. Most of the time they are separated by several feet and only visible on opposite edges of the frame. I watched two pairs in prairie dog towns and was lucky to get these guys close together. Maybe next time I'll get an actual prairie dog hunt. Finding a pair is also a good way to find the badger that is much more camouflaged than the coyote. Coyote and badgers hunting together is well documented and beneficial to each. From what I have read when one gets a meal the other does not attempt to steal it from the other.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Smile for the Camera

This red tail hawk was soaking in the last of the afternoon's warm sun as I pulled up. I watched him for awhile and then he smiled.
Then I asked him to give me a great big smile but it didn't make quite as good a picture.

Technical: Initially I thought this was a ferrigonous hawk but the color on the neck leads my to believe it is a red tail.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Badlands Morning

The sun was still below  the horizon as the wind was creeping up to the 25 mph range. A couple hours later muted, dull color was the rule. This is the familiar rock formation at Fossil Trail taken from a little different perspective.

Technical: ISO 800, 1.3 seconds, f 11

Friday, November 17, 2017

Badlands Badger

Badgers fascinate me! Last fall I watched one at long range while it hunted with a coyote and I put it on my shot list to get quality footage this year. Shot lists are wish lists that frequently go unfilled but yesterday it worked out better than could be imagined. It started by being stalked by a badger, a little worrisome with only a tripod to hide behind. Later in the morning this guy, different than the first one, was busy fluffing and preening as I watched while kneeling in the dirt. 

Technical: Canon 7D, 600mm + 1.4 telextender, uncropped

Sunday, November 12, 2017

What was that?

I'm a hunter by nature. It's in my genes and every fall I hunt deer, well actually I hunt year round. I haven't killed an animal in at least 15 years but I still head out with a camera when everyone else is in the woods with a gun. Last week I went out looking for deer and came upon this unsuspecting little guy. I'm sure his mother is in the processing plant and he is getting by on instinct.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Who is a giraffe?

Each of these views tells a different story about giraffes. Do you like the inquisitive giraffe, best buddies, or the video of them satisfying an itch? (View at full screen to clearly see the itch.)

Technical: Adjusted for contrast in Lightroom. Sony a7r2 and canon 100-400 mm lens for all images

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Cheetah and Gazelle on the Move

We were encouraged to do some panning and slow shutter speeds shots by our guide. It's hard to shoot images in a new place and know that at least 95% will not turn out. This cheetah had multiple stalks on a herd of gazelle so I could do play with some settings. As you can tell from the ISO it was very late in the afternoon.

Technical: cheetah 1/8 sec @ISO1600, gazelle 1/50 @ISO6400

Friday, November 3, 2017

It's all how you look at it.

 I had a bad week with camera issues. My Sony took a beating in Yellowstone and will cost $600 to repair. Who would think a broken HDMI port with cost an arm and a leg? After 10 years of trail cam placement in public areas I finally had one stolen. It was only a matter of time but I'm a sucker for thinking the best in people. Heading to Menard's for a cable lock.
Overall this fall has been the one of best in years with more travel and photography than ever. I'm looking forward to November to catch up with editing. You will be seeing a wide variety of shots from Yellowstone and Kenya over the next few weeks.

Technical: first shot looking down into log. second shot taken with camera placed on leaves and shot using delayed shutter release. wide angle, f22 and f16

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The End of Color

It's about gone, only tiny pockets of color remain. I've often thought November is the toughest month to reveal in a photograph. The difference between March and November can be subtle. Crisp leaves and intact puffballs are one of the few indications of the end of autumn. If you can find some color to photograph, go for it. You won't see it again for a few months.

Technical: recorded a couple weeks ago. Off camera lighting, converted to black and white in Silver Efex Pro

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Time to Reflect

I have been traveling for several weeks over the last couple months and its time to reflect on those incredible experiences. This shot was taken last week along the Yellowstone River and makes me wonder: Is the experience or the reflection more memorable?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Yellowstone Rendezvous

My daughter, Angela, and I have volunteered to lead a winter photo tour in Yellowstone the beginning of December. This is a notoriously bad time to host a tour but we thought we were up for the challenge. We are currently a couple people short to run the class, actually more of a tour of photo hot spots on the northern tier. The idea is to lead a multi-generational group and allow you to connect with a friend, child, sibling, or parent through photography. Kind of a special Christmas present!

