The Art Of Close Up Portrait In Bird Photography

Happy new year to all!! Many, many, many fantastic bird photography opportunities to you this coming year 🙂 While I tend to focus on creating action photographs, the art of close up portrait is not lost on me. Or so I wishfully think…

Snowy Egret with breeding colors - Orlando, Florida

Snowy Egret portrait – Orlando, Florida
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/1250 sec. | 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) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with gimbal head.

I absolutely love the fine elegant feather of this Snowy Egret with breeding colors. During mating season, many egrets grow longer feathers to be used during their seduction displays. Plus, Snowy Egrets do not keep their breeding colors for very long and it can be quite challenging to capture the orange around the eyes. Catch the bird while displaying and frame everything for a tight close up while having the beautiful green backdrop and voila!

Waved Albatross portrait - Espanola Island, Galapagos Islands.

Waved Albatross – Espanola Island, Galapagos Islands
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/8000 sec. | 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) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III while seating on the ground with the lens on my bent knee.

I remember landing on Espanola Island as being a very exciting shooting day to come! And it did not disappoint: this portrait with the head coming out of the grass was a dream come true. Try to be at eye level with the subject, with the background as far back as possible while using your longest lens to maximize the very pleasing blur.

Young Juvenile Roseate Spoonbill - Tampa Bay, Florida

Young Roseate Spoonbill – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 1600 | f/16 | 1/400 sec. | 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) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with gimbal head.

The Roseate Spoonbill above is a newly fledged juvenile which adventured closer to the outer ring of mangrove trees at the Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery than its recently born companions. This gave me the rare chance for a real close up. Note that I still stood at more than 50 feet away as I used the 600mm coupled with an extender. Also, I typically try to have the point of focus as far from the center as possible for close portraits.

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour – now $3600

February 13th-17th 2017 / limit 5 people – 2 open

Note that there is a $300 price reduction here (from $3900 to $3600), making this tour quite competitive given the location and the service! The very best Bald Eagle tour hands down! 10 boat rides across 5 full days. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,000 refundable deposit to book your spot.

Alaska Bald Eagle Photography Tour

Florida Spoonbills photography tour – $1150

March 25th-26th 2017 / limit 6 people – FULL

3 boat rides to the Spoonbill rookery and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. The tour is now full but contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com to be put on the waiting list in case of cancellation or for 2018.

Florida Spoonbill Photography Tour

Support the Best Bird Photography Tours blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

Instagram for Bird & Wildlife Photography

Instagram is currently growing very fast, attracting many bird and wildlife photographers to share their images. Should you join? This social media platform belongs to Facebook and is more and more imposing itself as the place to be!! You may follow me at @stevenblandinphotography (https://www.instagram.com/stevenblandinphotography/) 🙂

Instagram for Bird & Wildlife Phtoography

The huge advantage of Instagram over Facebook, is that ALL your followers get to see each of your published image. Facebook algorithms have considerably diminished the reach of each post, which makes it a much less attractive medium as far as I am concerned.

I decided to publish regularly and you may enjoy a fast growing gallery of my work there!

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour – now $3600

February 13th-17th 2017 / limit 5 people – 2 open

Note that there is a $300 price reduction here (from $3900 to $3600), making this tour quite competitive given the location and the service! The very best Bald Eagle tour hands down! 10 boat rides across 5 full days. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,000 refundable deposit to book your spot.
Alaska Bald Eagles photography tour

Florida Spoonbills photography tour – $1150

March 25th-26th 2017 / limit 6 people – FULL

3 boat rides to the Spoonbill rookery and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. Though the 2017 tour is now full, contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com to be put on the waiting list for 2018.

Florida Spoonbill photography tour

Support the Best Bird Photography Tours blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

Silver medal at the PPA International Photographic Competition!

I am proud to announce that my 4 photograph portfolio earned me a Silver medal at the Professional Photographers of America 2016 International Photographic Competition!! PPA is the largest association of photographers in the World, with some of the very top professional photographers from all specialties (landscape, wildlife, architecture, portraits, etc…). See below the portfolio I presented this year. Also, please sign the petition to protect our rights to freely access Florida bird rookeries!!

Vampire Wings - Reddish Egret

Reddish Egret – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | f/5 | 1/1250 sec. | 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 on tripod with gimbal head while kneeling in the shallow water.

