by Jeff Goulden
One of my favorite things to photograph is scenery reflected in still water. Photographing a reflection creates a unique perspective by adding interest and depth to the photograph.
Early morning when the water is calm and the light is soft is usually the best time to capture a perfect reflection. Capturing a perfect reflection is harder than it sounds because even a slight wind will cause ripples and blur the surface of the water.
You don't necessarily need a calm mountain lake to take a reflection picture. I have shot many mirror-images in calm rivers, ponds and even wet glistening sand. Mountains are a typical reflection subject but I have also successfully shot people, wildlife and buildings reflected in water or sand.
I spend a lot of time in Mount Rainier National Park and I have a couple of favorite spots to shoot Mount Rainier reflected in water. Reflection Lakes which is a few miles below the Paradise visitor center is appropriately named. The lakes provide an iconic view of the mountain. In the summer during wildflower season and in fall when the grasses turn to gold are especially lovely times. Mirror Lake near Indian Henry's Hunting Ground, also appropriately named, is another nice place for a late afternoon or early evening shot.
Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park has two of the best spots to get the rugged Teton Range reflected in the Snake River. Oxbow Bend has stunning views of Mount Moran framed in the fall by golden aspen trees. The challenge at Oxbow Bend is finding a spot on the riverbank that is not already occupied by photographers and tripods. Schwabacher Landing is another popular spot for an early morning photograph. Both places are best visited in the early morning when the sunrise is illuminating the Tetons.
When shooting reflections in the early morning I like to have both background and foreground in focus. This means using a small aperture (f16 or f22) to give me maximum depth of field. Use of a small aperture in low light also means using a slow shutter speed and necessitates the use of a tripod.
More reflection pictures can be seen in my Reflections Gallery. Signed fine art prints from many of my photographs are available for purchase on Fine Art America. For special offers and to follow my photographic journey please Join My Email List.
by Jeff Goulden
The beautiful Cedar Waxwing gets its name from the red wax-like tip of its wings. This medium sized (7 1/4") bird has a light brown head blending into gray on the wings and rump. Other distinctive features are its brown head crest, pale yellow breast and black eye mask outlined in white. Its short tail has a yellow tip. The call of the Cedar Waxwing is a very high-pitched whistle or trill.
The Cedar Waxwing is a common breeding resident in the Puget Sound Region from May to November. Winters are spent in the West Indies and Panama. Its diet consists of mostly fruit and some insects.
Cedar Waxwings are social birds and you are likely to see them in flocks. They sit in fruiting trees, pick the berries and swallow them whole. Sometimes they briefly hover near a bush and pluck the berries in mid-air. They also fly like swallows over the water looking for insects.
Cedar Waxwings can be seen in all kinds of woodlands especially at farms, orchards, and gardens where there are fruiting trees or shrubs. They are fond of wild fruits and berries such as Mountain Ash, Indian Plum and Wild Cherry. Planting these and other native fruit bearing trees and shrubs can attract waxwings to your backyard. Cedar Waxwings nest late in the season to take advantage of ripening fruit for their offspring.
More pictures of this beautiful bird can be seen in my Cedar Waxwing Gallery at Istockphoto.com. Other bird species can be seen in my Joy of Birds Gallery. Signed fine art prints from many of my photographs are available for purchase on Fine Art America. For special offers and to follow my photographic journey please Join My Email List.
by Jeff Goulden
The official state bird of Washington, Iowa and New Jersey is the American Goldfinch. This very colorful bird is fairly common throughout the Pacific Northwest but mostly in rural areas. It likes to frequent weedy open fields and farms. Deciduous trees provide excellent cover. The goldfinch is migratory, spending winters in the southern U.S.A. and Mexico. In the Pacific Northwest, the goldfinch is mostly seen from May to November. The American Goldfinch is a yellow bird but depending on sex, season and age they may vary greatly in shade and intensity of color. The breeding male goldfinch is a bright canary yellow with distinct black markings.
The female is a dull yellow with some olive color mixed in. The juveniles are a yellowish brown with buff wing markings. All the variances sometimes make the goldfinch difficult to identify.
The goldfinch is a gregarious bird, gathering in small flocks and competing aggressively at bird feeders. Their favorite food is thistle seed although they will eat other small seeds or nuts.
More pictures of this brightly colored bird can be seen in my American Goldfinch Gallery at Istockphoto.com. Other bird species can be seen in my Joy of Birds Gallery. Signed fine art prints from many of my photographs are available for purchase on Fine Art America. For special offers and to follow my photographic journey please Join My Email List.
by Jeff Goulden
According to Merriam-Webster Online, an irruption is defined as a species "undergoing a sudden upsurge in numbers especially when natural ecological balances and checks are disturbed". Washington State has seen an irruption of Snowy Owls in both 2012 and 2013.
