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

Used gear for sale!

Canon EF 300mm f/4 L IS

I am putting my 300mm for sale at $900. Quite a saving versus the price in store for a lens in mint condition that delivers pro results for a very small price. You may contact me by email at steven.blandin@gmail.com if you are interested :)

Alaska Bald Eagle instructional photography tour – $3900

March 20th-24th 2016 / limit 5 people – 3 open

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,950 non refundable deposit to book your spot.

Photography Workshop - Alaska Bald Eagles 2016

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

Steven

Birds in flight photography tips: Banking shots

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

Spoonbill banking shot - Birds in flight photography

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

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

Brown Pelican banking in flight - birds in flight photography

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

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

Spoonbill banking in flight - birds in flight photography

Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight – Tampa Bay rookery, Florida
ISO 1600 | f/4 | 1/1600 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

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

Used gear for sale!

Canon EF 300mm f/4 L IS

I am putting my 300mm for sale at $900. Quite a saving versus the price in store for a lens in mint condition that delivers pro results for a very small price. You may contact me by email at steven.blandin@gmail.com if you are interested :)

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional 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 instructional photography tour – $3900

March 20th-24th 2016 / limit 5 people – 3 open

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,950 non refundable deposit to book your spot.

Photography Workshop - Alaska Bald Eagles 2016

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 Skimmer chicks at Indian Shores, Florida

Amongst the few Black Skimmer nesting spots along the Florida West coast, Indian Shores is one of the best! I went to pay a visit on the first weekend of July, which in retrospect was about a couple of weeks too late for very young chicks. Though most of the chicks were already reaching a decent size, there were a few newly hatched ones if you were to pay close attention. The nesting site is located in front of a pink hotel with a very visible fence around a patch of grassy sand. It is my second year visiting the site and though my visit was short, it was fruitful! :)

Black Skimmer chick chasing adult for food - Indian Shores, Florida

Black Skimmer chick chasing adult for food – Indian Shores, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5 | 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 seating in the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The photograph above depicts a Black Skimmer chick harassing an adult for food. There was plenty of action at the nesting site that morning. Time and time again chicks would be harassing their parents to be fed as soon as they landed with food. The image above is a nice representation of a chick not having its immediate need met. Their wrath would be swiftly displayed! Almost reminds me of my own toddler…

Black Skimmer chicks - Indian Shores, Florida

Black Skimmer chicks – Indian Shores, Florida
ISO 2000 | f/4 | 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 7D mark II on tripod with gimbal head while seating in the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

My initial intent was to photograph young chicks and I was a bit disappointed to realize that most chicks were already fairly big. With a very careful scanning over the nesting site, I spotted this group of three fur balls poking their head out for a couple of minutes. Not wasting time, I created a few photographs until one of the parent came back and they spent the rest of the morning sleeping under the parenting protection deep in the hole, far from the glitters of fame.

Black Skimmer with big fish in its beak - Indian Shores, Florida

Black Skimmer chicks – 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 seating in the sand. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Black Skimmer with prey - Florida photography tour

Black Skimmer with fish from up close

Fortunately, not just the chicks got to eat! Every now and then, an adult would break from the group to swallow a fish in peace. The moment of peace usually did not last long, as either a chick would realize a yummy piece would not come to its beak, or a gull would give chase. I am pleased with both good head angles above. The close up shows a breathtaking action moment.

Used gear for sale!

Canon EF 300mm f/4 L IS

I am putting my 300mm for sale at $900. Quite a saving versus the price in store for a lens in mint condition that delivers pro results for a very small price. You may contact me by email at steven.blandin@gmail.com if you are interested :)

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional photography tour – $990

Feb 20th-21st 2016 / limit 6 people – 2 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 instructional photography tour – $3900

March 20th-24th 2016 / limit 5 people – 3 open

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,950 non refundable deposit to book your spot.

Photography Workshop - Alaska Bald Eagles 2016

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!

Used gear for sale!

Canon EF 300mm f/4 L IS

I am putting my 300mm for sale at $900. Quite a saving versus the price in store for a lens in mint condition that delivers pro results for a very small price. You may contact me by email at steven.blandin@gmail.com if you are interested :)

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional 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 instructional photography tour – $3900

March 20th-24th 2016 / limit 5 people – 3 open

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,950 non refundable deposit to book your spot.

