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

Fine Art Bird & Wildlife Photography Prints: “In Black & White” Collection

In the past year, I have put more effort towards Black and White photography. Part of the result is the “In Black & White” fine art bird photography collection: http://www.bird-wildlifephotography.com/Fine-Art/In-Black-White/ Check it out and let me know what you think!

Roseate Spoonbill - Black and White fine art bird photography

Roseate 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 tripod with gimbal head.

I find that high key images, with very clean backgrounds make excellent black and white conversions. The “In Black & White” collection is available for limited edition high end prints: from affordable canvas to top notch large metal prints under acrylic glass. Check the prices out here: http://www.bird-wildlifephotography.com/Fine-Art-Metal-Acrylic-Print/

Dowitcher - Black and White fine art bird photography

Short-billed Dowitcher bathing – Fort Desoto Park, 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 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with gimbal head.

I love how black and white photography can significantly dramatize action creations. The higher contrast brings a lot of pop! Note that custom sizes are available as well, with prints up to 90 inches on the longest side.

Reddish Egret - Black and White fine art bird photography

Reddish Egret – Fort Desoto Park, Florida
ISO 1600 | f/4 | 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.

“Big Red” from Fort Desoto is always an amazing subject to photograph. Reddish Egret hunting actions can be quite memorable. Note that one my three images selected for the BBC final round this year was a black and white image… 🙂

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. 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

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

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

Silhouette secrets

How good are you at creating silhouette photographs? This is a fairly simple technique that brings in some spectacular results. In fact some of my very best photographs are silhouettes in a beautifully colored background by mother nature. The first step is to have your subject backlit and to underexpose by two or three stops…

Wood Stork silhouette - Florida bird photo tour

Wood Stork silhouette – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 400 | 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 (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while seated on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The Wood Stork silhouette above was created at Fort Desoto Park, during one of my Florida photography workshops. When creating a silhouette I try to capture the most beautiful colors possible. In this case, the red glow comes from the reflection of the sun on the water, afew seconds before the actual sunrise. That color was around for about one minute top. Recognizing the opportunity I positioned myself so that the glow would be just behind my subject.

Great Blue Heron silhouette at sunset - Florida photography workshop

Great Blue Heron silhouette – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 800 | f/4 | 1/2000 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 handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

In the Great Blue Heron silhouette photograph above I aimed at composition. It was very important to me that the sun would end up in the lower left third corner, while the bird would be in the upper right corner, creating balance. As often, the shooting angle is what is going to make it or break it. That is one of the thrills of wildlife photography, one has little time to think everything through, yet good educated thinking makes a world of difference. The key: experience, practice and trying out new techniques!

Reddish Egret silhouette - Florida photography tour

Reddish Egret silhouette – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 100 | 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 (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

And then sometimes something unplanned comes about! While working on sihlouettes of the Reddish Egret above at sunrise with a client who flew in from New York, the bird dunked its head to catch a fish. Though the attempt was unsuccessful, it created a beautiful water jet spilling upward with the water being backlit, which created a stream of light.

Spoonbills and shorebirds instructional photography tour / $980 / limit 5 people / Feb 28th to Mar 2nd:

Only 3 spots left! Hurry not to miss photographing our pink friends with breeding colors!

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

Spoonbills & shorebirds photography workshop at Alafia Banks & Fort Desoto

I will be leading an instructional photography workshop for Roseate Spoonbills and shorebirds at Alafia Banks and Fort Desoto, in the Tampa Bay area, Florida. From February 28th to March 2nd of 2014, this tour will include three boat rides to rookeries, three half days at Fort Desoto and three photo critiques and Photoshop tutorial sessions during lunch time. We will go twice to Alafia Banks and once to Dit Dot Dash rookeries. Both of those rookeries are only accessible by boat. The price is $980 for the three days or $500 for one day. Maximum 5 people. It is possible to add an extension before or after the workshop. Contact me directly for a quote please.

Roseate Spoonbills in flight at Alafia Banks

Alafia Banks is the prime spot in the state of Florida to photograph Roseate Spoonbills in flight. Comprised of two islands, Sunken Island and Bird Island, the rookery sees about 20,000 nesting pairs of birds across 20 species every year. The concentration of Roseate Spoonbills is quite noticeable, and somewhat predictable flight patterns offer fantastic opportunities for photographing Spoonbills with breeding feathers.

Roseate Spoonbill landing - Alafia Banks

Roseate Spoonbill landing on the shallow water. This photograph was created at Alafia Banks, Florida.

ISO 400 | f/7.1 | 1/1600 | 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 III, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, on a gimbal head over a tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

What a landing for this Roseate Spoonbill! I am amazed at the pose with wings completely upward. Creating those kind of photographs requires accurate tracking of the subject: a technique I will gladly teach you during any of my workshops.

Roseate Spoonbill banking - Alafia Banks

Roseate Spoonbill banking before landing. This photograph was created at Alafia Banks, Florida.

ISO 500 | f/7.1 | 1/3200 | 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 III, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, on a gimbal head over a tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

I consider banking images as amongst the hardest ones in flight photography. You need to track patiently your subject and wait for that exact moment when it is going to turn towards, flipping its wings vertically. The best angles are often when the bird is flying slightly away, then turning towards the camera. There is a specific spot in Alafia banks where those shots are more likely to happen. Of course, we will spend more time in that area.

Many shorebirds at Fort Desoto

You will often hear me saying this: Fort Desoto is the Yellowstone of West Florida! There are lots of shorebirds and many migrating birds rest in the area for a while. If you want a chance to photograph Marbled Godwits, Long-billed Curlews, Skimmers, Royal Terns, Sandwich Terns, Sanderlings, Rudy Turnstones and many more, this is the place. I do not know any nature reserve anywhere close that sees that diversity of shorebird species. The usual suspects will be present: Great Blue Herons, Great White Egrets, Spoonbills, White Ibises, Pelicans, etc… More importantly, Fort Desoto is one of the rare spots where I very often come across Reddish Egrets. If you get lucky, you might even have a chance to photograph a white morph Reddish Egret: quite the sight!

White morph Reddish Egret - Fort Desoto

White morph Reddish Egret portrait with breeding colors. This photograph was created at Fort Desoto, Florida.

ISO 400 | f/6.3 | 1/4000 | Manual Mode | AI servo rear focusing

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

Waw!! I was amazed when I spotted that White morph Reddish Egret with such stunning breeding colors. I went for a headshot to capture the beautiful colors.

Willet - Fort Desoto

Willet landing portrait. This photograph was created at Fort Desoto, Florida.

ISO 400 | f/7.1 | 1/2000 | Manual Mode | AI servo rear focusing

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

There is a great technique to take pictures of shorebirds in flight, or about to land. First, spot a flock on the ground, then wait for new comers and then … come along with me to know more!

Overall, the Spoonbill & shorebird instructional photography workshop is a fantastic opportunity for beginners and professionals to capture unique photographs of some of Florida iconic birds.

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