Tim Boyer Photography

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San Diego

How to Manage Light Throughout the Day

Bird PhotographyTim BoyerComment

Three shooting locations and three different light situations, by managing the light, shadows, angle the light was striking the birds, it all works.  The beautiful warm light of early morning and late afternoon are best, but not always possible so let's  figure out how to work with what we have.  

Royal Tern on a foggy morning at Crown Point. 1/1250 of a second at f/4 and ISO 500, with the Canon 5D Mark III and a 600mm lens.
Royal Tern on a foggy morning at Crown Point. 1/1250 of a second at f/4 and ISO 500, with the Canon 5D Mark III and a 600mm lens.

On foggy mornings it's even more important to expose to the right and get the image as bright as possible without blowing out the highlights or overexposing.  Otherwise everything turns out dark gray.

Common Gallinule or as it was formally known as a Common Moorhen. 1/1600 of a second, f/5.6 at ISO witht e Canon 5D Mark III and a 600 mm lens with the 1.4 Extender.
Common Gallinule or as it was formally known as a Common Moorhen. 1/1600 of a second, f/5.6 at ISO witht e Canon 5D Mark III and a 600 mm lens with the 1.4 Extender.

Shooting at high noon with bright light and dark shadows equals contrast, it's important to manage the shadows.  Since all the shadows are behind the bird - except for a little on the neck, this image works.  Yes, it would have been better to make this in the sweet morning light, but that wasn't possible, so this is under the category of, "making the best of the given situation".  Manage the light!

Whimbrel finding dinner on the rocks. 1/640 of a second at f/8 and ISO 800 with the Canon 5D Mark III and the 600 mm lens and a 1.4 Extender.
Whimbrel finding dinner on the rocks. 1/640 of a second at f/8 and ISO 800 with the Canon 5D Mark III and the 600 mm lens and a 1.4 Extender.

Okay, finally at the end of the day, some nice warm evening, magic hour light, and a Whimbrel that forgot its got a probing beak, not a short, sharp beak for eating barnacles.  I've never seen them eat like this, so it was a treat to watch them work the rocks. In this light, just keep the sun at your back,  and have fun.

Enjoy  Thanks   Tim

Expectations

Bird PhotographyTim BoyerComment

As photographers do we just go out and photograph what's there or do we expect to see certain birds in certain locations?  The habitat was right, the birds that I had photographed five times before in the same location were not there.  Why?  What changes, recent storms, climate change, who knows?  In the past two days, I have expected to see Lesser Scaup in one spot and Wood Ducks in another, and they just weren't there.  There were consolation prizes, though, Redhead ducks and Surf Scoters in Glorietta Bay and Phainopepla, Red-tailed Hawk, and Northern Harrier at Santee Lakes.  Today I think I'll just go out and see what I find!

Here are a couple of my favorite images from yesterday at Santee Lakes.

A wet Double-crested Cormorant.
A wet Double-crested Cormorant.
Winter plumage male Ruddy Duck. 1/320 of a second, f/7.1 ISO 400 Canon 5D Mark III the 600 mm lens and the 1.4 Extender, +1 Exposure Compensation.
Winter plumage male Ruddy Duck. 1/320 of a second, f/7.1 ISO 400 Canon 5D Mark III the 600 mm lens and the 1.4 Extender, +1 Exposure Compensation.

Enjoy    Thanks    Tim

It's All About Habitat

Bird PhotographyTim Boyer1 Comment

14 species of shorebirds at the mouth of the San Diego River and then three more at the Tijuana Slough NWR! A 17 species shorebird day!  

Long-billed Curlew scratching its face. Birds have to be contortionist to satisfy those itiches.
Long-billed Curlew scratching its face. Birds have to be contortionist to satisfy those itiches.

