Josh Haas

Josh Haas
Josh is a Michigan Nature Photographer and Co-Owner of Glances At Nature Photography with his father. For the past 5 years, they've sold their work at Art Shows in Michigan as well as on-line at www.glancesatnature.com . Josh has expanded the business to include trips and workshops all around the Mid-West. He partners with local organizations such as the Kalamazoo Nature Center, the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, and Michigan Audubon to provide Photography Workshops as well as programming. His work can be seen in multiple publications for these organizations and more throughout Michigan. Josh's involvement with injured Raptors for the past 6 years is what originally spawned his programming and naturalist tendencies. Josh's love for birds and everything Nature is evident but his love for Raptors will always be at the top of the list. Each fall, Josh is also a Relief Hawk Counter for the Detroit River Hawkwatch (www.drhawkwatch.org ) where he can be seen counting Southward Hawks on their way to wintering grounds. His love for Hawks is ultimately what spawned his passion for Nature Photography.

Throwback Thursday: Celebrating Independence in Style

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Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Celebrating Independence in Style by Josh Haas

Originally Posted July 4th, 2012

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle by Josh Haas

There is nothing more majestic than a Bald Eagle soaring above its river territory.  I think it’s safe to say that every American is in awe of this majestic Raptor and no matter the age, the background or ideological preference, most will agree this mighty bird not only represents our country well, but represents America in style.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle by Josh Haas

So why has the Bald Eagle been our country’s totem for all this time?  The sheer power, beauty and courage the Bald Eagle represents have been clear descriptions of our Nation’s history since inception.  The survival of the Bald Eagle from the 60’s forward also shows the struggle and triumph of not only a bird, but a country willing to take a step back and re-evaluate the importance of harsh chemicals and our use of the land.  Many of our readers can relate very strongly to the words, “Houston, the Eagle has landed.”  These historical words were spoken by Neil Armstrong in 1969 shortly after landing on the moon.  Many traits of this dark bird sporting a white head and tail clearly represent our great Nation but the joy and privilege each and every one of us have as we live our daily lives is represented by freedom.   Freedom allows our friends and family to join together for something as simple as a cookout.  Freedom allows our children to enjoy indoor things, outdoor things, and choose different paths in life.  Freedom is the core behind our Nation.  As Bald Eagles soar and hunt in the wild, they represent the freedom all of us are lucky enough to have.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle by Josh Haas

This Fourth of July, I hope all of us can take a moment and think about the daily freedoms we have and the great sacrifice our service men and women give for us.  I for one and extremely thankful for what each and every one of them does for us.  Also be on the lookout near rivers and lakes for the mighty Bald Eagle.  Enjoy the sighting if you’re lucky enough to find one and think about what that bird represents to you.  Here’s to wishing everyone a safe and happy Independence Day.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle by Josh Haas

Reenergizing the Red-tailed Hawk

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Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Reenergizing the Red-tailed Hawk by Josh Haas

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk © Josh Haas / Glances at Nature

I’m betting the last time you saw a Red-tailed Hawk, you didn’t give the bird a second look. When birding and creating lists for the day, there are species that tend to get boring. As one of the most prevalent hawks in North America, the Red-tailed Hawk fits this category for many birders. But I’ve found the bird is worth a closer look.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk – midwest © Crossley ID Guide: Raptors

This raptor is a dynamic hunter that tends to go after small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and more. It’s opportunistic nature is one reason the bird is so pervasive and, hence, boring to birders. One type of prey missing from the list is small perching birds. And while it’s true they’re not necessarily built for hunting this type of prey, once while hawk watching at the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory I saw an individual display the power and versatility needed for the task. Flying at tree-top level with a strong steady wing-flap, the bird suddenly fanned its tail in such a way so as to flip sideways and nab an unsuspecting Northern Flicker off a dead tree. My binoculars came down, a smile came over my face, and for me the Red-tailed Hawk became a little more exciting. More recently, during a Detroit River Hawkwatch count, I saw a beautiful Northern Harrier circling above the count site when a Red-tailed Hawk unexpectedly stooped into view in pursuit of the Harrier. Enthusiasm soared among the onlookers as the Red-tailed Hawk continued after the Harrier. The aerial battle demonstrated to all who had seen it that this large-bodied Buteo could not only keep up with other agile raptors but maneuver like a Merlin as it dipped and raced around the skies. Yet another experience where for me, the Red-tailed Hawk became a little more exciting.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk Range Map © NatureShare

