On the Road Again…….


As we do each year at this time, we get to thinking about traveling.  So, next Monday, January 30, we are going to make another trip out to the Big Bend area of Texas.  Essentially, it will be to Big Bend National Park, but we will also be taking in some of the surrounding sights.  We’ll see the ghost town of Terlingua, parts of the huge Big Bend Ranch State Park, and travel one of the most scenic drives in the country: the El Camino Del Rio, (the river road) from Lajitas to Presidio, Texas.  We will have four days of scenic photography and birding.  I should come home with plenty of material for a future blog post.

Of course, most of you know that we have already made numerous trips to that area.  Sometimes, we go to the Davis Mountains, which lies just north of our current destination.  I am sure we will be returning there in a few months, too.  But, this time, we will be staying again at the Casitas at Far Flung Outdoor Center, located in Study Butte, just down the highway from the ghost town.

Our birding destinations will be in Big Bend National Park.  Favorite spots include the Sam Nail Ranch, Cottonwood Campground, Rio Grand Village RV campground, Dugout Wells and the Chisos Mountains.  We hope to add many birds to our 2017 list.  Our goal again is 210.  To date we are at 100 even.

Here are a few more photographs more photos that I have captured this month.  Click any image to see an enlargement.

I photographed this Osprey on New Year’s Day.  A nice way to start the year.

Osprey - 1/1250 @ f6.3, _0.3 EV, ISO 1000

Osprey – 1/1250 @ f6.3, _0.3 EV, ISO 1000

The Common Yellowthroat is a shy, tiny, elusive, colorful little bird that likes to hangout in swampy reeds, etc.  He only makes an appearance whenever he darned well pleases, and that is not very often.  It took Ann and I several mornings, of getting to the location where was last sighted, then just watched and waited.  When he showed I was ready and he was out for only about one minute, then he was back in his hidey-hole once again.

Common Yellowthroat - 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 400.

Common Yellowthroat – 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 400.

I believe I photographed this Vesper Sparrow at San Angelo State Park.

Vesper Sparrow - 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 500

Vesper Sparrow – 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 500

Just before the entrance to Middle Concho Park, there is a small pond surround by cattails and reeds.  Most of the time it is empty of birds, save an occasional heron, but this time there was a male and female Hooded Merganzer swimming casually around.

Hooded Merganzer - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 250.

Hooded Merganzer – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, -0.3 EV, ISO 250.

The female is a pretty little thing, too.

Hooded Merganzer - female - 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3 -0,3 EV, ISO 200.

Hooded Merganzer – female – 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3 -0,3 EV, ISO 200.

This Fox Sparrow dropped by for a drink from a puddle of water in Spring Creek Park.

Fox Sparrow - 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 250.

Fox Sparrow – 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, -0.3 EV, ISO 250.

The wind was getting up a little when I photographed this Great Egret, just hanging out.

Great Egret - 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV, ISO 400

Great Egret – 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV, ISO 400

I do believe that is it for this post.  It is most likely my last until I return from our vacation and February 3, unless I can squeeze a little quicky before we leave.  But I will mention, as it nears Valentine’s day, I would appreciate it if you would consider the many gifts in my (click) FineArtAmerica store.  If you love my photography, whether it be birds, beautiful landscapes or flowers check it out, you can find decor, useful items, or photographic prints.  You can also click the link under Bob’s Galleries in the sidebar.  Thank you.

Birding Report and new promotion.


My birding report is not good today.  I have been unable to get out and do much photography, because of inclement weather the early part of the week.  Then I spent two days hospitalized because of a minor complication.  Then another day of recuperating.  I am fine now, thank you.  For your enjoyment have a look at this Cooper’s Hawk from my archives.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk – 1/500 sec. @ f6.e, -0.3 EV, ISO 5000.

Hopefully between now and my next post, I will be more successful to getting out to do some photography.  The weather is improving so things look favorable.

