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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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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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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On the Road Again

IMGP6507

The car was fully loaded, leaving just enough room for Jay and me.  The back seat held a small cooler for drinks, 2 camera bags, 2 duffle bags, and a bag of snacks.  In the trunk was a large cooler with food for the next few days, linens, hiking boots, a tote loaded with plate’s cups and silverware, and our coats.

SJBrown1road

Jay and I were heading north on a 5 day excursion.  The trip began with torrential downpours and lots of traffic.  Our first stop made it all worth it when we got a chance to hang out with family and have pizza for dinner. 

The next morning we were up with the sun and back on the road.  Our destination, Michigan was still over 7 hours away.  We encountered more rain, more traffic and road construction.  Still we managed to arrive in Holland Michigan in time to cruise the downtown area, find an array of tulips and find our cabin before sunset.

sjbrown2sunset

Jay and I were heading north on a 5 day excursion.  The trip began with torrential downpours and lots of traffic.  Our first stop made it all worth it when we got a chance to hang out with family and have pizza for dinner. 

The next morning we were up with the sun and back on the road.  Our destination, Michigan was still over 7 hours away.  We encountered more rain, more traffic and road construction.  Still we managed to arrive in Holland Michigan in time to cruise the downtown area, find an array of tulips and find our cabin before we were encompassed by darkness.

sjbrown3coot

We were up were up with the sun and on the hunt for critters to photograph.  Thanks to some informative birdwatchers we had a new destination. Just 2 hours away there were Heron, Cranes and several other critters building nests and settling in for a while.   As usual local people had the best information and we found some very co operative cranes and their friends.

sjbrown4raccoon

We returned to our cabin in time to watch the sunset over lake Michigan accompanied by hundreds of people who had the same plan.  The following day was filled with black squirrels, geese, ducks, a muskrat, and a stop to tour a working windmill.  It was imported from Holland decades ago and they still grind flower there every week. 

sjbrown4windmill

Our last day was mostly driving toward home.  We did stop for a while to see the cranes, and Herons one more time to help break up the trip. 

sjbrown5crane

By the time we returned home we had traveled 1822 miles.  I had clicked off 17 rolls of film and captured 28 different types of critters.  Now I am ready to do it again.    

Thanks for stopping by. I hope your days are filled with one happy adventure after another.

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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.

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Team Work

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

 Like many writers I am a bit of a loner.  I can easily spend large blocks of time alone and be quite content.  I also find that being part of a team can be very rewarding.

SJBrown 1 Geese

I was recently part of a team of a few dozen people that gathered together on a gloomy Saturday morning.   Together we planted 200 trees.  I’m not talking little sprouts, but three or four foot tall trees.  I have had the privilege of working with this team for over a year now. It is a real thrill when I drive past one of the locations we have planted and see the trees thriving.

SJBrown 2 Trees

When I am out in the field photographing wildlife I am also part of a team.  My husband Jay is the other team member.  He is an excellent spotter.  He can tell what kind of bird is flying over head by the shape of its wings, or the size of its tail.   He does all the driving and watches my back, so I don’t get surprised by an angry bear or any critter.

SJBrown 3 Jay

I am also part of a team of volunteers that does littler clean up in the area.  It always amazes me how rude people can be.  They toss all kinds of things out their car windows without ever giving it a second thought.

SJBrown 4 Sparrow

Recently I became part of yet another team, Team Sisters.  “Team Sisters” is the name we gave the launch team for my next book, “Sisters”.  This team is made up of writers, interested readers, friends, and a few family members.  Since this book is a memoir written by two sisters most of the team is female.  There are a few brave men that have volunteered to be part of the team.  Since my last blog the team  members have assembled and we are ready to get down to work.

SJBRown 5 Sisters

As part of a team I can accomplish so much more than I can on my own.  Alone I would not be able to plant hundreds of trees, pick up bags full of trash or photograph nearly as many critters.  Team Sisters will be helping to add a little insight into the finishing touches for the book my sister and I collaborated on.

SJBrown 6 Butterflies

I have been part of teams that didn’t work out very well.  Sometime we need to try out a few teams before we find a good fit.  Have you joined a team and how did that work out for you?

