Happy new year to all!! I strongly invite you to vote for my Spoonbill image, “Reach For The Sky”, in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of The Year People Choice’s category => http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/wpy/community/peoples-choice/2017/16/reach-for-the-sky.html
24 images are lined up for a final vote from the public.

For this post, I am going to give you some context around this BBC finalist photograph. See below a set of five images that will give you an idea of how the scene unfolded.

Once upon a time, during an overcast early morning…

The scene takes place three years ago, during an early overcast day, while leading one of the Spoonbill photography tours in the Tampa Bay. While it was a very overcast morning, I was excited for the group as the wind was blowing in the right direction and the tide was very low. When the latter occurs, the birds are more likely to forage further from the shore, creating better chances for unobstructed backdrops. Plus, the overcast weather helps creating high key images with a beautifully lit up background.

After properly positioning our group at a good distance from a small cluster of Spoonbills foraging in the low tide waters, I cautioned everybody to look out for potential new incomers. This is one of the very best ways to capture dramatic landings. Also, please make sure that leave plenty of space between yourself and foraging birds, so that not to disturb the natural behavior of your subjects. In addition, staying at a good distance is a way to ensure you do not clip the wings in case of unexpected landing or take off.

Roseate Spoonbill Landing 1 of 5 - Tampa Bay

Roseate Spoonbill Landing 2 of 5 - Tampa Bay

Roseate Spoonbill Landing 3 of 5 - Tampa Bay

“Reach For The Sky” RAW (uncropped) – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/4.0 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS 7D mark II, while wading in the shallow water with tripod and a Jobu Design Gimbal Head (use promo code “steven” for a 10% discount).

Roseate Spoonbill Landing 4 of 5 - Tampa Bay

Roseate Spoonbill Landing 5 of 5 - Tampa Bay

It is not every day that all the conditions are right! So, when it happens you want to be ready for any opportunity. As it turned out, I called out a few Spoonbills flying from afar. Not to disappoint, we had a few landings with most of the birds facing us square thanks to a good wind. While the other images from this set are all impressive, the perfect symmetry of the middle one immediately stood out to me as the strongest photograph. I titled the image “Reach For The Sky”, to reflect the upward motion of the wings. We have a rare view at the underwings and body structure of the bird. After some further consideration, one may also have titled this photograph “Symmetry In Color” to emphasize on the strong U-shape stance combined with the beautiful pink color of this emblematic bird often admired along the coast of Florida.

I hope you may all appreciate the beauty of this landing action sequence. Capturing the exact moment when both wings are stretching to the sky in a stunning U-shape is of the greatest satisfaction to me. May this inspire us to work diligently at preserving the beauty of mother nature.

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Comments (6)

  1. Patti


    An incredible image Steven. I have voted for you and wish you all the best in this competition. Your work is truly inspiring. Keep us posted, Patti

  2. Tom


    I voted for you too, good luck! One of these days, I’m going to sign up and come over to another of your Tampa trips for the Spoonbills.

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