Bird photography pleasing blurs at the Spoonbill rookery

Since we start the Florida Spoonbills tour at least 15 min before sunrise, we have a chance at creating pleasing blurs when the colors are right. It is a prime opportunity to bring out your artistic fiber into bird photography. See in this blog post a few examples from the February Spoonbill workshop.

Spoonbill pleasing blur - bird photography tour

Roseate Spoonbill and Brown Pelican pleasing blur – Tampa Bay Spoonbill Rookery, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/6.3 | 1/25 sec. | Tv mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II at 400mm and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

It really pays off to wake up early if you want to have a chance to capture pre sunrise orange and pink colors! For pleasing blurs, I will typically shoot in shutter speed priority mode (Tv for Canon) or manual mode between a shutter speed of 1/15 to 1/30 of a second. Many bird photographers rediscover their artistic instincts after trying this 🙂

Spoonbill motion blur - bird photography workshop

Roseate Spoonbill motion blur – Tampa Bay Spoonbill Rookery, Florida
ISO 400 | f/5.6 | 1/25 sec. | Tv mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II at 400mm and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The advantage of shooting with shutter speed priority over sheer manual mode is that you may quickly move from shooting against the sun light to shooting against the mangrove trees in the shade. In the photograph above, I strived to create a motion blur of the bird in the sky while having some of the trees underneath to bolster the motion effect.

Double crested Cormorant artistic blurs

Double crested Cormorants artistic blur – Tampa Bay Spoonbill Rookery, Florida
ISO 200 | f/5.6 | 1/25 sec. | Tv mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II at 400mm and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

This last artistic blur was actually created first during the first morning of the last February Spoonbill tour. A good way to capture bright colors is to pan with birds in motion on the sides of the sun.

Testimonial from the February 2019 Spoonbill Tour

The Spoonbill tour was a fantastic trip on so many levels and for anyone interested, I would HIGHLY recommend reaching out to Steven for more info. In addition to the trip being an all around good time, I am elated to be able to support Steven and his family and I would encourage others to do the same. Steven is one of those people that I am thrilled to have encountered in this lifetime! Thanks for the great time and your gracious hospitality Steven! I cannot wait for the next trip! — Michael F.

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,290

March 30th-31st 2019 / limit 6 people – Full

April 27th-28th 2019 / 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. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour – $1,490

March 28th-29th 2020 / limit 4 people – 3 openings

Florida Osprey Photography Tour

3 boat rides on a pristine cypress trees lake and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. $300 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

First Spoonbill Tour is over, two more to go

The February Florida Spoonbill tour is now over and there are two more to go with one open spot in March and two open spots in April. Overall, it was a success! The first morning was notably exceptional. See below the beautiful breeding colors.

Roseate Spoonbill with full breeding colors – Tampa Bay Spoonbill Rookery, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/8 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (review) with a 2.0x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The breeding colors are quite amazing at this location! Judge for yourself. In the photograph above, I aimed at creating a striking bird in the forefront, with a small group in the distance to give a nice environmental feel.

The first morning was very special. We started with great pre-sunrise conditions for blurs, followed by excellent bird activity with up to thirty birds on the shore. There were lots of take offs, landings, bankings and even squabbles! To top it all, the group enjoyed a delightful bathing session, ending with a very long wing flapping moment.

Roseate Spoonbill flapping its wings - Photography tour
Roseate Spoonbill flapping its wings – Tampa Bay Spoonbill Rookery, Florida
ISO 1250 | f/8 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (review) with a 2.0x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

Be sure to be ready for wings flapping after a bird bathes. Note that I increased the shutter speed to 1/4000 to freeze the wings. By now, you will have noticed that I do not see high ISO as a sin since I have developed top notch de-noising techniques.

Roseate Spoonbills banking above the mangrove trees – Tampa Bay Spoonbill Rookery, Florida
ISO 1600 | 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 (review) with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

We also enjoyed a lot of landings, preceded by the birds banking above the mangrove trees. As Karma would have it, the afternoon was quite calm besides a nice Osprey encounter and the following morning had good bird activity, but quite some fog to deal with. Note that fog is very rare, but no one can guarantee weather conditions…

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,290

March 30th-31st 2019 / limit 6 people – 1 opening

April 27th-28th 2019 / 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. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour – $1,490

March 28th-29th 2020 / limit 4 people – 3 openings

Florida Osprey Photography Tour

3 boat rides on a pristine cypress trees lake and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. $300 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

1 Last Minute open spot for the February Spoonbill tour!

Happy new year to all!!! Yes, there is one last minute open spot for the February 2-3 2019 Spoonbill tour due to a cancellation. Hurry and shoot me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com to reserve your spot.

