Another Florida Roseate Spoonbill Tour In The Box

This is a quick report on he first 2017 Florida Spoonbill photography workshop! As expected, the tour did not disappoint 🙂

Spoonbill Taking Off - Photography Workshop

Juvenile Roseate Spoonbill taking off – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 800 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The juvenile Spoonbill in the photograph above hatched last year and I was a bit surprised to see a few other young birds as well. This is a composite image depicting three different stages during a take off. The key to capturing take offs is to anticipate when it is going to happen. By now, I know very well the typical behavior of the Spoonbills at the Tampa Bay rookery and my predictions are often spot on. Better yet, I make a special effort to announce the possible take offs to my group, which puts everybody one step closer to getting the shot.

Roseate Spoonbill landing - Florida Photography Tour

Roseate Spoonbill landing – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 2500 | f/5.6 | 1/2000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

Landing shots, as above, are actually a lot easier to create than take offs. Keep an eye up, track the bird very early on and you are in good shape. I typically follow the bird in my view finder, than re-aquire focus just before the bird enters the “shooting zone”, take a few images in burst, then re-aquire focus and press the shutter for a second burst. This gives me two chances to have the camera locking on the fast moving subject and creating sharp images. As of now, there is no camera system that does not fail to acquire perfect focus every time…

Florida Spoonbills in flight - Photography Tour

Juvenile and Adult Roseate Spoonbills flying above the water – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

It is always a treat to create images of Spoonbills while flying just above the blue water. The juvenile / adult pair here is quite the tandem.

Florida Spoonbill photography tour testimonial

Because I do my very best to get my participants very happy with their experience 🙂

“During the many years of pursuing a career as a professional portrait photographer there were times when I was able to venture back into the type of photography I enjoyed most, landscape and wildlife. After retirement I decided to devote more time to photographing the bald eagle, one of the most photographed birds in the USA. Bird photography had multiple challenges and a friend who was also a retired photographer was attending workshops with Steven Blandin. Seeing his spoonbill and bald eagle photos on his Facebook page gave me the desire to attend Steven’s Florida Workshop the 22nd and 23rd of April 2017. Steven is a wonderful wildlife photographer who takes the time to answer any question, even the most simple ones no matter what your skill level. The classes are small, only 6 students at a time, so there is plenty of time for everyone. Be prepared to see beautiful birds, learning camera tips and settings, not to mention Photoshop techniques to bring your images to life. You won’t regret giving Steven a try.” — Sam A.

Florida Spoonbills photography tour – $1250

February 2018 / limit 6 people – NOT OPEN YET

The dates for 2018 will soon be announced! Stay tuned. 3 boat rides to the Spoonbill rookery and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included.
Florida Spoonbill Photography Tour

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

Steven

Amazing Alaska Bald Eagle Tour Images!

The 2017 Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour just concluded and what an amazing workshop it has been!! We had very diverse weather conditions, from full sun to thick snow 🙂

Bald Eagles in Flight - Alaska Photography Tour

Adult Bald Eagle chasing juvenile in flight – South of Anchorage, Alaska
ISO 1250 | f/2.8 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II USM lens, the Canon EOS 1DX mark II handheld.

Two Bald Eagles banking side by side during a chase! Wow 🙂 Action photography indeed! I really came to appreciate juvenile Bald Eagles during this tour as I find their mix of colors quite fascinating.

Bald Eagle taking off - Alaska Photography Workshop

Adult Bald Eagle taking off from a log – South of Anchorage, Alaska
ISO 800 | f/4 | 1/2000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II USM lens with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II handheld.

During this photography workshop, we also shoot on land. This adult was nicely isolated on a tree stump and delighted me with a wonderful take off.

Adult Bald Eagle swooping down - Alaska Photography Tour

Bald Eagle banking to swoop down in flight – South of Anchorage, Alaska
ISO 1250 | f/2.8 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II USM lens, the Canon EOS 1DX mark II handheld.

The overcast weather conditions that day allowed for a very high key image as above. I really enjoy those situations as you would think the bird was simply drawn into the sky. This effect requires proper over exposure in order to have the subject properly lit up, with the side effect of a nice high key background.

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour

TBD / Email For Info

This is the best Alaska Bald Eagle tour out there!! Next run’s dates are not set yet, contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,000 deposit to book your spot.

Alaska Bald Eagle Photography Tour - 2019

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

Canon EOS 1DX mark II AF settings & first review for Bird & Wildlife Photography

The Canon EOS 1DX mark II AF settings for Bird & Wildlife Photography are very similar to the Canon EOS 7d mark II and Canon EOS 1DX ones. I had a very short time to put a few frames in the new body and to run a first field test. So, this is a short review where I tried to push the camera where the prior generation was meeting some limits in the bird and wildlife photography arena.

AF settings_Canon 1dX mark II

As you may see above, the dimensions to adjust are the same as prior bodies with one additional measure unit in the Accel/Decel. tracking dimension. I decided to follow the same settings than with the Canon 7d mark II to the exception of one thing:

1. Tracking sensitivity => how fast the AF system reacts to a new object entering the scene. It is better than the autofocus system is not too reactive to avoid having the autofocus locking on another bird or animal crossing in between you and your subject. I recommend -1.
2. Accel./decel. tracking => Even though another measure unit has been added here, I still recommend to push it to the max all the way to the right in order to stay locked on sudden accelerations such as take offs and landings.
3. AF pt auto switching => speed at which the AF system changes from one point to another when having AF point expansion activated. I changed my mind here and think that all the way to the left is the better approach. If the bird decides to jump to the side all of a sudden, the autofocus will stay focused on my subject’s target zone a bit longer and avoid having the autofocus system to look for a subject that is no longer there, maybe locking on something else in the process.

Lens Aberration Correction_Canon 1dX mark II

The Lens Aberration Correction settings is new! More specifically, having the Diffraction Correction on allows for a slight sharpening of the details and a mitigation of the low pass filter, which very slightly blurs the image by design in order to avoid pattern issues in the image. The elimination of the low pass filter is what gives the extra sharpness edge to the Canon EOS 5DS R. This a very well welcomed feature!!

The combination of better ISO performance, higher battery power, better image quality, slight sharpness improvement and autofocusing with all focus points at f/8 does help when adding teleconverters to your lens! I have to admit, it might be the main reason why I decided to upgrade from the Canon EOS 1DX.

Purple Gallinule in flight - Canon EOS 1DX mark II AF settings & review

Purple Gallinule in taking off – Pembroke Pines, Florida
ISO 4000 | f/8 | 1/1600 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM lens with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 1DX mark II on tripod with a Jobu Design Gimbal Head.

I was dying to try out the combination Canon 100-400mm IS II with the 1.4x extender with the Canon EOS 1DX mark II. I was very pleased to notice a very nice autofocus acquisition performance, though it is still noticeably behind what a prime lens can do. The ISO performance did not disappoint either, especially knowing that at ISO 4000 I applied very little noise reduction in Photoshop.

Florida Spoonbills photography tour – $1150

Mar 25th-26th 2017 / limit 6 people – 2 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