Winifred Bird Photographing DAPL Site by Cyrene Krey

Patoka, IL DAPL Site

I’ve mentioned a little bit about my trip along the Dakota Access Pipeline to see some of the natural habitats and wildlife that may be impacted by the pipeline’s route. Now it’s time to start sharing a few of those photos and stories!

Water Pipe Flags by Cyrene Krey
Behind these flags for water pipelines and this fire hydrant, is a storage yard for the pipes needed to complete construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Right next to this site is the final endpoint for the pipeline in Patoka, IL. This is where I began my journey, accompanied by my friend and journalist Winnie Bird.
Winifred Bird Photographing DAPL Site by Cyrene Krey
We weren’t allowed onto the site, so we photographed from the road and ditches around the site. Security kept a close eye on us all the time, driving around the site and the roads to keep us in view and reluctant to talk to us.
Birds Flocking in a Cloudy Sky by Cyrene Krey
This flock of birds maintained a presence at the site. They huddled together on the construction materials until disturbed by the trucks driving around the site. They would then gather in the bright blue sky until they once again resumed their posts.

Some of these photos will also be shared on my website at and you’re invited to like my Facebook page where I’ll continue posting my wildlife and project photos 🙂

Birds Noisily Flocking in the Wetlands by Cyrene Krey

Nygren Wetland Preserve

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More of my photography can be seen on Facebook! Click the banner to like my page!

While it’s almost always better to visit a location for an extended period of time, sometimes I’m not able to stop and stay at a particular place for very long. It can feel disappointing to worry about missing out on incredible sights because I have to leave early, but it’s great motivation for going back! One such recent brief trip was to Nygren Wetland Preserve. I was only able to spend about fifteen minutes there on the observation deck overlooking some of the wetlands and go for a very short walk along one of the mowed trails. But I didn’t walk away empty-handed!

Birds Noisily Flocking in the Wetlands by Cyrene Krey
Photographers often discuss the supposed “golden hours,” which are the best times of the day to do outdoors photography. These times are right around sunset and sunrise. While not always feasible, it is always worth it, especially in wildlife photography. I went right around sunset, just as the birds were gathering in the wetlands for last minute snacks before heading off to roost for the night.
Bird Bad Hair Day by Cyrene Krey
I encountered this frazzled parent as I was being rushed back to my car. Clearly raising children isn’t an easy task…just look at the bad hair day this overworked parent is having! Robins are beautiful birds and can be seen all over the place. Glance out a window and you’re likely to find them in your own backyard.
Wiry Branches in Calm Water by Cyrene Krey
An important part of being a photographer is seeking out and accepting critiques of your work. In an online forum I participate in, another photographer suggested I turn one of my photos into a high contrast black and white, something I don’t frequently do. With this particular image, it was a fantastic suggestion. The stark contrast of the tree branches and water added a nice texture to the image it was lacking before, adding a lovely artistic element. Bonus points if you can spot the turtle and frog hiding on the branches!

I’m excited about the new direction my photography is taking. The reason I’ve been taking more frequent short trips is out is because I’m practicing with some new gear and it’s going great! There’s nothing quite like that new camera smell 😉

If you would love to stay up-to-date on my work, please head over to my Facebook page and give it a like! If you want to see one of my prints hanging on your wall, please visit my website at to see what’s available for purchase. More from this visit is available for viewing and purchase on my website. On each and every print I sell, I donate a portion to support causes that support wildlife. Please check it out!

Also, be sure to support your own local restored habitats. If you live in northern Illinois, check out all that the Natural Land Institute is doing for our resident wildlife!

Mourning Dove Silhouette by Cyrene Krey

Less Literal, More Artistic

Wildlife photography doesn’t always have to be about an obvious, literal photograph of an animal or natural landscape. Sometimes it’s worth it to get creative in a different way. Sometimes I talk to people who don’t realize that wildlife photography (or photography in general) is as much of an art as any other. Photographers are artists too. Just like every other artist, we spend years honing our skills through practice and study. One perfect shot can take hours of preparation, days (or weeks, months, or years depending on the shot) of looking for (and getting to) the perfect location and waiting until everything is just right. It requires knowledge of more than just button-pushing to take a picture. Wildlife photographers have to know the terrain, the animals they’re photographing, lighting, the technical capabilities of their gear, and their own limitations. It’s hard work. And it’s a lot of fun. Sometimes I like to get away from the literal photos of bugs and birds and do something a little different.

