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

ImageSpotlight: Least Tern

Least Tern. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm | ISO 400

Least Tern. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm | ISO 400

Florida sure is a bird photographer’s paradise. I traveled to Bonita Springs last June and was met with photographic opportunities everywhere I looked, from Ding Darling NWR to a popular beach near hotels. The image featured here was near a nesting site behind a row of hotels on a fairly busy beach. The bird nesting areas are roped off to allow the birds to nest without being disturbed but to be honest, I think the taped areas need to be larger as people routinely walk right up next to the taped area and are met with birds dive bombing their heads to let them know they are too close to their nest.

The least tern is a small bird and I knew I would have to get close to get the shot I wanted, even with the 500mm on a Canon 7D. However, I did not want to disturb them on their nests. So, when I was probably 40 yards away from this pair of birds I got on my belly and began a slow methodical crawl toward them. I don’t know how long it took but it seemed like forever as I inched my way closer and closer. Eventually, I felt I was close enough and began focusing on nesting birds while keeping an eye out for interactions. The birds had grown accustomed to my presence and paid no attention to this blob of a figure laying on the sand. I noticed the interaction of this pair of birds and waited for the right moment. The result is featured here.

The key to this image was concern for the subject and a lot of patience to begin a low crawl way outside of photographic range.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting –KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Osprey with Prey

Osprey With Prey. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm | ISO 400

Osprey With Prey. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm | ISO 400

A few weeks ago I made a trip to Bonita Springs, Florida. I have to say Florida did feel like a bird photographer’s paradise as everywhere I went, photo opportunities presented themselves, whether that was at nearby Ding Darling NWR or simply a spot by the road where wading and shorebirds gathered to hunt during low tide. On this particular afternoon I visited Lover’s Key State Park with the intention of hiking one of their marsh trails. However, I changed my mind at the last minute and decided to photograph on the beach at Lover’s Key instead. I knew terns and skimmers were nesting on the beach and I hoped to get some images of them flying by. Before anyone starts to wonder, I never made it to the nesting area on this afternoon but I did another day and yes, I kept my distance from the nest area itself. The nest area is roped off to keep people from disturbing the birds on the nest. However, it is a public beach and people can walk right up along the rope. In my opinion, that’s still too close as the birds will feel threatened and give you a flyby (witnessed it several times over the course of a few days). But that is a story for another day. Let’s get back to the image in this post.

As I mentioned, I was on my way to photograph the terns/skimmers and was carrying my tripod mounted 500mm lens slung over my shoulder across a bridge/boardwalk connecting Lover’s Key to the beach. When I reached the part where the bridge met the sand, I was greeted by this Osprey clutching a fish and settling in to start dining. Shocked, I feared my movements getting the tripod off my shoulder and legs spread would cause the Osprey to fly away. To make matters worse, I heard someone saying “behind you, behind you” as I was trying to spread the tripod legs. It turned out to be a lady on a bike and she was none to pleased that I had not moved out of her way, specifically that I did not move to my right because the bike rack was to my left. Now I really feared the Osprey would take flight given her noise and movements but to my good fortune, the Osprey’s attention was fixed on the fish since it was still alive and flopping. With the lady now gone, I began taking images…lots of images.

I took some insurance photos from a standing position but I knew the best perspective would be low to the ground so I eased my way into a low kneeling position and fired away. I would capture some images from the prone position as well but thought the low-kneeling images were best given this location and backgrounds. To say the least, lady luck was with me on this particular afternoon.

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

ImageSpotlight: Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting.  Canon 7D | 500/4.5 | f8 | ISO 200

Indigo Bunting. Canon 7D | 500/4.5 | f8 | ISO 200

I’ve been after this bird for a number of years. When I lived in South Texas, these birds migrated through the area in the winter time. Now that I am in Georgia, the indigo bunting spends its summer months in the area. A few weeks ago I noticed a bird at my feeder that I had never seen on my property. It turned out to be the rose-breasted grosbeak, which migrates through the area. I setup hoping to get their photograph but they have since moved further north in their range. To my surprise, this beautiful blue bird visited my feeder instead. I was able to capture a documentation image but nothing I was excited about. Given that this is an afternoon feeder, the past two weekend afternoons has found me out back hoping for the bunting to land on my perch while the light was good. With the tall pines casting long shadows, I have a limited time before the perch is in the shadow and the background lit by the sun. After a few weekend attempts, I finally got a cooperative bunting to land where I wanted at the hour I wanted. And finally, an old nemesis was now a part of my portfolio. The summer has only begun so I hope to get many more but it sure feels good to have captured the image shared in this post.

