Amboseli National Park

Visiting Amboseli National Park.  Most memorable was all the elephants and the efforts being made to protect them.

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Waves of Geese

Taking Off

This goes with my last photograph and video.  This was taken at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge as thousands of geese took off at the same time.  This picture was taken early as the huge wave began to lift from the water.

Take a Hike

Grand Canyon

Take a Hike: Grand Canyon National Park VIDEO

Here is something new that I have started.  After having several people ask me to start documenting some of my stories and sharing my adventures I started a YouTube series called Take a Hike.  This is the newest episode based around my trip to the Grand Canyon.  Take a look at my other episodes.

Discovering Yourself and the Outdoors

Encountering Yellowstone’s Wildlife

Yellowstone’s Changing Weather

Photographing Sunrise

Dust Over Samburu

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I am usually not a fan of shooting directly into the sun, especially when there is not any cloud cover that helps shade the harshness of the light.  However, sometimes you have to take a chance.  It may not always work, but sometimes with persistence you get lucky.  Shooting int the dry scrub of Samburu National Reserve in Kenya called for taking that chance.

I wanted to attempt to capture the feeling of the atmosphere and environment that can be found in Samburu.  As the wind picked up in the evening dust and sand began to swirl across the landscape.  The sun setting behind a hill and the haze created by the sand helped cut the harshness of the light from the sun.  It also added a little bit of a natural blurry effect to the picture.  Although there was not a cloud in the sky the small windstorm created the perfect conditions to try shooting toward the sun.  For my style of shooting the best filters are natural elements.

Bird at Sunset

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Sunset and sunrise are a great time to get out and photograph.  In Kansas the wide open spaces allow a photographer to see for miles.  Even when I am not planning on spending much time in the field I do try to get out to find the a good spot in the mornings and evenings when I am home.  The flat land and vast spaces can create some amazing colors.

In this shot I was set up trying to capture the vibrant colors of the sunset with the land and fences silhouetted in the scene.  As I was shooting this bird landed on a fencepost within my eyesight.  I got it focused in my camera and started shooting as the sun went down.  The bird silhouetted in the orange clear sky made for a striking image in what I thought would be an uneventful night.

Photograph Special Moments, But Don’t Forget to Enjoy Them

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One of the most best moments I have had in my short time as a professional photographer was when I was given the opportunity to take a ten day photography safari in Kenya.  Early on I felt as though I had to photograph everything that I came across that I was not taking time to savor the experience.  I knew I was there to work, but I came to the realization that I had to enjoy my time there because I might not get the opportunity to go back.

Part of learning to take the time to enjoy the moment is that as you continue to shoot in the same place or the same event you become more selective.  That is not to say that you shouldn’t always have your camera at the ready.  You should.  You should also be willing to take in the moment.  As a speaker and photographer having the ability to explain the feeling in the moment can sell a photograph or make your audience passionate about what you are as well.

When I am asked what the most memorable moment thus far in my career has been I will without a doubt tell someone it was standing a few feet away from two white rhinos.  I knew going to Kenya I would see lions, elephants, and gazelle.  I knew there were animals I would be lucky to see, but I was not at all sure that I would see a rhino.  On the last day in the field I was told I would get to see a rhino.  However, after several hours travelling, sitting on a roadside, and two jeeps I was adamant the experience was not meant to be, but with only an hour before sunset I visited the one animal I had every hope of seeing, but little expectation to find.

As I move further into my second life as a wildlife photographer and speaker I cannot help but get emotionally involved with the animals I come into contact with.  I always do research before I travel and recommend it to anyone.  I have become increasingly involved in supporting and watching what is happening with rhino conservation.  As the numbers in Kenya dwindle I knew I was going to be lucky.  I also knew to see one would be extremely special.

That evening when we came across the male and female that were under special protection outside of the Masai Mara Reserve I knew I was lucky.  As the ranger brought us to the animals and the rhinos came into the clearing I started shooting.  I got the shots and always had the camera at the ready.  At some point I remember kneeling down to take some ground level shots and lowering my camera to savor the moment.  I could not help but think about how lucky I was.  I was close to an animal that future generations may never have the opportunity to see in the wild.

I can still visualize the moment in my head.  That is something that I can still recall whenever I talk to someone about my favorite experience.  I remember that whenever I get so caught up in getting the shot and forget to take in the moment.  As a photographer always make sure you get the shot.  Don’t forget to feel and savor the moment.  Often the story behind the picture is more special than the picture itself.

Keep s\Shooting and Keep Exploring!

Photographing Bald Eagles: The Catch

the catchwordsOver the last several weeks I have been taking short trips to Squaw Creek Wildlife Refuge in northwest Missouri to try to photograph bald eagles that are migrating south following the other bird migrations.  It reminds me of my first experience trying to photograph the birds in the wild.  I have spent many long hours in the field trying to photograph different species of animals, but I must say that photographing bald eagles has taught me more about patience than any other animal I have photographed.

During the school year I spend most of my time in western Tennessee.  Often on weekends I will drive down to Shiloh National Military Park to walk the battlefield and photograph.  Last spring I learned about a nesting pair of eagles that call the park home during the spring.  My first day to make my attempt I arrived at the park just as the sun was beginning to rise.  I drove the park and then found the nest where I made myself comfortable for the next 8 hours or so.  After spending the day attempting to capture the birds I did not come home with anything that I felt was worthwhile.

The following week I headed back out to make another attempt.  It was my last weekend in Tennessee before I had to head back to Kansas for the summer.  I arrived early in the morning and prepared myself for a long day in the field.  I photographed as the birds came back and forth from the nest feeding the eaglet.  After spending the day in the field I decided to pack up in the late afternoon.  I was unsure if I had anything worthwhile, but I knew there was a god chance I had something.  When I got home I discovered this photograph of the female coming into the nest with a trout from the Tennessee River.

I must admit that there is something that comes over you when you are close to these majestic birds.  I have been extremely lucky to photograph some pretty amazing wildlife, but bald eagles are special.  There is something about the thrill that comes over me when I am close to these birds.  Shots like this make the long hours in the field worth every minute.  These experiences also are what make me go back for more.  The main lesson I learn from these birds is to be patient and tenacious.    Keep shooting and keep exploring!