April 25, 2012

A nice looking late season storm is about to arrive!


Red-throated Loon Rescue

April 23, 2012

An oiled Red-throated Loon was swimming around a local lake on Thursday and Friday. My girlfriend and I had just finished discussing whether or not it could be rescued from the water, when it swam directly towards us and clumsily hauled itself out of the water.  That made rescuing the bird a more realistic proposition and we quickly made a call to the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network.  Thankfully, the loon showed no signs of returning to the water, and within ten minutes a volunteer arrived and was able to easily capture the bird.  Hopefully it is now much cleaner and on its way back to the wild.

Oiled Red-throated Loon

Close-up of Red-throated Loon

Oiled Red-throated Loon on land

Video Preview of the Discovery Channel’s “North America”

April 20, 2012

I’m excited to share the first preview of the Discovery Channel’s documentary series on North America.  Two years ago, I had the pleasure of chatting about bobcats with Nick Lyon from the Wild Horizons production company.  Because they are so elusive, bobcats are almost never filmed for major documentaries.  I want to thank Nick for putting in the work to document this incredible animal and share that with the Discovery Channel audience.

I also have to thank Trish Carney for posting the link to the preview on her blog. She’s doing some of the most original bobcat photography and I always look forward to seeing new work from her.  This preview looks incredible and I’m really looking forward to watching the series in 2013.

Via Trish Carney

Interesting Science: Mountain Lion Behavior

April 17, 2012

A recent study from the Teton Cougar Project has found multiple mountain lions sharing prey in the Gros Ventre River drainage.  According to conventional wisdom, mountain lions are solitary animals, expect when breeding and raising young.  These researchers have found multiple females and young sharing elk kills and have also noted a male lion in the same location as a female and her kitten.  My own experience with bobcats supports what these researchers have seen.  I’ve seen multiple male bobcats interacting with females and kittens outside of the breeding season, which the literature says shouldn’t happen.

Jackson Hole News via Adventure Journal

News – Ocelot sighting in Arizona

March 12, 2012

According to this press release by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, an anonymous hunter’s trail cam has capture images of an Ocelot in southern Arizona.  This appears to be the same cat that was seen in February and March 2011.


Adobe Lightroom 4 released today!

March 6, 2012

The big news of the day is the official release of Adobe Lightroom 4.  I’ve been playing around with the beta version since it was released in January, and am looking forward to working with the final version.

One of the features that I think I’ll enjoy the most is the ability to change color balance selectively using the adjustment brush.  I have been using Viveza 2 to do this, but I’m not always happy with the color balance, and I don’t like that I need to convert a RAW file to a TIFF in order to use it.  I decided to compare the results from Nik’s Viveza 2 and LR4 beta last night, by really pushing some color changes in the photo below.  I should mention that this is not how I would process this photo normally, but I was curious to see how far I could push the processing using these two pieces of software.

Here’s the original RAW conversion with the sliders and curves zeroed out.

Original RAW conversion


I then did some basic post-processing to create a version that I could be sent to Viveza for processing, or that I could recreate in LR4 beta.  I have cropped out the blown highlights and greatly increased contrast and clarity.  For further processing, I needed to decide in which direction to push the color balance.  My initial thoughts were to make it quite a bit warmer, since it was taken as the sun was setting.  However, it is the beginning of Spring, and I could also make a case for highlighting the new green leaves budding out.

File with basic RAW processing.

I decided that I should try both ideas in the same photo.  Doing that is essentially impossible in Lightroom 3, so I thought I would bring the image into Viveza or LR4 beta and see what they could do to produce greener foreground leaves and a warmer background.  The next two images are obviously overdone, but I wanted to make the results apparent.  Here’s the Viveza 2 version.  I found it a bit challenging to get the colors I was looking for, but I eventually got a green that I thought was ok.

Viveza 2 version


And here’s the Lightroom 4 beta version.

Lightroom 4 beta version.


I like the softness in the background of the LR4 version, but I think I like the more refined green of the Viveza 2 version.  It makes it really easy to create sophisticated selection masks, and did a good job of altering the leaf color, without affecting the dark background.  In the end, it looks like it will still take a combination of software to get the results I’m looking for.


Friday Photo – Something New

March 2, 2012

Panning for Gold

I was practicing my panning skills on some gulls, when I decided to try for some abstract shots of the distant shoreline.  This one turned out quite nicely.

Happy Leap Day!

February 29, 2012

Interesting Science: Cats and Disease

February 28, 2012

Here’s another good reason to keep your cat inside.  A study recently published in PLoS One revealed that domestic cats, bobcats and mountain lions living in the same area share the same diseases.  Diseases were even transmitted between domestic and wild cats that did not come into contact with each other.

Via National Science Foundation.

Interesting Science – B.C. Cougar diet

February 24, 2012


I stumbled across an interesting news article about the diet of cougars in British Columbia’s, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.  It is widely accepted that cougars predominantly prey upon deer.  However, this study found that deer were not the primary prey species in this area, and that raccoons were their number one prey item.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find a link to the actual study, and the news article did not indicate how the prey percentages were measured.  Obviously, raccoons are smaller than deer, so a cougar would have to eat several raccoons to get the same number of calories as in a deer.

The most interesting part of the article was the discovery that this population of cougars was utilizing marine mammals as prey, in particular harbor seals and sea lions.  This is the first account of cougars eating marine mammals.  This is particularly surprising considering that marine mammals made up 34% of their diet in one section of the study area.

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