…morning light is magic…

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Blowing in the Wind

Got very excited when planning for my first trip this year to the High Island TX rookery a couple of weeks ago with a weather forecast including high winds. High winds + great egret breeding plumage = some great photo op’s. This photo is close to what I previsualized before getting to the rookery based on past experience.

No real clean shots without branches so had to make the best of a challenging situation. Usually pick out a couple of specific birds and keep my focus on them waiting for some good action. Took a bunch of photos of this lovely lady with several bursts when the wind picked up to get various feather positions.

For white birds, always expose for the highlights,  which helps to darken the rest of the scene.  Instead of bringing up the shadows in Photoshop, decided to keep the exposure as captured in the camera.  Increased color saturation a little and sharpened.  Helped to keep the photo a little dark and moody to relay the sense of it being cold and windy, which it was that morning.

1/2500 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, -2/3 exposure compensation, 500mm from tripod

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Bald Eagle vs. Norther Harrier

On Saturday morning at Anahuac NWR, was talking photos of black-necked stilts on the back side of Shoveler Pond when a large bird flew overhead with other birds chasing it. Looked like an eagle but couldn’t tell for sure until his white head came into view. He went along the tall grass and grabbed a coot and flew back to the middle of the pond. Not a good time to be a coot at Anahuac these days as they are prime targets for raptors.

Had just backed off from ISO 3200 to 1600 with the stilts and didn’t have time to crank it back up with the eagle so had to work with a slow shutter speed of 1/250 for this flight shot.

1/250 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +2 exposure compensation, 700mm, handheld out my car window

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When the eagle first caught the coot, a northern harrier followed him and kept circling to try to steal a bite. After the eagle was finished eating, the harrier made his move and landed just behind the eagle and stole a piece. Gutsy move.

Spent most of my time tracking the harrier while the eagle fed. Thought that it would be a more interesting photo with the two birds in one shot than just the eagle eating. Paid off in my opinion.

1/2500 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, + 1 1/3 exposure compensation, 700mm, handheld out my car window

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Great Blue Heron Golden Silhouette

My first trip to Bolivar Flats along the Texas gulf coast in 2020 was magical.  One of the rare times when the Gulf of Mexico was very calm and the pre-dawn light was amazing.  Caught this great blue heron coming in for a landing and was able to get some decent shots with very slow shutter speeds @ 1/100 & 1/80 sec.  Had to crank my ISO up to 6400 and use 1 2/3 exposure compensation as it was before the sun came up.  Wish that I would have used ISO 10,000.

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

1/100 sec @ F5.6, ISO 6400, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation, from ground pod

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1/80 sec @ F5.6, ISO 6400, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation, from ground pod

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My Favorites from 2019

As the year comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on 2019 and what’s to come in 2020. My photography goals for 2019 were to get out and shoot more than in 2018 and try to improve the quality of my photos.  Made some progress on both of those goals.

Yellowstone in winter was the highlight again this year, along with several local trips to the gulf coast/surrounding area. Looking forward to seeing what 2020 will bring. It’s going to be an interesting year for sure.

Here are some of my favorite photos from 2019.

Great egrets from High Island rookery that made the top 100 in Audubon’s photo contest.

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Yellowstone Bison with some frozen fog @ -22 deg F.

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Yellowstone coyote jumping up the hill towards us. Off the charts experience.

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Black-necked stilt posing for me at Bolivar Flats

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Thousands of American Avocets on the shoreline at Bolivar Flats with my group from Galveston’s FeatherFest.

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Reddish Egret in silhouette at Bolivar Flats.

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White morph reddish egret at Bolivar Flats along the Texas gulf coast.

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Reddish Egret from Bolivar Flats.

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American Avocet taking off at Bolivar Flats.

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Willet landing at sunrise at Bolivar Flats.

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American Avocet at Bolivar Flats.

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Raptor Sunrise

Caught this juvi red tailed hawk yesterday at Anahuac NWR east of Houston just after sunrise.  He flew from a tree in front of me and landed on this fence post.  Stayed in position just long enough for me to get a few vertical photos.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter, handheld out my car window.

1/640 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, + 1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Bolivar Flats Trip

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Hope that you have a great day and get plenty of food to eat.

Had a great couple of days taking shorebird photos this week at Bolivar Flats on the Texas gulf coast.  Went with Lisa and Catherine on Sunday and by myself on Monday with sunshine and low winds.

On Sunday,  we found a good spot to lay down with our ground pods and a huge flock of avocets made their way in our direction.  Was able to turn to my left to get some back-lit shots, which if always my goal with bird photography.

1/2500 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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We moved locations and the avocets were walking right in front of us.  They were so close that I couldn’t get some of them in the frame.  A very good problem to have.  This is one of the main advantages of using a ground pod as the birds don’t recognize you as a person when you are laying down.  They will walk right up to you.

1/2500 sec @ F10, ISO 800, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation

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Also got this shot that I really like of a dowitcher as he fed in front of us.  It pays to watch all of the birds as the small ones can provide some great photo op’s.

1/1600 sec @ F6.3, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 1 1/3 exposure compensation

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A highlight on this trip was this lone black-necked stilt that was walking amongst the hundred of avocets.  It was a challenge to get him isolated from the rest of the birds but was able to get a few shots.  Love their long legs, tux looking feathers and red eyes.

1/2000 sec @ F10, ISO 800, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation

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Caracara in Flight

Got buzzed by this Caracara while walking back to my car along the shoreline at Bolivar Flats on the Texas Gulf Coast last weekend.  Picked up my camera with the ground pod/gimbal head still attached and started shooting away.  Had to eventually take the camera off so that it was lighter to handhold.

It’s fun to see the migrating raptors back in SE Texas.  Lots of photo op’s this time of year.

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.

1/4000 sec @ F 5.6, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation

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