More DeSoto Images As Promised & Some Head Angle Fine Points

As mentioned in the last post, the wind and weather on the morning of the 3rd made it one very tough morning.   With the wind quite strong from the west, there were fewer birds on the exposed beach, and most of the birds were taking advantage of the small bit of shelter offered by the beach vegetation.  After I assessed the situation, I know that I would be able to create some images in which the vegetation played at least as important a part of the image’s success as the bird….

This was the first habitat image that I created. My eye was attracted by the somewhat sweeping pattern of the vegetation. If I had gotten closer I would not have been able to include all of the plant behind the bird. I used the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 1000. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/5.6. With the rather fierce wind, I raised the ISO to ensure a fast-enough shutter speed. Fill flash at -1 1/3 stops with the Better Beamer. The most important thing to note as far as the image design is that I was careful not to clip the tallest bit of vegetation on our left.
In this version, I eliminated the o-o-f vegetation in the u-r-c. Which version do you prefer?
Here, note how I have carefully chosen my prespective to frame the Royal Tern against the sand. I made several images once I got into position but knew that this one, with the bird looking out of the frame (for the best compositional balance with the vegetation on my left), would be my favorite. Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/400 sec. at f/5.6. Fill flash at -1 1/3 stops with Better Beamer.


This and the image below were created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D MIII body. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/250 sec. at f/5.6. Fill flash at -1 1/3 stops with the Better Beamer. In this image, the bird's head is turned just a bit away from the imaging sensor. This head position is far from ideal.
This image features a pretty much perfect head angle with the bird's head turned a very few degrees towards me. You need to be aware of the head angle before you press the shutter button!

To learn more about proper head angle see the Head Angle Police thread on BirdPhotographers.Net here:  And while you are there, be sure to check out the other great tutorials in Educational Resources here:  See you all soon.

Jeez, I keep forgetting to mention: if you will be visiting Fort DeSoto, do check out our Fort DeSoto Site Guide here:

Did you like this? Share it:

3 comments to More DeSoto Images As Promised & Some Head Angle Fine Points

  • avatar Bill

    Aha. I didn’t realize I could get a bigger image. Clicking on the jpg makes a real difference. The eye is so close to black-on-black to begin with, that image size makes a big difference.


  • Hey Bill, Assuming that you clicked on the image to see the larger JPEG, I can only say that in the full size optimized TIFF file the eye looks fine. I did darken the pupil a bit and lighten the iris a tiny bit–you have to be careful about over-doing the latter. The catchlight was from the flash.

  • avatar Bill

    I’d be interested in any thoughts on making the tern’s eye more visible. All my tern photos have the eye either invisible or nearly invisible. In your photo, I see just a bit of catchlight, but at the size the photo appears on my monitor, I really have to look twice to see it.