The Reddish Egret photograph above was created during an overcast day at Fort Desoto Park. Lately, I have worked at creating more black and white pieces. So, stay tuned to see more! Note that the color version went into the final round of the bird category at the prestigious 2015 BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year competition.

Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight

Roseate Spoonbills – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/5000 sec. | 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) with 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 1D X on tripod with gimbal head while wading in the shallow water.

The Roseate Spoonbills photograph above depicts a full breeding color adult in perfect banking position seemingly joining a recently fledged youngster perched on a mangrove tree branch. This image was created during the 2016 Spoonbill tours. Join me quickly for the 2017 tour as it remains only 1 spot available!!!

On The Hunt - Reddish Egret

Reddish Egret – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/5000 sec. | 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) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with gimbal head.

Again, a beautiful Reddish Egret in full hunting mode with wings up against the blue Florida water.

Brown Pelican taking off

Brown Pelican – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 800 | f/7.1 | 1/5000 sec. | 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) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with gimbal head.

Last, but no least, a stunning Brown Pelican taking off from the water. 🙂

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour – now $3600

February 13th-17th 2017 / limit 5 people – 2 open

Note that there is a $300 price reduction here (from $3900 to $3600), making this tour quite competitive given the location and the service! The very best Bald Eagle tour hands down! 10 boat rides across 5 full days. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,000 refundable deposit to book your spot.
Alaska Bald Eagles photography tour

Florida Spoonbills photography tour – $1150

March 25th-26th 2017 / limit 6 people – 1 open

A new date for April is now open, but hurry as there is a high demand!! 3 boat rides to the Spoonbill rookery and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com

Florida Spoonbill photography tour

Support the Best Bird Photography Tours blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

Secrets for beautiful headshots in Bird Photography

What do you think is a good recipe for beautiful headshots in Bird Photography? I can think of a few good tips to share with you of course!

Double crested Cormorant - Portrait Bird Photography

Double-crested Cormorant – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 800 | f/8 | 1/1250 sec. | 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) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with gimbal head.

First off, try to look for close ups on interesting action, such as bill clapping, neck stretches or “predator to prey” dialogue. As always, I tend to prefer action over the rest, so that would be the particular point of interest to me. The difficulty here is that you are likely to frame tight around the head already, so any action might be clipped. Step back a few steps. I much prefer having less pixels on my subject versus clipping unexpected action. Also, try to visualize the likely movement in order to be just at the right spot. The latter comes with experience…

Long-billed Curlew - Fort Desoto, Florida

Female Long-billed Curlew – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/4000 sec. | 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 on tripod with gimbal head.

My second secret is to look for a dramatic composition with the head, or eye very off centered. The top right position of the female Long-billed Curlew above is made to emphasize on the bill length of this beautiful shorebird.

American Oystercatcher - Headshot Bird Photography

American Oystercatcher – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 400 | f/5.6 | 1/1250 sec. | 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) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with gimbal head.

My third tip for today is to make sure you have a very clean background. You can achieve this by adjusting your shooting angle and making sure the background is as far as possible behind your subject. Shooting with a long lens really helps as well, but the key is truly the shooting angle 🙂

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour – now $3600

February 13th-17th 2017 / limit 5 people – 2 open

Note that there is a $300 price reduction here (from $3900 to $3600), making this tour quite competitive given the location and the service! The very best Bald Eagle tour hands down! 10 boat rides across 5 full days. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,000 refundable deposit to book your spot.
Alaska Bald Eagles photography tour

Florida Spoonbills photography tour – $1150

March 25th-26th 2017 / limit 6 people – 1 open

3 boat rides to the Spoonbill rookery and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com

Florida Spoonbill photography tour

Support the Best Bird Photography Tours blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

How To Create Bird Photography Action Series In One Image

Every now and then I enjoy creating action series from my Bird Photography. In one image, I do a collage of several images which shows the subject at different times through the action. The results can be surprisingly good and make for fantastic panoramas printed on a very large format.

Spoonbill banking serie - Bird Photography

Spoonbill banking in flight serie – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 200 | f/4 | 1/5000 sec. | 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 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head.

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, banking shots are created when the bird is turning. The action serie image above is a nice depiction of the wings position during a turn. The Roseate Spoonbill above was coming from the left and decided to turn right in order to land behind the first set of mangrove trees. I typically like to choose the subject at regular physical intervals from the image burst I took. This implies that you might need up to six or ten images from one action in order to have a nicely spaced out action serie of 4 or five different moments in time.

