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! πŸ™‚

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

What to do with water reflections at the Spoonbill rookery?

First off, I am happy to report that three of my Spoonbill images have been selected for the final round of the 2016 BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year competition. Wish me luck! The past Florida Spoonbill tour has been full with think-outside-the-box photography. Fortunately, an overcast weather helped by giving more flexibility with sun angle. In fact, I many times placed the group against sun angle. Did I go nuts?

Spoonbill taking off with backlit lighting - Florida photography tour

Spoonbill taking off in a back lit scenario – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 800 | 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 a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 1DX on tripod with gimbal head.

The overcast weather during the last Spoonbill tour allowed us to try out some crazy sun angle shooting. The diffused light helped having the front of the bird decently lit up, while having the beautiful pink transparency on the feather due to the bird being lit from behind. Not a traditional view point for sure, but it worked out very well as the background was in the shade, creating a beautiful nearly black background. Note that when it comes to dealing with reflections on the water, I believe there are two ways to deal well with them: you crop most of it out as above, or keep all of it as below, but avoid cutting it in the middle…

Roseate Spoonbill preening - Florida photography

Spoonbill preening – 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 a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 1DX on tripod with gimbal head.

The image above displays a very long reflection in the water, which inspired the long vertical crop I adopted. The back lit gives a very specific ambiance here too. As time passes by, I try to pay special attention to situations that are not ordinary. Creating something different than the main stream is more and more in my mind.

Great White Egret with breeding feathers in flight - Florida photography

Great White Egret with breeding colors in flight – Woodstork rookery, Brandon
ISO 2500 | 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 ended up taking the group to the Brandon rookery in one of the outings. We shot at sun angle, then against sun angle when the sky got very overcast. The combination of a white subject with a far background in the shade can create near black backgrounds with dramatic emphasis on the subject. Here, not only we have a magnificent bird with breeding colors and feathers, but the bird is also bringing a branch to the nest. Often the issue with shots incorporating branches being brought back to the nest is that the branch itself will cover part of the head of the bird.

See below the last Spoonbill tour group picture (Image courtesy James Shaddle).

Florida Spoonbill tour - group picture

Nice group again! 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.

Florida Spoonbill Tour Testimonials

Steven, I want to reserve a place in your May 2017 Spoonbill Tour! Last month’s tour was better than I could have imagined. I have tried to photograph spoonbills around Florida and south Georgia for some time, but this experience beat them all! During the first morning I had more opportunities for good pictures than in all of my earlier efforts combined. I am so pleased with what I accomplished! I expected the spoonbill rookery to be wonderful, and it was. Yet, I probably learned more from the sessions at Fort DeSoto. I may have been the least experienced member of our group, but you worked with us all as much as we wanted or needed. Your advice on how to observe and interpret the birds’ behavior was spot on. Thank you so much!! — Bill C.

I went on Mr Blandin’s tour, and I have to say that i was totally impressed. After 2 days I felt that I learned things that would have taken years. Figure out. I look at birds differently than I use to. I highly encourage anyone to give it a try. You won’t be sorry. — Stevie G.

Steven Blandin is the consummate photo professional. My recent trip to photograph the roseate spoonbills along with other Florida shore birds was incredible. Steven is organized, prompt, intelligent, artistic and caring. He works hard to ensure that all his workshop attendees get that one perfect shot. Thanks Steven, for a great time. You will be seeing me again! — Larry T.

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds photography workshop – $1050

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

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

Young Spoonbills at the biggest rookery in Florida!

Since early May a bunch of young Spoonbills started to venture out of the nests at Alafia Banks. At the biggest rookery in the state of Florida, Alafia Banks, you may now admire the new generation of Spoonbills. They are almost all white, with a hint of pink on their wings and their heads are full of feathers. Needless to say, there are very few spots where one might observe such a display of youngs.

Young juvenile Spoonbill - Florida bird photography tour

Young juvenile Spoonbill landing – Alafia Banks, 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.

The photograph above was created early this month. Creating images of very young Spoonbills does not happen every day, even less capturing action! The one above was landing on a sand bar. Recognizing some key bird behaviors is often what is going to allow you to get the shot. A good way to create landings is to work on a small group, while keeping an eagle eye for possible new comers. Imagine this, you are focusing on your subject with your eye in the view finder, you relax a bit a before you know it there is a new bird in the group, which you barely noticed arriving. This often happened to me in my early days. Take a few shots and take your eye off the viewfinder to take a quick look at your surroundings: it goes a LONG way towards spotting new comers!

Young juvenile Spoonbill - Florida bird photography workshop

Young juvenile Spoonbill preening – Alafia Banks, 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) coupled with the 1.4x III, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with Gimbal Head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

In the photograph above the young Spoonbill is preening its newly grown feathers. Believe it or not, good portraits are actually quite tricky. Understanding head angle and composition is key! Also, it is a very good idea to decrease you shutter opening by increasing the f/, especially when working with a long lens. This will allow you to capture as much detail as possible while keeping a very pleasing background. This is one of those times that I urgently remind my students of the 4 angles of success before pressing the shutter.

