A world of friends

I have to say, with all that is going on in the world, and our lives right now we have felt very alone. I know we are not the only ones. Having not seen or talked to so many friends we have (or had) during all this isolation seems so sad. Will it be different when the world opens back up? Or will they be gone forever? That I can not answer, but suspect it is a combination of the two.

So, without getting too sappy or melancholy, today I feel thankful for the my many friends and supporters of my photography. It’s times like these that we should immerse ourselves in those things that make us feel joy and happiness when all the rest is falling by the wayside. I have had many folks who have asked to see pix of the snow. So it is with that encouragement, that we braved the storm and trudged out every day to get what pix we could.

Snow photos can be difficult to get. First off, the snow itself is white and blindingly bright. Having no ‘color’ it is hard to take photos of and exposures can be tricky. The snow storms bring bleh clouds and gray skies, drab and not very photogenic. Here on the mountain, most of our roads are closed. Snow plows have created berms along the main roads making pulling off the road impossible.

Animals are scarce, as foraging through the snow can be difficult for them. See my post here… https://kritterspaw.com/2021/01/27/snow-foraging/ . But with the encouragement of friends, we were persistent and somewhat successful in our quest to find some decent photos.

We went North toward Winslow looking for snow and animals. We went out into the forest behind our home to see if we could find some snow views. We headed toward Flagstaff to see if we could catch some animals. We ventured toward Pine to see what that might yield. See post here … https://kritterspix.com/2021/01/27/we-got-snow/

We ran into road closures, icy slick roads, dead animals, stupid drivers, impassable areas, ugly skies and bright harsh light. But we also found bull elk standing in a meadow blanketed with snow staring back at us wondering what we were doing there. We saw trees caked with snow on the windward side majestic and satisfied with new found water. Ponds and waterholes previously dry were filled with fresh fallen snow, thirsty grass poking through the hill surrounding her.

There is beauty when we look for it, both in the environment around us and those in it. Be thankful for what you have and who you have to share it with, as we are today and everyday.

Best of 2020 – Animals

I like to review my year’s photos to consolidate the best of the year.

I posted my Best of 2020 – Landscape photos here… https://kritterspaw.com/2021/01/12/best-of-2020-landscape/. Now it’s time to review my animal pix. It was a good year for animals, as we saw a lot of different types.

Big Horn Sheep

We were lucky enough to see this beautiful herd of big horn sheep as we left Alstrom Point. We saw the herd in the distance, so drove ahead of them, and I walked out behind a rock to see if I could sneak up on them. I’m not sure who was more surprised when we saw each other as I crotched down from behind a ridge – me or them. It was a fantastic moment.

Coyote

Admittedly, I am not a big fan of coyote. They are scavengers and corral & hunt my precious deer and elk. So I’m just as happy not to see any. But I did this year, and got a decent photo that makes the cut.

Kit Fox

We don’t see many fox, so I was thrilled when we saw this pup this year. So cool!

Deer Fawn

All babies are cute, especially the 4 legged animal variety!

Javelina

Speaking of babies… it was super cute to get so see this affectionate family of javelina with new born babe.

Elk baby

And elk baby, or calf.

Elk bull

The next best thing to new animals (at least for us), or baby animals, are those big boys… elk bulls

Deer Buck

and bucks…

The cuter and better expression, the better!

Chipmunk

I got a ton of chipmunk pix this year, they were just too darn cute.

Deer Doe and fawn

And finally, pretty much any animal in the snow. Just wish we had more of it!

The Bucks Have It

While I love when we see any animals, the most coveted are the most unique and least often seen. Big animals, boys (bucks and bulls), and babies bring the most attention due to their illusiveness.

Aside from that, gestures and action, garner more interest, like this floppy eared buck.

I try to capture their personality and individualism in their environment to share.

These animals are here and gone, so it’s important to me to make their moment shine. I keep telling ’em, smile pretty for the camera – sometimes they actually listen.

You Must Have A Good Camera

People often ask me, “what kind of camera do you have?”  Or my favorite statement, “you must have a good camera!”

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It reminds me of a story I heard some time ago, about the photographer who goes to a gourmet chef’s house for dinner.

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The well known published photographer shows up at the woman’s house for dinner.  The home owner & chef goes on about how beautiful his photographs are and as she invites him in she adds, ” I love you photographs.  You must have a great camera.”

