Roseate Spoonbills in a sea fog – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/180, ISO 400, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 250mm, natural light
One very foggy May morning I came across a small flock of Roseate Spoonbills in a tidal lagoon at Fort De Soto’s north beach and photograph them for about 15 minutes before they flew off to find food. The fog muffled the sounds of the waves of the Gulf of Mexico rushing onto the shore just beyond the sand dunes you can see behind these two birds and the fog felt great on my skin that very warm morning. The adult Roseates were mostly resting but the juvenile pictured above began to preen while I laid in the tidal mud observing and photographing these large, pink wading birds.
Photographing in fog presents challenges in determining exposure, aperture, shutter speed and ISO, for this image I used a lower ISO because I wanted as much detail as I could achieve and while that gave me a low shutter speed the juvenile Roseate wasn’t moving quickly and that helped to get sharp images. This image did have a small amount of Noise Reduction applied to everything except the preening juvenile Roseate Spoonbill to smooth out some of the noise I could detect prior to post processing.
More Roseate Spoonbill images
Wilson’s Plover in dried Sea Purslane – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 250, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light
One of the shorebirds that I saw often along the coast of Florida year round was the Wilson’s Plover. Wilson’s Plover are the largest of the belted plovers and are found primarily along the coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean up to about the Chesapeake Bay, they can also be found on the Pacific coast of the Baja Peninsula of Mexico. Their long, thick black bill is distinctive and a great key for identification.
Just watching the two chicks running around in the dunes like small windup toys made me realize what a hard job it is for the adult plover to protect their young. I very much enjoyed the setting I photographed this plover in and loved the loose feather near the bird’s rump.
More Wilson’s Plover images
Long-billed Curlew on the beach at Fort De Soto – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/750, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light
Since winter has thus far decided to stay in more northern latitudes and higher elevations I decided to post an image of a Long-billed Curlew taken in southern, sub-tropical climes a few years ago. Maybe it will tick Winter off enough to show up in its frosty cloak and icy breath. We’ve only had snow twice and it is December??
A few weeks before I left Florida to move to Utah a Long-billed Curlew showed up at Fort De Soto County Park’s north beach and stayed there for the entire nesting season which ended weeks after I had moved west. I had fun photographing the graceful shorebird before I moved.
When I photographed this female curlew I was flat on my stomach and a little lower than the bird, there were little mounds of out of focus sand between the bird and my lens and my selection of a shallow depth of field created the soft blur near the birds feet. Because of my low angle and the birds elevation on the sand dune there is only sky in the background, the water of the Gulf of Mexico was below the sand dune.
More Long-billed Curlew images
I was photographing one evening in Florida while laying in the mudflat of a tidal lagoon, there were Dunlins, Black-bellied Plovers and Greater Yellowlegs in front of me where the evening light was great.
Sidelit Piping Plover – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 160, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light
Out of the corner of my eye I caught a bit of movement and turned my head towards what I could see was a Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) looking for prey in the mudflats. The light was not what most photographers would call “great“, the plover was below a dune and the angle of the sun in the west caused the bird to be sidelit.
Some photographers would pass on the shot because of the “tough”, “harsh” or “contrasty” light, but I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
Even though the sun wasn’t behind my shoulder and the light wasn’t golden this image has a great mood to it. I know I could have used flash to brighten up the bird and the setting but if I had it certainly would not be this moody, besides; I very rarely use flash.
This Piping Plover image reminds me to try to photograph birds in other than perfect light. Sidelit and backlit images can be spectacular so I don’t like passing up taking the chance that I might just get a great shot despite what some photographers think of as bad light.
More Piping Plover images
*I pre-scheduled this post because I am away, please feel free to share this with your friends & family!
American Oystercatcher – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light
These two photos are of the same adult American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) in sequential order taken at Fort De Soto County Park in Florida. I was laying in the sand while I created the images to get a low angle and the bird was on a ridge elevated slightly higher than my location. I had beautiful light and did not need to use any exposure compensation to have nice details in the darks and the whites.
When photographing with waves in the background a split second can matter because of the fluid movements of the incoming waves. In this frame the closest wave is just about to crest thus it created the darker horizontal band of sea green just below the body of the Oystercatcher.
American Oystercatcher – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light
In this next frame the wave had crested and rushed towards the shoreline creating a smoother blue background without the sea green horizontal band.
Is one background better than the other? Personally I don’t think so, I find them both visually appealing. It is just a matter of personal taste.
More American Oystercatcher images