Saturday, March 7, 2009

When will winter end

When will it end. I as really sick of looking out the window at broken branches, dirty snow and snow banks, dirty ugly snow banks. Well tonight we have to set our clocks ahead one hour to accommodate DST big deal. if you are retired who cares, you got all day off anyway, so if it gets dark at 6 or 7 it makes no difference.
All I want to see is spring, the season of renewal, the grass gets green, The birds return , makes nests and hatch out their young. Young foxes' scamper about outside of dens in the bright sunlight playful and carefree. Larger species also give birth to their young and the whole cycles starts again.
This is what I am waiting for, the rebirth, renewal. come on spring.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Travel Time

Well as is so often the case once I leave the mountains it becomes all a bout getting home. Last night i drove till 10:45 and was too tired to do any blogging. I started out thinking about doing the same today, but at 7PM I punched "lodging " into the Garmin and called the number got the room and cooled my jets. Cellular one is really irking me big time. When I carried mu Verizon Phone I got calls in the park. Now I am in Wall South Dakota, Kind of a tourist mecca, and I heard the phone ring I answered and it disconnected, I tried to call back and the Network was overloaded.
THe head shot was taken by oxbow in the tetons, The bird was really cooperative. Photographed, a couple young moose and once I took a closer look at the pix I decided not to share, the one moose had been dined on and was missing some of the hind quarter, not a pretty sight
Stay tunned

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Grizzly Photography project Wraps up today

I am going to be glad to get back to an area where the Weather Report means something, Were you have more that 9 channels on your cable TV, Were you can pick up a loaf of bread that is fresh and the ravens don't spit it out.
I have a email from someone who saw the wolf pictures and wants to include them in some visual attempt at getting the Grey Wolf re-established on the endangered list. Well I guess Not. Animals strike a balance when left alone so really to take it back to the base and start from there, its the people who have moved in and created the unbalance.
I am fairly comfortable knowing that when i can look back on my last 5 years of Photographic work and find numerous examples of Coyote and Grey wolf in my Portfolio. Before that I had one encounter near Taconite Harbor were I got a ghostly shot of a Greys Posterior going away. I think we are doing well as far as numbers are concerned. There are groups out here who monitor the park service radio plus have thier own two systems that do nothing but stand by the hour peering into high buck spotting scopes trying to catch a glimpse of a new wolf pup. even an adult. Funny thing is none of them has a camera. I guess a camera tells the tale as is, but retelling ones experience around the fire at night allows for a certain latitude of truth.

I have been really pleased with the results of the cameras and lens's, this is my first Canon only trip. Just to be politically correct however I still have my Nikon system. So no argument from me.
A couple things about photography, First clamping on a Telephoto does not give you infinity as a target distance. For example the sheeps head on the very top of this page was taken with a 400MM lens at about 20 Feet so regardless of the lens size or cost, you still have to get into position.
Secondly and most important Light, Photography is the capture of light. Now your modern camera Will give you proper exposure , but is the light isn't right the dynamics just aren't there.
Note the Sheep photo in the header and the one below it. Really nice light, No shadows, no hot spots just nice detail.
Well I am leaving here tomorrow and heading back towards Minnesota, It will take a few days but the porject is over.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Area Man sets record staying in the Mountains for a long time

As the title says, there is a record about to be set. Don't forget there was travel time and that has to be factored out however its to the point now I don't even get short of breath (very).
I beleive I mentioned yesterday about finding a fresh kill which was drawing Wolves ( see slideshow) Armed with that information this morning I was out of here before the stores opened luckily I had enough gas and a bit of ice. The ice chest has worked great because the high temps are in the 40's.
Anyway I was onsite at 6:30 I waited over an hour before I decided something was wrong. There were small scavanger birds and that was it. I left and mentioned it to a Ranger later in the morning, He confirmed that three of the boys had thrown a rope around it and hauled it over the hill. I refuse to leave me van and walk 2 hundred yards to watch the carcass. A grizzly can hit 35 MPH forget uphill downhill stories you have heard. I can hit about 14 if I am in a full Red stationary Panic !
It all washed out later when the Big Boar was sighted feeding along the pond, He goofed off there all afternoon. No excuse for not getting some photos.
Well I hope you are all enjoying reading these posts and looking at my spellun.
Might post more this after Supper

Monday, May 12, 2008

Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor wind shall keep the Photographer from the wild

