Flashes from My Past

As I mentioned in my last post, it is getting into the summer doldrums.  The summer birds are here but they feel like I do.  Just a bit lazy about getting out in the warm afternoons.  So, to break up my routine a bit, I think I will veer away from birds only, in this post.  After all, this blog is also about photography, not only birding.

As a longtime professional outdoor and nature photographer, I have encountered some very interesting and exciting photo opportunities.  In the past fifteen years or so, I have amassed thousands of images, some great, some not so good.  But I have been published in over a dozen publications or books, including many covers.  My work has appeared on a billboard, murals and various websites, and in homes and offices across the country.  Like any photographer, I have several favorites that that I have secreted back in my files.  I thought it would be nice to share a few with you.  If you like them, I may publish a few more in a later post.

Let’s start with this photograph that I took earlier this year down in Big Bend National Park.  That area was created millions of years ago by exploding geological formations.  Canyons were created.  Mountains were created.  Wow!  It must have been something to see!  This photograph shows some of the geodes that were tossed around by some kind of volcanic upheaval.  In the back ground are hills of volcanic ash, called tuff.  Those boulders are really just a bit larger than bowling balls, but with my 10x16mm wide angle lens they appear bigger.  I actually got down on the ground to capture this.  Fortunately, my dear friend and fellow professional photographer, Deb, was nearby and she and her husband helped me up.  It’s hell to get old.  Anyway,it turned out to be one of many favorite photos from my travels to Big Bend National Park.

Big Bend Moonscape

Big Bend Moonscape

This bobcat was in the woods out near Spring Creek Park here in San Angelo a couple of years ago.  Ann was with me, and we were creeping along a boundary fence next to a wooded area.  Ann spoke up and said she saw a shadowy figure moving up ahead.  We both then saw it as we got closer, and realized it was a bobcat.  It was starting to get deeper into the woods.  As we got parallel to it I hesitated. thinking that it was too far away to get a usable photo.  But then, it stopped and turned facing us.  I grabbed my Canon 70D and Tamron 150-600mm lens and settled it on the window sill of our car.  By then there was a lot of brush between me and the animal, but I was using only my center focusing spot of the camera, and I was able to “thread” it through the twigs and branches to focus on the animal’s eyes, at a distance of about 75 yards.



This next photo of a Vermilion Flycatcher was created during another trip to Big Bend National Park.  There are many great birding areas there, and we always try to visit each one.  One of our favorite places to see a good variety is the Rio Grande Village campground.  We were there late in the spring of one year and the snowbirds, i.e. visitors from the north that come south for the winter, had mostly vacated the area to return home.  By driving thru the area, we see a good collection of birds and an occasional bobcat.  Anyway, this photo is one of my favories of the flycatacher species.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

Oh, yes, I must tell you about my photo life before birds.  I was really into photographing flowers and landscapes.  In San Angelo we have one of world’s largest and best water lily collections.  For photographing flowers this is a must place to visit.  For this photo I was down there late in the afternoon.  Skies were partly cloudy with those nice puffy white clouds floating around.  I browsed around the five pools of lilies, looking for the right shot.  I came upon this particular lily, and I liked the way the lily was juxtaposed near the lily pads.  The white clouds reflecting in the water look gold, because of a treatment in the water.  I had and old film camera, I believe it was a Canon EOS3, and a Tamron 200-400mm lens on a tripod.  I worked for around 30 minutes getting set up, as the cloud movement and light changed every few minutes.  I finally was satisfied.  I clicked three bracked exposures.  Ann looked through the viewfinder while it was still on the tripod and remarked, “Bob, you have a real winner here.”   This was the one of the three that I picked.

"Prima Donna Magnifico" (Magnificent Ballerina"

“La Prima Donna Magnifico” (Magnificent Ballerina”

Later, I was showing it at an art show, and an art professor from Angelo State University saw it and proclaimed it to be “La Prima Donna Magnifico”, meaning Magnificent Ballerina.  I liked that name and went with it.  The photo won me first place in three local art shows, and in an international competion sponsored by Photographers Forum Magazine it took 4th place out of about 18,000 color entries.  It went on to be my most profitable image for several years.

I also love photographing golf courses.  We have some beautiful courses here in San Angelo.  I have done work for Quicksand Golf Course, and framed photos of all of their holes hang on the walls there.  At least they were there the last time I played there several years ago.  But one of my favorite golf images is one of the first hole at San Angelo Country Club.  When I was photographing the course, I was trying to pick out a feature of the hole that was memorable.  In this photo, I positioned myself behind a water pond short and to the right of the green and took the shot through the trees.  You can see the flag there if you look close.

