Background correction with water drops

While taking an action shot of a bird splashing in the water, or shaking off water from its wings, sometimes I end up with not so desirable background elements trapped behind water drops. The traditional clone stamps techniques tend to be somewhat limited in those situations as the water drops often follow a pattern and cloning water drops to follow the existing patter often ends up being a lot harder than it seems. How to go about it?

Roseate Spoonbill - bird photography workshop

Roseate Spoonbill flapping its wings – Alafia Banks, Florida
ISO 500 | f/7.1 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) 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.

This Roseate Spoonbill photograph was created during a private photography tour, at Alafia Banks, Florida. After a bathing session, the bird started to flap its wings to dry up its feathers. It resulted a very nice splash of water drops coming out from the wings. You will see in the photograph below that I took out a brown area to the left of the image. The brown spot was very distracting and took out the attention of the viewer from the bird itself.

Spoonbill - Alafia Banks

Before and after the brown spot fix

Eliminating that spot turned out a lot trickier than one would expect. The difficulty was to clone or paint the background while keeping the water drops in their original pattern. This is how I proceeded in Photoshop:

1. Create a copy of the layer with Ctrl+J
2. Add a layer mask to the upper layer. Paint in black at 95% over each water drop so that the top layer will have holes directing towards the water drops of the lower layer. This process can be lengthy and requires good attention to details.
3. Paint or clone over the brown zone in the upper layer so that it disappears. In this case, I painted over it.
4. Merge the layers with Ctrl+E

The painted layer mask allowed for the water drops in the lower layer to appear in the front layer! Knowing your way around some of those image optimization techniques can lead you a good deal further in your artistic creativity. :)

See below a zoom over the brown spot.

Water drops

Painting over the brow spot while keeping the water drops

What do you think?

Roseate Spoonbill - Florida photo tour

Roseate Spoonbill along the mangrove shore – Alafia Banks, Florida
ISO 400 | f/5.6 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on a gimbal head and tripod while wading knee deep in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

My favorite Spoonbill pictures are when I can have a blue background behind the bird! Spoonbills often stay close to the mangrove trees, giving the photographs more of a low key / dark feel. Positioning myself and my group of students on one side of the shore allowed for a blue background instead of rocks and mangrove trees.

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

If you like photographing mammals, there is no better place in the World than Africa! Join me on this exciting adventure.
African safari in Botswana

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Bathing shorebirds with the Canon EF 600mm IS II

The Canon EF 600m IS II is quite an asset to create beautiful photographs of shorebirds while bathing! The reach helps not disturbing the tiny birds and make the background very blurry, while the extremely fast auto-focus allows for top notch action shots.

Short-billed Dowitcher bathing - Florida photography workshop

Short-billed Dowitcher bathing – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 400 | f/5.6 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while laying flat on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

This Short-billed Dowitcher photograph was created during the previous Spoonbill / Shorebirds photography workshop, at Fort Desoto, Florida. Always careful to spot early on shorebirds bathing, I directed my students to this one, which seemed to have a blast cleaning up its wings in the shallow water. Though not everybody could get on the ground, the very best vantage point is as low as you can. Then make sure your auto-focus point is directed towards the bottom so that you don’t clip wings at the time of the flap or to capture most of the water splashes. Keep a very fast shutter speed and you are on the right track.

Semipalmated Plover - Fort Desoto photography tour, Florida

Semipalmated Plover – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 400 | f/5.6 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while seated on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

A few minutes after the creation of the first photograph above, this Semipalmated Plover decided to go for a quick bath as well. Still in the same position, this photograph portrays the nice flap that follows most bathing sessions. Creating great photographs is often based on recognizing wildlife’s behavior and anticipating on the right position to be at to capture the action. From the image optimization perspective, I did not have to clean anything in the background. I selected the bird, which I pasted on a separate layer (Ctrl+J after selection) in order to apply some of my favorite Color Efex pro effects: 70% Detail Extractor and 20% Tonal Contrast.

Herring Gull - Florida shorebirds photography

Herring Gull eating a crab – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 400 | f/7.1 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while seated on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Herring Gulls are amongst the biggest gulls! This gull has a very interesting technique to add big crabs on its menu. First the Herring Gull captures the crab, then flies up in the air with it to let it drop from 50 feet high or so, hoping to crack the shell. Then it is meal time! Of course, it is usually not quite the end of the story, as the gull still needs to chase away other shorebirds from its quarry: it is not rare to see 4 or 5 Rudy Turnstones harassing the gull until they get a piece of the crab…

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

This premium African safari will blow your mind.
African safari in Botswana

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Successful Spoonbill photography workshop in Alafia Banks, Florida!