Woke up this morming, At that age where its a milestone, and it was snowing and blowing and cold. So I got my coffee and hit the North entrance gate. The lady held up a map and said all these roads are closed. I looked and the only road open was out to Lamar Valley . I was in business, however driving Mt Roads with 3 inches of sloppy snow is no treat.It blew and snowed aff and on all day, I could only stand 20 minutes outside then I had to retreat to the cab of the van.
I must make a point here, all new photos are new, no posting from earlier days except for Kevin who ask me to post the photos of the rangers with guns.
Today started with a nap, while the Yellowstone Association took over the Area. I watched these people and some were so bored you couldn't beleive it. Running back and forth to the bus to get binoculars, then cameras. It was so sweet. 2 hight lights today, Seeing the Mom and 2 little cubs and watching the wolf run the coyotoes off of a fresh kill then watching the coyotes bums rush the wolf.
Finally the wolf returned , just in time for a Tourist tp pull up , stop right in the trsaffic lane and discharge the children to determine " WATCHA LOOKIN AT "
well I stayed around another hour and saw nothing. THE Kill is fresh from last night, I am hoping that a griz will find it and take over. the kill is 40 feet from the road so you have to use your head. as someone who must use these circumstances to get close photos , you just have to put up with the traffic.
Well got to get ready for tomorrow, I'll be out in the valley by 6:30 for sure. the PITA's are still eating breakfast
Bon jour

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hundreds of Pregnant Elk Converge on Mommoth Hot Springs

The Elk Cows are Moving into the Hot Springs area by the hundreds. As I returned from the Valley this evening all I could see was white butt patches all over the place. I assume it has something to do with a migratory Pattern but I am not sure. Today was a light photo day. i drove to hayden valley to check the bird situation and found nothing. Early morning is best ince a lot of birds are simply going through on thier way to somewhere else.
Met a very interesting guy from Germany today and we visited for a long time. I found out that all the lens's I have for my Canon DSLR's also fit the canon XL video camera.. this is the camera of choice for most outdoor productions ( the outdoor channel etc)
I really want to produce an outdoor film based on my travels with the digital camera. It would be similar to the one I did in 1999 only a bit more professional.
Well the water got to me today, I will say no more except all water heretofore will be mixed as Pop or from a jug. The facilitys are just too hard to find once you get to the back country. Whoops i said too much.
I have to get out thank you cards when i get home for sure. I am using my watch daily and the camera bag is just sweet to say the least. The gas money which so many of you gave me has been a godsend.
Well its almost bed time, be sure and click on the slide show so you can see all the photos !!
Of wwe go to listen to the pillow

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Grizzlies 4 Wolves 1 Buffalo 10,000

After posting the Blog for Saturday, I decided to grab a deli salad while grocery shopping and drive back out towards the Valley as there was a monsterous Jam on my way out and it must have been something of note. I got there and viewed the site and could only determine a bear must have walked through and caused the ruckus. No good news for tomorrow I was really hoping for a carcass. Well I was there might as well look arond. a mile up the road I saw a Buffalo Morph into a Grizzly right before my eyes. Me eyes have gotten used to seeing buffalo so I didn'r even consider it. BUT it just didn't look right. a long second look started my reactions going to stop the Van, and get the camera going, It was a quick out the window 5 shot deal but the proof is in the puddin .. I have around 400 Photos of Grizzly, Several a good enough for the wall. Which is several more than I had two weeks ago. I hope you are all having a decent weekend DW

Somebody Tell Me What Day it is ?

This has been one of those days. No details but you all know what i mean. People seem to be schooled in the fine art of how to bug you.and in all reality We should not even notice them. I will shortly go to the Grocery store and get some ice and raw potatoes and eat in the room. although if the waitress at the Town Cafe is the same one as last night I should go there.. Full blown Floor show and no Cover charge. She set the land speed record for exerting the most energy and getting either nothing or the wrong thing done. I think I had a Buffalo burger.

I must tell you of one of the "buggers" I saw today. This guy with his huge 4 wheel drive truck seemed to be in front of me too much of the time. I finally exited to another dimension and lost him. For grins and giggles I took the road down toward Tower Falls and in a Big parking lot there he was. All the right stuff. Photo shirts, pants,underwear and socks. Photo hat . and a huge Lens with a new Canon hanging on it, the best carbon fiber tripod and gimble mount. Plus to be sure he didn't miss anything, he was carrying a set up like mine just to be armed in the parking lot. Well He had an audience and they were hanging on every word. truth of the matter is there was no reason to have the big glass out were he was, everything was either too far or too close. thats why he carried the "little outfit "
I think he was a guy with lots of money. Good Pro Photographers look like they have been working in a 10 minute lube joint. No fancy nothing everything is well worn and lens hood are homemade from Oatmeal boxes and flat black paint, Oh well as long as he was happy.
The other thing about Pro Photographers I have met is they are down to earth, never blow thier own horn and drive a suburban with a metal platform with 10 inch sides on top of the "burb" this is useful for gaining altitude, and carrying junk.
It was a slow photo day, I did catch the Grizz back on the carcass again and got a few shots. That was early this morning where I experienced the first of the Foghorns. " Yeh Old Roger would NEVER find animals if it wasn't for me". Blah Blah Blah. Whats so tuff about watching the sky for ravens , or the road ahead for traffic Jams ?
The rest was kind of a wasted day. Which we have from time to time.
I haven't decided where I am going next or how long i will stay here. So stay tuned ! Over and Out DW

