Competition Results & New Degree

2019 was rich in good results at top competitions: two final round images at the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year, three images in semi-finals at the Nature’s Best competition, one commended image at the BTO Bird Photographer of the Year and a silver medal at the Photographic Society of America competition, among other recognitions. 🙂 Note that there are still two open spots for the March 28-29 2020 Osprey tour. Would you like to join?

Hunters In White - Steven Blandin
“Hunters In White” – Two Snowy Egrets hunting side by side

With a silver medal at the Photographic Society of America competition and being Commended at the BTO Bird Photographer of the Year competition, “Hunters In White” is my best performing image this year! I am very proud of those two Snowy Egrets hunting side by side. I really love the white on white effect, which requires very precise exposure under a cloudy sky. The two birds side by side action is a real treat.

FPP Degree
Florida Degree of Photographic Excellence (FDPE)

After having earned more than 30 merits at the yearly Florida Professional Photographers competition, I am now the owner of the prestigious Florida Degree of Photographic Excellence. This is a very nice addition to the Master of Photography from the Professional Photographers of America association. It took me quite a few years to get those two degrees and I learned a ton in the process! Those associations cater to all kind of professional photographers: portrait, wedding, architecture, landscape, wildlife, etc… They tend to promote top notch photographic artistry, well beyond the mere documentary aspect that is often seen in wildlife photography. Those associations nourished a lot of my inspiration those past years.

The beautiful lady in red is my wife Judy!! 🙂 I owe many of my accomplishments to her support and love.

Hunters In White - Cafe Barbosso
Hunters In White at Cafe Barbosso

“Hunters In White” and five other pieces are currently being exhibited at Cafe Barbosso ( https://www.cafebarbosso.com/ ) in Sarasota. Come check it out if you are in the vicinity. It is a delicious Italian cuisine restaurant, owned by Joe Dimaggio Jr. Joe is top notch chef who cooks in front of you: reservation needed for this. Tell him I sent you! 🙂

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour – $1,490

March 28th-29th 2020 / limit 5 people – 2 openings

Florida Osprey Photography Tour

3 boat rides on a pristine cypress trees lake. Many nests are at eye level, allowing shooting from up close in a natural habitat. No big lens needed! An ideal setup for beginners… 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. $300 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,390

February 22nd-23rd 2020 / limit 6 people – Full

May 2nd-3rd 2020 / limit 6 people – Full

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

2 working lunches and 3 boat rides to the absolute best rookery to photograph spoonbills with breeding colors. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com to be added to the early contact list for 2021!

Additional Date For Spoonbill Tour: January 25-26 2020

There is now an additional tour in 2020 for Spoonbills: January 25-26. Would you like to join? Whoever signs up for both a Spoonbill (January 25-26 or May 2-3) and an Osprey tour (Mar 28-29) gets a $300 discount on the Osprey one.

Roseate Spoonbill taking off
Spoonbill with breeding colors taking off – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 1250 | f/4 | 1/1250 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II and the Canon EOS 7D mark II.

The image above is a rare capture of a take off in the making. This is the moment the bird first lifts its wing for the first powerful wing-beat that will make it airborne. I am really happy with the symmetry on this one. Take offs tend to be among the hardest action shots… They are very difficult to capture and frame well without good anticipation. It starts with being able to recognize some of the signs that the bird is likely to take off, then it takes good synchronization with the bird movement and last one needs to move the focus point accordingly… On the latter, it helps to move the focus a notch or two down from the central point!

Fluffed Spoonbill - Florida Photography Workshop
Spoonbill fluffing its feathers – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 5D mark III.

The early breeding season, late January to early March, is when the breeding colors are at their brightest. The January tour is well timed to create this type of images.

Juvenile Spoonbill - Tampa Bay Photography
Juvenile Spoonbill preening – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/6.3 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 5D mark III.

In May, the first newly fledged birds come out. The Juvenile Spoonbills are actually quite cute and display full feathers on their head with a paler pink on the wings.

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour – $1,490

March 28th-29th 2020 / limit 5 people – 2 openings

Florida Osprey Photography Tour

3 boat rides on a pristine cypress trees lake. Many nests are at eye level, allowing shooting from up close in a natural habitat. No big lens needed! An ideal setup for beginners… 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. $300 deposit. If you also sign up for a Spoonbill tour you are entitled to a $300 discount on this tour. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,390

January 22nd-23rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 5 openings

February 22nd-23rd 2020 / limit 6 people – Full

May 2nd-3rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 1 opening

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

2 working lunches and 3 boat rides to the absolute best rookery to photograph spoonbills with breeding colors. $250 deposit. Breeding colors are a bit more intense in February, while May is likely to have new fledglings in the open. Also sign up for the Osprey tour and get a $300 discount on the Osprey one. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Reddish Egret In Dancing Action – Part 2

Since the last hunting Reddish Egret I had a chance to photograph gave such a show, I am sharing a few more images from the dancing action. As a reminder, whoever signs up for both a Spoonbill (Feb 22-23 or May 2-3) and an Osprey tour (Mar 28-29) gets a $300 discount on the Osprey one!

Reddish Egret Hunting In The Surf - Florida Bird Photography
Reddish Egret Hunting In The Surf – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/8 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

And here is the signature wing position of the hunting Reddish Egret. I can never get tired of admiring this dance. It can be tricky to capture the movement while not having the head under the wings shadow. It is a nice touch to have the head fully lit in the image above. You drastically increase your chances of properly lighting up the bird if shooting with your shadow pointing straight at the bird!