These are just two quick examples of how the Red-tailed Hawk is more than a modest soaring bird living around our highway systems. The large hawk is nothing short of amazing. With its large powerful feet, snappy wing flap, and keen hunting techniques, this adaptable bird can adjust easily to many habitats and situations. My hope is the next time you find yourself viewing a Red-tailed Hawk through your binocs, you’ll linger a bit longer. It might just do something for which the bird becomes a little more exciting.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk © Dave Haas / Glances at Nature

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.

Blog tour logoThe Crossley ID Guide: Raptors by Richard Crossley, Jerry Liguori, and Brian Sullivan will be available April 2013.  The book covers thirty-four of North America’s diurnal raptor species (all species except owls), 101 stunning color plates–including thirty-five double-page layouts, species information and more!  Be sure to enter to win the ultimate Crossley ID Guide Sweepstakes to win some cool prizes including the Audubon Birds app!

Photo Essay: Nightscapes

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Monday, February 11th, 2013

Photo Essay by Josh Haas: Nightscapes

 

Sedona Nightscape, Trails of Light

Sedona Nightscape, Trails of Light

Sedona Nightscape:

This very special image took hundreds of miles in travel, days of scouting, hours throughout the night shooting, and hours of post-processing. This makes it an ‘earned’ image in my book. It’s a classic long exposure but instead of just leaving the shutter open for 30 minutes, I created this using multiple stacked exposures instead. This was because the town of Sedona was close enough that in a super long exposure, the light pollution would’ve ruined the image. The first shot was taken about 45 minutes after sunset when there was still enough ambient light to illuminate the rocky ridge in the foreground. After that, I had to leave my gear in place and wait a couple hours until it was dark enough to begin taking the 30 second exposures one after another. I did this for another 90 minutes until I was sure I had a sizable group of images without plane lights and other problems to create a nice star trail image. Finally, the shooting was complete. On the plane ride home at an altitude of 30,000 feet, several interested people on the flight watched as the final image was created. A night image was my goal weeks before heading to Arizona for this trip and I’m excited to say we made it happen.

 

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark III, 24-70mm f2.8 lens

Aperture- f2.8

Shutter Speed- Multiple 30sec exposures, stacked

ISO- 250

 

Lightning with a Purple Hue

Lightning with a Purple Hue

 

Lightning with a Purple Hue:

After years of waiting for the perfect storm to photograph, it was finally here. The storm has to be just right to make lightning photography work and this one was perfect. Using an intervalometer, I set up underneath my deck and began shooting. After setting my exposure settings, focus and composition the intervalometer took over to kick off the exposures one after another while I retreated inside where it was safe. This was a great compromise that made my wife happy. =) Safety has to be number one in storm photography and this device sure makes it safe. While inside, I waited until the rain was close enough that it would compromise any good images and then retrieved my gear. After loading the 100+ images, I had one that turned out great (and this one is it!) The purple sky, tree line and lighting all work together to make this a nice image.

 

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel T2i, Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens

Aperture- f6.3

Shutter Speed- 20sec

ISO- 100

 

Lake Superior Lightning

Lake Superior Lightning

 

Lake Superior Lightning:

A more recent image, this was taken on the south shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. After a day of shooting waterfalls the lighting was drab that evening so I figured my shooting was done for the day. It was about that time I began to hear distant thunder and decided to make the trek out to the beach to see what was happening. As a distant storm approached I set up and waited. The evening light dwindled and the storm approached; a hole in the clouds opened up at the perfect time show-casing an orange sky lit by the fading sun. The lighting popped and all I needed was a rock star of a lightning bolt to finish off the scape. Just before the rain began my wishes paid off and I got my lightning. To create this image I set my aperture, ISO and then used 6 second exposures over and over until the right lightning appeared in the sky (notice my stopped down aperture of f13 to keep too much light from hitting the sensor). As the sky becomes darker, this technique gets easier as you can use longer exposures but because I was shooting before dark, I had to stop down my aperture and could only use 6 second exposures without blowing out the images.

