Saturday, October 13, 2018

Trumpeter Swan Cygnets

 These are Trumpeter swan cygnets who live along the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park.  The Park Service placed these four young swans here recently in hopes of increasing the number of Trumpeters in Yellowstone.  Since Lake Trout have eaten a lot of Cutthroat Trout, which is one of the primary food sources of the Yellowstone eagles, they have started eating the young swans.  No cygnets at all survived this year. This has led to a decrease in the number of swans in the park.  Hopefully these four swans will stay or return to the Yellowstone area and will be able to raise their families here.

Trumpeter swans are North America's heaviest flying bird, with males weighing about 26 lbs.  It takes 100 yards of "runway" of open water for them to get airborne. They usually mate at about four years of age.  The oldest known wild swan was a female who lived to be 26 years and 2 months.  The oldest in captivity was 32 years old.

What do you think this swan is squawking about?

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Great Gray Owl

I found another Great Gray Owl today.  He was drawing quite a crowd of photographers
and on-lookers.  I'm not sure what he was doing in the top picture but I thought the expression
on his face was pretty funny.  It's always a pleasure to observe the wildlife of Yellowstone.  Please leave a message so I'll know you stopped by.  :-)

Monday, October 8, 2018

Lake Butte Subadult - Known to locals as Snow

We watched Snow for about four hours yesterday.  It's always a pleasure to watch the wildlife in Yellowstone and grizzly bears are my favorite subjects.  I hadn't seen Snow much this year because it seems that every time I drove to the other side of the park she was hiding from me.  I was beginning to get a complex, so I'm glad she finally came out of hiding and entertained us for awhile.   She's the most beautiful grizzly bear I've ever seen and I enjoyed getting some new pictures of her.

Snow is what they call a "road bear".  She was raised by the road and spends entirely too much time on or near the road.  Although people love to see her this type of behavior isn't good for her.  The risk of her being hit by a car is high as is the possibility that someone might throw her some food.  When you visit the park try to remember that all the animals are wild even if they don't appear to be.  They are dangerous and can easily hurt you.  Your behavior can also hurt them.  More tourists have been feeding the wildlife this year and that often leads to the animal being euthanized.   The rangers have been trying to change Snow's behavior and encouraging her to stay back from the road, but it's very difficult to do that when she's been raised there.  If she ever comes close to your car please honk your horn and try to scare her away.  No picture is worth encouraging bad behavior on the part of the Yellowstone wildlife.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

After It's Gone

I copied this from one of my Facebook friends and thought it was worth sharing.

Five things you will never recover in life . . .
1.  A stone after it's thrown.
2.  A word after it's said.
3.  An occasion after it's missed.
4.  Time after it's gone.
5.  Trust after it's lost.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Changing Backgrounds

 Ideally when we take pictures of wildlife, there will be an attractive background, maybe a nice blue sky or something like that.  Often, however, that's just not the case.  What do we do then?   Do we go ahead and take the picture and use it as is or do we do some creative PhotoShopping?  Well, it depends.  If you're shooting for a magazine or another entity that requires accurate reporting, you have to use the original background and hope for a better one next time.   If you're wanting to create an attractive art piece, however, you might do as I did here and change the background.  Of course, these two pictures aren't identical, but they were taken at the same time and had the same background.  I looked through my sky folder and found a sky that I thought would enhance the pictures of the Harris Hawk.  I simply slid the sky picture on top of the hawk picture, lowered the opacity so I could see what I was doing, and used a mask to reveal the hawk.  I raised the opacity back to 100% to finalize the picture.

Some people have a problem with photographers changing backgrounds, cloning out problem areas in a photo, etc., but I think that when you're trying to create a piece of art you should be able to make the picture the way you want to see it.   Let's call it "creative license".  It gives us the opportunity to create something unique, something that is truly ours.  Did you know that Ansel Adams altered his photos?  The difference is, he did it in the darkroom and it probably took him a lot longer than it takes us today.   So, whether you agree with altering photos or not, I consider it a lot of fun and will continue playing.  Have a great day!

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Sometimes the simplest things are the most fun.  Our grandsons were 8 and almost 5 when I took this picture of one of their "tailgate" picnics in Yellowstone.  It was crowded and there wasn't always a picnic table available, so we'd just open the back of the pickup and let the boys have a tailgate picnic. It's one of their favorite memories of Yellowstone.  They're 15 and 18 now and when they went to Yellowstone with us last year they wanted another "tailgate picnic".   It doesn't take much to make a child happy.  Sometimes they just want to hang out with their grandparents.  Those are such special times.  If you have young children or grandchildren enjoy them while you can.  The days will fly by and they'll be grown before you know it.   Treasure the days and treasure the memories. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Happiness is the Key to Life

"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down 'happy'.  They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand like."  John Lennon

I think happiness is the key to life, but what makes us happy varies by individual and by different times in our lives.  What makes me happy today may not be the same thing that made me happy when I was younger.  Often just finding something simple to photograph like this picture of an interesting window is enough to make me happy.  I like simple things like listening to the birds sing, sitting next to a river, watching wildlife or looking at a beautiful scene.  What makes you happy?  Is it the same thing that made you happy when you were younger?