Is the Canon 600mm IS II + 2x extender viable for birds in flight photography?

Is the combination of the Canon 600 IS II and the 2x extender viable for birds in flight photography? For the longest time I stirred away from the combination as it was only possible to keep the auto-focus on the central point on past body generations. In addition to the fact that I found the focus acquisition speed to be sharply less than with the 600mm + 1.4x extender. With the new Canon 1dx Mark II allowing for auto-focus on all focus points at f/8, I recently re-discovered the possibility during the February Florida Spoonbill tour.

Florida Spoonbill in flight - Fine Art

Roseate Spoonbill in flight – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 400 | f/8 | 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 2x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The Spoonbill above is on its downward trajectory from the top of the mangrove trees to land on the beach. I really like the “C” shape of the wings with a nice overview over the wing tops. It reminds me of many of the Bald Eagle images I created last year in Alaska… For some reason, I went back to try the 600mm+2x extender combo during the last Spoonbill tour and the results took my breath away! First off, the focus acquisition is very fast thanks to the superior 1DX mark II pro body. Second, it is quite enjoyable to being able to move the focus points around. Note that I typically have the focus point surround selected and placed one spot up from the center when I am photographing landing birds. This is a good way to ensure you keep enough space in front of the flight direction of the bird. And third, the image quality remains very good with sufficient light.

Florida Spoonbill in flight - Fine Art

Roseate Spoonbill in flight – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 2000 | f/8 | 1/1600 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 2x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

Note how I do not hesitate to push the ISO pretty high in order to completely freeze the action. This is possible, thanks to shooting with a high end full frame, but not only. You will additionally minimize the high ISO noise with proper post processing technique. Shooting at an effective range of 1,200mm brings lots of reach, but it is true that it becomes harder to have the bird in the frame from such a long distance. Unfortunately, only practice makes perfect when it comes to quickly framing the bird from a long distance.

Florida Spoonbill landing - Fine Art

Roseate Spoonbill in flight – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 500 | f/8 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens coupled with a 2x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The image above was created towards the end of the morning shoot. The last key point when it comes to create bird in flight images with the 600mm + 2x extender combo is to use a sturdy tripod with a very fluid gimbal head. Jobu Design has done an excellent job for me across the years!

Also, I would like to thank everybody who voted for “Reach For The Sky”, one of the People’s Choice Award nominees at the recent BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. I regret to announce that the image did not make it to the top three. It was quite a nice run nonetheless!! ๐Ÿ™‚

2018 Florida Spoonbills photography tour testimonials

“Thank you, Steven, for a wonderful experience. Your talent for teaching is almost as good as your spectacular photography. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with you and the birds. You made our first experience in shooting birds fun, exciting, and even successful! Weโ€™ll be back at our first opportunity.” — Nancylee M.

“Wanted to let you know how glad I am that I took your Spoonbill Workshop! Everything was so well organized. It was so nice that you spent time with everyone on the tour. The lunchtime editing was an eye opener. Can’t say enough about you and your first rate boat captain. I look forward to my next trip with you!” — Lynn L.

“I attended the spoonbill workshop and it was an incredible experience. You have multiple opportunities to photography this gorgeous bird. If you are thinking about taking this workshop, don’t hesitate you will not be sorry.” — Debra L.

Florida Spoonbills photography tour

February 2019? / limit 6 people – 6 openings

3 boat rides to the Spoonbill rookery and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. I am not sure when I will be running the next Florida Spoonbill tour, but I recommend you send me your contact information to be added to the waiting list. I typically communicate first to the waiting list, before reaching our to online promotion. Send me an email 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

Vote for my Spoonbill image in the BBC People Choice’s category! Part 2

We are getting close to the end as voting will stop on February 5th! Thank you to all who have voted so far ๐Ÿ™‚ For the others, I invite you to vote for my Spoonbill image, “Reach For The Sky”, in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of The Year People Choice’s category => http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/wpy/community/peoples-choice/2017/16/reach-for-the-sky.html

Since we are in the Spoonbill against high key background theme, I am going to share with you three more images of the same style. Note that the London Natural History Museum, historical partner with BBC on the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, is publishing an article with more tit bits on the action sequence from where the selected image originated from: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/splash-of-pink.html

Roseate Spoonbill landing in the Tampa Bay, Florida

Roseate Spoonbill landing – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/4.0 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS 7D mark II, while wading in the shallow water with tripod and a Jobu Design Gimbal Head (use promo code “steven” for a 10% discount).

