A Morning in Spoonbill Heaven « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Morning in Spoonbill Heaven

[Not a valid template]

“Reddish Egret Soft Sunrise.” When a morning begins like this, it is generally a good sign. πŸ™‚ I created the two images for this stitched panorama with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/5.6. I pressed the AF-On button to lock the exposure to ensure the same exposure for the two images. I now use rear focus exclusively and have switched the functions of the AF-On button and the Star button. To learn more about this trick and tons more about your camera, check out our Mark IV User’s Guide here.

A Morning in Spoonbill Heaven

If you live within 500 miles of Tampa Bay FL, or if you can get some time off from work, you need to travel to Gibsonton, FL as soon as possible (you would fly into either Tampa or Clearwater/St.Pete) and get out for a few days with James Shadle on his customized for photography pontoon boat, the Hooptie Deux. Though the spoonbill photography will be great for several months, many of the birds are already in prime breeding condition right now.

Yesterday morning James took out a crew of our great BPN Moderators and me out for a day on the bay. I personally enjoyed one of the best mornings of bird photography in my 28 years of doing this. Even though we had a large group of folks, we were able to get quite close to the birds. Most everyone got great flight images but I choked on my very best chance…. To learn more or to arrange a trip with James, click here.

[Not a valid template]

Tripod-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X III teleconverter and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/640 sec. at f/13 set manually.

By studying the image and the image specs above you can learn two important lessons for creating successful over the shoulder pose images. First, the best head angle is almost always perfectly square to the back of the camera. Second, it is imperative to use additional go to a relatively small aperture (f/13 here) to ensure sufficient depth of field, enough to cover the feathers of the lower back. To keep the background looking soft I got lower by kneeling.

To see a spectacular image of this bird preening check out my BPN post here.

[Not a valid template]

Tripod-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/1250 sec. at f/7.1 set manually.

Somewhat surprisingly, the image above was created using 45-Point AF. Photographing this bird was quite a challenge. I kept flapping (and raising its wings) every minute or so for more than 20 minutes but almost always in a crowd so isolating the subject was difficult. At other times, as here, I needed to go vertical and as a result, cut off lots of the wings. I got lucky here with the orchestra conductor pose πŸ™‚

[Not a valid template]

Tripod-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X III teleconverter and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/800 sec. at f/8 set manually.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear that I used to create the image above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins.

Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon 1.4X III teleconverter. This is my most used accessory; I would be lost without it.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera bod.y And this is the very best professional digital camera body that I have even used..

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
Double Bubble Level You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card Fast and dependable.

10 comments to A Morning in Spoonbill Heaven

  • Louise Burky

    Hello Artie, The synergy between the Birds, Photography, the computer, and your personal sense of artistry is beyond belief. They made the Fl -IPT worth 10X the effort. In spirit these are like your two herons in the courtship dance.


  • Thanks for the tip. I had a good time with James this morning.

    Enjoy your trip.

  • Doug Schurman

    Hey Artie beautiful images of the Spoonbill.

    I noticed on the image with the wings opening you used the 800 f5.6 with the 1.4 extender. You also mention that the f-stop was set at 7.1. i’m thinking there is a mistake here becasue if you add the extenter to a 5.6 lense you should be at f8 wide open. Is that right?


    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Doug. Brain typo on that one. It was created with the straight 800. I will fix it πŸ™‚

  • Keith Reeder

    The Spoonbill images are eye-popping!

    The Egret needs a bit of clockwise rotation, but is very nice too (actually the last Spoonbill needs to go in the opposite direction a little).

  • A,K,Sircar

    Superb shots. You have captured amazing colors and details in the ideal light condition. Compliments!

  • Wow!! Great post! Love the images πŸ™‚

  • I have been out on the Hooptie Deux twice with James Shadle – once in 2009 and again in 2010 – and I can’t wait to go out again. He really gets you to the birds with the perfect light, etc. I highly recommend it (and nobody is paying me for saying this).

  • Great pictures,Arthur, I love them all!