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Day Started out So Badly ( and then !)

Greetings from the Rocky Mountains . Well the Condo is history and I am back in motels. I like this motel because its 25 miles to bear country instead of 75. I left West Yellowstone this morning at 5 am. Driving in driving snow. Well being an old ( OLD ) Minnesotan, this was no big deal except out here the ditches are a lot deeper. ;-)
Once I got to Mount Haynes the road was dry and I saw a break in the sky. Thank you thank you I said but much to quickly. ( i refer to landmarks for my boys benefit more than anything) You could check out the park on Google but who has the time ,,
back to the trip , I am heading for Mammoth Spring on the very North end of the park. I saw a Grizzly up close and personal at spring terace 1/2 mile from Madison Junction. He was wandering acrossed the upper meadow. I jacked up the iso to 1600 and using my 10 weight ( Eric knows) I took two shots not to publish but for the record. The road after Norris Junction was terrible, sloppy snow 3 inches deep on the roadway. Take it easy Jimmy !!
All I could think of was the vertical drop into Gardner . Well once I got to Sheepeaters Cliffs the road went bare, just as if it was heated.
Got my motel room back (103) I can back right up to it !! then gas and headed out to the Valley.
I don't know how to explain it but two times today I got out my tripod and walked to were I could see the Grizzly. Both times he was in the open, in fact we were Told to get back into our cars once. at that time most folks left, I stayed and in 5 minutes the Ranger signaled the bear was out and in a same spot. OH BTW, The Rangers had the guns out on my first stop, these two younger guys were really gung ho and maybe taking it a bit far. Later an older ( maybe 45) Ranger showed up and was great. these are my best photos to date. The distance was 86 yards, the ranger had a Range Finder and verified the distance. The photo of the bear laying out is really him on top of the carcass !! They are very protective. Later after 2 naps and a coffee, the rams showed up and I got some more shooting with them as well.
It snowed and rained all day. the photo of the antelope was taken in the snow as you can see the blurred white traces
well folks I am having a wonderful time and this blog is half the attraction ! Had a Buffalo burger for Supper, walked out of the restaurant and there across the street was a herd of the critters, None of them seemed to be staring at me so I guess it was all right.
See you all tomorrow

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Grizzlies 2 Wolves 1

Woke at 4 am This morning and had a lot of hope going on ! Made some coffee and looked at the radar on the Internet Looked like a good day. 5am I was underway. Went back to Hayden Valley to see how the birds where doing. I found several species huddled around trying to keep warm . A Blue Heron had caught himself a big fish but couldn't seem to get it down. See slidehow for all of todays photos.

The heading says " Grizzlies 2 Wolves 1" Not an NBA score. it means I have had 2 grizzly sightings and 1 wolf sighting that I could photograph. This morning on my way from Hayden to Lamar Valley , I spotted 2 cars off to the right side of the road with cameras out . My Antenna alerted me to get ready, As I slowed down about 200 yards behind these cars a LARGE BLACK WOLF was seen out of the corner of my left eye just as he dropped down on the roadbed to my left at about 50 feet distance! I hit park and grabbed the camera, got about 20 shots as he crossed in front of me and went for the woods about 1/4 mile away. I uploaded 2 wolf shots which weren't the closest but I could see the eyes and the light was good.

Now I am wired. I Arrived at Rosevelt Lodge, the cut off to Lamar valley at about 8:30 am, Furthur down the road I watched 2 coyotes try and ambush a pair of sandhill cranes. Cranes 2 coyotes 0..

Down the steep hill and across the river a slight left and then a long gradual right turn. But wait there are cars in the parking lot to the left, a place that wasn't open two days ago. I vestigation showed there was a grizzly on a carcass over the hill. Camera and wait. After my back gave out I told the guy next to me I was leaving so get ready.