Photography Workshop - Alaska Bald Eagles 2016

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

Steven

Birds In Flight photography tips: wind direction & shooting zone

Understanding wind direction and knowing when to press the shutter can give you a sure edge in Birds In Flight (BIF) photography. The general tip here is, as often, to understand bird behavior. Birds are more likely to fly, take off, land and even roost against the wind. If the wind comes straight from your back, then birds will tend to fly, land and take off facing you. This is why an East wind is great in the morning and a West wind will help with birds in flight photography in the afternoon.

Spoonbill - Birds in flight tips

Roseate Spoonbill landing – Tampa Bay rookery, Florida
ISO 800 | f/8 | 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 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.

The only way to create an impressive photograph of a bird facing you while landing will often be to have the wind coming straight from behind you. The big advantage of that situation is to have a chance at capturing an image with wings fully open and complete under-wing detail. I find the results can be quite impressive and convey a lot of strength to the image. The Roseate Spoonbill photograph above was created during the 2015 Spoonbill photography tour.

Tricolored Heron - Birds in flight photography tips

Tricolored Heron in flight – Loxahatchee, Florida
ISO 1250 | f/9 | 1/2000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens (Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM review), the Canon EOS 7D handheld. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

If you prefer to see birds flying along a profile motion, then a wind coming from the North or the South will work for either morning or afternoon. While you will not get the facing impact, results can be quite satisfactory. These wind direction situations are very good to create silhouettes of birds in flight as well. Side note, the Canon 300m f/4 L IS USM is a fantastic lens for the money! Coupled with a crop factor you get the fastest and sharpest lens in that price range while reaching almost 500mm.

Great White Egret - Birds in flight photography tips

Great White Egret in flight – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 2000 | f/4 | 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), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

In a case where the bird is flying crossing your vision from right to left, there is only a sweet spot that is a proper shooting zone. You want to photograph the bird as it is coming towards you. As soon as the bird has crossed the perpendicular in front of you, the only thing you are going to create is a “butt” shot with nice views over the rear end of your preferred photography subject. The issue is that by the time some of us have acquired proper focus, the bird has already passed that perpendicular line and we are already too late. The key is to look around you and try to acquire focus very early on, so that you are ready to press the shutter when the bird crosses the shooting zone!!

Used gear for sale!

Canon EF 300mm f/4 L IS

I am putting my 300mm for sale at $950. Quite a saving versus the price in store for a lens in mint condition that delivers pro results for a very small price. You may contact me by email at steven.blandin@gmail.com if you are interested :)

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional 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 instructional photography tour – $3900

March 20th-24th 2016 / limit 5 people – 3 open

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,950 non refundable deposit to book your spot.

Photography Workshop - Alaska Bald Eagles 2016

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

Steven

Birds In Flight photography tips: wings position

What is the ideal wings position for Birds In Flight (BIF) photography? My answer to this question often comes with three tips. Birds in flight tend to look their best either with their wings up fully extended or their wings down. The in-between is usually less than ideal as one does not see the wings very well. So, nine times out of ten those photographs go straight in my bin to be deleted.

American Kestrel - Birds in flight photography tips - BIF

American Kestrel in flight – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 800 | f/8 | 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 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.

The wings up position gives a very clear view on the under wing of the bird, or the upper wing for the wing the furthest from you. Note that the key here is to go after the full extension with feather tips clearly visible. In the span of a wing beat, you will often see the wing “broken” as the wing is folding and unfolding up and down. I really strive not to settle for the folding / unfolding motion as the feather detail is not as great and the “lines” are not as pure.

Great Blue Heron - Birds in flight photography tips - BIF

Great blue Heron in flight – Tampa Bay rookery, Florida
ISO 2500 | f/4 | 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), 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 photograph above was created during the 2015 Spoonbill photo tour. The alternative to wings up for Bird in flight photography is wings down of course. For some reason I tend to create better results with the wings up position, but wings down with a full extension is also a very good way to go. Note that the bigger the bird, the harder it is to capture the full extension. Great Blue Herons for instance do not always fully extend their wings up or down, and rarely with wide amplitude. The same goes with Brown Pelicans.

Spoonbill - Birds in flight photography tips - BIF

Roseate Spoonbill in flight – Tampa Bay rookery, Florida
ISO 3200 | f/4 | 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), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Also created during the 2015 Spoonbill photography workshop. As there is always the exception, some in-between positions in bird in flight photography can be very attractive given the situation. In this case, the beautiful symmetry really gives a strong touch. Plus, some detail from the upper-wings as well as the under-wings are visible. The spots of red from the upper-wings only visible during breeding season are very easily admired.

Used gear for sale!

Canon EF 300mm f/4 L IS

I am putting my 300mm for sale at $950. Quite a saving versus the price in store for a lens in mint condition that delivers pro results for a very small price. You may contact me by email at steven.blandin@gmail.com if you are interested :)

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional 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 instructional photography tour – $3900

March 20th-24th 2016 / limit 5 people – 3 open

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,950 non refundable deposit to book your spot.

Photography Workshop - Alaska Bald Eagles 2016

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 best Brown Pelican Photography in Florida

Where is the best Brown Pelican with breeding colors photography location in Florida? In my opinion, the Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery is just the place! Besides being a unique location for Roseate Spoonbills, it is plain and simple one of the biggest rookeries in the state, and Brown Pelicans are very well represented.

Brown Pelican head throw - Florida Photography

Brown Pelican head throwing – Tampa Bay rookery, Florida
ISO 3200 | 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 while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

Creating photographs of Pelican head throws can be very challenging. Head throws do not happen often and do not last long either. However, it is usually repeated a couple of times. So, if you know what you are looking for and you are quick about it, it is a very possible shot. Note that the above is not a vertical crop from an horizontal capture, but a vertical from the get go with the head throw in mind. In this case, you need to remember to compose with the bird low in the frame as the head throw can reach a lot higher up. Icing on the cake, the bird kept its eye open with a parallel stance to my camera. Plus, this individual has some pretty nice breeding colors with a white/yellow head and shiny brown neck.

Brown Pelican in flight - Florida Photo Tour

Brown Pelican in flight – Tampa Bay rookery, 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), the Canon EOS 5D mark III on tripod while wading in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The Brown Pelican with breeding colors above is flying with a big branch to bring back to its nest. For bird in flight photography, I am usually in quest for creations with the wings down or up and extended, rarely in the mid-section or folded. Note that Pelicans are great subjects to train in the difficult art of bird in flight photography, as they move rather slow in the air and are amongst the biggest flying birds you may find. I am also glad the band of sand in the background is not crossing the bird through its head.

Brown Pelican diving at sunset

Brown Pelican diving at sunset – Tampa Bay rookery, Florida
ISO 125 | 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 on tripod. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

I guarantee you are not going to see a creation like the one above often. It was created an early morning a few minutes after sunrise. To me, the big difficulty in that type of scenario is to follow the bird and try not to get blinded when the bird crosses the sun. What I do is to follow the bird before it crosses, then close my eyes when I think the crossing is very near and reopen later. That leaves a bit much to chance, but preserves my retina from getting burned :)

Used gear for sale!

Canon EF 300mm f/4 L IS

I am putting my 300mm for sale at $950. Quite a saving versus the price in store for a lens in mint condition that delivers pro results for a very small price. You may contact me by email at steven.blandin@gmail.com if you are interested :)

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional photography tour – $990

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

mid April 2016 / limit 6 people – 3 open

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com and $250 non refundable deposit to book your spot.
Florida Spoonbill Photography Tour

Alaska Bald Eagle instructional photography tour – $3900

March 20th-24th 2016 / limit 5 people – 3 open

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,950 non refundable deposit to book your spot.

Photography Workshop - Alaska Bald Eagles 2016

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

2016 Spoonbill photography tours announced – Alafia Banks, Florida

There will be two Spoonbill photography tours to Alafia Banks (Tampa Bay rookery, Florida) in 2016. One workshop in mid-February and one in mid-April. For those interested, quickly sign up as the demand is high!

On a separate note, I am very pleased to announce that two of my images have been selected for the BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year final round! Let’s see how that turns out :)

Roseate Spoonbill landing - Alafia Banks, Florida

Roseate Spoonbill landing – Alafia Banks, 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 kneeling in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

The Roseate Spoonbill image above, like the other ones below were all created during this year group workshop. We enjoyed a mix of weather conditions, which made for a nice diversity in the photographic results. The first morning was overcast and we enjoyed creating lots of high key photographs. With my experience of the site, the group was always at the right place, at the right time :)

For instance, I ideally placed our group to have many opportunities on landings with bright backgrounds. When it is overcast, you want to overexpose in order to have a proper exposure on your subject, often creating blinkies on the background elements. The results are high key images, where the subject seems to have been drawn with a sharp pencil.

