10 Days on the Road

IMGP6487By S. J. Brown

On the eve of my latest photo trip the living room was filled with duffle bags, camera equipment and anticipation. Jay and I were hoping for sunny skies, warmer weather and co operative critters. Our plan was to take the scenic route to Texas with stops in several states along the way.
Mother Nature decided she didn’t like our planned route and was not very nice to us the first 2 days. There was a major storm heading East across the country while we headed West. When we learned this storm was spewing out tornados Jay and I decided to take a more southern route.

Jay’s job while we are on the road is to drive, spot critters, and watch my back. More than once a critter has approached me from behind while I was photographing. On this trip Jay did an excellent job of protecting me from a bear.

sjbrown1 JAy with BearIn Alabama we discovered that Alabama isn’t very good at posting signs for most of our destinations. Mississippi was a bit better at this and I was able to capture a number of critters during our short stay. Louisiana is where we spent a chunk of time. However we did have to change our plans again. Most of the locations we planned to visit were flooded from that nasty storm. Still I captured over 2 dozen species of birds, mammals and reptiles. The flooding at one refuge worked in my favor. The high waters forced the migrating birds closer to the road and within the view of my lens.

sjbrown 3 Stilt

I was able to photograph more than one alligator on this trip. One was quite intrigued by the camera, while another was more interested in bathing in the sun; a third was a bit camera shy.

sjbrown 5 alligatorWe continued our travels and ventured into Texas, our furthest most west point for this trip. After a few days we proceeded toward home. We had just 2 days to get back to the real world.

These trips are about more than capturing critters on film. They are a chance to escape from everyday responsibilities and rejuvenate. What do you do to escape? Is there something special you do just for you, for an hour or an entire day?

sjbrown 2 EgretAs a wildlife photographer and author I have been traveling extensively throughout the United States for over 15 years. I am always accompanied by my husband and spotter in my pursuit of the next critter encounter.
My work has been published internationally in books, calendars, greeting cards, magazines and newspapers. Sharing my photographs and written words are a way to share my wildlife encounters with others and possibly inspire them to explore their creative side.
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the birds I see, Clancy’s Cat Nap and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

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Southbond

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

I borrowed the name for this month’s blog from a band. They are a country music band and although I am not a fan of country music I somehow ended up with one of their shirts. I have had it long enough it might be considered a vintage t-shirt. The shirt features a hillbilly with a guitar along with the name of the band.
There were no hillbillies or guitars on my latest photo trip. Jay and I headed south before the sun came up. We packed the car with drinks and snacks, hiking boots and water shoes tucked in with our duffle bags and of course camera equipment.

sjbrown1sunrise

Our destination was North Carolina. North Carolina offers sandy beaches, warmer temps, woodlands, and wild critters. I had visited this part of the state in the past and found black bears, otters, birds big and small, turtles, rabbits, and deer. The area also has a small population of Red Wolves. However they are very illusive.

Over the years I have learned that some animals don’t mind having their picture taken and will let me get close,

sjbrown2Egret

Then closer,

sjbrown3Egret

and even closer yet.

sjbrown4Egret

On these occasions I generally get my shots, thank the critter for being so co operative and leave them the way I found them. Every photo trip I strive for that special moment, the encounter that stays with me long after I leave the area.
However on this trip I had two of those moments. A very fat, very co operative Black Bear gave me my second encounter. She was hard to find, but it was so worth it.

sjbrown5Bear

Then she decided I was less of a threat than the other photographers that had made their way close to us.

sjbrown6bear

Yes I was using a telephoto lens, but I have never been within 5 feet of a black bear before. At one point she was too close to get a photograph. So I just stood still and let her pass by me on her way back into the woods.

sjbrown7bear

Encounters like this just encourage me to go out and do it again. I hope all your critter encounters are good ones. Thanks for stopping by.

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Enjoying the little things

IMGP6507 By S. J. Brown

Many wildlife photographers strive to photograph large critters. I admit Buffalo, bears, and moose are always on my wish list when I am visiting their homes.

SJ Brown Bear But the little critters that also live in those areas are often more of a challenge, that makes getting the shot even more enjoyable.. Their size allows them to hide more easily; it also makes them harder to find in the lens.

Dragonflies seem to zoom from one location to another stopping only for a brief second or two to pose.

SJ Brown DragonflyPreying Manaus don’t move quite as fast, however their coloring helps them blend in with their surroundings.