We had the usual shorebirds at the San Diego River, plus this year we had Surfbird, Ruddy Turnstone, and Yellowlegs.  This is a great location for birders and bird photographers.  The birds allow for a close approach, the local dogs from the dog park scare them more than humans walking slowly and getting low and non-threatening.  Tech data: 1/1600 of a second, f/6.3 at ISO 250, with the Canon 5D Mark III and the 600 mm lens and a 1.4 Extender.

Marbled Godwit bathing.
Marbled Godwit bathing.

Tech data: 1/1600 of a second, f/6.3 at ISO 250 again with the 5D Mark III the 600 mm lens and the  1.4 Extender.

Little Blue Heron fishing.
Little Blue Heron fishing.

The light started to get harsh when we finally got close to the Little Blue Heron. Created at 1/800 of a second at f/5.6, ISO 400 and still using the 5D Mark III and the 600 mm lens with the 1.4 Extender.

Redhead
Redhead

In the afternoon before we went to the Tijuana NWR we stopped at a Glorietta Bay thinking we'd photograph Eared Grebes and Lesser Scaup.  They weren't there, but we did find Surf Scoter and Redheads, a very nice consolation prize instead!  Captured at 1/640 of a second f/5.6 ISO 400 with the 600 mm and the 1.4 Extender.  I had to crop this too, so you can see they didn't come in very close, but they're beautiful birds!

Enjoy     Thanks As Always     Tim

Pelicans & Sea Lions - San Diego Photo Workshop

Bird PhotographyTim BoyerComment

How to  shoot on a cloudy day.  

Although it was a cloudy morning at teh La Jolla cliffs by shooting tight we were still able to get some great iamges of Brown Pelicans in breeding plumage.
Although it was a cloudy morning at teh La Jolla cliffs by shooting tight we were still able to get some great iamges of Brown Pelicans in breeding plumage.

This image was shot and then cropped tight to eliminate the cloudy gray background.  1/800 of a second, f/5.6 at ISO 1600.  Created using the Canon 5D Mark III and a 600 mm lens.  I used the  5D Mark III because there is less digital or luminance noise at 1600 ISO.

Brandt's Cormorant with their white plumes are so cool. For the cormorants having a cloudy day helped get a more detailed shot of their plumage.
Brandt's Cormorant with their white plumes are so cool. For the cormorants having a cloudy day helped get a more detailed shot of their plumage.

The cormorant image was created with the 5D Mark III as well at ISO 800 at 1/400 of a second at f/5.6.  Shooting at 1/400 of a second is a slow shutter speed for a 600 mm lens so I pressed my hand down over the  center of the lens to dampen any vibration.  This is often refered to as long-lens shooting technique.

Female Sea Lion at The Cove. We were able to get a little closer to them this year, the last couple of years there was a safety rope seperating people and sea lions.
Female Sea Lion at The Cove. We were able to get a little closer to them this year, the last couple of years there was a safety rope seperating people and sea lions.

I used the Canon 7D Mark II while shooting the sea lions, at ISO 400, this allowed me to move around them and get a nice background, without any other people in the image.  There were a few people who got a little too close and the sea lions let them know.  It's nice to have a 100 to 400 mm zoom on a APS sensor camera with the extra reach of the conversion factor, so staying back and not pressuring the sea lion was possible.

Sea Lion pup taking a nap with a soft furry pillow.
Sea Lion pup taking a nap with a soft furry pillow.

Again it ws a day to shoot tight, and the soft difused light made for  some fine detail in the images.

Enjoy     Thanks     Tim

San Diego January Workshop Images

Bird PhotographyTim BoyerComment
Black Skimmer coming in for a landing.

Black Skimmer coming in for a landing.

We had such a great workshop in San Diego County this year, that it's hard to know which images to show you.  Here's a sample, I hope you enjoy them.

We found some Black Skimmers this year and it was fun to spend time with them. They are such unusual birds!  The bill when viewed sideways looks so big, but if viewed straight on, it's actually very thin, for slicing through the water. I chose to shoot at f/8 because I was using the AF Selcetion Zone.  After I pushed the aperture to f/8 I opened up the ISO to 800 so I'd have enough shutter speed.

Little Blue Heron feeding.

Little Blue Heron feeding.

Little Blue Herons have to be one of my favorite birds of Southern California.  I think they've been found in Washington State a couple of times, and I saw them here once on an Eastside Audubon fieldtrip to Ellensburg.  This one if fishing late in the day with some creamy light. I chose f/8  because the  600 with the 1.4 Extender can be a little soft, so then had to increase the ISO to 640.

Snowy Egret feeding.

Snowy Egret feeding.

This Snowy Egret was fishing by the Little Blue Heron. It's starting to get dark, but the light still had some color.

Brown Pelican Head throw La Jolla.

Brown Pelican Head throw La Jolla.

I love how his right foot is off the ground.  Dancing or stretching the pouch? I could probably set this to music and post it on YouTube.

Belted Kingfisher, Santee Lakes.

Belted Kingfisher, Santee Lakes.

While I often curse the short battery life of the new Canon 7D Mark II, I got this shot because I had to walk back to the car and get a third battery for the day.  So, I guess thanks Canon?

Female Ring-necked Duck Santee Lakes.

Female Ring-necked Duck Santee Lakes.

She's beautiful! Low angle from using the 600 mm lens on the ground pod Skimmer II.  Shot this one pretty much wide open on the aperture so I could blur the background.

Wood Duck Santee Lakes.

Wood Duck Santee Lakes.

Get low and get eye level!  I love Wood Ducks but this look is killer.  Is he saying feed me or don't come any closer?  Nice blurred background with the  600 at f/4!

Wood Duck Santee Lakes.

Wood Duck Santee Lakes.

Okay he was saying feed me.  Toss a little corn, get an action shot. 1/320 of a second blurred the wing tips some, I like it when action and motion is implied by using a slower shutter speed.

Heermann's Gull Coronado.

Heermann's Gull Coronado.

Post breeding season the Heermann's Gull come up the Washington Coast in the summer, but it's great to see them in their year winter or year-around habitat. I  chose to use f/9 becasue I was using Zone AF Selction points.  In Zone mode the camera will pick up the closest part of the bird.  So if the camera focuses on the wing, I wanted more depth-of-field so the eye would be sharp.

Ring-billed Gull Coranado Island.

Ring-billed Gull Coranado Island.

Flight photography with the 7D Mark II and Zone AF Selection points.  It worked great.  Fast auto focusing, 10 frames per second, and a nice tight shot from the  1.6 crop factor.

Whimbrel at one of th e local estuaries.

Whimbrel at one of th e local estuaries.

One of my favorite shorebirds, I  like that bill. If shooting at a slow shutter speed, press your hand down on top of the lens to dampen any lens shake and vibrations.  This trick will make your images sharper.

Sunset Coronado.

Sunset Coronado.

In camera HDR on the 7D Mark II, then de-saturated some in post processing.  It was so red, so cool.  Even the RAW files  look too red. It was a nice ending to a great day of photography in San Diego.

Enjoy!   Thanks   Tim

Bird Quest 2014

Bird PhotographyTim Boyer2 Comments
Brown Pelican, La Jolla, CA

Brown Pelican, La Jolla, CA

A warm day and cool birds! Day 2 of my California trip I went to La Jolla, and Scripps Beach, for the pelican and the shorebirds, that can be found there.

There are also Brandt's and Double Crested Cormorants.

Brandt's Cormorant, La Jolla, Ca

Brandt's Cormorant, La Jolla, Ca

Double-crested Cormorant, La Jolla, CA

Double-crested Cormorant, La Jolla, CA

Just south of the La Jolla Caves, there's some beach access that often holds shorebirds.  I've found Black Turnstone, Spotted Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Black-bellied Plover and Willet here.  Today there was mostly gulls and a few Black Turnstones.