This is the link to the Yellowstone Forever listing:

I am currently in the Park filming late fall wildlife activity and was fortunate to see this pair that I photographed in the spring. When I get home I'll find a comparison shot to show how much the cub has grown in about six months. (Still frame from video)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Autumn Colors

I'm taking a break from editing Kenya files and getting out into the autumn woodswhile the color lasts. The peak seems more unpredictable these last few years but maybe that is my fuzzy memory. I'll take the explosion of color any time I can get it.
Technical:  Camera placed in the bottom of a hollow stump and shot with a 2 second timed release. 16mm focal length and f22 , manual focus at infinity

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Hyena Cuties

There is something cute and lovable about hyena cubs, perhaps its their eyes and intense curiosity. I love their playfulness as they explore every aspect of their world, including the truck tires. 

Wherever they roam they are under the watchful eye of mom who may nurse them for up to two years.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Cheetah in the Rain

 This cheetah was making the most of a miserable afternoon in the rain while we were dry, protected on three sides by canvas and plastic.
 We watched her endure through the afternoon capturing her misery as best we could.  Finally she had had enough and our wait was rewarded.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Hyena Cubs

We spent about an hour watching this den and second one later in the day. The cubs playing and their interaction was fascinating! It changed all my impressions of hyenas which had been formed by watching nature shows on TV. As you can hear Angela had a blast doing still photography while I was recording.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Following Mom

Elephant babies are completely dependent on their mother for months after birth. This young one is about a week old. It takes 6 months to learn to use their trunk and begin to explore with it. With a life expectancy of several decades they continue to learn for several years, much like human children. Sometimes life is not so kind to a young elephant. For one such story read: The Story of Pili

Friday, September 29, 2017

Early morning elephant

Each morning we left camp before sunrise to arrive at a location for shooting it or early morning carcass activity. Lions hunt at night and the hope was getting them on a carcass before hyenas had claimed it. On the way out one morning I had to stop for a minute to shoot this elephant browsing. It was also a great opportunity to push the limits of Sony technology.

Technical: Sony a7r2, Canon 100-400 lens @1/160, f5.0, ISO 102400

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Elephant Encounter

This guy greeted us on our way to camp. It was a magical transition to Africa, especially after three days of travel.  A few days later we watched another bull, 50 years old,  eating tree roots from a tree he had first upended. The texture of his skin says so much about his age and experience.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Safari Adventure

I am returning to Minnesota time, jet lag doesn't get easier, and sorting through a week of images and video clips from the Masai Mara. It was the trip of a lifetime courtesy of Angela. It was her prize for winning the Comedy Wildlife Photography Contest ( was a week safari in the Masai Mara, Kenya. It was a special time for both of us, more so I think for a proud father. Two nights on a plane, with a layover in London, is a long way from the Midwest. Our final deplaning was at this airstrip. Lots of images to share in the next few weeks.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Born Curious

This fawn knows something smells  unnatural and quickly zones in on the camera. Unfortunately this is the last sequence from this location. A day later a windstorm blew a tree down between the cameras obscuring their view. It would have been great to see that happen but they weren't triggered by the falling branches. Both cameras were missed in the windfall and will carry on elsewhere. I did leave  in the area since I have had such good luck there over the last 4 months.

After a slow summer of photography this fall will be very busy. I have about 6 weeks of photography at various locations planned for the rest of the year. I'm posting more regularly on Instagram: @dbsnature but will be posting here on an intermittent basis.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

August Monarchs

I spent a few mornings watching monarch butterflies earlier this month. In the past I have always felt the third week of August was peak migration in southern Minnesota. This year it was the end of the first week. I don't know if I just happened to be there or if the change is real. The good news is that I saw more butterflies than I have seen in years.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Summer Velvet

Another surprise on the camera trap! These cameras have been out in the same location for almost 3 months but the deer are still curious about them. The deer must smell the remnants of my breakfast when I change the SD cards. This is a limited hunting area on public land in the Minnesota River bottom. Hunters might be drooling at the size of these antlers. The color is before light transitions to complete darkness when the camera will use its light at 100% output.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Woodland Coyotes

