Catchlight

Several years ago a seasoned photographer taught me that catchlight in your subject’s eyes can make the difference between a meaningful image and mediocrity. This holds true for portraits as well as wildlife.

Yesterday evening there was just the right amount of atmospheric moisture to create a quality of light so superb that the golden hour had a reddish glow. I’d been following the calls of this great horned owl until I finally located it. To my dismay, it was perched on a branch just out of the direct light. When it turned its head to size me up, the last rays of sunlight illuminated its right eye, creating this dramatic pose.

 

 

Spring Swans

As anticipated, the trumpeter swans arrived this past week, a few days earlier than usual. Swans mate for life, so I am inclined to believe this is the same pair that I've been observing for the past 3 years. They usually stick around for a couple weeks before moving on to summer nesting grounds to raise their cygnets. The creek here doesn't offer much protection from predators, so this is just a temporary stop on their journey.

Wilson's Promontory, Victoria, Australia

G'day everyone! I'm checking in from the southernmost part of mainland Australia. It's taken me a few ways to adjust to being on the other side of the world, the time change, living out of a camper van and driving on the other side of the road but I feel I am getting settled into the groove. I spent the night at Wilson't Promontory - the opportunities were plentiful and I encountered a number of species including wombats, wallabies, emus and several other birds, even the kookaburra. The wombats are quite unique and seem to be a type of badger with the body shape of a pig and the face of a teddy bear. They are very docile; in fact I nearly tripped over one while making dinner next to my van last night. I'm on my way through Melbourne and on to the Great Ocean Road for 2-3 days before heading out to Kangaroo Island on Friday. As always, thank you for following along.

Cheers!

Colin

Everyone is "raven" about the new iPhone 7...

Seems everyone's "raven" about the new iPhone 7 and its 12-megapixel camera. Might be wise to invest in a good, bird-proof case.

This raven was unusually curious and obviously looking for food, it's likely been conditioned to receiving handouts from people. The photo was taken with a 17mm wide-angle lens at very close range - within a couple feet. iPhone (unintentionally) provided by Jean Cheng/\.

Great Horned Owl

Exactly one year ago, a pair of great horned owls began making regular appearances on my evening walks near the Nature Center. After a few days of observing them, I began to pick up on some of their behaviors and routines and for the next month, I spent countless hours photographing them, often while they were hunting. With the current abundance of food in the area (ducklings), I've been scanning the trees, hoping for an owl sighting. Yesterday evening, I got that opportunity.

4th of July Canvas Special - 25% off all canvas prints!

Happy 4th of July, friends!! Have fun out there, be safe and most of all, be friendly. For the next week, this bald eagle print (going back to the days of film with my first magazine cover shot here) and all gallery wrapped canvas prints are marked down 25% on my store: Enter the following code at checkout: JULY42016 

Please share.

Cheers!

Colin

Keeping On

Yesterday was Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday. A friend posted the following line from one of his songs: “The only thing I knew how to do, was to keep on keeping on, like a bird that flew.” (Tangled up in Blue)

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, was raised in a small, desolate mining town not far from where I grew up in Minnesota. Despite his gruff singing voice and being ridiculed by peers, Bob had a vision. An avid poet, he put his lines to music and followed that vision, eventually becoming one of the most consequential songwriters of our time.

Since first picking up a camera nearly twenty years ago, I have followed a vision of creating and sharing the wonder of the natural world through photographs. In recent years, I have learned to put ego aside, express gratitude for beautiful opportunities and celebrate every successful endeavor, no matter how big or small it may seem. Eking out a living as an artist, adventurer, or any other non-traditional pursuit, requires more than talent, it takes passion and persistence in the face of overwhelming doubt. Often times, there is no clear path going forward or guide as to how to earn a living as a professional photographer. I will always have vocational skills and a college degree to fall back on, and there have been periods when I was resigned to the notion that I should put all this aside and get a “real job" for lack of a better term, knowing that it would be easier to make ends meet but simultaneously drain my soul, which brings me to this bald eagle image. I took this seventeen years ago, around the same time that I declined a very secure career offer with the federal government, to pursue a dream. Two years later it became my first magazine cover. The issue also included a feature story about me (An eye for Nature). A month or so after being published, I learned that it quickly became their best-selling issue to date. The news came on a day that I was feeling despondent and unsure about my future. It was the catalyst I needed that day, to “keep on keeping on” and remain open to opportunities that present themselves, lining the pathway to fulfilling not just a dream, but also a vision and a purpose.

Happy birthday, Bob. Thank you for keeping on and not losing sight of your vision.

Colin

Shot in the Dark

For the past couple weeks, both morning and night, under varying light and backgrounds, I have been trying to capture an image of a great-horned owl taking flight. Focusing on a bird in flight is challenging enough in broad daylight but when the sunlight has retreated and your subject is nothing more than a silhouette against a cobalt sky, it is quite literally a shot in the dark.

This evening, as I watched one of the owls perched in a usual spot waiting for its mate to show, I heard the tell-tale screech directly behind and turned around to see the second owl in a tree barely 30 feet away, looking directly at me. Knowing this particular owl tended to move around frequently, I reasoned that it would take flight again momentarily. As I set up and waited, something told me this would be my moment. My face was glued to the viewfinder for several minutes until the owl fell forward and spread its wings for me. I had but one shot at nailing this as the flash takes a moment to recharge after firing at full power, and that one shot was all it took.

Shortly afterward, a sow black bear with three little cubs showed up, followed by a moose. I smiled with gratitude, knowing I'd come away with the image I wanted.