Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Eastern cottontail

with 55 comments

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit 6988

On July 10th I participated in Val Bugh’s weekly survey of animals observed on the grounds of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where one find was this eastern cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus. I started taking pictures with a telephoto lens from a good distance away because I didn’t know when the rabbit would bolt, but I slowly advanced and it let me get closer than I thought it would. Good thing it did, because now I can present the first picture of a rabbit ever to appear here.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 2, 2014 at 5:49 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

55 Responses

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  1. Wow … the description of your advance upon this beautiful specimen is not sufficient for me to keep me from asking, ‘How in the world did you manage to get so close?’ Perhaps your rabbits are not nearly as flighty as ours here in the east. Really wonderful shot of a nice, healthy, animal. D

    Pairodox Farm

    August 2, 2014 at 5:55 AM

    • I didn’t get quite as close as the picture makes it seem, because what you see here is a crop amounting to about half of the full frame. That’s still pretty close for a rabbit in the wild, so all I can say is that I charmed it with my charisma.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2014 at 6:56 AM

  2. Beautiful.


    August 2, 2014 at 5:59 AM

  3. Well done. A slow advance from eye level or below is much less threatening to most small animals and your use of that strategy here netted you a great portrait, Steve. So good, in fact, that I think I see the silhouette of the Schwartzman noggin.

    Steve Gingold

    August 2, 2014 at 6:04 AM

    • I also think I see him reflected in the bunny eye when zoomed in.

      Jim in IA

      August 2, 2014 at 6:42 AM

      • You both seem to be right, as you can confirm at

        in an enlargement of the rabbit’s eye. There you can see a silhouette of me crouching between a tree and some sort of structure that were behind me.

        Steve Schwartzman

        August 2, 2014 at 7:10 AM

      • That was also immediately what I saw. A self-portrait of the photographer! Nice critter capture, Steve.


        August 2, 2014 at 12:08 PM

        • Here’s looking at you, Shannon.
          Your phrase has a nice meter to it, critter capture, and the sounds of the c and r repeat.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 2, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    • Thanks, Steve. I sometimes approach with the camera held up to my eye, in hopes that if an animal doesn’t see a human face it will be less apprehensive. I don’t know if there’s any truth to that, but it can’t hurt. Note, in the enlargement that I linked to, that the noggin you mentioned has a hat on it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2014 at 7:14 AM

      • And a tip of the Gingold hat to the Schwartzman hat. I was surprised to see you upright in the enlargement as I had assumed you to be prone and crawling in your advance.

        Steve Gingold

        August 2, 2014 at 1:10 PM

        • I’m prone to crawling around when photographing wildflowers, but I don’t have a modus operandi for bunnies. If I remember correctly, I stayed upright till I got somewhat close, then crouched down so I could shoot approximately horizontally (which also had the advantage of putting more of the background out of focus).

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 2, 2014 at 1:47 PM

  4. Could be the start of something new, Portraits of Wildlife!


    August 2, 2014 at 6:17 AM

    • In a way, Ken, I’ve already been doing that, at least if you let wildlife include insects, spiders, snails, etc. That may not be what most people take the term to mean, but we can use an expansive definition here. As for today’s picture, no one would dispute that this rabbit counts as wildlife.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2014 at 7:19 AM

  5. Nice and sharp shot!


    August 2, 2014 at 6:39 AM

  6. In a chapter on stalking in “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” Annie Dillard quotes the old, classic rule: “Stop often ‘n’ set frequent.” Clearly, carrying a telephoto lens helps, too. The “Awwww…” factor’s pretty high on this one. I’m amazed how clearly you caught even the veins in its fully-alert ears.


    August 2, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    • My camera bag with its usual complement of equipment weighs 14 lbs., of which the 70–200mm telephoto (with attached 1.4x extender) takes up a little over 2 lbs. It’s the lens I use least often of the three that are normally with me, but there are times when it’s the only one that can do a good job, typically with a bird or other skittish animal.

      Technical stuff aside, I’m pleased to hear that the needle on the Awwww-meter moved up pretty high with this picture. Like you, I was impressed with the clarity of the veins in the rabbit’s ears.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2014 at 7:31 AM

  7. I believe I saw that same species on the Hewlett-Packard campus in north Austin a couple of months ago. He was off the right side of that sidewalk about where you can see a pole casting a shadow. He let me get within 15 feet of him … maybe closer. This week I saw him actually on the asphalt of Tandem Blvd. My office mate saw a grey fox in that wooded area during a lunchtime walk recently. So, that rabbit is going to have to watch his back. (Yeah, I know I am using singular pronouns when the presence of one certainly means the presence of more. 🙂 )



    August 2, 2014 at 7:55 AM

    • Thanks for your rabbit report, Craig. It’s a coincidence that you mentioned a fox, because in a reply to an earlier comment I said that the only mammals to have appeared here before the rabbit were squirrels and deer. I didn’t say anything about foxes, but I was reminded of the time a few years ago when first one fox and then another came out of the woods, but by the time I walked back over to my bag to grab the camera, both foxes had ambled off into the woods on the other side of the clearing I was in. I had to add them to the ever-lengthening list of the ones that got away.

      And speaking of getting away from me, your map reminds me of something else, the field between Wells Branch Parkway and the east side of Mopac that has become a construction site. It’s one of at least three places this year that are now lost to me, places where I took plenty of nature photographs in seasons past.

      In any case, maybe you’ll have more luck documenting your fox, and the rabbits too, if the fox doesn’t do them in first.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2014 at 8:20 AM

  8. I love rabbits. We have one that visits our backyard every day. I call him fat rabbit. I look for him about twenty times a day to catch a glimpse. Great photo.


    August 2, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    • Your experience is different from mine because I don’t see rabbits in my yard or neighborhood and only occasionally out in nature. That made the opportunity at the Wildflower Center all the better. In contrast, even at twenty times a day you haven’t gotten tired of your fat rabbit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2014 at 9:34 AM

  9. I love this portrait, they sure have short ears.

    Maria F.

    August 2, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    • It’s definitely a becoming profile. In Texas there are also jackrabbits, which have larger ears.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2014 at 10:37 AM

  10. Fantastic photograph–it really made me smile this morning. The rabbit is so detailed and full of life, I thought he might jump right off the screen and scamper away through my window.


    August 2, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    • Happy bunnyful and bountiful morning to you , Mrs. Daffodil. Yes, the rabbit sure looks lively, but so far it has stayed put on my computer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 2, 2014 at 12:57 PM

  11. what a beautiful bunneh.


    August 2, 2014 at 8:55 PM

  12. Beautiful big eyes 🙂 Yes, sneaking up on rabbits is not easy!

  13. Hi Bugs !!! Great photo


    August 3, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    • When I first saw your comment in my e-mail, I thought you were referring to a picture that showed some bugs. Then I understood the bunny you meant.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2014 at 9:58 PM

  14. What a sweetheart! I love the bunnies — not used to seeing those long ears, heh! Such a wonderful portrait.


    August 4, 2014 at 8:44 AM

    • It’d be hard not to like this bunny. It’s more cuddly than most of the critters I end up showing here, that’s for sure.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 4, 2014 at 11:04 AM

  15. […] miles south of where I live, on July 10th. That was the same outing that produced the portraits of the eastern cottontail and the spotted orbweaver and the neon skimmer that you recently saw.  A productive visit, […]

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