Stephen Kirkpatrick

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pretty In Pink

My morning out produced nothing for On A Roll, but when I returned home, I found the Japanese magnolia in front of my office window bursting with blooms. This scene will likely meet a tragic end in a few days or weeks when the inevitable freeze comes along and kills all of the blooms (along with my spring fever), but for today, it's a beautiful sight. 

Japanese Magnolia Blooms in January

(photo taken with Nikon P7000)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Golden Glow

No shot for On A Roll this morning, although I did consider this scene for a few moments. I don't know what I was looking for but I never saw it. There was so much potential and yet I left empty handed but warm hearted.

Pine Tree and Fog

(photo taken with Nikon P7000)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Waiting Game

The day began with a striking, pre-dawn red sky and high enthusiasm on my part for something On A Roll. Red-winged blackbirds were bursting out of the cattails surrounding me, hundreds, maybe thousands of them headed skyward all at the same time. The sight of them against the crimson backdrop was beautiful, but I waited, always conscious of having just one shot. 

Red-winged Blackbirds at Dawn

The sun was nearing the horizon when I spotted a hawk, on a dead tree, searching from his high perch over the Pearl River swamp. I set up and waited for the hawk to take off, but he didn’t budge. As I waited, the sun moved up and into the sky. Disappointed, I was moving to abandon my spot when I noticed the highlighted foliage in the swamp below the hawk. The interesting lighting changed the scene to my liking so I got it On A Roll. I'm glad I hadn’t departed after all. 

Red-tailed Hawk Searching for an Early Meal

When I finally did leave, the hawk was still on his perch. Things were moving a little slow on this 37-degree morning. He was waiting for that opportune moment, just like me when I am searching for another perfect capture for On A Roll

5)  Red-tailed Hawk - (V)  
Madison County, MS
January 19, 2012 - 7:37 am
Clear, 37 degrees
500mm w/2xTC, 1/1600@f8, Tripod

(photo taken with Nikon P7000)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Like Father Like Son

Yet another new buck found his way into "my backyard" today. He was with a lady on a lunch date, it was twelve noon.

In addition to a showy rack, this one brought an interesting twist. I noticed he had an amazingly similar antler growth to my On A Roll #2 shot (“The Buck Stops Here”). He was an eight-point with the exact same missing points as that buck. My comments about that shot, "I studied his antlers and noticed that his right beam was a perfect five points with a nice brow tine. The left side was exact but missing G1 (brow tine) and G4 points; it appears they never grew out as opposed to losing them in a fight or other mishap."

Today’s visitor’s rack was a little smaller than that of my On A Roll buck, so I knew it wasn’t the same deer. I can only conclude that this buck is the offspring of the buck I captured On A Roll.  And I have to say, they share an impressive family tree. 

White-tailed Deer

(photo taken with Nikon P7000)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Saw this young eight point today, I've never laid eyes on him before. He is watching a doe that obviously wants nothing to do with him. He must be desperate for some love or the most optimistic deer in the county. The rut is over.

Dude give it up, she's really not that into you. Don't feel alone, the rest of us don't understand women either.

White-tailed Buck Watching Doe Walk Away

(photo taken with Nikon P7000)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cold Prickly

Emerging from the woods into a nearby field, the first thing I saw was a large buck, who immediately busted for the brush. In the distance, a couple of does did the same, white tails a-flashing. The sun was just coming up through a light cloud cover, making for an interesting sky. A couple of bare winter trees formed a graphic composition that I captured with my digital camera, but I decided it was not quite impressive enough for On A Roll.

Sun Rising Behind Winter Trees

After a 22-degree night, the frost covered everything in sight. Looking for an artistic shot incorporating the frosty blanket, I spotted a tiny yellow flower and hit my knees to take a closer look, putting down a hand to support myself. 

Ouch! I jumped back with a yelp, jerking my hand out of a thistle that penetrated the palm of my hand in more than a dozen places. Not a pleasant moment.

But then, I noticed the flat, new growth thistles were all over, each one featuring its own unique, symmetrical design. After an hour of searching I spotted one with a small oak leaf caught in it. A piece of frost covered grass entered the scene from the top right. 

"Click", #4 On A Roll.

And if the title of this post left you confused, "Cold and Prickly" is the opposite of warm and fuzzy. 

