Last minute Florida Spoonbill Tour for March 24th-25th / Are you in?

I am organizing a last minute Florida Spoonbill tour for March 24th-25th!! Do you want to join?

Roseate Spoonbill bathing - fine art

Roseate Spoonbill bathing – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 1600 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

There are very few places where one might have the chance to photograph bathing Spoonbills! While not being a guaranty, there is a decent chance to see some bathing action during each tour.

Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight

Roseate Spoonbill banking above the blue water – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 500 | f/4 | 1/5000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM review), the Canon EOS 7D mark II on tripod with a Jobu Design Gimbal Head.

Banking shots are among the hardest flight photography creations. Make it happen just a bit above the blue water and you have a winner! 🙂

Juvenile Spoonbill Taking Off

Roseate Spoonbill bathing – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 800 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

When your tour leader can call out an imminent take off, you multiply your chances to capture the full take off motion. See above for a nice breakdown from a juvenile Spoonbill.

Florida Spoonbills photography tour

March 24th-25th 2018 / limit 6 people – 4 openings

3 boat rides to the Spoonbill rookery and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. Send me an email at steven.blandin@gmail.com
Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

Support the Best Bird Photography Tours blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

Is the Canon 600mm IS II + 2x extender viable for birds in flight photography?

Is the combination of the Canon 600 IS II and the 2x extender viable for birds in flight photography? For the longest time I stirred away from the combination as it was only possible to keep the auto-focus on the central point on past body generations. In addition to the fact that I found the focus acquisition speed to be sharply less than with the 600mm + 1.4x extender. With the new Canon 1dx Mark II allowing for auto-focus on all focus points at f/8, I recently re-discovered the possibility during the February Florida Spoonbill tour.

Florida Spoonbill banking down

Roseate Spoonbill in flight – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 400 | f/8 | 1/2000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens coupled with a 2x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The Spoonbill above is on its downward trajectory from the top of the mangrove trees to land on the beach. I really like the “C” shape of the wings with a nice overview over the wing tops. It reminds me of many of the Bald Eagle images I created last year in Alaska… For some reason, I went back to try the 600mm+2x extender combo during the last Spoonbill tour and the results took my breath away! First off, the focus acquisition is very fast thanks to the superior 1DX mark II pro body. Second, it is quite enjoyable to being able to move the focus points around. Note that I typically have the focus point surround selected and placed one spot up from the center when I am photographing landing birds. This is a good way to ensure you keep enough space in front of the flight direction of the bird. And third, the image quality remains very good with sufficient light.

Florida Spoonbill in flight - Fine Art

Roseate Spoonbill in flight – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 2000 | f/8 | 1/1600 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens coupled with a 2x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

Note how I do not hesitate to push the ISO pretty high in order to completely freeze the action. This is possible, thanks to shooting with a high end full frame, but not only. You will additionally minimize the high ISO noise with proper post processing technique. Shooting at an effective range of 1,200mm brings lots of reach, but it is true that it becomes harder to have the bird in the frame from such a long distance. Unfortunately, only practice makes perfect when it comes to quickly framing the bird from a long distance.

Roseate Spoonbill landing

Roseate Spoonbill in flight – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 500 | f/8 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens coupled with a 2x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The image above was created towards the end of the morning shoot. The last key point when it comes to create bird in flight images with the 600mm + 2x extender combo is to use a sturdy tripod with a very fluid gimbal head. Jobu Design has done an excellent job for me across the years!

Also, I would like to thank everybody who voted for “Reach For The Sky”, one of the People’s Choice Award nominees at the recent BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. I regret to announce that the image did not make it to the top three. It was quite a nice run nonetheless!! 🙂

2018 Florida Spoonbills photography tour testimonials

“Thank you, Steven, for a wonderful experience. Your talent for teaching is almost as good as your spectacular photography. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with you and the birds. You made our first experience in shooting birds fun, exciting, and even successful! We’ll be back at our first opportunity.” — Nancylee M.