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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

Cover All the Birds I See Cover

 

Getting Educated on Marketing

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

As a writer there are two things I truly suck at, punctuation and marketing.  One of my New Year’s resolutions was to work on both.  So when an on line course I had been eyeing was offered for free for one week only I signed up.

sjbrown1butterfly 

This was my first experience with an on line class and how they work.  I knew each day of the Book Marketing Summit I would receive an email with links to the days segments.  On day one I learned there would be 4 or 5 segments each day.  Each link was accessible for 48 hours and then it disappeared.

  sjbrown2pony

The segments consisted of interviews with a knowledgeable professional about a specific aspect of marketing; most of them were an hour long.  That’s four or five hours a day, add in my part time job, laundry, meals, etc, etc.  I would not be spending any time with critters that week.

sjbrown6frog

At the end of the seven days I had worked 26 hours and traveled close to 400 miles to do it.  I had completed all 28 segments and had 40 pages of notes. 

I have now sorted my notes into categories and have a game plan.  The first order of business for me is to start building my list.  What list you ask, why my e mail list of course.  This list will consist of people who want to follow the progress of my publishing journey with my new book. 

On a bi-weekly, or possibly monthly basis I will e mail each of them an update on my progress, and offer a free look behind the scenes every now and then to keep them engaged.  Once the book is released they will get an e mail with a bonus if they purchase the book.   .  If this sounds like a journey you would like to take with me just E mail me sjbrown.pictures@gmail.com.   Feel free to share this blog with others that may also be interested.

sjbrown3emu 

The timing on this marketing summit couldn’t have been better. I am in the final stages of finishing a book my sister and I wrote together.  The working title of the book is simply “Sisters”.  It is a memoir that takes the reader through 12 years of our lives as we become adults.

sjbrown4sisters 

As I build my list I will also be putting together my launch team. What is a launch team?  It’s a group of people that are super interested in this process.  The launch team is my sounding board for decisions on things like the book description, the cover,  keywords, what freebees to offer (launch team members get all the freebies)   categories and more. The launch team members will have first access to the book and I am hoping most will write reviews. 

sjbrown5sisters

There is still a lot to do before we go to print, but I have learned a lot about on line marketing and I am hoping my new found education will serve me well in the future.  What are your marketing secrets? How will you apply them to your next project? 

Thanks for stopping by.

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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.

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Cover All the Birds I See CoverHow will you apply them to your next project.

 

 

 

 

 

Counting

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

So how was your Valentine’s Day? Did it include candy, a card, flowers and dinner out?  Jay and I celebrate Valentine’s Day in a less traditional way.  Last year it was bitter cold, and windy, I am sure most people opted to spend the day indoors.

We chose to get up before the sun, bundle up and head to Delaware.  My thought was if the critters could brave the cold, so could I.  The Horseshoe crabs and most of the shore birds I normally photograph in Delaware were gone.  The robins and goldfinches were basking in the warmer temperatures further south.  However my efforts were rewarded by thousands of Snow Geese.

Snow Geese

We enjoyed being just below the gigantic flock of geese as they soared over head. However the Hawk that was trapped beneath the flock wasn’t having any fun.  He had to be content with hovering in the same general area until the flock had passed.

Large numbers of Canada geese also decided to spend the winter in Delaware.

Canada Geese

This year’s plan includes venturing just a bit further to New Jersey. There we will be looking for Loons, waterfowl, Owls, Tundra Swans, raptors, deer, and coyotes.   Yes this is a long list, but when we go looking for birds that migrate it really is hit or miss.  On our trip to Minnesota we missed the Loons by just a few days.   However the Whooping Cranes arrived about the same time we did.

Whooping Cranes

On our way beck to West Virginia we will spend some time in Delaware.   I am hoping this trip will yield lots of new images to share in the future.   The purpose of this trip is multi fold.  Of course I will be photographing any critter I find.  I will also be counting birds.

For 19 years volunteers have been counting birds. This year the count dates are February 12 to February 15th.  Last year more than 140,000 people took part in the count.  You can count from your own backyard for as little as 15 minutes.  More information on the Great Backyard Bird Count can be found at birdcount.org .

Titmouse

Why count birds? This annual count gives scientist a snapshot of the world’s bird population.  Those of you that follow my blog know I also tag and count Monarch butterflies. My part in these annual events is small, but when combined with the efforts of other volunteers our efforts provide a huge amount of data.

