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.

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

 

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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

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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

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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.

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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

 

Learning

 

IMGP6507By S. J  Brown

Nobody can possibly know everything. All of us should be learning new things every day. Learning new things enhances our lives.  Each new thing we learn has the potential to make our lives richer, fuller, and safer. 

There are some things that everyone should know, but unfortunately not everyone does. When and how to use a blinker when you are driving, or looking both ways before you cross the street are important.  

 Did you know the higher the number on your freezer dial the colder the freezer temperature will be?  Facts like what the heck is BPH and why did anyone think it was safe to use in things like baby bottles and water bottles are a bit harder to learn.  Sometimes it comes down to doing research, other times life shows us what we need to know. 

 I tend to learn things that most people aren’t concerned with. But these things come in handy for me.  I know all kinds of things about wild critters and nature. Did you know that Black Bears like the sound that a film camera makes when it advances the film?

Bear

Yes, he was close enough to hear it. 

Deer tend to stay away from plants with an aroma like marigolds and lavender. This is something many gardeners have learned over the years. 

Deer

I recently learned that our local home improvement store is on the migrating path for Monarch Butterflies.

Monarch

Did you know Hummingbirds can fly upside down.  While it is an interesting fact, it’s not something everyone would need to know.  Capturing them doing this is not easy. 

Hummingbird

Do you know what a lemur looks like?

Lemurs

These guys welcomed me into their world for a brief visit and taught me a little more about animal curiosity. 

The world around us is filled with interesting things and opportunities to learn There are critters all around us like this tree frog that likes our backyard pool.

Frog

I friend of mine recently learned that the fox that was spotted in her yard wasn’t concerned with her or her dog.  It was probably on its way to check out how accessible the neighbors chickens were.

Fox

As a member of this group I have learned about history, trains, traditions, and much more.  Hopefully I have returned the favor and taught all of you a thing or two about wild critters.  All of us have a little bit of wisdom to share and lots to learn.  So lets all make today  a productive learning experience.

 

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.

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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

By S. J. Brown

Have you ever had someone come into your home that just made you feel uncomfortable? Maybe it was a repair man, a delivery person, or a friend of a friend. That is how wild animals feel every time they encounter a person. They don’t speak your language and have no idea why you are there.

One thing that nearly everyone that has had a negative experience with a wild animal forgets is that you are in their home. Their house rules apply. Unfortunately many animals that have a negative experience with people don’t survive.

Elephant

The Bison that have been attacking people in Yellowstone National Park aren’t mean, they are wild animals. People just get to close and apparently Bison don’t like posing for selfies with anyone. A man in Texas recently learned Rattlesnakes don’t like selfies either.

Rattlesnake

The sharks that have been attacking people along the east coast aren’t demon fish, they are sharks. Sharks swim in the ocean and eat. If you are in the ocean and you look like a meal, they bite. I think it really is that simple.

When you encounter a bear in the woods they react to your presence in their home. A bear will do one of 3 things, 1) run 2)attack 3) think about it for a minute before running or attacking That applies to almost every wild critter. There are rare exceptions, but they are rare.

Bear

Yes it is possible to visit their home and enjoy natures creatures, I do it all the time. I shoot wildlife with a camera, not a bow & arrow, or a gun. As I see it they are wild beings, not trophy’s.

When I visit their home I use a telephoto lens. I keep a safe distance between me and my subject. I pay attention to the animals behavior, and leave their home the way I found it. In other words I mind my manners.

Osprey

A little over a year ago I moved to my new home. This summer I finally got around to doing some yard work. I quickly discovered the rabbits in the area liked the selection of flowers I selected. My solution is quite simple I will move those plants closer to the wooded area at the edge of the property and select another type of plant for the flowerbed. Then they can enjoy their home and I can enjoy mine.

Bunny

A friend of mine decided to grow her own tomatoes, just a few plants. The deer in her area liked the idea and made a meal out of her plants. Her solution, get a few large flowerpots for next years tomato plants and place them on her porch.

Deer

More and more wild animals and people are encountering one another. We share the earth with the wildlife and we all need to find ways to co exist. Since humans are supposed to be the more evolved species I think it is up to us to find a middle ground, and respect all living creatures.

Squirrel

Thanks for stopping by.