Reddish Egret - Florida Bird Photography
Reddish Egret Flamenco Dancing – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

Another stunning pose from this very obliging subject. This stance is reminiscent of a flamenco dancer in my mind. Do you agree? I love the flair and the bird’s attitude. The water splashes around the left leg is a very neat addition to the overall energy of the image.

Reddish Egrets - Bird Photography Tour
Reddish Egrets In The Waves – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

It is not often that two Reddish Egrets meet. The result is usually a territorial dispute, followed by one the birds leaving the scene. While the encounter might not last very long, the resulting photography can be stunning. Great Blue Herons will typically display the same type of behavior. In short, if you see another of those birds coming in while there is already one on site, be sure to be ready for action shots!!

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour – $1,490

March 28th-29th 2020 / limit 5 people – 2 openings

Florida Osprey Photography Tour

3 boat rides on a pristine cypress trees lake. Many nests are at eye level, allowing shooting from up close in a natural habitat. No big lens needed! An ideal setup for beginners… 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. $300 deposit. If you also sign up for a Spoonbill tour you are entitled to a $300 discount on this tour. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,390

February 22nd-23rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 1 opening

May 2nd-3rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 1 opening

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

2 working lunches and 3 boat rides to the absolute best rookery to photograph spoonbills with breeding colors. $250 deposit. Breeding colors are a bit more intense in February, while May is likely to have new fledglings in the open. Also sign up for the Osprey tour and get a $300 discount on the Osprey one. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Reddish Egret In Dancing Action

From all the egrets and herons I have observed throughout the years, Reddish Egrets are assuredly the ones putting one of the best hunting shows. I recently had the chance to capture a long hunting dance in the Florida blue waters surf. As a reminder, whoever signs up for both a Spoonbill (Feb 22-23 or May 2-3) and an Osprey tour (Mar 28-29) gets a $300 discount on the Osprey one!

Reddish Egret Running - Sarasota Bay
Reddish Egret Running In The Bay – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/8 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

I have long striven to create the image above. The running motion has always been a well sought after prize in my book. The difficulty is to obtain a nice running motion with the wings up, fully extended and well lit. If you can get a front foot out of the water and a back foot water splash, you are golden! 🙂

Reddish Egret Landing
Reddish Egret Landing In The Waves – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/8 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

During their hunting dance, Reddish Egrets will run, volt-face and jump up and down. The image above is the short landing after a big jump in the air. This bird is extremely good at spotting fish in the shallow waters. For some reason, this egret was well at ease hunting in the surf. While not being what I have commonly observed, it made for impressive spouts of action among the crashing waves. I particularly enjoy the water splashes from the wave bumping the sand bar. Put together with the bird, there is a beautiful diagonal going from top right to bottom left.

Reddish Egret Flaring Wings
Reddish Egret Flaring Its Wings – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The wings-flared-up hunting motion is the trademark of the dancing Reddish Egret! Whether the bird does this to better spot the fish or cox it into going into a specific direction, it is not all clear and there are different theories on the topic. In any case, it is always a very enjoyable sight.

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour – $1,490

March 28th-29th 2020 / limit 5 people – 2 openings

Florida Osprey Photography Tour

3 boat rides on a pristine cypress trees lake. Many nests are at eye level, allowing shooting from up close in a natural habitat. No big lens needed! An ideal setup for beginners… 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. $300 deposit. If you also sign up for a Spoonbill tour you are entitled to a $300 discount on this tour. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,390

February 22nd-23rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 3 openings

May 2nd-3rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 2 openings

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

2 working lunches and 3 boat rides to the absolute best rookery to photograph spoonbills with breeding colors. $250 deposit. Breeding colors are a bit more intense in February, while May is likely to have new fledglings in the open. Also sign up for the Osprey tour and get a $300 discount on the Osprey one. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Black Skimmers In Flight In The Sarasota Bay

It is always a delight to photograph the Black Skimmers nesting colony. Not only, one gets very cute closeups between chicks and adults, but there is also prime flight action from the adults. As a reminder, whoever signs up for both a Spoonbill and an Osprey tour (Mar 28-29) gets a $300 discount on the Osprey one!

Black Skimmers Skimming_Florida Photography
Black Skimmers Skimming – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/8 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The adults tend to stay nearby to collect fish for the youngsters. The image above displays two skimmers in hunting mode to feed the new generation. I am always amazed by the degree of accuracy needed for effective skimming.

Black Skimmer Banking Over The Water
Black Skimmer Banking Over The Ocean – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

In the end, most adults fly very close to the water surface so to skim for preys when spotted. Even if they look like they are flying away from me, I know that some of them will end up quickly turning around. This is the best time to capture banking shots just above the blue water. The open beak in the image above was a nice bonus.

Black Skimmer Skimming
Black Skimmer Skimming – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 400 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

Another skimming adult from a different angle! I love the water spray they leave behind. As in most action shots, the addition of flowing water really adds to the image’s movement. Note that I am pushing the bird against the image’s edge for once. The idea is to display the water splashes left behind the skimming action.

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour – $1,490

March 28th-29th 2020 / limit 5 people – 2 openings

Florida Osprey Photography Tour

3 boat rides on a pristine cypress trees lake. Many nests are at eye level, allowing shooting from up close in a natural habitat. No big lens needed! An ideal setup for beginners… 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. $300 deposit. If you also sign up for a Spoonbill tour you are entitled to a $300 discount on this tour. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,390

February 22nd-23rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 4 openings

May 2nd-3rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 3 openings

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

2 working lunches and 3 boat rides to the absolute best rookery to photograph spoonbills with breeding colors. $250 deposit. Breeding colors are a bit more intense in February, while May is likely to have new fledglings in the open. Also sign up for the Osprey tour and get a $300 discount on the Osprey one. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

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