Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Never too many

As of this morning, there were 487 images of bald eagles on my web site. I'm adding two more from 2010 in Keokuk, Iowa. These are from the same sequence, and there already was one posted after these two. So make it 489. The first image is an example of improper framing. I added a bit of blue sky below the eagle to correct the framing.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023


I added a new page to my web site of images from my visit to Borrego Springs, California, in March 2010. I also added some images to my Washington, DC gallery from an August 2010 work trip. I figure I spent 1.5 years working in DC and Virginia over the course of 1986-2016, but the gallery images span a narrower time period of 2000-2014.

The year 2010 was an outlier year. I managed to take vacation to do eagle trips to Iowa in February and Missouri in December, but in between I was constantly on the road for work, the most travel I ever did. I spent more than 200 nights in travel status, and when you consider there are only 260 work days in a year, that's a lot. All of the "new" images from California and DC were taken with my Canon G6 on weekends during work trips. I didn't want to do that again, so in August 2011 I took a transfer to Chicago for what was mostly an office job.

Caterpillar in the desert.

Smithsonian Castle.

Sunday, September 10, 2023


The archive project continues with 2011. The first time I ever went to a butterfly house was on April 10, and I got my 2011 Photo of the Year there (fourth image below). Today I found six images to add to the page, including two shown. The theme for the day is extreme closeups. Also shown is an eagle that always used to roost in what I called the Eagle Tree in Custer State Park, just north of the border with Wind Cave NP. That tree was off by itself and has since been blasted apart by lighting.

There have been many changes in the way I process images since 2011. It is a time-consuming project, but I redid all the images from four 2011 groups, [Butterflies], [South Dakota-January], [South Dakota-April], and [Trailcam Check]. Without getting too bogged down in the details, the last two images shown here are the "before" and "after" of the medium-sized version of a bighorn lamb image. (Only the "after" is linked.) Even in the medium-sized image, there is more detail apparent in the body of the lamb. Either Photoshop Elements has gotten better, or I have, or both. I could spend all winter redoing images from before 2017, which is roughly the start of my modern era of photo processing.

2011 Photo of the Year



Friday, September 08, 2023


After working my way backward from 2018 to 2012, I decided to leap forward to 2019 in my archive project. Bighorn sheep are climbers from a young age and will climb on anything, including each other. This image is not sharp enough to include on my web site, but still interesting. This is at Ancient Hunters Overlook in the Badlands on May 11. Also shown is a zoomed-out image that is on the web site from the same sequence. From May 10 is a newly-processed image of a bison calf staying close to mama. This would have been better as a closeup which is why I probably didn't include it before, but this is what I got.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023


Whenever I take images of wild animals, I am concerned about whether my presence causes them any stress. Bighorn sheep, at least the ones I've been around, don't seem to get stressed very easily. I'm still in 2012 on my archiving project, and this images comes from April 10 in Custer State Park. Also shown is a juvenile bald eagle over the Mississippi on January 15. Click on an image to load the corresponding slide show page. These were taken with the 1D Mark II and 500mm lens.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Dude, you've got something...

The archive project continues, with 2012 being the focus today. I added seven images to various pages, including these two from Custer State Park in October. In the first, a young bison is covered with little seeds, and in the other a pronghorn wears some random vegetation. These images are among the first I took with my 5D Mark III, which is now my often-used backup to the 6D Mark II.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Today's Photo

When I did my "Today in History" project a month ago, I found that I had images for all but 21 days of the year. Yesterday I noticed that today, August 20, was one of the missing dates and started pondering what I could get to fill in that hole. Problem solved just before 8:00 a.m. when a moose cow/calf pair went through the neighborhood. The last time we saw a moose out our back window was February 2021.

The first two images were taken with the 6D and 300mm lens as I drove around the neighborhood without shoes trying to catch up with them. The pair apparently were on opposite sides of our back fence as they went by our property. The cow was too tall for my west-facing trail camera but the image is still worth posting. The calf passed within inches of the east facing camera and it was just a brown blur, so I didn't used that one.

The next two holes in my "Today in History" lineup are August 30 and September 1. I've got two vacancies that fall during a scheduled trip to Michigan late next month. Click on an image to load the Summer 2023 page.

Five hours later: Two sandhill cranes are in the field behind the house. They are often two miles to miles to the northwest, but I've never seen them here before. If I hadn't gotten a Photo of the Day earlier, I would use the one shown below even though it is a bit distant and not real sharp.

