Yes, those are real prehistoric bones, and yes, that is a real skull of a saber-toothed cat, Smilodon fatalis.
I took this photo at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California. They have a block of resin with these bones embedded in it to show the average density of bones in the asphalt of the tar pits. FYI, there is no tar in the tar pits, it’s all asphalt.
The resin block is in a glass case. To prevent reflecting yourself in a photo, put the end of your lens directly on the glass. And play around with angles and background light sources to get different lighting effects in the resin. The light coming through windows and glass doors changes throughout the day, so keep checking for interesting lighting.
You are not allowed to use tripods anywhere in the building, so bring a string tripod or monopod. Because of the lighting, you will need to use a high ISO or slow shutter speed. And be sure to check out the atrium. It’s small, but packed with many things to photograph.
Sometimes, when you’re shooting nature, you get a happy surprise. That’s the case with this photo of a female Sago Palm cone. Male cones are more, well, cone shaped. Like a pine cone.
I came across this palm several years ago in the atrium of the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California. And I was lucky because Sago Palms only produce flowers once every three to four years. When I went back five years later, there was no bloom.
I like shooting the natural world for several reasons, including the surprises you encounter. They can be exciting, beautiful, dangerous or something that will challenge your photography skills.
If your shooting nature, be flexible, creative and ready to solve problems so a disadvantage becomes an advantage.
I don’t encounter fog very often in Arizona, so when I do I take as many photos as I can.
This photo was taken on the road that leads up to Snowbowl, a ski area near Flagstaff. Half way up the road we drove into light fog. We quickly parked and I grabbed my gear and ran a short distance up the road when I saw this.
I thought the composition was great as it could mean different things to different people. Some may see the large trees protecting the small yellow aspen, while others may see them threatening it. I just like the way the green aspens nicely framed the yellow one.
When I processed the image, I thought of making the yellow leaves very bright, but that wouldn’t look right for an image in fog, so I left them a little muted.
I managed to take this photo, and one other, when suddenly the sun burned off the fog. I only had about fifteen minutes of fog before it was gone, but it was a great surprise.
Always be prepared to take advantage of any pleasant surprise that nature gives you.
These aspens are growing in a burn scar. While a forest fire is a tragedy, it clears out all the trees and brush from an area, so when the aspens quickly grow back, and change color, you can easily see their beautiful leaves.