Saturday, March 16, 2019

Yellowstone 2019 - Part 2

More whitewalkers …..

On my first trip to Yellowstone last year one of the disappointments was the lack of really cold weather.  We had bison in snow, but not in the hoar frost.  3 days into this years trip we headed down the Lamar Valley at dawn, and the dashboard temperature reading just kept falling.  By the time we stopped to snap this inversion we had hit -32 Celsius.

Further down the road we found the old bull again, and I pointed a lens at my first 'proper' heavily frosted bison.  He was lying down at first. a warm brown eye contrasting with the white crusted face (the version here is too small to see - trying clicking the image for a larger view).

He got to his feet allowing a range of shots although in hindsight I didn't really get the best angle, not low enough - sloping land, deep snow and the need to keep out of other snappers sight lines were part of the explanation, but I think I missed a trick.  Not sure if I prefer the colour version or the black and white view.  Again the detail is best seen on larger views.

We never otherwise quite reached the dizzying depths of that morning, but there were a couple of other chances to get shots of frosted bison in the Lamar Valley.  These were all single animals, and the biggest frustration tended to be the habit of a feeding bison to keep it's nose pretty firmly nailed to the floor - not unlike badgers; you just have to wait until you can grab a snatched shot.

When we were in the interior the temperatures had picked up a bit again, but we did get one session with some bison in a thermal area, the mist condensing and freezing providing that sugar coating again.  The downside was the relative lack of snow on the warm ground ……..

but by lying down (and a small amount of cloning) I got what I actually think is my favourite frosty bison shot to date.  Most of the time I like the views that emphasise the power of these animals, but this view is a much more peaceful perspective with a bit more of a story.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

YELLOWSTONE 2019 part 1

The snow fell harder and the old bison looked worn out.  His huge head contrasted with a body that had lost the bulk it must have once had;  still an impressive beast, but past his prime.

As the wind whipped up he slowly sank to his knees, and then lay down,  head tucked into the snow.

The snow squall intensified, blurring the scene, but I could see that even the occasional movements of his head had stopped altogether  ………….

and when the skies cleared there were no signs of life at all. 

Fearing the worst I asked Stan Tekiela*, one of our guides on the trip, if the bull was dying or maybe even gone.
Smiling he replied "No. he's been doing that all week". 

My first Whitewalker of the year. 

* Stan is a biologist. prolific author and an excellent guide given his extensive knowledge of American wildlife.  He literally wrote the book!

Monday, January 07, 2019

Yellowstone - glancing back, looking forward

I'm not great at picking pictures to post, tending to post too many rather than choosing a few good ones.  Maybe difficulty sorting the chaff from the chaff?!

Anyway I quite liked the concept of the little video I made for the last blog so I decided to have another go using the pics and some video from last years Yellowstone trip - a bit of nostalgia and increasing my anticipation of another trip back in a few weeks.  I eventually found that the best way to present the video was to load it to Vimeo first, allowing decent quality playback.

Yellowstone 2018 from Brian Williams on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Naples 2018

A consistently favourite part of our annual trip to Florida is being on the beach as the sun comes up, fishing rod and camera in hand.  Fish a bit, snap through the golden hour then fish again.

This year Kay came down with me on the first day and we went to have a look at the osprey one of the beachside trees.  Last year thy were in the process of rebuilding the nest after the hurricane, and on processing the pics I was taken aback at how much taller it was now - as you can see from the changed height of the main tree limb below - the osprey,s feet in 2018 are higher than it's head was in 2017.


I still haven't got the picture I want of the black skimmers, but I feel I am gradually creeping nearer the shot I have visualised.  If only I could control the wind direction!

Rather than a long blog of multiple photos from the trip I have put them together into a short (45 seconds) video - I have been playing with the quick video tool in Msoft photo.  If they look soft it's Blogger or YouTube!

Monday, December 24, 2018

The battle for the last sprout

It's been a pretty poor winter so far, but last year the snow came late so there's still time.  When we do get snow a few apples on the lawn soon brings in the winter thrushes.  Although space constraints mean it's hard to get a clean background with the 100-400 I decided to take a few snaps, in the hope of a bit of thrush grumpiness.
As usual the first few birds are a little wary resulting in the ground level equivalent of bird on a stick shots,

but in time they relaxed a bit and some of the action I was after took place.

  To the victor - still with a bit of attitude - the spoils

If we do get snow this year I'm going to try scattering some apples in our community field where the extra space means it should be possible to get a bit more background blur.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Hope on the Horizon?

If you have followed this blog for a while you will know that we tend to have a trip to Florida each winter.  This year it has been in doubt but maybe just maybe we might make it again .....

Anyway given my usual backlog of doing something with my pictures it's time to catch up with 2017's trip to Naples.  We arrived a few weeks after Hurricane Irma to find most of the city OK but the hotel lake had some of the surrounding trees in it,

the pier was mostly closed and there was no direct access to our favourite beach.  Some harder to access beaches had more birds than people.

Still they say it's an ill wind that blows no good, and seeking another way to reach the beach I stumbled across a beachside osprey nest which the pair were doing their best to restore, with some BIG twigs as well as lashings of seaweed.

With the pier out of the equation dawn each day found me looking for birds in the blue and golden hour, then having an hour or 2 fishing from the beach before breakfast.

And more ospreys ……

Doesn't get much better.