…morning light is magic…

Posts tagged “Canon 1.4x III

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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Burrowing Owl Portrait

This juvenile Burrowing Owl was hanging out near the fence line where I was taking photos.  Moved my car up close to him and shot away for about 10 min as he was trying to stay awake.

He finally moved for the second photo but there was a blurred out barbed wire fence right above him so I cropped it tighter.

Had to use negative exposure compensation to keep from blowing out the whites on his chest.

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

Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, -2/3 exposure compensation

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Aperture priority, 1/640 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, -2/3 exposure compensation

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Bobwhite Quail

The call of distant quail seemed to be everywhere on this morning in Lubbock, TX.  They move quickly and are very fast runners, which makes it challenging to get photos of them.  Did a little stalking and was able to get some photos of these elusive birds.

On the last photo, used the back-focus button to lock focus on the bird and then repositioned my lens to get both rows of barbed wire in the photo with the quail in the left third of the shot, i.e. rule of thirds.

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

Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Aperture priority, 1/640 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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

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Prairie Dogs

This is my 400th post since starting my blog in Jan 2011.  Thanks again Sheldon for talking me into doing it.  With 166 followers and over 67,000 hits, it’s been a very good time and thanks everyone for checking it out.

Here are some of my original targets from my trip to Lubbock, TX – prairie dogs.  They are cute little critters that I’m sure drive farmers crazy with all of their burrows in the fields.  They were very photogenic and would come out just after sunrise.

The youngsters were getting older but still fun to watch interacting with their parents.  I missed the money shot as one got too close to a burrowing owl and the owl attacked him.  Maybe next time…

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

Aperture priority, 1/640 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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Aperture priority, 1/640 sec @ F5.6, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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Aperture priority, 1/500 sec @ F5.6, ISO 2000, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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Aperture priority, 1/640 sec @ F7.1, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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Burrowing Owls

During my visit to Lubbock, TX a couple of weeks ago, saw my first burrowing owls while checking out the local prairie dogs.  They are very cute little owls with bright yellow eyes that use abandoned prairie dog burrows.

Pulled my car up along a fence line and shot between the rows of barbed wire out the car window.  It was lots of fun and I’m looking forward to going back again sometime in the future.

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

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

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Aperture priority, 1/500 sec @ F5.6, ISO 2000, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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Aperture priority, 1/400 sec @ F5.6, ISO 2000, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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

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My First Jackrabbit

Got my first jackrabbit photos while in Lubbock, TX this week.  They are actually hares and not rabbits and are much larger than the common cottontail with very large ears.  They almost look like a mutant with those large back legs/feet, which propels them very fast, up to 40 mph.

The first two photos were taken in partly cloudy conditions while I was getting photos of prairie dogs and burrowing owls out my car window.  He walked out right in front of me, very unexpected.  He sat down long enough for a few shots and then took off.

On the last two photos, he bolted out in front of my car as I was leaving the area.  Couldn’t get a good angle on him so got out of my car and got these photos hand-held as he crossed the dirt road.

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

Aperture priority, 1/640 sec @ F5.6, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F5.6, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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

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

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Reddish Egret Attacking Snowy Egret

Reddish Egrets are very territorial and will usually chase off other birds that invade their feeding area.  This Snowy egret got more than he bargained for when the Reddish Egret attacked.  He quickly dove at the Snowy and grabbed ahold of his tail feathers, swinging him around.  He then grabbed the Snow’s head with his beak pinning him in the water.  The Snowy ended up escaping and didn’t come back.

Made for some exciting shooting with 37 photos in 3 seconds.

Previewed the last photo at a presentation that I made at the Houston Audubon Nature Photography Association on Wed night, which was also a great time.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter and a beanbag out the car window.

Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation

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Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation

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Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation

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Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation

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Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation

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Reddish Egret Jackpot

It’s been a very good year for Reddish Egrets in SE Texas.  Hit the jackpot on Saturday morning at the Texas City Dike.  My original plan was to head to Bolivar Flats with low tide and almost calm winds.  Luckily, I wasn’t feeling Bolivar and decided to head to the Dike instead looking for Oystercatchers.  It was a bust for Oystercatchers, which turned out to be a very good thing for me.

This Reddish Egret more than made up for it while fishing in a tidal pool area.  Spent about 45 min taking tons of photos of him out my car window as he moved back and forth catching small fish with his wings outstretched.  Had to switch my position once when a family pulled up and unloaded their car near me.  Finally left after the action slowed down and my thumb was getting sore from using the rear focus button.

A Snowy Egret also showed up to catch fish in the same area but the Reddish Egret was having none of that and attacked the Snowy.  More on that in my next post.

I could tell that this was a good outing by how many photos that I took and ended up saving.  In order to reduce how many photos that I have to store, I’ll rate them using Photoshop, by either 3 or 5 stars, and then quickly delete the ones that aren’t rated.  I’ll consider processing some of the 5-star rated shots with only a handful actually being processed.  A typical outing for me results in 25 to 50 top rated photos.  This was a very good day with 334 top rated shots.

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

Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Reddish Close-up

This Reddish Egret walked around us at FeatherFest during my Ground Level Photography field trip.  He was too close for a full bird shot so got these head shots with minor cropping.

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.

Update:  I’ve added copies of the original uncropped photos to show how cropping is a necessity sometimes when there are distracting backgrounds.  In this case, we were shooting back towards our cars parked on the beach.

Original photo:

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Cropped photo:

Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F11, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Original photo:

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Cropped photo:

Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F11, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Oystercatcher Action

The goal of my trip to the Texas City Dike last weekend was to find Oystercatchers.  Didn’t find any in the usual spot so I kept driving down the 5 mile long dike looking along the rocks on the north side.  Got a glimpse of something white on a bird and pulled off of the road to check it out.  Found 4 Oystercatchers walking along the rocks.  They would jump/fly from rock to rock, which provided some nice photo op’s with outstretched wings.

Ended up following them for about 45 minutes until a 5th Oystercatcher flew in.  They then displayed “piping” behavior (last photo) for a few minutes and then all five flew off together.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter out the car window using a photography beanbag for support.

Aperture priority, 1/1600 sec @ F9, IS 1600, evaluative metering

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Aperture priority, 1/2000 sec @ F10, IS 1600, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation

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Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F10, IS 800, evaluative metering, – 1/3 exposure compensation

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The Making of a Bird Silhouette

Spent last Sunday at sunrise hanging out at the Texas City Dike with tons of birds including Avocets, Black Skimmers, Black Crowned Night Herons and some very cooperative American Oystercatchers.  More on the Oystercatchers later.

While trying to find the Oystercatchers, came upon this Great Blue Heron standing on some rocks.  Thought that I could turn this into a decent shot but knew that the sun reflecting off of the water behind him was going to be a challenge.  From instinct, bumped up the exposure compensation to +1 as the camera’s light meter was going to automatically darken the scene due to the bright background.  Checked the histogram and saw that the bird still wasn’t properly exposed per the first photo below.  It was going to take a lot more positive exposure compensation to be the Heron looking good, which would have really blown out the background.

Instead, decided to turn this into a silhouette shot.  Backed my car up so that the sun reflection was directly behind him.  Lowered the ISO to 100, removed all exposure compensation and let the light meter in my camera automatically darken the scene as it was very bright.  Was very pleased with the result on the first try.  Checked my histogram expecting that a little negative exposure compensation could be needed but it wasn’t.  Another silhouette for my portfolio.

Used the back focus button on my camera to set the focus on the bird and then reframed the shot to get him in the right third of the photo.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4x III teleconverter, hand-held out the car window using a camera bean bag

Original photo:  Aperture priority, 1/3200 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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 Silhouette photo:  Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F10, ISO 100, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation

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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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