I backtracked and updated my photo records of the sandhill cranes on the floating island. the ice is gone and they are working like crazy. after prehaps 1 hour I was going to punch out for the day, BUT there was a nagging thought, what If I leave and find out tomorrow the bear was doing all kinds of stuff out in the open.

I went back, got front row parking and this time brought my tripod to lean on as much as any thing. No sooner did I have it foocused on the are when the bear started moving standing and finally walking right out into the open.

Have to wash clothes and pack as this is my last night The cable system went down so there is no TV only snow on the tube, so I opened the drapes and darned if it isn't snow out there also.
The schedule calls for moving on to the southwest and the desert, However It seems my heart is here. and I don't have to be at work any Mondays soon the critters are here .. DW

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

And Then There was Rain

Woke to see grey skies and water puddles. Bad photo day. staying in the condo all day and watching TV didn't cut it. So I ask Garmin where I could find a photo shop. It told me Bozeman so off we went. Incredible right to the front door. Got some good info and swapped lies there for a while then headed back to West Yellowstone via Ennis and Virginia City. Now we are talking Old west towns.
Taking this route I visited the 3 dollar bridge over the Madison River. When I first started coming out west my boys came along and fished. Well 3 dallor bridge was a for sure stop. The original bridge is gone, an old wooden job with no railings. See the photo in the slide show to get a better look and the new bridge.
Got back to west yellowstone at 4 Pm and decided to take a quick trip into the park. 2 miles in ran into sleet, then snow so I parked by the river and took a nap. The pressures of retirement and getting to me !

T-Mos I don't have your Phone number, I think you went to Cell only , Get me an update OK ?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Its All About Timing and

Great evening last night, had the weather Channel on all night listening to the story of the damp balance of the week I am going to have. I have a King Sized bed and Its comfy ! Hot shower , a little beverage from my friends at Coke and it was off into the arms of Morpheus.

Woke at 5:30 am and looked outside, Clear skys so I made coffee and hit the trail. Uncle Stanley gave me a Camera bag which I had to trade for a bigger one at First Photo because my laptop didn't fit in it. The New one holds all my canon Gear 20D and 40D bodys with lens's and flash, plus my laptop. So when I Leave like this morning its a matter of releasing the handle and rolling her out .

I drove to Black Sand Basin , near Old Faithful and found nothing except another bison jam on the road. I turned around and decided to go to Norris Junction then over to Canyon. Bought some gas at Canyon and noticed the road South to Fishing bridge ( Yellowstone Lake) was open. After about 10 minutes I broke out into Hayden valley and spotted all these birds along the Yellowstone river Which is FULL of water.

Low and Behold there was a pair of Sand Hill Cranes so I sat there drinking my coffee and noticed a behavior change. I grabbed the camera , slipped a piece of rubber tubing (used to insulate pipes) over the window and rested the camera. Well I documented a complete breeding cycle ! These Shy birds are hard enough to get in camera range , but to be fortunate enough to document that part of thier life cycle is special. I have also Photographed Elk doing the same.

Well Lunch hour is over and its time to do a couple errands and get ready for this afternoon.
The time between 10 am and 4 pm is for shopping, napping etc. the light just isn't right, however if its there you still take the shot !

The Buffalo Jams were ridiculous this afternoon. They perfer to walk on the road and walk on the road they will.

Something I noticed today, the geysers are all really active I see stuff boiling out of holes where I have never seen it before, Well they say Yellowstone is very unstable ?
Also along the same lines, Gibon Meadows is a huge open Plain, hundreds of acres. You can see huge portions of it that are totally bare and turning green, the rest is covered with snow at least a foot deep. Obviously the surface temps vary dramatically. Hayden Valley was totally covered, Just the drainages, like Elk Creek are open. What a fantastic place. I am really glad I came this spring to see this wonderful place in a new light.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Moving Day

Today its goodbye Gardiner and Hello West Yellowstone. Moved into the condo ( the gift from my sister in law) at 3 pm and wow this is way too cool ! two bedrooms two tv's, fireplace etc even have laundry room.

On the way over here I took several hours and scoped the hills for activity. Watched a pack of wolves gang up on an elk, but no contest. the elk hit high sproket and punched holes in the wind. it was really cool to see. too far away for photos . Also watched a pair of cranes building a nest in the middle of a FROZEN POND ..I hope the ice melts soon ! or no babies this year.
THe Bison are migrating back to thier summer grounds and think nothing of taking up the whole road. Bulls, Cows and the babies are on the move. And lets not forget the tourist who is seeing thier first buffalo. They jump out of the car and follow the herd on foot moving from side to side on the road for better angles, meanwhile 20 cars and occupants are getting impatient ! You get used to it out here.

