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

 

 

2015 – Year In Pictures

I finally put a video up of my 2015 images. I start out thinking I’ll just put a top 12 but you know, I just get carried away sometimes. There are way more than 12 photos shared in my HurtNaturePhoto YouTube Video which I have linked for you. I’m very much a novice at putting together videos and I’m working with a very outdated workhorse of a computer. In fact, the Apple reps call it “Vintage” but it continues to perform. It is taxed on resources so I am unable to determine whether there is video compression due to my computer or something that occurs when I share the video to YouTube. The images are sharp but please let me know how they appear to you on video. Enjoy and thanks for watching it. — 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: Key West, Florida Sunset

KeyWestPalm

This past June the family and I visited Key West, Florida. It’s a challenge getting out to photograph on family vacations as obviously, family activities take priority. However, I always look for opportunities when they arise and on one particular afternoon, I had such an opportunity. We had decided to spend the day at one particular beach and as everyone  was enjoying the water, I was busy scouting a location for a sunset photograph.

How I got the shot

I utilized two iPhone photography applications (Skyview Free and The Photograher’s Ephemeris) to determine exactly where the sun was going to set and at what time. I decided on this one palm tree, mentally composed the image, assessed the hour at which the sun would be just over the horizon, and then went snorkeling with the family. About an hour before I needed to get the shot, I prepped my equipment, setup my tripod, composed the shot, and patiently waited. As I waited, a couple with two beach chairs walked right into the scene and sat down under the palm tree. I debated on what to do about the couple. Should I include them in the image, sort of a “people in nature” scenic, ask if they could move over a few feet (that seemed a rude option), or should I move to another location? I decided to keep them in the image and clone them out if necessary. In the end, they left before I took the image so it all worked out. This particular image consists of 4 images merged in Photoshop (HDR), then processed in CS6. I do not often utilize the HDR technique but this seemed a good opportunity to try it. I was pleased with the final result.

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