It has been awhile since I last created a thread. Kind of took a break from photography as I explored the art scene here in Houston during FotoFest. Well, I got out to my favorite gator photography park last Saturday and had a great time. I will start with this photograph of a Raccoon taking a poop because it makes me laugh. It was early, it was dark, the camera was not setup properly (had not even turned it on to check things out yet), and a really slow shutter speed but I got the shot. EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 + EC-14 (420mm) - ISO 3200, 1/100 @ ƒ2.8 Poop Break by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr Watching a gator walk towards you thru the camera is rather interesting because you cannot really judge just how close he has gotten. EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 + EC-20 (600mm) - ISO 1600, 1/320 @ ƒ5.6 Ambling by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr This next shot was made a lot easier because @faithblinded had just sent me a skimmer pod that he designed and printed on his 3D printer. First I want to thank him for printing me one and saving me from buying that overpriced piece of plastic. I really love shooting wildlife from the lowest perspective I possible can and this little piece of plastic is going to make crawling up to animals and photographing them so much easier. EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 + EC-20 (600mm) - ISO 800, 1/500 @ ƒ5.6 Careful by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr I was shooting the above gator when my friend warned me that another one was crawling up behind me. This gator crawled down the bank and slipped into the water about 10 feet from me. He was close enough (as is typical for most of my gator shots) that I had to remove the TC to get a full head shot. EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 (300mm) - ISO 160, 1/640 @ ƒ2.0 Slowly by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr As promised here come the baby gators. I have known about this group of baby gators for most of the year. The problem is the mommy gator has kept them farther out in the swamp to protect them from all the people walking by (she builds her nest along the trail that goes to the Observatory so it sees a lot of traffic). Well, it is now breeding season so she has left them on their own while she builds a new nest and finds a daddy gator for her next batch of young. Female gators tend to build their nest in the same area (if not the exact same spot) every year. These babies were born late August or early September of last year and are about 8 inches long (gators grow about 1 foot a year until around 8 or 9 years old then their growth slows down). Once the female has her nest built and eggs laid she will let her previous year young stay around until the following breeding season (this provides them with protection for another year, but after that they are big enough to eat her hatch so she will chase them away). Gators lay 50-100 eggs with only 1-3 of those surviving until adulthood. These babies don't seem to mind the traffic (they put up some fencing to keep people from messing with them) and seemed more interested in getting some sun and catching small bugs that happen to come by. EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 + EC-20 (600mm) - ISO 500, 1/640 @ ƒ5.6 Relax by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 + EC-20 (600mm) - ISO 200, 1/500 @ ƒ5.6 Little Hunter by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr This next baby was so close I had to backup a bit so the lens could focus EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 + EC-20 (600mm) - ISO 320, 1/500 @ ƒ5.6 Hi by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 + EC-20 (600mm) - ISO 320, 1/500 @ ƒ5.6 Hello by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr After leaving those babies (there were about 15 of them in the general area) I found this lone young gator on the other side of the lake. This one was born in August September of 2014 and was about 14 inches or so. He was about halfway down the bank that was at about a 45 degree angle, made crawling up on him uncomfortable and I kept sliding into the water. EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 + EC-20 (600mm) - ISO 640, 1/500 @ ƒ5.6 Smile by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr This next one was taken from the same position as the above but after I removed the EC-20. I wanted to crawl closer for full head shot but a park volunteer came by and we had a small disagreement about what I was doing. Rather then let things get out of control I just walked away. I now have the park rules printed in my bag as well as a PDF on my phone for the next time. He was insisting that the park rule was no closer then 30 feet to gators, which would make going down most of the trails impossible. Anyways, I am now prepared for the next encounter with a park volunteer (they are not nearly as knowledgeable about rules and animals as the actual rangers). FYI, I never break any laws or rules while photographing wild animals and I increase my distance if any animals seem stressed or agitated by me. EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 (300mm) - ISO 200, 1/2000 @ ƒ2.0 Cheese by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr I will finish with a Cottontail Rabbit I found that was blind in his left eye, which helped with getting close to him. EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 (300mm) - ISO 200, 1/640 @ ƒ2.0 Bunny by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr If anyone is curious, all but the first two photographs were processed using the Velvia 50 preset from VSCO in LR. I loved shooting Velvia in my film days and while not a perfect replication of Velvia it is pretty close. I love the saturated look it provides and love the way it renders green, so I tend to use this preset (with lots of modifications) a lot. Also, if you click thru to my Flickr account I have uploaded full resolution photographs for your viewing pleasure.