A Pre-Valentine’s Day Post


I am getting back into my routine since returning from the Big Bend.  The weather is moving up and down like a Disney roller-coaster.  93° last Saturday.  Maybe 45° today.  No matter, I try to get out for an hour or two, or three nearly every day.  The birding is improving, but having said that, it will probably be another wait for the spring birds to arrive.  But let me show you the photos I have gotten since my last post.  As usual, click on any image to see some nice enlargements.

Here in San Angelo we do have American Robins pretty regularly, but this year it seems there many, many more than in the past.  I see them almost everywhere I go.

American Robin - 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +0,7 EV, ISO 3200, 450mm

American Robin – 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +0,7 EV, ISO 3200, 450mm

This House Finch and the above robin were photographed early in the morning at the same darkish location, which accounted for the high ISO of 3200.  As you can see, they are sitting on the same branch.

House Finch, female - 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, +0,7 EV, ISO 3200, 550mm.

House Finch, female – 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, +0,7 EV, ISO 3200, 550mm.

I love to photograph the Northern Cardinals.  They are so photogenic, it is hard to get a bad image.

Northern Cardinal - 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 3200, 450mm

Northern Cardinal – 1/500 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 3200, 450mm

Loggerhead Shrike, AKA ‘the butcherbird’.  They love to impale their prey on a thorn or barbed wire before consuming them.

Loggerhead Shrike - 1/640 sec. @ f8, +0.7 EV, ISO 200, 600mm.

Loggerhead Shrike – 1/640 sec. @ f8, +0.7 EV, ISO 200, 600mm.

The Belted Kingfishers are not innocent either.  They dive and hit the water at about 100MPH, stabbing their fish, and giving themselves a nasty headache.

Belted Kingfisher, female. 1/640 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV, ISO 400, 600mm.

Belted Kingfisher, female. 1/640 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7 EV, ISO 400, 600mm.

This Carolina Wren gave me a nice pose early one morning.

Carolina Wren - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 640, 600mm.

Carolina Wren – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 640, 600mm.

Last week one day, we ventured out to about a dozen miles west of Eldorado, where this Burrowing Owl was making it’s home in a culvert.  When we arrived, we saw from about 100 yards down the road.  He was standing looking our way, like he was waiting for us to show up.  As we neared he jumped into the culvert, and turned and peeked out to look our way.  Of about 100 images this was one of my personal favorites.  My camera and lens gave me an excellent quality file to work with, and I was able to crop close and give you this portrait.

Burrowing Owl - 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 400, 600mm.

Burrowing Owl – 1/1600 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 400, 600mm.

One day at San Angelo State Park ann spotted this Merlin off to the right of the car.  I only had time to shoot across Ann’s lap through her window.  The early morning gave me some good light.

Merlin - 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 1000, 600mm.

Merlin – 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, +0.7 EV, ISO 1000, 600mm.

Before we left the state park, we spotted this Red-tailed Hawk perched.  As I was starting to shoot, from about80 yards away, it decided to take flight.  I was ready, and I filled the frame with my lens.

Red-tailed Hawk - 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 320, 600mm.

Red-tailed Hawk – 1/2000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 320, 600mm.

I hope you enjoyed this post and all of the photographs.  I am working on adding images to my FineArtamerica store where you can buy prints and other items with my photography.

You may want to start a collection of my coffee mugs with birds or some of my landscape images.  They make fine gifts.  To browse and/or purchase, Click HERE.

A return to the Big Bend


We got back to San Angelo Friday afternoon, after a five hour drive from our Casita at Far Flung Outdoor Center in Study Butte, Texas.  We were exhausted, not from just the trip, but from the great four days that we spent in Big Bend National Park and Chisos Mountains of west Texas.  We saw a great number of birds, although not as many as we had hoped.  But considering it is winter time, we should be glad.  We added five more to our yearly list, including a lifer, a Bushtit.  We are at 108 for the year as of now, and my life list is up to 294.

But apart from the birding, I was also able to get some nice landscape photos from that beautiful area.  I am usually in the birding mode, and I tend to not notice the majestic scenes of Big Bend National Park.  This time I made it a point to enjoy that aspect much more.

Here are a few photos from our memorable journey.  Click on any of them to see pretty enlargements.

There were plenty of Red-tailed Hawks.

Red-tailed Hawk - 1/1600 sec, @ f6.3, ISO 250.

Red-tailed Hawk – 1/1600 sec, @ f6.3, ISO 250.

We saw plenty of White-crowned Sparrows, too.

White-crowned sparrow - 1/640 sec. @ f9, ISO 250.

White-crowned sparrow – 1/640 sec. @ f9, ISO 250.

We also saw numerous of these Loggerhead Shrikes.

Loggerhead Shrike - 1/1600 sec, @ f6.3, ISO 200.

Loggerhead Shrike – 1/1600 sec, @ f6.3, ISO 200.

The grandeur of Big Bend National Park is amazing.  Photo opportunities at every turn.  This photo is from a very high lookout point along the Ross Maxwell Highway.  Probable altitude around 5,000 feet.  You can look across the top of Kit Mountain and see the opening in the 1500 foot cliffs that mark Santa Elena Canyon, a distance of around 20 miles away.

Sotol Vista - 1/320 sec. @ ff10, +0.7 EV, ISO 200.

Sotol Vista – 1/320 sec. @ ff10, +0.7 EV, ISO 200.

This is a typical desert scene.  Cerro Castellan is in the distance.

Desert Landscape - 1/640 sec. @ f8, +0.7 EV, I SO 200.

Desert Landscape – 1/640 sec. @ f8, +0.7 EV, I SO 200.

Here is close-up detail of Cerro Castellan.

Cerro Castellan - 1/200 sec, @ f5.6, -0.3, ISO 200.

Cerro Castellan – 1/200 sec, @ f5.6, -0.3, ISO 200.

When eating a breakfast of burritos and coffee in the morning in the ghost town at Terlingua, this cactus wren was happily singing near by.

Cactus Wren - 1/3200 sec, @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, IS O 2000.

Cactus Wren – 1/3200 sec, @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, IS O 2000.

From the window formation in the Chisos Mountains, altitude 5,000 feet, looking west, you can see forever.

Window View - 1/3200 sec, @ f5.6, +0.3 EV, ISO 250.

Window View – 1/3200 sec, @ f5.6, +0.3 EV, ISO 250.

I hope you enjoyed these image of our little vacation.  We are hoping to back again soon.  Now it is back to birding for a couple of months.

Now that Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us, why don’t you have a look at my gifts in my FineArtAmerica store.  Not only prints of my images, but coffee mugs, bags, and other nice gifts featuring my photography.

Happy Birding!!!

 

A Hall of Fame award.


I received a very prestigious award yesterday that I would love to share.  Most of you know that before my photography I was very much into the music scene.  During the 60s, 70s, and 80s I was I was a wild saxophonist, playing with various bands and musicians over the years.  I retired from music in 1986.  Well, the West Texas Hall of Fame decided that I ought to have the Pioneer Award for the year 2015.  I received this plaque yesterday.  I was honored to receive it and glad that they didn’t have to present it posthumously. 🙂

Bob Zeller's Pioneer Award

Bob Zeller’s Pioneer Award

I will be back with some birding and photography posts after I return from a vacation next week.

While I am gone, you would enjoy reading of my musical exploits.  Click HERE.

There are six small and entertaining parts.  That will give you some insight as to why I was given this award.

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. 🙂