Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dolphin Behavior Photo Tours (Sept - Mid Dec)

Dolphin Strand Feeding and more

This is the time of year to observe dolphin behavior. As long as the schooling bait fish are up in the smaller creeks (into Dec) - we can find and observe these magnificent mammals at play and work. Their work is to feed themselves and their new calves. In the open water it is difficult to follow and to predict their movements and where their next breach will be, but in the creeks their movement is much easier to anticipate once you've had some time on the water to study their behavior and learn how to read the signs. I've had this experience and invite you to join me. Come witness the excitement of  dolphins feeding in the small creeks at low tide and photograph the drama with your own camera. The dolphin of South Carolina and Georgia are known for a feeding technique called 'strand feeding. Stranding is just what they do. A team of at least two and up to several dolphin corral and blast through a school of fish sliding up on the mud bank with the school fish  in front of them. When you add the attentive heron, egrets and gulls trying to get their share, you have a real feeding frenzy. For as many times as I've seen this amazing process, I cannot imagine getting tired of watching the  Bottlenose Dolphin of the Lowcountry!

the following images were taken by myself or one of my guests in the few weeks during one of my tours

  (2)  by Molly Mitchell

(2) by Molly's dad, Eric Mitchell

By Chris Kirk

By Naomi Elderfield

By Barbara Dunn

(2) by George Flanigan

 (3) by Eric Horan

Shrimp Boat Photo Tours (September thru December)

      The shrimping industry is a hard business. While US shrimpers are somewhat better off now than 2009 when gas prices were edging up to $5.00/ gallon, our dependence on oil from foreign sources remains unstable.  Additionally, farm raised shrimp is flooding the market with inferior and cheaper shrimp.  The levels of hormones and antibiotic injections are unknown. The Marketing Association for the shrimp industry has helped by rolling out an ad campaign promoting the purchase of local shrimp harvested wild from our oceans but the threat for survival of the commercial shrimping industry.  Support your local fishermen and women.   

I live and also work in the heart of this struggling industry. I am a dual recipient of their hard work. I love the shrimp but also photographing the shrimpers daily adventures and the natural beauty of their working presence along the intra-coastal waters of South Carolina.  I would like to help raise awareness by asking photographers and other interested persons to join me for a close-up look, to witness the shrimpers work first hand. My trips take us alongside their dramatic trawlers ranging from 17' to 85' and seen in the best available light as the crew go about daily harvesting. I know photographers will share their dramatic images with others which all helps to educate the public at large. As a added bonus when they haul their nets, the seabirds and dolphin swarm around creating an incredible photogenic feeding frenzy. 

Call Eric @ 843-524-3037 or email: for dates, more info or to register

St. Helena Sound

Harbor Island

Gay's Shrimp Dock

Hunting Island

Hilton Head Offshore

Harbor River

Friday, August 27, 2010

Photo Tours- Carmen Smargiassi


Thanks again for a wonderful boat tour of the low country.  I have been vacationing in Hilton Head Island for over ten years now and never realized the wide variety of water birds that nest on the island.  The tour was fun and you have an extensive knowledge of wildlife on the island.  I attached three of my favorite pictures.  These shots were possible by you maneuvering the boat for the right angle.  I look forward to our next visit to Hilton head and another photo tour.


Carmen Smargiassi

Royal Tern (move over)

Immature Ibis over Spartina Grass

Tri-color Heron 

Photo Tours Susan Zoltweitz

 "Our tour of Charleston Harbor was fantastic.  Eric, you took great care to make sure we had excellent opportunities to photograph birds and harbor vistas. You are a gracious and thoroughly knowledgeable guide!  Thanks again,  Sue"

To see a collection of Sue's photos visit:

Brown Pelican over shoulder

Common Eider
Osprey Stare

Sept 2010 " Photo of the Month"

I made this image while boating in Archers Creek behind Parris Island, the US Marine Corps training grounds.  It is the featured photograph for September in my 2010 Lowcountry Calendar and you can view it and the rest of my picture galleries at Archers Creek is a restricted area and runs alongside the practice firing range. The sound of their weapons can often be heard while boating the neighboring waters.  Sunday is the only day when public passage from the Beaufort River to the Port Royal Sound is permitted. The azure sky, deep blue water, puffy white clouds and lush Spartina grasses this Sunday presented me with the essence of Lowcountry summertime that often draws photographers and other artists to this region.

