Photography by J.D. Magers

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Thornton, Colorado, USA

Added on by J.D. Magers.

The advantage of living next to open space is you get to attract wildlife.  This photograph of a Northern Flicker was made in my backyard, through our kitchen window.  The Norther Flicker is a woodpecker.  They're awesome, especially that red patch on their crown.

Location and Date: Thornton, Colorado, USA; 12 March 2016

Tech Specs: 1/200s @ f/5.6.  300mm @ ISO 250

Camera & Lens: Canon 7D Mark II; Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

So What Exactly Did I Do In 2015?

Added on by J.D. Magers.

Here it is, the last post of 2015.  I thought it might be a good idea to reflect on what I accomplished photographically in 2015.  That way I can have a sort of baseline for when I do this exercise again at the end of next year.  So here goes:

  • The first one can't be considered an accomplishment.  According to my Lightroom library, I pressed the shutter button nearly 3,000 times less in 2015 than the previous year.  I even took less photos than I did in 2013.  For someone that wants to keep learning, I need to practice, which means I need to be shooting more.  There certainly is a good reason for shooting less, as the baby came right when she was supposed to.  In addition, my day job keeps me extremely busy, and I am pretty much limited to creating and shooting to on the weekends.  Shooting on the weekends is hard with an infant, but I should be photographing her instead.
  • I did start the year off with a trip to Barr Lake State Park (which I will actually be doing again this year.  Have I started a tradition?).  I went at sunset, and got a really great photograph of mullein against some out of focus cottonwood trees.  I posted that image here.  We love this photo, and it's now hanging up on our walls.
  • I took 200-300 photos of various kids' birthday parties.  The first one, I actually took the best photos of each of the kids and made prints to give away to the parents.  I was hoping this would lead to a family photo shoot, but that never materialized.  Maybe this year.
  • I took some maternity shots of my wife before the baby came.  That practice will come in handy this year too, as I have a plan for doing more of this.
  • In my limited birding time, I knocked a few new species off my bird photography life list.  This is also something I will be doing more of.  Especially now that I have a little bit more reach with the 7D.
Western Grebe, Barr Lake State Park, Adams County, Colorado.

Western Grebe, Barr Lake State Park, Adams County, Colorado.


  • My first attempt at light painting was a resounding success in my book.  Light painting is a lot of fun.  If you want to check out someone who's really good at it, check out Dave Black Photography.  More on my light painting later.
  • I made it up to Rocky Mountain National Park once.  That's also unacceptable and will change in 2016.
  • In October, I walked in the annual Kelby Photowalk in downtown Denver.  Our leader was not very organized, and even forgot to pick a winner.  In 2016, I resolve to lead a walk along the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder.
  • On the photowalk, I got an idea for a photo of Sports Authority Field (where the Broncos play). My idea was to shoot the stadium at sunset during a game when it is all lit up.  That shot became reality in November, and it was one of my favorite photo shoots of the year.

Looking at this list, I did more this year then I thought I had.  When I first started looking through the library, I felt disappointed like I didn't shoot enough.  But, as I said, it gives me a sort of baseline to compare to for all the ideas that are floating around in my head for where I want to go this year.  And I will get there.  I have a plan.  I have goals.  It's going to be an exciting ride in 2016.  I invite you to please join me.

Western Grebe

Added on by J.D. Magers.

As promised, here is the other new (to me anyway) bird species I was lucky enough to photograph last Friday at Barr Lake State Park.  This is a Western Grebe:

This guy was maybe fifteen feet from the shore.  He almost caught me off guard, but I was able to duck down and watch for a couple of minutes.  He would dive below the water and then come up maybe 10 or so seconds later.  Looking for fish no doubt.  A much more experienced birder than I happened to walk by as I was watching two similar birds.  I asked him what I was looking at, and he told me the name.  He also mentioned there have been reports of Clark's Grebes also roosting at Barr Lake.  

When I got home, I looked up these two birds on my ID app.  They are very similar species.  See how the black bank goes beneath the eye here on the Western?  Yeah, it goes above the eye on the Clark's.  Otherwise, they look exactly the same.  I'm going to have to remember that...

House Wren

Added on by J.D. Magers.

Last Friday was my Birthday.  I took the day off.  I needed it.  A few hours of me time is a must have.  What better way to spend the day then to go to Barr Lake and do a little birding.  I didn't have any preconceived notions of what I wanted, instead just wanting to mosey in whatever direction my feet took me, and taking my time.  I was in no hurry, not needing to come home to run errands or go to the store to get something for lunch.  

Anyway, I was hoping to have great light in order for me to practice my bird ID skills.  I didn't get it, as Friday morning was very overcast. Everything I saw through the binoculars, and everything I shot with my camera was gray.  Like more than 18% gray.  I kept walking though, hoping the sun would manage to burn through the clouds.  As you can see, sometime patience and perseverance pays off.  I had seen three (previously unknown to me) birds flying around a next near the beginning of the trail.  I got some decent images of them, but I'm going to need to lighten all of them.  A little later, I happened to spot this guy not ten feet in front of me.  I got one shot off before he flew away.  Lucky indeed.  Then it took me a day and a half of trying to figure out what he was.  You can tell, there aren't many identifying features on these birds.  I finally found an image on my ID app that sort of made me think this is a House Wren, which is very common in Colorado.  My ID was confirmed by a fellow birder in the Front Range Wildlife Photographer's group on Facebook.

House Wren, Barr Lake State Park, Adams County, Colorado.

Overall, I managed to identify and report to 17 different bird species.  This isn't bad, considering I am still very much a beginner.  I even got another up close image a little later on.  It was a new species to me as well.  I'll post that image on Wednesday.  Until then, Happy BIrding.

Three Finches

Added on by J.D. Magers.

Going through these images tonight gave me an idea for another post regarding photographing birds.  This image will have to do for now though, so consider this a teaser.

Three Finches sit on a tree in Golden Hour light, waiting their turn at the feeder.