Tim Boyer Photography

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Tim Boyer Photography

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

Snowy Plover - Directional versus Quality of Light

Bird PhotographyTim BoyerComment

It was just after noon that I came across this Snowy Plover today.  So the light was not the typically sweet morning or later afternoon light that warms up an image, that I like.  But by putting the sun directly on the face and eye of the bird I was still able to get a workable image, without too much contrasting shadow below the main subject.  

Taken at 12:28 PM on 1/17/16.
Taken at 12:28 PM on 1/17/16.

This image was created at 1/640 of a second, at f/7.1 and ISO 250.  With the handheld Canon EOS 7D Mark II and the EF 100-400 mm f/4.5 - 5.6 IS lens.

Enjoy  Thanks Tim

First Birds of 2016

Bird PhotographyTim BoyerComment

I was up in the Skagit on January 2, 2016 and here are a few of the birds I was able to find.  

Short-eared Owl at the  Leque Island Wildlife Area.
Short-eared Owl at the Leque Island Wildlife Area.

We pulled into the Wildlife Area on Leque Island and the first thing we saw was a Short-eared Owl on the side of the road.  It left the road and flew 40 feet or so into the cut corn field, so we got a few images right out of the car, then very slowly we got out of the car and spent about an hour taking pictures and waiting for the  sunlight to hit the bird.  A very cooperative bird, and a start to a very special day.

Song Sparrow inthe blackberries at the Fir Island Farm Reserve. 1/500 of a second, f/8 and ISO 250, with the  7D Mark II and a 100 to 400 zoom at 400 mm.
Song Sparrow inthe blackberries at the Fir Island Farm Reserve. 1/500 of a second, f/8 and ISO 250, with the 7D Mark II and a 100 to 400 zoom at 400 mm.

There were Marsh Wrens, Spotted Towhees, and Song Sparrow in the blackberries, but it took some waiting around for them to pop-up and get out in the open.

Rough-legged Hawk near the West 90. 1/2000 of a second, f/5.4 at ISO 250 with the Canon 7D Mark II and  a 100 to 400 zoom at 40 mm.
Rough-legged Hawk near the West 90. 1/2000 of a second, f/5.4 at ISO 250 with the Canon 7D Mark II and a 100 to 400 zoom at 40 mm.

Rough-legged Hawks are one of my favorite birds, they only visit us in the winter months, but they're such cool birds.  It doesn't seem like there are as many of them as there was in the 1980's when I first started going to the Skagit to see them, now each encounter is special.

Blurred landscape. 1/15 of a second at f/25 and ISO 100 7D Mark II and the  100 to 400 zoom at 400 mm.
Blurred landscape. 1/15 of a second at f/25 and ISO 100 7D Mark II and the 100 to 400 zoom at 400 mm.

We were at the Wylie Wildlife Area or Skagit Headquarters and there were no birds close enough to photograph.  So, when there are no birds, it's time to play and by setting the aperature to f/25, shooting in Aperature Priority Mode slowed the shutter speed to 1/15 of a second.  Then with a little camera movement up, the dead trees in the slough became something besides trees that had been killed by opening the dike and letting the saltwater in.  We had to explain to another bird photogrpaher what we were doing, since he thought maybe we were seeing some birds he didn't.

Trumpter Swan flying directly overhead.  1/1800 of a second, f/6.3 and ISO 400 with the Canon 7D Mark ii at 150 mm.
Trumpter Swan flying directly overhead. 1/1800 of a second, f/6.3 and ISO 400 with the Canon 7D Mark ii at 150 mm.

There were a couple of large mixed flocks of swans on both sides of Dry Creek Road and when they would decide the grass was greener on the other side they'd fly right over us.  These are such large birds, and often when we were facing the oppiste direction they were approaching from, we'd hear the noise from their wing beats first.

Tundra Swans 1/1000 of a second, f/8 at ISO 250 at 400 mm with the Canon 7D Mark II.
Tundra Swans 1/1000 of a second, f/8 at ISO 250 at 400 mm with the Canon 7D Mark II.