 

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 lens

Aperture- f13

Shutter Speed- 6sec

ISO- 200

 

 

Star-filled Night with Space Station

Star-filled Night with Space Station

Star-filled Night with Space Station:

This image is the result of a family member contacting me about some action I might be interested in. The International Space Station was set to pass by our night sky that night. At the time, I was still living in the city where light pollution would ruin the image so I grabbed my gear and headed out in the country in search of a spot. I ended up on a golf course and struggled to find a decent spot with enough time to get set up in time. I was able to make it work and record the image with the International Space Station streaking across the sky. For all of you photographers out there, it pays to spread the word and build a base of people that can give you tips on where possible action may be. I’ve captured several images this way and had I not been tipped off, the images would not exist today.

 

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens

Aperture- f2.8

Shutter Speed- 30sec

ISO- 100

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.

www.NatureShare.com

A Family Trip with an Unexpected Find

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Monday, February 4th, 2013

A Family Trip with an Unexpected Find by Josh Haas

While in Lafayette, IN for what would be our last Christmas gathering, I awoke well before sunrise to the sound of a baby playing in her crib.  Being up early has its advantages and like many mornings, I jumped on my iPhone for things like the daily weather, news, and of course a gander through the Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds app.  Using the “Find Birds with eBird” feature, I scanned the list and one bird jumped out very quickly.  A Varied Thrush had been seen the day prior no more than 12 miles from where I was staying.  This bird should be in California, let alone Indiana so it was worth the effort.  If you haven’t checked out this great feature in the app, it’s worth your time.  It’s quick and much better than some of the other apps that feature eBird searching.

Cooper's Hawk, Adult © Josh Haas

Cooper’s Hawk, Adult © Josh Haas

Unfortunately, after two morning attempts for this western thrush, I never did see it but I did get a nice opportunity with an adult Cooper’s Hawk before meeting a nice birder who mentioned having Saw-whet Owls roosting on his property.  That obviously perked some interest!  I jumped at the invitation and soon found myself riding in a gator across his property 6 miles away after a different bird.  Boy it would’ve paid to be prepared for the 12 degree temps but who would’ve known a family Christmas could turn into a birding adventure.  I suppose in our family, it’s very likely!

Sure enough, as we approached a small Cedar grove, we slowed and eventually stopped.  Looking into the woods, one can’t help but notice the many yellow ribbons hanging on trees marking where birds were or are roosting.  The gentleman does surveys daily to gather data about the individuals.   Amazing commitment…

Northern Saw-whet Owl © Josh Haas

Northern Saw-whet Owl © Josh Haas

All in all, he showed me three individual Saw-whet Owls.  One was even awake and willing to be photographed.  Oh man was I one happy Daddy!  This property was amazing and he told stories of the many species of Owls, Raptors and Passerines that fledged over the years from the 200 acre parcel.  This is another example of a great find and a genuine birder willing to share his great spot.

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.

2013 BIGBY – Big Green Year

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Thursday, January 31st, 2013

2013 BIGBY – Big Green Year by Josh Haas

Big Green Year

Birding by Bike © Josh Haas

For 2013 I’ve decided to blend my passion of birding and cycling into a one-year event.  Some of you may know what a Big Year is (seeing as many bird species in a calendar year, within specified boundaries) but I’m taking it one step further.  I’m doing a BIg Green Big Year (BIGBY).  My boundaries are anywhere within Barry County, MI and my goal will be to see as many bird species as possible by bike.  My ride of choice is shown below.

Josh and the BIGBY Bike

Josh with his BIGBY Bike © Glances at Nature

This cyclocross bike is perfect for the job with slightly wider/knobby tires for back roads.  While perfect on gravel, it still has a road feel for when I need to cover some serious mileage quickly, while on pavement.  I’ve outfitted the bike with lights for night riding after nocturnals, a rack for carrying my scope and a unique bag on the front to carry my binocs for quick use.  I do want to say a big thanks to our favorite optics folks at Eagle Optics who helped me choose an inexpensive binoc for this rough-road journey and also a big thanks to Mike at Team Active Cycling and Fitness for yet another great bike!

My plan the first couple months is to concentrate on winter species until the ice thaws and the first spring migrants begin showing up.  As spring thrusts upon us, longer rides will ensue and I will be after the mass of migrants moving through.  Barry County breeders will be the focus in summer, fall will bring another mad dash for any missed migrants and the last couple months of 2013 will be dedicated to any winter species still missing.

