Robert and Kristin enjoy nature and outdoor activities. As a forest and wildlife biologist, Robert began taking photographs to document species and places where he was working. Quite soon a camera was always included in our outings. When Kristin, an ecologist, started shooting outdoor imagery as well, we began arranging trips specifically to take pictures as we evolved from a point and shoot mentality to a more thoughtful mode of photography to illustrate habitats, plants, animals, and some of the ways they act and interact. We find that we enjoy showing other people some of the outdoor world they may never get a chance to see, providing new perspectives, or helping them remember a special experience.
If you are interested in using any photograph for commercial or personal use, please contact us by email. All images are copyrighted and use without permission is illegal.
We hope you enjoy our imagery and thank you for visiting.
The February winter bird photography trip to Gary Carter’s place in McLeansville, NC was very successful! The first day started off rainy and overcast, so we spent some extra time talking about gear and techniques as we waited not so patiently for enough light to get reasonable shutter speeds. As the light got better and the rain continued with an occasional sprinkle, we sat in the blind and photographed birds in a nice, even light.
And the birds were oh so cooperative. We ended up with 22 birds species (and one mammal) that came into photographable range from the blind. The red-breasted nuthatches, brown creepers, and yellow-bellied sapsuckers were my personal favorites, though I didn’t hesitate to shoot the more common northern cardinals, blue jays, pine warblers, eastern towhees, downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, and other birds as well.
Here are some of my favorite shots from the first day…
Each spring for the past several years we’ve visited a purple martin colony during our Conservation Photography trip to in south Alabama. (In case you’re interested in going on that trip, you can click this link: http://photobiologist.com/conservation-photography-trip Note that the second session is already full!) That martin colony is located on a public fishing lake. The gourds and houses are relatively low, and the martins are habituated with lots of regular human activity.
That means that we can get some cool shots of the martins and their houses.
It also provides a great opportunity to get martin-in-flight shots…
We made a trip over there recently to change out the gourds on part of the site. The caretaker at the site plans to clean the houses and change out the rest of the gourds this week. He said the martins normally show up there right after Valentine’s Day. Well, they were a little early this year. It was starting to drizzle rain, so I grabbed a quick picture of our habitat management and artificial cavity maintenance and put the camera in the truck. Then I helped carry the rest of the gourds to the pole. As I turned around at the truck with the ladder, there was a martin scout landing on the old gourds! Hopefully, he was happy with what he found after we left!
It’s time to get up the martin gourds and wood duck nest boxes, and almost time to get the other nest boxes up as well!
I was out attempting to photograph birds recently, and the birds were not cooperating at the moment. As I sat and waited for a wandering flock of birds to feed back through the area where I was set up, I looked around for things to occupy my time. I spotted a lichen resembling the lichens used as “shrubs” on model train sets and dioramas growing on a nearby branch. With minimal re-finagling of gear, I was able to photograph that nice lichen.
Lichens are not really one thing – they are two (or more) different organisms working in symbiosis. A lichen is usually composed of a fungus and either an algae or cyanobacteria; sometimes it is composed of all three organisms. The fungus usually provides the shape and increased water holding capacity (as well as some nutrients), though the shape of the lichen is very different from the shape the fungus would assume if it were not growing in symbiosis. The algae or cyanobacteria provides energy gained through photosynthesis. Some of the cyanobacteria have an ability of fix atmospheric nitrogen as well.
There are many, many different kinds of lichens, but they generally grow in one of three to seven (depending on whether the decider is a lumper or a splitter) broad categories of “forms”. When I took the image of the shrubby lichen, I was intending to take a picture of a fruiticose form of lichen (those lichens which usually resemble little, branched shrubs). As I was labeling the image however, I noted that I had actually captured THREE different lichen forms in this image! The second form of lichen was a foliose form of lichen that resembles a wavy leaf growing mostly parallel to the substrate on which it is growing. That lichen is found immediately above the fruiticose lichen. And then there are a number of crustose lichens growing on the branch as well; those are the very flat lichens that are so integrated with their substrate that they cannot be removed without damaging the substrate.
Common loons winter all along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and some of them become very comfortable around people. These somewhat habituated loons make great photo subjects. While out photographing horned grebes recently, a common loon popped up right in front of us. Not only did he pop up right in front of us, he had a live hogchoker in his beak! (Hogchokers are small flatfish that are related to flounder and halibut). He took a bit to subdue the hogchoker before he swallowed it. That day he ended up eating 3 hogchokers and 1 pufferfish that we were able to observe. On a different day at the same location, this presumably the same loon at two more hogchokers!
I was out scouting for horned grebes & other wintering waterfowl earlier this week when I found a lone adult brown pelican feeding in a bayou. Now, shots of pelicans on the beach, pelicans on pilings, pelicans in flight, pelicans on blue water, pelicans on gray water, etc. are relatively easy to get down on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. However, pelicans floating in reflected fall color are NOT easy to get down here. First of all, there is so little “fall color” that it isn’t even funny. Second of all, pelicans aren’t that common along a forested shore. So, when I saw this pelican feeding towards a spot of fall color, I moved my bright red, noisy four-door, diesel-powered blind (model F-250 manufactured by Ford) to where I would have a decent chance of getting a shot. Then I repositioned the blind twice more… Somewhere in all that moving & shooting, the pelican posed for me in that spot of color!
Unfortunately, that spot of color is Chinese tallow tree (aka popcorn tree aka Sapium sebiferum). This horridly invasive tree is changing the look and function of many coastal wetlands. It was imported as a landscape tree because of it’s unique seeds and fall color! Go figure.
But anyway, I was delighted to get a shot of the pelican in a patch of fall color.
Brown Pelican Floating in a Patch of Fall Color