The Art Of Close Up Portrait In Bird Photography

Happy new year to all!! Many, many, many fantastic bird photography opportunities to you this coming year 🙂 While I tend to focus on creating action photographs, the art of close up portrait is not lost on me. Or so I wishfully think…

Snowy Egret with breeding colors - Orlando, Florida

Snowy Egret portrait – Orlando, Florida
ISO 640 | 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.

I absolutely love the fine elegant feather of this Snowy Egret with breeding colors. During mating season, many egrets grow longer feathers to be used during their seduction displays. Plus, Snowy Egrets do not keep their breeding colors for very long and it can be quite challenging to capture the orange around the eyes. Catch the bird while displaying and frame everything for a tight close up while having the beautiful green backdrop and voila!

Waved Albatross portrait - Espanola Island, Galapagos Islands.

Waved Albatross – Espanola Island, Galapagos Islands
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/8000 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 while seating on the ground with the lens on my bent knee.

I remember landing on Espanola Island as being a very exciting shooting day to come! And it did not disappoint: this portrait with the head coming out of the grass was a dream come true. Try to be at eye level with the subject, with the background as far back as possible while using your longest lens to maximize the very pleasing blur.

Young Juvenile Roseate Spoonbill - Tampa Bay, Florida

Young Roseate Spoonbill – Tampa Bay, 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) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with gimbal head.

The Roseate Spoonbill above is a newly fledged juvenile which adventured closer to the outer ring of mangrove trees at the Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery than its recently born companions. This gave me the rare chance for a real close up. Note that I still stood at more than 50 feet away as I used the 600mm coupled with an extender. Also, I typically try to have the point of focus as far from the center as possible for close portraits.

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 Eagle 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. The tour is now full but contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com to be put on the waiting list in case of cancellation or for 2018.

Florida Spoonbill Photography Tour

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

Steven

2016 BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year: 3 images in the birds final round

First off, congratulations to Tim Laman for his remarkable Orangutan image creation!! Quite stunning, with a very tough vantage point… I improved my performance at the yearly BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year in 2016 by having 3 images qualified for the final round instead of 2 in 2015 🙂 Not too shabby!! See below the images. Note that all three images were created the exact same overcast day at the Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery during the March 2015 tour. The images are available as high end metal prints in the Fine Art Bird Collections

BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year final round - Hands Up

“Hands Up” – 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.

The day was overcast and while some participants were disappointed not to have beautiful warm lighting, I had reminded them that overcast days can be quite magical when properly exposing to the right of the histogram. As it also was a very low tide morning, many Spoonbills were landing further away from the mangrove trees, giving a splendid opportunity for striking high key creations.

BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year final round - Wings Up

“Wings Up” – 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.

That day, I also spent quite some time trying to have multiple subjects in one frame and I was quite happy when the two birds above aligned themselves nicely in the 600mm lens narrow depth of field zone.

BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year final round - Wings Up Style

“Wings Up Style” – 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.

The black and white conversion of the latter image got noticed as well!!! 🙂

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 Eagle 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. The tour is now full but contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com to be put on the waiting list in case of cancellation or for 2018.

Florida Spoonbill Photography Tour

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

Steven

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

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

2015 BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year, PPA and FPP competition results!

This year has been rewarding from a bird & wildlife photography competitions standpoint! First of all, having two images qualified for the famous BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year final rounds was quite a blessing. Then the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) International Photographic Competition brought a silver medal, while the FPP (Florida Professional Photographers) print competition brought 1st place and 2nd place in the Wild Animals category.

See below the images recognized in the 2015 BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year competition:

Reddish Egret - 2015 BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Final round in Birds | Reddish Egret hunting – 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 water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

This image was created during an overcast day. Proper exposure made for a beautiful high key photograph with a stunning stance. Note that we often see at least one Reddish Egret during the Spoonbill photography tour.

Polar Bear - 2015 BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Final round in Mammals | Polar Bear in the Summer landscape – Hudson Bay, Canada
ISO 640 | f/7.1 | 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) coupled with the 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.

This image was created along the Hudson Bay, right during the purple fireweed blooming two week window during the heart of Summer.

One of the four images that qualified my portfolio for a Silver medal at the 2015 PPA International Photographic Competition:

Roseate Spoonbill - Florida photography tour

Merritt and Loan Collection | Roseate Spoonbill with breeding colors about to land – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, 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 with gimbal head while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Created during on of the Spoonbill photography tours of course!!

1st and 2nd place at the 2015 FPP print competition with my portfolio ranking 5th in the all categories race:

Peacock - Bird photography tour

1st place in Wild Animals and Merritt | Peacock displaying – Corbett National Park, India
ISO 500 | f/8 | 1/160 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Created a few years back with the lightest Canon serie L telephoto lens: the Canon 300mm f/4 IS L!! And guess what, I am selling this exact lens for $900. See below for more detail. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com

Royal Tern - Florida photography tour

2nd place in Wild Animals and Merritt | Royal Tern in flight – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 200 | f/4 | 1/8000 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. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Also created during one of the Spoonbill photography tours…

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds photography workshop – $990

Feb 20th-21st 2016 / limit 6 people – FULL

Mar 19th-20th 2016 / limit 6 people – 1 open

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

Now one new tour in March 19th-20th 2016!! Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com and $250 non refundable deposit to book your spot. Note that we will be wading in the water, about 50 feet from the point of highest tide in order to follow the Audubon society guidelines and help protect those beautiful birds during the nesting season.
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

Successful Spoonbill photography workshop in Alafia Banks, Florida!

