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 🙂

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. 🙂

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

Black Skimmers in flight with the Canon EOS 7d mark II

The only one morning I spent at the Indian Shore Black Skimmers breeding ground was very rewarding! On top of the nice chick images I shared in a recent post, I had the pleasure to photograph some pretty good flight stances.

Black Skimmer banking in flight with prey - Indian Shores, Florida

Black Skimmer banking in flight with prey – Indian Shores, 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), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

A classical banking shot from the Black Skimmer above, with the fish in the beak as an added bonus. As often, I placed myself in a way to work on only one portion of the sky: the only place where I could reach optimum sun angle. This tends to work better than hunting birds flying left and right. First recognize the good situation, then calmly wait for a subject to enter “the good situation”. While there were birds flying all over, my attention was set on a particular spot where conditions were suitable to my requirements. Every so often, some birds would pass by, giving me all the opportunities I needed 🙂

Note that I took care of keeping the horizon with the sea water to help anchor the image.

Black Skimmer banking in flight - Indian Shores, Florida

Black Skimmer banking in flight with prey – Indian Shores, Florida
ISO 640 | 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), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head while kneeling on the ground. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Another really good banking shot! Keep in mind that banking shots are possible only when the bird turn in flight. With a good eye, it is not that difficult to recognize the pattern and wait for just the right moment.

Black Skimmer landing - Indian Shores, Florida

Black Skimmer banking in flight with prey – Indian Shores, Florida
ISO 640 | 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), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head while kneeling on the ground. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

And after a few banks, here is the landing! Actually, having the subject closer to the breeding ground is a bit tricky. The reason is there were a lot of distracting objects to deal with: fence to prevent people from getting to close and other breeding birds amongst others. It took a lot of Photoshop cleanup on the image above. Use your stamp tool to clone on a separate layer above your original layer, then use a layer mask to erase (paint in black) zones where you would have stamped over the subject. See below a before and after view:

Black Skimmer landing - image optimization

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 photography with the Canon 7d mark II in the Sarasota Bay

Visiting family close to the Sarasota Bay has its perks. The other day, I slipped in about an hour of delightful photography before everybody woke up for breakfast. While starting my short bird photography adventure with the Canon 5d mark III to work on blurs, I quickly switched to the Canon 7d mark II for the rest of the hour. With low tide conditions, some parts of the Sarasota Bay attract many wading birds, including Spoonbills. Every now and then I witness flocks of 20 to 30 individuals of the stunning pink feather colored bird. Ideally, you want the tide low enough to attract the birds to come feed, but not so low that the grass type algea shows. When the algea shows, it makes for less pleasant backgrounds with brown patches here and there.

Little Blue Heron with prey - Sarasota Bay, Florida

Little blue Heron with breeding colors – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 250 | f/4 | 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), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The photograph above depicts a Little blue Heron with bright breeding colors keeping a snake like invertebrate snared in its beak. When I spotted that the bird seemed close to strike at the water, I positioned myself a bit closer and decided to go vertical for potential head shots with prey. Bingo! The wading bird snatched a snake like prey and fussed with it for a couple of minutes to put it in a proper position for a big gulp. The other advantage of going for a tight shot here was to avoid some brownish green patches of algea in the background. I am very pleased with the excellent head angles of both predator and prey. Plus, it is not often one may create an interesting photograph with a little blue Heron with breeding colors.

Great White Egret landing - Sarasota Bay

Great White Egret landing – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | 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), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

When the wind is blowing in the right direction, from your back and straight towards your subject, the chances of creating a squarely frontal landing are dramatically increased. The Great white Egret photograph above is a nice landing over the blue water. I would have created a lot more of those during my short outing, but few would have come out with a clean background since the tide was a bit too low and there were not that many spots that offered a non clustered blue backdrop. I preferred not to go for the obvious and focus for a situation where the conditions would be good, meaning the 4 angles of success would be met!

Snowy Egret - Sarasota Bay

Snowy Egret – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 250 | f/4 | 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), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

This is a very fun situation if you know how to recognize it. A white subject brightly lit up with a background in the shade will turn into an almost completely black background once you have set your camera settings for proper exposure on the subject. As you will have to under expose in order not too blow up the highlights, the backdrop will turn even darker. Play with the curves in post production by giving it a bit of a S shape and here you are!

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds photography tour – $990

Feb 20th-21st 2016 / limit 6 people – 4 open

Apr 16th-17th 2016 / limit 6 people – 4 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

Spoonbill season is soon to be back!

