Posts tagged ‘www.ThePhotoNaturalist.com’

2021 “Top Ten” #1— Bird Portraits

**OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS I WILL BE POSTING 10 “TOP TEN” POSTS OF MY FAVORITE WILDLIFE & LANDSCAPE PHOTOS FROM 2021: Bird Portraits, Black-and-white Wildlife, Mammals, Humor, Animals in the Landscape, Creative Wildlife, Insects, Landscapes, Flora and Bird Behavior. (PSSST…Here’s a secret…I have a hard time narrowing down photos to actually my top 10…so there may be more than that in each post!)

What a year! So good to have top-of-the-line equipment again! Thanks to a donation from a good friend, I am now shooting with the Canon R5 and a 100-500mm lens. Over the last couple years I’ve been mainly shooting video…and you can get away with inferior quality lenses when shooting moving pictures vs stills. So my bird photography suffered. But now with new equipment I am thrilled to be “back in the saddle” and shooting sharp birds.

Below are my favorite bird portraits from 2021. By my definition a bird portrait is one where the bird is the main focus of the image, and it is usually in good front light and not exhibiting any extraordinary behavior (that is for the “Behavior” category!). This is not my favorite style of shooting these days, but I do love it when I get a classic portrait of a species I don’t already have photos of. In fact, I have now photographed over 510 bird species in North America. You can see them all at sparkyphotos.com

Elegant Trogon; July; Madera Canyon, Arizona

Probably one of the most exotic looking American birds, the Elegant Trogon is only found in a few wooded canyons in southeast Arizona. And Madera Canyon is where many folks find their lifer. I heard this guy’s hoarse grunts while walking up the canyon. You can see the video of this birding trip on YouTube here SE Arizona Birding & Photography Part 1. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/500 second at f7.1; ISO 1250; 0 EV; handheld]

Wilson’s Phalarope; May; Chase Lake NWR, North Dakota

Surprisingly the female Wilson’s Phalarope is more colorful than the male. This is the opposite of most birds. And the reason may surprise you…She acts more like a male bird and has several mates. She then lays eggs in multiple nests which the males tend! You can virtually join me on this trip via my YouTube video of the experience here: I’m Invisible! Floating Blind on the Prairie Potholes of North Dakota [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/1250 second at f7.1; ISO 400; +0.33 EV; on tripod head in floating blind]

Spruce Grouse; January; Superior National Forest, Minnesota

My old camera could NEVER have got this shot! It was before dawn when I ran into a flock of about 6 Spruce Grouse in far northern Minnesota. I always have the camera set to “Auto ISO” and in these dark conditions it ran all the way up to ISO 12,800! [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 430mm; 1/250 second at f7.1; ISO 12,800; +0.33 EV; handheld]

Red-naped Sapsucker; June; Pinedale, Wyoming

The whole family was in exile in Pinedale, Wyoming after we totaled our car by hitting a deer at 60mph. We were just fine, but it meant an extra 4 days in Pinedale on the edge of the Wind River Range. I went for a walk along the river that flows right through town and found this cooperative male Red-naped Sapsucker…a species closely related to our Yellow-bellied Sapsucker but only found in the intermountain west. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 328mm; 1/2000 second at f6.3; ISO 2500; +0.33 EV; handheld]

Trumpeter Swan; April; Crex Meadows, Wisconsin

I had heard the Trumpeters trumpeting before I ever saw them. The trail at this location goes below the level of the berm of this mitigation cattail marsh. I was able to sneak up to the edge of the pond and shoot through the cattails to get this portrait. I blew out the whites to create this high key image that shows the intricate detail in the bill. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/1000 second at f7.1; ISO 1000; +0.33 EV; handheld]

Great Gray Owl; May; Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota

I was leading a field trip for my organization Friends of Sax-Zim Bog when we spotted some photographers on McDavitt Road looking at something. Of course we stopped and then saw the Great Gray hunting voles along the roadside. The field trip was called “Things that Go Buzz, Croak, Hoot & Bump in the Night” but this owl made no sounds…and neither did the participants as we watched this huge owl in silence. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/640 second at f8; ISO 12,800; -0.33 EV; handheld]