Trail camera

February 2021


Saturday, August 19, 2023


My archiving project continues, and I've worked back to 2013. This juvenile bald eagle image from January of that year has a lot of foreground clutter, so I know why I left it out when I originally processed this batch. But the subject is in sharp focus and his bloody victim is 90% visible, so now it is available on my web site. Some might say, "Why don't you Photoshop out the clutter?" The simple answer is "I don't do that." "Often." On an image like this it would take forever, and I have dozens of other images that would not require so much processing. On rare occasions, I do take out a small branch at the edge of an image, or I extend blue sky on a flying bird that isn't framed well. But usually I'm just adjusting for color and exposure, and applying some light sharpening, which is what I did on this image. Click on the image to load the Mississippi River Eagles page from 2013.

The next one is an ibis from my trip to Florida, also in January. This image needed some cropping to eliminate a big blurry leaf just behind the ibis. The next image in the sequence which I posted 10 years ago has some blurred foreground clutter, which this one does not. Click on the image to load the Florida 2013 page.

Clutter is a battle. Sometimes you can crop it out, and sometimes you just ignore it.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

A new day

Each day brings its opportunities. Today started with a Northern Flicker on my patio. I have seen flickers in the yard before (trailcam 2021, third image below), but this one cooperated long enough for me to get a few shots of it running along the back fence. The first time I got an image of a flicker was 19 years ago when I lived in Massachusetts. The lens I used then and today was the 300mm. It's a little worse for wear with a cracked lens shade, but it still does the job. Click on an image to load the corresponding page.


Massachusetts 2004

Trailcam 2021

The day ended with the best hummingbird flight shots I've gotten this year. I went back to the 500mm on the tripod and the bird cooperated by showing up just before the sun started setting. Click the image to see the summer 2023 page.

Tuesday, August 08, 2023


I hadn't seen the hummingbirds for a while, but yesterday I refreshed the feeders and moved some flowers around. Today there were at least three hummingbirds chasing each other around the yard. They really are hard to catch in flight, as I discovered for the 100th time today. I shot today with the hand-held 300mm rather than the 500mm on a tripod, and got a few roosted shots.

Monday, August 07, 2023

New species. Sort of.

Over the years I've gradually added to my bird list and I'm now claiming 118 birds with the addition of a Cedar Waxwing. I got the image at Newton Hills State Park...on August 3, 2015. As I'm organizing my images from previous years I am keeping an eye out for anything I may have missed back then, and this qualifies. The highlight back then was the (dare I say) spectacular Sphinx Moth, and I added another image of that. Click on one of the images to load that slide show.

Second, I added some more images to a trip to the Black Hills in March 2015, including the only image on my site taken inside Wind Cave. These are called boxwork speleothems formations. Click on the image to load that slide show.

And finally, I added three new images to a Bosque del Apache trip in November 2015. I thought this shot of a sandhill crane mixing in with the geese was interesting and I don't know why I didn't include it before. Click...you know the drill.

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Free Ride

I'm trying to accomplish the never-ending goal of organizing 25 years of photos. Based on progress so far, each year will take 1-2 days, and today's project is 2016. I found this image of a magpie getting a free ride from an elk, Nov. 10, 2016, and I will be adding it to that fall's Black Hills and Badlands page. I also found an image of a Japanese airplane that will be posted on the site, July 2016 Sioux Falls Air Show. I found one source that identifies it as a Zero, but internet images of a Zero show more rounded wings. Further research indicates some variations had squared wings, so I'm calling it a Zero.

Friday, July 28, 2023


Gather around kiddies as I tell you about the old days before digital photography. Actually not "before," but the era when digital was just starting to go mainstream and film still had ardent defenders. Just 20 years ago, the death of film did not seem inevitable. I was going through old prints and film yesterday looking for something for a family event and came across my 2003 Yellowstone/Grand Teton slides. I still have my ancient Minolta film scanner, and a much better scanning program than I had back then, Vuescan, so I took a few minutes to reprocess some slides.

Even the modern software couldn't save my Grand Teton moose slides and I (re)discovered why. For slides, I shot mostly Provia, ISO 100, which is too slow for wildlife photography unless the subject is well lit and slow moving. Another limitation of slide film is the exposure has to be very precise. With digital RAW images and even color negative film, the "Shadows" slider in Photoshop can reveal detail in dark areas. With a scanned slide, if the side of the moose looks like a black blob, Photoshop will not reveal anything else. In ancient times, professional slide shooters bracketed their image exposure hoping to get one that was properly exposed, which worked well for landscapes but not moving subjects. All of my moose slides are motion blurred and/or underexposed. A properly exposed slide is a beautiful thing. An underexposed slide is a nightmare. This one is the best of the bunch. The calf is almost in focus and there is some detail on its side, but the side of the mom is the aforementioned black blob.

Slide, 2003

Around the turn of the century, I used to carry two film cameras, one with slide film ISO 50 or 100 and one with faster print film ISO between 200 and 800. By 2003, that had evolved into carrying a film (slide) SLR and a DSLR. I got a few shots of a Grand Teton moose with my 1D DSLR at ISO 200. Not perfect, but it has better dynamic range than the slide. No black blob.

