Tuesday, November 30, 2010

December 2010 Photo of the Month

T’is the season for autumn shorebird migrations.  More than five billion birds take flight across North America at rates of tens of millions a day. Here in the lowcountry, it is not unusual to see several hundred birds overhead and navigating with a synchronicity that boggles the mind. Experts say their aerodynamic maneuvering is partly done as protection from predators, but it is also ergonomic. Flying close together allow birds to take advantage of wingtip vortices that provide lift from the wings of the birds ahead.  It is similar to how the bicycle peloton works its magic in road racing competitions, when it catches and passes the break away leaders.  Group velocity is simply faster than any individual rider. It takes less effort working together and in migration, efficiency is a life and death matter. There is also a theory that bird communications are only possible or at least improved when flying in close proximity to one another.  Whatever the reasons for this dramatic aerobatics, it is amazing to witness and a challenge to photograph. The medium sized sandpiper can reach speeds up to 40 mph. 

Photo Tip
During the shorebird migrations, I spend a lot of time on the water exploring where different birds are congregating. I scan high oyster banks and sand spits above the water line around high tide. Birds have their favorite rest stops, even though they look relatively the same to us.  I also keep a close eye on the weather and the tides to determine when will be the best lighting and water levels. I was able to capture the image of this flock of Dunlin and Sandpipers in my kayak using a 300mm lens. I like to keep a 300 or 400mm, fixed focal length lens handy.  They are lightweight with quick focus capabilities, however a long zoom lens is also useful when trying to frame and compose a subject matter that is constantly in flux. Remember when shooting wildlife images no two trips will be the same but being prepared allows you to remain in the moment with the ever changing natural world.

See the 2011 Lowcountry, South Carolina Wall Calendar (shipping only $3.00 till Dec 15th)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Black Friday Weekend Sales- 2011 Lowcountry Wall Calendars

Holiday Gift Specials at Eric Horan Photography...   After Thanksgiving BLACK FRIDAY SALE!!...when you purchase the 2011 Lowcountry Calendar.

Receive (3) Eric Horan wildlife photography Notecards, with EVERY Calendar purchased FRIDAY NOVEMBER 26 thru SUNDAY the 28TH, 2010!                                                          

Photo Safari- Rachel Marin

 Hi Eric,

We really enjoyed our photo tour with you this past Saturday.  I was not feeling well (Not sea sick or anything)  at all but still managed to get some decent shots I think, at least.  I clicked the "Like" button on your facebook page and also visited your blog. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about you on your blog and viewing your photography!   Your work is exceptional! l  was curious if you had any dolphin photo tours available for the afternoon/eve of Aug 21.  

The dolphin strand feeding was fascinating! I have a attached a couple more photos's to go with the few others that I sent from the previous photo tour.  I personally am very pleased with the dolphin image that I have attached as well as the shrimp boats that I got on the previous tour.  Definately amoung my favorites of all of my images thus far.  Anyways, we definately will book more tours with you in the future.

Again, thanks!

Rachel Clinch


I just think all the images you sent are great! And again, I think it is so neat to see what others see when we are all in the same boat, so to speak : ) 

Looking forward,


Monday, November 22, 2010

Photo Safari- George McClean

Hi Eric,

I really enjoyed our photo excursion on the river in Low Country. I come to Hilton Head almost every year and this was the first that I really did any exploring the wild life of the area. I didn't know what I was Missing. Thanks for your introduction to the beautiful Low Country and it's wildlife. i will certainly be back to visit and participate in your excursions. All Images were shot with Pentax K20D and 50mm to 200mm zoom. a little small for the task but it worked out OK. Again Thanks. It was a great experience.


Awesome job George! It is always so interesting seeing what others capture after a photo tour. I mean I was there too : ) We all have our own vision and come away with our own images. I love leading these trips! I hope yo will come back again, maybe in a different season? - Eric

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ossabaw Photographic Adventure - Spring 2011- UPDATED

Randy Thompson is committed elsewhere so I will be leading this April photo adventure with naturalist and photographer Marvin Bouknight. Marvin has just published his first coffee-table book: South Carolina's Lowcountry Naturally, he is a good friend and I am thrilled to have him as a co-leader. You can find out more about Marvin by reading this article recently in Bluffton Today.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Photo Safari- Carmody Baker

 Eric - "I could have gone on and on submitting pictures because your tour was fantastic and you afforded me wonderful opportunities to shoot".  - Carmody

                           Eric dropped me off on this island and I took pictures of these birds. I cropped in tight.

                                                               a baby pelican learning to fly

                             3 birds on the dock. I love the colors, helped with nik and cloned out the power lines:)

                                                                                        Not great but my best egret shot.

                              This was a photo of a shrimp boat at the dock. It was nothing special so I cropped it tight 
and then went into Topaz4 to bring out the colors.

My favorite. We were at the dock and I kept my lens focused on the eye of this shrimp boat captain ( hard to do in the boat with a heavy hand held 100-400 lens) he looked up to tell us that a shrimp boat was coming in and I got the shot. 

Shrimp boat at sunset. I could only get this shot because Eric kept moving his boat so that the boat was aligned with the setting sun. Edited in NIK.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November 2010 Photo of the Month

I photographed this pair of mergansers while shooting at Widgeon Point on Lemon Island - located just across the bridge from my home base in Beaufort, SC.  My drive to the island includes a beautiful span of intracoastal water views alongside marshy wetlands, often busy with wading bird action -- an easy distraction from my planned destination … cramped, plastic, photo blind. I set up a portable blind the night before knowing these are dues I pay for capturing unencumbered wildlife behavior.  I captured this couple en route to their fishing grounds. They are known for their expert diving, practiced daily at mealtimes when they feed on small fish including crayfish and other crustaceans and aquatic insects.  This pair exemplifies the dashing plumage of the male and relatively plain, brown female version.  Both sexes have a bushy crest of head feathers forming the distinctive ‘hood’ which by the way, can be flattened or fanned out depending on their mood.  The male’s dense black crest displays a white spot and sports a yellow eye; the female’s crest is smaller, looser and all brown, even the eye. It is reported that pair bonds will last from winter to incubation, but it is unclear whether the bonds reform the following year or if pairing begins anew.  Widgeon Point is owned and managed by Lowcountry Open Land Trust.  For more information on them visit www.lolt.org.

Photo Tip: Working in a photo blind can be cold, wet, buggy, lonely and an entry challenge in pitch black as I did this morning.  By entering pre-dawn, I sneak in with minimal impact on natural behavior.  A photo blind can be used similarly any time of day or night, but when approaching & entering during daylight hours,  it takes more time (sitting in blind) before the wildlife will relax or ideally, forget you’re there.  Depending on where and when you use your blind, you may want to invest in rubber boots, chest waders or insulated clothing and you will want to dress in layers.  A cold, wet morning turns steamy hot once the sun takes hold of your small space. A sturdy tripod is a must when using 200 mm lens or larger.  Also note, challenging lenses on the tripod inside a blind is maddening.  My solution is to attach the longest lens to the tripod and bring along a second camera body with a shorter focal length ready for hand-held shooting.  

Hooded Merganser Pair is the title of this image and it is the featured photograph for month of November in my 2010 Lowcountry Calendar.  You can view a larger image of this photograph and others at my picture galleries online at www.southernlight.biz.