NEW COURSE: MATT K’s Guide to Bird Photography… Now On Sale

I’ve visited Ft. Desoto Beach ,here in the Tampa area, a number of times this spring. Once you shoot there a time or two, you start to change your expectations. At first, you’re just happy to get a nice photo of a Snowy Egret flying. They don’t fly really fast, so tracking them isn’t that hard and they’re pretty predictable.

PS: Posts will probably be a little slow this week. I’m hosting my 2020 Costa Rica Workshop this week and next. Yes, you read that right… 2020. I won’t even mention that evil word that I’m SOOOO freakin’ tired of hearing, so let’s just say we’re finally making it happen 🙂

Once you get that shot, then you start trying to get photos of them fishing or doing other interesting things. They’re a very common bird around here. So actually seeing them out and about (and close) is fairly normal and every day. So when we go to Ft Desoto, most of the photographers that go out there, are trying to get that “uncommon” shot of them doing something interesting or some really interesting light.

Most of the birds around there are fun to watch. While they search for fish the behavior is quirky to say the least. They stick their heads in the water fast, which can be a great shot. It’s also fun to watch them pull a fish out. After that, you try to get a photo of them tossing the fish back and hopefully even grabbing a photo of that fish in mid-air between the top and bottom of their beak. It happens so fast, you usually don’t even know it happened.

And then, every once in a while, one of those shots you didn’t expect happens. Heck, I didn’t even know I had this shot until I got home. It’s a photo of the Snowy, in flight, with the fish in mid air. But not just the fish in it’s mouth, it’s actually tossing the fish in the air while flying. Talk about eating on the go right?!!! 🙂

Settings, Gear and Processing

I used the Sony Alpha 1 with the 200-600mm lens @ 600mm.

Exposure was f/6.3, 1/3200th, and 1250 ISO.

I was on continuous AF mode, with the Wide AF area. As usual, Sony’s Bird Eye AF did a great job, but I’m usually just not steady enough while panning in flight shots to allow the camera to lock on, so the camera automatically reverted to focussing on the head. Which at this distance is the same as the eye and indistinguishable when viewing close up.

The photo was processed in Lightroom for some cropping and basic exposure edits (not much needed). I didn’t need Photoshop for anything so I jumped straight to Topaz Sharpen AI. At 1250 ISO the noise wasn’t too bad, and Topaz Sharpen got rid of it and sharpened things up nicely.

As always you can find links to all of my gear, computers, hard drives, etc… over on the Gear page which can be clicked on in the top menu (or just click here). And it’s always appreciated if you use the links on that page (even if you’re not purchasing that specific item) when buying anything. It doesn’t cost you a penny and it’ll help me out a bit 🙂

An Alternate Crop + Which Do You Like Better?

So, which do you like better? Below you’ll see a less-tightly cropped version. I already know my answer and I favor tight crops. For me, I always want to show something interesting. And if I capture that interesting moment, I want it in your face with no question about what I wanted you to see in the photo.

But, some people prefer the full crop. I typically find purists (and I don’t mean that word in a bad way at all) like the full image with wingspan because they were “raised” in the industry to never crop a wing. There’s no right or wrong though, and what is acceptable has changed a lot over the years. In fact, when I look at my favorite bird photos, many of them have wings cropped to really show off some sort of action.

Thanks for stopping by. Posts will probably be slow this week as I’m taking my June 2020 Costa Rica group to Costa Rica this week. Only a year late, but hey… we’re here! 🙂

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