Knoxville, Tennessee – Where it all started…….


For most of my photographic life, I had mostly been interested in creating images of scenics, animals, aircraft, most anything except birds.  It never entered my mind that there was so much to offer in photographing the avian varieties.  My bird knowledge was sparrows, pigeons, or ducks.  That simple.  Just those three “species”.  Then one day it all changed……..

To digress a bit, several years ago I came in contact with a person who is now a very dear friend of mine.   A  lady from Knoxville, Tennessee who is an awesome photographer, Deb Tappan.  (Click that link to see her work).   Ann and I paid a visit to Deb and her husband Paul, in early 2006.  They showed us a great time with visits to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the surrounding areas.

While visiting, I noticed that in front of their home was these trees with a variety of birds of all colors;  finches, cardinals, etc.  Deb suggested that I try to photograph them through the window.  She removed the screen and I was enthralled with the birds, and I started snapping the pictures.  After we returned to San Angelo, I loaded them into my computer.  I realized then that I had to identify them if I was going to show them anywhere.  So I bought bird guides and got to work.  I was hooked then.

A few months later, we made a return to Knoxville, determined to get several more photos of the birds there.  Again, Deb and Paul, showed us some great spots.  One of them was the Tellico Reservoir Recreation Area on the big Tennessee River.  Wow!  What a time we had!  Deb and I each set up our cameras on our tripods.  Trying to photograph all of the herons and osprey was a challenge.  The challenge was trying to decide which way to aim the camera, as the birds were flying from all directions.  We had really found the mother lode. 🙂

After that trip I realized that I had finally found the genre of photography that I seemed to excel at.  Now my cameras and binoculars are alway at my side.  Ann and I are hooked on birding, as I am hooked on photographing every bird we spot.   I guess I owe it all to Deb for taking that screen off of her window so I could get a few snapshots.

Here are a few shots from that memorable day on the Tennessee River.  All images were captured with my Canon EOS 40D.  I attached my Canon 500mm lens with a 1.4 tele-converter, making it into a working 700mm super tele-photo.  I then mounted this rig on a Bogen-Manfrotto tripod with a Wimberley II Gimbal head.  The data was ISO was 400, aperture priority, and center weighted metering for all images.  The shutter speed and aperture is noted under each photograph.

Black-crowned Night Heron

  •  1/1000 sec, @ f7.1

Osprey with fish

  • 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1

Great Blue Heron

  • 1/3200 sec. @ f6.3

juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

  • 1/800 sec. @ f7.1

There you have it.  I still dabble in scenics, etc., but I guess my heart is in wildlife.  I am glad that I have so many people that enjoy my work, so keep your comments coming.  That is what inspires me. 🙂

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18 thoughts on “Knoxville, Tennessee – Where it all started…….

  1. How terrific to read this autobiographical snippet of your start in bird photography. It certainly is your forté, although I enjoy your landscapes very much as well. They say that people always come into our lives for a reason.

  2. Wonderful images, as I’d expect from you. Bird watching and bird photography are wonderful occupations, aren’t they? I apologize for initially posting this comment under your Green Heron post.

    • Thanks, Ted. My wife always wants me to write stories, instead of just posting pictures. So this should keep me in good graces with her for awhile. But, to be honest, I do love to write when I can think of things to write about.

  3. Great story you shared and photos are tops as usual. I have painted lots of different scenes, and subject matter, but wildlife is what I always come back too..keep up the photos..

  4. Interesting history! Sometimes we seem to fall into something unexpected, but when it feels right, you just know it! You certainly DO excel in this type of photography, I have learned about so many different types of birds – thanks to you! That shot of the Osprey really does show him off as the predator he is, doesn’t it?? Those eyes are fierce!!

    • Thanks, Holly. Ann likes my blog posts better if I write a story. 🙂 She enjoyed this one. I just edited the photo and updated it to a vertical of the Osprey. I told Shelly I might try this, as you can read in the above comments. I think it works better.

  5. What a fun story about your roots as a bird photographer! Thanks for sharing. I love the photos – especially the Great Blue Heron. The rocky outcrop that it is perched on really contributes to the composition, providing the illusion of a “horizon” on the photo. I also really liked the osprey, but I wondered how it would look if you removed the branches in the upper right corner?

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