Frosted Thistle & Oak Leaf

4)  Frosted Thistle & Oak Leaf - (H)  
Madison County, MS
January 13, 2012 -   7:58 am
Clear,  27 degrees
60mm, 1/3@f18, Tripod

(photos taken with Nikon P7000)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Laugh and Learn

Join us on a weeklong photography and journaling adventure beneath the waves of Utila, Honduras. I’m working on a new book titled On A Roll and hope to include an entire chapter (roll) on Utila, so in addition to participating in a fun-filled workshop, you’ll be a part of the behind-the-scenes action as images for the book are captured.

Stephen Kirkpatrick Photographing Turtle

By day, we’ll dive together, and with the help of expert dive masters, locate interesting, beautiful, and diverse life for you to photograph. I’ll offer photography suggestions and tips before we go under, and again when we surface based upon what we’ve just seen on the dive.

Josh Henderson (dive master)
with Coral Crab
Schoolmasters & Fan Coral

Our evening "classroom" instruction will cover wildlife and nature photography with aspecial emphasis on underwater photography. These sessions include instructional multimedia presentations shown on DVD, as well as photography presentations designed purely with entertainment in mind. Topics covered include lighting, composition, lenses, exposure, contrast, action, and how to tell a compelling story.  

Marlo Kirkpatrick Snorkels with Turtle

My wife, award-winning author Marlo Kirkpatrick, will offer a journaling presentation that will teach you how to create vivid and lasting memories of your adventures, even if you don’t consider yourself the world’s best writer. We’ll also delve into the world of publishing, covering what makes a shot publishable, how to develop a project from idea to publication, and self-publishing vs. trying to land a publishing contract.

Marlo Writing in Journal at Lodge

We’ll also have some entertaining talks about our crazy adventures in wildlife photography and travel writing. And of course, we’ll never lose sight of the fact that you’ve come to Utila for your own adventure. Marlo and I want to be a part of what makes that adventure memorable - not the part that puts you to sleep. Your entire week will be filled with fun things to do so you not only learn new photography and writing skills, but also have the opportunity to enjoy and experience what Utila has to offer.

View of Mainland Honduras from Lodge

Boy & Dog Pulling Boat

Scrawled Filefish in Reef

Sunset from Lodge Sunning Deck

Sign up today and you’ll also receive an autographed copy of our award-winning coffee table book, Romancing the Rain: A Photographic Journey into the Heart of the Amazon (one per couple). 

Get ready for a fun-filled week in Utila. We can’t wait to see you there!

Monday, January 9, 2012


Heading into the fog this morning, I just knew I'd find my next shot On A Roll.  The fog was thick and the water I was shooting near was dead calm. The snags in the water took on symmetrical, intriguing compositions completed by their own, gray reflections. I set up my camera and waited, hoping an egret or heron might land on one of the snags and complete the scene. 

As I was waiting, I spotted a pied-billed grebe swimming and feeding in the swampy area nearby. I shifted my position and followed the grebe as it swam and dove in front of me, seeing potential in a photograph of the grebe in the composition of the reflected debris. The grebe came up from a dive and headed directly towards the scene where I had originally been set up. I followed as it swam right through the middle of the composition.

"Click." I had #3 On A Roll.

The grebe swam right through this scene, splitting the middle. 

#3)  Grebe & Snags in Fog  - (H)
Madison County, MS
January 9, 2012 -  9:27 am
Foggy,  63 degrees
500mm, 1/250@f4, Hand Held

Riverbend in Fog

(photos taken with Nikon P7000)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Natural Moments of 2011

Below find a selection of favorite shots from 2011. Some were taken On A Roll and others on outings where I did not see an On A Roll candidate or already had an image of a similar subject. Whatever the case, these are a few natural moments that spoke to me. Enjoy!

Alligator at Sunrise
August 2011 - Mississippi

Green Moray & Coral
February 2011 - Utila, Honduras

Mushroon and Blue Jay Feather
August 2011 - Mississippi

Pied-billed Grebe 0n Nest
July 2011 - Mississippi

Ghostly Reflections
November 2011 - Mississippi

Coyote on Chickasawhay River Bank
April 2011 - Mississippi

Grasshopper in Daisies
July 2011 - Mississippi

White Pelicans Preening
June 2011 - Mississippi

July 2011 - Mississippi

Spring Waterfall Panorama
April 2011 - Mississippi

Smooth Green Snake
August 2011 - Mississippi

Eastern Wild Turkey on Sandbar in Rain
April 2011 - Mississippi

Turtle Tracks on Sandbar
June 2011 - Mississippi

Dawn over El Capitan & Half Dome
November 2011 - California

Canada Geese at Dusk
September 2011 - Mississippi

Frost on Plum Tree
November 2011 - Mississippi

Caribbean Reef Squid
February 2011 - Utila, Honduras

Black-tailed Deer
November 2011 - California

Great Blue Heron Preening
June 2011 - Mississippi

Praying Mantis and Dew
October 2011 - Mississippi

Fall Swamp Maple
November 2011 - Mississippi

Avocets Feeding
November 2011 - California

Cloudy Sunset Panorama
December 2011 - Mississippi

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I have never been a big fan of reality shows of any kind. The new wave of "wild" outdoor shows are, to me, the worst. Below read Bill Lamars words on this subject, he expresses it perfectly. I have known and worked with Bill in the Amazon jungle many times over the years and his knowledge and experiences as a biologist are second to none.

