The Art Of Close Up Portrait In Bird Photography

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

Snowy Egret with breeding colors - Orlando, Florida

Snowy Egret portrait – Orlando, Florida
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/1250 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with gimbal head.

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

Waved Albatross portrait - Espanola Island, Galapagos Islands.

Waved Albatross – Espanola Island, Galapagos Islands
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/8000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III while seating on the ground with the lens on my bent knee.

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

Young Juvenile Roseate Spoonbill - Tampa Bay, Florida

Young Roseate Spoonbill – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 1600 | f/16 | 1/400 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with a 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod with gimbal head.

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

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour – now $3600

February 13th-17th 2017 / limit 5 people – 2 open

Note that there is a $300 price reduction here (from $3900 to $3600), making this tour quite competitive given the location and the service! The very best Bald Eagle tour hands down! 10 boat rides across 5 full days. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,000 refundable deposit to book your spot.

Alaska Bald Eagle Photography Tour

Florida Spoonbills photography tour – $1150

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

3 boat rides to the Spoonbill rookery and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. The tour is now full but contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com to be put on the waiting list in case of cancellation or for 2018.

Florida Spoonbill Photography Tour

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

Steven

Alaska Bald Eagle Photography Tour coming soon! 2 spots left

There are still two spots available for the incredible Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour of February 2017!! Contact me fast not to loose the opportunity to photograph the most sought after bird in North America. We are going in a fishing town south of Anchorage, where Bald Eagles are observed diving for fish from very close. You will go back home with an astounding portfolio of our favorite bird of prey.

Alaska Bald Eagle silhouette

We will have 10 boat rides across 5 full days.

Alaska Bald Eagle banking

Since the birds tend to come close, you will enjoy spectacular flight shooting angles.

Alaska Bald Eagle in Flight

I do not know of a better place to create action shots of Bald Eagles, period.

natures-best-monopix-steven-blandin

I am also very pleased to announce that twelve of my images were selected for a multi page publication in the Nature’s Best Monopix international magazine of October 2016. You may see the magazine here: https://issuu.com/dickvisser/docs/monopix_oct_2016

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour – now $3600

February 13th-17th 2017 / limit 5 people – 2 open

Note that there is a $300 price reduction here (from $3900 to $3600), making this tour quite competitive given the location and the service! The very best Bald Eagle tour hands down! 10 boat rides across 5 full days. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,000 refundable deposit to book your spot.

Alaska Bald Eagle Photography Tour

Florida Spoonbills photography tour – $1150

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

3 boat rides to the Spoonbill rookery and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. The tour is now full but contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com to be put on the waiting list in case of cancellation or for 2018.

Florida Spoonbill Photography Tour

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

Steven

2017 Alaska Bald Eagle Photography Tour – $300 discount

If you like Bald Eagles and dream to capture outstanding fishing and flying photographs, check out my 2017 Alaska Bald Eagles photography tour! I am now offering a $300 discount, making this exceptional tour one of the most affordable at this unique location. The action takes place in a fishing town, where the eagles are very used to picking up scraps from the fishermen nets. This creates a unique scenario for bird photographers:

Alaska Bald Eagle fishing - Photography Tour

It is truly amazing to have the opportunity to create action photographs of what Bald Eagles do best: fishing! Bird photography is all about being at the right place, at the right time. This is exactly where I will take you in 2017 to create an amazing Bald Eagle portfolio!

Bald Eagle banking in flight - Alaska Photography workshop

The timing was chosen to increase our chances for snow in the background. With the climate warming up, it becomes more and more difficult to narrow the best time. For instance, the last two months of March have had very little snow falls. The very end of January / early February will maximize our chances!

Alaska Bald eagle in flight - photography tour

Believe it or not, but the Bald Eagles come very near the fishing boats and it is possible to create breathtaking action photographs with lenses in the 200-400mm range. This means, that a simple 70-200mm would work quite nicely and there is no need to have the most expensive equipment such as 500mm and 600mm to do very well during this tour!

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour – now $3600

February 13th-17th 2017 / limit 5 people – 2 open

Note that there is a $300 price reduction here (from $3900 to $3600), making this tour quite competitive given the location and the service! The very best Bald Eagle tour hands down! 10 boat rides across 5 full days. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,000 refundable deposit to book your spot.

Alaska Bald Eagles photography tour

Florida Spoonbills photography tour – $1150

March 25th-26th 2017 / limit 6 people – 1 open

3 boat rides to the Spoonbill rookery and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com

Florida Spoonbill photography tour

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

Steven

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

Canon EOS 7d mark II & Wildlife Photography – first impressions

At last! I was able to give a good try to the new Canon EOS 7d mark II. Based on my first impressions I can say without hesitation that the Canon EOS 7d mark II performs as well as the Canon EOS 5d mark III in many ways. My view is of course one of wildlife photography and the Canon EOS 7d mark II does not disappoint in high ISO and fast autofocus performances. Add to that a 10 frame per second speed and you have an almost 1dX at a much much cheaper price.

Willet foraging - Fort Desoto, Florida

Willet foraging – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 1600 | 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 7D mark II on lowered 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 Willet photograph above was created near sunrise time. Shooting at ISO 1600 then, I was very pleased with the level of noise, which is very similar to the Canon EOS 5d mark III and a LOT better than the prior version of the 7d. I did my best to create a pleasing back lit situation with beautiful early morning colors. When well controlled back lit exposed image can be very interesting.

Piping Plover scratching - Fort Desoto, Florida

Endangered Piping Plover scratching – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/5300 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 7D mark II on lowered tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

I thoroughly enjoy the frame per second speed, which was my only issue with the Canon EOS 5d mark III. As a wildlife photographer I am always very eager to capture stunning animal behavior actions and having a fast 10 frames per second rate really helps freezing the ideal moment where the bird is not only doing something interesting but also displaying good head angle and so forth. The endangered Piping Plover above is a good illustration as shorebirds tend to have very fast action and it is not always that simple to capture the right moment. For instance, a bird scratching will often have its eye closed, so creating 10 to 20 frames is great to have a few frames with the eye open.

Sometimes, you see some of those birds with so many rings and colorful flags tied to their legs that you really cannot miss the banded ones. I am not sure I fully agree with the purpose of the bands on threatened species though…

Snowy Egret in flight - Florida photography tour

Snowy Egret in flight – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/5300 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 7D mark II 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.

And last, a flight shot of a Snowy Egret. The AF performs very well, which is no surprise as it is the exact same one than the 1DX and the 5D mark III. Note that no other body is going to outperform the 1DX as the higher battery power of the 1DX will allow for acquiring AF faster no matter what (especially when coupling your lens with extenders).

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

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

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