Red-headed Woodpecker & Trumpeter Swan

Red-headed Woodpecker & Trumpeter Swan © Josh Haas

We’re through the first month of 2013 and I’ve accomplished six rides thus far with a total of 42 species and 95 miles ridden.. The first ride brought species such as Snow Bunting, Bald Eagle, and Horned Lark. The second ride yielded a Red-headed Woodpecker, a few late ducks and an Eastern Meadowlark still lingering. The third ride was short but I was able to snag a Wild Turkey. During my fourth ride, I was able to track down Trumpeter Swans and a Rough-legged Hawk. While my fifth and sixth rides didn’t yield many, important species such as Red-breasted Nuthatch and Red-shouldered Hawk were added to the list.  These are just the highlights of each ride.  There are still winter specialties to get so stay tuned!  Please visit http://www.glancesatnature.com/blog to see the latest tally and full list all year long.

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.

Photo Essay: Owls

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Friday, December 14th, 2012

Photo Essay: Owls by Josh Haas

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl © Josh Haas

Burrowing Owl:

After a frustrating couple days on Sanibel Island, we decided to stop at some of our favorite Florida birding areas as we headed back north to the Orlando area.  Our spot for Burrowing Owls didn’t fail us and we happened upon a cooperative bird that was spending time in and out of its burrow one March morning.  The slight angle of the ground and the birds demeanor are just sweet in this image.  The warm morning light sure didn’t hurt either!  This was definitely the shot of the trip and while it’s not the most popular at art shows in Michigan, it still has a special place in our house!

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel T2i, 500mm f4 lens

Aperture- f4.5

Shutter Speed- 1/500th

ISO- 100

 

Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl © Josh Haas

Long-eared Owl Silhouette:

For those that remember an old post from me regarding “The Four Year Image,” this one took even longer!  My wife and I have been going to Whitefish Pt. in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for years.  The first time we spent a sunset on the hawk deck more than seven years ago we were lucky enough to have a couple Long-eared Owls fly through and I immediately had the goal of capturing that as an image.  The image would only fall in place with a perfectly clear sky, the right winds, and an Owl to take flight at the right time in order to capture the light and composition just right.  Every year since that evening, I’ve found myself trying for this image the one weekend in April we are there each spring.  This past spring, the stars aligned.  I had a clear sky, the right winds and a single Owl took flight just in time.  The result, more than seven years was this image and one happy photographer!

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark III, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/1000th

ISO- 1000

 

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl © Josh Haas

Great Gray Owl:

This image is brought to you by way of a 3 hour drive one winter morning beginning at 4am.  The goal was to be set up before first light for a bird that had been incredibly cooperative just days before.  Unfortunately for us, after the long drive we came upon a bird that had a free handout from the evening before.  The bird sat as we waited for hours and hours.  By the end of the day, the bird hadn’t moved and while I was hoping for flight shots of a Great Gray Owl but sometimes, it doesn’t always go the way you planned.  Later that night when I was going through some of my images from the day, I found one with the bird looking straight at the camera.  After a little cropping and some thought into some matting I snuck away with a great image.  Not at all the image I had hoped for but still one I was very happy with!

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Id Mark III, 500mm f4 lens

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/200th

ISO- 200

 

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl © Josh Haas

Snowy Owl:

Talk about a sit and wait bird.  This stunning adult male Snowy Owl was perched on a power pole as I sat waiting and hoping he’d take flight.  Sitting on the ground against the car in sub-zero temps far enough away to not spook the bird is tough.  Holding a 13lb camera rig at the ready hoping action would take place is harder.  Many times, when they do take flight in a scenario like this, they fly in the opposite direction but this bird launched and flew directly past me.  What an exciting event it was!  In the process, I was able to get some shots.  The floating manner this bird took on made it my favorite shot of the group.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f11

Shutter Speed- 1/1250th

ISO- 250

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.

