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

What to think of the new Canon 5DS? Spoonbill season has started!

The new Canon EOS 5DS is on steroid, with 50.6 Mega pixels, or more than double the number of pixels of the Canon EOS 5D mark III! However, I am only mildly excited and I tell you why further down. Spoonbill with breeding colors photography season has officially started!!! And that is very exciting…

Spoonbill banking in flight

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

At last, I was able to create a banking in flight photograph with the wings perfectly straight! :) This image above celebrates the start of a new season for Spoonbill with breeding colors photography. Awesome!!
There is a way to increase your chances of creating such photographs, and I invite you to participate to the workshops to get precious in the field instruction.

Roseate Spoonbill in the Tampa Bay

Roseate Spoonbill landing – Tampa Bay rookery, Florida
ISO 400 | 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) coupled with the 1.4x extender, 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.

The landing Spoonbill image above was also created on my first morning expedition to the Tampa Bay rookery. Follow the 4 angles of success and a perfect sun angle as above will give you absolutely no shadows on your subject. The second bird in the background gives a nice plus to setting up the scene for a spectacular landing. The opened beak is icing on the cake!

Roseate Spoonbill landing - Florida bird photography

Roseate Spoonbill landing – Tampa Bay rookery, Florida
ISO 200 | f/4 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod 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 image above was created towards the end of my first outing, with a harsher light. The stronger the light, and the more it is important that your shadow points at your subject. In this case, it is not perfect, but we are pretty close to total success.

What to think about the new Canon EOS 5DS and Canon EOS 5DR?

The 50.6 Mega pixels seems an amazing number. It is like we are now shooting with middle format bodies! However, I do not think I will trade the mark III for the new 5Ds. The specs are not very different, besides the huge increase in pixels. In fact, the frame per second rate decreased to 6 FPS. Will the high ISO/noise performance stay equal with the increased number of pixels? The way I see it, the new bodies will be amazing for landscape photographers and portrait photographers, but action photographers (as myself) will not necessarily see enough of an improvement to lose money in doing the trade.

More pixels does mean more leeway in framing wider and still getting a very good definition on a cropped version. That means less risk of clipping wings!

I have a feeling the new 1D body that is soon to come will be more attractive to me as an upgrade, though no doubt pricey… I vote wait and see.

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

American Oystercatcher photography with the Canon 7d mark II

American Oystercatchers are quite catchy in the big family of shorebirds, with their long orange-red beak made to open up shells. While you may find them all along the American coast, they are often present with one or two individuals at Fort Desoto, Florida. Thanks to the added reach of the Canon 7d mark II shorebirds photography is made a bit easier… as long as you stay low on the ground!

American Oystercatcher banking in flight - Florida photography tour

American Oystercatcher banking in flight – Fort Desoto, 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 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.

One of the best ways to create flight photographs of shorebirds is to spot a flock on the ground and to wait for new comers. So taking flight shots of shorebirds that do not tend to stay in a flock, like the American Oystercatcher, can be a lot more tricky. I was working with this one above, when it took off, seemingly going away. I acquired focus and did not lose faith that the bird might turn around… Luckily enough, the Oystercatcher did just that: a big turn to come back where it took off, offering a very nice banking angle during its landing approach. Nice!!

American Oystercatcher with horseshoe crab in its beak

American Oystercatcher with horseshoe crab in its beak – Fort Desoto, 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 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 here we come to one of the Oystercatcher’s specialty: getting invertebrates out of shells! The prey in its beak is a small horseshoe crab without its shell. As always, think of the 4 angles of success before pressing the shutter! Special attention to the background angle is how I create clean blurry backdrops. Did I say that I favored blue backdrops? ;)

American Oystercatcher - Fort Desoto, Florida

American Oystercatcher – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 640 | 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 low on the ground. Have a look at the equipment I typically carry with me. Click on the image above to see it at a higher resolution.

Striving for action shots! The Oystercatcher above is clapping its beak after having thought catching a prey. No luck for this time… but the horseshoe crab was already a nice catch. I really enjoy action shots with water splashes as it gives a lot of life to the image. Beware though, for those unexpected moments to be captured as if time had frozen, you will need to work out your setup with a very fast shutter speed.

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 :)

The Canon EF 400mm f/4 L IS is now sold!!

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

SOLD OUT!! You may also book a private tour weekend, when I take you twice to the Spoonbill rookery during two days of intensive learning and fun => only one weekend available April 18th-19th. Contact me at steven.blandin@gmail.com
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

What to do from pre-sunrise to early morning with the Canon 5d mark III and the 7d mark II combo?

Happy new year to all!!! Filled with happiness, love, good health and fantastic photographic opportunities! :)

Since acquiring the Canon 7d Mark II, I have used the following game plan from pre-sunrise to early morning. About 25 min pre-sunrise, I start working with the Canon 5d mark III on blurs from 1/30s to 1/15s in Tv mode with Auto ISO capped at 3200. The 5d mark III allows a bigger creation thanks to more pixels and blurs do not require a fast FPS rate. Then, 10 min prior to sunrise I switch to the 7d mark II to start capturing action, with pink reflection on the water when possible. For the most part, I stick with the 7d mark II after that point.

Reddish Egret in flight - Sarasota Bay, Florida bird photography workshop

Reddish Egret in flight – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 400 | f/5.0 | 1/20 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 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 am very pleased with the Reddish Egret in flight blur above. When panning properly with the subject you are likely to have a fairly sharp head with blur limbs. The effect can be quite stunning. Tv mode is the way I like to go here as I tend to point at different subjects with different lighting conditions in a quick successive manner. Don’t be frustrated if you are not pleased with your results right away, as there are way fewer keepers with blurs than with traditional shots.

White Pelican landing - Sarasota Bay

American White Pelican landing – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 1600 | 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 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.

Few people understand how to create the pink reflection in the water… The image above was created 5 min before sunrise. When the conditions are right and when you are at the proper height angle, you will see some mesmerizing pink colors in your backdrop. The timing is typically 10 min prior to sunrise or within 10 min after sunset, with the sun in your back. The height angle can be very important as the pink is created with the reflection of the lower part of the sky.

American White Pelican in flight - Sarasota Bay, Florida

American White Pelican in flight – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review) with 1.4x extender, 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.

A few minutes after sunrise, you may start a more traditional type of photography. The American White Pelican in flight above was created 15 min after sunrise. The sweet light at that time can be a bit too hot at moment, especially against whites. To mitigate this effect I use the Hue/Saturation adjustment in Photoshop CC, and decrease the saturation of the yellows. Usually, this is done while having the subject isolated on a separate layer.

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 :)

The Canon EF 400mm f/4 L IS is now sold!!

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

SOLD OUT!! Let me know if you want to be put on the waiting list for next year by shooting me an email at steven.blandin@gmail.com
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

Canon EOS 7d mark II AF settings for bird & wildlife photography

What are the best AF settings for bird & wildlife photography with the Canon EOS 7d mark II? The new AF system of the Canon 7d mark II is inherited from the Canon EOS 5d mark III and the Canon EOS 1DX. In other words, it is the best AF system available today! Bird & wildlife photography have specific AF setting needs and I am going to walk you through what I personally use :)

First off, I mostly shoot in AI servo mode with the AF point expansion points (8 surrounding points). That allows me to place the focus point where I want while having the surrounding points picking up focus when the central point loses my target.

Canon offers six pre-sets cases for you to choose from, and while they are quite alright on their own, I have my own special recipe:

Canon 7d markII AF settings

As you may see above, there are three dimensions one my play with when fine-tuning the Canon 7d mark II AF settings:

1. Tracking sensitivity => how fast the AF system reacts to a new object entering the scene. You want to have his one almost to the max to quickly capture birds flying into the frame, but not all the way to the max in order to avoid capturing a bird flying all of a sudden between you and your subject.
2. Accel./decel. tracking => The higher setting is best as it will be more sensitive to subjects that stop and start quickly. Perfect example is a bird taking off in your direction, going very fast from stopped to flying speed.
3. AF pt auto switching => speed at which the AF system changes from one point to another when having AF point expansion activated. I put this one to 1 as I want to stay focused for quick lateral moves, but not to the max to avoid loosing focus on the head towards focus to the wing while panning with a flying subject. As nobody that I know of can pan at the exact speed of a fast flying subject, it is good to have the focus somewhat locked on the head. If it does not seem to lock where I want, I simply pump the rear button to re-acquire focus.

For full detail on the Canon EOS 7d mark II AF system, you may visit this Canon link: http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/resources/articles/2014/eos7dmk2_afGuidebook.shtml

Nothing is as good of a demonstration as a few action photographs!

Willet taking off - Fort Desoto, Florida

Willet taking off – Fort Desoto, 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 lowered 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.

The Willet photograph above is a nice illustration of high performing AF system. When waiting for shorebirds to flap after a bathing session, try to remember to have your focus point pointed more towards the bottom versus the central point. You will be a lot more likely not to clip the wings when the bird jerks upward to flap away water droplets.

Yellow crowned Night Heron - Fort Desoto, Florida

Yellow-crowned Night Heron taking off – Fort Desoto, Florida
ISO 800 | f/5.6 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on lowered 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.

Yellow-crowned Night Herons rarely adventure far from the mangrove shrubs, so I was very pleased to spot this one out in the open with a nice blue water backdrop. It did not last very long though, as the bird decided to take off with a loud squawk. With good AF settings and a high FPS (Frame Per Second) rate, I was happy to see I had captured just the right time when the bird had its wings up and its beak open. :)

Willet in flight - Florida photography workshops

Willet flapping – 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 7D mark II on lowered 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.

Again, I am very pleased with the frame per second speed, which doubles my chance of creating a photograph with the position I want versus with the Canon EOS 5d mark III.

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

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

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