Osprey taking off - Bird Photography

Osprey taking off – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 500 | f/7.1 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head.

One of the key technical elements is that you must shoot in manual mode. Why? Because, when shooting in Av or Tv mode, your camera recomputes the exposure and white balance at each frame and you might end up having to combine images with different hues of blue for the sky. That would make the collage a lot harder to achieve well. Once in Photoshop, I pick one image from the serie (the earlier in time image of the set) and add enough canvas to be able to bring in a few more images. Simply drag the other images directly on the first one. Then change the layer mode to “Overlay”. From there you can align the background as close as you can, then put a layer mask on the top layer and paint in black to reveal the subject in the layer underneath. Repeat the same process a few times and voila!!

Brown Pelican diving serie

Brown Pelican diving serie – Fort Desoto State Park, Florida
ISO 640 | f/8 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with gimbal head.

Action series can also be vertical!! 🙂

Used Gear for Sale

CANON EOS 5D MARK III => $1,650 in very good condition with battery grip (BG-E11 worth $260 new) included. As you would have noticed, I created some of my very best images with this body!!

CANON EF 300MM F/4 IS USM => $900 in excellent condition. I did a lot of my early bird photography with this undisputed best value for your money in the Canon pro lens lineup.

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds photography workshop – $990

Feb 20th-21st 2016 / limit 6 people – FULL

Mar 19th-20th 2016 / limit 6 people – FULL

Apr 16th-17th 2016 / limit 6 people – FULL

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com to be put on the waiting list for possible cancellations or for 2017. Cancellations do happen, so it is not excluded you might still get to join me in 2016.

Florida Spoonbill photography tour

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour – $3900

January 16th-20th 2017 / limit 5 people – 3 open

The very best Bald Eagle tour hands down! Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,950 non refundable deposit to book your spot.

Alaska Bald Eagles photography tour

Support our blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

Canon 300mm f/4 IS versus Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II comparison

When choosing a medium telephoto lens, one of the most common comparison is the Canon 300mm f/4 IS versus the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II with 1.4x extender. Few people realize that the Canon 300mm f/4 IS is about the best bang for your dollar in the whole Canon lens lineup. Why?

The Canon 300mm f/4 IS is a very versatile lens: sharp images, very light, fast AF lock, 2nd shortest Minimum Distance Focusing (MDF) and a good Image Stabilization mechanism. This makes it an ideal lens to capture action from a short distance, or from a moving boat.

White-necked Jacobin Hummingbird - Canon 300mm f/4 IS

Female White-necked Jacobin in flight – Mindo, Ecuador
ISO 1000 | f/9 | 1/250 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens (Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM review), the Canon EOS 7D handheld with flash. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The female White-necked Jacobin Hummingbird image above is a good demonstration of action stopping the Canon 300mm f/4 IS is capable of. Keep in mind, this image was not created with a fake background at a feeder, as most other Hummingbird images are made. Knowing that Hummers are actually the fastest birds in the World, it leaves one thinking… The AF is very fast and accurate. The biggest strength of this lens is the weight: only 2.63lbs!!

Laughing Gull taking off - Canon 300mm f/4 IS

Laughing Gull taking off – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 1600 | f/9 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens (Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM review), the Canon EOS 7D handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Another stunning action photography example with the Canon 300mm f/4 IS USM. Sold new, the lens is worth $1300 and remains the best value for the money. It was the very first lens I started with. I created numerous professional quality images with it while keeping my gear expenses very reasonable. Especially when coupled with a crop factor camera body such as the 7d mark II, you will have the cheapest pro starter gear possible with a reach of 480mm (1.6 x 300mm).

Bald Eagle - Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II

Bald Eagle portrait
ISO 1000 | f/6.3 | 1/500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM lens with 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 7D handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

What to think of the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II then? This lens is widely recognized as the best portrait lens out there. It makes also for a very versatile lens, especially if you are a wildlife photographer who enjoys taking family pictures! Coupled with the 1.4x extender, the focal length is 280mm, very comparable to the Canon 300mm f/4 IS.

Wood Stork in flight - Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II

Wood Stork in flight – Dit Dot Dash rookery, Florida
ISO 100 | f/8 | 1/30 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM lens with 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 7D handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

It can be quite challenging to create a pleasing blur with the head of the subject sharp. Try to pan at the same speed of the bird!!