The image above was created the very same day as “Reach For The Sky”, though not from the same action sequence. I have to say it was quite a blessed day with so many beautiful landings for anybody who knew where to get in position. The wing stance is beautiful and one can very well see the spoon shape of the bill as the bird is nearly touching the water. When choosing well your background during an overcast day, you may create a very clean high key backdrop. Also note the striking rusty colors on the shoulders as a sign of the breeding season.

Roseate Spoonbill landing - Tampa Bay, Florida

Roseate Spoonbill landing – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 1600 | f/7.1 | 1/2000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens with 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).

This landing shot was created in May, which is when breeding colors start to fade a bit, but when young fledglings can be seen. In order to position yourself best for square landing shots, make sure the wind is blowing in your back. Birds tend to take off and land against the wind…

Roseate Spoonbill taking off - Sarasota Bay, Florida

Roseate Spoonbill taking off – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 2500 | 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 with 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).

For once, this Spoonbill image was not created in the Tampa Bay, but in the Sarasota Bay! The principles remain the same though. Being at the right place, at the right time and anticipate the moment. Only after understanding bird behavior, one can anticipate and be ready for the action. ๐Ÿ™‚

Florida Spoonbills photography tour – $1290

February 10th-11th 2018 / limit 6 people – FULL

3 boat rides to the Spoonbill rookery and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. Email me at steven.blandin@gmail.com to be added to the waiting list for next tours. I communicate to the waiting list in received order and before publicly announcing new tours.
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

Vote for my Spoonbill image in the BBC People Choice’s category!

Happy new year to all!! I strongly invite you to vote for my Spoonbill image, “Reach For The Sky”, in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of The Year People Choice’s category => http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/wpy/community/peoples-choice/2017/16/reach-for-the-sky.html
24 images are lined up for a final vote from the public.

For this post, I am going to give you some context around this BBC finalist photograph. See below a set of five images that will give you an idea of how the scene unfolded.

Once upon a time, during an overcast early morning…

The scene takes place three years ago, during an early overcast day, while leading one of the Spoonbill photography tours in the Tampa Bay. While it was a very overcast morning, I was excited for the group as the wind was blowing in the right direction and the tide was very low. When the latter occurs, the birds are more likely to forage further from the shore, creating better chances for unobstructed backdrops. Plus, the overcast weather helps creating high key images with a beautifully lit up background.

After properly positioning our group at a good distance from a small cluster of Spoonbills foraging in the low tide waters, I cautioned everybody to look out for potential new incomers. This is one of the very best ways to capture dramatic landings. Also, please make sure that leave plenty of space between yourself and foraging birds, so that not to disturb the natural behavior of your subjects. In addition, staying at a good distance is a way to ensure you do not clip the wings in case of unexpected landing or take off.

Roseate Spoonbill Landing 1 of 5 - Tampa Bay

Roseate Spoonbill Landing 2 of 5 - Tampa Bay

Roseate Spoonbill Landing 3 of 5 - Tampa Bay

“Reach For The Sky” RAW (uncropped) – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/4.0 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS 7D mark II, while wading in the shallow water with tripod and a Jobu Design Gimbal Head (use promo code “steven” for a 10% discount).

Roseate Spoonbill Landing 4 of 5 - Tampa Bay

Roseate Spoonbill Landing 5 of 5 - Tampa Bay

It is not every day that all the conditions are right! So, when it happens you want to be ready for any opportunity. As it turned out, I called out a few Spoonbills flying from afar. Not to disappoint, we had a few landings with most of the birds facing us square thanks to a good wind. While the other images from this set are all impressive, the perfect symmetry of the middle one immediately stood out to me as the strongest photograph. I titled the image โ€œReach For The Skyโ€, to reflect the upward motion of the wings. We have a rare view at the underwings and body structure of the bird. After some further consideration, one may also have titled this photograph โ€œSymmetry In Colorโ€ to emphasize on the strong U-shape stance combined with the beautiful pink color of this emblematic bird often admired along the coast of Florida.