Coyotes are the most prolific predators in America. My daughter regularly saw them in Portland residential areas. In Minnesota they are usually seen running for their lives since they are shot on sight in rural areas. These two camera trap clips show them in a more relaxed setting. In the second one you can hear a turkey scolding it.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sedge Wren

 This little guy has a voice that won't quit. After an early morning songfest it stays low, about knee high in the dense prairie, making it hard to find. The monarchs had left and I was in the mood for filming so this was a subject of opportunity. Road noise and farm sounds were at a minimum allowing natural sounds to be recorded.  Recorded with my go to gear for video: Canon C100 with a 100-400 lens.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Portrait Session

Normally I am not a fan of wildlife portraits. So many of them seem static and the subject seems flat. I made an exception last week while watching a young burrowing owl. It seemed to have a character that was changing almost constantly. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Juvenile Burrowing Owl

I was on my out of the park and feeling good about getting the bison shots I was looking for when I saw this owl standing on a prairie dog mound. Two hours later, after about 100 still shots and 50 video clips, I headed east.  The shots were taken of the window and a little shaky but still fun to put together and share with you.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Starting Young

These 6 month old calves are practicing for the big time when they can join the rut in 6-7 years. As with all herds and flocks it's hard to keep up with the action that is happening everywhere. On to the next Badland NP excitement in the next post.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Testosterone on the Hoof

One ton of testosterone charged bison makes those roaring motorcycles and decked out trucks seem tame in comparison. This guy was in a frenzy after being turned down by several cows that were not quite ready for him.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bison Battle 2

If you notice there is only one foot on the ground of the front bull. It gives me new appreciation for their power. The bulls were almost rabid in there behavior, very frightening.  The apparently slow moving, dull witted animals are entirely beasts in the rut.

Technical: 600 mm with 1.4 tele-extender, 1/800 second

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Bison Battle

My wife and I (actually more me) have been searching for bison during mating season for years but we always seem to miss it. Badlands National Park has a good sized herd that is accessible and the Park is without the mayhem of summer visitors like Yellowstone. I made some calls and got conflicting information but decided to head out there anyway for a few days. This battle was taken one morning and by late afternoon 500 bison had disappeared. Mating season may still be in progress but if it is taking place it's a secluded draw. I don't think I'll hike in to look for them.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Prairie Evening

I spent a couple hours on the prairie yesterday with some new found friends and left with a renewed enthusiasm for it. It was a perfect evening: hot, calm, sweet light, and no mosquitoes. Even the clouds cooperated as they developed at sunset.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Prairie Afternoon

I went out to the prairie for the first time in a couple weeks looking for insects to film.It was a good afternoon for dragonflies and butterflies. This short piece gives you an idea of what the afternoon looked and sounded like.

Technical: GoPro for time lapse, a variety of slow motion speeds to show the dragonfly in action. Natural sound taken from in camera microphone.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fawn in the Fog

This is another clip from the summer camera trap. I hope to watch this fawn grow over the season and will share it as it becomes available. I am learning the value of placing two cameras at this site, the animals have a lot of potential paths they can take. This was completely missed by the other camera. Love the mood the fog produces.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Following Mom

I just checked the cards on my camera traps and found lots of activity, including the pesky ants that have taken up residence on one of them. Summer is a notoriously bad for trapping with the high weeds obscuring the animals. I found an intermittently wet pool that is free of weeds and set up a couple cameras a few weeks ago. Over the three weeks since I checked it there has been a nice variety of animals passing in front of the cameras.

Technical: The back lighting is from the second camera which is placed at a right angle to the other one.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Avalanche Trail

This is the most popular trail in the park and was even more popular with the road still closed to Logan Pass. We usually started early in the morning and avoided the long lines of hikers that developed later. Occasionally while stopping to rest I took a few shots. Technical: 1/2 second, tripod

Glacier has had record numbers of visitors this year making traditional park shots difficult to get. This is for those who would rather not see fellow visitors.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Bird Woman Falls Overlook

The crowds at Glacier were impossible to overlook so I started photographing them in the scene. This unhappy Arizonian was traveling alone while on his way to the next pullout while the couple were in the moment enjoying themselves. Maybe there is a message there.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Trail of Cedars Cathedral

This upturned tree at a boardwalk bench caught my attention and as I was following the broken roots up an idea struck me.  The roots and branches mimic each other to a certain extent. It is also humbling to be at the bottom of such tall trees.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Summer Travel

When you're retired it is hard to say you went on a vacation. We traveled to Glacier National Park last week and did some hiking. We were forced to stay on the west side of the Park since the road over Logan Pass was still closed. We put this disappointment to good use and explored all the trails around Lake McDonald. Avalanche Lake is a high use destination but worth the crowds and a relatively easy hike. This hike seemed much easier the second time. . . wonder why? 

