It doesn’t always take much to make a photograph happen but you have to at least be out with the camera. I always carry something with me, whether it’s the bigger D5 or smaller Z50, on every adventure. This time it was the Z50 because it’s light and small enough to fit in my small sling bag. I wasn’t expecting there to be much to offer this past weekend but with all the storms rolling through the chance that something would open up was there. An afternoon on the Yellowstone River made this possible. That is such an amazing river, with it’s wide, fast current and sweeping banks that seem to just keep going. with the right light, it can make for a gorgeous afternoon.
Happy Fourth of July! Please be safe while you’re having fun today.
I probably won’t get to see this year but for the last year, I had the privilege of the B-25 Maid in the Shade come up to visit as part of the Three Forks Flyin. Big bombers are a rare sight in Montana these days but back during WWII, they were quite common as Montana had a couple of training bases.
This is absolutely one of the most fun times of the year as these giant bugs come back through the state of Montana and are feasted upon by the fish that inhabit the rivers. Big or small, everyone comes up to the surface for a taste. While the Salmonfly look like giant dangerous bugs they are actually quite harmless. Due to their size and color, they make for great photo subjects and the fish seem to enjoy them too.
Montana is very blessed right now because the number of people to the size of the state is dramatically different. With a fewer number of people, the more places you can go by yourself. Small road trips are fun because you can see a different part of the world then you are used to without having to go real far. Thunderstorms are a common thing this time of the year so finding good clouds to work with isn’t very hard. I quick trip to the ponds on a good afternoon was all it took.
Can a photograph be just a cloud or is that not strong enough? I never really had a good answer to it but I always wondered. There are plenty of times where a cloud is not enough but there are certainly times when the clouds are so dramatic that yea, why not just take a photo of it?
Fence lines or no fence lines? It’s somewhat cliche in photographs to have fences but I’ve always found that they have a time and a place. A fence is a man-made barrier that can make a photograph seem limited by a boundary but in some ways, it can also feel like there is something better on the other side. Sadly, there are a lot of fences in Montana and it’s hard to take a photo without a fence in it but it is possible. Since they feel like they belong out here I never mind including them, especially if there is something else amazing going on.
It goes without saying that in photography we tend to go for the most color in our photographs. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but when it comes to birds that can leave a lot out of the files. Male birds tend to have a more distinct color as they try to attract mates thus making them more impressive subjects to photograph. However, the females are just as important to the equation. This female Cinnamon Teal is a great example. The males are a very distinct red, it’s hard to miss them in all honesty. The females, while pretty, don’t stand out nearly as much. Both make for great subjects and if you’re just out for the morning or afternoon then why not spend time with both.
Spring is a great time for birding as the spring migration and nesting season makes for some spectacular photo opps. I was fortunate a few years ago to be able to photograph this male Spruce Grouse up in the Arctic Circle amongst the lands Boreal Forests. For those wondering, yes it is a male as the males have a rufous tip on their tails. This one did have those markings but are not visible in this photograph. The rest of his breeding plumage hadn’t come in yet.
Spruce Grouse can be seen in the trees as well as on the ground foraging. The female chooses the site for nest usually in a depression at the base of a tree, where it has a clutch size of 4-9eggs. They brood only once a year. The males have a distinct mating behavior which is best witnessed in person or next best by video.
When working with any ground bird species you have to be very vigilant and try not to come upon an individual by surprise. Once you have found a subject be sure to be patient and slow to not scare it off or force it to move.
Today marks a very important anniversary, the 76th anniversary of the D-Day landings, which were the allied invasion of Europe in 1944. This invasion gave the allies a foothold in France that allowed them to push back against German-occupied Europe. Beach heads, Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah were the designated landing spots and were heavily fortified by the Germans. Omaha Beach was the deadliest with the high cliffs and heavy fortifications. The original plan for the allies was to link up the beaches by the end of the first day but due to heavy resistance, it wasn’t until 8 days later that they were secure. Many brave men from multiple nations helped secure this victory without which the war would’ve been much different.
The C-47 or C-53 based on its use were used to drop paratroopers behind enemy lines and push the Germans out of the beach areas and nearby towns and villages. It was the largest airborne drop in history. The planes were marked with the black and white stripes so that they wouldn’t be shot by friendly ground fire.