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

Roseate Spoonbill photography workshop - Alafia Banks, Florida

Roseate Spoonbill flapping its wings – Alafia Banks, Florida
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while seated on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

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

Spoonbill photography tour - Florida

Spoonbill banking in flight – Alafia Banks, Florida
ISO 400 | f/7.1 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while seated on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

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

Roseate Spoonbill photography tour - Alafia Banks, Florida

Spoonbill calling with wings up – Alafia Banks, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while seated on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

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

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

Live the ultimate African safari.
African safari in Botswana

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Memories from Fernandina Island in the Galapagos Islands

For some reason this week I have been thinking about a past tour to the Galapagos Islands on several occasions. More specifically, the visit to Fernandina Island had been very rich in photographic opportunities. The Island is perfectly preserved and is the home of multiple very rare species. This is the favored spot for Flightless Cormorants to nest for instance…

Flightless Cormorant on its nest - Galapagos photography tour

Flightless Cormorant on its nest – Fernandina Island, Galapagos Islands
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while seated on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The Flightless Cormorant is a vulnerable species that nest from July to October, mainly on Fernandina Island, in the Galapagos Islands. The female stays at the nest while the male brings presents in form of sea weed of every color to help her decorate and fortify the nest. A big part of their courting happens in the water, where they swim after each other in crazy swirls. Quite the show! In the photograph above the female is patiently waiting on top of her nest. When creating a portrait photograph a good composition if often to put the head of the subject close to one of the corners.

Galapagos Hawk eating an iguana - Photography workshop

Galapagos Hawk eating a baby iguana – Fernandina Island, Galapagos Islands
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while seated on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

While creating the photograph of the Flightless cormorant above I noticed this Galapagos Hawk starting to come down from the sky with a big prey in its beak. After closer investigation, the Hawk had captured a baby marine Iguana. The bird chose a barren lava rock and went on with its meal.

Galapagos Marine Iguana with Lava Lizard - Photography tour

Marine Iguana with lava lizard – Fernandina Island, Galapagos Islands
ISO 640 | 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), the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while seated on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

In the photograph above you may see a somewhat frequent scene on Fernandina Island: a lava lizard hanging out on the head of a marine Iguana. I observed that behavior only on Fernandina Island. Note that each island of the Galapagos Islands tend to have distinct species that have evolved differently across the years based on the specificity of each island.

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

The dates for next year are now set! This is the very best African safari package you will find out there, with a memorable ending at the Victoria Falls in Zambia.
African safari in Botswana

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White on white & upcoming Spoonbill workshop at Alafia Banks

Color contrasts between your subject and the background can help depict stunning stories. See below a couple of examples with Great White Egret photographs.

Great White Egret - Florida photography workshop

Great White Egret – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 2000 | f/5.6 | 1/250 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 seated in the water with waders. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The Great White Egret photograph above was created at Fort Desoto, during an overcast day. The white on white effect comes from overexposing to expose properly for the white feathers, resulting in a background a bit overblown. Overcast days are really good situations to create this specific dreamy atmosphere. It is all about properly exposing for the subject and picking a very clean background situation. A white bird in the still water is a very good start.

Great White Egret - Florida photography tour

Great White Egret – Sarasota Bay, 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) with 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

In the Great White Egret photograph above, I created an opposite recipe than the first one presented. Instead of white on white, a good way to create white on black, is to properly expose for a white subject in the bright sun, while having the background in the shade. The contrast white subject on a dark background will lead to underxposing in order not to blow the highlights. This will make for a background even darker, often almost black! I did not edit the background whatsoever… Understanding proper exposure techniques helps finding creative situations. :)

Roseate Spoonbill - Florida Alafia Banks photography workshop

Roseate Spoonbill blur – Alafia Banks, Florida
ISO 250 | 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 5D mark III handheld while on the boat. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The Roseate Spoonbill blur photograph above was created at Alafia Banks during the Spoonbill workshop. One of the rare spots where it is somewhat easier to create Spoonbill in flight blurs is Alafia Banks. Given the fact that you will see a large number of the beautiful pink birds over there, and this from pre-sunrise to sunset.

Spoonbills and shorebirds instructional photography tour / $980 / limit 5 people / Feb 28th to Mar 2nd:

Only 2 spots left! We are now two weeks before the date, so hurry if you want to join me on this one of a kind workshop!
Spoonbills photography workshop - Alafia Banks, Florida

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Silhouette secrets

How good are you at creating silhouette photographs? This is a fairly simple technique that brings in some spectacular results. In fact some of my very best photographs are silhouettes in a beautifully colored background by mother nature. The first step is to have your subject backlit and to underexpose by two or three stops…

Wood Stork silhouette - Florida bird photo tour

Wood Stork silhouette – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 400 | 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 (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld while seated on the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The Wood Stork silhouette above was created at Fort Desoto Park, during one of my Florida photography workshops. When creating a silhouette I try to capture the most beautiful colors possible. In this case, the red glow comes from the reflection of the sun on the water, afew seconds before the actual sunrise. That color was around for about one minute top. Recognizing the opportunity I positioned myself so that the glow would be just behind my subject.