Technical: This was my first hard use of the Sony for landscapes. Its dynamic range makes shooting most HDR sequences unnecessary. The data in dark areas gets pulled out beautifully in Lightroom.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Antelop Fawns

These guys have been around for a few days and only need some growth to look identical to mom. Well, maybe some exercise too.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Big Horn Lambs

These guys were frisky and frolicking with their mothers on a cliff side that gave me motion sickness when filming them. Loose stones were tumbling down a few hundred feet as they moved across the cliff. Perhaps this gives a little better idea of their playground.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fawn in the Rain

I checked my camera trap today and found an ant colony had taken up residence in its nooks and crannies. They were only on the outside but clearly messed up a large number of images as they moved across the camera lens during the last 3 weeks. I have heard of this happening but it was a first for me. I'm not sure how to prevent it either. Fortunately they had not messed up the best video on the card.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Summer in Yellowstone

I recently returned from a volunteer week in Yellowstone National Park. When I arrive a video assignment is given for the week. Usually it is a wildlife related project but this time my assignment was recording boardwalks and parking lots. Not the most glamorous work but it provided me with a different view of the Park.

Technical: 3 or 4 second intervals over 15 or 20 minutes to produce a 10 second clip, about the time it takes to sip a can of Pepsi


Monday, June 5, 2017

First attempt

I had this idea in Duluth last weekend.What would flying gulls look like with a long shutter speed? They were being fed in Canal Park and the light was perfect. I risked getting bombed and sat on a bench to try.

Sometimes it is fun to just play and not sweat trying to get a perfect image.

 Technical: handheld at 1/5 second.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Dandelion Fields Forever

Most of us work hard at getting the last dandelion out of the lawn and overlook their value to insects or ignore their beauty. This unused pasture was filled with them which made for a great morning of exploring possibilities. My daughter found an apt quote "A weed is but an unloved flower." by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

High Water

I went to check a camera trap and discovered the road was flooded.  I had to choose between turning around or looking for something to photograph.  I drove to the next convenience turn around point and saw reflections along the road and then I noticed the songbirds. We have had about six inches of rain this week and it will take a couple weeks for the the water to recede so I can get the camera that fortunately it is on high ground.

Technical: Natural sound recorded with a Rode Stereomic. The overhead jet is just part of the world. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pattison SP Postcard


This was part of the week filming prairie chickens and sharp-tail grouse. Not quite as exciting as wildlife. The editing challenge is getting sound to match the intensity of the action and setting a pace with the clips that fits the mood of the morning. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Recording Growth

I am intrigued with the possibility of recording change on video and an attachment to a GoPro 4 seems like just the ticket. GoPro cameras are small,waterproof,  but have a fixed 16 mm (35 mm equivalent) lens. They are also limited by a 2 hour battery life.  The Blink intervalometer shuts the camera down when not exposing and image thereby significantly increasing the battery life. If you have a GoPro and want to play with this possibility check out: Blink Intervalometer

Technical: Recorded over two days for a total of 18 hours. Images recorded at 1 minute intervals, 16 second video from 18 hours of change.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

It's my space

I'm easy game for talkative and sometimes annoying wildlife watchers that come and go as I stand for hours waiting to get that one shot. I felt like this pelican last week until I stepped back and listened. A lonesome 90 year old guy needed to talk so I  listened. The next morning I found this 2 minute video on YouTube: Billy Thompson
I discovered a treasure more important than any pelican story that evening. I'll come back for the birds another day and if someone wants to chat, the birds can wait still another day.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Fight

This battle lasted most of the morning with intermittent breaks for rest and recovery. Only when the hen from the previous post arrived did the attention of these males turn away from fighting. I would have loved to captured this in slow motion but was afraid to switch cameras and miss the action. The light was also a little low for the higher shutter speed needed to record slow motion ( 1/250 vs 1/60).