Forest Preserve in Winter
For this shot, I wanted something a little harsher so I overexposed this winter scene. My goal was to capture the feel of cold and desolation, the harshness that still remained despite the melting snow. Overexposing caused more work for me post-processing, but it was worth it to get the feel I wanted.
Mourning Dove Silhouette by Cyrene Krey
A silhouette of a mourning dove in black and white is still fairly literal. It’s a nice mix of a more expected wildlife shot and something of a slightly different type of creativity. The sunlight wasn’t doing what I wanted it to and instead of settling for a mediocre bird photograph, I decided to do something a little more impactful and underexposed the dove to end up with just her silhouette. Changing the photo to grayscale also made it a little moodier. (c) Cyrene Krey
Purple Flowers Against Green
It’s pretty obvious this one isn’t intended to be a typical landscape shot :p Originally that’s exactly what I wanted though. I loved the purple of the flowers against the green background but none of the photos had the impact I was looking for. I decided to go crazy with the colors to get that impact and ended up loving the painting feel of the photo more than the other shots I’d taken of the same scene.
Abstract Water on Rocks by Cyrene Krey
I feel like this one should technically be considered a more literal photo because it really is just a shot into a creek. But the closeup of the rocks and the way the sunlight is playing off the water forms more abstract patterns than what you’d usually find in a nature photo. Even the small fish that I saw swimming around are just abstract blurs in the finished product. And I love it :p (c) Cyrene Krey

All of these photos were shot at Clayton Andrews Forest Preserve of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District in northern Illinois. For more wildlife photography tips, read my blog post on backyard wildlife photography. To see some of these and other photos available for purchase, please visit my website at Also, I’m now on Facebook! Like me! 😀

Katydid by Cyrene Krey

Backyard Wildlife Photography

A lot of times when I talk to people about doing wildlife photography, they immediately think of photographing exotic animals in hard to get to locations all around the world. And while that’s certainly true for some photographers, I spend my time much closer to home. In fact, I spend most of my time at home in my own backyard. I love traveling and exploring new areas, but the fact is that it can sometimes be cost or time prohibitive to do that. And that’s true for a lot of people. So I thought I’d talk a little bit about photographing backyard wildlife, wherever your backyard may be.

Abstract Leaf in Water
Not everything you photograph has to represent exactly what you see. This is an abstract photo of a leaf in a blue bowl filled with rain water, dirt, and bugs. Although I took some clearer images of this leaf, I loved the soft abstract feeling of the photo. Don’t be afraid to get artistic. Blurry, out-of-focus images can have a beautiful, serene quality can that be quite pleasing. If you see something that isn’t quite what you want, but you love the texture or the colors, turn it into something abstract and have fun with it!
Robin with Food by Cyrene Krey
If you have trees in your yard, you’ll have birds. I happen to have a lot of trees so I have quite a few birds. But even if you just have one, they’ll visit and if you keep watching, you can end up with some neat photos. If there isn’t a lot of large trees in your yard, you can attract birds by adding bird houses, bird feeders, and bird baths to your yard or porch. If you place it close enough to a window, you can even sit inside your house and get photos of wildlife in your yard without ever stepping foot out your front door (though I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to go outside! :D).
Katydid by Cyrene Krey
Make sure to go small! Insects, flowers, leaves, even grass can make some really compelling photos because most people don’t look at their surroundings in that much detail up close (and, depending on how close you get, can’t without a magnifying glass). You’ll be surprised by what you see if you focus on the little things.
Red Berry
Have fun and don’t be intimidated! Everyone has their own style and interests. Find something that draws you in and explore with some new ways of looking at it. Bugs, grass, leaves, birds, raccoons, puddles…whatever it is that you want to explore, go for it and have fun! 🙂

In other news…I’ve fully revamped my website. Check it out at! I also have a Facebook page and I’d love it if you liked my page 🙂

Bison by Cyrene Krey

Bison at Nachusa Grasslands

I went to Nachusa Grasslands last month in the hopes of seeing the bison that roam around there. And I did!