SJ Brown Preying Manaus

Ladybugs are a bit easier to spot due to their bright coloring. But their tiny size makes a macro lens necessary. With a macro lens I need to get very close to my subject.

SJ Brown LadybugSome critters that are a little larger are not easy to photograph, like snakes. Most of the time when I find a snake it is either on the ground or in the water. That means to get a decent image I need to either get on the ground or in the water with the snake.

SJ Brown Timber Rattlesnake

Birds are also challenging. Smaller birds tend to spook more easily. More often than not once they know I am close by they fly off. Since I can’t fly once they take flight I have lost the opportunity to get the image, even with a telephoto lens. However every now and then I get lucky and find a co operative one.

SJ Brown Red Winged BlackbirdThe little things in life can often be enjoyable. Every now and then when I am having a bad week I will treat myself to some chocolate. I also enjoy sitting on the porch and watching the fireflies in the yard.

What little things do you enjoy?

 

 

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S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

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Close up and Close Encounters is available on Amazon at

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Or get your autographed copy at S. J. Brown website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com

 

S. J. Brown’s children’s pictures books are only available through S. J. Brown

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Baby Steps

IMGP6481By S. J. Brown

Recently I gave some advice to friend about recovery after surgery, my advice, baby steps, lots and lots of baby steps. No one can recover from surgery overnight. It’s the little improvements, those baby steps that count.

The same can be said about writing. As a writer I didn’t start out writing a book. I began writing essays in school then stepped up to magazine articles before approaching a full length manuscript. Taking baby steps allowed me to improve my writing and my confidence.

As a photographer I didn’t start out photographing large animals in faraway places. I began with birds and squirrels in my backyard

After gaining a bit of confidence I stepped out of my comfort zone, and traveled further in my pursuit of critter photos. I ventured into Maryland and photographed ducks, geese, and swans at a nearby park.

SJ Brown MallardThen it was time for another road trip. This time I headed to Pennsylvania. There I had my first experience getting up close and personal with some captive critters.

SJ Brown LemursSome little critters in New Jersey reminded me that taking baby steps when working around water could have helped you me avoid sinking in mud up to my calves.

SJ Brown DragonflyIn Virginia I learned wild ponies don’t take baby steps.

SJ Brown PoniesIn Florida I learned taking baby steps backwards can get you safely away from an alligator.

SJ Brown AlligatorIn the 17 years I have been photographing wildlife I have traveled to 2 dozen states. Every time I encounter a new critter I have to remind myself baby steps. Take the shot and use baby steps to get a better angle or a closer vantage point of my subject.

SJ Brown BearWe all take baby steps to advance ourselves in various pursuits. Every once in a while a giant leap of faith may be necessary. The important thing to remember is to keep moving forward.

Thanks for stopping by.

Naturally,

S. J. Brown

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Or get your autographed copy at S. J. Brown website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com

S. J. Brown’s children’s pictures books are only available through S. J. Brown.

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Step Lightly

IMGP6484By S. J. Brown

Now that spring has finally arrived everyone is heading outdoors.  There are so many places to explore and discover.  Before you venture out there are a few things to remember. 

Don’t forget your bug spray.  There are hundreds of little critters out there that would like to take a ride on your clothes or boots. 

sjbrown1

Stay on paths and trails so you don’t trample on delicate plants and flowers or encounter a venomous snake. Watch where you step, many birds like puffins and killdeers make their nest on the ground.

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That little fawn you find laying in the weeds most likely wasn’t abandoned.  Mother deer will leave their young hidden in overgrown weeds when they go off to feed.  When predators are near the mother will try to lead the threat away from her baby, to a mama deer you are a threat.   

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One of the most important things to remember when you go for a hike or into any natural area is that Mothers will fiercely protect their babies.  A seemingly docile duck or goose can become very aggressive when you get just a little too close to their baby.

sjbrown4 

You may be able to defend yourself against a single goose, but they tend to stick together. You are no match for an entire flock.   A single flap of a goose’s wing will leave a welt and will sting for quite a while.  They can cause some serious damage with their beaks as well.

sjbrown5

Many wild animals are deceptively quick.  That lethargic looking bear can charge suddenly and most likely will outrun you.

sjbrown6 

Most of the dangers you may encounter in the wild can be avoided.  Simply be aware of your surroundings.  Observe wild creatures from a distance and respect their space.  Remember you are a visitor in their world.