Spoonbills with breeding colors will be back in the Tampa Bay as early as beginning of February! So not too far around the corner 🙂 I can take you on a private tour to the best spot in the state of Florida anytime starting February until end of May. My Florida Spoonbill photography workshop with three boat rides has started filling up and I encourage you to start reserving your spot if you want to be amongst the lucky ones.

Roseate Spoonbill - Tampa Bay, Florida

Roseate Spoonbill landing – Alafia Banks, 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 while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The photograph above is a Roseate Spoonbill with breeding colors landing in the beautiful blue water of the Tampa Bay. I created this one during a private tour to the biggest Spoonbill rookery in the state of Florida. My student and I were working on a subject foraging in the shallow water, when I spotted this one flying by. It is often a good idea to frequently look around when focusing on one subject, as other birds might come by to join the fun. Since I had spotted this Spoonbill in flight early one and pointed it to my student, we were both able to acquire focus and capture a superb landing. During the Spoonbill photography tour next March 2015, we will go on two boat rides to the Tampa Bay rookery!

White morph Reddish Egret - Fort Desoto

White morph Reddish Egret – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 320 | 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), the Canon EOS 5D mark III laying low in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

If you know where to look one might have the chance to photograph a white morph Reddish Egret at Fort Desoto. This guy was playing in the surf and I waited to have a moment when the waves would be very flat in order not to have breaking waves in the background. Adjusting the Height angle so that the background would be entirely blue while being as low as possible to preserve the eye-to-eye experience, I had a great time creating this photograph.

Royal Tern - Fort Desoto photography tour

Royal Tern with breeding plumage – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | f/8 | 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 5D mark III laying flat on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The Royal Tern above displayed beautiful breeding colors while fluffing its feathers. One needs to learn how to chose the proper subject while working on a flock on the ground. Look for isolated subjects that display the most pronounced breeding colors during mating season. If you can have the bird on a small ledge like above, you will be able to have a very pleasing background while not cropping the feet of the bird. This is the ideal situation for shorebirds!

Botswana and the Victoria Falls instructional photography tour / $7,900 / limit 6 people / September 10th-20th 2015:

A luxury African safari in the country where nature is the best preserved, at an extremely competitive price!
Wildlife photography tour - Botswana African safari

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional photography tour / $890 / limit 5 people / March 7th-8th 2015:

Only 3 spots left! This is the best spot in the state of Florida, at the right time of the year.
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

3 for the price of 1 & the Canon 7d mark II

The highly anticipated Canon EOS 7d mark II is now available for pre-order!! Read below what my thoughts are on this new crop factor flagship. Make sure to place your order by clicking on your preferred provider link to the right (Adorama or B&H). It does not cost you anything and it helps keeping this blog lively 🙂

Canon EOS 7D Mark II with BG-E16

I loved the Canon EOS 7d with a high performance AF and 8 frames per second. However, I do prefer the Canon EOS 5d mark III mainly because of its even better autofocus system (the same as the Canon EOS 1dX!) and excellent high ISO/low noise performance. Things are about to change! The new Canon EOS 7d mark II is announced to perform as well as the Canon EOS 5d mark III thanks to the same AF system and equivalent high ISO quality. In other words, with 20.2 megapixels for the new 7d versus 22.3 megapixels for the 5d mark III, you will have the same image quality or very close, with an impressive 10 frames per second and the extra reach of a crop factor (1.6 times longer than a full frame). On top of that, the 7d mark II will be able to autofocus at f/8 with a 2x extender, allowing AF with the central point surround with a combo 600mm f/4 and 2x extender. We will now have a reach of 1920mm!!!!

On my side, I did not hesitate and placed a pre-order in order to be amongst the first ones to enjoy this new crop factor flagship in the Canon EOS camera body lineup.

Osprey with fish in its talents

Osprey with fish – Lakeland, 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 5D mark III on a tripod with gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The photograph above is an Osprey flying away with an amazing prize! Look close (click on the image to see it bigger) and your eyes will widen as you count not 1, not 2, but 3 fish!! I was taking around a student who booked a private tour in the Lakeland area about three weeks ago. I know a peer that gives to a lake where one may witness Ospreys and even occasional Bald Eagles fishing nearby. We were in luck that afternoon, and within 30 min we created lots of great fishing action shots of Ospreys. If you pass by the Tampa Bay area do not hesitate to contact me to book a private tour as I will give you top notch instructions and take you to the best local spots!