I just lead a very successful Spoonbill photography workshop at Alafia Banks, Florida! With three boat rides over the weekend, including one to Dit Dot Dash rookery, everybody went back home with amazing Spoonbill with breeding colors photographs. Alafia Banks is currently hosting a very sizeable colony of Roseate Spoonbills nesting in the mangrove trees. One of the biggest gathering of this kind makes the place a heaven for Spoonbill photography! You are welcome to contact me for a private tour on site 😉

Roseate Spoonbill photography workshop - Alafia Banks, Florida

Roseate Spoonbill flapping its wings – Alafia Banks, Florida
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 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.

Now this Spoonbill photograph is something special! Mark my word. It was created during the 2014 Spoonbill photography workshop at Alafia Banks during breeding season. The only way to create this stance is to wait for the bird to flap its wings after bathing. While it is common to see shorebirds bathing in the shallow water, bathing Spoonbills are not as common. Recognizing the potential for greatness, I quickly moved the group from a corner that was more suitable for banks in flight, to this little cove full of algea. The green background came as an added bonus. We did not make it on time for the bathing itself, but I made sure my students did not miss the spectacular flap that followed. Recognizing behaviors in the field goes a long way towards award-winning picture creation. 🙂

Spoonbill photography tour - Florida

Spoonbill banking in flight – 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) 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.

Banking shots are amongst the hardest flight photographs to create. The recipe is to understand flight trajectories, some patience and voila! I wished this Spoonbill was banking a bit more though. Something to go after for the next tour I guess…

Roseate Spoonbill photography tour - Alafia Banks, Florida

Spoonbill calling with wings up – Alafia Banks, 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 handheld while seated on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

During breeding season, besides the beautiful feathers, Spoonbills display some very interesting behaviors. They will often lift their head to call to others for instance. This Spoonbill was calling while running and having its wings up, nice combination!

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

Live the ultimate African safari.
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 Workshops & Tours – Spoonbills & Shorebirds

The Spoonbill & Shorebird wildlife photography workshop was announced a couple of months back. In order to give it a fair presentation, you may watch the quick video below. This wildlife photography tour is a superb combination of two fantastic wildlife hotspots: Alafia Banks and Fort Desoto Park. Those of you who have been following the Bird & Wildlife Photography blog know that I have created killer photographs from those two spots. Do you want to learn my secrets?

Alafia Banks is the very best spot to photograph Spoonbills in flight with breeding colors! And the rookery is only accessible by boat, which makes this wildlife photography workshop very cost effective. Now if you are after shorebirds, there are few places like Fort Desoto…

Roseate Spoonbill in flight - Alafia Banks workshop

Roseate Spoonbill in flight – Alafia Banks, Florida.
ISO 500 | 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 extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on a gimbal head over tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Botswana and the Victoria Falls instructional photography workshop / $9,800 / limit 6 people / Sep 2014:

Have you ever dreamed of a superb African safari? Here it is…
African safari photography workshop - Botswana

Spoonbills and shorebirds instructional photography workshop / $980 / limit 5 people / Mar 2014:

As described in this post!
Wildlife Photography Workshop - 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

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

Pink display: Roseate Spoonbill vs American Flamingo

The photograph below is a Roseate Spoonbill with breeding colors.

Roseate Spoonbill at Alafia Banks - Florida

Roseate Spoonbill landing at the Alafia Banks rookery – Florida.

ISO 400 | f/7.1 | 1/1600 | 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 with a 1.4x III Extender, 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.

This Roseate Spoonbill photograph was created while landing on the mudflat. As the bird needs to brake over a short distance, one can admire the pink color of its under wings. Some people might confuse this bird with a Flamingo due to its pink colors, but as you see it is a quite different bird. The pink color comes from a pigment found in its diet. During the breeding season, the Roseate Spoonbill gets almost reddish spots on its upper wings, with a brighter pink and a rusty color on its tail, shoulders and around the eyes. The Roseate Spoonbill can be tricky to photograph as it has a white neck, which tends to easily get highlight burns when shooting. The trick is to dial some negative exposure compensation while in Av mode, or keeping an eye on the histogram while in manual mode. As often, I used a bit of Detail Extractor from Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in of Nik Softwares for the image optimization, and a bit of background cleaning.

The photograph below is an American Flamingo.

Flamingo - Isabela, Galapagos islands

American Flamingo at the Lago De Los Flamingos, in Isabela, in the Galapagos Islands.

ISO 400 | f/6.3 | 1/1250 | 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, 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.

This American Flamingo photograph was created in the late afternoon, in a lake where Flamingos often come visit, in the Galapagos Islands. As for Roseate Spoonbills, the pink color comes from their diet. Notice how the neck and head are of a brighter pink-orange than the upper wings feathers.

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