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

Backyard Photo Safari

People are funny. I think most of us are guilty of living by the old adage of “the grass is always greener”. Fishermen are always thinking that the big fish is around the next creek; while hunters obviously seem to think the bucks are bigger on the neighboring ranch or they wouldn’t put their hunting blinds right on the fence line. And photographers…well, our next great image is just a photo safari away. Even if we are not booking flights to some remote destination, how many of us drive for hours to photograph a subject, completely overlooking the abundance of photographic gems to be had in our own backyard? Too often I’ve been guilty of this so I now make a conscious choice to regularly photograph at home. I’m not saying I never drive long distances anymore, or that I don’t go on photographic ventures in distant places. I do and hopefully will always be able to do so, but as I just stated there are many photographic opportunities to enjoy at home. Granted, my current backyard is a little under 2 acres, whereas my former backyard was a small suburban lot. Honestly, that really doesn’t matter. Once I made a deliberate effort, I was able to capture some great images at both homes. The thing I hope you take away from the photos I share in this post is this…great images can be captured anywhere. All you have to do is realize how green the grass is at your own home…so put away the computer, turn off the t.v., and go discover the wilderness on your backyard photo safari. You’ll be glad you did!

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

The images below are just a small sample from my current backyard. Click on the images for a better view.

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Downy Woodpecker. Canon 7D | 500/4.5 | f8 | ISO320

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Carolina Chickadee. Canon 7D | 500/4.5 | f5.6 | ISO640

White-breasted Nuthatch. Canon 7D | 500/4.5 | Canon 580ex fill flash at -2 FEC

White-breasted Nuthatch. Canon 7D | 500/4.5 | Canon 580ex fill flash at -2 FEC

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Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Canon 7D | ISO 200 | 70-200/2.8

Pine Warbler.  Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm | f7.1 | ISO 800

Pine Warbler. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm | f7.1 | ISO 800

Tufted Titmouse. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm |f7.1 | ISO 800

Tufted Titmouse. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm |f7.1 | ISO 800

Eastern Phoebe.  Canon 7D | 500/4.5 | f7.1 |ISO 800

Eastern Phoebe. Canon 7D | 500/4.5 | f7.1 |ISO 800

The images below are from my old suburban backyard in Texas, taken by myself or one of my children.

Black-crested Titmouse. Canon 1DsMkII | 500/4.5 | f 5.6 | ISO 200

Black-crested Titmouse. Canon 1DsMkII | 500/4.5 | f 5.6 | ISO 200

Yellow Sunflower: Flowering Plants Category.

Yellow Sunflower: Flowering Plants Category.

Canon 7D | 50/1.8 @ f18 | 30 sec exposure | ISO 200

Canon 7D | 50/1.8 @ f18 | 30 sec exposure | ISO 200

Butterfly. Canon 1DMkII | 135/2.0 + extension tube

Butterfly. Canon 1DMkII | 135/2.0 + extension tube

House Sparrow. Canon 1DsMkII | 500/4.5 | f5 | ISO 200

House Sparrow. Canon 1DsMkII | 500/4.5 | f5 | ISO 200

White-winged Dove. Canon 1DsMkII | 500/4.5 | f 6.3 | ISO 200

White-winged Dove. Canon 1DsMkII | 500/4.5 | f 6.3 | ISO 200

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ImageSpotlight: White-breasted Nuthatch & Tufted Titmouse

Decided to stay home this Sunday afternoon and given how nice the day was, figured I’d spend some time in the back woods with my camera. Lots of birds in the area and these two featured here were frequent visitors. All images shot with a Canon 7D, 500/4.5, f8, ISO400. Click on each image for sharper view.

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

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