The Truly Extraordinary Bird Photography of Matt Huras & THE Very Best Way to Improve Your Nature Photography « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Truly Extraordinary Bird Photography of Matt Huras & THE Very Best Way to Improve Your Nature Photography

An Impossible Task?

All are invited to leave a comment as to which of Matt Huras’s eight featured images is the strongest. Be sure to let us know why. If you cannot control yourself, it is OK to go with two or three photos. But be warned, this will be a very difficult job,

What’s Up?

All four participants of the first Homer/Kachmak Bay IPT agreed that the morning session on Day Two was the best three hours of bird photography they had ever experienced. That was true, until our afternoon session! Oh, what a day. My blog buddy and room-mate Bob Eastman created more the six thousand images. Carolyn Johnson is having the time of her life while keeping more than 300 images from each session. Robert (“Bear Bob”) Sabin is killing with his Canon R5/RF 100-500 rig. And Vasili (“The Sponge”) Chernishof continues to ask on-point questions all day long. And yesterday, he laid off the shutter button once the bird had flow past him — a huge improvement.

In the afternoon, I inadvertently left my Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM II lens on my bed and in the low light, was forced to do flight photography with the big gun, the 400mm f/2.8 GM. Oh my!

In yesterday’s blog post, I was the only one who liked Image #5, Bald Eagle adult female with dried blood on forehead best. Why? Because she was looking right down the lens barrel and because of the dried blood on her forehead. In short, it was different. Most folks opted for Image #2, the vertical bank shot. I liked that one also (along with the rest of the images), but I have made many like tike that before.

Today is Wednesday 22 February 2023. As it will be our first cloudy morning (and day), we will leave the dock at 10:00am.

If you have some cold weather gear, are free from about 23 or 24 February through March 3 or 4 or beyond — there is still a single opening on the third IPT, and would like to join the second Homer IPT, please get in touch via e-mail ASAP as I am practically giving that one away for free.

This blog post took about two hours to prepare and makes three hundred twenty-nine days in a row with a new educational post written just for you. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day.

Please, please, pretty please remember to use my B&H or Bedford’s affiliate programs for all your new gear purchases. If you use B&H, please be sure to click on any B&H link in the blog to start your search. Or simply start with this link. There is always the option of e-mailing me for gear advice and for the correct links.

The plan is to continue to post every day until the streak reaches one year and one day and then begin posting every other day.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

You can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so, works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

Please remember that if an item โ€” a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head โ€” for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords, is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great, and greatly appreciated, if you would opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to earn 3% cash back at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout for your major gear purchases. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

This image was created by Matt Huras. He used the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR lens with the Nikon D850 DSLR.

Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #1: Copulating American Kestrels
Image courtesy of and copyright Matt Huras Nature Photography

Discovering the Work of Matt Huras

I was surfing around on the web, looking for some great bird photography. While visiting Matthew Studebaker’s website, I discovered another Matthew who likes to photograph birds and nature Matt Huras. I followed the link; it turned out to be broken. But it led me to MATTHURAS.COM. I was totally blown away. I spent an hour looking at every page and gallery. What I saw was extraordinary. I e-mailed Matt and asked him if I might share some of his work on the blog. And so, here we are. Enjoy, and learn.

And yes, the male, the bird with the blue wings, is on top.

Matt on the American Kestrels mating image

Two American Kestrels doing the deed early one spring morning. Though it lasted no more that 5 seconds, the look from the female seems to ask, “When will this be over?”

This image was also created by Matt Huras. He used the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera.

Image #2: Bufflehead flying right down the lens barrel
Image courtesy of and copyright Matt Huras Nature Photography

The Very Best Way to Improve Your Bird Photography

The very best way to improve your bird photography is to look at and study as much great bird photography as possible. I do that often. Study each image and ask, “What makes this one special?” You will always learn something, and will often be motivated and inspired. But when you find someone as talented and hard-working as Matt, you just might — as I did — want to throw all of your gear in the lake and take up knitting.

As I viewed Matt’s images for the first time, I tried to figure out what gear he was using. Many of the images screamed 600mm f/4. Others brought a 400mm f/2.8 to mind. As for Matt’s system, I figured Sony A1 or Nikon Z9. As it turned out, I was right on all counts!