Photo Essay: Eagles Galore

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Thursday, December 6th, 2012
Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle with talon shadows © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle with Talon Shadows:

This image is very important to me as it was the first really nice Bald Eagle image I added to my repertoire.  Most of my Bald Eagle imagery is from the Mississippi River in the dead of winter.  It’s a cold way to get photographs but if you are after images of specific species, you have to go where big numbers are.  Once you find a good group, then comes the tricky part.  Exposing properly for adult Bald Eagles.  Shooting in full manual is a great way to expose properly but for those a bit weary of full manual, aperture priority can be used but it’s important to monitor your histograms ensuring your exposure is correct as the day goes on.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel XT, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/500th

ISO- 100

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle with fish © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle with Fish:

A classic Bald Eagle image after the hunt.  If you ever find yourself at a spot with lots of Bald Eagles, it’s only a matter of time before you start to experience them fighting over a recently caught fish.  One of the things I like about this image is how intent this bird looks on bugging out of the area.  The position of the wings and the general look of this Raptor in the photo has always spoke to me.  Natural predation at its finest!

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f8

Shutter Speed- 1/2500th

ISO- 400

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle with Reflection © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle with Reflection:

I was extremely happy the moment I reviewed this image on the back of my camera.  I found a spot away from the crowd one winter where there was an open hole in the ice.  A small group of Bald Eagles had found the spot before me and were nailing fish in open water.  Setting up low at the river’s edge, I was able to position myself so the leafless trees were in the background making the water appear very dark.  Because the hole of open water was small, the water appeared calm which created the nice reflection.  It just took a while for the bird to hit the spot.  That’s the key in bird photography, spending time.  Most all of my Bald Eagle images are the result of full days in the cold, waiting and shooting.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel XT, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/800th

ISO- 400

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle Extreme Close-up © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle Extreme Close-up:

This is a photograph that my dad absolutely loves.  As you can see, I typically am shooting with my 500mm for Bald Eagles but there are times when they come very very close.  This particular Bald Eagle image is the result of a successful hunt where shortly after, the bird turned and flew directly in-front of us at a very close distance.  I pulled my 500mm up, hand-held and fired away.  Having recently tweaked my exposure, I was able to get a sharp, properly exposed image that fills the frame.  To this day, my dad sees this image and still can’t believe I hand-held the giant lens and obtained such a nice image.  Practice and preparation is huge but a little luck helps too!

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark III, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/2500th

ISO- 400

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle in Warm Evening Light © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle in Warm Evening Light:

Any good photographer knows, lighting is everything.  This image is at the end of the day when the sun was low.  My rule of thumb for Bald Eagles in flight is to strive for shutter speeds of 1/1200th or faster.  This is plenty of speed to capture what’s needed.  As the light fades, it’s important to increase your ISO to keep your shutter speeds high enough to capture the speed.  This was one of the last hunts of the evening and I was set up and ready for it.  The result was a great image with warm light from the sun and the reflecting water lighting the bird up.  It sure was cold, but the image made it all worthwhile.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark III, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/1600th

ISO- 400

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle Perched in the Pines © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle Perched in the Pines:

Ahhh, another image full of memories.  This photograph was from atop a tour boat in search of whales and glaciers in Alaska.  Because the weather was horrible and the seas were extreme, we were stuck in the safety of the bay which resulted in no whales and even less glaciers.  This was quite disappointing and while I didn’t plan on Bald Eagle images in horribly dull lighting, the stars aligned as we approached the rocky shoreline.  I ended up in the perfect position.  It’s not too often you find yourself looking eye to eye with a perched Bald Eagle.  While the lighting was dull, this was perfect for easily exposing this beautiful bird amongst the green Pines.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/320th

ISO- 640

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.

Ladders, Rain, and Talons Oh My…

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Thursday, November 29th, 2012
Osprey

Osprey Approaching the Nest © Josh Haas

Ladders, Rain, and Talons Oh My… by Josh Haas

When it comes to Osprey, they are one of the most unique birds out there.  Not only are they well-adapted for distinctive hunting, they are a bird in a family all their own.  Osprey are fish eating raptors that plunge completely into the water after prey.  The first time you see it, I guarantee you will think the bird is certainly going to drown until it miraculously pops out and flies off as if it never went in the water.

