Sunday, December 16, 2012

One year older...

The Creek Buck and I just got a little closer. 

When you see a buck one year--and in my case, photograph him--you get to know him a little bit.

When you see him again the next year it's like seeing a friend you haven't seen in a while.

Below is the Creek Buck last year. Perhaps my best buck shot of 2011.

Below is the Creek Buck just last week, looking as handsome as ever. 

He grew an extra tine, making him a 9-point. Why on Earth he didn't grow another symmetrical tine on his right side is another great antler mystery.

I love the way the light was streaking through the trees and spotlighting him.

I found him in the fenced-in area of a drainage pond and had a fair amount of time with him because his rear, left leg was injured and he was having a hard time finding a way out through the fence. 

He may have been hit by a car, or perhaps took an antler in the leg during a fierce fight. Either way he was hurt, and now I have to worry whether I'll have the joy and privilege of seeing him again in the fall of 2013. 

And of course, there are poachers - and for any big buck, a nice rack can be their demise, whether they're rural or urban. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Look who strolled into my yard the other night while I was fast asleep...

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Wayward Hummer

This little guy (and when I say little I mean about the size of a matchbox) has been living in the pines of a household on D Avenue since around October of this year. And not only is it a little late in the season for hummingbirds, this little hummer is a Rufous and WAY outside his normal range, the western third of America.

He made himself known to the home-owner when he started nipping from the sugar water in her hummingbird feeder. He's been hitting on it everyday since October. 

When I went to photograph him, he was initially a little cautious with me standing 10 yards from the feeder with my big lens, but in the end he always zoomed in on the red plastic to get his fill.

What was particularly amazing about his arrival for each feeding session was that I could always hear him before I saw him. I could hear the pleasant buzzing, or "humming", of his wings when he entered the area. I guess that's why they call them hummingbirds.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Come on Down!

Off to a great start last night with the KIA Members Only Reception. I sold a number of pieces and received some very heart-warming feedback that included the phrases, "every one is a masterpiece" and "not a single photo I don't like". 

That kind of feedback really makes all the hardships worthwhile: the crazy early mornings, the 50+ pound pack on my back, numbingly cold weather, animals refusing to pose, technical shortcomings, operator error(!), and dozens of hours spent in the field with often nothing to show for it. 

So, THANK YOU to all the supporters out there! Hope to see you down at the KIA.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving morning - Portage Creek Bicentennial Trail

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mark Your Calendars!

For more information click HERE

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Chasing Does At Dawn

WMU's Business Technology and Research Park

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Let Them Come To Me

This is a dream come true: a 10 point buck in my backyard! 

I'm absolutely thrilled.

The secret: feed them.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hat Trick!

November 1st:  new beginnings...

A very auspicious day indeed. A first for me.
I saw, and photographed(!), three shooter bucks all in one morning. 
Two were nines and the other an eight. 

I've found my honey-hole, and I've finally cracked the code of the rut.

And then this evening I ventured into another zone and crossed paths with this curious eight. 

Today was a good day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bucks Seeking Does...Here We Go!

Like annual clockwork...

With cold snaps, rain, full moons and the landscape laid bare, the mating season for deer kicks in. 

It begins with bucks seeking and chasing not-quite-ready-for-breeding does. And that means bucks start showing up right out in the open. This eight point was only 10 yards off the trail and noticeably torn between his fixation on nearby does and his instinct to run from me, especially when I raised my camera up to "shoot". Even as city deer, their genetic memory knows that gesture all too well.

Now's the time to keep your eyes open for big bucks, whether on the road or on the trail. They'll be cruising through a neighborhood near you.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Workshopping The Land

Last weekend I was blessed with the great fortune of running a workshop on nature photography at WMU. And all of us were blessed with a perfect mix of Fall weather: from rain soaked landscapes to breaking clouds and eventually piercing sun - all amid peak colors of the season. 

Below are the photos I was able to sneak in between instruction and guidance in the field. Very soon I'll be posting top pics from our talented participants.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blazing Bluestem

Fall's been blazing away and unfortunately I've been watching much of it from the windows of my car. Just this week I finally grabbed my Canon and seized the day.

In my walk-about, I was drawn not to the canopy so much as the ground. 

Next to the tracks that run along East Michigan Avenue was a fuzzy, swath of subtle rich color. Turns out it was a remnant patch of small bluestem, a native prairie grass that once grew in abundance before the great disruption of our landscape.

Although small and often overlooked, even grass has it's moment of glory in Autumn.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Photo Workshop!

I'm thrilled to announce the following photo workshop offered by me and WMU photographer Rebecca Brand. With Autumn in full swing, it should be a color-fest--come rain or shine--with plenty of beautiful and interesting landscapes to capture with your camera. Best yet, it's absolutely FREE!, courtesy of WMU's Environmental Studies Program. 

Come join us for a wonderful, two-day exploration into some of Kalamazoo's best wild spaces and the ever challenging and always rewarding pursuit of a great photo. 

Click on the following flyer and read for more information. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Down Goes a Giant...

Deer season is upon us and with that comes the ancient allure of big bucks. Since the opening of bow season just a few days ago, I'm sure scores of nice bucks have succumb to the arrow. But I was surprised to find this grand 14 point dead from another culprit.

A microscopic virus, carried by nothing more than a tiny little airborne bug, was able to topple this giant. A midge almost certainly transmitted the disease known as Epizootic Hemorrhagic Desease (EHD), now sweeping through portions of Southern Michigan and leaving hundreds of dead deer scattered across the landscape.

Fortunately the disease is not tranmittable to humans, but there's little human intervention can do to prevent the spread of the disease among deer. Afflicting only wild ruminants, the disease does not carry over to other wildlife.

I found this buck at my favorite spot in Barry County, and it's final resting place in the water fits the characteristic symptoms of EHD:

A constant characteristic of the disease is its sudden onset. Deer initially lose their appetite and fear of man, grow progressively weaker, often salivate excessively, develop a rapid pulse and respiration rate, and fever (affected animals frequent bodies of water to lie in to reduce their body temperature) and finally become unconscious. Hemorrhage and lack of oxygen in the blood results in a blue appearance of the oral mucosa, hence the name 'bluetongue'. Eight to 36 hours following the onset of observable signs, deer pass into a shock-like state, become prostrate and die.

As a wildlife photographer, I'm moved by this scene and photo, but also very aware of the profound difference between a standing, live buck and a prostrate, dead deer. There's no comparison.

To think of all the impressive bucks and wildlife that have lived, and died, with no one ever photographing them or taking them as trophies. This is the parallel world of wilderness that lives on, irregardless of the human world.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Exhibiting at the KIA

As a new teacher at the KIA, the Institute gave me some exhibition space to showcase my work. Can't beat that! If you get a chance, head on down and check it out.