There is a ton of bear activity between here and Old faithful. In fact many of the points of interest and closed with signs stating unsafe, stay out Bear activity. We shall see. The thin air is getting to me, I hauled all my stuff in to the condo and sat down to catch my breath, I could use some thicker air, and a thiner body.
West Yellowstone is pretty dead, its a good thing I had this place to stay as all the Cheap motels are still closed for winter.
My Van is preforming wonderfully !!! The over all mileage since i left home (1650 miles) is 27.3 MPG. and this is not flat country.

See Slideshow pictures larger !

Click on any of the slide show photos, this will take you to Flickr where you can see a much , larger photo. Once there, you will see a panel to the right of the main picture, click on browse

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Good day in the Field

Yesterday was the locked keys, Sleep was sporadic at best. Coffee and a donut got things going today. Stopped and topped the tank off at a mere $3.64 /Gal. Then off on the road to see what the day would bring its a 40 mile drive from Gardiner to Lamar Valley.
Now you must understand this : Wildlife Photography requires Patience Patience and more patience. A full tank and lots of water and juice in the cooler are needed hands down.
Saturday I ran into the sheep shown on the left margin. I didn't have shots like this And was tickled to have found this herd.
Today it was my first Grizzly Bear on a Elk Kill. He was a long way off and for the sake of better photos I left him there ! I was in awe watching this magnificent beast move. He would put the bums rush on the coyote and a couple ravens and cover ground like you can't believe. About the time I got set up hiim had left, but a little knowledge of your prey is needed here, I figured he was leaving just for show. Sure enough he was back in a few minutes.
The "Speed Goats" Or antelope as you my know them were feeding along a side hill. I went a 1/4 mile ahead and photographed them as they past. I spend hours watching these animals just to see what makes them tick. If you don't love long hours alone watching Buffalo feed and sleep this won't be your gig. I harken back to a time I spent 24 hours sitting by a beaver pond because I knew a Moose trail went through it. Finally one evening while returing from a camping trip with the boys I took them to the location and walked out to the edge of the pond. I said " Boys, this is where dad has spent all his time lately " at once the woods exploded accross the pond and out came a cow with twin calves. You just never know.
Moving to the Condo in West Yellowstone tomorrow. Time will tell what that side of the park has to offer.

Things not to do on the road

Never ever ever unlock your van, put the key on the seat then manually lock the doors and slam them shut. this leaves the much needed key unavailable for the next "unlock event"
Also never ever ever do this ( if you are prone) in a small western town on the weekend.
It cost me more to get into the van than it did to get into my motel room. well there goes Chico Hot springs.
more to follow
All is not lost however, I had the oportunity to photograph full curl sheep yesterday. I am going back this morning to see if I can find them again, if not a Grizzly was spotted near slough creek yesterday morning.
Also there is a feature near Madison Junction which is closed due to Bear activity. I might get that Grizzly shot yet !

Saturday, May 3, 2008

On the road again

Well it's out and go get em !
Left the house two days ago to start my dream trip. There were a lot of things going on since my retirement to hinder the begining, and Thursday morning didn't seem much different. There this to check and that to do. So rather than become frustrated, I simply left.
No inventory of things taken, no last sweep through the house, I just left.
So far I miss my thermos bottle and thats about it. Traveling across North Dakota, I had a sharp pange hit me that indicated I didn't have a tripod along, but a rest stop proved that fear wrong. Its amazing how much stuff you drag along but don't use !
Normaly I take out all the seats and put in a big air mattress with sleeping bag. Who was I kidding ? I did that for three years and never slept on it. I tried once in a rest stop , but kept popping up to look out the window everytime I heard a sound. Forget that !

I did pick up a navigational device before leaving town and it has proved invaluable. I took my son Erics lead and purchased the Garmin Nuvi 350 GPS. Its great ! Want food push the food button, it gives you a list of resturants, pick one and a voice tells you how to get there, If you goof or the roads have changed, the voice gives you a mild scolding and recalculates.
I found a whole foods Coop 100 miles away and it took me right to the door.

The last few times I came out west I took the "Southern Route" Which is to say through the cities, past all the nice camera shops and on to Souix Falls and out to the black hills, after buying the Garmin I though better of exposing myself to more temptation and went the "Northern route". Some time yesterday while leaving North Dakota, I switched the XM Sat radio top the weather channel and found out had I gone South I would be buried in snow in Rapid City . Call it luck, divine intervention , whatever I was driving on dry pavement with sun glasess .