ImageSpotlight: Great Blue Heron with Prey

Great Blue Heron.  Canon 7D | 500/4.5

Great Blue Heron. South Padre Island, Texas.

During a quick visit to Texas, I ventured out one morning to South Padre Island. I’ve always had good luck at this location and the morning would not let me down. While a bit slow by a “good day” standard, my patience was rewarded as this Great Blue Heron began to hunt/fish in front of me. I managed a series of images of this particular sequence and this is one I particularly liked with the heron’s wing position and the blood trailing from fish to water.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting. — KEVIN

Gear I used to make this shot:

Canon 7D – I used v1 of this camera body which is now my backup to the 7DMII.

Canon 500mm–  I used version 1 of this lens which is no longer available now that vII is.

Gitzo Tripod – I own and still use the Gitzo 1325 which has not been manufactured for years now. However, I have linked a good on you can purchase today (other options on my gear recommendations page).

Wimberley WH200– an essential piece of gear for long lenses.

Wimberley P40– without this you can’t mount the lens to the tripod.

 

ImageSpotlight: Reflection Bridge

This image may be difficult to truly appreciate given the size for internet viewing. It’s a panorama stitched from 5 different images. The day was extremely still and that allowed the capture of a mirror-like reflection of this bridge. Given the pale blue sky, I decided to minimize it in the image so that the focus of attention would remain on the bridge.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN

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ImageSpotlight: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

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Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

You may recall that in 2014 I wrote a blog post about “Making Hummingbird Backgrounds.” I’d actually be surprised if you remember that but you can enter those terms in the search tab if you care to refresh your memory. Anyway, two years later and those backgrounds are still in use. For the past two weeks, I’ve had female and juvenile ruby-throated hummingbirds but today, the male showed up. While I like the females and juveniles, it is the male with its iridescent gorget that gets photographers excited. Those brilliant colors add a dash of pop to the images.

To capture this photo, I used a 5 flash setup. Each flash was set at 1/16 power and placed in various positions to light the bird. I had one dedicated flash aimed at the background and 4 at the hummingbird. My camera (Canon 7D MkII) was set to Manual mode, ISO 200, f18, 1/250. I used a 70-200/2.8 with 1.4x converter. Because hummingbirds drink, move back and hover, then drink again, I prefocused on a spot where I anticipated the birds would hover. Each time the birds hovered, I pressed the shutter button. I’m looking to improve this image by adding an additional flash and incorporating a flower if I can find a suitable one at a nursery since there are no natural blooms around my home.

Until then, good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Willet with Prey

Last year I made a voyage to South Florida and came away with some spectacular photos. This summer I returned once again with the hopes that I would find terns and skimmers on their breeding nests. I was a bit pessimistic, though, knowing that the area had been hit by tropical storms. Unfortunately, the area where I was photographing was hit too hard and none of the nests survived. I trekked a couple miles along the coast trying to find some survivors but it was a desolate sight. Such is the way of the wild but those birds will nest again and hopefully, next year mother nature will be more merciful.

Although I did not find any nesting birds walking along the beach, I did come across a Willet probing for prey. While fairly common in some areas, they have seen declining numbers due to a decrease in possible nesting sights attributed to coastal development in California. While wildlife is equipped to survive natural disasters, those due to man can have long-term harmful consequences. I’m not one of those who thinks you have to choose a side between man and wildlife. On the contrary, life is about man and wildlife living together. After all, man’s first home was in a garden. We do, however, have to remember to respect each other.

Willet. Canon 7DMkII | ef 500/4.5 + 1.4x | ISO 1250 | f 6.3 | 1/5000

Willet. Canon 7DMkII | ef 500/4.5 + 1.4x | ISO 1250 | f 6.3 | 1/5000

I hung out with this willet for about half an hour watching him probe the sand and scurry through the water. There wasn’t a soul around other than the two of us and soon the willet would move on leaving me alone. So, I sat back and listened to the waves for a bit before calling it an evening…and what an evening it was.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting…KEVIN

 

 

ImageSpotlight: Whitetail Lip Curl

I’m back after a bit of a delay. 2016 has been an unbelievably busy year and I’ve had to sacrifice the time I would normally dedicate to my blog. One does what he must and while I had to do that…right now, I must share the following image with you.

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Whitetail Buck: The Flehman Response

This beautiful whitetail buck is exhibiting a behavior that many hunters and avid naturalists alike recognize and commonly refer to as…the lip curl. Technically, this is called the Flehman Response, which is a name derived from the German verb “to curl.” This is a breeding behavior that occurs between late October – early January in the USA based upon geographic location. Bucks in Northern states (e.g. Iowa) may hit peak breeding time in November whereas in South Texas, peak breeding occurs mid-December to early January. So what purpose does the lip curl serve? Basically, the lip curl exposes an organ in the nasal cavity and allows a buck to get a deep whiff of something. In this case, he is trying to get a deep whiff of a lady friend with whom he hopes to hook up with…if you know what I mean.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Black-Crested Titmouse

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Black-crested Titmouse.  Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm

I returned to South Texas last December and visited my favorite photographic ranch, the Santa Clara, owned by Dr. Beto Gutierrez. I had the good fortune of photographing there the last year before I moved out of state so I know how special this ranch is for photographers. Dr. Gutierrez has poured his passion into making this the prime destination for anyone wanting to photograph the gems of South Texas. This Black Crested Titmouse came to have a drink and I was able to capture this wonderful reflection. The raised crest made this one extra special.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Northern Bobwhite Quail

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Northern Bobwhite Quail.  Canon 7D MkII | Canon 70-200/2.8 + 1.4x | ISO 1600 | f7.1

 

What a way to end 2015. I found myself back in South Texas on the Santa Clara ranch and once again, that ranch did not disappoint. I still haven’t viewed all of the photographs as I’ve not downloaded all of them yet; however, I really enjoyed the reflection of these 3 northern bobwhite quail and just had to share. I cropped this to a panoramic format to emphasize the reflection in the pond. While the original format looks nice, I think the panorama is a better portrayal.

Speaking of reflections, as you look back on your 2015, I hope that you accomplished all of your personal and photographic goals. As you look toward 2016, challenge yourself to stretch your photography skills. Whether that is to learn a new technique, travel to a new destination, or focus on that nemesis subject, may 2016 be your year.

Until next year…good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN