…morning light is magic…

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Published in Audubon Magazine

Have been published again by Audubon Magazine, this time the Fall 2020 edition. Audubon contacted me back in early August to use my great egret shot in an add for their Great Egret Society. This is the photo that made the top 100 in the 2019 Audubon photo contest.

Sent them the photo and pretty much forgot about it until I opened their magazine this week and saw my photo. Always a great way to start my day.

White Morph Reddish Egret

Spent some quality time last week at Bolivar Flats Audubon Shorebird Sanctuary on the Texas gulf coast. Found several reddish egrets at sunrise with this white morph really standing out from the rest. Right place at the right time for some great action and beautiful light.

This was about 1/2 hour after sunrise. Had to cranked up the exposure compensation to get the proper exposure. Having 16 frames/sec from my new 1DX III comes in real handy in these situations with being able to capture the action as it happens. The focusing ability of this camera is just off of the charts.

Taken with Canon 1DX mark III, Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter mounted on a Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head.

All photos at: 1/2000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, +2 exposure compensation, 700mm from ground pod, minor cropping

Incoming Pelicans

Took a couple of vacation days this past week and headed to the Gulf coast for some quality social distancing at Bolivar Flats Audubon Shorebird Sanctuary. Was well worth the time and effort.

Saw these 3 brown pelicans flying close to each other at a distance and started tracking them with my camera. Got about 80 shots of them just waiting for this photo when they were side by side, coming right at me with their wings outstretched.

Pre-visualized this shot as I’ve gotten some similar pelican photos probably 10 years ago and have been waiting to recreate it ever since. Was very pleased on how this one turned out.

Taken with Canon 1DX mark III, Canon 500mm F4 IS II and 1.4X III telconverter, mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head.

1/800 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, aperture priority, + 2 exposure compensation, 700mm from ground pod

Clapper Rail After Downpour

After taking photos of wood storks in the rain, found this clapper rail in the middle of the dirt road at Brazoria NWR. As soon as my car moved, he ran into the grass next to the road. Slowly moved forward while watching the spot where he went in. Pulled closer and turned my car perpendicular to the road to be able to photograph him out my window. Changed to a small single focus point while trying to spot him in the grass with no luck.

Waited patiently for a few minutes when he started moving through the grass towards the road. He eventually came out onto the road to dry off from the rain. Was very cool to see as they are usually hanging out in the weeds and not in the open.

1/2500 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm, hand held out my car window

1/4000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm, hand held out my car window

1/4000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation, 700mm, hand held out my car window

Wood Storks in the Rain

I’m usually not out taking photos when it rains but may have to start doing it more often.  Was taking wood stork photos at Brazoria NWR when I got a text alert from one of my weather apps that it was going to rain.  Looked to my right and saw the rain coming.  Reached for my lens raincoat and it started pouring.  Through the raincoat on the seat and stuck my 500mm out the window to start shooting the storks in the rain.

Wasn’t sure what shutter speed would be optimal to emphasize the rain so pretty much tried them all from 1/60 to 1/1250 sec.  Having a clean background would have helped to see the rain but didn’t have that luxury. 

The gully washer lasted about 8 minutes.  Hoped that they would flap their wings to dry them off when it stopped but they just stood there.  Turned around to drive away and found a much better target standing in the road…

1/250 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm, hand held out my car window

Audubon Top 100

Honored to make the top 100 in Audubon’s 2020 photo contest again this year. Entered several photos but only got one to make it. Always appreciate Audubon’s support with my bird photography. Can’t wait until next year.

White morph reddish egret from Bolivar Flats Audubon Shorebird Sanctuary on the Texas gulf coast. This shot was taken last July and was a great time. He was almost too close, which is always a good problem to have.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head.

Magnificent Frigatebird

Paying attention to bird behavior really paid off on Friday morning.  Was taking photos of a reddish egret when he started looking up in the air.  Reddish egrets don’t usually pay attention to other birds in the sky unless it’s another reddish egret.  This one kept glancing to the sky which peaked my couriosity so I decided to look up from my prone position and got a fantastic surprise when this magnificent frigatebird was right above me. 

Decided to quickly take my camera off of the ground pod and rolled onto my back and started shooting straight up in the air.  The wet sand in my hair was a new experience but well worth it.  She was almost too close as I was clipping wings off of the frame.  Got a few shots from that position but it was too difficult to control my 500mm lens so rolled over and sat up to shoot.  Didn’t want to stand up and potentially spook her.  She kept circling me and I wondered if she was checking me out, which I confirmed was the case after looking at the photos on the computer.

Magnificent frigatebirds are huge with a 7 ft wingspan and a forked tail.  Have seen them at the east end of Galveston Island and while in my car on the ferry several years ago but never at the flats.  Getting that close was a major bucket list event for me.  Was thinking about frigatebirds a few weeks ago while on the ferry and envisioned having a close-up encounter.  I need to start dreaming about birds more often…

Memorial Day Tribute

In honor of Veterans giving the ultimate sacrifice on this Memorial Day, F-18 nearing the speed of sound at 2007 Wings Over Houston airshow. It was fun to go back in time and reprocess this photo using some gained skill and software since then. Went with B&W to better show off the vapor cloud.

Canon 30D and 100-400 lens @ 100mm

My Photo in Audubon Annual Report

One of my pelican photos made the inside cover of the 2019 Audubon Annual Report recently. The Photography Director from Audubon contacted me in Feb about using this photo that they found on my website. Was very pleased that they reached out to me but also someone concerned that I did not recognize this photo. Had to dig through my website to find it. Next problem was to find the RAW file to reprocess a high resolution photo as it was taken back in 2011. Started digging through my current attached hard drives with no luck. Had to search the house for all of my external hard drives and finally found it on nearly the last hard drive.

This experience led me to revamp my storage and back-up method for all of my photos. Now have all of my photos on a centralized device and backed up in multiple ways/locations. More on that later.

Blue Angels Celebrate Healthcare Workers Over Houston

May 6, 2020 was a very special day with the Blue Angels doing a fly-over of the Houston area in celebration of healthcare workers on National Nurses Day. Major thank you to all of the healthcare workers out there fighting the good fight.

They published the flight pattern for the Blue Angels so knew that they would be in my area around 1:00 p.m. as they headed to Ellington Field to land. Got into position in my driveway with my camera and 500mm lens with 1.4X teleconverter to see what I could grab.

Got to get a few test shots off with a redtailed hawk flying by very high in the air. Set my camera for birds in flight with positive exposure compensation. Would normally use +1 but with the dark planes, cranked it up to + 1 2/3. Set the aperture to F8 but should have used F11 in hindsight. Had my back-up 1DX with my 100-400 lens but would have not had time to grab it if I wanted to.

Had no idea that they would come in so low and so close to my house. My wife and just asked if we would hear them coming and I said no, they travel so fast that the sound follows them. Just after that I spotted them coming in fast over the trees. Had my new camera ready to go and started to focus and shoot. Used all focus points and held the hammer down and got 75 photos in the sequence. Having 16 frames/second came in handy. Had to pause once to reposition as my neighbor’s tree was blocking my view. They were too close to get all 6 planes in the frame so focused on the lead planes.

It was great to see them this close, not in an airshow. Was also glad that they had their smoke on. They likely buzzed NASA’s Johnson Space Center, which is a couple of miles, as FA-18 flies, north of my house.

Both photos are uncropped, 1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation, 700mm handheld