I hope you may all appreciate the beauty of this landing action sequence. Capturing the exact moment when both wings are stretching to the sky in a stunning U-shape is of the greatest satisfaction to me. May this inspire us to work diligently at preserving the beauty of mother nature.

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

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ The image above was also created during an overcast day!! Next time you stay home because it is not sunny, think twice ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

Spoonbill Photography Workshop: 1 open spot!

Yes, that is right, there is still one open spot for the April 22-23 Florida Spoonbill photography Tour! Are you in?

Florida Spoonbill Workshop

Roseate Spoonbills in breeding colors – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 2000 | 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 5D mark III.

If you have been following the Best Bird Photography Tours blog for a while, you now know that the Tampa Bay is home to the absolute best place to photograph Spoonbills with breeding colors. The photograph above depicts two adults running in the shallow eater after a quick landing. The secret to capture images with multiple birds in action is to back up from you usual shooting point. It is difficult to do as we instinctively want to be closer and closer to our subjects. However, this is key in order not to crop wings and have a chance at including more than one subject. ๐Ÿ™‚

Spoonbill Photography Tour - Florida

Roseate Spoonbills in breeding colors – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 2000 | 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 5D mark III.

Towards the end of April, one will start seeing the newly fledged Spoonbills as they venture out of the nests. See how the two above are testing their metal in the open. Note that is is difficult to see them in their nests, since the nests are behind mangrove trees and on the island where the rookery is located. Since we shoot at a distance from the water, we get to photograph them only when they start discovering the outside World.

Florida Spoonbill Photography Tour

Two newly fledged Spoonbills in action – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 2000 | 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 5D mark III.

Note the beautiful red and rusty colors in the plumage of this adult running in the very shallow mangrove waters. Hurry up as there is only on spot left!!

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 – $1150

March 25th-26th 2017 / limit 6 people – FULL

April 22nd-23rd 2017 / limit 6 people – 1 opening

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 our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

Last Florida Spoonbill Tour of the season

So fast! The third Florida Spoonbill tour of the year was recently concluded and I cannot wait to bring new participants to next year’s tours! Note that there are only 3 spots left for the Alaska Bald Eagle workshop, where you will have the best chances to create pure flight action photography ๐Ÿ™‚

Spoonbill landing - Florida tour

Roseate Spoonbill landing – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 2000 | 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) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 1DX on tripod with gimbal head.

Following my wife’s encouragements, I have been working harder at incorporating more than one subject in the frame lately. The big difficulty, besides having both or more birds doing something interesting at the same time, is to have everybody in focus while shooting with a long lens. The depth of field is narrower and you absolutely need to have all photo stars well aligned within the depth of field. An alternative is to simply accept that one or more participants will be blurred as above. I usually prefer when the blurred guy is in the back, rather than the front, but the photograph above works as is.

Brown Pelican taking off with a branch

Brown Pelican taking off with a branch – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 1000 | 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.

This last Spoonbill tour of 2016 was full of action with Brown Pelicans! The one above was quite comical as it had dropped a fairly big size branch in the water. After a long search, the bird finally recovered the lost treasure and graced us with a beautiful take off with branch in its beak. The original image had the horizon crossing the top tip of the wings and I decided to increase the blue water surface to cover the entire wing span and avoid the “cut”. I find that clean backgrounds become more and more important in my photography.

Glossy Ibis blur

Glossy Ibises blur – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 400 | f/4 | 1/15 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 1DX handheld.

In the eluding quest towards dazzling blurs, I was very pleased with the one above. Created early morning, a bit before sunrise, it has multiple participants with beautiful colors. To top it off, the participants are Glossy Ibises with breeding colors. ๐Ÿ™‚

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour – $3600

January 30th – February 3rd 2017 / limit 5 people – 3 open

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 deposit to book your spot.

Alaska Bald Eagles photography tour

Florida Spoonbills photography tour – $1150

Mar 25th-26th 2017 / limit 6 people – 3 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 monthโ€™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 birdsโ€™ 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

How To Create Bird Photography Action Series In One Image

Every now and then I enjoy creating action series from my Bird Photography. In one image, I do a collage of several images which shows the subject at different times through the action. The results can be surprisingly good and make for fantastic panoramas printed on a very large format.