On A Roll is still ongoing but no new shots as of today, still looking for #3. As I said in a recent post, I am not rushing this roll, this may take awhile.

Blessings in the new year.

Showmanship vs. Reality on reality TV wild animal shows
by Bill Lamar, GreenTracks, Inc.

The abundance of nature oriented television shows is a blessing and a curse. After an auspicious beginning with properly researched and well-filmed documentaries, ratings—largely a function of the preferences of the sofa-set—began to change their direction. One can see the transition from inspired work such as the films by Sir David Attenborough to features that showcase sweating pseudo-Tarzans spewing words like “jungle,” “aggressive,” “survival,” etc. They have devolved into tired depictions of Man vs. Nature that inevitably cast the natural world as something dangerous and in need of conquering….and, of course, they showcase anything with blood. What was a lofty and necessary pursuit has degenerated into cheap thrills.
Television programs are stories and making them is tedious, unromantic, difficult, and expensive. The teams who actually do the filming are marvelously talented and dedicated to their craft. Not surprisingly, the home office is replete with “suits” who live in fear of irate advertisers, the internet, and who cast a dry and often timid eye on the programming choices. Placing a team in the field is, in fact, so costly that time is at a premium, so naturally most animals are procured in advance and wrangled for the scenes. This is perfectly reasonable as long as it is performed by experts who understand the ecology and natural history of their subjects and as long as the research, writing, and editing is rigorously pursued. While all of this is integral to wonderful films produced by and for BBC, Nature, and Nova, it is increasingly rare among the other networks, big names notwithstanding.
The problem arises owing to the innocence of the viewing public. Networks, ever wary of the bottom line, have realized that many, perhaps most, viewers are ill-equipped to distinguish between films featuring solid science and those that stress hyperbole and exaggeration. Risk analysis, a fine science that we use in nearly all aspects of our daily lives, is woefully lacking when it comes to our concepts of wildlife. In brief, the ceiling above you could fall down. That is a hazard. But what is the risk factor, the likelihood that it will happen? While we have a fairly accurate idea as to how high this is, lay-people inappropriately assign high risk factors to all animal hazards. This silliness remains essentially unchanged since the dawn of civilization. And it permits huge liberties to be taken by showmen who know the risks are usually low.
Thus we are now pained to view competent fishermen gasping for breath and trying to portray powerful but essentially harmless fishes as something to be feared; folks molesting terrified snakes while calling them “aggressive,” and “jungles” depicted as places to be subdued. Ditto that for the hokey survivalists, pest controllers, etc. There have been a few legitimate authorities who have presented programs for television, but the majority is anything but that. Additionally, one has the constant problems of animal management. A short scene will often require considerable preparation time for lighting and equipment, yet wild animals are not built to go five rounds. Their reactions—be they defensive or feeding responses—are sudden and of short duration. So by the time the hero hurls himself on top of the anaconda, the snake has long since grown accustomed to being held in readiness off-camera. For those familiar with wild animals, the machinations (not to mention bad acting!) that accompany such staged scenes are ludicrous. Yet the public does not realize this at all.
The film industry has a strict and frequently unrealistic code of ethics when it comes to handling animals and to their credit they try mightily to adhere to it. Yet paradoxically the new genre of so-called survival shows is routinely allowed to violate these rules. I have seen one situation in which the couple who starred in the show, while “lost” deep in the Amazon forest, “found and captured” a large nonvenomous snake which they then dispatched, cooked and ate. The scene was filmed behind the comfy lodge where everyone was staying and the hapless snake was purchased at a local market. And all of this in contrast to standard wildlife films where one cannot even set up a natural feeding sequence with, say, a mouse and a snake. A strange business, to be sure!
Films about the natural world are crucially important education tools and the public needs them now more than ever. Habitats are imperiled and shrinking. Unless attitudes toward our fellow creatures and the places they inhabit become attuned to modern realities, the future will not be a bright one. We need excellent documentaries; if only we could convince the networks of that.

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