Bison by Cyrene Krey
Bison grazing at Nachusa Grasslands. (c) Cyrene Krey
Nachusa Grasslands by Cyrene Krey
The Nature Conservancy-established preserve encompasses around 3,500 acres of prairie, woodlands, and wetlands.
Brown-headed Cowbird by Cyrene Krey
Bison aren’t the only animals that make the grasslands home. This little cowbird (Molothrus ater) was singing away as I was photographing the bison. Photo (c) Cyrene Krey

In the past, cowbirds would follow herd of bison to consume the seeds and insects that were stirred up by the large animals, however with modern farming and ranching they have become much more common in developed areas (The Guardian: Zoology). Their previous nomadic lifestyle following herds of bison is believed to be the reason for their parasitic behavior, since nesting wasn’t practical when constantly on the move (The Guardian: Zoology). The Brown-headed Cowbird does not make its own nests, but rather lays white and brown eggs in the nests of other birds which require incubation for approximately 10-13 days (Tekiela, 1999). Because of the time and energy saved from their parasitic behavior, females are able to lay up to three dozen eggs each season (The Guardian: Zoology). However, because of the advantages the Brown-headed Cowbird has received from agriculture and pastoralism, their numbers have increased at a rate that hasn’t allowed other species to catch up (The Guardian: Zoology). Because of this, many species have not yet evolved a defensive strategy against inadvertently raising cowbirds instead of expending the energy on their own young (The Guardian: Zoology). The Brown-headed Cowbird is the only parasitic bird species in Illinois and have been known to lay eggs in the nests of over 200 different species of birds (Tekiela, 1999). They are social birds and often move in large flocks (The Guardian: Zoology). Although they are a migratory species that heads to southern states, they can still be seen throughout Illinois year-round (Tekiela, 1999).

Nachusa Grasslands Sign by Cyrene Krey
Nachusa Grasslands is located in Franklin Grove, IL.
Geese by Cyrene Krey
On the way home, there were several nice, little spots to stop and appreciate the scenery. This adorable family was hanging out at one of the stops 🙂 (c) Cyrene Krey

In addition to geese though, there was also a lot of litter at these stops including some discarded fishing gear. Fishing gear can cause a lot of problems for wildlife so if you do fish, make sure to clean up properly. If you can’t for whatever reason, then you shouldn’t be fishing.

I’ll be sure to get these photos (and more) onto my site (when I get around to it ;D).


Friends of Nachusa Grasslands

Tekiela, S. (1999). Birds of Illinois: Field guide. Cambridge, Minn.: Adventure Pub.

The Guardian: Zoology

“Hoo” Haven Photos

I’ve mentioned before that I volunteer for a wildlife rehabilitation and education center in Durand, IL called “Hoo” Haven. One of the fun things I occasionally do is take some photos of some of the critters we have there! I thought I’d share a few of my favorites that I’ve taken recently.

Baby Owl at Hoo Haven by Cyrene Krey
One of the baby owls we have at Hoo. Although they’re really cute, we can’t interact with them too much. We don’t let them imprint on us so they’re able to be released. It’s still fun watching how quickly they grow up!
Alvin the Chipmunk by Cyrene Krey
This is Alvin, one of the chipmunks we recently had at “Hoo”. He was released on site with another chipmunk, Simon. We’re still backfeeding these guys. Backfeeding means we still make up plates of food for them and put them near where we set them outside. It allows for a more gradual transition to natural foraging after they’ve been fed by humans over the winter.
Twinkletoes the Crow at Hoo Haven by Cyrene Krey
Twinkletoes is a crow that has to stay at Hoo. He’s missing part of his lower beak. He’s very friendly and very mischievous! He stole my lens cover and I had to play tug of war with him to get it back 🙂

As with all the photos I take at nonprofit organizations, I won’t ever sell prints of these images. However I encourage you to use them non-commercially for awareness and educational purposes. If you do use any of the images, do not alter them in any way and credit both myself (“Photo (c) Cyrene Krey”) and “Hoo” Haven (“Photo taken at “Hoo” Haven in Durand, IL”). Thanks!

Oldies but Goodies

Since I was busy applying (and being accepted!) to grad school, I didn’t get a lot of time for putting together an awesome blog post for March. Instead, I decided to find a couple neat photos that I don’t think I’ve posted yet to share. Enjoy!

Sunset Beach (c) Cyrene Krey
I’ve been in a very summery mood lately and dying to go to the beach! I took this photo on the beach in Ft. Myers, Florida last year at sunset. (c) Cyrene Krey
Flying Bird at Susnet (c) Cyrene Krey
More beach themes!
Beach Foliage (c) Cyrene Krey
Yet another beach scene 🙂 Given all the cold we’ve been having (and it should be getting warm!), is it really surprising I’m longing for friendlier weather? (c) Cyrene Krey
Bokeh Sunset (c) Cyrene Krey
Okay, something a little more reflective of the current weather. This was taken at Starved Rock State Park last year in winter around sunset. Not quite as “warm” as the other photos, but still a lovely scene!