Spoonbill banking serie - Bird Photography

Spoonbill banking in flight serie – Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida
ISO 200 | f/4 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head.

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, banking shots are created when the bird is turning. The action serie image above is a nice depiction of the wings position during a turn. The Roseate Spoonbill above was coming from the left and decided to turn right in order to land behind the first set of mangrove trees. I typically like to choose the subject at regular physical intervals from the image burst I took. This implies that you might need up to six or ten images from one action in order to have a nicely spaced out action serie of 4 or five different moments in time.

Osprey taking off - Bird Photography

Osprey taking off – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 500 | f/7.1 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head.

One of the key technical elements is that you must shoot in manual mode. Why? Because, when shooting in Av or Tv mode, your camera recomputes the exposure and white balance at each frame and you might end up having to combine images with different hues of blue for the sky. That would make the collage a lot harder to achieve well. Once in Photoshop, I pick one image from the serie (the earlier in time image of the set) and add enough canvas to be able to bring in a few more images. Simply drag the other images directly on the first one. Then change the layer mode to “Overlay”. From there you can align the background as close as you can, then put a layer mask on the top layer and paint in black to reveal the subject in the layer underneath. Repeat the same process a few times and voila!!

Brown Pelican diving serie

Brown Pelican diving serie – Fort Desoto State Park, Florida
ISO 640 | f/8 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS 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.

Action series can also be vertical!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Used Gear for Sale

CANON EOS 5D MARK III => $1,650 in very good condition with battery grip (BG-E11 worth $260 new) included. As you would have noticed, I created some of my very best images with this body!!

CANON EF 300MM F/4 IS USM => $900 in excellent condition. I did a lot of my early bird photography with this undisputed best value for your money in the Canon pro lens lineup.

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds photography workshop – $990

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

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

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

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com to be put on the waiting list for possible cancellations or for 2017. Cancellations do happen, so it is not excluded you might still get to join me in 2016.

Florida Spoonbill photography tour

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

Birds in flight photography tips: Banking shots

Many bird photographers consider banking shots the Graal of Birds in flight photography. On top of acquiring proper focus and all the other steps that make birds in flight photography difficult, we now try to create an image with full view over the upper wing or the under wing. Those situations are not as common as regular flight patterns for one who does not have an eye for it. I will gladly agree that banking views are a real notch harder, but so much more exciting to hunt for.

Spoonbill banking shot - Birds in flight photography

Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight – Tampa Bay rookery, Florida
ISO 500 | f/4 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The Spoonbill banking photograph above was created during the 2015 Spoonbill photography tour. My number one tip is to look around you and not to keep your head in your viewfinder in front of you. Banking positions happen during a turning motion during flight. So, birds that are likely to turn in front of you while displaying full upper wing detail will be coming from behind you! You literally want to keep a close eye for those and start tracking very early on. If you have paid attention to flight patterns around you and noticed that the birds are turning within your shooting zone with proper sun lighting, then simply wait for the next birds coming from behind you as some of them will turn in front of you as well. If you are waiting to see a bird actually banking to think about acquiring focus, you are most likely already too late.

Brown Pelican banking in flight - birds in flight photography

Brown Pelican in flight – Tampa Bay rookery, Florida
ISO 400 | f/4 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The bigger the bird, the harder it is to have a full upper wing view. Stay patient and keep trying as even the bigger birds will offer full banks every now and then. A tip that is true at all time, is to attempt to decipher a flight pattern. Birds behavior is repetitive and seeing one bird flying a certain way is a good hint at what the next bird might do. Based on the direction in which the wind is blowing, you should quickly understand the most likely trajectories.

Spoonbill banking in flight - birds in flight photography

Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight – Tampa Bay rookery, Florida
ISO 1600 | f/4 | 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 7D mark II on tripod while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The birds in flight photograph above was also created during the 2015 Spoonbill bird photography workshop. Going vertical or staying horizontal? Most vertical views of full banking shots are crops from vertical captures. The reason is of course that one is ready for everything when shooting horizontally, versus being in vertical mode you are only hoping for a full bank and will most likely not get a good composition for normal flight. While I follow the herd on this, every now and then I do attempt to shoot vertical and just wait for the proper full bank position before firing the shutter.

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds photography tour – $990

Feb 20th-21st 2016 / limit 6 people – 1 open

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

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