I Should’a Stood Home (tongue in cheek)
I left ILE at 4:32am on Saturday and arrived at Sebastian Inlet State Park at 5:59am, just as Maps predicted. There was no wind, zero. There were no-see-ums. And there were very few Ospreys — I saw only four in more than two hours. There was a decent sunrise. I kept only eight images, including one that I liked of a Sanderling in flight against orange/gold sunrise-lit water. That with the 70-200 II at 1/60 second.
On Sunday morning, I headed down to the lake early with a defrosted road-killed raccoon to put out for the vultures. I tried a new spot but wound up not liking it as much as my regular spot. Next was the drive over to Gulfport to meet newbie Alan Goodwin. Alan came a day early for his first IPT and hired me for an extra day of getting started instruction; he is pretty much starting at ground zero. He recently purchased his first super telephoto lens, the Sony 600mm f/4 and an a-1. He used one of my affiliate links (thank you very much) and earned free entry in the SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Notes Group. On Sunday evening I copied my settings to his a-1 and taught him to use the camera while we both sat on a couch for ten minutes. The a-1 is that simple.
Today is Monday 13 November 2023. Alan and I are heading to DeSoto early to do some bird photography! The morning forecast is for strong NE winds with cloudy skies. Pretty good. At 1pm, newbie Paul Marbourgh (who flew from Portland, OR on Saturday) and many multiple IPT veteran John Dupps will be meeting Alan and I for Photo Mechanic lessons. I hope that you too have a great day.
As an aside, if you have been thinking about purchasing a Photo Mechanic license, you are advised to purchase yours here very soon as there may be some changes coming at Camera Bits. Use my link and then shoot me an e-mail with proof of purchase and request a free Getting Started with Photo Mechanic e-mail guide.
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Unexpected Successes (???) are Rarities
Bird photography can be strange. I often know exactly when I make a great image. Once in a great while I will be shocked when I spot a serious problem with an image that I had been sure was a family jewel when viewing it on the rear monitor. But it does happen.
Every once in a while, I press the shutter button knowing that the image or images will be deleted. Sometimes I am trying to learn something, usually about exposure, and sometimes I press the button for no reason at all. In those situations, it is extremely rare to create an image that I actually like. On the morning of 2 November 2023 I made two such images that I liked a lot. Both came as a big surprise. You can learn about how each image came to be below the images.
This image was created on 2 November 2023 at Fort DeSoto Park. I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 600mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ) The exposure was determined using Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 800. 1/15 second at f/6.3 (wide-open) in Manual Mode. AWB at 7:33:42am well before sunrise. RawDigger showed the exposure to be perfect.
Tracking: Spot S AF-C with Bird Face/Eye Detection performed perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.
Image #1: Brown Pelicans and distant buildings
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When Bosque was good 20+ years ago (thanks to then-refuge manager Phil Norton), I said often, “You need to be ready; the best blastoff blurs are created in the first 2-3 seconds.” I had walked far to the north to get on a large mixed flock of gulls, tern, and shorebirds (including 500+ Red Knots) roosting on a sandbar. Anticipating a blastoff, I was working in Manual mode at 1/15 second. Once I was in position I waited and waited and waited in vain. When I spotted a group of pelicans on the shore of Outback Key with a distant line of buildings far in the distance, I decided to make a few images of the scene. I wanted to stay in blur mode so I figured, “What the heck?”
A Striving for Sharp Blur
You might classify images like #1 accidental blurs. Striving for sharp blurs are not, however, mentioned in A Guide to Pleasing Blurs. So, when I framed the image and pressed the shutter button, I was half-heartedly trying to create a sharp image. But at 600mm handheld at 1/15 second you are not gonna make a whole lot of sharp frames. When I came to the short series of images, I loved the photo for the look of the green Gulf waves and the somewhat painterly, somewhat grungy look.
After making a few frames, I glanced back to my left and noted that I had missed the blastoff by ten seconds. As my late Mom used to say, “Oh well.”
This image was created on 2 November 2023 at Fort DeSoto Park. I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 840mm) with The One, the Sony a1 Mirrorless CameraRawDigger showed the exposure to be perfect. AWB at 7:50:54am right around the time of sunrise with some wispy clouds in the eastern sky.
Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird Eye/Face Detection enabled performed perfectly.
Image #2: Laughing Gull in flight at sunrise/pano crop image
Another Happy Accident
There was only one other bird photographer that morning. When our paths crossed, I asked him if he had gotten the blastoff and he answered “No.” I explained to him that with the north wind he had been in the wrong spot, that most of the time in bird photography it pays to have the winds at your back. He was using a tripod-mounted super telephoto, I forget if it was Nikon or Canon. He asked me about Sony. I had been set-up for blurs in Shutter Priority mode so I simply raised the shutter speed to 1/2500 sec. With the brightly colored sky I set +1.7 stops. With Tracking Zone set, I held the camera away from my eye so that we could both see the rear monitor. Looking for anything flying near the sunrise, I was happy to spot the gull, acquire focus instantly, and then move the bird to the right side of the frame as I panned and fired off a short series. All I was trying to do was demonstrate Sony AF; I had not been planning on making even a halfway decent image so I was quite surprised when I came across Image #2.
Do you like one or both of today’s happy accidents? If yes, why? If not, why?