There is quite a program in Southeast Michigan attempting  to get the Osprey re-established in order to help the species along.  A very interesting byproduct of this successful program has been Osprey returning to the other side of the state where several pairs are making the Kalamazoo area their new breeding grounds.  In the past few years, there are several nests that have been successful, including one along the Kalamazoo River in the downtown area.  Amongst the city noise, hustle and bustle this adult pair has successfully reared young the past two years.  You might remember a previous post of mine about this very pair and how we prepared early for their return, erecting a new platform.  This paid off swimmingly as the birds not only returned, they hatched 3 young Osprey.  About a week and a half before they were expected to fledge, we moved in to check and band the birds.

Osprey

Right: Osprey in Flight
Left: Josh with Young Osprey
© Josh Haas/Glances at Nature

Unfortunately for us, it was a stormy morning but as the storm clouds moved on, we stood the wet ladder up and one at a time, climbed to grab the birds and bring them down for physicals and banding.  Being on a slippery ladder with a bird sporting adult sized feet and talons was no fun task but with experience, it can be done methodically with no problems.  During the physical, we look for any kind of insects or signs of infections by looking at the birds vent, ears, mouth/throat, etc.  The birds weren’t weighed but their keels were checked to ensure they showed good signs of getting enough food.  All three birds were very healthy and meaty meaning the adults really knew what they were doing.  Once the birds were banded, we brought them back up to the nest as the adults continued to fly around squawking.  All in all, a successful morning.  A long week later, all three young fledged and began flying around with their parents.  I wonder what next year will bring!!!

It’s important to mention this banding event  was done by official licensed bird banders from the Kalamazoo Nature Center with the help of volunteers that had experience with large Raptors.  Never attempt to approach or band wild birds.  This is highly regulated and should only be done by experienced handlers and licensed banders.

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.

Photo Essay: Get Down Low

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Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Photo Essay: Get Down Low by Josh Haas

Black-bellied Plover

Black-bellied Plover © Josh Haas

Black-bellied Plover:
There really is nothing better to a photographer than morning and evening light, the glow that turns subjects into warm masterpieces.  For shorebirds, it’s imperative to get down and shoot as low as possible.  This winter plumage Black-bellied Plover was feeding on a South Carolina beach late one evening and allowed me to approach its area while he moved around hunting.  Laying in the sand with my camera rig mounted to a extremely low support, I was able to capture the Plover mid-step giving the bird a nice pose while the sun softly lit his entire side.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel XT, 300mm f4 lens with a 2x extender
Aperture- f8
Shutter Speed- 1/400th
ISO- 400

 

Short-billed Dowitcher

Short-billed Dowitcher

Short-billed Dowitcher:
This image created quite the ID process fro me.  I was sure I had the ID correct but back then, checked with one of my birding mentors just to verify.  As it would turn out, what I thought was a Long-billed Dowitcher turns out to be a Short-billed Dowitcher.  I was given a couple tricks on determining this but the most important was the range map of the two birds.  The location the bird was photographed was nowhere near the wintering grounds of Long-billed Dowitchers.  While freak things can happen, this should’ve been one of the first things I looked at.  Range maps aren’t just in the books for fun, they serve a great purpose!  Also of note, this is another example of shooting low.  This image doesn’t have that warm low light glow but knowing how to compensate exposure up and down in certain situations really helps, especially in bright light overhead.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f75.6
Shutter Speed- 1/3200th
ISO- 250

 

Horned Puffin

Horned Puffin © Josh Haas

Horned Puffin:

Here is an image that brings back great memories.  It was taken from a kayak in Peterson Bay, not far from Homer, Alaska.  This particular day happened to be my birthday.  What better way to spend it than kayaking in Alaska.  Most of our group that day was completely turned off to the smell that was “bird island” where sea birds were packed in with their newly hatched young.  This was the one spot I banked on going when we scheduled the tour and I was in heaven.  Birds were everywhere, flying in and out.  Throughout the madness, I was able to focus in on a lone Horned Puffin, preening in the water.  Given his attention was elsewhere, I was able to get close enough for a nice shot from a low vantage point that really shows the cool colors of the scene.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel XT, 300mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f5.6
Shutter Speed- 1/800th
ISO- 400

 

Black Turnstone

Black Turnstone © Josh Haas

Black Turnstone:
Another species photographed in Alaska, this was also a life bird for both my wife and I.  After a long day of driving from the Anchorage area to Homer, we set up camp on Homer Spit.  My wife was gracious enough to begin dinner while I hit the shore looking for birds.  I came across this little guy, ID’d him and called Kara over so she could get views.  After we were both satisfied with the ID and took notes about the added lifer, it was time to get to work and go after a nice image of the bird.  Seeing where the bird was headed, I ran way around the bird and tried to get ahead hoping it’d continue the path towards a rocky shoreline not far away.  As luck would have it, it ended up coming right to me and at one point jumped on a rock, turned around and then jumped back down.  This image is part way through that movement as it was getting ready to jump back to the sandy shore.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f5.6
Shutter Speed- 1/800th
ISO- 100

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.

