Waved Albatross Airport in the Galapagos part I

Do you know where is located the International Waved Albatross Airport? The Galapagos Islands!

The photograph below is a Waved Albatross.

Waved Albatross Galapagos

Waved Albatross portrait.

ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/8000 | Manual Mode | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens with a 1.4x III Extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, handheld.

This Waved Albatross had its head just above the tall grass, making for a fantastic opportunity of headshot in the midst of a green blur. This creation really did not need a shutter speed of 1/8000, but I was taking photographs of flying Albatrosses with a fairly bright sun when my attention was caught by this beautiful bird. The Waved Albatross spends most of its time flying above the seas and comes to the ground only during the mating season. The birds mainly concentrate on Espanola Island, in the Galapagos islands. They stay close to a cliff in order to have easier takeoffs. The resulting scenery is a spectacular airport for Albatrosses!

The photograph below is a Waved Albatross in flight.

Waved Albatross in flight

Waved Albatross in flight.

ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 | Manual Mode | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens with a 1.4x III Extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, handheld.

Photographing birds in flight from a cliff allows for stunning captures of the bird from above. That kind of setup is not very easy to find and it is definitely worth spending some quality time at those spots. See for yourself the nice view of this Waved Albatross flying above the ocean.

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Steven

The 5D Mark III now autofocuses with the 2X!

The photograph below is a Sally Lightfoot Crab.

Sally lightfoot Crab - Galapagos

Sally Lightfoot Crab posing on a lava rock landing in Santa Cruz – Galapagos.

ISO 1000 | f/6.3 | 1/250 | Manual Mode w/ evaluative metering 0 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld.

YES! The new firmware update arrived for the Canon 5D Mark III. The main improvement is now the possibility of autofocusing at f/8 instead of f/5.6 only. This means that a lens with a maximum aperture of f/4 can now be combined with the 2X teleconverter and keep the autofocus with the central censor. This feature was previously only available for 1D bodys. Thank you Canon!

Go ahead and download the new 5D Mark III firmware update to benefit from this significant upgrade. Once the .FIR file is downloaded on your computer, save it on your compact flash by using a card reader. Put the card in your camera, go to the wrench symbol menu (4th yellow), then Firmware Ver.

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Steven

Pink display: Roseate Spoonbill vs American Flamingo

The photograph below is a Roseate Spoonbill with breeding colors.

Roseate Spoonbill at Alafia Banks - Florida

Roseate Spoonbill landing at the Alafia Banks rookery – Florida.

ISO 400 | f/7.1 | 1/1600 | Manual Mode w/ evaluative metering 0 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens with a 1.4x III Extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, mounted on a Jobu Design Gimbal head, over the Manfrotto 190CX carbon fiber tripod.

This Roseate Spoonbill photograph was created while landing on the mudflat. As the bird needs to brake over a short distance, one can admire the pink color of its under wings. Some people might confuse this bird with a Flamingo due to its pink colors, but as you see it is a quite different bird. The pink color comes from a pigment found in its diet. During the breeding season, the Roseate Spoonbill gets almost reddish spots on its upper wings, with a brighter pink and a rusty color on its tail, shoulders and around the eyes. The Roseate Spoonbill can be tricky to photograph as it has a white neck, which tends to easily get highlight burns when shooting. The trick is to dial some negative exposure compensation while in Av mode, or keeping an eye on the histogram while in manual mode. As often, I used a bit of Detail Extractor from Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in of Nik Softwares for the image optimization, and a bit of background cleaning.

The photograph below is an American Flamingo.

Flamingo - Isabela, Galapagos islands

American Flamingo at the Lago De Los Flamingos, in Isabela, in the Galapagos Islands.

ISO 400 | f/6.3 | 1/1250 | Manual Mode w/ evaluative metering 0 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, mounted on a Jobu Design Gimbal head, over the Manfrotto 190CX carbon fiber tripod.

This American Flamingo photograph was created in the late afternoon, in a lake where Flamingos often come visit, in the Galapagos Islands. As for Roseate Spoonbills, the pink color comes from their diet. Notice how the neck and head are of a brighter pink-orange than the upper wings feathers.

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Steven

Overcast equals great photography conditions

The photograph below is a Reddish Egret.

Reddish Egret - Fort Desoto

Reddish Egret with vampire wings.

ISO 640 | f/5 | 1/1250 | Manual Mode w/ evaluative metering 0 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens with a 1.4x III Extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, mounted on a Jobu Design Gimbal head, over the Manfrotto 190CX carbon fiber tripod, with flash and fresnel.

This Reddish Egret is standing still for a split second before launching to catch a fish. I really like the symmetry of the wings. When the weather is overcast, it is often leads to great photography opportunities. The bird seems to be drawn and stands out very well from the background. The secret is to overexpose in order to get the subject bright enough. The background will typically get overexposed while the subject is properly exposed, creating the dreamy ambiance. That type of photography is also called high key photography. I ran a bit of Detail Extractor from Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in of Nik Softwares for the image optimization. No background cleaning was needed.

The photograph below is a Galapagos Penguin.

Galapagos Penguin

Galapagos Penguin resting at Las Tintoreras, in the Galapagos Islands.

ISO 800 | f/6.3 | 1/500 | Manual Mode w/ evaluative metering 0 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld.

Another stunning example of high key photograph thanks to an overcast day! Note that the 600mm f/4 L IS II can reasonably be handheld thanks to its lighter weight and high performing Image Stabilizer.

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Steven

Recovering the whites: Part II

The photograph below is a Great White Egret with breeding colors.

Great White Egret with breeding colors - Gatorland

Great White Egret with breeding colors – Gatorland, Florida.

ISO 400 | f/9 | 1/2000 | Av Mode w/ evaluative metering -2/3 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, mounted on a Jobu Design Gimbal head, over the Manfrotto 190CX carbon fiber tripod.

This Great White Egret was less then ideally created because the whites around the shoulder were in the 245-250 range out of camera. When whites are above 235, it becomes difficult to recover details. This time, instead of using Detail Extractor from Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in of Nik Softwares, I went with the following procedure:

1. Regular Recovery slider at 20 from Photoshop RAW

2. Selection of the bright whites with a Color Range selection, then I applied a Linear Burn from the bending modes at 50% transparency

3. Addition of a layer mask to gradually erase some of the Linear Burn blending mode where the whites showed already enough detail

Lesson: do your best not to get whites above 235 when capturing the image!! Note the in camera highlights alerts will show only when the whites are burned, meaning above 255. One definitely wants to make sure there are no blinkies showing up and the histogram should stop somewhere in the middle of the fourth section to the right.

See below an animated GIF with the original creation, the first stage of whites recovery from Photoshop RAW and the Linear Burn blending mode applied to the brightest whites.

Great White Egret - Recovering whites

From the Original to full recovery

Note that I also cleaned up the area around the eye with the patch and clone tools from Photoshop.

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Steven

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