I hope I have given you a few hints that will make your next wild excursion a pleasant one.  Thanks for stopping by.

 

Connect with S. J. Brown on Facebook and be one of the first to see what she has been up and view her Sunday Shares.

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S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

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Cover 3-26-23Back Cover 4-24-2013Close up and Close Encounters is available on Amazon  at

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Or get your autographed copy at S. J. Brown website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com

S. J. Brown’s children’s pictures books are only available through S. J. Brown.

You can order your copies from her website S.J. Brown

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The Power of One

imgp6507 By S. J. Brown

Can one person truly make a difference, ABSOLUTELY.  Think about this one person came up with the idea of bottling water.  Last year alone Americans used approximately 50 billion bottles of water.   Unfortunately only 23 percent of those bottles are recycled.

Have you ever heard of Rosa Parks? When she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man the civil rights movement exploded and continues today.

The millions of starlings found throughout the United States are descendants from 100 birds that one man imported and released into Central park, in New York City.

1-starlings

Thanks to the efforts of one man volunteers like me have planted hundreds, if not thousands of trees along WV waterways. These trees reduce run off, and erosion improving water quality for everyone.  They provide homes and shade for wildlife, are esthetically pleasing and will stand tall for decades.

2-squirrel

As a wildlife photographer, nature lover, tree hugger, wildlife advocate I know the power of one. One single location can make the difference between survival and teetering on the edge of extinction for migrating wildlife.

3-monarch

One source of clean water can quench the thirst of multitudes of people and critters.

4-heron

One Image can make you laugh.

5-pony

One click of my shutter button can make for a successful photo trip.

7-geese

I strive to make this a better world one person at a time by sharing my images, experiences, and knowledge. How do you use the power of one?

Thanks for stopping by, I hope I can count on you to share your thoughts and this blog.

Naturally,

S. J. Brown

Connect with S. J. Brown on Facebook and be one of the first to see what she has been up and view her Sunday Shares.

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S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

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Cover 3-26-23Back Cover 4-24-2013Close up and Close Encounters is available on Amazon  at

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=close+ups+%26+close+Encounters

Or get your autographed copy at S. J. Brown website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com

S. J. Brown’s children’s pictures books are only available through S. J. Brown.

You can order your copies from her website S.J. Brown

Cover All the Birds I See Cover

Thank you for stopping by. I hope I can count on you to comment and share this blog.

 

 

Falling for Wildlife

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

Okay so maybe the title is a little deceptive. I am sure most of you are looking forward to stories about how clumsy I am when I am focused on a critter.  Sorry that isn’t today’s subject.

Instead I am focusing on the changing seasons. I’m sure most people think summer time is prime time for photographing wildlife, not this summer.  When it the temperature hits the upper 90’s most of us are hot, cranky and generally in a bad mood.  Critters feel the same way.  Approaching a cranky deer can get you charged, or stomped by those powerful hoofs.

1-deer

Bears are large, strong, and have massive claws and some nasty teeth as well. They don’t like the heat either.  A large bird just trying to stay cool doesn’t want to pose for a picture.  They can show their irritation by swooping down and attacking with their razor sharp talons.

2-vulture

So I spent most of my summer approaching smaller critters less dangerous critters. I added shots of, some passive shore birds, butterflies, squirrels, ducks, and frogs.

3-frog

Now that the hot oppressive heat of summer is gone and Fall has arrived I am ready to go. It’s time for me to head to the woods.  This time of year the vibrant fall leaves make a great backdrop for critter photos.

4-deer-in-fall

So I have pulled out my sweatshirts, purchased back up batteries and extra film for the camera and I am heading to the woods. I may stop along the river’s edge and visit a lake or two in the early morning hours.  When most of you are having that second cup of coffee I will be zooming in on my next subject.

5-bear

As you munch on your lunch Jay and I will be discussing where we want to be just before sunset. As you settle in for the evening I will be heading home with a number of new images and some happy memories of the day.

6-otters

Enjoy the cooler temperature of fall and take a few minutes to let the colorful array of colors Mother Nature give us this time of year engulf you.   No Fall isn’t my favorite season, but it does come in second.  What is your favorite season ?

Connect with S. J. Brown on Facebook and be one of the first to see what she has been up and view her Sunday Shares.

