…morning light is magic…

Posts tagged “Canon 1.4x III

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…


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



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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White Morph with Wings Up

The reddish egrets have been out in full force lately at Bolivar Flats on the Texas Gulf Coast.  This beauty was chasing fish around with his wings extended, as reddish egrets are known for.  Always a good time to watch these birds dance around while fishing.  They are very fast and a high shutter speed is highly recommended.

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

1/3200 sec @ F5.6, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 1/3 exposure compensation0941_Bolivar_Flats_06292019-2

1/3200 sec @ F5.6, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 1/3 exposure compensation0946_Bolivar_Flats_06292019-2


White Morph Reddish Egret

Spent some quality time on July 4th at Bolivar Flats along the Gulf Coast taking photos of reddish egrets at high tide.  They weren’t as active as my previous trip but they finally came out to play as we were ending our morning trip.  I’m not a major fan of taking photos at the beach with cloudy skies but it was still fun.

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

1/1600 sec @ F7.1, ISO 1600, +2 exposure compensation

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Reddish Egret – Wings Up

Reddish Egret raising his wings while fishing. They are the best egret at catching fish in my opinion. Always fun to watch them dance around.

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

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

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American Avocets

Mentioned to my FeatherFest group before we hit the beach on Saturday morning that one of my target birds for this field trip was avocets. Score!

Low tide turned into high tide with the winds from the south due to the storm system. The high tide drove all of the birds near the shoreline and luckily most of them were along the beach facing south before you go around the bend. We started with a small group of avocets and worked our way down the beach until we hit the jackpot with thousands of them that just kept flying into the same area.

The legs have it in this full frame shot from my ground pod with only cropping to pano format. If you look close, had some light rain going on at this time. Also a photo bomber flying in.

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

1/200 sec @ F 5.6, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, aperture priority, 700mm

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Short-eared Owl

There have been lots of posts on Facebook about some short-eared owls hanging out at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in SE Texas.  Made a trip over there recently to check them out.  Took a couple of trips to finally find them and it was a blast.  Ended up spending about 1 1/2 hours watching them fly back and forth hunting over a large area.  Most of the photos were at a long distance  away but they did make a few close passes, which were very exciting.

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

1/2000 sec @ F6.3, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

 

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Back to the Gulf

Sometimes the stars align (no wind, no waves, low tide) along the Gulf of Mexico and the waters are very calm at Bolivar Flats, which makes for some amazing conditions for shore bird photography. This happened on Friday when I took some vacation time to get back to Bolivar for the first time in 4 months.

Got very excited when driving onto the beach while seeing the calm water. This happens maybe once a year if you are lucky, from my experience. Pulled up to the parking area on the beach with nobody else in site and quickly geared up before the sun came up. It was 41 deg F and my neoprene waders felt nice and toasty.

Found a small group of American Avocets along the shoreline and laid down with my ground pod for some silhouette shots. Also had some photo op’s further out in the water with pelicans and black skimmers flying by. The sun popped up which led to some interesting photo op’s with the changing light.

Got up from my initial position and turned to my right just in time to see a peregrine falcon taking off from the beach. Wish that I had seen him earlier but he was very skittish and getting close to him would have been very challenging. Was able to get some flight shots as he flew by, which is always fun with hand holding a 500mm lens attached to a ground pod with a Wimberley gimbal head.

Moved offshore onto some sandbars to take photos of willets, long billed curlews, more avocets and hundreds of black skimmers that would periodically blast off and fill the sky. On the way back to my car, a reddish egret landed right behind me so got back down on the sand for some very close-up shots which was a great wrap up to a wonderful morning.

Needless to say, it was great to be back at Bolivar in perfect conditions.

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

1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Caught it!

Reddish egret are quite the fishing experts.  This white morph put on a great display of fishing prowess and ended up catching this fish and looked in my direction.

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.

1/1600 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, +1 exposure compensation

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Reddish Egret Jump in B&W

 

This white morph reddish egret was practicing his jumping skills at Galveston’s FeatherFest in April.  This was shot #11 out of a series of 16 photos that he was in the air.

Colors were somewhat muted so I converted into B&W using NIK Silver Effects.