Monarch

Is there an annual event you take part in?  Your contribution, no matter how small, really does count.

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

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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

Cover All the Birds I See Cover

Summers Over

By S. J. Brown

Many people mourn the passing of summer, not me. During the hot days of summer I photograph very little. The critters hide deep in the woods to find shelter from the heat. Those that are accessible are not in the mood to pose for me.

Of course there are some exceptions like the hummingbirds that buzz around my back deck and the butterflies that frequent the butterfly bush in the front yard. Also I can’t forget the bunny rabbits and ground hogs that steadily raided my veggie garden all summer long. We have an arrangement, I feed them they let me take their pictures.

September 2015 ground hog

This time of year I am putting away my shorts, pulling out long sleeve shirts and picking lots of goodies from the garden. It’s time to wrap up my summer projects and put lots of bulbs in the ground, so I will be greeted with spring flowers when the warm weather returns.

Most summer travelers are safely back at home. So there are fewer cars on the roads, less traffic means more traveling for me. The cooler nights that signal fall is on the way also signals migrating birds its time to go. I need to get as many images of migrating birds as I can before they are gone. Raptors will be gathering in groups and kettling (flying in circular groups), Monarch butterflies will begin their trip to Mexico and Starlings will be invading buildings and trees in large groups.

September 2015 vulture

Black Bears will be bulking up for winter. In areas where they find an abundance of food I can get a little closer for some great images. However areas where food is scarce Bears tend to be a bit grumpy and aren’t thrilled with the idea of having their picture taken.

September 2015 Bear

Soon the colors of fall will be providing me with great backgrounds for my critter shots. I will be doing more hiking, and a bit more exploring in new areas. What will you be doing to celebrate the arrival of fall?

September 2015 Fall Deer

It has been a year since I joined the writers, wranglers, and warriors group. For those that have followed along I have introduced myself, shared my images and my opinions. I try to keep my posts upbeat and visually stimulating. I hope everyone has enjoyed getting to know me as much as I have enjoyed getting to know all of you.

Thanks for stopping by.

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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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Critters by S. J.

Sue profile_pp

This Blog by S. J. Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As part of an A-z blog challenge I was asked to base my blog on the letter C. I took some time to 1Coloradoconsider what to write about. I could have written about my trip to Colorado. It was an interesting experience with a Wedding, a Pop up town, blue people, and yes wildlife. No matter where I am I seek out wildlife to photograph.

 

I also considered blogging about creativity. We all have a creative side and I could talk about mine. The many creative endeavors I approached over the years would make a good blog. I ran a ceramic business, dabbled in stained glass, and sketching and of course I write. However it just seemed natural for me to blog about critters. I photograph them, I write about them, and hang out with them whenever I can.

A critter is defined as being a living creature. I use the word critters a lot to describe my target 2chipmunksubjects when I am photographing. Critters come in a variety of sizes, shapes and temperaments. All of them fascinate me.

 

Some critters don’t live in areas I have access to so I have to visit them in zoos. While the challenge of finding my subject doesn’t exist in zoos there are other factors like fencing, fellow visitors and angles to contend with. Having a captive subject doesn’t always guarantee great images.

3Camel

Wild critters are the real challenge for any wildlife photographer. They aren’t acclimated to people and tend to be where they want to be, not always where they are easy to find. Occasionally I get lucky and a critter magically crosses my path.

4coyote

Most however need to be searched for, then not all of them are co operative. Others love the camera and will hang out with me for quite a while.

5coot

Some critters that are commonly seen can be quite difficult to photograph like the cabbage white6cabbage white butterfly. They flutter around and only pause for a brief few seconds. This leaves me with a very small window of opportunity to get them into the frame at desired angle and click the shutter button. Generally it takes several attempts even when I ask them to hold still.

 

Canada Geese are another critter that is easy to find and photograph. Since they hang out in groups or flocks I can zoom in on one or two and click away.

7canada goose

Larger critters can be easier to photograph, but few of them begin with the letter C. So I will end with one more critter who’s name begins with the letter C. This is a very popular critter who adorns holiday cards, symbolizes relationships, and vitality, and often visits my yard.

8cardinal

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my thoughts on Critters.

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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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