This just an announcement that I am running a promotion for 16×20 Stretched Canvas Prints of my Painted Rocks photograph. This promotion is through my store at FineArtAmerica. Click the link for more information.
Drizzly, chilly and over-all a gray day. So it is a good day to get caught up on my blog. We have been getting out pretty regular so I did get some new photos to post. The highlight of the week was getting to see a Burrowing Owl. A friend had spotted one a few miles west of Eldorado. He gave us directions and we drove down on Thursday to see if we could locate it. Sure, enough, it was where he said it would be. We had difficulty seeing him a first as he was behind a road culvert, just peeking his head over to see what we were up to. Here is my first image. Click on it and the following photos to see enlargements.
We stayed in the car, using it as a blind. I was only about twenty feet away. The owl eventually started exposing himself so I could get more photographs.
The last one may be my favorite, although I took many photographs, about one hundred. It was hard to resist.
Now for the other ‘stuff’. Back here in town, at Spring Creek Park. Again, we were out there early, with our coffee and burritos. This Orange-crowned Warbler was one of the first to make an appearance.
Then a Fox Sparrow.
Back down by the water, this Marsh Wren emerged from the reeds.
A few minutes later, the shy, elusive Common Yellowthroat decided to let himself be seen. It is such a cute little bird, only about three inches long.
That’s about it for the photos this week. You can buy prints and other merchandise featuring my photography here at FineArtAmerica. Or click the link under my Galleries in the right side of this page. I have added the photograph of the Burrowing Owl. Available in many of the gifts, including a nice coffee mug. Just click on the image you like, and a menu will appear with a list items for purchase. I would certainly appreciate your business. If you have any questions, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post is a story about one of my all-time favorite photographs. I say that because it has special meaning. It was this photo that completely made me start believing in myself; believe that I could actually be successful in marketing my photography. Oh, sure, I had been selling a few prints before that, but I wasn’t really convinced that I could get much better than what I was at that time.
It was a Sunday afternoon in the fall of 1998 when I decided to visit the Water Lily Collection here in downtown San Angelo. Ann was with me. I had my camera and tripod and a 35mm film camera. Digital photography was in it’s infancy as far as I was concerned. I didn’t, at that time, believe that the digital cameras could produce the quality prints that I wanted. Of course, that is now all changed. I now shoot with high end Canon digital equipment.
But I digress. Back to 1998. I browsed around all of the five ponds of water lilies. I was searching, not really knowing what for. Just something that would stop me in my tracks, and say to me, this is the one. Then it happened. A solo blossom, a muted pink, juxtaposed next to a large lily pad, with brilliant colors in the water. I had a 200-400mm Tamron zoom lens mounted on my old Canon. I maneuvered the setup into position, then rearranged it several times until I had the composition that I wanted. I called Ann over. She had been sitting on a bench, just taking in the beautiful surroundings. I told her to look through the viewfinder. I told her, “have a look at a winner”. I knew in my heart that it was destined to be one of my best ever. Because of it being film, instead of digital, I was limited on how manyshots I could take. I took three shots. Three different exposures, bracketed. (Click the image to see it enlarged.)
I took the film to a local photo lab to have it developed. I chose the photo that had the little ripples in the water at the left part of the picture. I then sent it to a custom lab and had a 20×30 inch print made. I framed it and entered it in a show at the San Angelo Art Club. It won first place. I then entered it in three other local competions and won all three. At an exibition at Angelo State University, an art professor looked over, and said I should name it, “LaPrima Donna Magnifico”. Translated into “Magnificent Ballerina”.
Later, in 1999, Photography Forum Magazine and Canon, combined to have an international photo competition. I thought, this is a chance to see just how good the photo was. There was 29, 193 entries. Two categories: color or black and white. So you would assume there were approximately 15,000 color entries. Well, lo and behold, my photo didn’t win first place. It did win fourth place. I was elated, because not only did it carry a large cash prize, but it was also published in their magazine and their annual book. That was the first time, actually the first of many, published credits that I have received in the last 18 years.
I have sold many framed editions of this image for amounts in the upper hundreds. Enough said about that. I will just say that it was a very successful photograph that jump-started my career as a professional photographer. Since then I have been featured in dozens of magazines (including two covers), periodicals, books (including two covers), murals, and even a huge billboard. I since started specializing in bird photography and am now considered one of the best at that. I have also published a book of my bird photographs. I also had a DVD produced with my images.
Well, that’s about that for this post. I hope you didn’t mind me “blowing my own horn” so to speak. If you will click on the link at the left, below Bob Zeller Galleries, you can buy prints of this image and other home decor featuring that photo and others.
