…morning light is magic…

Galveston FeatherFest 2016

FeatherFest in Galveston, TX was held this past week and it was a great success.  This was my fourth year being a photography event leader with four classroom workshops and three field trips this year.  Had lots of fun and got to meet some great people with several repeat photographers from previous years.  Thanks to everyone that participated.  Special thanks to Scott, Julie Ann, Barbara, the liaisons and all of the volunteers. They made the leaders days go very smooth.

The weather didn’t fully cooperate but the birds sure did.  I was amazed at how well the field trips went with the cloudy and sometimes extremely windy weather.  I’m hoping that everyone on the field trips had a good time and got some great photos.  Can’t wait to do it again next year but my ‘ol body needs a little rest first.

Shore Bird field trip on Friday

On Friday, we had a great time with photographing shore birds on Galveston Island.  Since it was cloudy when we got to the jetty on East Beach at sunrise, I encouraged the group to take blurred photos.  The usual flock of black skimmers launched for us several times, providing lots of practice for birds in flight and blurred photos, some of which are shown below.

We stopped at the east end of the island to see a few boring Avocets, some other shore birds and a cooperative Reddish Egret, which is always a good time.

We then headed to 19th St. pier to check out the Pelicans near the fishing boats.  There were lots of photo op’s of the pelicans and a lone Black Crowned Night Heron.  The colors of the Brown Pelicans were amazing but I ended up converting the photo below to B&W based on the texture of their perch and their wings.

Taken with Canon 1DX with Canon 100-400 II, handheld

Black Skimmers:  Shutter priority, 1/10 sec @ F 16, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Black Skimmers:  Shutter priority, 1/10 sec @ F 16, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Willet:  Aperture priority, 1/500 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure

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Brown Pelicans:  Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation.  Converted to B&W using NIK Silver Effects Pro (which is now free!!)

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Ground Level Photography field trip on Saturday

On Saturday, it was off to Bolivar Flats for some good old fashion down and dirty bird photography using ground pods.  Even though it was supposed to be low tide, the high winds from the south drove the surf to near the shore line.  However, there was a flock of Avocets right next to the parking area and we enjoyed some great photo op’s.  After about an hour, we got up (thankfully from my body’s perspective) and went down the shoreline to another group of Avocets and Royal Terns.  We laid down but there was a ridge of seaweed blocking the view of the birds.  We were cutting off the legs of the birds in our photos.  With no other good option, we practiced doing some belly crawling to try to get on a higher section of sand adjacent to the water, with limited success.

The shooting wasn’t ideal so we headed back to our original location as there were no other birds in sight down the shoreline.  Unfortunately, the Avocets spooked and flew away before we could get into position.  I instructed the group to lay down and wait for them to come back as it was a good location, considering the conditions.  The Avocets didn’t come back but a Reddish Egret ended up landed right in front of us.  It was very sweet.  He put on a very good show for us, although he was too close for me at times at 700mm, which is 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

American Avocet:  1/640 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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Reddish Egret:  Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F7.1, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation

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Reddish Egret:  Aperture priority, 1/500 sec @ F11, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation; full frame shot

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Reddish Egret:  Aperture priority, 1/640 sec @ F11, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation

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Ground Level Photography field trip on Sunday

It was obvious going into the weekend that Sunday was going to be challenging with the weather forecast of storms all day.  Got up at 3:30 a.m. to check the radar with no rain in the Galveston area, which was very good news.  However, it was raining off and on during on my drive to Galveston.  Made the 6:00 a.m. ferry and met the group on the Bolivar side.  I was hoping for the best based on Saturday’s outing but it was very windy (20 to 30 mph), which is usually a kiss of death at Bolivar Flats for birds being along the shoreline.

The first challenge hit when we turned onto the road to the beach and found that it was flooded.  Put my boots on and walked the road with Kevin and confirmed that there was only a few inches of water on the road.  We found the second challenge when we got to the beach and found that the beach was flooded and we couldn’t make it to the “flats”.  What could have been a major bust turned out to be a great outing with finding a couple of Oystercatchers, several Avocets and a Reddish Egret along the shoreline near the entrance to the beach.

We geared up and got down and dirty with our ground pods.  Always leery of getting too close and spooking the birds, I kept the group back a ways to start.  We then ended up belly crawling closer pushing our ground pods along in the sand.  I could tell that Kevin was really getting into it as he ended up in the water ahead of the rest of the group.  We eventually caught up with him and enjoyed some good shooting.

Then the third challenge hit when someone pulled up in a car with two kids and walked very close to the Reddish Egret to collect shells along the beach.  Some people have no clue.  The Terns scattered but luckily, the egret didn’t fly away.  I’ve learned over the years to not get too angry at clueless people but to take advantage of the situation.  Seeing that the Egret was more interesting in feeding than people, I got the group up and we shifted to be closer/more in line with where the egret was feeding.  It was a very good move as we were able to get very close to him and he ended up walking right by us at one point.

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

American Avocets:  1/640 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Reddish Egret:  Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F11, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, + 1 1/3 exposure compensation

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Reddish Egret:  Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F11, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, + 1 1/3 exposure compensation.  Full frame shot with being cropped to vertical format.

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3 responses

  1. Terrific series!

    April 19, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    • Thanks Belinda. It’s always a good time at FeatherFest. Hopefully they enjoyed the trips as much as I did.

      April 20, 2016 at 8:22 pm

  2. Looks like your group had a great time. Always good to get others involved and you do a great job.

    May 22, 2016 at 11:25 am

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