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

1/1250 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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White Morph Reddish Egret Launching

Sunday’s visit to Bolivar Flats with my last field trip for this years Galveston’s FeatherFest.  Was a little worn out after 4 days but it was well worth the effort to take a couple of groups to Bolivar Flats.  It was a new experience for some of them and we had some great photo op’s on both trips.  We couldn’t get very close to the avocets on this trip but I did find a morph reddish egret.  Spotted him at a distance and maneuvered the group close to the water as he was fishing.  He worked his way back and forth in front of us making for some great photo op’s.

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

Aperture priority, 1/3200 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Yellowstone in Winter 2018 – Day 1

Just got home last week from my second journey to Yellowstone National Park in winter, traveling on Jared Lloyd’s Winter in Yellowstone Workshop.  My first trip last year was one of those so called life changing experiences with it being an easy decision to go back again this year before the airplane wheels touched down in Houston.  Last year was very special with fishing coyotes, bull elk, jumping fox, frosty bison and a long-tailed weasel.  Also got to see wolves in the Lamar Valley about 1 mile away through a spotting scope.  This year changed that perspective, just slightly, forever.

Day 1 in the park started out with a slight delay with the snow coach but it all worked out with us entering the park at the West Yellowstone entrance around 7:30 a.m.  We had heard about a carcass near the road with wolf activity, so we were very excited to see what the morning would bring.  As we approached the location, we could see what was left of the carcass but no wolves, so we kept going in search of other wildlife along the Madison River.  We worked the river to the warming hut and headed back west.

Just past the seven mile bridge, we spotted two wolves on a hillside that were watching a young bison that was standing in the river.  The bison had apparently been attacked earlier by the wolves on her rear legs and was seeking shelter in the river.

Manual mode, 1/2000 sec @ F10, ISO 500, spot metering off the snow, +2 stops

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Manual mode, 1/1600 sec @ F10, ISO 400, spot metering off the snow, +2 stops

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We photographed the wolves for over two hours and they eventually moved over the hill out of sight.  The bison took that que to try to make an escape by walking along the river right in front of us and then up on the road heading east, limping along as she walked.  We found her later on the opposite side of the road lying down next to a tree.

We all knew what would likely be her fate by the next morning, which came to pass.  The circle of life is very hard to watch in person but inevitable in the wild.

Manual mode, 1/1000 sec @ F10, ISO 400, spot metering off the snow, +2 stops

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Manual mode, 1/1000 sec @ F10, ISO 400, spot metering off the snow, +2 stops

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Manual mode, 1/4000 sec @ F6.3, ISO 320, spot metering off the snow, +2 stops

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Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter mounted on Induro tripod with leveling head and Wimberley II gimbal head, some hand held.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Happy New Year!

Hoping that all of you had a great 2017.  My plan was to post my favorite shots for 2017 before now but I got tied up over the holidays so it will have to wait for early Jan.

2018 will start out with a bang for me from a photography perspective and then have some challenges.  It’s going to be an interesting year for sure.

Spend the morning of Christmas Eve at Bolivar Flats along the gulf coast taking shorebird photos, along with a few raptors.  While walking out along the shoreline, saw a dark spot out on the sand that looked out of place.  Trusted my instinct and picked up my camera and spotted a peregrine falcon.  Got very excited and walking slowly closer to him, laid down, took a couple of shots, went to check my histogram and he took off.

Walked away from that area over to one of my favorite spots around the corner and spotted a couple of hundred Avocets feeding just off shore.  Laid down and belly crawled towards them.  The muck was very slimy and ended up on my knees and pushed my ground pod along for about 60 ft and stayed put for a couple of hours.

All of a sudden, all of the birds flew away, which usually means that either a raptor or human was nearby.  Spun around on my stomach thanks to the slimy muck and caught this Northern Harrier flying along the vegetation line.

Ended up seeing a couple of Harriers and four Caracara’s.  Tis the season for migrating raptors.

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.

Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, +2 exposure compensation.

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F18 Vapor at Wings Over Houston 2017

Made it to Wings Over Houston special show again this year and took photos from outside the gates with my 100-400 lens.  Got in a good spot across the road from the runway and got the F-18 coming in for a high-speed pass almost right over me (first two photos).  He came back for another pass and banked left and caught some great vapor on his wings.   Lots of fun trying to track him when he was flying around 600 mph.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 100-400 II with 1.4X III teleconverter, handheld

1/3200 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation

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1/2500 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation

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1/4000 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation

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Reddish Egret Fight

These two reddish egrets went toe to toe yesterday at Bolivar Flats along the gulf coast of Texas.  Had my ISO cranked up to 3200 while taking static shots of a couple of white morph reddish egrets when these two started fighting.  Should have increased to ISO to 6400 but didn’t have enough time to change any settings as the action happened very fast.  Lots of blurred action in this series but it was very fun to watch and photograph.  More to come…

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

1/20 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, + 1 1/3 exposure compensation

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Sandhill Crane

Found this Sandhill Crane while exploring the back roads of NE Indiana.  Was checking out my favorite Osprey nest when this Sandhill started squawking right behind me.  Almost made me jump.  Turned around but couldn’t see him with a high berm along the dirt road.  Walked up an entrance into the field and saw him walking around very close to me.  He was apparently calling a couple other cranes that were hanging out in the field near the osprey nest.

1/800 sec @ F9, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 100-400 II with 1.4x III teleconverter, handheld

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Gun Range Photos

Made a trip to the local gun range with my two brothers while visiting them over the 4th of July weekend.  We typically don’t go home over the 4th of July but it worked out great with being able to spend more time together.

Got a chance to shoot several rifles and pistols and my camera, of course.  Took my 100-400mm lens this time for the Battle Creek airshow, which also worked out well for the gun range.  It was a blast shooting their guns but I also had lots of fun taking photos.

My first gun when I was in 7th grade was a .45 cal flintlock muzzle loader.  My goal at a young age was have an extensive gun collection but my wife is pleased that I changed gears to photography, except for the cost.

Converted these to B&W using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, in order to bring out the smoke and mood of the photos.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 100-400 II lens with 1.4X III teleconverter, hand-held

1/1600 sec @ F7.1, ISO 1600, evaluative metering

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1/1000 sec @ F7.1, ISO 1600, evaluative metering

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1/1000 sec @ F7.1, ISO 3200, evaluative metering

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F-22 Raptor

Got a chance to see the F-22 Raptor again for the 6th time at the Battle Creek, MI airshow over the 4th of July weekend.  It’s an amazing plane that never ceases to amaze me with its maneuvering capabilities.

While planning a trip home to visit family this summer, just happened to look up the F-22 schedule and saw it was going to be in Michigan fairly close to home.  Took my two brothers with me and they enjoyed the show as well.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 100-400 II with 1.4X III telconverter, handheld

1/1000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation, 368 mm

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1/2000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 1 1/3 exposure compensation, 560mm

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1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation, 560mm

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1/1250 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation, 318mm

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Black Skimmer’s Landing Gear

This black skimmer was doing a fly-by and actually skimming at Bolivar flats, which is a somewhat rare event in that location.  From my experience over the past several years, they usually just fly around looking for a place to land so this was a very nice change of pace.  Especially since this was during a guide trip that I was leading with three great guys from New Zealand, Canada and Indiana.

It’s always a challenge to capture these birds in flight while using a ground pod since your range of motion is limited while laying on the ground.  Added bonus was he briefly turned directly towards me.  Also like that his feet were hanging like landing gear coming down.

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.

1/1250 sec @ F10, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Dance of the Reddish Egret in B&W

Partial sun turned into a cloudy morning at Bolivar Flats along the Gulf of Mexico.  The colors were somewhat muted so I converted these into B&W to bring out the feather detail.

Watching Reddish Egrets dance around while fishing is always a good time and provides some great photo opportunities.  This egret was very energetic and would launch himself out of the water to look for unsuspecting fish as the tide was slowly receding.  In the last shot, he got all puffed up while chasing a white morph reddish egret away.

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.

Aperture priority, 1/2500 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Aperture priority, 1/2500 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Guess Who?

This juvenile Burrowing Owl seems unphased by his sibling jumping on her back.  Got several shots of the encounter with him reaching around and looking like he was trying to kiss her and then they fell over.

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

Aperture priority, 1/500 sec @ F5.6, ISO 6400, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Intimidation

Here are more photos of Burrowing Owls trying to intimidate prairie dogs that got too close.  They do a great job of expanding their body size with their feathers, which makes for some cool photo op’s.  Hoping to get the opportunity to see them again.

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

Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, 700mm

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Aperture priority, 1/1600 sec @ F7.1, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, 700mm

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Burrowing Owl’s Crazy Eyes

This would have been a good post for Halloween with the fully dilated eyes of this Burrowing Owl.  He got all puffed up and stared down this prairie dog that got a little too close.

Saw this behavior a few times this summer but this was the only one with the owl looking in my direction.

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

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