Connect with S. J. Brown on Facebook and be one of the first to see what she has been up to. Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367

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

Warning Signs by SJ

By S. J. Brown

Warning signs are present in all our lives. Mothers warn their children all the time “I’m warning you”. When you see a dark black sky that is a warning sign that a storm is moving in. When I am traveling there are warning signs everywhere. A no left turn sign warns me not to turn left here, or I may get a ticket. Additional signs let me know when there is construction, bumps in the road, things might get icy or fall on me.

Road Sign

Now that warm weather has finally arrived more people will be venturing out to enjoy nature. The lives of wildlife are full of warning signs also. When our two worlds meet we need to be able to read the signs.

Most animals will warn an opponent before attacking. The way to stay safe in their territory is to know the warning signs and watch for them. The number one rule when you are out exploring nature is never, never, never get between a mother and her babies. Mama may not warn you to move on. Her first instinct is to protect her young.

Mama Bear

Even those who know little about wildlife know that when a rattle snake rattles its tail, this is a warning sign and you better back off .

Rattlesnake

Before embarking on a trip south I researched alligator behavior. An alligator will hiss and, or open their mouth as a warning sign. Of course when I was face to face with a large alligator I couldn’t remember their warning signs or how far an alligator can lung forward.

Alligator

Deer will snort and stomp its foot to warn others of danger. They also raise their tail to signal other deer. Male deer known as Bucks will warn an opponent to back off by lowering their antlers in the opponents direction.

Deer

Before heading out to photograph some wild ponies I needed to know what to look for. I now know that it’s not good when their ears are tucked back. Many other animals share this behavioral trait, so watch for it.

Horse

Some animals will puff themselves up to make themselves appear larger to scare off an intruder. This is your first warning sign. Any animal that shows its teeth has little tolerance for you. It doesn’t matter if they are large or small those teeth are sharp and can cause a quite a bit of harm. So go out enjoy the great outdoors, pay attention to warning signs and come back safe. Thanks for stopping by to hear my thoughts on warning signs.

Have you ever been warned to back off, by an animal? What happened?

Two new fun releases by S. J. Brown are due out later this month.  Connect with her on Facebook and be one of the first to see what she has been up to. Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367

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

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Why? by SJ

Sue profile_pp This Post by S. J. Brown

For this blog post I thought I would address a question I am asked quite often, Why? Why do I photograph wildlife? Why get up at 4 am and go out into the dark? Why trample around in the woods? Why not photograph people, buildings, flowers or serene landscapes?

Flower

Yes, those subjects would be a lot easier to photograph. When photographing a person you can arrange to meet them. You can reposition them easily with just a few words. A building will be there tomorrow and the next day so you can always return to the same location to get another angle. Once you find that perfect vantage point to record a tranquil scene or towering mountain you can return again and again until you get the lighting just the way you want it.

Scenic

That just isn’t the case when photographing wildlife. You can’t ask them to move over just a few steps. Well you can, and I often do. However this request doesn’t always get the desired outcome. It does often get my subject to look in my direction. But it can have the opposite result as well. They could leave or challenge me. The same holds true for adjusting my position to get the desired shot.

Hawk

I do return to locations I have successfully photographed critters at before. Sometimes this practice yields a bounty of subjects, other times I find myself all alone. I have a favorite spot in North Carolina. This area has a large black bear population along with deer, rabbits, turtles, and birds. So each visit is unique. Each animal is unique as well. Some like the camera, others shy away from it.

Black Bear

The challenge of finding not just subjects, but co operative subjects is a large part of wildlife photography. Combine this with lighting issues, weather, and the challenges of accessing some areas and this isn’t always easy. So I guess part of the reason I photograph wildlife is the challenge.

Prairie Dog

The main reason I do what I do is the encounters. Having my subjects allow me a glimpse into their world is what I strive for. To spend just a few seconds looking into the eyes of a wild creature is what drives me to do what I do. The social event of the year simply can’t compare to the rush I get when it’s just me, my subject and the camera. The camera is really just a tool to help me share my experiences. Not everyone gets a one on one audience with creatures large and small.

Bird

So now you know why I do what I do.

Promo Shot Horizontal

Where is your favorite place to take photos? What part does wildlife play in your stories, or in your life? 

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Thanks for stopping by.