Acorn Woodpecker; July; Madera Canyon, Arizona

Acorn Woodpeckers are personality-plus birds. This one had just finished “stealing” sugar water from the hummingbirds by hanging from the edge of a hummingbird feeder. They also have a crazy loud (and annoying?) call. Acorns, as you might suspect, are their favorite food, and they stash hundreds to thousands of acorns in shallow holes they drill in certain “granary trees.” You can see the video of this birding trip on YouTube here SE Arizona Birding & Photography Part 1. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/640 second at f8; ISO 4000; 0 EV; handheld]

Red Knot (left) and Ruddy Turnstone; May; Knife River, Minnesota

Some birders don’t care much for shorebirds; “They all look the same and are hard to identify,” they say. But check out these two beauties! The Ruddy Turnstone (right) has a harlequin face, and the Red Knot is, well, red! The Red Knot is an unusual visitor to the Duluth/North Shore area in spring. It is much more common on the East Coast. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/2500 second at f7.1; ISO 1000; -0.33 EV; handheld while laying on the beach]

Eared Grebe; May; Chase Lake NWR, North Dakota

Not “ears” at all, the golden feather tufts of the Eared Grebe give it its common name. I was chest deep in the lake when I took this photo from my floating blind. I wish I would have focused on the front bird instead of the back bird. I did set my camera to f13 to try and get both in focus, but it wasn’t enough. Oh well, I still like the image. I also LOVE their red eyes. You can virtually join me on this trip via my YouTube video of the experience here: I’m Invisible! Floating Blind on the Prairie Potholes of North Dakota. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/1250 second at f13; ISO 2000; +0.33 EV; handheld]

Yellow-eyed Junco; July; Mount Lemmon, Arizona

Not your everyday Junco! This is the southern cousin to our Dark-eyed Junco…and like its name implies, it has the opposite of dark eyes. The Yellow-eyed Junco is only found in extreme SE Arizona and SW New Mexico where it just reaches into the U.S. from its main range in the mountains of Mexico. They are very trusting birds and this guy performed for me high up on Mount Lemmon near Phoenix. You can see the video of this birding trip on YouTube here SE Arizona Birding & Photography Part 1. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/640 second at f8; ISO 1000; +0.33 EV; handheld]

Sandhill Crane; April; Crex Meadows, Wisconsin

The day was “blaah” but I had to make the most of it since I drove all the way to Wisconsin’s Crex Meadows from my house an hour and a half away. I got low for this shot and I like the shallow depth of field and muted colors of this Sandhill Crane. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/1000 second at f7.1; ISO 1250; +0.33 EV; handheld]

Sagebrush Sparrow; June; near Pinedale, Wyoming

Sagebrush Sparrow on Sagebrush….what more do you need to say? Well, for one thing, I really like the background sage blurring into the lovely blue sky. I also was really into sparrows this summer and this one was a surprise. During our exile in Pinedale, Wyoming (read about it in the caption of the Red-naped Sapsucker above) I took an early morning excursion out to “The Mesa” south of Pinedale. It is a vast area of sagebrush where this species along with other sage specialists thrive—Sage Grouse, Brewer’s Sparrow and Sage Thrasher. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/1000 second at f7.1; ISO 200; 0 EV; handheld]

Rivoli’s (Magnificent) Hummingbird; July; Madera Canyon, Arizona

I didn’t think much of this photo when I took it, but it came to life on the computer screen. The R5 and RF 100-500 lens creates incredibly sharp images, and I love the subtle rich colors of this Rivoli’s Hummingbird in the shade. You can see the video of this birding trip on YouTube here SE Arizona Birding & Photography Part 1. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/1250 second at f8; ISO 2000; 0 EV; handheld]

Ross’s Geese; March; North Ottawa Impoundment, Minnesota

A spring trip to western Minnesota has to be timed perfectly…The massive goose flocks move through quickly and you have to be there when it happens. I timed it well this year and I was thrilled to get this rare-for-Minnesota photo of 3 Ross’s Geese in flight formation. They are not a common species in the state. You can join me on this trip via my YouTube video called Goose-a-palooza. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 300mm; 1/1250 second at f8; ISO 200; 0 EV; handheld]