Advantages of the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II:
– Zoom lens
– One of the very best portrait lens

Advantages of the Canon 300mm f/4 IS:
– Lighter (2.63lbs versus 4.04lbs for the 70-200mm with extender)
– Cheaper ($700 less)
– Faster AF
– Good macro lens with a MDF of 3.94ft

Image quality being very comparable, I will let you decide on which one to choose!! 🙂

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds photography workshop – $990

Feb 20th-21st 2016 / limit 6 people – FULL

Mar 19th-20th 2016 / limit 6 people – FULL

Apr 16th-17th 2016 / limit 6 people – FULL

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com to be put on the waiting list for possible cancellations or for 2017. Cancellations do happen, so it is not excluded you might still get to join me in 2016.

Florida Spoonbill photography tour

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour – $3900

January 16th-20th 2017 / limit 5 people – 3 open

The very best Bald Eagle tour hands down! Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,950 non refundable deposit to book your spot.

Alaska Bald Eagles photography tour

Support our blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

Birds in flight photography tips: general tips

There are lots of tips for birds in flight photography out there. Let me present you the ones that have made me successful with my birds in flight photographs. Those tips are not all must do, but they definitely help from my perspective. Enjoy!

– shoot in manual mode
The biggest advantage of shooting in manual mode when doing birds in flight photography is that you will expose properly no matter what the background is. In Av or Tv modes, your camera will compute a different ideal exposure whether there is a dark background or a light color background. In other words, you might properly expose when the bird is in the sky and then suddenly under expose as soon as the bird crosses a tree line.

Black Skimmer in flight - Florida photography tour

Black Skimmer in flight – Indian Shores, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5 | 1/6400 sec. | 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 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

– shutter speed above 1/1000 (the faster the better given balanced noise)
I have no issue raising the ISO in a significant way in order to have a shutter speed of 1/1000 or above. Though it is possible to shoot birds in flight at 1/500, it is often with some degree on blurring around the wing tips and I tend to prefer the perfect freezer action. In fact, I will often be shooting faster then 1/2500. You never know what kind of crazy wing movement you might be able to capture and it is better to be ready then to miss to play safe. High ISO noise can easily be dealt with given proper optimization technique.

– AF single point expansion zone & AI servo mode
The advantage of the single point zone expansion, is that if you loose focus with the central single point, one of the eight peripheral focus point can pick up the tracking. You may then decide where to focus, while keeping a reasonable area covered in your view finder.

– Gimbal head on tripod for smooth panning
While it is easier to track your subject in the air while handholding, with a proper good quality very fluid gimbal head, you should be able to track fairly well with a big telephoto lens. The key is to pick a head that is fluid and gives you true weightless assistance.

– Handhold if you can
The best way to handhold a heavy telephoto lens is to tuck your left elbow against your left ribs (if you are a righty) with your feet apart at a shoulder length distance. Picture the typical stance used by a rifleman, this is the most stable stance and the least tiring one you may adopt.

Brown Pelican taking off - Fort Desoto, Florida

Brown Pelican taking off – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 800 | f/7.1 | 1/5000 sec. | 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) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

– Composition: twice as much space in front / pan faster
Ideal composition to give movement to your creation would be to have twice as much space in front of the bird versus in the back. What that means though, is that you really to keep up with panning with your subject by being having your focus point slightly ahead of the bird’s trajectory if possible.

– burst of 3/4 images times 2
I typically take a couple of burst of 4/5 images within the shooting zone. Re-focusing from one burst to the other increases your chances of having at least one burst with proper focus for a sharp image around the eye.

Young Spoonbill landing - Florida photography tour

Young Spoonbill landing – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 250 | f/5.6 | 1/5000 sec. | 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 on tripod with gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

– Pump AF button
When you start tracking the bird, lock focus once in AI servo mode but do not keep the focus button locked the whole time. My advice is to “pump” or re-acquire focus just before going for your fist burst.

– Pre-focus
If you have prefocused on something at a distance fairly comparable to where your subject is likely to show up, the lens will take a lot less time to acquire focus. Also, make sure you are shooting with the focus range set to the preset in which the longest range is infinity and the shorter focus range is as far as possible. That option is available in long telephoto lenses and it helps the lens having less focal lens to go through to acquire focus. It will help having your less not spend as much time “hunt focusing”.

