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Friday, February 24, 2012

Bird Photography at Ding Darling NWR

Just got back from leading a group of bird photographers through Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge as a fund raising event for the refuge. Don took one tram of people and did bird identification, and I took a second tram of people and taught about bird photography. The refuge is closed on Friday so this was a special privilege to be there on this day. Ding is a top bird photography spot because there are so many birds and they are used to people there. Here are some of the photos I took this morning. This Little Blue Heron posed next to the culvert, then caught breakfast.

White Pelicans flew into the tower pond and landed on the sand bar. My tip was to get on a bird in flight early and start tracking it well before it gets close.

This beautiful Yellow-crownded Night-Heron posed for the group, but was a bit in shadow. The group learned about how to use dial in exposure compensation to deal with birds that are in too bright, or too dim, light. They also used how to use a lower F-stop, which gives a more shallow depth of field, to keep the bird in focus but blur undesirable backgrounds. 

And this immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron just looked amazing soaking wet taking a bath. Love the way the yellow eye stands out and the background is dark. 

Some Hooded Mergansers swam in the distance. The best shots were when the male displayed to the two females. Be ready to catch the action on birds that don't look like they are doing much.

Most photographers were still learning the setting on their cameras. Knowing the settings so well you could move them in your sleep is critical to being able to capture the image you want in the field. When all else fails, read the manual (just kidding.)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

White Pelican Magic

White Pelicans in the soft light of the end of the day in Ding Darling NWR, Sanibel Island, FL make a magical image.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Black-crowned Night-Herons come alive at dusk. We hear them squawk as they fly over our house in Sanibel on their way to hunting sites, just at the time most other heron species have gone to bed.

What I like about this dramatic photo I took of one, is the way the light shines on the red eye. Black-crowns hunt small fish at night by standing in water, often near tree roots. During the day they roost in trees, sometimes colonially. This one is an adult. Juvenile/first year birds are streaked brown.

Nice to know a whole mysterious world of night hunters opens up, when we humans have gone to sleep.