Bald Eagle; February; Mississippi River near Buffalo, Wisconsin

My fingers ache simply from seeing this image! It was minus-25F WCF when I was laying in the snow shooting eagles plucking fish out of some open water on the Mississippi River. Most of the river was frozen and the few pockets that remained open concentrated the eagles. I was thrilled how well the Canon R5 did with autofocusing on the flying eagles in both stills and video mode. You can feel my pain virtually by watching this ice cold video from the comfort of your living room chair Ice Eagles of the Mississippi. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 451mm; 1/1600 second at f7.1; ISO 250; 0 EV; handheld]

Pine Grosbeak; March; Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota

Laying in the snow again produced a pretty neat photo of a pretty neat bird—male Pine Grosbeak. I love their coloration…Is it red? Or pink? Or burgundy? Or a combination of all three? [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/800 second at f7.1; ISO 320; 0 EV; handheld]

Ferruginous Hawk; May; near Chase Lake NWR, North Dakota

Some birds hold special appeal to me, simply because I have dreamt of seeing them for so long that they become mythical. The Ferruginous Hawk is one such creature. Ryan and I found this stunning male out in the prairie potholes of North Dakota. You can virtually join me on this trip via my YouTube video of the experience here: I’m Invisible! Floating Blind on the Prairie Potholes of North Dakota [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 300mm; 1/1250 second at f5.6; ISO 160; -0.33 EV; handheld]

Broad-billed Hummingbird; July; Madera Canyon, Arizona

I know Broad-billed Hummingbirds are dirt common in SE Arizona…and that they can be bullies at a feeder…but c’mon! How gorgeous are they! Never get tired of them. You can see the video of this birding trip on YouTube here SE Arizona Birding & Photography Part 1. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 254mm; 1/1600 second at f5.6; ISO 2500; 0 EV; handheld]

Pomarine Jaeger; October; Wisconsin Point, Lake Superior

This brute of a jaeger had just flown a circle around me, coming within 15 feet of me to attack a gull on the beach of Wisconsin Point. That is how jaegers (“hunter” in German) make a living on Lake Superior during migration; they harass gulls until they cough up their last meal. The jaeger then scoops up the partially digested meal. It’s not pretty, but it’s pretty fascinating! [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/1600 second at f8; ISO 4000; +1 EV; handheld]

Lewis’s Woodpecker; February; Minnesota

A major North American nemesis bird for me has been the Lewis’s Woodpecker. I had looked in over 6 western states over the last 30 years but only had glimpses in Utah and Colorado. So it is ironic that I got my best views of this western species in central Minnesota! It was coming to a feeder of a friend of mine and he was gracious enough to allow birders to come and see his high-profile guest. And what a dandy! Iridescent green back, rosy breast and red and silvery gray throat…Wow! [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/1000 second at f8; ISO 2000; 0 EV; handheld]

Trumpeter Swan; May; Gordon Macquarrie Wetlands; Wisconsin

The floating blind makes you invisible…well, kind of. Canada Geese are hard to fool…and Trumpeter Swans (and Loons) seem very curious. This guy came withing 15 feet of my blind. I like this eye-level monochromatic peek through the cattail stalks. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 343mm; 1/2500 second at f5.6; ISO 400; -0.66 EV; on tripod head in floating blind]

Western Grebe; May; Chase Lake NWR, North Dakota

Western Grebes are just simply a funky bird. You can virtually join me on this trip via my YouTube video of the experience here: I’m Invisible! Floating Blind on the Prairie Potholes of North Dakota [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 428mm; 1/1250 second at f6.3; ISO 320; +0.33 EV; on tripod head in floating blind]

Botteri’s Sparrow; July; near Box Canyon, Arizona

Maybe one of our most drab sparrows in America, but even the Botteri’s can look stunning on a Mesquite branch in early-morning light. You can see the video of this birding trip on YouTube here SE Arizona Birding & Photography Part 1. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 343mm; 1/640 second at f7.1; ISO 500; 0 EV; handheld]