Roseate Spoonbill bathing - Alafia Banks, Florida

Roseate Spoonbill bathing – Alafia Banks, Florida
ISO 400 | f/4 | 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 7D mark II on tripod while kneeling in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

On the second morning, we had the privilege to witness a Roseate Spoonbill bathing in front of us. The image above was created from that sequence. The same Spoonbill went for nice wing flaps afterwards, but the bird stayed really close to the flock and it was tough to get a clean shot. However, with patience and a good eye I created a few good photographs of that part of the action as well. Will share on a different post!

Roseate Spoonbill calling - Alafia Banks, Florida

Roseate Spoonbill calling – Alafia Banks, Florida
ISO 640 | 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), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod while standing in the water. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me.

It is not that common to see a Spoonbill on top of a clear perch, with a nice diffused background behind (not full of close twigs and branches). While not the best looking guy of the bunch, the one above graced us with a few beautiful head throw calls. The key in the photograph above is to position yourself so that you have the bird’s eye parallel to you, while keeping a pleasing background: it is all in balancing the 4 angles of success :)

Spoonbill Photography Tour - Alafia Banks, Florida

Our group!

Spoonbill photography workshop testimonials

As a multi-time participant in your photography workshops, both in a group format and in a private format, I have been thrilled with the quality of your teaching. You have helped me greatly recognize superior nature photography situations and placed me in the path of success many times. I am delighted with the results I have been able to achieve thanks to your directions and I am looking forward to further improving my nature action/flight photography skills as I will keep participate in your tours for sure! Plus, time flies when we are having fun J
Ejaz K.

I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed going to the spoonbill rookery with you. You were extremely generous with your time and knowledge. Your patience in showing me the techniques involved in photographing birds in flight is much appreciated and I learned a lot. Additionally, your love of photography and teaching are immediately obvious and infectious.
All the best Steven and I would wholeheartedly recommend your workshop to photographers of any level. I hope to be able to do another of your workshops in the future.
Patty G.

I appreciate the variety and organization of your 2 day spoonbill workshop. When you only have a short time and live in New England, it is nice to get a selection of birds we don’t get to see. For two days you put us in the best position in great places we would not have been able to access otherwise and it really paid off. Having an agenda and sticking to it really optimized our time and your attention to everyone in the group ensured that we got the images we were looking for, a real trick since everyone is trying to get something different. Your style of teaching/sharing without hovering was much appreciated. I look forward to taking another workshop with you soon.
Carole W.

Used gear for sale!

Canon EF 300mm f/4 L IS

I am putting my 300mm for sale at $950. Quite a saving versus the price in store for a lens in mint condition that delivers pro results for a very small price. You may contact me by email at steven.blandin@gmail.com if you are interested :)

Florida Spoonbills and Shorebirds instructional photography tour – $990

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

mid April 2016 / limit 5 people – 2 open

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com and $250 non refundable deposit to book your spot.
Florida Spoonbill Photography Tour

Alaska Bald Eagle instructional photography tour – $3900

March 20th-24th 2016 / limit 5 people – 3 open

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,950 non refundable deposit to book your spot.

Photography Workshop - Alaska Bald Eagles 2016

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

Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour / workshop for March 2016

This is the very best Alaska Bald Eagle photography tour / workshop hands down! Join me and Robert O’Toole next March 2016 for a very memorable 4 day Bald Eagle tour in Alaska. The workshop spot is located close to Homer, in an area where there are a lot of fishing boats. Because of this, the Bald Eagles of the area are very curious and come close to each boat. This photography tour is a mix of land and boat expeditions. With only a 70-200mm, you will be able to photograph the Eagles while flying, banking and diving for fish. You will get very close! All images below are compliment Robert O’Toole.

Alaska Bald Eagle - Photography tour

Bald Eagle fishing – Homer area, Alaska
ISO 400 | f/8 | 1/1600 sec. | Nikon D700 at 350mm

Since you will see the Bald Eagles diving with numerous swoops over the water, there will be many opportunities for close up flights above the water surface with wings up. I find the image above quite amazing, with astonishing symmetry! For those who have followed some of my awarded images, I tend to do very well with photographs depicting the properties of the one above.