Scientists don't know for sure what causes an irruption, but it is almost certainly linked to cycles in the lemming population. A Snowy Owl will consume 3 to 5 lemmings per day so the survival of Snowy Owls depend on this food source. Since most of the owls at Ocean Shores are dark spotted juveniles it is thought that the younger birds were forced by older owls out of their native habitat in search of alternative food. Ocean Shores with its abundant population of shore birds is an ideal substitute for the owls' native arctic tundra.
Ocean Shores on the Pacific Coast has seen significant numbers of these magnificent birds in January and February of this year. Damon Point is a strip of land with lots of dune grass and driftwood logs. It is a very similar habitat to the owls' native arctic tundra. The owls have excellent vision from their perch on the logs and when they see their prey they can fly off to pursue it.
November through March are probably the ideal months to visit Damon Point if you want to see Snowy Owls. Visitors need to respect the bird’s habitat and privacy. Snowy Owls are relatively calm birds but don't like to be harassed. If you want to photograph the owls use a telephoto lens, keep a respectful distance and don't rush toward them. If the bird begins to move as you slowly approach, back off.
Damon Point is on the southeastern tip of the Ocean Shores Penninsula.
For more information and directions to the point go to the Washington Trails Association. To learn more about birding in the Grays Harbor area go to the Grays Harbor Audubon Society.
More pictures of Snowy Owls can be seen in my Snowy Owls Gallery at Istockphoto.com. Other bird species can be seen in my Joy of Birds Gallery. Signed fine art prints from many of my photographs are available for purchase on Fine Art America. For special offers and to follow my photographic journey please Join My Email List.
by Jeff Goulden
In Western Washington State the chickadee is a year-round resident. When I go out in my backyard I am frequently greeted by their chick-a-dee-dee-dee call. There are two distinct chickadee varieties that live in my area. The most common is the Black-Capped Chickadee with its buff colored sides and black gray wings and tail. The Chestnut-Backed Chickadee is slightly smaller and sports a rich chestnut brown color on its back.
Both varieties have a voracious appetite at the bird feeder. They seem fairly cooperative and I haven't observed much fighting or squabbling among them. One interesting habit I have observed is chickadees will take a nut from the feeder and peck at it while holding it between their toes. Did they learn this behavior or is it instinctive? One can only speculate. I've researched this behavior and have yet to turn up any information.
The chickadee is bold, gregarious and not a bit shy of humans. On more than one occasion, a chickadee has landed on my head, perhaps looking for nesting material.
I try to keep my distance when photographing birds by using a 400mm lens. On several occasions I have been able to approach a chickadee close enough to use a 200mm lens.
More pictures of the cheerful chickadee can be seen in my Chickadee Gallery at Istockphoto.com. Other bird species can be seen in my Joy of Birds Gallery. Signed fine art prints from many of my photographs are available for purchase on Fine Art America. For special offers and to follow my photographic journey please Join My Email List.
by Jeff Goulden
Birds fill our lives with joy and wonder. Constantly entertained by their melodic song, we enjoy observing their vibrant colors, watching their antics and photographing their unique expressions.
As we go about our busy lives, birds may be the only wildlife we see. This is especially true for city dwellers. Even through our own windows, we can see birds at the feeder or going about their daily business. And these are just the common species. Outside our cities and towns, in parklands and preserves, wetlands and wildlands, a vast array of intriguing birds can be found. Each species, with its own lifestyle and habits, invites observation, study and photography.
Some birds are with us year round and some migrate from afar only to stay a few weeks of the year. A bird’s diet is determined by the shape of its beak. Some are vegetarians, others scavenge carcasses and some kill for their food. Each has its place in the circle of life. And most have, now or in the past, achieved something that humans have never been able to do without artificial means. As we are rooted to the ground by gravity, birds have the power and freedom to soar above us, often traveling great distances to follow their instincts.
In many ways, birds bring us so much joy. These feathered friends have certainly earned a special place in our lives.
Future blogs will feature some individual bird species, their characteristics and habitat. Other bird species can be seen in my Joy of Birds Gallery. Signed fine art prints from many of my photographs are available for purchase on Fine Art America. For special offers and to follow my photographic journey please Join My Email List.
Jeff's Photo Blog
In this Photo Blog I have combined my 50 year passion for photography and my love of the natural world, creating a portfolio that reveals nature in its pure and simple beauty. I am pleased to share my passion with you through this blog.