American Avocet; May; Chase Lake NWR, North Dakota

You just simply could not get this shot without a floating blind. Since the Avocet doesn’t recognize the blob as a human, it can relax, and even sleep. You can virtually join me on this trip via my YouTube video of the experience here: I’m Invisible! Floating Blind on the Prairie Potholes of North Dakota [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/1250 second at f7.1; ISO 800; +0.33 EV; on tripod head in floating blind]

Broad-tailed Hummingbird; June; Wind River Range, Wyoming

Thankfully you can’t tell that I took this photo off the deck of a mountain cabin in Wyoming. I put out a hummingbird feeder and this Broad-tailed found it within 24 hours. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/1250 second at f8; ISO 1250; 0 EV; handheld]

Swainson’s Hawk; May; Prairie potholes of Kidder County, North Dakota

Just a nice portrait of a beautiful raptor. The prairies and grasslands of the Great Plains are home to the Swainson’s Hawk. Ryan and I stumbled on this on in Kidder County, North Dakota. You can virtually join me on this trip via my YouTube video of the experience here: I’m Invisible! Floating Blind on the Prairie Potholes of North Dakota [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/640 second at f9; ISO 100; -0.33 EV; handheld]

Ash-throated Flycatcher; July; Box Canyon, Arizona

Startled by a large Carpenter Bee, this Ash-throated Flycatcher threw open its wings to take off. I like the bit of motion in the wings (unplanned) and also the dreamy look of this image. You can see the video of this birding trip on YouTube here SE Arizona Birding & Photography Part 1. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/1250 second at f8; ISO 800; 0 EV; handheld]

Yellow-eyed Junco; July; Mount Lemmon, Arizona

I find myself shooting wider and wider each year. This allows a bit of the bird’s habitat to show, and makes a better story. You can see the video of this birding trip on YouTube here SE Arizona Birding & Photography Part 1.

Elegant Trogon; July; Madera Canyon, Arizona

Like woodpeckers, Elegant Trogons nest in tree cavities, but unlike woodpeckers, they do not excavate their own nest. Instead they use natural cavities, especially those in Sycamores where branches have fallen off leaving a nice cavity. You can see the video of this birding trip on YouTube here SE Arizona Birding & Photography Part 1. [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/400 second at f7.1; ISO 320; 0 EV; handheld]

Pine Grosbeak; January; Wrenshall, Minnesota

A little bit of sidelighting helped this Pine Grosbeak photo push into the top ten (top thirty really). [Canon R5 with Canon 100-500mm lens at 500mm; 1/320 second at f7.1; ISO 400; 0 EV; handheld]

SE Arizona Birding  & Bird Photography Madera & Box Canyon

Join Sparky Stensaas in southeast Arizona in July for some birding and bird photography. Mount Lemmon, Box Canyon, Madera Canyon. Highlights include Elegant Trogon, Five-striped Sparrow, Varied Bunting, Lucifer Hummingbird, Botteri’s Sparrow, Hooded Oriole and much more.

Virtually Live 13 Christmas Bird Count Sax-Zim Bog: Great Gray Owl, Fisher, Short-eared Owl Dec 2020

My 35th year as compiler of the Sax-Zim Christmas Bird Count turned out to be a record-breaker despite teams having to social distance. 13 hardy participants brave -10 below zero F windchills in northern Minnesota’s Sax-Zim Bog to turn up 39 species!

We also find a species NEVER recorded on the count before (revealed in the video). And I find several owls and gets some crazy cool images of a Great Gray Owl plummeting and pouncing on suspected vole victims.

We find Boreal Chickadees, accidentally film some Black-billed Magpies at the “Bison Farm,” make a visit to Loretta’s grosbeak-rich feeders and have a yummy lunch at the Wilbert Cafe.

I also share some exciting recent sightings of a Fisher chasing Snowshoe Hare and a Short-eared Owl on Stone Lake Road.