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S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

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Cover 3-26-23Back Cover 4-24-2013Close up and Close Encounters is available on Amazon  at

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=close+ups+%26+close+Encounters

Or get your autographed copy at S. J. Brown website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com

S. J. Brown’s children’s pictures books are only available through S. J. Brown.

You can order your copies from her website S.J. Brown

Cover All the Birds I See Cover

Thank you for stopping by. I hope I can count on you to comment and share this blog.

The Middle of the Road

IMGP6507by S. J. Brown

This past month, while catching up on blog posts it became obvious that I am really a middle of the road type of person. I became a middle child when I was 16. Maybe that plays a role in the type of person I am, maybe not.

I have seen lights in the sky I could not explain. UFO, well I don’t know. At the time I lived near an Air Force base. Perhaps it was an experimental plane.  But then again is it feasible that our planet is the only planet with intelligent life on it?  So like this Black Bear I am in the middle of the road on this one.

Bear

On the subject of ghosts, I waver back and forth. Having lived in an old Victorian house there were things that I couldn’t explain.  We had a persistent banging noise that could not be traced.   Also our dog at the time would sit next to the rocking chair, wagging his tail as if an old friend was sitting in the chair petting him. Things would disappear throughout the house, but eventually turn up.  So like this family of otters I have covered the left, right, and middle of the road on this subject as well.

Otters

It’s possible that I don’t have all the facts so I can’t make an informed decision on issues like these. It’s also possible I have other things on my mind. Some things people are adamant about simply don’t matter to me.  It doesn’t matter to me if the toilet paper roll is loaded so the paper rolls out or over, as long as it’s there when I need it.

When dining with friends some people want to split the check evenly, others want to pay for exactly what they ate. Since I am not a money oriented person either way works for me, again I’m in the middle of the road like this coyote.

Coyote

Long ago I learned to pick my battles. Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things, if not, I let it go. When my mother in law helped me set up the kitchen at our house she insisted glasses needed to go in this cabinet, cups over here and pots had to be near the stove.  I know it was my house I should really have had an opinion on this.  But wherever the glasses ended up that is the cabinet I would go to when I needed a glass.  If the pots didn’t work out well where she wanted them I could always move them later and tell her they just didn’t work well for me since I’m left handed.  So even on things like my kitchen I am in the middle of the road like this white tailed deer.

Deer

I am not a middle of the road type of person about everything. I do have opinions on a lot of things and I am not shy about sharing them. I recycle, buy recycled products and reduce the amount of trash that goes to the curb whenever I can.  I think it is our duty to protect this planet we call home for future generations.  When I am in someone else’s home I will ask them if they recycle before placing an item in the trash.  This is a subtle hint that maybe they should.

I plant trees with a local group; I think everyone should plant trees.   Why? When you plant a tree it will live and grow for years, even generations after you are gone.  They provide shade, oxygen and are esthetically pleasing.

Being cruel to children and animals is wrong; there is no wiggle room on this. So as I travel down the dirt roads of life you will find me mostly in the middle of the road. However when something gets my attention I will firmly plant my feet on the shoulder.

Fox

So where do you stand? What issues do you take a stand on?  Do you waver on other issues?

Thanks for stopping by.

Connect with S. J. Brown on Facebook and be one of the first to see what she has been up and view her Sunday Shares.

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S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

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Cover 3-26-23Back Cover 4-24-2013Close up and Close Encounters is available on Amazon  at

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=close+ups+%26+close+Encounters

Or get your autographed copy at S. J. Brown website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com

S. J. Brown’s children’s pictures books are only available through S. J. Brown.

You can order your copies from her website S.J. Brown

Cover All the Birds I See Cover

Did you know?

IMGP6507 By S. J. Brown

As I pondered the possible subjects for this month’s blog I toyed with a variety of subjects. I always want my blogs to be interesting, educational and thought provoking.  So I thought I would share some animal info with everyone.

Did you know that when a black bear is nervous it will sway from side to side? This swaying motion makes it difficult for me to focus and get a clear image of a bear.  The solution on most occasions is to back up just a step or two and let the bear relax before I click the shutter button.

Black Bear

Did you know Red Knots (that’s a bird folks) fly over 9,000 miles every spring? They fly into the Delaware Bay area each year in May to feed on horseshoe crab eggs.  Nearly 90 percent of the Red Knot population can be seen in a single day along the beaches of Delaware.  Sorry I don’t have a decent picture of them to share.  Most migratory birds are very nervous when passing through an area.  That makes them difficult to photograph.