Please click on the image to view the high-res version.

Matt on the Screaming-in-for-a-landing male Bufflehead image

You gotta love how mother nature taught these ducks to use their legs when landing. They initially hold their feet splayed behind them (like parachutes) to help them slow down as seen in this image. Then at the last second, they quickly move their legs forward to act as water skis as they skid in for a landing.

This image was also created by Matt Huras. Again, he used the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera.

Image #3: Short-eared Owl
Image courtesy of and copyright Matt Huras Nature Photography

Matt Huras Bio

Matt spent 30+ years in the IT industry before retiring with a thirst to spend more time out of the office and in nature. So he grabbed the old camera gear that he had used to photograph his kids when they were young and headed out into the woods. One of the first things he came across was a tiny black and yellow bird. He thought it looked kinda cool, so he snapped some frames. After a close look on my PC screen that evening, he was struck by how beautiful the little critter was and wondered, “What is this thing? Why haven’t I seen it before?”

After a little googling, he learned it was a Magnolia Warbler. He was completely enamored by its beauty and by the fantastical world of the wood warbler family. From that point on, he was a man on steroids. Frustrated at having discovered this world relatively late in my life, he wanted to make up for that lost time by cramming as much learning and photography as he could into his remaining time. He has done that in spades!

And as he spent more and more time in nature, the more wondrous it became to him. And he realized that he needed to share what he was so privileged at seeing and witnessing with others. He thought, “So many people – busy with the complexity of their lives – struggle to experience the beauty of our world.” He hoped, through photography, to capture and share unique perspectives of our world that may help others feel the wonder he feels when out in the wild.

Check out more of Matt’s photography on the web at MATTHURAS.COM, on Instagram at matthuras, or on Facebook at matt.huras.7

Matt on the Short-eared Owl image

Crazy-extreme cold and a pink pre-dawn glow created some special conditions for photography one winter morning in Canada last year. This Short-eared Owl cooperated nicely by posing on a frost-laden tree top.

This image was also created by Matt Huras. Again, he used the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera.

Please click on the image to view the high-res version.

Image #4: Northern Pygmy Owl
Image courtesy of and copyright Matt Huras Nature Photography

Matt on the Northern Pygmy Owl image

When this Northern Pygmy Owl perched on this small Juniper bush, I wanted to include a fair amount of the foliage in the frame to show just how tiny these beautiful owls are.

This image was also created by Matt Huras. Again, he used the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera.

Please click on the image to view the high-res version.

Image #5: American Bittern taking flight
Image courtesy of and copyright Matt Huras Nature Photography

Matt on the American Bittern taking flight image

I was trying to locate a Great-crested Flycatcher that had been calling when I heard the unmistakable “lump-de-dump” sound of an American Bittern in the nearby swamp. Not long later, I was delighted to not only see the bird, but see it take to the air! I usually try to keep my shutter speed high to capture action, and that came in handy here.

This image was also created by Matt Huras. He used the Nikon NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S lens with the vaunted Nikon Z9 Mirrorless camera.

Please click on the image to view the high-res version.

Image #6: Red-necked Grebe baby flapping
Image courtesy of and copyright Matt Huras Nature Photography

Matt on the Red-necked Grebe baby flapping image

One thing I have learned shooting young water birds is that they will often emulate their parents. So when a parent flaps their wings, instead of cursing myself that for missing the shot, I instead focused on a baby, hoping that it would soon follow suit.

This image was also created by Matt Huras. He used the Nikon NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S lens with the vaunted Nikon Z9 Mirrorless camera.

Image #7: Common Loon with large fish
Image courtesy of and copyright Matt Huras Nature Photography

Matt on the Common Loon with large fish image

This Common Loon struggled with its catch for at least 15 minutes. In the end, it was unable to swallow the fish and left it floating, dead in the water. It was a sad outcome for the loon (and of course, for the fish!), but perhaps it was scooped up by a passing Bald Eagle. Nothing goes to waste in nature.

This image was also created by Matt Huras. He used the Nikon NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S lens with the vaunted Nikon Z9 Mirrorless camera.

Please click on the image to view the high-res version.