Thanks to all CBC Participants: Bill Tefft, Lori Williams, Frank Nicoletti, Abbie Valine, Dave David Benson, Lars Benson, John Ellis, Sparky Stensaas, Sarah Beaster, Clinton Dexter-Nienhaus, Kristina Dexter-Nienhaus, Tony Anthony Hertzel, Tommy Hertzel

Virtually Live 10: LeConte’s Sparrows in flowers— Birding Sax-Zim Bog MN

This August 2020 episode explores Northern Minnesota’s Sax-Zim Bog in late summer. In this episode we go birding in the “slow” time of year. But a couple cooperative LeConte’s Sparrows in a flower-filled field steal the show. We also stop by Nichols Lake/Lake Nichols and bird the bog stretch of Admiral Road where we find Boreal Chickadees, Palm Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Canada jays and more.

Sparky also shows us the new platform and bench on Gray Jay Way trail north of the Welcome Center. And we go on a kayak journey on the Whiteface River where a pair of shy River Otters briefly make an appearance. Stunning emerald green and black Ebony Jewelwing damselflies perch along the riverbank.

Virtually Live 5 Birding Field Trip Sax Zim Bog May 11, 2020

In this week’s installment of Virtually Live in Sax-Zim Bog, Sparky takes us on a fly-over of the little-explored Blue Dasher Bog where he searches for Trumpeter Swans. We also bird Stone Lake Road and Zim Road. Great looks at a gorgeous drake Blue-winged Teal, singing Yellow-rumped Warbler, flapping Sandhill Crane, nest-building Trumpeter Swans and more. Three FOY (first-of-year) species are found including two iconic Sax-Zim Bog breeding birds…LeConte’s Sparrow and Sedge Wren.

[Shot with Panasonic GH5 & Sigma 50-500mm lens (for bird videos); Sony A6500 and Rokinon 12 mm lens (for vlogging); DJI Phantom 4 Pro (drone aerials); Bird sounds recorded with Sennheiser 18″ shotgun microphone and Zoom H4n recorder; Voice sound with Rode Micro mic.]

Palisade Head Peregrines (and grebes & mergansers): Shooting with Sparky

Palisade Head Peregrine Falcon Watch May 1: Wildlife Photography

A spring day at Northeast Minnesota’s Palisade Head on Lake Superior. Sparky is hoping to photograph Peregrine Falcons today, but he has more luck with Common Mergansers, Least Chipmunks, Song Sparrows and a flyby Peregrine. Wildlife Photography, Bird Photography

Birding with Sparky 3: Virtually Live from Sax-Zim Bog: April 28, 2020

Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
Join Executive Director Sparky Stensaas on a 5 hour birding, photography, video tour in northeastern Minnesota’s Sax-Zim Bog. We visit Nichols Lake, the Warren Woessner Bog Boardwalk, Admiral Road willow flats and the Welcome Center. Wild Turkeys in full display, slow motion video of Wilson’s Snipe doing their aerial courtship display, Porcupine eating willow catkins.

NOTE: If you view in highest possible format, you can actually see the stiff outer tail feathers of the Wilson’s Snipe vibrating. The air rushing through these specially adapted feathers is what creates the “winnowing” aerial courtship display sound.

“Moosey & Sprucey” Trip to the Superior National Forest: Shooting with Sparky episode

Come along on a wildlife photography and video day trip in Minnesota’s Superior National Forest (April 17, 2020). This Shooting with Sparky episode takes you along as I search for Moose and displaying Spruce Grouse. Guest appearances by drumming Ruffed Grouse, Red Crossbills, Saw-whet Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, Hairy Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Trailing Arbutus and more. Enjoy this virtual field trip!

Birding with Sparky: Virtually Live Field Trip to Sax-Zim Bog — April 14, 2020

Hi all, This is video 1 of a series we are doing at my non-profit Friends of Sax-Zim Bog. Since we all have to practice social distancing, we decided to bring our bog buddies along on some “Virtually Live” field trips.

I bird the Sax-Zim Bog (northeastern Minnesota) in the morning from sunrise to noon, then race home (1-hour drive) to download and edit the footage. The goal is to upload it by that evening.

I had a blast! And hope to continue this weekly through May. Come along and enjoy a day of birding in Sax-Zim!