Until next time, happy shooting. 🙂
Well, this is my first blog post of the new year 2017. Some new photos plus some news about my latest venture, my ‘on-line store’ with Fine Art America. Actually, a website where you can purchase everything from prints to coffee mugs, all featuring my photography of birds and landscapes. You can also click the link under Bob Zeller’s Gallery in the side bar. On the website, in the upper corner, there is a discount code that you may wish to partake of. So, I am very excited about that. It is a work in progress, as I will be adding photographs almost daily. For you birders, you may wish to start a collection of bird coffee mugs.
Besides that, I have been busy getting into the field for more bird photo opportunites. Here are a few that I captured since the New Year Weekend.
We began at Spring Creek Park early in the morning. This Black-crowned Night Heron was slowly waking up.
We finally were able to spot a Red-breasted Nuthatch high in a tree.
A male Belted Kingfisher resting on a high line overlooking the water, occasionally diving for the water in an attempt to grab an unsuspecting fish.
An Eastern Phoebe perched on a branch, resting for a moment before taking off again.
I love these colorful Spotted Towhees. This one at Middle Concho Park. They stay on the ground most of the time, scratching in the leaves and grass.
I got very lucky with this Great Kiskadee as he landed on a branch only about 15 feet away. They are usually pretty rare here in San Angelo. However, three or four arrived here in late September and seem to have found a home.
I finally got an American Kestrel stop long enough at San Angelo State Park for a photo. They usually just sit just long enough for me to stop, get my camera off of my lap, and aim. Moments later, before I can press the shutter, off they go again.
Another quick and fast tiny bird is the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. This one made several quick stops and I was ready. It was a bonus to catch the little red crown.
I guess that is all for this post. I do hope that you will check out my Fine Art America website. Any proceeds that I earn help me pay for the expenses of keeping up the blog, plus Ann and I can eat for another week. 🙂
Well, here it is the 29th of December and another year of blogging is about to come to a close. I had threatened to stop with my final post of the year, but because of much encouragement from friend and readers, I will continue on. This will be my 940th post, so maybe I can make it to 1,000 in 2017, and I will re-evaluate again when that time comes.
I must boast a bit about my success with this blog which is now in it’s 7th year. Of the top 1,000 birding blogs on the web, I am number 190 as of this date. I have had 209,856 hits by 46,707 viewers. Of those, 2,318 have actually subscribed, where they will get an e-mail notification when I publish a post. You can be a subscriber by clicking on ‘sign me up’.
But enough about me. Let’s mention you, my loyal readers, that keep me encouraged by your likes and comments. I love comments. Feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts and feelings.
I can’t write a post with including a few photographs, which, I believe have improved greatly over history of this blog. Of course that probably comes from practice, improved equipment and techniques. Her are a few that I captured since Christmas day.
My favorite of this bunch is this Common Yellowthroat. A very tiny, shy and elusive bird. In my previous post, I had mentioned that Ann and I were getting up early to search for birds. I can admit now that looking for the yellowthroat was our real reason. Our persistence and patience paid off. We parked every morning near a wet, reedy area, and watched and waited. On the day after Christmas, he decided to gift us with a two minute viewing, early, right after sun-up. Click on this and the following photos to see beautiful enlargements.
In the same area, this marsh wren was scurrying around. I captured him a bit earlier than the yellowthroat, so the light was a bit darker. That resulted in a high ISO number of 6400. I used some software to decrease the color noise so the image is not great quality. But I like the composition so here it is for your critique.
Across the water, this Black-crowned Night Heron looks like he is watching for a bus to come along.
I can’t resist trying to get photos of any Ruby-crowned Kinglet that I come across. This one at Spring Creek Park.
Near the entrance to Spring Creek Park here in San Angelo, we spotted this Belted Kingfisher in a tree overlooking the water. There were several twigs, etc, blocking him, but the spot focusing on my Canon 7D Mark II came through.
Another image of the always popular Northern Cardinal.
As you have probably noticed, I love trying to photograph the tiny birds. This one an Orange-crowned Warbler, scratching in the grass and weeds.
Out at San Angelo State Park, we got lucky and saw two raptors. The first is a beautiful Red-tailed Hawk, that co-operated and posed for this nice image.
My last photo before heading home, turned out to be one of my best images of a Merlin. It wasn’t easy, and I almost deleted it when I saw the original in the computer. Have a look:
He was about 300 yards away, and he looked tiny in the viewfinder. With the naked eye it looked impossible to get a photo. Fortunately, with my camera sitting solidly on my window sill, I was able to get that lone single focus dot on the breast of the bird. I got home and loaded it into my computer. First, I lightened it up. I was surprised that the image was very usable. This is what I came up with after really tight cropping, sharpening it up a bit, and adding some contrast. Not bad, if I do say so myself. 🙂
Okay, that’s it for this, my final post of 2016. I want to wish each and every one of you a fantastic Happy New Year of birding and shooting.
