…morning light is magic…

Latest

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


Bathing Willet

I always get excited when seeing shorebirds take a bath as they almost always jump up and flap their wings to dry off. Usually a good chance for a great photo op.

Took these shots a couple of weeks ago at Bolivar Flats Audubon shorebird sanctuary along the Texas gulf coast. Cranked the ISO up to 3200 to get a decent shutter speed to freeze the action.

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

1/2500 sec @ F8, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

1/2000 sec @ F8, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

Reddish Egret in Flight

Hope that everyone out there is well and staying safe. It’s a very strange/surreal world that we are currently living in. I have been working from home for awhile now so nothing new there, just less travel these days. My day job work has actually picked up lately with more projects so that’s a good thing. Have been spending my off-hours backing up my photos and entering some photo contests. I’ll post more later about my updated back-up strategy that I’ve just completed implementing.

Since almost all of my favorite areas for wildlife photography around Houston are shut down, I’ll dig up some of my photos from my newly archived storage unit.

Here is a reddish egret in flight from last year’s July 4.

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 – handheld

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

4873_High Island_02212020-3-1

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

0575_Anahuac NWR_02152020-2-1

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

1602_Anahuac NWR_02152020-10A-1

 

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

0103_Bolivar_Flats_01052020-2-1

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

0159_Bolivar_Flats_01052020-2-1

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.

3879_High Island_02242019-2-1

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

0096_Yellowstone_01292019-2

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

1257_Yellowstone_01272019-1

Black-necked stilt posing for me at Bolivar Flats

3220_Bolivar Flats_11242019-2

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

1740_Bolivar Flats04132019-2

Reddish Egret in silhouette at Bolivar Flats.

1597_Bolivar Flats_09062019-2

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

1451_Bolivar_Flats_07062019

Reddish Egret from Bolivar Flats.

0883_Bolivar Flats_10052019-2

American Avocet taking off at Bolivar Flats.

2592_Bolivar Flats_11242019-3-1

Willet landing at sunrise at Bolivar Flats.

0418_Bolivar Flats_11252019-2a

American Avocet at Bolivar Flats.

0742_Bolivar Flats_12082019-2-1

 

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

0583_Anahuac NWR_12192019-2-1A