Competition results from BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year, Nature’s Best and PPA

I am very pleased and honored to report that 2017 has been a very rewarding year from an international bird photography competitions standpoint!

BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year

By far, the most prestigious one! Four of my images were qualified for the final round this year: three in the Birds category and one in the Black & White Category. See below the latter:

BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year - Final Round Bird Category

Reddish Egret hunting – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | f/5.0 | 1/1250 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 5D mark III, while wading in the shallow water with tripod and a Jobu Design Gimbal Head (use promo code “steven” for a 10% discount).

While the color version got qualified for the final round in a previous year, it was a delight to see the Black & White version being distinguished as well. This image was created during an overcast day. When properly exposing your subject during overcast days, one typically needs to overexpose which results in having an almost white background. The result may give the impression that the image was simply drawn on an empty canvas.

While three of the images did not receive an actual award from the final round, one of them (one of my favorite Spoonbill ones) is selected to be displayed in London during the coming January 2018 reward ceremony. A new “Public’s Choice” category was created and five images will be awarded from a group of twenty five thanks to a vote from the public. Wish me luck!!!!!

Nature’s Best – Windland Smith Rice International Awards Competition

For the first time, three of my images were qualified for the final round of the second most prestigious international competition! All three images are Spoonbills 🙂 See below “Pink Symphony”:

Pink Symphony - Spoonbills Orchestra

Adult Spoonbills – Tampa Bay Rookery, Florida
ISO 1000 | 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 coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1D X, with tripod and a Jobu Design Gimbal Head (use promo code “steven” for a 10% discount).

The image above was created after the two adult Spoonbills above were done bathing in the shallow mangrove waters. The subsequent wing flapping on both sides makes this image very unique. Also, I had placed my group against the light during an overcast day. This is how you see the light through the wings plumage and how the background came out very dark. I named this piece “Pink Symphony” as the two birds make me think of an orchestra in action.

Professional Photographers of America International Competition

My portfolio of four images granted me a Gold medal this year, thanks to two images with a Merit and two images making it to the Loan collection. See below “Morning Reflections”:

Morning Reflections - PPA Competition

Tricolored Heron hunting – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 3200 | f/5.6 | 1/400 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 5D mark III, with tripod and a Jobu Design Gimbal Head (use promo code “steven” for a 10% discount).

This competition is designed to appeal more to the image artistry of semi-pro and pro photographers. After winning twenty five Merits during the yearly international competition, one receives a Master degree from the renown association. I am getting close 🙂 The image above was also created during an overcast day!! Next time you stay home because it is not sunny, think twice 😉

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

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

White Ibises at the Tampa Bay Spoonbill Rookery

At the right time of the year, the Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery gets invaded by White Ibises in breeding colors. The numbers observed can be quite impressive and early morning blast offs are spectacular. One of the many perks of joining me for a Florida Spoonbill Tour…

Spoonbill with Ibises blast off

White Ibises flock blast off – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 3200 | f/5.6 | 1/30 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM lens at 400mm, the Canon EOS 1DX hand held.

Where is Waldo? Early mornings can be very rewarding when you make it to the rookery on time for a White Ibis blast off. This seemingly lost Spoonbill is conveniently well placed for a dramatic composition. After having directed the group with proper settings, I was expecting something special based on the sheer number of Ibises in the mangrove trees that morning. I was not disappointed! 🙂

Note that I opted for hand holding a smaller lens: the new Canon 100-400mm. It worked out quite nicely, making panning a lot easier given the much lighter weight of the lens versus the 600mm..

White Ibis landing - Florida Spoonbill Tour

White Ibis landing to join the flock – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 1600 | 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 (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 1DX on tripod with gimbal head.

One afternoon, a flock of White Ibises had gathered in huge number on a sand bar. They kept coming one small group after the other. This situation gave us plenty of opportunity for beautiful landings against a dark background. I could not resist creating an incoming just above the flock on the ground. Can you see the intruder?

White Ibises in flight - Spoonbill rookery

White Ibises in flight – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 1600 | 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 (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 1DX on tripod with gimbal head.

And here is one of the small groups that kept coming to increase the ranks of the flock on the sand bar. It made for a very interesting photography session. In the end, I had position the group for one last blast off, but the birds decided otherwise and kept to the ground until after sunset… Another time!

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

Waved Albatross Airport in the Galapagos: part II

A few more shots of Albatrosses from the beautiful Espanola Island.

The photograph below is a Waved Albatross.

Waved Albatross in flight Galapagos

Waved Albatross in flight above the ocean.

ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/1600 | Manual Mode | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens with a 1.4x III Extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

This Waved Albatross in flight with wings up is a creation resulting from capturing the image from a cliff, in the midst of Albatross Airport. Those kind of shots can only be done while photographing from above the bird. Few situations will allow this to happen, especially for high planers like Albatrosses. Keep your eye open for cliffs that give to the ocean, as those are perfect spots for such situations. There is maybe only one other location where a Waved Albatross in flight capture can be done like this: Isla de la Plata, in Ecuador.

The photograph below is a pair of Waved Albatross preening each other during their courtship ritual.

Waved Albatross courting

Pair of Waved Albatrosses courting.

ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/6400 | Manual Mode | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens with a 1.4x III Extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, handheld. Handholding the 600mm with proper technique is possible!

This pair of Waved Albatrosses was gently preening each other, which is part of their courtship ritual. Waved Albatrosses are amongst the few birds that mate together for life. Only when one of the partner dies, will the other one look for a new mate. Do you know why they are called “Waved” Albatrosses?

The name comes from the wavy pattern of the plumage!

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