I want to wish all of my readers in 163 countries, the Merriest Christmas and a Happy New Year. I can’t say it in all of your languages, but I suspect that if you can read this you might be able to translate. I hope you will forgive me for not being multi-lingual. For your enjoyment I have put together my best images of the past few days. I have gotten Ann out of bed early every morning the past week, to help me spot new bird photo opportunities for this occasion. And if you believe that, I have some nice West Texas ocean front property I might get you interested in. Actually, we get out of bed early EVERY morning, regardless of the occasion. So……the fun begins. Why does a red bird always look good in a Christmasy greeting? How about this one?
This Northern Cardinal was captured early in the morning at Spring Creek Park, here in San Angelo, Texas. The low light produced a large ISO number of 5000, but with my Topaz DeNoise software, you barely notice that there was a large amout of noise. Click on this image, and all others, to see exceptional enlargement. All of my photos in this post was were captured using my Canon 7D Mark II and a Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens.
Well, this post is off to a fun start, don’t you think. Okay, let me pick out another. Gosh, this is fun!! American Robins are usually considered harbingers of spring. Well, I saw this one huddled in the cold early one recent morning in December. Actually, they are here the year around.
There is a spot, on a curve on Red Bluff road that overlooks a large area of wetland. One particular tree is a popular perch for Osprey, and sometimes, various herons. I love to check this spot everytime I head for Middle Concho park. If you were to check my files, you would see many images taken at this same tree. I’m sorry, I can’t help it.
I also can’t pass up a chance to photo one of my favorite raptors, the Red-tailed Hawk.
A Song Sparrow sings in the reeds at Spring Creek Park.
A Black-crowned Heron watching for a meal………
……..While over his head a Belted-Kingfisher also watches for a meal. Everybody is hungry.
I love these feisty, little hawks. The American Kestrel is very difficult to photograph as they are constantly on the move.
The Great Kiskadee is very rare around San Angelo and the Concho Valley. But, for some unknown reason, during the fall migration, as many as four of them decided to stay. They arrived in late September and are still here the day before Christmas. Again, they keep their distance and are difficult to photograph. This image is from about two hundred across the water at Spring Creek Park.
Sometime, I have to photograph in very low light to get the captures I want, such as this Orange-crowned Warbler. The difficulty lies in the high ISO numbers that it produces. High ISOs mean a large amount of noise.
This Black-crowned Night Heron, was more co-operative. I was able to get within about 30 feet. Again, overcast sky produced a higher ISO number.
This American Robin was photographed just after sunrise.
I saved this Blue Jay for last. For years it had been my nemesis as I could never get a decent photo of one. Well, a few days ago, at Spring Creek Park, this one landed on an open branch in a beautiful pose. Overcast skies reduced the light, and along with that, a high ISO image. But with the software I mentioned earlier it cleaned up nicely and I think this my best photo of a Blue Jay ever.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this holiday post. Ann and I wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Click on any image to see nice enlargements. Comments are welcome. I would love to hear from you.
Holy Cow! 20° as I begin to write this. If you can believe this, but at 2:00 yesterday afternoon it was 78°. By 6:00 it was 30°. A rip roaring cold front blasted it’s way in. A good excuse to stay in today and write a post to this blog. Lot’s of catching up to do.
We have been getting out most every morning lately. The birding is really improving. A good sign of that was that a few days ago, Ann and I counted 40 species……..all at Spring Creek Park. Believe it or not, the Great Kiskadees are still here, or at least until yesterday. I don’t know if they decided to head south again after last night. I will keep you updated on that. Here is my last photo of one that I captured about three days ago. We were driving through Spring Creek Park and Ann said she heard one calling. I thought that she was having effects from a glass of wine she drank the previous evening. She said, “No, it sounds like this”. She had her iPad turned on and she played the bird’s call. The bird apparently heard that and answered her. It flew into a tree right overhead. I was able to capture the photo before it flew away over the water.
In other news, as I mentioned in my last post, I am up uploading photos for purchase. You can buy framed prints, or home decor with my photo art. It makes it easier for you that have wanted to purchase my art. Click here – http://pixels.com/artists/1+bob+zeller
For un-framed prints, my 2017 Calendars, or my book, “Birds, Beasts and Buttes” contact me at email@example.com.
Okay, I am done self-promoting. (hey, someone’s gotta do it 🙂 ). Now onto my images that I have captured for you the past week or so. All were taken with my Canon 7D Mark II and Tamron 150-600mm Gen2 lens. Please click on any image to see some beautiful enlargements.
Well, that’s it for this post. Stay warm. Merry Christmas and Happy Birding!!!