The Right Animal

Home Up The Canon A-1 Right Place & Time The Right Animal    


This is a series of very "tame" animals that allowed me to get close and get some good pictures.  My rule is - when an animal is unusually cooperative, don't spare the film.  I've taken up to 4 rolls of film on an individual animal. 

 While you are looking at these pictures, also pay attention to the composition.  Most of them follow the standard "rules" of composition, but a few break them.  Do they work?  You be the judge.

Anax junius dragonfly - Purdue Entomology Research Area, Indiana (1983).  

This individual perched and gave me some great shots.  It took me 17 years to  get close to this species again.  The trick is to find them early in the morning when they are crawling up out of tall weeds in old fields near ponds.  Try to catch them within an hour of when the sun hits the weeds on a cool morning.

Yellow Crowned Night Heron - Ding Darling National Wildlife Sanctuary, Florida (August, 1998).  

This guy was hanging out in the mangrove roots and paid little attention to me.  I was able to take a number of pictures, including one where he was eating a crab.

American Crocodile, Flamingo Marina, Everglades National Park, Florida (June, 1999).

This is an endangered species!  Guidebooks speak of their great rarity, yet this one was calmly swimming through the empty slips at the marina.  The lighting was poor, but I was able to get some usable shots.  The Everglades in the summer are full of mosquitoes and empty of tourists, one reason why this guy may have been so bold.

Bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana at Broughton Nature Preserve, Marietta, Ohio (May, 2000).

This frog was unusually calm.   

Ichneumonid Wasp, female laying eggs in a tree.  Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory, Gibralter Island, Lake Erie, Ohio (July, 1981).

I had had my camera less than a year, and I didn't have a macro lens, just a zoom that would go 1:3.  This is still one of my favorite shots.  I've seen and caught the wasps since then, but never laying eggs.  The 3" long ovipositor can penetrate several inches into the wood.


Wapiti - Grand Teton National Park  (September, 1999).

After taking pictures one morning, I came down off the mountain and was driving out of the park.  A group of photographers caught my eye first; then I saw what they were looking at.  This male was with a group of females, and with a little work I was able to maneuver myself to get him in profile, and catch a glint of morning sun in his eye.

Canvasback Duck, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (June, 1999).

Zoos also attract a lot of wildlife, particularly birds.  This canvasback was having fun, the light was right, and I got lucky.

Garter Snake, Buffalo River State Park, Minnesota (September, 1999).

This little guy was crawling through the grass late in the afternoon.  He kept trying to get to some tall weeds, but I kept blocking him.  Finally, I got down to eye level with him and got this shot.

Soldier Fly, Broughton Nature Preserve, Marietta, Ohio (May 2000).

This fly caught my eye as it sat on a sedge stem at the edge of the pond.  This was the last picture I took in the series.  The wind had come up, and I held the stem with one hand and took the picture. 

Juvenile Redtail Hawk, Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio (December, 1997).

This guy was great.  He sat on the lawn in front of Erwin Hall eating a squirrel.  I took about 4 rolls of film of him.  I was able to crawl within 10 feet of him.  Unfortunately, I did not have a 400 mm lens at the time and had to settle for a 100-300 zoom that was less than sharp.  Still, when you get close even a cheap lens will take a good picture.

The redtail stayed on campus through the winter.  Our squirrel population went way down.

Red Shouldered Hawks.  Above, Florida Everglades (July, 1998).  Below, Highland Hammock State Park, Florida (June, 1996).

Both of these birds were very patient with me.  The one on the bottom was the first of its type I had ever seen.  At first, it was perched on a boardwalk, but later it flew into the edge of the swamp, fortunately staying in the light.  The bird above was at the junction of US 27 and Interstate 75; I saw it near an access road off 27 and pulled over.  I spent 1/2 hour and 4 rolls of film on it as it caught and ate a lizard only 20 feet away from me.  The processing lab ruined 3 of the 4 rolls of film.


Roseate Spoonbill - Estero Lagoon, Estero Island, Florida (June, 1999).

A guidebook to birding in Florida had a map showing how to get to the beach and lagoon behind the Holiday Inn in Ft. Meyers Beach.  I decided to stay at the Holiday Inn and waded the lagoon with this bird, who posed in the afternoon light.  The next day, I was able to get nowhere near as close to any of the spoonbills I saw at the nearby Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Scrub Jay, Archibold Biological Station, Lake Placid, Florida (June, 1999)

This was my favorite bird in the whole world.  RSL- was 14 years old when these photos were taken; he died that fall.  I had seen him at the station the previous 2 years that I visited.  As you can see from the upper photo, he wasn't shy, and in fact would ride on my head or shoulders for about 1/4 mile as I hiked and took pictures.