Delaware Shore Birds

Did you know that planting trees just after it rains is hard work? I know this because I in the last two weeks I have helped plant over 100 trees.  The mud sticks to your feet, and hands, and makes everyone a muddy mess.  While we are on the subject of trees, did you know the practice of loosening up the roots on plants and trees before planting them is called tickling the roots?

Bird in tree

Did you know a Snapper Turtles jaw is so powerful it can bite off a human finger? Snapper Turtles have no natural predators except humans so this is a skill that could come in handy. This knowledge combined with the fact that full grown male Snapper Turtles can weigh as much as 220 pounds should deter you from picking one up.

Snapper Turtle

Did you know most animals will warn you before they attack? An alligator will make a growling sound.  White tailed deer will stomp their foot or snort. The exception to this rule is mothers with babies.

Alligator

Yes, I know most of these facts the average person will never need to know. However, as the human population continues to grow more and more people are encountering wild animals that are simply trying to survive.

Here are some facts that may come in handy. Most animals have a food preference.  Deer love hostas, also known as deer candy, but they tend to stay away from plants with a strong aroma.

Deer

Did you know that mockingbird that keeps attacking your car mirror or window most likely thinks it is another mockingbird in its territory. All you have to do eliminate the reflection by placing a towel, shirt or cardboard over it.

Mockingbird

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed learning about animals.

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S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

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Cover 3-26-23Back Cover 4-24-2013Close up and Close Encounters is available on Amazon  at

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=close+ups+%26+close+Encounters

Or get your autographed copy at S. J. Brown website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com

S. J. Brown’s children’s pictures books are only available through S. J. Brown.

You can order your copies from her website S.J. Brown

Cover All the Birds I See Cover

 

That Extra Mile

Me3 By S. J. Brown

Wildlife photographers have been getting a bit of extra exposure lately through television commercials and also after a biting letter to some individuals who are occupying a wildlife refuge. I would like to join the ranks of those photographers who have shared what it is really like to photograph wildlife.

Yes there are easy shots we take at parks and zoos where the critters are accustomed to people

Wood Duck

Then there are other shots we work for. This is when a photographer needs more than just skill knowledge and a bit of luck.  Wildlife photographers need to be passionate about what they do.  You need to ask yourself how bad do I want these images, what are my chances of getting the shots, and how can I increase my chances?

I traveled from West Virginia to Maine in hopes of getting a few photographs of a moose. After spending several days searching my target area I chose to travel further north in my quest.  When Jay and I arrived at our new destination it began to rain.  Undeterred I covered my camera, pulled out a poncho and ventured into the woods.  My persistence was rewarded, this time.

Moose

I have traveled to a location in North Carolina repeatedly in an attempt to capture a red wolf on film. No you won’t find a photo of a red wolf here.  Their numbers are few and they are shy.  But my quest will continue.  I have been rewarded with images of black bears in that same area.

Bear

Wildlife photography is about more than just the images. It is about a connection to the animals and their world.  It is a connection with nature that is part of us.  Our desire to experience and share that connection is why we do what we do.

HeronBuffaloAlligator

Cold, rain, mud, heat, height, and wind don’t deter us. Yes we are a touch breed. We will fiercely defend the creatures we photograph and the wild lands they call home. Most of us have been snarled at, charged and lost on more than one occasion. However to me having the privilege of looking a wild creature in the eye and recording it to share with others makes it all worth it.  Why do I share?  I share my images to help others to respect wildlife, to introduce people to my world.  Yes, I sell my images but my goal isn’t to get rich or famous.  My goal is to make enough money to go out and do it again.

What makes you go that extra mile, endure a little more, and strive a little harder?

Thanks for Stopping by.

Connect with S. J. Brown on Facebook and be one of the first to see what she has been up and view her Sunday Shares.

 Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367

S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

CBCover Acover

Cover 3-26-23Back Cover 4-24-2013Close up and Close Encounters is available on Amazon  at

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=close+ups+%26+close+Encounters

Or get your autographed copy at S. J. Brown website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com

S. J. Brown’s children’s pictures books are only available through S. J. Brown.

You can order your copies from her website S.J. Brown

Cover All the Birds I See Cover