Posts in Category: Yellowstone National Park

American Bald Eagle

This is another shot of the American Bald Eagle that posed so nicely for our digiscoping group during the Yellowstone Forever Institute ZEISS Digiscoping workshop in Yellowstone National Park. Taken with the ZEISS Harpia 85mm spotting scope and the Sony a6500 camera with the Sony E20mm f2.8 lens and the ZEISS Harpia M49 adapter. (It sounds harder than it is. Camera in Program mode, autofocus for final focus…touch to place the focus on the bird’s head.) Processed in Polarr.

Red Dog

American Bison calves are commonly called “Red Dogs” because of their reddish color. They are everywhere at Yellowstone in the spring and early summer…not so much in early September…but this must have been a very late calf. These photos were taken well after sunset, as in the last light of day, using Sony’s Anti-motion Blur mode to make the most of the available light. We were stopped on our way back to Lamar Buffalo Ranch by the main herd of Bison crossing the road and I had lots of time to get a window down and photograph Bison in the pasture below the road as we waited. Sony RX10iv at 600 and 100mm equivalents. Anti-motion Blur mode. Processed in Polarr.

Red-breasted Nuthatch, Yellowstone

The Red-breasted Nuthatches on the Upper Terrace of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park seemed somehow “brighter” or “higher contrast” than the ones that come to our feeders in Maine. Maybe it is the clear light and thin atmosphere. Maybe it is the birds themselves. This specimen was actively feeding on the pine cones along one of the boardwalks at the Hot Spring. Sony RX10iv at something over the 600mm optical equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.

Clark’s Nutcracker at the Hot Springs

We left an hour early from the the Lamar Buffalo Ranch on our last day in Yellowstone, headed for the airport in Bozeman, but chasing a Wolf working its way up the valley that we saw from the Bunkhouse window after breakfast. We caught up with the wolf, still quite distant, but then had an extra hour…so we went to the upper terrace of Mammoth Hot Springs. Melissa had never seen the springs and I cajoled her into at least a short hike among the thermal pools. It was a special treat to find so many birds there…from the parking lot and around the pools. This Clark’s Nutcracker was very obliging…working the cones in a pine just off the boardwalk. We saw it from a distance, and were able to approach quite close. Sony RX10iv at something over 600mm optical and into Clear Image Zoom. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.


After digiscoping more American Bison than you could shake a spotting scope at, we spent most of an afternoon looking for a Pronghorn at a reasonable distance for good digiscoping. One of our participants spotted this one on a little rise of ground above the road, right near a pull-out where the bus could park, and we all piled out with our scopes. The Pronghorn proceeded to amble down the hill toward us, and got as close as the legal limit of 25 yards. Any closer and, according to park rules, we would have had to back up. We had lots of time to take as many digiscoped images as we wanted before it turned and wandered back up the hill.

Despite their superficial similarity (and their other common names) Pronghorns are not antipopes. They are the last members of an otherwise extinct family of North American mammals, more closely related to Giraffes and Okapi, than to deer and old world antelopes. They are generally considered the second fastest land mammals, just behind the cheetah, and could, in theory, out last a cheetah over a mile chase. They are way faster than any existing North American predator.

Digiscoped with an iPhone 7 behind the eyepiece of a ZEISS Harpia 85 at about 1000mm equivalent. Exposure decreased manually to keep detail in the whites. Processed in Polarr.

Bald Eagle and Magpie

On our first morning of the ZEISS Digiscoping workshop with the Yellowstone Forever Institute in Yellowstone National Park, when everyone was still getting their sea legs with the digiscoping rigs, we stopped for this American Bald Eagle that posed in perfect light for as long as we wanted to work with it. As we watched, a pair of Magpies came to harass it. The Eagle was not about to budge, even when the Magpies pulled its tail, but it made for some interesting photo ops. 🙂 Sony a6500 with 20mm f2.8 behind the eyepiece of the ZEISS Harpia with the zoom set to about 2.5. That would compute to about 50x on the scope and about a 1000mm equivalent focal length. Program mode on the Sony. Processed in Polarr.

Digiscoping Yellowstone Bison

I am just back from 5 days in Yellowstone National Park, where Melissa Pinta and I taught a ZEISS digiscoping workshop for the Yellowstone Forever Institute. These are from our first wildlife encounter in the park (not counting the Elk on the lawns at the entrance in Gardner). We were headed for the Lamar Buffalo Ranch where the workshop was to be held and came on this small group of American Bison in the beautiful light of late afternoon. As we watched, the sun came over the group and we had to unpack the ZEISS Harpia spotting scopes and tripods from our luggage and set up…it was after all, a digiscoping weekend. 🙂 The first shot is with my Sony a5100 and the 18mm equivalent ultra wide before the cloud moved, and the second shot is digiscoped with the ZEISS Harpia 85mm and the Sony a6500 with the 20mm f2.8 (kindly provided by Sony for the workshop). The two images were taken from the same spot. Digiscoping, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the art of taking a photo with a digital camera through the eyepiece of a spotting scope, generally using some kind of mount or adapter to hold the camera (even your phone) centered over the eyepiece. ZEISS provides such an adapter for Mirrorless Camera Systems, like the Sony aXXXX series. The equivalent focal length, and magnification, can be much greater than you can get with a conventional camera lens, and, of course, especially if you use your phone, it is quick easy once you have the scope set up to just grab an extreme telephoto view. The way I do it is still Point and Shoot…since I let the camera do all the work of exposure and final focus. 🙂