Bald Eagle in flight - Lakeland, Florida

Bald Eagle in Flight – Lakeland, Florida
ISO 500 | f/6.3 | 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 5D mark III on tripod and gimbal head. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The photograph above is indeed a Bald Eagle in flight in the Lakeland area, Florida. This fellow was fishing a bit further away than the Osprey above and came out empty ended a couple of times. Still, it was a great pleasure creating a photograph of this beautiful creature! Pasco county, close to the Tampa Bay has the highest concentration of Bald Eagles in the state of Florida.

Used Gear for Sale!

Canon EOS 5d mark III with BG-E11 battery grip => Very good student Ejaz Khan is selling his Canon EOS 5d mark III with the BG-E11 battery grip for $2,500. This is an awesome deal, for a camera that has not been used much and Ejaz takes very good care of his equipment. Most of my images were created with this camera and I would not hesitate if I were in a buying position. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com if you are interested!

Canon 400mm f/5.6 => I am personally selling a Canon 400mm f/5.6 in prestine condition at $950. This is a great deal for the lens that I call the lowest budget for professional results!

Note that you are welcome to let me know about your used equipment for sale 🙂

Botswana and the Victoria Falls instructional photography tour / $7,900 / limit 6 people / September 10th-20th 2015:

This African safari is a very nice combination between the Okavango Delta, the big cats in the Chobe national park and a finish at the Victoria Falls. Keep in mind, Botswana’s trails are a lot less crowded with vehicles as it is in Kenya…
Wildlife photography tour - Botswana African safari

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional photography tour / $890 / limit 5 people / March 7th-8th 2015:

Only 4 spots left now! Don’t miss this unique opportunity to create photograph of Spoonbill with breeding feathers in flight.
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 perfect blue background

Lately, achieving a pleasing background has become a growing obsession of mine. A blurred light colored setting is often best. My preferred hue is blue, then green, then something soft. As a consequence, I often do my best to create a blue background when shooting along the beach shore. This is what I call the perfect blue background!

Willet shorebird - Fort Desoto photography tour

Willet stretching its wings – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | f/8 | 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 5D mark III wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The photograph above is a Willet stretching its wings after a bath in the shallow water at Fort Desoto Park, Florida. For shorebirds, one thing is almost always true, stay as close to the ground as possible to create nice blurs around the subject. The birds were originally scattered across the sand with a few subjects going in and out of the shallow water either looking for food and for a quick bath. The situation might have looked a bit difficult to the untrained eye. When dealing with a big group of birds, it is often best to work with subjects on the edges, where your chances of isolating the bird are much greater. Every now and then, the Willets would stretch their wings after a bath. Recognizing the situation, I patiently positioned myself for success with one bird that seemed to be entering in that part of the cycle. After a couple of tries, I was able to capture the stretch in its full extent 🙂

Marbled Godwit - Florida photo workshops

Marbled Godwit ruffling its feathers – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | f/8 | 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 5D mark III laying low in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The photograph above is a Marbled Godwit ruffling its feathers. This is another common variant after a bath. If you like action shot, you need to have a good understanding of your subject’s behavior and be ready for the right situation. Most importantly, it is much better to anticipate on the behavior when recognized versus pressing the shutter after something has already happened: this is 99% of the time too late!! Don’t be afraid to start taking sequential shots before you actually see the action. You will not have the time to react and with digital this is so costless.

Dowitcher - Fort Desoto photography

Short-billed Dowitcher hunting – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | f/8 | 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 5D mark III wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The Short-billed Dowitcher above is looking for food in the shallow water at Fort Desoto, Florida. Another very nice blue background! The three creations above were done in less than 5 minutes apart from each other. It is usually more beneficial for me to move around in quest of different subjects or behaviors versus stalking like a cat for hours to get one shot.

Botswana and the Victoria Falls instructional photography tour / $7,900 / limit 6 people / September 10th-20th 2015:

This African safari is a very nice combination between the Okavango Delta, the big cats in the Chobe national park and a finish at the Victoria Falls. Keep in mind, Botswana’s trails are a lot less crowded with vehicles as it is in Kenya…
Wildlife photography tour - Botswana African safari

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional photography tour / $890 / limit 5 people / March 7th-8th 2015:

We all love those pink-feathered friends! This is the best spot in the state of Florida, at the right time of the year.
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

Everglades habitat close to Tampa Bay, Florida

If you are looking for Everglades type habitat in the Tampa Bay area, you may easily check out Circle B Bar in Lakeland, Florida. It is a former ranch now used as a wetland restoration project, where some of the used water is naturally filtered until reaching the Lake Hancock. While I tend to prefer beach shore areas, Circle B Bar is a great spot for Limpkins, Purple Gallinules, Green Herons, Ospreys, Red-shouldered Hawks and even occasional Bald Eagles. Good photography opportunities are a bit harder to come by, especially when it comes to create a nice non obstructive background, but with a good eye you may create photographs not as commonly found.

