First Spoonbills Tour Of The Season

The very first Tampa Bay Spoonbills tour of the season is now concluded! See the images and there is a last minute cancellation for the February 18th-19th iteration. Do you want the spot?

Roseate Spoonbill raising its wings
Roseate Spoonbill raising its wings after landing – Tampa Bay Rookery
ISO 2000 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS with 1.4x extender and the Sony Alpha 1

The first photography workshop of the 2023 season turned out to be an overcast one! While the first part of January was quite cold for Florida’s standards, the weather had nicely warmed up, bringing many clouds in its wake. Hopefully, we will have more sun for the next session. The image above displays an adult Spoonbill with its wings fully up after having landed in the shallow water.

Roseate Spoonbill taking off
Spoonbill raising its wings to take off – Tampa Bay Rookery
ISO 4000 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS with 1.4x extender and the Sony Alpha 1

You will notice some fairly high ISOs in all the images on this post. I use multiple techniques to denoise my images, which when stacked together allows for more leeway in the field. I tend to prefer to shoot at a high shutter speed, above 1/2500 sec., so to completely freeze the movement when possible. Avoiding motion blur comes before lowering the ISO in my world. The image above shows the moment before take off when the wings are at their highest point to prepare for the very first wing beat.

Roseate Spoonbill behind its feathers
Spoonbill behind its feathers in flight – Tampa Bay rookery
ISO 6400 | f/5.6| 1/2000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS with 1.4x extender and the Sony Alpha 1

This is an attempt at a very tight closeup around the bird’s head while being in flight. Having the eye popping out between two feathers gives a nice flair to this creation. Note that their was some motion blur… 1/2000 sec was not enough to fully freeze the movement. However, this image was created early in the morning and I preferred not to pass above the 6400 mark on ISO.

Ospreys / Spoonbills mix Photography Tour – $1,390

March 18th-19th 2023 / limit 5 people – 1 open

Florida Ospreys/Spoonbills Mix Photography Tour

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 2 boat-based Osprey shoots at the Vero Beach Cypress Lake + 1 land-based Spoonbills shoot at a local rookery. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

Black Skimmers Colony Photography Workshop – $1,090

June 3rd-4th 2023 / limit 6 people – 1 open

Black Skimmers Tour - Bird Photography

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 3 shoots at the Sarasota Bay Black Skimmers colony. We shoot along the beach, where the nesting colony is easily accessible. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

Tampa Bay Spoonbills Rookery Photography Tour – $1,490

January 21st-22nd 2023 / limit 5 people – Full

February 18th-19th 2023 / limit 5 people – 1 open

April 15th-16th 2023 / limit 5 people – Full

Florida Spoonbills Tour - Bird Photography

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 3 shoots at the Tampa Bay Spoonbills rookery. We typically shoot while wading in the water in the mornings and from the boat in the afternoon. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

Ospreys/Spoonbills mix tour new dates!

The new date for the Ospreys/Spoonbills mix tour is March 18th-19th! See a few new images to open your appetite 🙂

Osprey landing at sunset
Osprey landing at sunset – Vero Beach Cypress Lake
ISO 500 | f/4 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS and the Sony Alpha 1

I love the full wing span landing on the photograph above!! The Spanish moss on the Cypress tree branch with a sunset background absolutely tops it off too 🙂 During the Ospreys/Spoonbills mix tour, there will be many opportunities for Ospreys landing on tree branches. In the image above, I directed the boat captain in the proper direction to create strong frontal landing shots.

Spoonbill banking in flight – Vero Beach Spoonbill Rookery
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS with 1.4x extender and the Sony Alpha 1

The Vero Beach Spoonbill rookery is the best land based spot I know to photograph Spoonbills with breeding colors! Note the red on the upper wings and the rusty color on the tail: a delight to the eyes. Creating banking shots requires a good timing and some understanding of the typical flight patterns. With some direction from your favorite guide, many participants are able to capture similar flight stances. Would you like to add this to your collection?

Osprey joining the nest – Vero Beach Cypress Lake
ISO 500 | f/4 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS and the Sony Alpha 1

During the April time, many of the young chicks start poking their heads out of the nest as seen above. At this point, you recognize them by the orange eyes. The adults have yellow eyes instead! This mama Osprey is maneuvering to land back to the nest while the kiddos are keeping a close eye on her.