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After a lovely evening and an amazing gourmet meal, as the photographer is leaving, he tells the woman how wonderful the meal was, and in parting “you must have a great oven!”

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The right camera gear is essential, skill… is priceless.

 

Best of Animals, 2018

A year wouldn’t be complete without my wildlife photos that I strive so hard to capture.  This year has been especially unique with some terrific ‘up-close-and-personal’ shots of a wide variety of wildlife, including bison, antelope, and big horn sheep.  Picking the top shots is the hard part… what an awesome problem to have. : )

antelopelk_IR.jpg1.  Antelope   Greens Peak Loop near Show Low

blue_PS_IR.jpg2.  Blue Heron    Carneros Lake

ramtree_IR_IR.jpg3.  Big Horn Sheep    Greer, AZ

deersmirk_IR.jpg4.  Mule Deer    Grand Canyon South Rim

_40A5780_IR.jpg5.  Mule Deer    Grand Canyon North Rim

bison fight_IR.jpg6.  Bison    Raymond Wilderness Area

Greatapproach_IR.jpg7.  Great White Egrets    Happy Jack, AZ

_40A6663_IR.jpg8.  Baby White Tail Deer Fawn    Happy Jack, AZ

daisibull_IR.jpg9.  Bull Elk    Happy Jack, AZ

pygmy on_IR.jpg10.  Pygmy Owl    Happy Jack, AZ

 

Mountain Wildlife

One of my favorite things about living up north in the mountains is the wildlife we get to see.  I never saw wildlife in the big city.    Here on the mountain we see a wide variety of species.

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Like this elusive fox.  I have seen fox on occasion, but have struggled to get a good shot.  This one was no exception, taken in the dark with a high ISO, spotlighted with a flashlight.  I had a hard time focusing in the dark, even with the flashlight… and today’s camera’s aren’t intended for manual focus.

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We also saw this curious raccoon.  He was searching for grub.

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We watched him (her?) for quite awhile (albeit difficult in the dark)…. another animal we rarely see, particularly as they are nocturnal.

Incidentally, the fox came at the same time… but didn’t stick around.  The fox seemed quite put off by the raccoon, and quickly circled the raccoon then made haste and left.  Pity, I would have liked to have gotten a better shot.

Leave room to Run

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While I like the action in this photo, as this buck was spooked.  It is not a great photo because it is too constrained.  It is instead, a perfect example for what not to do.  I have left no room for the buck to run.  Since I cut off the action, the viewer is left to wonder what spooked him… or where he is going.  It lacks that sense of place.

 

A better photo that shows a sense of place, and includes the subject (my buck) and his environment – the forest and trees.  One where the subject is looking at you, and it’s eyes sharp are a bonus.  Having the subject well lit, and not in the shadows help to draw the eye to your subject…. albeit often hard to get everything to line up, particularly when working in the wild.

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Working in the Blind

It’s funny, when working in a blind, trying to get that elusive photo of animals in their natural environment, one notices everything…. the loud whir of your AutoFocus motor you never noticed before, the deafening shutter click that alerts the animals to your presence, and the bitter cold that bites through you at dusk when the animals come in.

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But, if one is lucky, the photos that might result make the discomfort all worth the while, particularly to be able to capture photos of animals from a ‘ground level’ perspective.

 

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Fawning over our little Fawn

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We have been very fortunate since living up north that we have seen quite a number of different animals, including those fantastically cute baby elk.  But in the time that we have lived here we had yet to see any baby deer (fawn) with it’s spots still on.

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Better late than never.  We were very surprised to see this little baby fawn, still with her spots, this late in the year.  Normally the babies make their first appearance in June.  It’s hard to imagine this little one so young just as we are going into winter.

I am still learning my animal species… but it appeared that this endearing photo of this little fawn’s peck on ‘mom’s’ cheek was not well received.  The fawn looks to be a white tail… while the mom dear was a mule deer…. strange bed fellows indeed.  The ensuing sequence had this mean mom dear strike the little fawn with it’s foot, causing the fawn to run away in it’s real mom’s direction.

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It seemed the little family was hanging out together, with dad staying close by.

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She is absolutely adorable, such a precious little thing.  So vulnerable with all the newness and wonder in her eyes.   What a privilege and pleasure to see her.  Watching her seemingly experience her ‘firsts’ was a real treat.

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