– look behind you for banking shots
See this post => http://bird-wildlifephotographyblog.com/2015/08/04/birds-in-flight-photography-tips-bif-banking-shots/

– understand wind direction
See this post => http://bird-wildlifephotographyblog.com/2015/06/01/birds-in-flight-photography-tips-bif-wind-direction-shooting-zone/

– Exercise on big slow birds first like Pelicans. They make for perfect practice 🙂

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds photography workshop – $990

Feb 20th-21st 2016 / limit 6 people – FULL

Mar 19th-20th 2016 / limit 6 people – FULL

Apr 16th-17th 2016 / limit 6 people – FULL

Waw! All full already… Feel free to contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com to be put on the waiting list for possible cancellations or for 2017. Cancellations do happen, so it is not excluded you might still get to join me in 2016.
Florida Spoonbill photography tour

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour – $3900

January 16th-20th 2017 / limit 5 people – 3 open

The very best Bald Eagle tour hands down! Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,950 non refundable deposit to book your spot.

Alaska Bald Eagles photography tour

Support our blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

2015 BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year, PPA and FPP competition results!

This year has been rewarding from a bird & wildlife photography competitions standpoint! First of all, having two images qualified for the famous BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year final rounds was quite a blessing. Then the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) International Photographic Competition brought a silver medal, while the FPP (Florida Professional Photographers) print competition brought 1st place and 2nd place in the Wild Animals category.

See below the images recognized in the 2015 BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year competition:

Reddish Egret - 2015 BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Final round in Birds | Reddish Egret hunting – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | f/5 | 1/1250 sec. | 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 on tripod with gimbal head while kneeling in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

This image was created during an overcast day. Proper exposure made for a beautiful high key photograph with a stunning stance. Note that we often see at least one Reddish Egret during the Spoonbill photography tour.

Polar Bear - 2015 BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Final round in Mammals | Polar Bear in the Summer landscape – Hudson Bay, Canada
ISO 640 | f/7.1 | 1/1250 sec. | 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) coupled with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

This image was created along the Hudson Bay, right during the purple fireweed blooming two week window during the heart of Summer.

One of the four images that qualified my portfolio for a Silver medal at the 2015 PPA International Photographic Competition:

Roseate Spoonbill - Florida photography tour

Merritt and Loan Collection | Roseate Spoonbill with breeding colors about to land – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 400 | f/6.3 | 1/4000 sec. | 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 on tripod with gimbal head while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Created during on of the Spoonbill photography tours of course!!

1st and 2nd place at the 2015 FPP print competition with my portfolio ranking 5th in the all categories race:

Peacock - Bird photography tour

1st place in Wild Animals and Merritt | Peacock displaying – Corbett National Park, India
ISO 500 | f/8 | 1/160 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Created a few years back with the lightest Canon serie L telephoto lens: the Canon 300mm f/4 IS L!! And guess what, I am selling this exact lens for $900. See below for more detail. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com

Royal Tern - Florida photography tour

2nd place in Wild Animals and Merritt | Royal Tern in flight – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 200 | f/4 | 1/8000 sec. | 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 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Also created during one of the Spoonbill photography tours…

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds photography workshop – $990

Feb 20th-21st 2016 / limit 6 people – FULL

Mar 19th-20th 2016 / limit 6 people – 1 open

Apr 16th-17th 2016 / limit 6 people – FULL

Now one new tour in March 19th-20th 2016!! Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com and $250 non refundable deposit to book your spot. Note that we will be wading in the water, about 50 feet from the point of highest tide in order to follow the Audubon society guidelines and help protect those beautiful birds during the nesting season.
Florida Spoonbill photography tour

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour – $3900

January 16th-20th 2017 / limit 5 people – 3 open

The very best Bald Eagle tour hands down! Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,950 non refundable deposit to book your spot.

Alaska Bald Eagles photography tour

Support our blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

Black Skimmers in flight with the Canon EOS 7d mark II

The only one morning I spent at the Indian Shore Black Skimmers breeding ground was very rewarding! On top of the nice chick images I shared in a recent post, I had the pleasure to photograph some pretty good flight stances.

