A couple of weekends ago I made another trip to the Pottawatomie County fishing lake just outside of Manhattan, Kansas to photograph sunrise. I’ve visited this lake for my first sunrise of 2014 and for some reason I’ve been drawn to visit it again. On this particular Saturday morning I almost didn’t venture out with my camera. After waking up, a quick glance out the window showed a clear sky. No clouds meant no really dramatic sunrise with nice reflections in the surface of the lake. I almost went back to bed, but decided to head out anyway. I’m glad I did (as is normally the case, you’d think I would have learned that lesson by now).

Pre-sunrise photo of Pottawatomie County Lake #2

Before The Day

(ISO 100, 84mm, f/16, 1/25)

I arrived at the lake about 15 min before sunrise (yes before sunrise!) and had some time to scout the area I selected to photograph from. There wasn’t much along the shoreline that was really grabbing my attention, but there were a couple of branches not far from shore that had some very interesting shapes. Luckily it was a calm morning so the reflections of the branches showed up nicely. I made the photo above deciding to isolate just the branches in the water with the color of the pre-dawn sky reflecting in the water. I selected a relatively high f-stop to give me a slower shutter speed to smooth out the bit of ripples that were on the water.

I arrived at the lake about 15 min before sunrise (yes before sunrise!) and had some time to scout the area I selected to photograph from. There wasn’t much along the shoreline that was really grabbing my attention, but there were a couple of branches not far from shore that had some very interesting shapes. Luckily it was a calm morning so the reflections of the branches showed up nicely. I made the photo above deciding to isolate just the branches in the water with the color of the pre-dawn sky reflecting in the water. I selected a relatively high f-stop to give me a slower shutter speed to smooth out the bit of ripples that were on the water.

Pottawatomie County Lake #2

(ISO 100, 40mm, f/11, 1/50)

I also created some photographs of the larger scene showing the branches in their place in the lake. Both of these images are very peaceful to me and I was happy with both of them – and very glad that I didn’t just go back to bed.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

(ISO 400, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/400)

After photographing the sunrise, I decided to drive around the lake and see what else might be around to photograph and right by my car was a Red-bellied Woodpecker that was either placing worms in a hole in a tree branch or removing worms form the hole. Whatever it was doing it was fun to watch. Just observing nature is one of the things I really like about nature photography.

Geese at the Pottawatomie County Lake #2

Geese – On Alert

(ISO 400, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/500)

Driving around to the other side of the lake I spotted a pair of Canada geese along the shoreline that were in a cove with some nice golden reflections in the water. I set up my telephoto lens and started photographing the pair as they fed at the edge of the water. A nice peaceful scene…or so I thought.

Geese at the Pottawatomie County Lake #2

Unhappy Geese

(ISO 400, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/500)

As I was photographing the pair, they suddenly turned and began making an incredible ruckus. Something had really upset them and they were letting the world know it!

Geese at the Pottawatomie County Lake #2

Goose Fight!

(ISO 400, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/500)

The pair of geese I was photographing turned in the opposite direction and moved out in the lake. That was when I noticed a second pair of geese land nearby on the lake. The first pair of geese moved aggressively toward the second pair and one (I’m assuming the male) launched itself toward the new pair and actually into one of the newly arrived geese (again, I assume the male of the second pair).  Apparently, the original pair of geese did not want neighbors. The racket the geese were making was really impressive though it did make me glad I don’t have geese for neighbors.

A red-tailed hawk takes flight

Taking Flight

(ISO 100, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/2000)

For a morning I almost didn’t get out of bed for, things turned out really well. I was very happy with the photographs I had made and really enjoyed watching the birds in the area. However, maybe the best was yet to come. On my drive home I went by a tree with 2 red-tailed hawks sitting in it. I still had my camera with my telephoto lens on it in the seat beside me and I was able to photograph one of the hawks in the tree and at the moment it took flight. I love seeing hawks and have tried many times to get a decent photograph of one and have never succeeded. I was really happy with the way the above photo turned out. Maybe the next time I get up in the morning for sunrise I’ll pretend like I’m debating just going back to bed before I actually grab my gear and head out the door.