Great Blue Heron silhouette at sunset - Florida photography workshop

Great Blue Heron silhouette – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 800 | f/4 | 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), the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

In the Great Blue Heron silhouette photograph above I aimed at composition. It was very important to me that the sun would end up in the lower left third corner, while the bird would be in the upper right corner, creating balance. As often, the shooting angle is what is going to make it or break it. That is one of the thrills of wildlife photography, one has little time to think everything through, yet good educated thinking makes a world of difference. The key: experience, practice and trying out new techniques!

Reddish Egret silhouette - Florida photography tour

Reddish Egret silhouette – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 100 | 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 (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.

And then sometimes something unplanned comes about! While working on sihlouettes of the Reddish Egret above at sunrise with a client who flew in from New York, the bird dunked its head to catch a fish. Though the attempt was unsuccessful, it created a beautiful water jet spilling upward with the water being backlit, which created a stream of light.

Spoonbills and shorebirds instructional photography tour / $980 / limit 5 people / Feb 28th to Mar 2nd:

Only 3 spots left! Hurry not to miss photographing our pink friends with breeding colors!

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Av / Tv or full manual shooting modes?

Which shooting mode to choose? You have no idea how many times I hear the question! Many professionals think that because they are pros, they should only shoot in full manual mode… There is absolutely nothing wrong with shooting in Av or Tv mode when you know why you should do so. I personally shoot in full manual about 90% of the time, and the rest is split between Av (Aperture priority) or Tv (Shutter priority) modes. Let me lay down my reasoning behind choosing the proper mode…

There are two main factors: background and light source.

changing backgound              constant background

constant lighting                         manual                             manual or Av / Tv

changing lighting               manual or Av / Tv                            Av / Tv

The table above is what I believe is proper to do and here is why:

1. Constant lighting & changing background

A perfect example of that situation is when creating photographs of birds in flight.

Harris Hawk in flight - Photography Workshops

Harris Hawk in flight
ISO 1600 | 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 a gimbal head over tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Birds in flight will move from one background to the other, from blue sky to tree line, to ocean waves and so on. The issue with using the semi-automatic modes (Av, Tv), is that they are designed to blend all tones into an ideally exposed grey tone. That means that if your subject is white and your background is very dark, you will need to dial some negative exposure compensation in order to properly expose your photograph. Otherwise your white subject will end up being overexposed and the whites will be clipped in your histogram, leading to a non recoverable loss of information. So, your camera is constantly assessing the ideally exposed grey based on where you are pointing at, hence constantly re-assessing your bird during its flight. Of course, you are not likely to have time to adjust the exposure compensation between flying from the blue sky to the dark mangrove! So, it is very important to stick to fully manual mode, where your subject is going to be well exposed no matter what the background is.

2. Constant lighting & constant background

You may use any semi-automatic or fully manual mode without consequences in this scenario. My preference will go to fully manual though.

3. Changing lighting & changing background

Those are the most difficult situations. Let’s imagine a bird in flight close to the tree line, with the sun playing hide and seek with the clouds. I would lean towards fully manual with constant check of my histogram and adjustments of my shutter speed.

4. Changing lighting & constant background

If the lighting conditions are constantly changing, but the background is pretty much the same, I will opt for Av mode with a good judgement on which exposure compensation to dial in.

Galapagos Waved Albatross - Photography tour

Waved Albatross – Espanola Island, Galapagos Islands.
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/8000 sec. | Av mode -1 EC | 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.

We had a constantly changing weather that morning on Espanola Island and I was focusing on this Albatross with the green grass as background. Instead of having to adjust the shutter speed back and forth as the sun came in and out, I opted for shooting in Av mode and dialing -1 in exposure compensation as my subject was lighter in tones than the background. Another good example would be to shoot in a rainforest, where the sun might be one second going through the foliage, and the other being blocked by a tree. Photography in those conditions will require the use of Av mode a lot more.

When do I use shutter priority or Tv mode?

Controlling the shutter speed is extremely useful when creating pleasing blurs!

Fort Desoto - Florida photography tour

Great Blue Heron blur – Fort Desoto, Florida.
ISO 100 | f/8 | 1/15 sec. | Tv 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.

I typically set my shutter speed between 1/15 and 1/30 of a second when creating blurs.

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

Botswana is designed towards high end ecotourism and has the best preserved nature amongst the great African safari countries. This is the very best place to go to!

