…morning light is magic…

Thanksgiving Avocets

Started celebrating Thanksgiving early this year by heading to Bolivar about 4:45 a.m. before the rest of the family rolled out of bed.  The stars were almost completely aligned for this trip except for the sun, which didn’t come out.  Low tide and a flock of cooperative Avocets made for a great morning.  My goal was to head to my favorite spot for some golden light photos but with no sun and a flock of Avocets near by, a change of plans was in order.  The Avocets were about 50 yds off shore feeding next to a sandbar which was still under water by a few inches.  Waded out in their direction and got down on my knees to take some initial test shots.  Didn’t like what I was getting with being too high and the fact that the birds wouldn’t get close to me unless I was in the prone position.  Debated on what to do next as the water was still covering the sand bar.  Decided to get wet and laid down in the water in their path as they made their way towards me.  My ground pod, which looks like a heavy-duty frisbee, immediately filled up with salt water but the level stayed below my ballhead, except when a few rogue waves came in.

The Avocets would feed and then walk up on the sand bar and then circle back into the water for more feeding.  With the lack of sun, I had to crank up the ISO to 1600 for some shots and still had fairly slow shutter speeds so these came out a little soft.  Having morning sun would have made all of the difference in the world but you have to take what you can get.

Didn’t try using fill flash initially just in case they got spooked by it.  When I did try it, the flash wouldn’t work, of course.  I’ve been known to not charge or leave the batteries at home but not this time.  Had to take the flash off and put it back on the camera to get it to function, which was a little tricky while laying in water and trying not to let the birds see me.  They eventually got very close to me and I had to zoom out to keep them in the frame.  Most of these shots are close to full frame with only being cropped for pano’s.

When I stood up, it took a few minutes for my coat to drain from the sleeves before I could pick up my camera to keep it from getting covered in salt water.   A little messy but well worth the effort and clean-up.

Taken with Canon 7D and 100-400 lens mounted on Skimmer ground pod.

1/160 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, spot metering, +1 exposure compensation, no flash

1/160 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, spot metering, +1 exposure compensation, no flash

1/200 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, spot metering, +1 exposure compensation, no flash

1/200 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, spot metering, +1 exposure compensation, no flash

1/200 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, spot metering, +1 exposure compensation, no flash

1/250 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, spot metering, +1 exposure compensation, no flash

1/200 sec @ F5.6, ISO 500, spot metering, no flash

1/500 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, spot metering, no flash

1/320 sec @ F5.6, ISO 400, spot metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, no flash

5 responses

  1. Really nice captures, especially given the circumstances. Flash problems must have started with me; because mine was acting up that same morning at Brazos Bend State Park too (ETTL wasn’t working). Love #2 pano; like ’em all.

    November 26, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    • Thanks Doug. I’ve had my 580 EXII act up before. I don’t like the locking mechanism compared to the original version.

      December 3, 2011 at 6:33 pm

  2. The moving panorama is the winner of the group, Tim, though I also like the third from the bottom. All are great shots.

    November 26, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    • Thanks Jim. It was a good time shooting the Avocets. Just wish that the sun had been out.

      December 3, 2011 at 6:34 pm

  3. Mano

    lovely shots , all of them are gr8 , esp the ones they are marching upfront.. lovely takes..

    June 7, 2012 at 5:33 am

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