Picking Favorites

IMGP6489By S. J. Brown

We all have favorite things, that special gift from long ago, or a place with fond memories. Sometimes our favorite is a sentence that just glides off the tongue and completes a thought. After every photo trip Jay asks me what my favorite part of the trip was. Generally it is a brief moment when I am close to a critter and clicking the shutter button. After we arrive home when I am going through stacks of photographs he asks which image is my favorite.

My favorite moment doesn’t always yield a favorite photograph. On a recent trip to Michigan my favorite moment did yield my favorite image from the trip. I hung out with a raccoon while he enjoyed his lunch. Jay spotted him going into a trash can to retrieve the meal. He didn’t care how close I approached, he had a snack and I wasn’t a threat.

20 SJ Brown Raccoon

My favorite critter moment from a trip to Colorado was when we sat and watched a Coyote. We spotted him in the road pouncing on the hard surface. It took us a few minutes to figure out what he was doing. The road was covered with crickets; he would pounce on one, eat it and then move on to the next one.

32 Coyote

My favorite moment on a trip to Minnesota was when Jay and I helped out with a duck banning project. It was cold and very early in the morning, but it was an experience I will never forget. I was a bit busy so I didn’t get very many photos, so my favorite moment and my favorite image didn’t match on that trip.

Me Duck

Some photo trips have more than one favorite moment or image which makes it hard to choose. Hanging around in South Dakota we had several great experiences and came home with loads of great photos.

SJ Brown Deer

When we visited Maine my favorite moment was when we spotted a mother moose and her calf. It took days to find the pair and when we did it was cold and rainy, but I didn’t care. Mama was letting me get pictures of them both.

SJ Brown Moose

Sometimes it is hard to choose a favorite. I have two sisters, but I don’t have a favorite. They are very different people and each comes with their own special qualities. I have only one granddaughter, so of course she is my favorite. We share a love of critters and photography so we have many favorite moments together.
Do you have a favorite food? I have several. How about a favorite place, mine is generally wherever I happen to be. So what are some of your favorites?

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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.

1078You can order your copies from her website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com874


Thanks for stopping by.






A Couple of Friends



By S. J. Brown



Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner I thought I should write about romance.  However Hubby and I aren’t really romantic type people.  If he came home to find a candlelight dinner he would ask how long the power had been out. 

Still its a couple’s time of year so I decided to write about some wild couples I have photographed.  Photographing wild couples is not always easy.  Critters aren’t like people you can’t tell them stand close to one another and smile.  Well you can, but it won’t do you any good.

I thought I would start with a pair of Mallards I discovered along a riverbank.  Slowly I crept up on them and zoomed in for a shot of him.


 She wasn’t quite close enough to get into the shot.  So I waited, and waited some more.  Finally she floated close enough to him I managed to get both of them in the lens and clicked the shutter button. 

As I stood up to walk away I heard someone behind me.  I turned to find a hunter.  He was clad in a combination of camouflage and bright orange.  In his arms was a large ominous looking gun.  This wasn’t the first time I had encountered hunters while out photographing critters and I am sure it won’t be the last.  He smiled and asked if I had seen any ducks.  I admit it I lied, and told him no. He thanked me and wandered down the path and around the bend.  


Once he was a good distance away I walked closer to the water’s edge and explained to the Mallard couple they needed to go hang out somewhere else.  I took the opportunity to click the shutter button a few more times before they heeded my advice and flew off. 

It took me quite a while to photograph a pair of wood ducks I discovered floating in a pond.  They were hanging out with a group of other ducks that were happy to have their picture taken.  I was getting some nice shots of each of the wood ducks, but I couldn’t get them to hang out close enough together to share the shot until they were good and ready to pose for me. 


This next couple actually hangs out together a lot.  They are pretty easy to photograph because they live at my house.  They let me take their picture in exchange for munching on a few of my flowers. I am hoping they have babies in the spring and I get a chance to photograph them as well.

s-j-brown4rabbits Over the years I have captured a number of couples on film. These couples and I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day.  Even if you aren’t part of a couple you should be treated special on Valentine’s Day, and every day because you are. 