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Line Dancing Turtles

Recently I have been watching turtles and out of the water they do what turtles are know to do: move very slowly.  I decided to record their movements over 1 1/4 hours at 15 second intervals.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Courting the Lady

This frenzy of activity took place on the lek last weekend. The first two hours were spent keeping warm, watching males dance, and then stare at each other. The next hour flew by with this nonstop activity.  I hope this will entice you to visit the blind in the future.

Technical: Recorded one morning using a Canon C100 and Sony a7r2 with a 100-400 lens and Rode Videomic.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Storm at the Lek

The blind was reserved 2 months ago, the weather is miserable, and the forecast is for 2-6 inches of snow. Now what? There really wasn't a question of whether to show up or not since the birds would still be there. It was also no problem deciding what to wear - everything! The result was a unique experience to witness how prairie chickens survive on the prairie under some very harsh conditions.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Trout lily bloom


Time lapsing clouds in southern Minnesota can be a little dull and I'm turning my attention to time lapse of the environment. Last weekend was a perfect opportunity to try a short term environmental time lapse. The beauty of time lapse is you never know exactly what you will see.

Technical: GoPro Hero4, 10 second intervals, recorded until the battery was depleted.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Trying to get a little rest

This youngster was not letting mom get any rest between its running around and nursing. She looks exhausted.  Her energy needed later when a small herd of bison moved in and she made a hurried exit. Grizzly bears have a mortal fear of bison although calves are used for food in the spring.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Grizzly on the path

 I was surprised at the amount of grizzly traffic on this paved trail. The new grass makes this a prime area to explore when they first come out of hibernation. There were three fences and a boiling pool between us as we stood beside the car. Nevertheless, we backed to the other side of the car as it approached.

Technical: Filmed at about 600 mm focal length, cropped 10%

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mom, Let's Play!

This mother grizzly was resting peacefully on a nice warm rock until her youngster had different ideas. This year old cub has another year with mom before being sent out into the world alone.

Technical: Post production stabilization  applied, the 20 mph cross wind was too much for image stabilization system in the long lens.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Tired Out

I got back for Yellowstone yesterday and feel like this napping grizzly bear.  With the assignment of filming spring grizzly bears we (fellow volunteer Angela and I) had unlimited access to the Park interior. Despite that 5 bears were seen within a hundred yards of a single parking lot. More to follow.

Technical: shot with a SonyA7r2 and 600 mm lens with 1.4 teleconverter, cropped significantly

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Looking for Bear

I will be in Yellowstone NP for most of the next two weeks looking for grizzly bears. I have to admit grizzlies scare me. Fortunately most encounters are near the road and the safety of the car. I'm also reminded that bad encounters occur in wooded areas when they are surprised at a meal or with cubs. While the fear is rational it might be overstated. Now I have to find the bear spray and make sure it has not expired.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Learning a new technique

I have had a time-lapse feature on my trail camera but never used it until now. There are still some technical issue with camera motion but I like the technique and will be working on it more. The concept of seasonal transition intrigues me and this might be a way to represent it in motion.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Playing Lambs


We went to hike and photograph the landscape but were surprised to see a herd of desert bighorn sheep along the road on  our first morning in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.  We searched for the during the rest of our stay but did not find them again. Recorded with a 24-105 lens on a Sonya7Rii.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Family Photo, 2000 B.C.

 That was my first thought when I saw these figures holding hands. There several similar petroglyphs in Valley of Fire State Park with 4 human-like figures holding hands. It reminded me of the decals on the back of family vans. Most of these rocks have fallen from heights of 400-500 feet and now are more accessible than when the drawings were originally done. The rock below is up about 30 feet with the 8-10 inch foot hold to stand in while chipping the images into the sandstone. They are fascinating reminders of our long standing need to record and remember.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Creating Vastness

Badwater Basin in a must see at Death Valley. The iconic pancake sheets of salt on its surface were my planned subjects. Recent rains changed that plan, the salt ridges were collapsed in pools of water. On to Plan B, showing its vast open space. As the temperature fell to the low 90's and visitors thinned out I took this 3 image panorama, completely opposite the near focus landscape shot I had planned.