Black Turnstone, La Jolla, CA

Black Turnstone, La Jolla, CA

I finished the day at Scripps beach, and found the following birds there.

Whimbrel at Scripps Beach, CA

Whimbrel at Scripps Beach, CA

Spotter Sandpiper, La Jolla, CA

Spotter Sandpiper, La Jolla, CA

Say's Phoebe, Scripps Beach, CA

Say's Phoebe, Scripps Beach, CA

Marbled Godwit, Scripps Beach, CA

Marbled Godwit, Scripps Beach, CA

Shorebirds are my favorite group of birds, so whenever I can end the day with a few in golden light I consider it to be a magical ending to a great day.  Tally: at the end of Janauray 6th, I had 10 species photographed for the new year, and to quote Robert Frost, "miles to go before I sleep", but many adventures waiting ahead of me.

Bird Quest 2014

Bird PhotographyTim BoyerComment

Last year I wanted to photograph 500 species of birds.  Well that was an audacious goal, and I didn't even come close.  So, this year I want to chronicle how many species I see and try to do better than last year.  But I have some catching up to do for January and February.   The next few posts will catch me up on my quest for birds in 2014. On Janaury 5th, I was in the San Diego area, here are the bird images I like from that day. I arrived mid-day, the light wan't the greatest, but it was adequate and I liked the soft texture behind the  plover in the first image.

Winter plumage Black-bellied Plover on Silver Strands Beach, Coronado, CA
Winter plumage Black-bellied Plover on Silver Strands Beach, Coronado, CA

There were several Black-bellied Plovers on Silver Strands Beach, but no Snowy Plovers that I could find this year.

I was surprised to get this close to the Ring-billed Gull, the sand was wet behind it, so the background was darker and didn't have the imapct for me as the first image.

Ring-billed Gull-9925
Ring-billed Gull-9925

Okay, so that's the first two.

Birding/Photo Project #7 & San Diego Workshop Images

Bird PhotographyTim BoyerComment
Brandt's Cormorant on its nightly roost.

Brandt's Cormorant on its nightly roost.

Twelve birds from the  last day of the San Diego workshop. These images chronicle the last day of the San Diego Workshop  (January 11th). This brings me to 50 for the month. But more than the numbers,  it's the great expeiences I've had.  The surpise of seeing and spending time with the Little Blue Heron, the Snowy Plover, Wrentit, California Towhee, and the Brown Creeper.  The very animated Snowy Egret were all special moments and why I want to continue to spend as much time as possible with birds.

Adult Heermann's Gull roosting on the La Jolla cliffs.

Adult Heermann's Gull roosting on the La Jolla cliffs.

A yellow-rumped Warbler feeding.

A yellow-rumped Warbler feeding.

Song Sparrow feeding in the bushes at a park on the La Jolla coast.

Song Sparrow feeding in the bushes at a park on the La Jolla coast.

The ubiquitous Rock Pigeon, looking for handouts in La Jolla.

The ubiquitous Rock Pigeon, looking for handouts in La Jolla.

Marbled Godwit at Coronado Beach.

Marbled Godwit at Coronado Beach.

Wintering Snowy Plover on the beaches south of Coronado.

Wintering Snowy Plover on the beaches south of Coronado.

Willet on the beaches south of Coronado looking for food in the incoming tide.

Willet on the beaches south of Coronado looking for food in the incoming tide.

Winter plumage Western Sandpiper, foraging for food on the beache south of Coronado.

Winter plumage Western Sandpiper, foraging for food on the beache south of Coronado.

Black-bellied Plover in winter plumage hanging out in Coronado.

Black-bellied Plover in winter plumage hanging out in Coronado.

Semipalmated Plover hanging out on the Coronado beach waiting for a low tide so it can forage for food.

Semipalmated Plover hanging out on the Coronado beach waiting for a low tide so it can forage for food.

Black Phoebe on the beach near La Jolla Beach.

Black Phoebe on the beach near La Jolla Beach.