Tag Archives: Wildlife

Cape Lookout Light and a Wild Mustang

Unquestionably one of the most iconic images for the wild horses of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, finding an angle that will permit a photographer to include the lighthouse in the background of a wild mustang photo is actually fairly rare. The odds improve when the horses are out on one of the marsh islands and you’re using a private charter to reach the horses, as was the case on the second day of the Crystal Coast Wild Horse Photo Safari last week. Hopefully we’ll get a repeat opportunity during next month’s tour which, by the way, still has limited space available (). Here are a couple of shots of a wild horse with the Cape Lookout Light in the background.


Wild mustang on a marsh island in the Cape Lookout National Seashore

Wild horse on Shackleford Banks.

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Wild Horse Crossing

Many folks that visit the wild horses living within the boundaries of the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve or the Cape Lookout National Seashore don’t get to see the horses swimming between islands and shoals. If they do it’s often from a distance and seldom provides a chance for the viewer to photograph them. To get these kins of shots you usually need to be working from either a boat or a kayak. This is one of the reasons I’ve arranged for participants to spend one day working from a boat during the 2013 Wild Horse Photo Safaris. You can learn more about these tours by visiting the following page: http://carolinafootprints.com/index.php/workshops/. Below are a few images taken this winter.

A wild horse swims between islands in the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve.

A wild stallion emerges from a cold swim on a January morning.

Wild horses swim between islands.

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Intimate Black & White Wild Horse Portraits

No doubt if you’ve followed my blog for long you’ve seen me post a few intimate, close-up portraits of wild horses. It’s something I enjoy doing and have been working hard to master. While I’m still experimenting and learning what makes these kinds of images work it’s fun to share a few from time to time. Here are a couple I worked up recently. I hope you enjoy them.

Intimate portrait of a wild horse taken in the Rachel Carsoins Estuarine Reserve.

Wild Mustang portrait.

Portrait of a wild horse.

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Are You Ready to Rumble? Wild Horse Spat on the Tidal Flats

I was out photographing the wild horses yesterday evening. There were a few little spats that broke out while I was there. These short little bouts are about territory and domination and usually last only a few seconds to a minute. Many times only one horse really even flairs-up, the other just taking it from the aggressor. Below is a series of photos showing one of these sparring matches.

If you’d like an opportunity to take photos like these I have a couple spaces open in a Wild Horses of the Crystal Coast workshop September 15, 16.


The beginning of a wild horse conflict.

The horse fight gets a bit more serious.

Wild horses frequently spar over territory and dominance.

The wild horse fight continues.

Horse fights can be more serious and long lasting when breeding rights are involved.

The conflict is almost done.

Apparently wild horses don't hold grudges.

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Wild Horses on the Tidal Flats

I launched my kayak one morning last week and it was a perfect morning for photographing the wild horses of the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve from a kayak. These majestic animals were out feeding on the flats at a time that the water was high enough for navigation with a kayak. I always love the low perspective gotten by making photographs of these large animals from the cockpit of a kayak. Below are a few of the images from the morning’s adventure.

Wild horse feeding on the tidal flats.

The Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve has one of North Carolina's three herds of wild horses.

I offer several wild horse photography wrokshops each year.

A wild horse feeds along North Carolina's Crystal Coast.

Wild horses seen near Beaufort North Carolina

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White Ibis and Little Blue Heron Along the Beaufort NC Waterfront

I had the opportunity to launch my kayak and do a little wildlife photography the other morning. It was an extremely winding morning, making it a little difficult to hold position while shooting. The fast moving air, however, help provide some relief from the heat and humidity of the morning. All in all it was a nice way to spend the morning.

White Ibis along Taylors Creek

Little Blue Heron along North Carolina's Crystal Coast

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Shackleford Banks Wild Mustang

The other evening I came across a memory card that I’d neglected to download. It was the last card I had loaded into my camera during June’s Wild Horses of the Crystal Coast workshop. While there weren’t a lot of images on the card there were at least a couple nice ones. These were taken near the east end of the barrier island, inside the dune line. In case you’re interested I do have a couple of dates set for wild horse workshops this fall. If your interested check out my Workshop Page… after looking at the photos below of course!