Young juvenile Spoonbills - Florida bird photo tour

Young juvenile Spoonbills looking for food – Alafia Banks, Florida
ISO 250 | 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) coupled with the 1.4x III, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with Gimbal Head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

What is better than one young Spoonbills? …. TWO!!! Lately, I have been forcing myself to look wider and try to include more creations of multiple subjects interacting together. The difficulty is then multiplied! All of a sudden, both subjects should be sharp, with good head angles and so on. We live to learn!

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

If you like mammals, Africa is THE place you need to visit! Follow me and Robert O’Toole next year. πŸ™‚
Wildlife photography tour - Botswana African safari

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

More Spoonbills? You now know what to do! Book soon as there is a lot of demand.
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 best rookery to photograph in Florida?

A rookery is an area where the birds nest in a big group, with sometimes thousands of pairs nesting together. Rookeries are often a wildlife photographer’s paradise as the birds display vivid breeding colors along with elegant longer feathers. Best of all, the birds come and go to the same spots as they need to attend to their nest! A predictable place to find your favorite subject, what more to ask for? While Alafia Banks is the biggest rookery for Spoonbills in the state of Florida, there are two very successful rookeries in gator preservation theme parks: Gatorland in Orlando and Alligator Farm in St Augustine. I decided to pay a visit to Gatorland last weekend!

Snowy Egret - Bird photography tour in Florida

Snowy Egret displaying – Gatorland, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 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 5D mark III on tripod with Gimbal Head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Snowy Egrets display stunning feathers during the breeding season. Their lore, bare skin surface around the eye, turns pink and they grow very elegant feathers that they flaunt during display. Note that the tough part of photographing in a rookery is to very carefully select subjects so that background are not too clustered! If possible chose a bird whose background is far away behind in order to maximize the blur behind πŸ˜‰ Unfortunately, few people actually think about that. In the photograph above the subject is in the shade, while the background is lit up by the sun, giving a very vibrant image overall. Subject in the shade with background in the sun is one of my very favorite scenario!

Cattle Egret - Florida photography workshop

Cattle Egret with breeding colors – Gatorland, Florida
ISO 400 | f/5.6 | 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 5D mark III on tripod and Gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Cattle Egrets have surprisingly very bright breeding colors! Note again that I chose an angle where there are no tree twigs flying left and right. Rookeries are chaotic places, where one need to pay very close attention to the layout in order to recognize good photography situations.

Great White Egret - Photography tour Gatorland

Great White Egret with green breeding lore – Gatorland, Florida
ISO 320 | f/13 | 1/640 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.

The Great White Egret above shows a very bright green color on its lore with red eyes. In a place like Gatorland there is no real need for a long lens as the birds are extremely tame and can be approached from very very close. However, you will still see me most of the time with my 600mm. Why? A longer lens yields stronger background blurs, helping to isolate the subject a lot better. Besides the fact that it is harder to use that type of lens in a confined environment, one needs to remember that the longer the lens, the narrower the depth of field. In order to get your entire subject in focus it is often necessary to decrease the aperture size by choosing f/13 instead of f/5.6 for instance.

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

Africa is a must go place for any serious wildlife photographer. Wanna join the perfect tour?
Wildlife photography tour - Botswana African safari

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

The dates are now set for the next Spoonbill tour to Alafia Banks! Book soon as there is a lot of demand.
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

Bird in flight photography with the Canon 600mm f/4 IS II

The Canon 600mm f/4 IS II is quite lethal for bird in flight photography. One of my outing to Alafia Banks, the best Roseate Spoonbill rookery in the state of Florida, is a great example… First off, that morning did not start well to say the least. The rookery is only accessible by boat, or a long kayak ride. At the time of assembling my kayak and getting ready to head in the water I realized that I had taken two half male ores that were not going to join together to form one solid shaft. I have two ores that split in two, and made the mistake of taking semi ore A of ore 1 with semi ore A of ore 2. The long ride promised to be extra long with just two halves that would not connect! I had a moment of hesitation and almost turned around. Finally, I decided that rowing harder will be a fair compensation for not thinking things through! “You have to be willing to do things in a harder way when you don’t think things through” is one of my grandma’s favorite sayings… πŸ™‚ Well, eventually arriving at the rookery, it dawned on me that I was missing my tripod!! At Alafia Banks, one needs to wade 100% of the time as one cannot step on the island itself since it is protected by the Audubon society and no one is allowed to trespass on the island. So no tripod means a not so comfortable hand-holding with a big rig. And… as icing on the cake I had left my 1.4x extender in the car. Yey!!!

Spoonbill in flight photography tour - Florida

Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight – Alafia Banks, Florida
ISO 320 | 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), the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

This Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight photograph was created at Alafia Banks, Florida. Having left my tripod behind was a perfect opportunity to focus on flight photography using hand-holding techniques that give the best stability for the minimum effort. Wanna know my secret to successfully hand-hold a 600mm for flight photography? Well… it starts with the position of your feet on the ground: feet spread shoulder length apart and orientation at 45 degree versus target. Then what I like to do is to hold the foot of the lens with my left hand and tuck my left elbow against the higher part of my left hip so that my muscles work the less possible, rather having the weight on my body structure instead. The reason why I like to hold the foot of the lens instead of the lens itself is because it gives me the length I need to have my elbow resting on my hip, greatly alleviating the overall strain. This technique absolutely saved the day! Note that the image above depicts a young Spoonbill, as you may have noticed a paler shade of pink, a head not so bald and the wings tip with a bit of brown.