Green Heron - Circle B Bar, Florida

Green Heron hunting – Circle B Bar, Florida
ISO 3200 | f/4 | 1/500 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 laying down on my belly from the top of a stream bank. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The photograph above is a Green Heron hunting on a dead tree trunk at Circle B Bar, Florida. I always find Green Herons very difficult subjects. They don’t stay put very long, usually close to low brushes, which is not the best for clean background photography: the 4th angle! I was pretty happy to find this one hunting on a lonely branch in the middle of a stream full with small green leaves. Nice! That would make a beautiful Green (Heron) on Green (background). It was a bit difficult to find a low angle though as the stream ledges were very steep. So I went down as low as I dared to create this one. Note that the subject was in the shade and I did not hesitate to push the ISO to 3200 to ensure I would be able to capture potential hunting action. A good way to eliminate the noise when editing the image is to make a selection of the subject that you paste on a separate layer, then apply a surface blur (radius of 1 or 2 pixels, threshold 20) on the first layer.

Limpkin with chicks - Florida Photography Tours

Limpkin swimming with chicks – Circle B Bar, Florida
ISO 500 | f/14 | 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 with kneeling. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The photograph above is a Limpkin family crossing the pound. The important thing was not to forget to lower the aperture size (increase the f/ number) in order to increase the depth of field to have everybody in good focus. Another good pointer with multiple subjects is to take many frames, so that you have a higher chance of having everybody with a good head angle!!

Red shouldered Hawk - Circle B Bar, Florida

Red Shouldered Hawk- Indian Shores, Florida
ISO 800 | f/5.6 | 1/1000 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 a gimbal head and tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The image above depicts a Red Shouldered Hawk on a high perch while looking for its next feeding opportunity. Hawks can be quite difficult subjects as they often perch very high. It is best not to come to close to the base of the tree so that it does not look like the photograph was created too much from below. While it would certainly be ideal to be at the same height while creating the shot, that can only rarely be done for obvious reasons. Just try to find higher ground, shoot from the top of your car or even better bring a ladder! And aim at keeping a height angle lower than 45 degrees if possible.

Botswana and the Victoria Falls instructional photography tour / $7,900 / limit 6 people / September 10th-20th 2015:

If you can do only one trip to Africa for a safari, this is the one!.
Wildlife photography tour - Botswana African safari

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

We all love those pink-feathered friends! This is the best spot in the state of Florida, at the right time of the year.
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

Gold Medalist at the 2014 PPA International Photographic Competition

I am proud to announce that four of my images were recognized at the 2014 Professional Photographers of America International Photographic Competition, making me a gold medalist in this international contest. PPA is the biggest association of Professional Photographers in the World and more than 50,000 images are submitted during the International Photographic Competition. See below the recognized images.

Flash of pink - International Award

Flash Of Pink
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 1.4x extender, 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. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The Roseate Spoonbill flapping its wings photograph above received a Merit. This award winning photograph was created during on of the Spoonbill workshops at Alafia Banks, Florida. You are welcome to sign up for next year! 😉

Flying In The Water - International Award

Flying In The Water
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 handheld while lying on my belly. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The Short-billed Dowitcher flapping its wings photograph received a Merit and was accepted in the Loan Collection. Believe it or not, this image was created the very same day as the one above, during the Shorebird portion of the Spoonbill workshop at Fort Desoto, Florida.

Courtship Flight - International Award

Courtship Flight
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 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while located on top of a cliff edge. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The image above received a Merit and depicts a Tropicbird banking in the Galapagos Islands.

Follow My Eyes - International Award

Follow My Eyes
ISO 500 | f/8 | 1/160 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

And the last recognized image received a Merit and was accepted in the Loan Collection.

Used Gear for Sale!

Very good client Ejaz Khan is selling his Canon EOS 5d mark III with the BG-E11 battery grip for $2,500. This is an awesome deal, for a camera that has not been used much and Ejaz takes very good care of his equipment. Most of my images were created with this camera and I would not hesitate if I were in a buying position. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com if you are interested!