Hole #1 - San Angelo Country Club

Hole #1 – San Angelo Country Club

Several years ago, a new Visitor’s Center for the San Angelo Chamber of commerce was constructed along the Concho River.  Hailed as one of the most beautiful such visitors’ centers in the state, I decided to try and get a nice photo of it.  To do so, I picked a morning when the water was dead calm and I could get a nice reflection.  I chose a position directly across from the building so I could get the entire structure in the image.  The exact spot that I needed was precisely where a tree was growing.  I sat down on the ground with my back to the tree and composed the picture.  Here is the result.  For a short period it was on a billboard, north of the city, welcoming visitors to the area.

San Angelo Visitors Center

San Angelo Visitors Center

San Angelo Billboard

San Angelo Billboard

One spring Ann and I took a little tour in the hill country of Texas to see the Texas Bluebonnets in bloom.  One image I particularly liked.  We had come across this little knoll, and right before us was some bluebonnets in the foreground.  Then right across a low water crossing there was a meadow with whitefaces, (Hereford cattle), grazing.  I crouched low so as to get the bluebonnets in the photo.

Later, the people that owned the local McDonald’s Franchise contacted me to buy the rights to one of my images for a mural in one of their restaurants.  I showed them my portfolio and they decided on that particular photo, as they liked the bluebonnets.  They in turn had another compny make the mural, which turned out to be in a wall covering form.  They installed it on a large wall.  But, would you know, they positioned furniture in place that covers the bluebonnets.  It still looks very nice.

McDonald's Mural

McDonald’s Mural

Well, I think I will end this post here.  I don’t want to bore you with to many of these memories.  But I promise I will be back with some more soon.  Please click on any image to see some very nice enlargements.  I also feel obliged to mention, prints of any of my photographs are available for sale.  If interested, contact me at bobzeller@pobox.com.

Photographing San Angelo Country Club

Who says that I only photograph birds?  Actually, before I got into birding and photographing birds, I leaned toward landscapes, flowers, etc.  But one thing that I always loved was the game of golf.  San Angelo has one of the most beautiful courses in the area, and that is the San Angelo Country Club.

I was privy to be able to play it a couple of times as a guest of a few friends.  I did pretty well.  I got around the course without falling into the water hazards.  My favorite shot was the explosion shot off of the first tee, and I always tried to keep my putts low.

I really admired the gorgeous landscaping on some of the holes, so I approached Jason Hase, the pro, and got permission to use one of their golf carts and go around and photograph some of them.

Although the entire eighteen holes are things of beauty, six of them really stood out, as they each had some feature that made them more photogenic.

For your enjoyment here those images:

Hole Number 1.  This hole has a pond just short right of the green, in the trees.  It shouldn’t come into play unless you have a bad slice.  I captured this scene from behind the pond, looking towards the green and flag.

Hole number one - San Angelo Country Club

Hole number one – San Angelo Country Club

Hole number 3. This photo was taken from the right side of the green.  I loved the tree in the foreground and the background view of a pond on an adjacent hole.  The play on this hole comes from the left as you look at the image.

Hole number three - San Angelo Country Club

Hole number three – San Angelo Country Club

Hole number 4.  For this photo, I was standing behind the green.  A nice view of the pond fronting the green.

Hole number four - San Angelo Country Club

Hole number four – San Angelo Country Club

Hole number 6.  This a pretty little par three hole with a pond with a fountain in front.  Be sure to use enough club.  I photographed this one from behind the tee, trying to put the flowers and shrubs into the foreground.

Hole number six - San Angelo Country Club

Hole number six – San Angelo Country Club

Hole number 10.  Another three-shot hole to begin the back nine.  Again you need all carry to reach the green.  I photographed it standing on the tee.  The blue that you see in the trees way right of the green is the Concho River.

Hole number ten - San Angelo Country Club

Hole number ten – San Angelo Country Club

Hole number 15.  I love this pretty little par three.  It has this gorgeous pond to the left front of the teeing area.  It doesn’t come into play, of course, but adds to the beauty of the hole.

Hole number fifteen - San Angelo Country Club

Hole number fifteen – San Angelo Country Club

Yesterday, Jason contacted me and we arranged for the club to purchase the rights to these image for their new website.  I hope to someday to get back there and perhaps photograph the remaining holes.

I hope you enjoyed these photographs.  Click on any of them to see beautiful enlargements.

