Two weeks ago, a photographer, scheduled to attend the Rockport Whooping Crane Photo Tour the following week, emailed to say she thought it would be best to cancel since rain was forecast for those days. I looked again at the 10 day forecast and was reassured that both days were predicted to be sunny with a high each day of 57 degrees. With that information in hand, I convinced her to come on down. The rain wasn’t scheduled to start until after the photo tour.
Well, the forecasters were off just a bit…we had highs of 42 and 39 degrees for the photo tour with hard north winds. But, hey, it didn’t rain! The cranes were abundant and active, but those poor photographers suffered every minute they were on deck. The bitter cold certainly took a lot of the fun out of that trip. A windy 40 degrees at Rockport is like a dry 15 degrees at Bosque del Apache, N.M..
After photographing cranes in the mornings, we worked other habitats for ducks, herons and songbirds in the afternoons. Still, it was mighty tough shooting with the cold wind and heavy clouds blocking most of the light. Some sample photos are included here, just to let you know it’s a great place to photograph in the winter, even when it’s cold.
Click on the photos to open them in a larger and sharper format. You can also view them in order by clicking on “next” in the upper right corner.
That rusty colored bird in the middle is a young of the year. It will lose most of those reddish brown feathers by spring.
With the wind and heavy cloud cover, we had to shoot with high ISO settings (ISO 800-1200) most of the time. On a positive note, that gave us a reason to discuss “noise reduction” in Photoshop and how to sharpen after smoothing out the noise in digital photos.
The whooping crane shots were taken with a Canon 7D camera, Canon 500 mm IS lens, 1.4 X teleconverter (except the two close-up shots), Gitzo cf tripod and Wimberley head. I tried to keep a high shutter speed (1/2,000 second when possible) on all occasions since the wind was strong and the light was limited.
This great blue heron appeared to be in breeding plumage when I photographed it wading about a hidden pond at Port Aransas. There was no time to remove the teleconverter when I got this shot, so I missed the full reflection. That happens when one is working warblers and herons at the same location.
I will be doing a photo talk the first Wednesday night of February at the La Posada Hotel in Laredo for their second annual birding festival. Then, I’ll be in Galveston for Featherfest the first week of April to do several workshops and tours. Read about it and sign up at : http://www.galvestonfeatherfest.com/PhotoFest_Descriptions.php