Note that you are welcome to let me know about your used equipment for sale 🙂

Botswana and the Victoria Falls instructional photography tour / $7,900 / limit 6 people / September 10th-20th 2015:

Join me and Robert O-Toole for a true photographic adventure in Africa.
Wildlife photography tour - Botswana African safari

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

The best place to photograph Spoonbills with breeding colors, no questions asked.
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

Black Skimmers with chicks at Indian Shores, Florida

Nesting Black Skimmers with chicks can easily be seen at Indian Shores, Florida. While my last visit was not perfectly timed and the chicks were a bit bigger than I would have liked, the shoot was definitely worthwhile and I created a few photographs that I am pretty happy with.

Skimmer feeding chick - Bird photography tour, Florida

Black Skimmer with chick – Indian Shores, 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 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. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The photograph above depicts an adult Black Skimmer having given a fish away to its chick for breakfast. I am very pleased with having all three subjects with good head angles and a very clean background. Note that this photograph was created very early in the morning in a shaded area, hence ISO 2000. The 5d mark III manages noise so well that a level ISO like this is not too much of a problem. My advice when you have multiple subjects is to take a lot of shots so that you increase your chances of having everybody with a good head angle. The image would have been even stronger if the beak of the chick did not overlap over the adult’s body.

Black Skimmer chick - Photography workshop, Florida

Black Skimmer chick running in the sand – Indian Shores, Florida
ISO 1600 | 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) 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. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The Black Skimmer chick photograph above is a nice back-lit situation. Sometimes the opportunity arises where one may create a rim of light around the subject thanks to the combination of the light coming from behind and a somewhat dark background. The effect can be seen above with the silhouette of the bird behind lit up with light. I really like the effect coming from the back-lit sand grains 🙂

Black Skimmer feeding chick - Indian Shores, Florida

Skimmer feeding young – Indian Shores, Florida
ISO 1250 | 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 (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The image above is a nice creation, but the 2nd image (running chick) is a much better back-lit image. Why? The fact that the background is not dark enough takes away a lot from the rim of light effect. Had I been able to find a different angle (lower on the ground) and get more shade in the background, it would have turned a lot stronger in my opinion.

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

Join me and Robert O-Toole for a true photographic adventure in Africa.
Wildlife photography tour - Botswana African safari

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

The best place to photograph Spoonbills with breeding colors, no questions asked.
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

End of a Florida Spoonbill Photography Season

We are now officially at the end of the good season to photograph Spoonbills with either breeding colors or young chicks in Florida. This year was pretty good as the Tampa Bay offered an amazing spectacle of pink feather life.

Roseate Spoonbill landing in the Florida water of Tampa Bay

Spoonbill landing – Alafia Banks, 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. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The photograph above is a very nice creation of a Spoonbill with breeding colors landing in the shallow water at Alafia Banks, during one of my photography workshops in the Tampa Bay. I truly enjoy this unique aerial position that Spoonbills display a split moment before landing. The possibility often occurs when I am working on a small group already in the water. I try very hard not to focus all my attention on the subjects on the ground and look around whenever I can to spot possible new incomers. Because the new birds usually want to join the group it gives one a fairly good idea of where they will land. It is then a matter of acquiring focus early on while the bird is approaching 🙂

Spoonbill photography tour in Florida

Spoonbill landing – Alafia Banks, 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 (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. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The landing Spoonbill photograph above was created in the same fashion, under a different angle and while it was overcast at Alafia Banks. Note that I did not hesitate to push the ISO to 1600 to have a shutter speed that would be fast enough to freeze the action. I tend to prefer to push the ISO as much as possible, relying on good post processing techniques. If I were shooting with the Canon 7d I might have lowered the ISO a bit though as this camera is known not to create a lot of noise with high ISO settings.

Young Juvenile Spoonbill in flight - Florida

Young Spoonbill about to land in the mangrove trees – Alafia Banks, 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 handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

The landing image above is very different in its creation. Maintaining the whites while having a somewhat dark background on a sunny day will lead to a low key picture: dark background, almost black. It is a different mood that can be done quite nicely when well handled. My guess is next year will be even better!! Join me on one of my workshop to get your chance at creating such memorable photographs 🙂

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

Join me and Robert O-Toole for a true photographic adventure in Africa.
Wildlife photography tour - Botswana African safari

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

The best place to photograph Spoonbills with breeding colors, no questions asked.
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