Thursday, December 9, 2010

For the love of bird dogs

Watching well trained bird dogs work their trade with skill and instinct is one life's great pleasures  The dog's enthusiasm for the hunt is so wonderfully obvious that man can only be envious. How wonderous it would be to smell and sense what they do, upon locating the quary and closing into point or flush. How exciting it would be to experience the nerve-tingling sensations that stiffen their gait and lock their entire purpose of life into that moment.

We upland bird hunters are merely observers who watch these true hunters go about their business with amazing skill, complimented by physical senses that far surpass ours. We love the thrill of the hunt, but how much more enchanting would it be to experience it as thoroughly as does the dog. Although we are very much part of the hunt, dogs enjoy greater rights to success or hero-shot photos than do we, the shooters.

Afield, the eyes of a bird dog twinkle with excitement and purpose similar to those of a child on Christmass morning. How poor is the person who has not experienced upland bird hunting with trained dogs.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Award Humbly Accepted!

Photographing the Ruffed Grouse Society's 29th National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt in Grand Rapids, MN is an honor, and to be among some of the most generous-hearted people from across the nation with such a passion for the species and habitat, is awesome. I was surprised when Mike Zagata, President and CEO of the RGS, presented me with a beautiful plaque award "in appreciation for many years of outstanding photography" during last night's banquet. I am very grateful!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Boney crowns

As August transitions into September, whitetail deer antlers transition from concealment within their velvet sheaths to a glorious new crown of bone. The velvet shedding occurrs so rapidly that the event is rarely observed by the general public or hunters and it is even less often photographed. The antler coming out party is commonly a secretive thing that may happen overnight. For this reason, capturing images of the often bloody phenomenon requires dilligence, patience and a bit of luck. The fact that it commonly occurs in dim light or full darkness is additionally frustrating. On occasion one can bag a photo of velvet shedding by placing bait, such as apples, along the forest edge and wait paitiently in a blind as the sun sets.
It is not uncommon for other deer to eat strips of velver hanging from another's antlers and although I've witnessed this on two occasions, low light conditions prevented the camera's sensor from recording it.  This year, we are experiencing evidience of phenemonal antler growth locally as more mature bucks have survived to grow larger bodies and antlers. It should be a great year for hunters and photographers.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Professional Outdoor Media Association conference

Hello All,
We are attending the POMA, Professional Outdoor Media Association, annual conference in LaPorte, Indiana this week. POMA is a high-tech, business-oriented organization that keeps us up to date with the rapidly changing world of mass communication. Via the conference, we enjoy direct exposure to and interaction with outdoor related product manufacturers and leaders of the outdoor communication industry. It is a great honor to be teaching some classes on photography and Photoshop to fellow members. Although we enjoy membership in four other outdoor writers associations, POMA is the one that best keeps us current with the technical and business side of outdoor related communication.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Image Was Chosen

The National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP)
selected my photo of a male bluebird feeding its young
as their "Editor's Choice" for this week.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Covered Bridges in Bedford County Pennsylvania

Check out the new video put out by the Bedford County Visitors Bureau. Here is the link:
Covered Bridges in Bedford County Pennsylvania Click on the video and there just might be someone on there you know, and he happens to have his camera in hand!
What a beautiful county we are lucky to live in! Call 1-800-765-3331 for a Covered Bridges Brochure or just to say Hi to the girls and Dennis Tice for doing an excellent job on the video and promoting our county!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Look At What Is New!

We now have an search box for you to find whatever it is you just have to have! Check it out!   <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bears, Bears, Everywhere

I was very fortunate to have an invitation from a good man and friend to photograph black bears on his property. The stories of his sightings and the bear activities were hard to believe and made my shutter release finger itch with anticipation! My initial visits were fun and filled with story telling and experience sharing, but no bears. I wasn't worried because he had provided his own photos for proof of what he had been seeing. On my recent visit, the bears arrived and put on a show. I'd be focused on one bear and another would walk practically under my lens! I didn't know which one to focus on sometimes! We saw a total of 17 different bears and I was thrilled, and so was my friend. Black bears, in rainy, low light conditions, are a challenging subject. I am anxious to return for another chance to photograph the bears in better light conditions.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Photographing Warblers - What a challenge!

Debbie wrote about our photography trip to Magee Marsh to photograph the elusive migrating warblers. Check it out at

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Drumming Log

The heartbeat of the forest began in full darkness each morning of the past two weeks as I sat in a photography blind near a ruffed grouse drumming log. Daily at 05:30 the initial "Thump- Thump-Thumps" of the male grouse's powerful wings brought my senses to full alert as his drumming built to the full crescendo of roaring wings.

Hearing his dainty foot steps as he approached his drumming throne, in the darkness of successive starlight nights, was thrilling. Silence meant that he'd mounted the log and that his successive concussions of drumbeats would begin momentarily. The thumps of his wings pulsed upon my eardrums and seemed to impact my entire body, like heavy musical bass notes from a speaker.