Birdies, Eagles, Albatrosses

I had you going there for a minute, didn’t I.  I bet you thought I was going to tell you about another birding hotspot.  Today, this post is about the other golfing avians, birdies, eagles, albatrosses. 🙂

Lately, with the temperatures turning so nice for a bit, I sometimes remember my days of enjoying a round of golf.  Golf is a sport that you can get out, enjoy the outdoors, and forget all of your problems.  I haven’t played a round in about five years.  I was a pretty decent player.  I was pretty short off of the tee, though.  When everybody was smoking their tee shots a hundred yards pass me, I was just steady down the middle.  I was given a nickname, “three pecks and a putt”.  I hit a lot of “walkers”.  Walkers are shots that aren’t hit far enough to get back into the cart and ride to.  I never hit into the rough, either.  I couldn’t hit the ball that far. 🙂

But what I enjoyed most about the golf courses was the beauty of them.  And that is what inspired me to photograph some of the course around here.  San Angelo Country Club is one of the prettier ones, and I have sold many of my images of a few golf holes, in the pro shop.  Here are a few samples.

San Angelo Country Club - Hole no. 1

San Angelo Country Club - Hole no. 6

San Angelo Country Club - Hole no. 10

But I am not convinced that I want to play again.  I feel the real birds calling me so I will probably find myself outside this afternoon searching for another elusive lifer.

So enjoy the photos, click on any of them for an enlargement, and I’ll maybe have some more birding photos for you next time.

Photographing San Angelo Country Club

Since this is the week of the playing of the U. S. Open at Congressional Country Club, I thought it would be an ideal time to show you some of my other work.  I know, my forte is probably birds and wildlife, but I really love the beauty of golf courses.  One of my favorites, that I feel is one of the most photogenic in west Texas, is the local San Angelo Country Club.  It is full of character, trees, water, hilly terrain, and a downright difficult 18 holes, at least for me.

Back in 2005 the golf pro invited me to photograph a few holes, to frame and put for sale in the pro shop.  The following are four of those, and they just happen to be some of my the best sellers.  I photographed them, using an original Canon EOS digital Rebel and a Tamron 28-300 zoom lens.  I was new to the digital age back Iwanted to get my feet wet.   Checking the EXIF data, I believe that I mostly set the camera on automatic, because I lacked self-confidence to try to get “fancy”.  I do remember that I shot at ISO 100 for maximum sharpness.

After finishing the shoot, I placed several framed and matted full-frame 12x18s for sale in the shop.  I sold several during the follow months.  If any San Angelo Country Club member is reading this, I still have framed prints left for sale.  Just contact me.  Descriptions are below each image.

Hole Number One.  Probably my favorite of them all.  A lengthy opening hole, downhill with a slight left dogleg.  The second shot must carry a creek that crosses the fairway, then winds up along the right sideof the green.  I took this photograph from across the creek, looking up towards the flag.  It was early morning and I liked the light that was coming from the left.

Hole Number Three.  Another par four.  This photograph is looking across the green toward another adjacent hole.  The fairway comes in from the left of the picture, but I liked this old Mesquite tree in the foreground.

Hole Number Six.  This a beautiful par three.  It doesn’t play as long as it looks.  I think the water is intimidating.  Somehow I always picked too much club and ended up air-mailing the green.  With the menacing pond in front, that is not a bad mistake.

Hole Number 10.  Another nice little par three to begin the last nine.  From another elevated tee that carries a little creek.

Well, so much for my golf photography.  I haven’t played in nearly four years, but looking again at these pictures, I am getting a hankering to do so again.  FORE!!!!!  🙂

Also, to vote for one of my photographs in National Wildlife Magazine’s annual contest, click here  People’s Choice .

Only birdies, not birds

Let’s talk golf today, or rather golf course photography.  I haven’t birded for a day for two because I’ve been a couch potato for four days.  The United States Open, our national golf championship is being played at Pebble Beach Golf & Country Club in California.  It is probably one of the most beautiful, scenic golf courses in the country. 

But San Angelo is not without some beautiful golf holes.  Now isn’t that a co-incidence.  I just happen to have some golf hole photographs that I have been wanting to show off.  This will show you that do break away from my wildlife photography occasionally.  Actually, I guess I would say that I am an outdoor photographer as I love nature and scenics in all aspects, be it mountains, canyons, old buildings, flowers or birds.

Oh, I guess that I should mention that I absolutely love the game of golf, however my health problems have deterred me from it for awhile.  Think fractured back.

Enjoy the following pictures and Happy Birding!  If you’re a golfer Happy Birdying!  Did you catch that, birding and birdying? 🙂

Click on any photo for an enlargement.  And by the way, prints are available for any of my photos.  Just contact me.

Hole #10 - Bentwood Country Club, San Angelo


Hole #1 - San Angelo Country Club


Hole #2 - Bentwood Country Club, San Angelo


Hole #15 - San Angelo Country Club