Alaska Bald Eagle - Photography workshop

Bald Eagle banking in flight – Homer area, Alaska
ISO 400 | f/5.6 | 1/800 sec. | Nikon D700 at 300mm

While the birds will often come close to check out the boat, you will see and photograph fantastic aerial displays. The banking image above is just one of many poses you are very likely to be able to create! The Bald Eagles will fly around and perform beautiful banks during their sharp turns. With tips from two premiere instructors, you will be put in the best situation, at the best time.

Alaska Bald Eagle - Photo tour

Close encounters are common

How close is that! Note only you will get very close to your subjects, but most people obtain wonderful results at fairly small ranges. No need for a 600mm to be successful there, making this photography workshop very attractive to all :)

Used gear for sale!

Canon EF 300mm f/4 L IS

I am putting my 300mm for sale at $950. Quite a saving versus the price in store for a lens in mint condition that delivers pro results for a very small price. You may contact me by email at steven.blandin@gmail.com if you are interested :)

Alaska Bald Eagle instructional photography tour / $3900 / limit 5 people / March 20th-24th 2016:

Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com for questions and reservations. $1,950 non refundable deposit to book your spot.

Photography Workshop - Alaska Bald Eagles 2016

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

Secret for Spoonbill banking in flight – Tampa Bay, Florida

For many photographers, birds banking in flight make for the best of bird in flight (or BIF) photography. What many do not know is that, while being harder than common flight photographs, there is indeed a way to dramatically increase your chances. Wanna know?

Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight above the blue water - Tampa Bay, Florida

Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight – Tampa Bay, 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 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.

I consider the Roseate Spoonbill with full breeding colors banking above the blue water photograph above an accomplishment in what I have striven to create. First off, I am a big fan of banking shots, where one can admire the full span of the wings from above. Two, I really do enjoy blue water backdrops!! Note the pink reflection on the water as icing… :)

Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight - Florida photography

Roseate Spoonbill inside bank – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 250 | 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 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.

While outside banks are often preferred, with view of the wings from above, inside banks can be spectacular too when well done. The key here is to be dead one from a sun angle perspective. The blurred pelicans on the left add to the story.

Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight above the mangrove tree line - Florida

Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight – Tampa Bay, 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 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 another one! All three were created during my last private tour two weekends ago. So, what is the secret? First, look for a flock of Spoonbills on the ground. You are very likely to see members of the flock leaving and new members coming. Then, keep an eye wide open for birds coming from BEHIND you! Yes, you read well. Banking is when the bird turns… So if you see the bird coming at you, you are unlikely to see an outside bank. It is actually not that difficult to pay attention for new comers coming from behind.

Used gear for sale!

Canon EF 300mm f/4 L IS

I am putting my 300mm for sale at $950. Quite a saving versus the price in store for a lens in mint condition that delivers pro results for a very small price. You may contact me by email at steven.blandin@gmail.com if you are interested :)

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

SOLD OUT!! Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com to be added to the waiting list for next 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

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    "Tilted Landing" => Willet about to land to join a flock on the beach - Fort Desoto Park, Florida. Check out our Florida and Alaska bird photography tours at www.bird-wildlifephotography.com  #wildplanet #photoarena_nature #kings_birds #natureco #nuts_about_birds #your_best_birds #natgeowildlife #wildlifeaddicts #wildlife_seekers  #allmightybirds #allnatureshots #birdextreme #wildlifephotography #birdphotography #kings_birds
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@wildplanetphotomag Roseate Spoonbill with breeding colors flapping its wings after a bath - Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery, Florida.  #spoonbill #roseatespoonbill #rookery #florida #flamingo #wildplanet #photoarena_nature #kings_birds #natureco #nuts_about_birds #your_best_birds #natgeowildlife #wildlifeaddicts #wildlife_seekers  #allmightybirds #allnatureshots #birdextreme #wildlifephotography #birdphotography 
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@wildplanetphotomag Speeding At Low Altitude => Royal Tern taking off after a bath / Fort Desoto Park, Florida  #wildplanet #photoarena_nature #kings_birds #natureco #nuts_about_birds #nature_cuties #your_best_birds #natgeowildlife #wildlifeaddicts #wildlife_seekers  #allmightybirds #allnatureshots #birdextreme #wildlifephotography #birdphotography 
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