Black Skimmer banking in flight with prey - Indian Shores, Florida

Black Skimmer banking in flight with prey – Indian Shores, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/6400 sec. | 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 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

A classical banking shot from the Black Skimmer above, with the fish in the beak as an added bonus. As often, I placed myself in a way to work on only one portion of the sky: the only place where I could reach optimum sun angle. This tends to work better than hunting birds flying left and right. First recognize the good situation, then calmly wait for a subject to enter “the good situation”. While there were birds flying all over, my attention was set on a particular spot where conditions were suitable to my requirements. Every so often, some birds would pass by, giving me all the opportunities I needed 🙂

Note that I took care of keeping the horizon with the sea water to help anchor the image.

Black Skimmer banking in flight - Indian Shores, Florida

Black Skimmer banking in flight with prey – Indian Shores, Florida
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/6400 sec. | 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 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head while kneeling on the ground. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Another really good banking shot! Keep in mind that banking shots are possible only when the bird turn in flight. With a good eye, it is not that difficult to recognize the pattern and wait for just the right moment.

Black Skimmer landing - Indian Shores, Florida

Black Skimmer banking in flight with prey – Indian Shores, Florida
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/6400 sec. | 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 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head while kneeling on the ground. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

And after a few banks, here is the landing! Actually, having the subject closer to the breeding ground is a bit tricky. The reason is there were a lot of distracting objects to deal with: fence to prevent people from getting to close and other breeding birds amongst others. It took a lot of Photoshop cleanup on the image above. Use your stamp tool to clone on a separate layer above your original layer, then use a layer mask to erase (paint in black) zones where you would have stamped over the subject. See below a before and after view:

Black Skimmer landing - image optimization

Support our blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

Birds in flight photography tips: Banking shots

Many bird photographers consider banking shots the Graal of Birds in flight photography. On top of acquiring proper focus and all the other steps that make birds in flight photography difficult, we now try to create an image with full view over the upper wing or the under wing. Those situations are not as common as regular flight patterns for one who does not have an eye for it. I will gladly agree that banking views are a real notch harder, but so much more exciting to hunt for.

Spoonbill banking shot - Birds in flight photography

Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight – Tampa Bay rookery, Florida
ISO 500 | f/4 | 1/5000 sec. | 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 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The Spoonbill banking photograph above was created during the 2015 Spoonbill photography tour. My number one tip is to look around you and not to keep your head in your viewfinder in front of you. Banking positions happen during a turning motion during flight. So, birds that are likely to turn in front of you while displaying full upper wing detail will be coming from behind you! You literally want to keep a close eye for those and start tracking very early on. If you have paid attention to flight patterns around you and noticed that the birds are turning within your shooting zone with proper sun lighting, then simply wait for the next birds coming from behind you as some of them will turn in front of you as well. If you are waiting to see a bird actually banking to think about acquiring focus, you are most likely already too late.

Brown Pelican banking in flight - birds in flight photography

Brown Pelican in flight – Tampa Bay rookery, Florida
ISO 400 | f/4 | 1/5000 sec. | 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 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The bigger the bird, the harder it is to have a full upper wing view. Stay patient and keep trying as even the bigger birds will offer full banks every now and then. A tip that is true at all time, is to attempt to decipher a flight pattern. Birds behavior is repetitive and seeing one bird flying a certain way is a good hint at what the next bird might do. Based on the direction in which the wind is blowing, you should quickly understand the most likely trajectories.

Spoonbill banking in flight - birds in flight photography

Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight – Tampa Bay rookery, Florida
ISO 1600 | f/4 | 1/1600 sec. | 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 7D mark II on tripod while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The birds in flight photograph above was also created during the 2015 Spoonbill bird photography workshop. Going vertical or staying horizontal? Most vertical views of full banking shots are crops from vertical captures. The reason is of course that one is ready for everything when shooting horizontally, versus being in vertical mode you are only hoping for a full bank and will most likely not get a good composition for normal flight. While I follow the herd on this, every now and then I do attempt to shoot vertical and just wait for the proper full bank position before firing the shutter.

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds photography tour – $990

Feb 20th-21st 2016 / limit 6 people – 1 open

Apr 16th-17th 2016 / limit 6 people – 1 open

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com and $250 non refundable deposit to book your spot. Note that we will be wading in the water, about 50 feet from the point of highest tide in order to follow the Audubon society guidelines and help protect those beautiful birds during the nesting season.
Florida Spoonbill photography tour

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour – $3900

January 16th-20th 2017 / limit 5 people – 3 open

The very best Bald Eagle tour hands down! Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,950 non refundable deposit to book your spot.

Alaska Bald Eagles photography tour

Support our blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven