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

Where to find the White Morph Reddish Egret in Florida?

The Reddish Egret is a Near Threatened species and the white morph is an even rarer bird. Now, finding a white morph Reddish Egret with full breeding colors does not happen every day to say the least. However, I have seen the white morph Reddish Egret a few times at Fort Desoto and got to photograph one with breeding colors for the second time in my life during the March 2016 Spoonbill tour.

White Morph Reddish Egret with breeding colors

White morph Reddish Egret with breeding colors portrait – Fort Desoto Park, Florida
ISO 2000 | 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 (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 1DX on tripod with gimbal head.

When I look at the portrait above, I can only think of a top model photo shoot with the hair being blown with a blower!! 🙂 What do you think?
The breeding colors are stunning and the hair-like feathers flowing in the air makes it a classic.

White morph Reddish Egret hunting - Fort Desoto, Florida

White morph Reddish Egret hunting – Fort Desoto Park, Florida
ISO 2000 | 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 (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 1DX on tripod with gimbal head.

I have a very similar image of a regular Reddish Egret and this stance just cracks me up! The species is well known for interesting acrobatics while hunting. My tip when photographing this kind of action is to step back to avoid clipping the very fast moving wings and keep your focus sensor to the middle column as the bird is likely to change direction at any time.

White morph Reddish Egret at Fort Desoto Park, Florida

White morph Reddish Egret hunting – Fort Desoto Park, Florida
ISO 2000 | 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 (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 the dunk to get the fish! I am pleased that the eye is not closed as it is often the case right before touching water during a spear head motion. This is one of the advantages of the very fast frame per second rate of the Canon EOS 1DX: you increase your chances of getting just the right moment in the action. I have just one regret… I would have loved to have the same bird, doing the same thing during a bright day with blue water in the background. Since the bird is white, you would not over expose not to blow the whites, which keeps the background a bit dark and distracting to my taste. The regular Reddish Egret tends to come out better when properly exposed during overcast days. In fact, one of my Reddish Egret hunting images made it to the final round of the 2015 BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year competition…

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds photography workshop – $1050

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

Mar 25th-26th 2017 / limit 6 people – 5 open

May 5th-6th 2017 / limit 6 people – 5 open

Enjoy a last minute sizeable discount on the April 2016 tour due to a last moment cancellation. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com

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

One Florida Spoonbill Tour down & dates for 2017 Spoonbill Tours

The first 2016 Florida Spoonbill Tour was a success with a great group of participants. Great weather, cooperative birds and an enthusiastic group made for a great recipe. 🙂 I am announcing two dates for 2017. The likely dates are March 25-26 and May 5-6 2017. Reach out to me soon as there is high anticipation!

Roseate Spoonbill perfect banking in flight

Spoonbill with breeding colors banking in flight – 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 a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 1DX on tripod with gimbal head.

And another perfect banking flight position to add to the collection! I always feel very excited when I get to create a very good banking stance as above. As I instructed my group of participants, look for the birds coming from behind you as some of them will turn to join the group of birds on the ground. That turn is your chance to create a similar image as above. Plus, since we are at the rookery, you get beautiful breeding colors on most of the Spoonbills on site.

Great Blue Heron banking in flight

Great Blue Heron with breeding colors banking in flight – Tampa Bay Spoonbill 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 (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 1DX on tripod with gimbal head.

It is also good to mention that the Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery is one of the biggest rookery in the state of Florida and hosts many other breeding species. You will easily see Brown Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants and Great Blue Herons, among many other species. I like the image above as it is not so easy to create a banking flight image of a Great Blue Heron with a good inclination degree and the wings fully extended. Since, it is a big bird, it does not turn as abruptly.

Least Sandpiper - Fort Desoto, Florida

Least Sandpiper – Fort Desoto Park, 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) with 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 1DX on tripod with gimbal head.

The Least Sandpiper is among the smallest shorebirds at Fort Desoto, even smaller than Semipalmated Plovers and Sanderlings. Most people would not give them a second glance when walking along the beach. Yet, some of the smaller shorebirds can bring out quite a display if you take the time to lower your camera to their World. Many photographers underestimate the movement and the impressive action shots one can take with small shorebirds. My tip, wait for them to bath and be ready to capture the flapping action! 🙂

See below the last Spoonbill tour group picture.

Spoonbill Tour group

Nice group! Note that we wade mid-thigh in the water at the Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery and we stay at least 50 feet away from the point of highest tide to follow the Audubon guidelines.

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 – $1050

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

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

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

May 5th-6th 2017 / limit 6 people – 5 open

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com

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

American Oystercatcher photography with the Canon 7d mark II

American Oystercatchers are quite catchy in the big family of shorebirds, with their long orange-red beak made to open up shells. While you may find them all along the American coast, they are often present with one or two individuals at Fort Desoto, Florida. Thanks to the added reach of the Canon 7d mark II shorebirds photography is made a bit easier… as long as you stay low on the ground!

American Oystercatcher banking in flight - Florida photography tour

American Oystercatcher banking in flight – Fort Desoto, 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 in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

One of the best ways to create flight photographs of shorebirds is to spot a flock on the ground and to wait for new comers. So taking flight shots of shorebirds that do not tend to stay in a flock, like the American Oystercatcher, can be a lot more tricky. I was working with this one above, when it took off, seemingly going away. I acquired focus and did not lose faith that the bird might turn around… Luckily enough, the Oystercatcher did just that: a big turn to come back where it took off, offering a very nice banking angle during its landing approach. Nice!!

American Oystercatcher with horseshoe crab in its beak

American Oystercatcher with horseshoe crab in its beak – Fort Desoto, 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 in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

And here we come to one of the Oystercatcher’s specialty: getting invertebrates out of shells! The prey in its beak is a small horseshoe crab without its shell. As always, think of the 4 angles of success before pressing the shutter! Special attention to the background angle is how I create clean blurry backdrops. Did I say that I favored blue backdrops? 😉

American Oystercatcher - Fort Desoto, Florida

American Oystercatcher – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | f/4 | 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 low on the ground. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

Striving for action shots! The Oystercatcher above is clapping its beak after having thought catching a prey. No luck for this time… but the horseshoe crab was already a nice catch. I really enjoy action shots with water splashes as it gives a lot of life to the image. Beware though, for those unexpected moments to be captured as if time had frozen, you will need to work out your setup with a very fast shutter speed.

Used Gear for sale

Canon EF 300mm f/4 L IS

I am putting my 300mm for sale at $950. Quite a saving versus the price in store for a lens in mint condition that delivers pro results for a very small price. You may contact me by email at steven.blandin@gmail.com if you are interested 🙂

The Canon EF 400mm f/4 L IS is now sold!!

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional photography tour / $890 / limit 5 people / March 7th-8th 2015:

SOLD OUT!! You may also book a private tour weekend, when I take you twice to the Spoonbill rookery during two days of intensive learning and fun => only one weekend available April 18th-19th. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com
Bird photography workshop - Florida Spoonbills & Shorebirds

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 EOS 7d mark II AF settings for bird & wildlife photography

What are the best AF settings for bird & wildlife photography with the Canon EOS 7d mark II? The new AF system of the Canon 7d mark II is inherited from the Canon EOS 5d mark III and the Canon EOS 1DX. In other words, it is the best AF system available today! Bird & wildlife photography have specific AF setting needs and I am going to walk you through what I personally use 🙂

First off, I mostly shoot in AI servo mode with the AF point expansion points (8 surrounding points). That allows me to place the focus point where I want while having the surrounding points picking up focus when the central point loses my target.

Canon offers six pre-sets cases for you to choose from, and while they are quite alright on their own, I have my own special recipe:

AF settings - Canon 7d mark II

As you may see above, there are three dimensions one my play with when fine-tuning the Canon 7d mark II AF settings:

1. Tracking sensitivity => how fast the AF system reacts to a new object entering the scene. You want to have this one not being very reactive to new subjects entering the frame. Otherwise, a bird flying in between you and your target might trigger the AF to switch and you would lose focus on your target. So, -1 is my recommendation here.
2. Accel./decel. tracking => The higher setting is best as it will be more sensitive to subjects that stop and start quickly. Perfect example is a bird taking off in your direction, going very fast from stopped to flying speed.
3. AF pt auto switching => speed at which the AF system changes from one point to another when having AF point expansion activated. I put this one to 1 as I want to stay focused for quick lateral moves, but not to the max to avoid loosing focus on the head towards focus to the wing while panning with a flying subject. As nobody that I know of can pan at the exact speed of a fast flying subject, it is good to have the focus somewhat locked on the head. If it does not seem to lock where I want, I simply pump the rear button to re-acquire focus.

For full detail on the Canon EOS 7d mark II AF system, you may visit this Canon link: http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/resources/articles/2014/eos7dmk2_afGuidebook.shtml

Nothing is as good of a demonstration as a few action photographs!

Spoonbill in flight - Canon 7d mark ii AF settings

Spoonbill with breeding colors banking in flight – Tampa Bay Spoonbill 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 lowered tripod in the water with a Jobu Design Gimbal Head.

The Spoonbill photograph above is a nice illustration of high performing AF system. Once the AF system is locked on the subject you may maintain excellent tracking throughout the flight.

Spoonbill landing - Canon 7d mark ii AF settings

Spoonbill landing – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/4 | 1/2500 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 lowered tripod in the water with a Jobu Design Gimbal Head.

This photograph was created with an overcast weather during one of my Florida Spoonbill tours. It is a very good illustration of an AF system that can keep focus with quickly accelerating or decelerating subjects. And this is why Accel. / Decel. setting is pushed to the maximum sensitivity at +2 🙂

Spoonbill landing - Canon EOS 7d mark II AF settings

Spoonbill landing – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 400 | 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 a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 7D mark II on lowered tripod in the water with a Jobu Design Gimbal Head.

Another landing Spoonbill created during one of the Florida Spoonbill tours. This one came from the side and the quick, but not too abrupt change of focus point from the AF auto PT switching setting at +1 was useful here.

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

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

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

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

May 5th-6th 2017 / limit 6 people – 5 open

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

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

Spoonbill season is soon to be back!

Spoonbills with breeding colors will be back in the Tampa Bay as early as beginning of February! So not too far around the corner 🙂 I can take you on a private tour to the best spot in the state of Florida anytime starting February until end of May. My Florida Spoonbill photography workshop with three boat rides has started filling up and I encourage you to start reserving your spot if you want to be amongst the lucky ones.

Roseate Spoonbill - Tampa Bay, Florida

Roseate Spoonbill landing – Alafia Banks, 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 while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The photograph above is a Roseate Spoonbill with breeding colors landing in the beautiful blue water of the Tampa Bay. I created this one during a private tour to the biggest Spoonbill rookery in the state of Florida. My student and I were working on a subject foraging in the shallow water, when I spotted this one flying by. It is often a good idea to frequently look around when focusing on one subject, as other birds might come by to join the fun. Since I had spotted this Spoonbill in flight early one and pointed it to my student, we were both able to acquire focus and capture a superb landing. During the Spoonbill photography tour next March 2015, we will go on two boat rides to the Tampa Bay rookery!

White morph Reddish Egret - Fort Desoto

White morph Reddish Egret – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 320 | 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 5D mark III laying low in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

If you know where to look one might have the chance to photograph a white morph Reddish Egret at Fort Desoto. This guy was playing in the surf and I waited to have a moment when the waves would be very flat in order not to have breaking waves in the background. Adjusting the Height angle so that the background would be entirely blue while being as low as possible to preserve the eye-to-eye experience, I had a great time creating this photograph.

Royal Tern - Fort Desoto photography tour

Royal Tern with breeding plumage – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | f/8 | 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 5D mark III laying flat on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The Royal Tern above displayed beautiful breeding colors while fluffing its feathers. One needs to learn how to chose the proper subject while working on a flock on the ground. Look for isolated subjects that display the most pronounced breeding colors during mating season. If you can have the bird on a small ledge like above, you will be able to have a very pleasing background while not cropping the feet of the bird. This is the ideal situation for shorebirds!

Botswana and the Victoria Falls instructional photography tour / $7,900 / limit 6 people / September 10th-20th 2015:

A luxury African safari in the country where nature is the best preserved, at an extremely competitive price!
Wildlife photography tour - Botswana African safari

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional photography tour / $890 / limit 5 people / March 7th-8th 2015:

Only 3 spots left! This is the best spot in the state of Florida, at the right time of the year.
Bird photography workshop - Florida Spoonbills & Shorebirds

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

The perfect blue background

Lately, achieving a pleasing background has become a growing obsession of mine. A blurred light colored setting is often best. My preferred hue is blue, then green, then something soft. As a consequence, I often do my best to create a blue background when shooting along the beach shore. This is what I call the perfect blue background!

Willet shorebird - Fort Desoto photography tour

Willet stretching its wings – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | f/8 | 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 5D mark III wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The photograph above is a Willet stretching its wings after a bath in the shallow water at Fort Desoto Park, Florida. For shorebirds, one thing is almost always true, stay as close to the ground as possible to create nice blurs around the subject. The birds were originally scattered across the sand with a few subjects going in and out of the shallow water either looking for food and for a quick bath. The situation might have looked a bit difficult to the untrained eye. When dealing with a big group of birds, it is often best to work with subjects on the edges, where your chances of isolating the bird are much greater. Every now and then, the Willets would stretch their wings after a bath. Recognizing the situation, I patiently positioned myself for success with one bird that seemed to be entering in that part of the cycle. After a couple of tries, I was able to capture the stretch in its full extent 🙂

Marbled Godwit - Florida photo workshops

Marbled Godwit ruffling its feathers – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | f/8 | 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 5D mark III laying low in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The photograph above is a Marbled Godwit ruffling its feathers. This is another common variant after a bath. If you like action shot, you need to have a good understanding of your subject’s behavior and be ready for the right situation. Most importantly, it is much better to anticipate on the behavior when recognized versus pressing the shutter after something has already happened: this is 99% of the time too late!! Don’t be afraid to start taking sequential shots before you actually see the action. You will not have the time to react and with digital this is so costless.

Dowitcher - Fort Desoto photography

Short-billed Dowitcher hunting – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | f/8 | 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 5D mark III wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The Short-billed Dowitcher above is looking for food in the shallow water at Fort Desoto, Florida. Another very nice blue background! The three creations above were done in less than 5 minutes apart from each other. It is usually more beneficial for me to move around in quest of different subjects or behaviors versus stalking like a cat for hours to get one shot.

Botswana and the Victoria Falls instructional photography tour / $7,900 / limit 6 people / September 10th-20th 2015:

This African safari is a very nice combination between the Okavango Delta, the big cats in the Chobe national park and a finish at the Victoria Falls. Keep in mind, Botswana’s trails are a lot less crowded with vehicles as it is in Kenya…
Wildlife photography tour - Botswana African safari

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional photography tour / $890 / limit 5 people / March 7th-8th 2015:

We all love those pink-feathered friends! This is the best spot in the state of Florida, at the right time of the year.
Bird photography workshop - Florida Spoonbills & Shorebirds

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

Gold Medalist at the 2014 PPA International Photographic Competition

I am proud to announce that four of my images were recognized at the 2014 Professional Photographers of America International Photographic Competition, making me a gold medalist in this international contest. PPA is the biggest association of Professional Photographers in the World and more than 50,000 images are submitted during the International Photographic Competition. See below the recognized images.

Flash of pink - International Award

Flash Of Pink
ISO 640 | 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 5D mark III on tripod with Gimbal Head while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The Roseate Spoonbill flapping its wings photograph above received a Merit. This award winning photograph was created during on of the Spoonbill workshops at Alafia Banks, Florida. You are welcome to sign up for next year! 😉

Flying In The Water - International Award

Flying In The Water
ISO 400 | 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) with 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while lying on my belly. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The Short-billed Dowitcher flapping its wings photograph received a Merit and was accepted in the Loan Collection. Believe it or not, this image was created the very same day as the one above, during the Shorebird portion of the Spoonbill workshop at Fort Desoto, Florida.

Courtship Flight - International Award

Courtship Flight
ISO 400 | f/7.1 | 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 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while located on top of a cliff edge. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The image above received a Merit and depicts a Tropicbird banking in the Galapagos Islands.

Follow My Eyes - International Award

Follow My Eyes
ISO 500 | f/8 | 1/160 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

And the last recognized image received a Merit and was accepted in the Loan Collection.

Used Gear for Sale!

Very good client Ejaz Khan is selling his Canon EOS 5d mark III with the BG-E11 battery grip for $2,500. This is an awesome deal, for a camera that has not been used much and Ejaz takes very good care of his equipment. Most of my images were created with this camera and I would not hesitate if I were in a buying position. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com if you are interested!

Note that you are welcome to let me know about your used equipment for sale 🙂

Botswana and the Victoria Falls instructional photography tour / $7,900 / limit 6 people / September 10th-20th 2015:

Join me and Robert O-Toole for a true photographic adventure in Africa.
Wildlife photography tour - Botswana African safari

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional photography tour / $880 / limit 5 people / March 7th-8th 2015:

The best place to photograph Spoonbills with breeding colors, no questions asked.
Bird photography workshop - Florida Spoonbills & Shorebirds

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

Brown Pelican Photography Tour in Florida, where to go?

If you are planning a Brown Pelican Photography Tour in Florida, there are many good spots, but my favorite two picks are in the Tampa Bay area. First off, it depends what you are looking for… If you are looking for diving and fishing action, I would recommend Fort Desoto Park in St Petersburg. If you are interested in full breeding color Pelicans with good flight opportunities, Alafia Banks is the place to go to!!

Brown Pelican photography tour - Alafia Banks, Florida

Brown Pelican flying with nesting material – Alafia Banks, Florida
ISO 400 | f/7.1 | 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), the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with Gimbal Head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The photograph above was created during a photography tour I organized at Alafia Banks. I was explaining to one of my students that Pelicans make for excellent practice for flight photography. It is a fairly slow bird in the air, which will give you a good chance at earning your flight photography skills. The Brown Pelican above was bringing a branch back to its nest as nesting material. The huge advantage of Alafia Banks is that Pelicans are nesting there, allowing the viewer to admire them with their full breeding colors. Adults have a white head, with a vibrant brown around the neck during mating season. They also come back and forth to their nests, allowing for many flight opportunities.

Brown Pelican diving - Fort Desoto, Florida

Brown Pelican diving – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | f/8 | 1/2500 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 5D mark III on tripod with Gimbal Head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

When it comes to diving, Fort Desoto tends to be a better place when the conditions are right. The Brown Pelican above is somewhat young and surely does not display breeding colors, but that is quite a nice diving pose! If you know where to position yourself, you might get a good chance at a nice dive photograph.

Brown Pelican photography tour in Florida

Brown Pelican blur – Alafia Banks, Florida
ISO 320 | f/4 | 1/15 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. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

Both Fort Desoto and Alafia Banks are good for pre-dawn blurs, but Alafia Banks is a tad better as many Pelicans leave their nests early in the morning to have their first flight of the day, which creates more opportunities. Blurs are typically harder to control and it takes a few tries before getting something that really stands out. However, one does come out with a photograph that is often quite unique. Try to pan with nice early morning colors in the background and you are in for nice results. 🙂

Botswana and the Victoria Falls instructional photography tour / $9,800 / limit 6 people / September 10th-20th 2015:

Join me and Robert O-Toole for an African wildlife safari to remember for years to come!
Wildlife photography tour - Botswana African safari

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional photography tour / $880 / limit 5 people / March 7th-8th 2015:

If you would like to get a chance to photograph at Alafia Banks, this is it…
Bird photography workshop - Florida Spoonbills & Shorebirds

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

Bathing shorebirds with the Canon EF 600mm IS II

The Canon EF 600m IS II is quite an asset to create beautiful photographs of shorebirds while bathing! The reach helps not disturbing the tiny birds and make the background very blurry, while the extremely fast auto-focus allows for top notch action shots.

Short-billed Dowitcher bathing - Florida photography workshop

Short-billed Dowitcher bathing – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 400 | 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) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while laying flat on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

This Short-billed Dowitcher photograph was created during the previous Spoonbill / Shorebirds photography workshop, at Fort Desoto, Florida. Always careful to spot early on shorebirds bathing, I directed my students to this one, which seemed to have a blast cleaning up its wings in the shallow water. Though not everybody could get on the ground, the very best vantage point is as low as you can. Then make sure your auto-focus point is directed towards the bottom so that you don’t clip wings at the time of the flap or to capture most of the water splashes. Keep a very fast shutter speed and you are on the right track.

Semipalmated Plover - Fort Desoto photography tour, Florida

Semipalmated Plover – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 400 | 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) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while seated on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

A few minutes after the creation of the first photograph above, this Semipalmated Plover decided to go for a quick bath as well. Still in the same position, this photograph portrays the nice flap that follows most bathing sessions. Creating great photographs is often based on recognizing wildlife’s behavior and anticipating on the right position to be at to capture the action. From the image optimization perspective, I did not have to clean anything in the background. I selected the bird, which I pasted on a separate layer (Ctrl+J after selection) in order to apply some of my favorite Color Efex pro effects: 70% Detail Extractor and 20% Tonal Contrast.

Herring Gull - Florida shorebirds photography

Herring Gull eating a crab – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 400 | 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 handheld while seated on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Herring Gulls are amongst the biggest gulls! This gull has a very interesting technique to add big crabs on its menu. First the Herring Gull captures the crab, then flies up in the air with it to let it drop from 50 feet high or so, hoping to crack the shell. Then it is meal time! Of course, it is usually not quite the end of the story, as the gull still needs to chase away other shorebirds from its quarry: it is not rare to see 4 or 5 Rudy Turnstones harassing the gull until they get a piece of the crab…

Botswana and the Victoria Falls instructional photography tour / $9,800 / limit 6 people / Sep 10-20 2015:

This premium African safari will blow your mind.
African safari in Botswana

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