Bird the Bog with Sparky: April 14, 2020

2019 Favorite Landscapes (Top Ten…14 really)

Back in the slide film days I used to work much harder at getting good landscape images. We worked much slower in the film days. And I really put thought into good composition. But with the digital age, I’ve gotten a bit lazy. Too easy to just snap some quick photos with my iPhone and call it a landscape. But having access to a drone has made me think more about aerial landscapes and I’ve included four of those images here…Roughly 30 percent of my favorite landscape images this year were with the drone.

I do enjoy very wide images and so have also been using my 10mm Rokinon lens on the Sony A6500 body.

Here’s my faves from 2019.

(Duluth, Minnesota)
Sony A6500 with Rokinon 10mm lens; 2 seconds at f22; ISO 100; tripod]

Some of you may know where this little gem is located. The cedar tree that I used to include in my compositions here, is now tipped over. A long exposure made for a colorful pattern of swirling foam and leaves. Did I put that maple leaf on the rock? Only I know!

Meandering (Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota)
DJI Phantom 4 Pro

I absolutely love the new perspectives the we can get with drone images. But I am still learning on how to be a good drone pilot (I have crashed my DJI Phantom 4 a few times).

Yucca Sky (New Mexico)
Sony A6500 with Rokinon 10mm lens; 1/4000 second at f2; ISO 200; hand-held]

I was passing through southwest New Mexico on my way to southeast Arizona for a birding trip when I saw this scene. I love the drama of Yuccas…and the clouds helped make this image. For this look I desaturated this image, and increased the “clarity” slider, in Lightroom.

Yellowstone Lake (Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming)
[Canon 7D with Canon EF 70-200mm L USM lens at 70mm; 1/100 second at f5.6; ISO 800; hand-held]

Yes, a very simple “tree silhouette” landscape, but I like the vertical trunks contrasting with the horizontal bands of color in the sky. This is well past sunset.

Ice-out (Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota)
DJI Phantom 4 Pro

You could only get a shot like this with a drone (or a really tall ladder!). I like the different shades of blue and yellow as the lake begins to thaw in spring.

Starry Pines (Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming)

What do you do after you get back to your campground in Yellowstone? Eat dinner and take star photos! A headlamp briefly turned on illuminated my face.

Sunrise Fog (Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota)
DJI Phantom 4 Pro

I’d seen photos like this taken from a plane in the “pre-drone” era. Knowing that I could never afford to rent a plane, I gave up on making an image like this. But a drone now allows some very unique shots at a fraction of the cost.

Firehole Spring Sunset (Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming)
Sony A6500 with Rokinon 10mm lens; 1/30 second at f22; ISO 320; hand-held]

Ryan and I have photographed this thermal feature in Yellowstone before, but on this evening it had a completely different feel due to the thick steam arising from the pool. We stood on the top rung of the barrier fence and held our cameras high to get a more pleasing angle on the scene.

Lake Superior ice (Lake County, Minnesota)
DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Aerial view of Lake Superior ice during break up. I converted to black and white for a more graphic image.

Alpen glow (Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming)

Follow the Yellow Tar Road (Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota)
Canon 7D with Canon EF-S 18-55 mm lens at 18mm: 1/320 second at f16; hand-held]

I love the splash of color on this atypical landscape photo. What else can you do on an extremely gloomy day? Ryan got even lower to the road and also made a very cool image.

(Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming)

Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

Lamar Valley (Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming)
[Canon 7D with Canon EF 70-200mm L USM lens at 70mm; 1/400 second at f5.6; ISO 125; tripod]

I’m not sure why Ryan and I had never noticed this big ol’ Cottonwood in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley before…Maybe because we were always looking for wildlife. But on this year’s trip Ryan saw it and named it the Zen Tree. It has wonderfully gracefully arced limbs and trunk, and it is very photogenic.

(near Tucson, Arizona)
[Sony A6500 with Rokinon 10mm lens; 1/60 second at f22; ISO 320; -1.33 ev; hand-held]

I actually had to stick my hand and camera into a bramble of spiny Cholla cactus stems to get this wide angle view of the Sonoran desert landscape near Tucson. I love how everything is framed by the Cholla (except the foreground Saguaro could be placed a bit better). Overall a unique view of a very unique habitat.