Digital, ISO 200, 2003

But going even further back when I was doing sports for the newspaper in the early 1980s, for night games we would use ISO 400 B&W film but shoot at a higher ISO of 800-1,600. Then we would push (overprocess) the film by leaving it in the chemicals for an extra few minutes. The result was extremely grainy but good enough for the newspaper. Now something similar but better can be accomplished with the twist of a dial. Film grain can be artistic, but digital noise is not the same as film grain, and I don't want to deal with it. Add the fact that we didn't have autofocus and it is amazing we ever got any usable sports photos. This image is from the 1983 South Dakota High School AAA championship game between Sturgis and Brookings. To be critical, it looks like the focus point is a foot or two in front of the players.

B&W film, 1983

In 2004 I upgraded from the 1D (4 megapixels) to the 1D Mark II (8 mp), and I sold off the Canon film cameras. Film was dead to me. Lately I've been carrying two SLRs again, the 5D and 6D, but that's just so I don't have to change lenses as often. The 6D supposedly can shoot at ISO 102,400, but I have determined that 6,400 is about as high as I want to go. This image was 1/1600th of a second at ISO 6,400 with the 6D. Back in 1983 or even 2003, we could only dream of getting such an image in low light.

Digital, ISO 6,400, 2023

The original 1D had a max ISO of 3,200 and had a weird banding pattern of noise. I can see the banding in the dark areas of my old images when I attempt to lighten them. The Mark II, which I still own and use, has the same max of 3,200 but handles the noise better. For my application of shooting birds in the daytime with a motion sensor, I stay in the 200-400 range.

I did get some decent slides of an elk in Yellowstone back in 2003, well lit and slow moving. But the digital image at ISO 200 is much cleaner.

Slide, probably ISO 100 Provia, 2003

Digital, ISO 200, 2003

Finally, another handy little thing about digital is I know my precise camera settings from 20 years ago. With film, not so much. I know the digital image of the elk was shot at 7:18 pm on September 18, 2003 with an exposure of 1/1000 second, f/5.6 (aperture priority), ISO 200. With the slide, I know it was processed in September 2003 and if I can find the little tail of film in the box, I might be able to tell it was Provia 100. I know that no one is fighting the film vs. digital war any more. Film is not practical for most applications and anyone who does use it probably calls themself an artist. But it's useful to jot these things down so we remember how we got here.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Summer 2023

I've been trying to give my various cameras a workout this summer, and that includes checking the trailcameras in Custer Gallatin National Forest south of town. My goal after I last checked a month ago was to get a closeup of a bobcat, but Thursday I found images of a mountain lion and two bears instead. A fair trade, but I wish they were better images.

Also in my summer gallery are jaunty magpies, cute hummingbirds, deer in the neighborhood, butterflies, and marmots on top of Beartooth Pass. Click on an image to load the slide show page.

There also are separate pages for the 4th of July parade, rodeo and fireworks; and spring/summer flowers.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Photo of the Day

I've been doing a Photo of the Year for more than 20 years, and have now decided to do a Photo of the Day. I have about 4,800 images online, so I figured there must be at least one for almost every day of the year. After plugging all the dates into my database, it turns out I'm 21 days short.

But I am forging ahead. I will fill in those empty dates with an image from a nearby date, and over the next few years will make an effort to fill in the holes. February and March are my worst month with four missing dates each. May, June and July have no missing dates. I guess I like to shoot outside when the weather is decent. I have 294 images posted dated July 4. We have the parade, rodeo and fireworks every year, and this year alone I posted 54 images.

Click here for today's Photo of the Day. Here's the POD for the date of this post, July 18.

Mountain Bluebird fledgling, Red Lodge, MT, 7/18/2021.

Saturday, July 15, 2023


In my recent walks through the Montana forest and bike rides around town, I've noticed that the flowers change from week to week. In May, it was what my brother says are Paschal Lilies. And it progressed from there.

Since I ended up with more than 40 images, I set up a separate page on my site spanning spring and summer 2023. Click on one of these images to see the slide show.

Paschal Lilies

Bee near Bridger

Palisades Trail

Even though I ride my bike near one of the trailheads, I haven't hiked the National Forest Service Palisades Trail #109 since autumn a few years ago. I was surprised by the variety of flowers when I stopped there July 12, and came back July 15 with my macro lens. Even in those three days, the sunflower variety had faded and I had to hunt for some good ones. We'll see what happens as we progress toward fall, at this and other locations.

Friday, July 07, 2023


From today's bike ride around Red Lodge, a deer takes a fence, and plenty of daisies.