Now let me mention my new promotion. But first, I would like to thank Doc and C.J, of Brownwood for purchasing the 16×20 stretched canvas print of the Painted Rocks that was promoted the past week.  They sent me this comment about their experience:

“Just wanted to let you know we received our print of “Painted Rocks” today! We love it! Texas archaeology is one of our favorite interests and the Painted Rocks are especially near and dear to our hearts. Fine Art America really was a joy to deal with and they got our print to us super fast! Thank you Bob for creating such a special piece of artwork, we’ll be getting it framed soon and will cherish it for many years to come!” 

Click here: FineArtAmerica to see my new promotion.  It features my award-winning image from the International Water Lily Collection in San Angelo.  You will discover that I shoot more than birds.  I hope you will check it out and enjoy.  Prints of all of my work are available.

Until the next time, Happy Birding!! and happy shooting with your camera.

 

Burrowing Owl and other stuff.


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.

Burrowing Owl peeking at me.

Burrowing Owl peeking at me.

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.

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

The last one may be my favorite, although I took many photographs, about one hundred.  It was hard to resist.

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

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.

Orange-crowned Warbler. 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400.

Orange-crowned Warbler. 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 6400.

Then a Fox Sparrow.

Fox Sparrow - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3, ISO 1600

Fox Sparrow – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3, ISO 1600

Back down by the water, this Marsh Wren emerged from the reeds.

Marsh Wren - 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 3200.

Marsh Wren – 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 3200.

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.

Common Yellowthroat - 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 3200.

Common Yellowthroat – 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 3200.

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 bobzeller@pobox.com.

Magnificent Ballerina – 19 years later.


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.)

Magnificent Ballerina - a water lily from the San Angelo Water Lily collection.

Magnificent Ballerina – a water lily from the San Angelo Water Lily collection.

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. 🙂

An All-new Year begins……..


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.

Black-crowned Night Heron - 1/750 sec. @f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 2000.

Black-crowned Night Heron – 1/750 sec. @f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 2000.

We finally were able to spot a Red-breasted Nuthatch high in a tree.

Red-breasted Nuthatch - 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 2500.

Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 2500.

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.

Belted Kingfisher - 1/1250 sec. @ f22, ISO 2500

Belted Kingfisher – 1/1250 sec. @ f22, ISO 2500

An Eastern Phoebe perched on a branch, resting for a moment before taking off again.

Eastern Phoebe - 1/1250 sec. @ f11, ISO 1000.

Eastern Phoebe – 1/1250 sec. @ f11, ISO 1000.

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.

Spotted Towhee - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 640.

Spotted Towhee – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 640.

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.

Great Kiskadee - 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 125.

Great Kiskadee – 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 125.

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.

American Kestrel - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 160

American Kestrel – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 160

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.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 640.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 640.

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. 🙂

Happy Birding!!!

One year ends, another begins……


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.

Common Yellowthroat - 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 5000.

Common Yellowthroat – 1/800 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 5000.

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.

Marsh Wren - 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 6400.

Marsh Wren – 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 6400.

Across the water, this Black-crowned Night Heron looks like he is watching for a bus to come along.

Black-crowned Night Heron - 1/1000 sec. @f6.3, +0.3, ISO 2500.

Black-crowned Night Heron – 1/1000 sec. @f6.3, +0.3, ISO 2500.

I can’t resist trying to get photos of any Ruby-crowned Kinglet that I come across.  This one at Spring Creek Park.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 1/500 sec. @ f6.3. +0.3 EV, ISO 3200.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 1/500 sec. @ f6.3. +0.3 EV, ISO 3200.

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.

Belted Kingfisher - 1/1000 sec. @ f11, +0.3 EV, ISO 2500.

Belted Kingfisher – 1/1000 sec. @ f11, +0.3 EV, ISO 2500.

Another image of the always popular Northern Cardinal.

Northern Cardinal. 1/500 sec. @f f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 3200.

Northern Cardinal. 1/500 sec. @f f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 3200.

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.

Orange-crowned Warbler - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 2500.

Orange-crowned Warbler – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 2500.

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.

Red-tailed Hawk - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3 EV, ISO 160.

Red-tailed Hawk – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3 EV, ISO 160.

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:

Original merlin photo

Original merlin photo

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. 🙂

 

Merlin - 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3 EV, ISO 250.

Merlin – 1/1250 sec. @ f7.1, +0.3 EV, ISO 250.

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.