A wild Spanish Mustang on Shackleford Banks.

Wild Horses of the North Carolina coast.

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Wild Horses in Late Morning Light

Like most photographers I prefer to make wildlife images in the good light of the early morning or an hour or two before sunset. However, things don’t always work out that way. I’d used my kayak to get over to the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve, across Taylor’s Creek from Beaufort, NC. As a volunteer site steward for the reserve I’m supposed to make an occasional visit and patrol some of the property looking for injured animals, trash & debris, and to report on observed wildlife. I try to work those kinds of visits in conjunction with photo outings.

On this morning I started by doing some photography from the kayak, then hiking in to the main watering hole area for some horse photography. The horses were anything but animated while I was there. Photo opportunities were, at best, so-so. After that morning session I walked across the flats to Bird shoal and circumvent the dunes area on the eastern end of the shoal. On the walk I noted several plovers and other shore birds, quite a bit of trash and a spot where someone had stashed a charcoal grill and folding chair in the dunes along the beach. As I strolled back across the tidal flats I noticed that the horses were moving out onto the area to feed. I cut an angle to put myself where they’d cross in front of me, hoping to get some shots of them crossing, possibly splashing some water and with their heads up rather than in the grass feeding. Of course by now it was getting later in the morning and the sun was much higher in the sky than what would be considered ideal. However, I’m not inclined to let a little harsh light stop me from making a few photos.

When shooting in bright light, especially with large subjects like wild horses, spot metering mode can insure you get a proper exposure of your subject. If the background or foreground exposes a little “hot” so be it. The important thing is to get the exposure correct for the subject. It’s possible to shoot in other metering modes in these situations. As long as you understand exposure and how to use the exposure correction features of your camera to insure correct focus on the subject. Using modes such as center weighted or matrix metering there will be a need to set exposure compensation to shot anything from 1/3 to a full stop more than the meter recommendation. Again, let the non-subject areas “blow-out” if necessary but get the exposure right on the subject.

Below are a few shots of the horses shot in bright sunlight. While I wouldn’t suggest they’re the best wild horse images I’ve ever taken, I think they are acceptable. Learning to shoot in a variety of lighting situations is an important lesson for photographers. You never know when that rare photographic opportunity will arise. On the day that an Ivory Bill Woodpecker shows its self to me at high-noon I want to be sure I can make a useable photo of this supposedly extinct species!

Wild horse at the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve

Wild Horse Wild Horse of the Crystal Coast

Wild stallion.

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Little Blue Heron

While paddling my kayak this morning I came across three Little Blue Herons. Two of these tres hombres were quite shy and took to wing before I got within camera range. But one was absolutely calm in my presence and just kept fishing along the waters edge. The bird was in classic breeding colors (hint, look at the head, neck and bill), making it a very handsome model. These and Reddish Egrets are my favorite large wading birds. I’m always thrilled when I get to observe them. Below are a few photos from the encounter.

Little Blue Heron on Taylor's Creek

Little Blue Heron in breeding colors.

Rachel Carson Reserve is home to many interesting birds.

Little Blue along the Crystal Coast of North Carolina.

Little Blue Heron.

Little Blue Heron.

Little Blue Heron found along North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks.

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Oak Toad: Anaxyrus Quercicus

I paid a visit to one of the area’s pine savanna areas yesterday morning. I wanted to look around and see if any of the various wild orchids that grow there had appeared yet. While I didn’t find any orchids I was lucky enough to notice a couple of Oak Toads. These are considered the smallest toad in North America mesuring .75 to 1.3 inches in length. A carnivore, they primarily eat insects. Endemic to the southeastern United States, they are found from southeastern Virgina to Florida and west to the Mississippi river. Below are a couple photos of these interesting little toads.

The Oak Toad, Anaxyrus quercicus.

A common toad found in the southeastern Unitied States.

Posted in General Photography, Macro Photography, Natural History in the Carolinas, Nature Photography, Wildlife Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , |
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