Photo Essay: Winter Songbirds

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Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Photo Essay: Winter Songbirds by Josh Haas

songbirds

Evening Grosbeak © Josh Haas

Evening Grosbeak:
This beauty was hanging around some feeders in Algonquin Provincial Park (Ontario, CA). Many northern species were flitting about early in the morning but I waited and waited for this beautiful songbird to hit a perch in the open before firing off some shots. This is a perfect example of patience, but also preparation. Before the shot materialized, I took several test exposures in different areas where I hoped the bird would perch. This meant that my exposure would be very close to right on, if and when the bird finally hit the spot. He did and the result was this image.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon EOS, 300mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f9
Shutter Speed- 1/400th
ISO- 400

songbirds

Common Redpoll © Josh Haas

Common Redpoll:
Common Redpolls are common in the arctic and each winter, some make their way to the northern US. This particular bird was photographed during an irruption year where thousands of Redpolls were in Southwest Michigan. At a friend’s property who was banding songbirds, they were banding Redpolls by the hundreds and I was able to snag a shot before this little gem entered the feeder trap. This is another image where bird feeders were in close proximity but out of view, giving a more natural look.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f7.1
Shutter Speed- 1/1250th
ISO- 200

songbirds

Pine Grosbeak, male © Josh Haas

Pine Grosbeak:
If you’re looking for a bird with many color possibilities, this is one of them. The Pine Grosbeak can be seen in many color combinations depending on if it’s a juvenile, male or female bird. This particular image is of an adult male. I captured the image at familiar spot, Algonquin Provincial Park (Ontario, CA). This late morning, there were dozens of Pines Grosbeaks hanging around. So many, in fact, I found myself quickly panning around and shooting anything I could get. I finally took a step back and decided to just watch in hopes of learning some behaviors the birds were showing. By doing this, I narrowed in on a section of feeders and branches they hit more often. Setting up for those branches yielded an open shot of this bird. It pays to study and create images, not just point and shoot.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f9
Shutter Speed- 1/500th
ISO- 250

songbirds

White-winged Crossbill © Josh Haas

White-winged Crossbill:
This image brings back many fond memories for me. During an irruption year, my wife and I had stumbled across some White-winged Crossbills during a Christmas Bird Count. Knowing that it might be possible to find them in a couple other spots I knew of with good pines, I checked one of them out only to find about two dozen Crossbills decimating a small stand of Pines (cones). What a site it was to see. I invited my dad out and when he arrived, he was in awe of how this small group of birds was delicately attacking the cones in search of seeds. We continued to shoot and both brought back many images. This close-up image really displays the literal “cross-bill.” Better than the image above, was the excitement in my Dad that turned him on to birds. That was a good day…

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f5.6
Shutter Speed- 1/100th
ISO- 320

songbirds

Black-capped Chickadee © Josh Haas

Black-capped Chickadee:
Some may not consider this a Northern bird but the range map does show a range in the Eastern US in Michigan and above. I couldn’t help but include this image because in the Midwest, it’s one of the most consistent feeder birds all winter long. Their distinctive chatter and noisy wings will always be special during winter. This simple bird just so happens to be my wife’s favorite bird. While she loves the cute little guy, I think part of it may be the fact that I whistle the birds breeding call in stores when looking for her. She always knows it’s me and we easily find each other this way. =) Hopefully this essay doesn’t prompt other couples to start doing this in Southwest Michigan or we might find ourselves confused the next time we go grocery shopping! This image was taken in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on a winter morning. I first found the perch with some great mosses and then created a simple setup including seed just under the perch. It didn’t take long for the birds to find the seed and begin using the perch. In our house, this is a classic.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark III, 500mm f4 lens
Aperture- f4
Shutter Speed- 1/400th
ISO- 400

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.