Thanks for stopping by.


Connect with S. J. Brown on Facebook , 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


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


Through the Eyes of a Lens

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

Recently, my husband and I purchased a new camera, a Canon EOS Rebel T5. It takes digital photos as well as video. This was a significant purchase, costing nearly as much as a month’s house payment. Although I swallowed hard spending so much money on something that, if dropped, could be broken forever, it’s a purchase that helps us both in our respective businesses.

As a freelance writer, I’m often required to take photographs of my subject matter, and our 10-year-old “point and shoot” digital camera was fast wasting away; last month when I used it to photograph one of my “Cool Kids” for Our Town Casper magazine, I was nearly unable to download the photos – the camera and my computer were having an argument about sharing the pictures. I wiggled cords, shut down both machines and rebooted, and still nothing. So I prayed… HARD! Finally, about 15 minutes later, when I was about to give up, low and behold, they communicated and finally shared the photos! This had been happening off and on for about four months. So, I told my husband, who had been looking at cameras since before Christmas, “It’s time – I can’t worry about this next month when I have to have photos for stories.” So, we bought a new camera – plus a telephoto lens, because, after all, we live in a state filled with wildlife and beautiful scenery, and we travel – so it’s best to have a telephoto for some shots, especially of animals (many of which should not be approached too closely).

We practiced with the new camera while visiting our friends’ ranch a few weeks ago. All I can say is WOW!! The money expended was certainly worth it! Here are a few photos taken at the ranch of the various animals, domestic and otherwise, that we saw.

Bunny Face_gray_web   3 Llamas at fence_web   Lambs_web   Turkeys walking_ranch_web

During the weekend, as Casper basked in 60+ degree spring-like weather, Greg and I took our dog, Mary, for a walk along the North Platte River. The water is flowing freely, not jammed up with ice from winter any more — ducks, geese, and songbirds greeted us along our sojourn. Here are a few photos from that excursion (none taken with the telephoto, although I wished I’d had it to capture the chickadees flitting around the willows or the geese winging onto and out of the water).

Geese_fly above river   waterfall_river   North Platte River   chickadee 2_in bushMary dog_river walk

Through the eyes of the lens, one can capture very special moments, and when using a telephoto, it’s like your looking into the soul of your subject. As writers, we often do the same with our characters, even with our settings, describing the scene (such as the forest Cody walks through in my children’s book Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest) or developing the characters’ personality and showing their actions. When we zero into our work, helping the reader gain a greater understanding and perspective of our characters, settings, and plots, we’re helping those readers to focus on the purpose of our story, much like a photographer focuses the camera’s lens to sharpen the image and capture the scene/subject.

As I work on my next children’s books, I’ll again be focusing on the subject of animals (a dog for one main character and a cat for other book’s primary character). As I write these stories and set the scenes as well as develop the characters to which I’m hoping children will relate, I’ll be remembering how amazing a camera lens works to focus on the subject matter the photographer wants to capture. Writers and photographers are similar in this perspective: we need to zero in on our work, creating a beautiful image/story for our audience to enjoy.

I’m looking forward to what develops in my upcoming children’s stories as well as what images I capture with the new camera when we take our summer trip to Yellowstone and Teton national parks! Perhaps a bear or a moose will appear in the eye of my lens – and I’ll be grateful to have that telephoto lens!

Do you enjoy photography? (we all know S.J. does!) What’s the best image you’ve captured on film or in digital format? Have any of those photos helped generate story/book ideas for you?

Gayle and Mary_river walk

Gayle M. Irwin is a writer, author and speaker. She is the author of five inspirational dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including the latest dog book The Dog Did What?, released in August 2014. She also writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, and Our Town Casper magazines and for the Casper Journal newspaper. She pens a pet column for the Douglas Budget and River Press newspapers, and she’s had articles published in Creation Illustrated magazine. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageBigAdventureFront-small   Sage Finds Friends_front cover   Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage   Walking_FrontCover_small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014