Unable to see him, just a few feet away, I elected to time his drumming cycle and the rest periods between audio displays. From the initial thump to completed crescendo, nine seconds transpired; it never varied. Rest periods between drumming displays were either 1 minute and 50 seconds or 1 minute and 10 seconds. Once set, these intervals also did not vary daily.

As the sun gradually lit the scene, I marveled at his diligence and beauty that appeared to increase in response to the brightening light. By 07:15 sufficient light to trip the Nikon's shutter existed and at 07:45, the glorious bird displayed in a natural spotlight. Shutter speeds increased in response to the brightening light and shooting the 300mm, 2.8 lens (wide open) enabled gradual adjustments of shutter speeds to take best advantage of the sun's intensity.

In forest wildlife photography, rarely are shutter speeds of 1000/sec and greater attainable, but in this situation, the bird's chosen display area was often awash with sufficient ambient light to permit 1600/sec shutter speeds. Shooting with such FAST light was like driving a Ferrari.

Between drumming sequences, the handsome bird would thoroughly preen his feathered mantle of 4,342 feathers in preparation for meeting a suitor that his drumming was geared to attract. On occasion, he'd jump down from the log and feed for a few minutes before resuming his displays, but on one day he continued drumming for six hours without a food break.

The use of two tripods permitted the flexibility of using the fixed lens, mounted to a Benbo tripod via a Manfrotto ball head through one opening in the blind and another camera/zoom lens combination through another. The zoom lenses used were either a Nikor 80 to 400mm or a Sigma 150 to 500 mm. These were mounted to a BOGgear Camo Legged shooting stick tripod via their "Switcheroo" ball head.

The BOGgear shooting sticks tripod, with the instantly interchangeable padded "V" head or the "Switcheroo" ball head, is a dream come true for wildlife photographers who don't want to miss the action while fussing with the intricacies of a a pro-model tripod. It is the answer for action shooting, especially when using lenses equipped with vibration-dampening technology as both of these zooms are.

More than two weeks of rising at 03:00 daily and driving 60 plus miles, to the drumming log site, was both exhausting and thrilling. Each night as my weary head compressed the pillow, the faint concussion of heartbeat upon eardrum echoed "Ole Ruff's" drumming, reminding me of how very blessed I was to enjoy this secretive portion of the natural world and capture it in pixels via thousands of shutter clicks.

I've pulled the blind to give Mr. Grouse his privacy, but I'm certain that the King of Gamebirds is still on his throne, giving daily performances.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hurry Up Spring!

Wow, what a winter! The Flyfishing / Wingshooting Show in Charlotte, NC the last weekend of January yielded four inches of ice to that area! That ground the show attendance down to a halt. We were camping at the McDowell Nature Preserve and the employees couldn't even make it to work! We had the entire beautiful campground to ourselves, sipped coffee and watched the wildlife out the camper windows. I was able to get some neat photos. We had to stay at the campground an extra day just to be able to get out.

The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, PA Feb. 6-14 was dumped upon with
around 26 inches of snow! We camped in the parking lot and the Farm Show Complex staff did a good job of keeping up with the plowing. We were prepared with a snow shovel and I gave it a workout! Other than the days that the Govenor closed the highways, the show had excellent attendance. My programs were well received with the question and answer periods lasting an additional hour after the program. People are really into photography these days!
Currently I am shooting returning woodcock, strutting grouse and migrating waterfowl. We still have remaining snow but the higher temps are melting it slowly. Hurry up spring!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pennsylvania Farm Show

The 2010 Pennsylvania Farm Show was a huge success with record crowds visiting the show this year. Held January 9-16 at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pa, it is always a fun show for us. With free admission, there is everything to see from some of the state's highest quality animals passing through the show and sale rings to the 1,000 pound butter sculpture. This year the sheep to shawl contest was especially interesting to us as the winning team used the Ruffed Grouse, one of PA's state symbols for their inspiration. It was beautiful and the auction bids reflected everyone's desire to own it.
This 94th annual show again invited me to give programs to the attendees on "Wildlife Photography" and to exhibit and sell my prints and note cards at our booth. We met so many nice people, and really cool pets, and I was appreciative for the great comments received for the programs and my work.
We have barely enough time to rest up, reprint and head off to The Flyfishing / Wingshooting Show in Charlotte, NC. The show is held at The Park (formerly the Charlotte Merchandise Mart) on Friday Jan. 28 (show hours 10 - 8) and Saturday Jan. 30 (show hours 9 - 5:30). I will be giving two new programs on the Ruffed Grouse and the American Woodcock. Come to Charlotte for a little sunshine and warmer weather (hopefully), learn about these unique birds and see what's new that I have been photographing. The show features over 50 programs per day, dog demonstrations, classes with the experts, freshwater and saltwater casting, continuous instructional fly tying and numerous exhibitor booths. Check out their website at
Then it is back home to the Eastern Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, PA. More about that later!