Brown Pelican - Alafia Banks, Florida

Brown Pelican in flight – Alafia Banks, 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 (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.

The Brown Pelican above liked to take off from its mangrove tree perch to circle the area a few times before landing back in the trees. The creation above shows the last second brake before landing on a branch. It is a good idea to have your neck strap with you while hand-holding, so that you may give a rest to your arms as often as possible while keeping a sharp eye open for flight action. I keep repeating to my students, that being able to anticipate flight patterns and recognizing that a bird is likely to come in range early on is a key factor to be ready when the bird flies across the target area. Target area? That is right, in order to capture the bird with proper sun angle and head angle you will necessarily have a limited area that will result in good photography.

Bird in flight photography workshop - Florida

Little Blue Heron in flight – Alafia Banks, Florida
ISO 500 | 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 handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

This 3rd photograph was also created on the same day! This little blue Heron with breeding colors made a couple of circles above the tree line, before landing out of sight. Hand-holding allows for a very quick reaction time while walking (in this case while wading). The precious seconds used to move the tripod from my shoulder to the ground and then put the bird in the frame is often the main reason for a miss, when I am walking to a different spot.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like to have my tripod and gimbal head with me while shooting with the Canon 600mm f/4 IS II, but it seems that taking the lens off the head every now and then is a good idea, especially when aiming at bird in flight photography.

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

Botswana is the best preserved African country when it comes to wild safari. An opportunity not to be missed!
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

Wildlife photography during rainy days

Should you be out there taking wildlife photographs when it is raining? My answer is absolutely YES, providing there is not lightning! When I take students on workshops, I typically do not pack up the gear at the first sign of rain. Well, you kind of need to have weather sealed pro lenses and you might want to put a garbage bag on your expensive 600mm (just poke a whole in one of the corners, then slide the lens through it).

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) - Dit Dot Dash, Florida

Wood Stork in flight under the rain. This photograph was created at Dit Dot Dash, Florida.

ISO 1250 | f/5.6 | 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. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

I really like the added effect of the water drops to this Wood Stork in flight. It looks almost surreal to me. As often as I can, I adventure out there during rainy days. And think about it, you can achieve a creation that is quite different from the usual stuff. πŸ™‚

American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) Long Bar Pointe, Sarasota Bay, Florida

Young American White Ibis portrait along the mangrove trees. This photograph was created at Long Bar Pointe, Sarasota Bay, Florida.

ISO 1250 | f/5.6 | 1/1250 | 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 handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

This immature American White Ibis is striking a nice pose looking to its right. Remember that for head shot portraits, it is better to frame so that the head is in one of the upper corners.

Would you like to have a chance to be in the African savannah while learning priceless in-the-field wildlife photography tips? Join me to the BOTSWANA & VICTORIA FALLS PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR next September 2014! I will teach you step by step how to create the best African safari photos. From beginners to professionals. THE FIRST THREE REGISTRANTS WILL BENEFIT FROM A $500 DISCOUNT!

Botswana Victoria Falls 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

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

Roseate Spoonbill extreme makeover

The following Roseate Spoonbill picture is a composite of three different frames.

Roseate Spoonbills fighting for territory

Roseate Spoonbills fighting for territory at the Alafia Banks Rookery – Florida.

ISO 800 | f/5.6 | 1/1000 | Manual Mode w/ evaluative metering 0 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens + 1.4 extender III, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, mounted on a Jobu Design Gimbal head, over the Manfrotto 190CX carbon fiber tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The photograph above is the result of the combination of three different frames. It took a lengthy optimization in Photoshop to make the necessary adjustments. See below an animated GIF with the picture before and after optimization.

Roseate-Spoonbill-animated

Can you guess the main steps? The big problem with the original capture was that the beak of the bird to the left was clipped by the wing of the bird to the right 😦 In addition, the head angle of the bird to the right was not the best to say the least. Many would have just sent this capture to the trash because of theses reasons. Not so fast! This is what I did:

1. Make a selection of the bird to the right and move further to the right

2. Replace the head of the head of the bird to the left with a complete head from the same bird in a different frame (same action set). It is always good to keep a few different captures from the same action for this very reason!

3. Replace the head of the bird to the right with a bird with a better head angle

4. Clean up the background and add canvas to the right to move the birds further to the left of the frame

Lots of work indeed!
That type of optimization is certainly not receivable in a big contest, but it makes for a very nice addition to the portfolio.

I also applied a couple of filters from the Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in of Nik Softwares. Follow our link to enjoy a 15% discount on the latter! πŸ™‚

 

SUBSCRIBE to the blog to receive email alerts when there is an update. 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