Image #8: Common Loon chick being fed bass eating baitfish!
Image courtesy of and copyright Matt Huras Nature Photography

Matt on the Common Loon chick being fed bass eating baitfish! image

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there! The adolescent loonlet is getting a double bonus meal. Yes, it’s about to get a nice sized bass. But it’s also getting the little fish that the big fish was just about to swallow when it was caught by momma loon. Dessert served at the same time as the main course! I did not notice the baitfish while shooting – my eyes popped later when reviewing the images.

Huge Thanks

Huge thanks to Matt Huras for allowing me to share just some of his spectacular work with y’all here on the blog. He was both helpful and quick to respond to my various requests. I hope to meet him somewhere along the road at some point.

Typos

With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

19 comments to The Truly Extraordinary Bird Photography of Matt Huras & THE Very Best Way to Improve Your Nature Photography

  • The shot of the loon with the fish really is extraordinary. The arc formed by the drops of water adds so much.

  • avatar Bill Eaton

    Amazing images by Matt.Thanks for posting.

  • avatar Jeff

    Will he take me out with him?!!!! Awesome pics, thanks to all for once again making my day. Buffleheads are beautiful smallish birds. It would be nice to know where pics were taken.

  • avatar Bruce Dudek

    Despite all being very enjoyable, #8 for me, hands down.
    Having spent many hours in my canoe trying to photograph adult loons feeding chicks, I recognize the extremely high difficulty level of this photo. Having the chick, the fish and the adult all in focus (at F2.8!) with a telephoto lens is a big challenge. In addition the low perspective means that the photographer was probably not sitting upright in a canoe or kayak. Instead, he must have been in another kind of boat, perhaps a rowboat or some kind of watercraft where the camera/lens are close to water level. And then maneuvering such a craft in position would be extremely difficult. Or perhaps the whole rig was held over the side of a canoe/boat – risky. Plus, the exposure and post processing is exquisite. It is so easy to blow out the adult white feathers to get a reasonable exposure on the black head. In addition, just finding loon families that will tolerate the close approach is quite challenging. Finally, fish in fish? Come on – just over the top cool.

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    All are incredible images, to close to make a call!

  • avatar Adam

    The bufflehead is incredibly interesting, though the short eared owl with the pink background is very arty. Many of his images have an art like quality and demonstrate a tremendous amount of work. Thanks for sharing.

  • All fabulous. My top picks are–
    –bufflehead for the landing position probably rarely if ever captured and the blue and orange reflections in the water
    –short-eared owl for the eye-connection with the owl and the pink/purple gorgeous background made even more beautiful by the gray frosted plant stem.
    bittern–again for the beautiful background and wings down position
    Plus all the rest. He is level with each bird which makes for an intimate connection with the viewer.

  • avatar David Pugsley

    Difficult choice, but the bufflehead for me.

    PS Artie, when do we meet for our first knitting session. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • avatar Sue Jarrett

    All 8 images are interesting and cute! Matt Huras did well on all 8!!

  • Nice one, Matt! My fav is for sure the loon trying to down that too-big fish.

  • Matt is a phenomenal bird photographer! Undoubtedly, one of the best today!

  • avatar larry brown

    All of these photos deserve an A+ but the Bufflehead is the one that really caught my eye. What a unique perspective.

  • avatar John Tobias

    Very impressive! The loon with the fish is outstanding.

  • avatar John Mostert

    I have recently purchased a Canon R3 and a Canon RF 400mm f2.8 lens and a Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens.
    I am battling to set the camera-up correctly and was wondering whether you are able to advise me, who from all your followers, would be willing to pass on to me their settings? Thanks.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi John,
      I am try to find out how similar the R3 is to the R5. I do have a guide for the R5. And I am in touch with Clemens Van der Werf in Holland. He uses and loves the R3 — I am trying to get him to write a short R3 AF guide.

      with love, artie

    • avatar Eddie Belanger

      As I am accustomed to seeing Mattโ€™s images on a regular basis.
      These image all fare very well with minimal criticism ever on any of his work.
      But I do recall another image that Matt posted just over a year ago that stands out for me.
      It was a head on Wood Duck shot.
      Maybe Matt would be able to post that one as well.
      For the 8 listed, my favourite by far is the fish in fish being fed to the youngster.

  • WoW! Thanks for sharing! Matt is undoubtedly a gifted photographer!

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