Ospreys / Spoonbills mix Photography Tour – $1,390

March 18th-19th 2023 / limit 5 people – 1 open

Florida Ospreys/Spoonbills Mix Photography Tour

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 2 boat-based Osprey shoots at the Vero Beach Cypress Lake + 1 land-based Spoonbills shoot at a local rookery. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

Black Skimmers Colony Photography Workshop – $1,090

June 3rd-4th 2023 / limit 6 people – 1 open

Black Skimmers Tour - Bird Photography

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 3 shoots at the Sarasota Bay Black Skimmers colony. We shoot along the beach, where the nesting colony is easily accessible. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

Tampa Bay Spoonbills Rookery Photography Tour – $1,490

January 21st-22nd 2023 / limit 5 people – Full

February 18th-19th 2023 / limit 5 people – 1 open

April 15th-16th 2023 / limit 5 people – 1 open

Florida Spoonbills Tour - Bird Photography

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 3 shoots at the Tampa Bay Spoonbills rookery. We typically shoot while wading in the water in the mornings and from the boat in the afternoon. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

Spoonbill Landings in 3 ways

The Vero Beach Spoonbill rookery is the shooting location mixed in with the nesting Ospreys for the Ospreys/Spoonbills mix photography tour. While it is a fantastic location to shoot from the banks on solid ground, it is also a prime environment to capture astounding landings! Which landing do you prefer?

Spoonbill landing on the grass
Spoonbill landing – Vero Beach Spoonbill Rookery
ISO 320 | f/4 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS and the Sony Alpha 1

Having the opportunity to photograph Spoonbills while they are landing straight in front of you is quite the treat. The image above is an example of this situation, with a dramatic landing wings wide open. The extra bonus is the blue background and the diffused grass in the bottom.

Spoonbill landing - Bird Photography
Spoonbill landing – Vero Beach Spoonbill Rookery
ISO 6400 | f/4 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS and the Sony Alpha 1

The image above is very reminiscent of “Reached For The Sky”, the photograph that received an award at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year a few years back: the bird is looking straight at me with wings up in a symmetrical U shape.

Spoonbill landing – Vero Beach Spoonbill Rookery
ISO 2000 | f/4 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS and the Sony Alpha 1

As the birds come to the banks to pick up sticks to build and maintain their nests, there can be an mesmerizing volume of back to back landings. I have seen more than one participant cry with joy with the opportunity. All three pictures were created during the April 2022 Ospreys/Spoonbills mix bird photography tour. Hurry to book your spot if you like what you see 🙂

Ospreys / Spoonbills mix Photography Tour – $1,390

March 18th-19th 2023 / limit 5 people – Full

April 15th-16th 2023 / limit 5 people – 2 open

Florida Ospreys/Spoonbills Mix Photography Tour

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 2 boat-based Osprey shoots at the Vero Beach Cypress Lake + 1 land-based Spoonbills shoot at a local rookery. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

Black Skimmers Colony Photography Workshop – $1,090

June 3rd-4th 2023 / limit 6 people – 2 open

Black Skimmers Tour - Bird Photography

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 3 shoots at the Sarasota Bay Black Skimmers colony. We shoot along the beach, where the nesting colony is easily accessible. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

Tampa Bay Spoonbills Rookery Photography Tour – $1,490

January 21st-22nd 2023 / limit 5 people – Full

February 18th-19th 2023 / limit 5 people – 1 open

Florida Spoonbills Tour - Bird Photography

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 3 shoots at the Tampa Bay Spoonbills rookery. We typically shoot while wading in the water in the mornings and from the boat in the afternoon. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

2022 Black Skimmers Colony Images

The 2022 Black Skimmers Colony tour is now concluded! Read this post for a glimpse at a few images from yet another great bird photography workshop.

Black Skimmer Chick In The Grass
Black Skimmer Chick walking in the sandy grass – Sarasota Bay Skimmers Colony
ISO 4000 | f/8 | 1/1000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS coupled with a 2x extender and the Sony Alpha 1

One of the prime attractions of the Black Skimmers colony is the ability to photograph those cute fluffy balls. In the image above, you can see a chick venturing around in the sand, close to a patch of grass. Note that I took care of not cropping out the extremity of the top right corner piece of grass, which gives more harmonious lines in the flow of the image.

