Three weeks after the FeatherFest trip, I was at the Block Creek Natural Area with five photographers to “focus” on several species. As you will see, they seemed most impressed by the wild turkeys, hawks and hummingbirds.
All the following shots were made by the group and I think it’s an impressive collection.
Remember, if you click on an image, it will enlarge and sharpen for better viewing.
Three images by Barbara Pickthall:
Two images by Larry Urquhart:
Male Black-chinned Hummingbird feeding.
Four photos by Jack Emsoff:
Two photos by Tom Pickthall:
Kimberly Smith, our fifth photographer, wasn’t able to submit images for this newsletter, but some of her shots will be featured in a future newsletter on the Christmas Mountains Lucifer Hummingbird Photo Tour.
Way to go photographers. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos.
Galveston’s FeatherFest was almost two months ago. How did I get this far behind? The short version of a long story is this…I booked too many trips and took on too many photo projects this spring. It was fun but grueling. Anyway, here we are with plenty of time to look back and enjoy some of the images captured along the way.
During the first week of April, I led a photo trip on Kevin Sims’ boat at Rockport to photograph colonial nesting birds along the coast. That was followed by two days with groups at High Island and Galveston Bay. The weather was fantastic and we had a ball.
Here are some of my favorite shots from those outings: When you click on an image it will enlarge and sharpen for better viewing.
After photographing along the islands of Aransas Bay in the morning, we headed south to Port Aransas for the afternoon at Paradise Pond and the Birding Center.
Recommendation: when you are photographing at a nesting colony, set the big lens aside and go with a more flexible zoom lens (100-400 mm is ideal for me). In doing so, fewer wings are clipped on the flight shots and you have more room in the frame for bird behavior or multiple birds at once.
Large birds look best in flight when they are banking into a turn. We got lots of photo opportunities working from Kevin’s boat as birds returned to the island with nest material and to feed young.
The rookery at High Island offered many nice shots of roseate spoonbills and various egrets engaged in mating and nest building.
Bird photography on Galveston Bay (also from Kevin’s boat) during FeatherFest, was superb. We enjoyed an afternoon with brown pelicans, spoonbills, terns, skimmers and more.
Late in the day, we couldn’t quit “shooting” passing black skimmers.
Then, as the light faded, I just had to get one more slow shutter speed shot of these pelicans.
There is no place for bird photography like the Texas coast in April.
The Big Bend National Park area was as beautiful in late March as ever. Five photographers and I spent three busy days traveling about the vastness that is Big Bend. Most of our photography was done at sunrise, sunset and after dark in iconic locations like Santa Elena Canyon, Boquillas Rim, Rio Grande Village, The Window at Chisos Mountains, Terlingua cemetery and the Rio Grande in Big Bend Ranch State Park. Unlike recent years, we saw only a handful of wildflowers and blooming yucca, but there was plenty to photograph.
I still want to go back and kayak or float the river gorge, but I got plenty of exercise hiking to Balanced Rock and scaling down a rock slide in the Rio Grande canyon at Big Bend Ranch State Park. The journey from south Texas to the park takes a FULL day, but the reward is great. For those of us living in the city, the west Texas night skies are reward enough for the effort. Come along with me on a brief photo trip to the Big Bend.
Click on a photo to enlarge and sharpen it for viewing.
A beautiful pair of black hawks are nesting in a cottonwood at Rio Grande Village in Big Bend National Park. After many visits over the years, I was finally able to see and photograph them from the road. The nesting area is closed to visitors. Canon 7D mark II, 100-400 mm lens, hand held.
That same afternoon, we journeyed on to the campgrounds at the east end of the village and climbed the hill for a view of the sun setting behind the Chisos Mountains in the west and the glowing pinks of Boquillas rim to the east.
The walls stay the same but the river is ever changing. I’d like to return in summer and catch the sun setting down the canyon at Santa Elena.
After leaving the canyon shortly after dawn, we stopped downstream to look back at the big picture…miles of cliffs towering above the river. I used HDR toning on this image to jazz up the look of it.
Evening in the Chisos Basin provides many angles and subjects. These verbinas were about the only cluster of wildflower I spotted that week.
I like to work on foreground subjects near the Window near Big Bend NP Lodge and Restaurant.
The photo group got many nice images of The Window with clouds at sunset.
Looking west, Presidio, Texas is upriver and out of sight by a few miles from this point in the canyon. A well timed sunset visit would make me very happy. I’ll have to plan for that one on the next trip.
