Another Florida Roseate Spoonbill Tour In The Box

This is a quick report on he first 2017 Florida Spoonbill photography workshop! As expected, the tour did not disappoint 🙂

Spoonbill Taking Off - Photography Workshop

Juvenile Roseate Spoonbill taking off – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 800 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The juvenile Spoonbill in the photograph above hatched last year and I was a bit surprised to see a few other young birds as well. This is a composite image depicting three different stages during a take off. The key to capturing take offs is to anticipate when it is going to happen. By now, I know very well the typical behavior of the Spoonbills at the Tampa Bay rookery and my predictions are often spot on. Better yet, I make a special effort to announce the possible take offs to my group, which puts everybody one step closer to getting the shot.

Roseate Spoonbill landing - Florida Photography Tour

Roseate Spoonbill landing – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 2500 | f/5.6 | 1/2000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

Landing shots, as above, are actually a lot easier to create than take offs. Keep an eye up, track the bird very early on and you are in good shape. I typically follow the bird in my view finder, than re-aquire focus just before the bird enters the “shooting zone”, take a few images in burst, then re-aquire focus and press the shutter for a second burst. This gives me two chances to have the camera locking on the fast moving subject and creating sharp images. As of now, there is no camera system that does not fail to acquire perfect focus every time…

Florida Spoonbills in flight - Photography Tour

Juvenile and Adult Roseate Spoonbills flying above the water – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

It is always a treat to create images of Spoonbills while flying just above the blue water. The juvenile / adult pair here is quite the tandem.

Florida Spoonbill photography tour testimonial

Because I do my very best to get my participants very happy with their experience 🙂

“During the many years of pursuing a career as a professional portrait photographer there were times when I was able to venture back into the type of photography I enjoyed most, landscape and wildlife. After retirement I decided to devote more time to photographing the bald eagle, one of the most photographed birds in the USA. Bird photography had multiple challenges and a friend who was also a retired photographer was attending workshops with Steven Blandin. Seeing his spoonbill and bald eagle photos on his Facebook page gave me the desire to attend Steven’s Florida Workshop the 22nd and 23rd of April 2017. Steven is a wonderful wildlife photographer who takes the time to answer any question, even the most simple ones no matter what your skill level. The classes are small, only 6 students at a time, so there is plenty of time for everyone. Be prepared to see beautiful birds, learning camera tips and settings, not to mention Photoshop techniques to bring your images to life. You won’t regret giving Steven a try.” — Sam A.

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour

TBD / Email For Info

This is the best Alaska Bald Eagle tour out there!! Next run’s dates are not set yet, contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,000 deposit to book your spot.

Alaska Bald Eagle Photography Tour - 2019

Florida Spoonbills photography tour – $1250

February 2018 / limit 6 people – NOT OPEN YET

May 2018 / limit 6 people – NOT OPEN YET

The dates for 2018 will soon be announced! Stay tuned. 3 boat rides to the Spoonbill rookery and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included.
Florida Spoonbill Photography Tour

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

Steven

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

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