Royal Terns with breeding plumage at Fort Desoto

The Fort Desoto Park is made of five islands in the St Petersburg area (Florida). It is one of the best birding spots on the Florida West coast to photograph shore birds. I would gladly take you there on a one-on-one workshop by the way! πŸ™‚ By mid-March Royal Terns transition from their winter plumage, with patchy whites on their head, to a top head fully black for the breeding season.

The photograph below is a Royal Tern with breeding plumage at the Fort Desoto Park.

Royal Tern at Fort Desoto with breeding plumage

Royal Tern portrait on the beach. This photograph was created in Fort Desoto Park, Florida.

ISO 640 | f/6.3 | 1/8000 | Manual Mode | AI servo rear focusing

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 5D mark III laying flat on the beach sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

I am very pleased with this creation. The background is as clean as it can be, the head angle is perfect and what a beautiful bird! How do you capture such a pose? The angle is of the utmost importance here. One needs to lay as low on the ground as possible, which will give this eye level perspective and help with a pleasing blur for background.

The photograph below is a Royal Tern shaking its wings.

Royal Tern shaking its wings - Fort Desoto

Royal Tern shaking it off. This photograph was created in Fort Desoto Park, Florida.

ISO 640 | f/6.3 | 1/8000 | Manual Mode | AI servo rear focusing

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 5D mark III laying flat on the beach sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Created the soon after the first photograph, this Royal Tern’s pose. A lot of attitude!

Finally, the photograph below is a Royal Tern still with winter plumage in a landing maneuver.

Royal Tern in flight - Thalasseus maximus

Royal Tern landing amongst its peers. This photograph was created in Fort Desoto Park, Florida.

ISO 640 | f/6.3 | 1/6400 | Manual Mode | AI servo rear focusing

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while seating on the sand.

You might notice that some of those birds still have winter plumage with patchy whites on their head. Tips: a great way to capture landings is to handhold your lens while seating on the ground and wait for the arrival of new comers in a flock of shorebirds on the ground.

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Steven

Leave a comment

5 Comments

  1. Great set of images you have on your blog Steven. I really appreciate the equipment and settings you have for each photo. Also appreciate the story behind the shot you have taken. It is really a valuable learning experience being walked through a shoot.

    Reply
  2. Hey Mark! Good to see you! Thanks. I really think having the shot explained makes a HUGE difference. It is the frontier between just exhibiting and sharing or teaching. By the way, I really like your blog!

    Reply
  3. I love the bright white in all of your bird portraits – you are very talented.

    Reply

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