On the trail: Of dragonflies and eagles

By Ken Levy

Part two
As photographers, we all love to travel to a favorite place and get the grand landscape and icons of the place. But there’s an emotional intimacy with close-up photography that immerses you in your surroundings…and those who inhabit it.

PhotogrBlueDragonflies1852aphing the tiny life at Trout Farm Campground outside Prairie City, Ore. involButterflyFlower2229ved getting the insect world to cooperate for the camera. There were tiny neon blue damselflies by the hundreds, some clamoring for attention and some mating on a blade of grass.

There’s an even tinier blue butterfly, contrasting richly against the brilliant yellows of the flowers it’s exploring. It’s a study in peace and beauty.

And there’s a much larger dragonfly, maybe 3 inches long, with double sets of wings. When it’s not landing, it is a speedy, quivering and elusive target that requires the photographer to be speedy and quivering, too, if he’s ever to capture this beast in flight.

DragonflyDoubleWings2126

And then the eagles came…and even from a distance, gave us a fabulous view as they brought fish after fish to the nest a few hundred yards above us…

to be continued

On the trail: Wildlife encounters

Badger2

By Ken Levy

Part 1

Part of the joy of traveling is coming across some pretty unusual critters, whether it‘s a tiny frog on a lilly pad or a very angry badger ready to defend his burrow to the death.

There’s no describing in words the beauty and emotion evoked by a graceful swan loving her tiny cygnet or a pelican floating majestically in the silent Snake River.

The best part of all is immersing intimately in the places and experiences. You feel as if you’re sharing yourself with the creatures in the viewfinder, bonding, as you squeeze the shutter release…

But sometimes the immersion can be really dangerous. I was hiking the Jedediah Smith Wilderness in western Wyoming when I inadvertently came between a cow moose and her calf.

I froze as the young mother passed, parallel to me, just a few feet away. She eyed me with a long, threatening look, as if daring me to move even an inch. But I fired off a couple of quick images, and then I didn’t budge.

MooseTetonCyn740Good thing. As mama ambled downhill toward Teton Creek, still eyeing me, her calf came out of the trees just ahead to the right. I knew mama was watching. Locked in place, I watched her baby slowly approach the trail, sniffing nearly every plant and blade of grass. Finally, it shuffled across my path without a care in the world and caught up with mom.

Together again, they disappeared into the aspens by the creek, and I resumed breathing.