Just downstream toward Lajitas, there is a take out for these canoes and a really cool roadside park with tepees shading the picnic tables.
This is the first group I’ve had with so many naturalist/birders. Everyone had to get in on the act of seeing Gambel’s quail drinking at the Rio Grande.
We walked and climbed to Balanced Rock in the Grapevine Hills at Big Bend National Park one morning. I could see His glory in every direction.
Subtle differences in the amount of light painted onto these sepulchers make a huge difference in where the eye is drawn. In the latter, I see the stars first. A warm and slightly weak flashlight was used for both.
In spite of some stormy weather at the start of our week, this Big Bend IPT was one of the best I can remember.
Jumping from January into March, I found myself back at Laguna Seca Photo Ranch. These trips sandwiched many days of working on photo files and shooting magazine assignments. Winter just slipped by while I was housebound.
Anyway, the following shots reflect a day of wonderful photography, mostly from the regular blinds. I kept only one photo from the raptor blind shoot in the morning. About mid-afternoon, a batch of wild turkeys began coming and going from the pond at my afternoon blind. The flock included several large gobblers who were strutting and gobbling for about two hours.
I really like the curled primary feathers on the landing bird.
It takes some skill to work a box call and then grab the camera to capture the gobbler’s reply. In this case, I handed the call to another photographer and asked him to give it one squawk. I was ready.
These turkeys were a total surprise for me. It’s the first time I’ve seen gobblers at Laguna Seca Ranch, but hopefully not the last.
It’s been so long since I put together a newsletter, I almost forgot my password. But, here we are, so lets review. Way back in January, I spent a day at Laguna Seca Photo Ranch and got some nice shots early. We were hoping the white-tailed hawks would make an appearance; that didn’t happen. A plethora of caracaras came to the bait, so we had fun while that lasted.
This young bird is coming back for more even though it obviously got a crop full on an earlier visit.
Most of these flight shots were done with the Canon 100-400 lens while the ground shots were made with the 500 mm lens.
Here are 17 reasons you should get ready to pack your bags and head out past Uvalde to Transition Ranch with me this spring. The food is great, the rooms are nice (they come with a pool and hot tub), the country is beautiful and…
This is only a handful of the species we photographed. The ranch also has golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos as well as many other species we photographed that aren’t shown here.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up today by contacting me at email@example.com. We have 2 spots available.
There isn’t much time left to sign up for the Lucifer Hummingbird Instructional Photo Tour at the Christmas Mountains Oasis, Texas. The dates are May 8-10 and two slots are available. Our small group will photograph these incredibly beautiful hummers at a multi-flash setup and with natural light. You will also see scaled quail, various songbirds and other hummingbird species, too.
We will have it all to ourselves for three days. Check out the trip description on this website and contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Click on the photos below for a view of the birds. When you click on an image, it will open in a larger, sharper format for best viewing.
Lucifer Hummingbirds and most other species of west Texas will be in peak plumage during the workshop period.
Two spaces are available for photographers who want to join me on the Big Bend National Park Instructional Photo Tour from March 29-31. We will photograph landscapes, wildflowers, stars and some wildlife. If you are interested, check this website for more details at the Photo Tour section and contact me by email: email@example.com to register.
Here are some images to give you a look at the variety of sights we will photograph. If you click on a photo, it will enlarge and sharpen for better viewing.
In two months, I will be in Big Bend National Park photographing some of the most beautiful landscapes and wildlife in the Southwest. There is plenty of time for you to sign up and share 3 days with me and a small group of photographers in this iconic landscape. You must be tired of the photos some other lucky photographer captured in the Big Bend. This spring, it can be you looking into the viewfinder at an orange sunset or the crystal clear night sky at Big Bend of Texas. Go ahead, send me an email note now and I’ll get you signed up: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll get back to you quickly and furnish the information you’ll need to make this trip a reality. Check out the information and photos on my website in the Instructional Photo Tour Schedule.
Here are a few more shots to give you an idea of the types of photography we will get in this far corner of the state.
We will photograph the incredible high walls that surround the Rio Grande in Big Bend, and we’ll do it at sunrise when the morning sun lights up Santa Elena Canyon.
We will also head a little way west of the park to visit the historic village of Terlingua and photograph the old cemetery and nearby sights.
On a trip like this, you can learn a lot about photographing nature, both landscapes and wildlife. It will be an adventure you won’t forget. I look forward to hearing from you soon.