Here's a group of Tundra Swans at our last stop on Fir Island.  It was a wonderful day, cold but sunny and we had some cool birds.  Hope the rest of 2016 is as productive for all of us.

Lesser Sand Plover

Bird PhotographyTim BoyerComment

These images were taken yesterday on August 16th at Ocean Shores, WA. On the outer coast near the Quinault Casino.  This was a field trip sponsored by the Seattle Audubon, and there were nine of us on the trip.  Later the bird was seen by two other birders see -- eBird for those details. We accessed the beach from the entrance point by the Best Western Hotel and drove north.  We saw the usual Western Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers and Sanderlings but it was low tide the birds were scattered and not bunched up so we had low numbers and small groupings of birds.  After driving as far as we legally could we turned around and were headed south back to the Best Western beach access point thinking about the North Jetty as the next stop.  I don't know why I stopped the car to look at this small group of shorebirds, but the day before on the shorebird field trip for the Fall Shorebird Class I taught for Eastside Audubon we found a Ruddy Turnstone on the beach with a few Western Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers.  What happened next though must have looked like pandemonium on the beach as I jumped out of my car and ran back to Blair's car to ask him to get the scope out, he was already out of his car grabing his camera.  We both had left our car doors open and cars running as we very quickly realized what we were seeing.  I bet the field trip participants wondered what the heck they'd gotten themselves into as both drivers had jumped out of their cars.  Blair and I both called out Lesser Sand Plover, although I think the first thing I said was the old name Mongolian Plover.  After awhile we settled down and got the other field trip participants on the bird, but still in shock/surprise that we'd located a bird that hadn't been seen in Washington since 2013, we made sure everyone got good looks, four of five of us had cameras and got pictures, and I'm not sure I stopped smiling and saying WOW, for a couple of hours.  Yep, 24 hours later, WOW!

Lesser Sadn Plover found on the outer coast of Ocean Shores near teh  Quinault Casino on Aug. 16th, 2015.
Lesser Sadn Plover found on the outer coast of Ocean Shores near teh Quinault Casino on Aug. 16th, 2015.
Lesser Sand Plover-8128
Lesser Sand Plover-8128
Lesser Sand Plover-8188
Lesser Sand Plover-8188
Lesser Sand Plover feeding on a marine worm.
Lesser Sand Plover feeding on a marine worm.
Lesser Sand Plover with Semipalmated Plovers and Western Sandpiper
Lesser Sand Plover with Semipalmated Plovers and Western Sandpiper
Size comparison Lesser Sand Plover with Western Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers.
Size comparison Lesser Sand Plover with Western Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers.

Later in the day on the Oyhut Game Range we located what we first thought to be 17 Pacific Golden Plovers, but when they were flushed by a peregrine there were 22 or 23. I had counted 8 the day before with the Eastside Audubon Class. But, 20+ Pacific Golden Plovers was a high number for all of us.

There was also a pair of peregrine on the Game Range, and we watch one Peregrine Falcon snack on a shorebird.  It had landed pretty close to use and we had great views with our bins.  We couldn't make out the band number but it had a right leg red band and a left leg green band.  It was pretty windy by then and even with scope views there was too much vibration to read the band number.

We watched the peregrine that had been snacking take off and fly about two feet off the ground and spit a group of flushed shorebirds.  Then the other peregrine from higher up dove on one of the groups.  It caught one of the small shorebirds and flew directly over head.  On any normal fieldtrip that would have been the highlight, watching a peregrine hunt then do a fly over at 20 feet. But on a day with a Lesser Sand Plover and  20+ Pacific Golden Plovers, it was exciting, but definitely not the highlight!

These images were taken around 11:45  AM in mid-day light with the Canon 7D Mark II and a 100-400 mm lens with a 1.4 Extender so the  effective focal lenght was 896 mm.  I had to do a lot of cropping on each image, we were not that close to the bird, and none of us wanted to flush it.

Enjoy      Get outside and Thanks!         Tim