“Wanted to let you know how glad I am that I took your Spoonbill Workshop! Everything was so well organized. It was so nice that you spent time with everyone on the tour. The lunchtime editing was an eye opener. Can’t say enough about you and your first rate boat captain. I look forward to my next trip with you!” — Lynn L.

“I attended the spoonbill workshop and it was an incredible experience. You have multiple opportunities to photography this gorgeous bird. If you are thinking about taking this workshop, don’t hesitate you will not be sorry.” — Debra L.

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

Support the Best Bird Photography Tours blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

Vote for my Spoonbill image in the BBC People Choice’s category! Part 2

We are getting close to the end as voting will stop on February 5th! Thank you to all who have voted so far 🙂 For the others, I 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

Since we are in the Spoonbill against high key background theme, I am going to share with you three more images of the same style. Note that the London Natural History Museum, historical partner with BBC on the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, is publishing an article with more tit bits on the action sequence from where the selected image originated from: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/splash-of-pink.html

Roseate Spoonbill landing in the Tampa Bay, Florida

Roseate Spoonbill landing – 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).

The image above was created the very same day as “Reach For The Sky”, though not from the same action sequence. I have to say it was quite a blessed day with so many beautiful landings for anybody who knew where to get in position. The wing stance is beautiful and one can very well see the spoon shape of the bill as the bird is nearly touching the water. When choosing well your background during an overcast day, you may create a very clean high key backdrop. Also note the striking rusty colors on the shoulders as a sign of the breeding season.

Roseate Spoonbill landing - Tampa Bay, Florida

Roseate Spoonbill landing – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 1600 | f/7.1 | 1/2000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens with 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 5D mark III, while wading in the shallow water with tripod and a Jobu Design Gimbal Head (use promo code “steven” for a 10% discount).

This landing shot was created in May, which is when breeding colors start to fade a bit, but when young fledglings can be seen. In order to position yourself best for square landing shots, make sure the wind is blowing in your back. Birds tend to take off and land against the wind…

Roseate Spoonbill taking off - Sarasota Bay, Florida

Roseate Spoonbill taking off – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 2500 | f/5.6 | 1/1600 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens with 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 5D mark III, while wading in the shallow water with tripod and a Jobu Design Gimbal Head (use promo code “steven” for a 10% discount).

For once, this Spoonbill image was not created in the Tampa Bay, but in the Sarasota Bay! The principles remain the same though. Being at the right place, at the right time and anticipate the moment. Only after understanding bird behavior, one can anticipate and be ready for the action. 🙂

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

Support the Best Bird Photography Tours blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

Last Minute February 10th-11th 2018 Florida Spoonbill photography tour: 2 open spots

Great news, I am able to put together a last minute Florida Spoonbill tour for February 10th-11th and there are two open spots. Would you like to join? The tour consists of three boat rides and two Photoshop tutorial / image critique lunches. 🙂

Roseate Spoonbill landing - Florida Photography Tour

Roseate Spoonbill in breeding colors – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 2000 | f/5.6 | 1/2000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 5D mark III.

Roseate Spoonbill banking in flight - Florida Photography Tour

Roseate Spoonbill with breeding colors banking in flight – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 500 | f/4.0 | 1/5000 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.

Roseate Spoonbill with breeding colors - Florida Photography Tour

Roseate Spoonbill ruffling its feathers – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/6000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens coupled with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 5D mark III.

All three images above put forth the beautiful breeding colors you will be able to capture during this tour! If you like pink feathers and rusty / reddish highlights, you will be served. Hurry!! This is a last minute announcement and there are only two spots left 🙂 Email me at steven.blandin@gmail.com to register.

Florida Spoonbills photography tour – $1290

February 10th-11th 2018 / limit 6 people – 2 openings

3 boat rides to the Spoonbill rookery and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included.
Florida Spoonbill Photography Tour

Support the Best Bird Photography Tours blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

Vote for my Spoonbill image in the BBC People Choice’s category!

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.

Support the Best Bird Photography Tours blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

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