Photo tip If you were to take one of your favorite landscape images from the pages of a magazine and analyze it, you would undoubtedly find a strong foreground and background and one or more tools used by the photographer or artist to move your eye from the former to the latter. These tools include leading lines (bold straight lines like the horizon, diagonals, or s-curves), light and dark contrasting areas, color changes, or various textures to name a few.  These tools are used to steer the viewer’s eye around the frame in some purposeful way. Personally I don’t want the viewers attention to leave the image, bored or wondering what was outside the frame over here or up there.  To accomplish this, there must be some order or balance of picture elements arranged in such a way as to hold the attention of the observer even for just a few seconds. This day provided me plenty of components. I decided to keep the horizon out of the middle of the frame to accentuate the sky and yet keep enough foreground water with reflections to lead the viewers’ eye into the image.  Please visit us online for more information on my photo tours, products and to see more images or read my blog.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Photo Tours August- Angie Monigal

Hi Eric,

Thanks again for the great photo tour! It was great to be out shooting with someone who understands lighting and was so knowledgeable about the animals and tides. I thought I'd share a few photos from the tour. Thanks again!


Huspah Creek @ Hilton Head Island

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

Snowy Egret feeding in Oysters

Angie McMonigal Photography

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Photo Tours August- Chris Kirk

Chris Kirk an alumni of one of my nature photography classes and has since been a guest on several of my tours. He has  become a good friend, we even celebrated his birthday together after this trip, over lunch at my favorite mexican food place (Amigos) in Bluffton. He is a camera club member in Beaufort and a rising talent- Have a look : )
Great Egret
Brown Pelican

on fallen tree @ Turtle Island, SC

@ sunrise off Tomkins Island, SC

Great Egret in flight @ Turtle Island

"As a three trip alumnus of Lowcountry wildlife photo tours I can highly recommend them. Eric does not provide a service - he provides an experience! On our dolphin strand feeding tour we saw over a dozen beaching incidents over a 40 minute period. Eric could anticipate their movements and put us in a position to photograph this unusual event. A truly unique endeavor."  Chris

just beaching

turning around

he's watching us?

Monday, August 2, 2010

August 2010 "Photo of the Month"

This image of local fisherman was taken from my boat at the mouth of the Beaufort River in Port Royal Sound.  It is the featured photograph for August in my 2010 Lowcountry Calendar and you can view it and all of my picture galleries at On this morning, I headed out on a rising tide from the boat landing at Sands Beach.  My plans were to visit some favorite riverbanks to photograph the feeding action of Black Skimmers and other shorebirds.  I started to take notice of the sky - huge thunderheads, lots of white puffy clouds and an unseasonable clarity in the atmosphere. In the midst of our steamy hot summer, days like these are heaven sent for land and seascapes and remaining flexible pays in outdoor photography.  My focus changed from hungry birds to wide-open vistas and marsh scenes.  Not entirely, but let’s say that I began my search for interesting foregrounds to work with this glorious sky.  The fisherman caught my eye and worked well with my cumulus cloud backdrop from a distance and only improved as I made my approach. 

Photo tip:  I like to build my seascapes and landscapes with subject matter that is not only interesting but will also provide interesting compositions.  One way I do this is by drawing the viewer’s eye from near to far – or the reverse. In this shot, I found the background first. Honestly, it hit me over the head.  Once I spotted the fisherman, I knew I had both foreground and background. If the fisherman had not turned up, I would have continued looking for something else…shrimp boats, a sailboat, an oyster bank or Spartina grasses. Finding subject matter in the lowcountry is not a chore and I could have used almost anything with this sky.  Please visit us online for more information on my photo tours, products and to see more images.