Florida Spoonbill Photography Tour

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,290

February 2nd-3rd 2019 / limit 6 people – 1 opening

March 30th-31st 2019 / limit 6 people – Full

April 27th-28th 2019 / limit 6 people – 1 opening

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

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

3 open spots for the 2019 Florida Spoonbill Tours!

Happy holidays to all!!! There are now three spoonbill tours in 2019, with 1 open spot in March and 2 open spots in April (due to cancellation). This could be a very sweet Christmas present, just saying… 🙂 Shoot me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Florida Spoonbill Squawking - Photography Tour

Florida Spoonbill squawking – Tampa Bay Spoonbill Rookery, Florida
ISO 400 | f/7.1 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (review) with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 5D mark III.

The squawking Spoonbill image above was created a few years back, at the Tampa Bay Spoonbill rookery. This location offers a nice diversity in backdrops. There will be many opportunities for a dramatic contrast against a darker background as above. This effect is created by the shade from the mangrove trees in the back and the bird being lit by the sun at the same time.

Spoonbill with breeding colors- Photography Workshop

Florida Spoonbill flapping its wings – Tampa Bay Spoonbill Rookery, Florida
ISO 640 | f/5.6 | 1/6400 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens (review) with a 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 5D mark III.

Every now and then, the shore gets awashed with green algea. When that happens, one may create images with exquisite green backdrops. Note that I strive to keep the whole reflection of the bird in the image when it is possible. It gives a sense of unity with the environment and adds to the story.

Spoonbill in flight - Photography Tour

Florida Spoonbill flapping its wings – Tampa Bay Spoonbill Rookery, Florida
ISO 400 | 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 (review) and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

Bringing in blue backgrounds is a bit more tricky. When placed at the proper angle, this is possible during the afternoon shoot.

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,290

February 2nd-3rd 2019 / limit 6 people – Full

March 30th-31st 2019 / limit 6 people – 1 opening

April 27th-28th 2019 / limit 6 people – 2 openings

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
Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour

2020 Florida Ospreys Photography Tour / Workshop

The dates for the 2020 Florida Ospreys tour are March 28th-29th. Are you ready to photograph Ospreys in their natural habitat from a boat on a pristine lake? The workshop will be located East of Orlando, on a lake with the highest concentration of Osprey nests in Florida. We will shoot from a pontoon boat and will be able to get fairly close to the birds without disturbing them. Not only, there will be many accessible nests, but many of them are not located too high. Also, we will be among cypress trees, which will give a true natural feel to our images. While it is possible to see many Osprey nests across Florida, most are now located on man made poles or are very high in the trees. This is a unique location and there are only four participants! Everybody will have comfortable space to shoot from the pontoon boat.

Florida Osprey Workshop

Being able to approach fairly close to low altitude nests is the best way to capture intimate exchanges between the mating birds. This is a difficult vantage point to achieve.

Florida Osprey Tour

There will be many landings and take offs, giving great opportunities for first class action shots. If the wind is blowing in the right direction, we might even be able to create face to face landings.

Florida Osprey Tour_Catches

Ospreys exclusively eat live preys from the water. They are prime fishing birds and you will be surprised by some of the feats they may pull off. On top, three fish in the talents!

You will learn how to nail down exposure, compose and position yourself in the best way possible each time. Understanding the light and making the most of your camera tracking system will be accompanied by taking into consideration wind direction and angling for the most pleasing background.

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour – $1,490

March 28th-29th 2020 / limit 4 people – 3 openings

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour

3 boat rides on a pristine cypress trees lake and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. $300 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,290

February 2nd-3rd 2019 / limit 6 people – Full

March 30th-31st 2019 / limit 6 people – 1 opening

April 27th-28th 2019 / limit 6 people – 2 openings

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour

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

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