Black Skimmer in flight - Photography Tour
Black Skimmer flying low – Sarasota Bay Skimmers colony
ISO 800 | f/5.6 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Sony Alpha 1

The other prime lure for this bird photography tour is photographing Black Skimmer adults either skimming on the water surface or flying low. The creation above is a good illustration of a low flight coming straight at me! This image gives the impression I am shooting from the water, but the reality is I placed the group along the shoreline and we created images of the birds flying along the shore. Thanks to a good wind direction, we had many opportunities for low flights coming straight at us.

Juvenile Black Skimmer banking in flight – Sarasota Bay Skimmers Colony
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Sony Alpha 1

Some of the chicks were already a few weeks old and I was amazed to even catch a couple of them starting to fly. While their initial flight is typically chaotic and no very controlled, I managed to catch the one above in a pretty good banking maneuver above the water surface.

Ospreys / Spoonbills mix Photography Tour – $1,390

March 25th-26th 2023 / limit 5 people – Full

April 22nd-23rd 2023 / limit 5 people – 3 open

Florida Ospreys/Spoonbills Mix Photography Tour

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 2 boat-based Osprey shoots at the Vero Beach Cypress Lake + 1 land-based Spoonbills shoot at a local rookery. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

Black Skimmers Colony Photography Workshop – $1,090

June 3rd-4th 2023 / limit 6 people – 4 open

Black Skimmers Tour - Bird Photography

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 3 shoots at the Sarasota Bay Black Skimmers colony. We shoot along the beach, where the nesting colony is easily accessible. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

Tampa Bay Spoonbills Rookery Photography Tour – $1,490

January 21st-22nd 2023 / limit 5 people – Full

February 18th-19th 2023 / limit 5 people – 1 open

Florida Spoonbills Tour - Bird Photography

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 3 shoots at the Tampa Bay Spoonbills rookery. We typically shoot while wading in the water in the mornings and from the boat in the afternoon. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

Ospreys In Their Natural Habitat

The Ospreys / Spoonbills mix tours were especially memorable this year. See more Osprey images from the March session. 2023 dates for this tour are March 25-26 and April 22-23 and there are openings for April. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com to book your spot.

Ospreys In The Cypress Trees
Ospreys in the trees – Vero Beach Cypress Trees Lake
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Sony Alpha 1

The Vero Beach Cypress Trees Lake is a beautiful habitat for nesting Ospreys! While the birds fly back and forth to the nests there will be many opportunities for flight shots among the Cypress trees. For the discerning eye, there are good chances to create stunning images with greens all round. In the image above, I took care of having a crop of green branches in the foreground to compose for a full immersion in the greeneries.

Osprey calling – Vero Beach Cypress Trees Lake
ISO 800 | f/5.6 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Sony Alpha 1

In the vertical cropped image above, I am particularly pleased with the main line drawn by the branch. It nicely leads from the lower left corner to the subject on top. The squawking is a definite plus here! While this is not an flight shot, I took care of having the shutter speed set at 1/4000 sec to assure a good freezing capture of the flight sequences.

Osprey landing on a branch – Vero Beach Cypress Trees Lake
ISO 800 | f/5.6 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AF-C Zone Focus Area
Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Sony Alpha 1

The birds are very active and move around the branches quite frequently. As a result, many landing captures are possible. I often prefer the moments before the bird touches the branch with wings flared up over creating pictures with the feet already on the branch.

Ospreys / Spoonbills mix Photography Tour – $1,390

March 25th-26th 2023 / limit 5 people – Full

April 23rd-24th 2023 / limit 5 people – 4 open

Florida Ospreys/Spoonbills Mix Photography Tour

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 2 boat-based Osprey shoots at the Vero Beach Cypress Lake + 1 land-based Spoonbills shoot at a local rookery. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

Black Skimmers Colony Photography Workshop – $1,090

June 25th-26th 2022 / limit 5 people – 1 open

Black Skimmers Tour - Bird Photography

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 3 shoots at the Sarasota Bay Black Skimmers colony. We shoot along the beach, where the nesting colony is easily accessible. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

Tampa Bay Spoonbills Rookery Photography Tour – $1,490

January 21st-22nd 2023 / limit 5 people – Full

February 18th-19th 2023 / limit 5 people – 1 open

Florida Spoonbills Tour - Bird Photography

3 shoots and 1 over-the-shoulder Photoshop tutoring => 3 shoots at the Tampa Bay Spoonbills rookery. We typically shoot while wading in the water in the mornings and from the boat in the afternoon. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com .

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