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

Do you like Spoonbills? This is the workshop for you!
Wildlife Photography Tour - Spoonbills & shorebirds

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Sleeping birds

First of all, happy new year to all!!

What is the best way to photograph birds while they are sleeping or resting on one leg? One might think that a flock of birds sleeping does not offer much photography opportunities, but there is a way to make a few nice creations!

Sanderling sleeping - Florida shorebird photography workshops

Sanderling sleeping – Lido Beach, Florida.
ISO 2000 | f/7.1 | 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 the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on a gimbal head over tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

This is what I call sleeping on a cloud! This Sanderling photograph was created at Lido Beach, Florida, the day after Christmas day while visiting my mother in law.
First off, it usually yields better results to have the subject parallel to your camera. So, in this case a head angle parallel is better than a few degrees towards you. Second, try to have the head in one corner of your viewfinder for better framing. Third, wait for the bird to open its eye, which they usually do every so often wile resting. Note that I am not disturbing the bird, simply wait… Do you know how I created that dreamy part under the bird? It looks like it sleeping above a haze… Reach for a low shooting angle, and the out of focus sand between you and the subject should do the trick.

Oystercatcher - Shorebird in Florida

American Oystercatcher sleeping – Fort Desoto, Florida.
ISO 400 | f/7.1 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

This American Oystercatcher was created at Fort Desoto. On this one I created a mirror effect by having a second subject blurred in the background. When dealing with a flock, try to work on the sides so that it will be easier to isolate subjects. If you cannot, try to look for an interesting composition.

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

This is the very best African safari package you will find out there! And I know the good spots…
African safari in Botswana

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

Alafia Banks alternated with Fort Desoto makes for a killer Spoonbill in breeding colors / shorebirds photography combination.
Wildlife Photography Tour - Spoonbills & shorebirds

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Steven

Creation of birds banking in flight

While flight photography tends to be considered challenging by many, creating photographs of birds banking in flight raises the bar one more heavy notch. By banking, I mean when the bird is turning during flight, displaying the full length of its wings whether from under or above. How should one go about capturing this very specific position? It is not as simple as predicting a straight trajectory in the air…

Brown Pelican banking in flight

Brown Pelican in flight – Fort Desoto, Florida.
ISO 800 | f/7.1 | 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 the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III on a gimbal head over tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The Brown Pelican banking in flight photograph above was created at my very favorite spot in Florida: Fort Desoto. Pelicans often join other members already floating on the water. In this case, this pelican was flying a bit towards me while another one was swimming in the water. I knew that there would be some chance that the flying one would join for a swim. So, I was pleased when it started descending towards the water, shifting direction to land and hence banking in flight! If you know of a spot where your subject is more likely to land, position yourself for it and wait for a flying subject to turn around to position itself for a landing. Those maneuvers often provide fantastic banking shot opportunities.

Red-billed Tropicbird banking in flight

Red-billed Tropicbird banking in flight – South Plaza, Galapagos Islands.
ISO 400 | f/7.1 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with the 1.4x extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

This Red-billed Tropicbird photograph received a Merritt at the 2013 Florida Professional Photographers Association competition. Another good strategy to maximize your chances for banking positions is to be located above your subject… Above?? That is right, in this case the photograph was created from a cliff overseeing the ocean. Reaching a higher altitude perspective goes a long way into getting a full view of the wings span from above! :)

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

I am working on bringing in another talented co-leader to this wildlife photography workshop. More to come on the topic soon…
African safari in Botswana

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

By following the blog, you now know that Fort Desoto is a fantastic hotspot with countless opportunities for award-winning photography.
Wildlife Photography Tour - 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

Wildlife Photography Tour: Polar Bear Safari in Canada video

I have meant to share my last Polar Bear safari in Canada in its entirity for a while. So, I am happy to present a short video featuring this amazing wildlife photography tour. Besides still image creations, you will see a couple of videos from the tour. One of them features two male Polar Bears gently tussling in the Summer landscape. Enjoy!

This Polar Bear photography tour was a fantastic experience that I would love to renew in the future.

Polar Bear - Wildlife photography tour

Polar Bear sunset silhouette – Churchill area, Canada.
ISO 400 | f/4.0 | 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 5D mark III on a gimbal head over tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

This bear looks like he is sniffing the light! Bears have a really good smell and often point their nose upward to detect interesting smells. Note that to make such a creation, onw wants to underexpose by at least two stops. The result can be quite dramatic. It is often your best option with a back-lit subject.

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

The African landscape is a must go place for every serious wildlife photographer. Wanna join?
African safari photography tour - Botswana

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

This photography tour will give you one of the very best opportunities you may have at photographing spoonbills with breeding colors in flight.
Wildlife Photography Tour - Spoonbills & shorebirds

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Steven

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