Saturday, December 31, 2011

March 21-23 / South Florida Wildlife Photo Adventure

Lead by Marvin Bouknight and Eric Horan. This will be the second photo adventure we have done in this same area of Florida and I suspect will do more in the future. It is that good! :) To see a gallery of images from our last two trips to south Florida please visit Eric's Facebook page "Lowcountry Wildlife Photo Safaris".

We will arrive Wednesday evening the 21st, get acquainted see a short program on wildlife photography, field technique and the flora & fauna of South Florida, and have dinner, not necessarily in that order. In the morning we will grab a pre-dawn continental breakfast and head for "Devils Garden Bird Park" where we will explore and photograph from ATV's all day with a mid-day lunch in the field. Back at the hotel we'll have dinner and possibly a group critique of images from the day. Friday early after another pre-dawn breakfast we'll head by carpool, for "Dinner Island Game Preserve" where we will explore the 640 square mile preserve by auto and on foot. We will officially be done by mid-day and you can head home or in a direction of your choice, including staying in the park for the afternoon. Or Marvin & I will take all those interested, with us to "Viera Wetlands" for the afternoon (northeastern direction) for more explorations after grabbing lunch on the road. We will plan on being there around 2:30pm so we'll have time to view the afternoon's wildlife activity.

Please contact Marvin to make your reservation and pay a deposit.  You can email Eric or call him @ 843-524-3037.  More information on both of us can be found at our websites… and For a complete species list of the possible sightings @ these three locations click here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dec 2011 "Photo of the Month"

Shrimp Boat at Sunrise / Hunting Island      
Photo of the Month / Eric Horan
December/ 2011 Lowcountry Calendar

There was a light drizzle falling on my morning photo plans to visit Hunting Island.  Often rainfall provides me an excuse to sleep in, but clearing skies were on the forecast.
Everything about Hunting Island that morning was dark and ominous. The sand was heavy with rain, a ceiling of black clouds filled the sky and appeared to hang over the working shrimp boat along the horizon. I was taken by the sole shrimp boat dragging his nets in defiance of the threatening skies – much as the SC shrimp industry is doing, for their fair share in the marketplace against a flood of competition - now global.  I raced down the beach to frame the boat with the storm clouds to create balance and hopefully, a story with the composition.

Photo Tip: Matching lighting conditions with available subject.  The difference between good photography and excellent often leads to how the photographer used light in the finished capture. Even when light conditions are not favorable, there is usually something interesting to grab our attention. Overcast skies are useful for shooting portraits and direct light provides options for different effects whether it’s front, side or backlit. In this image I was working with not much available light at sunrise but I also took advantage of the sky drama and bright horizon behind my subject to create this silhouette. Getting outside in nearly any weather condition, to explore the natural world is an outdoor adventure and can pay dividends.

For more information about Eric Horan Photography, Inc., Lowcountry Wildlife Photo Safaris or to order your 2012 Lowcountry Calendar visit

Photo Adventure- South Florida w/ Marvin Bouknight & Eric Horan

Here are a few of my favorite images from our 2 day workshop at The Devils Garden Bird Park and Circle B Bar Ranch. These images will help convey the  immense diversity of bird life in these areas. From the Crested Cara Cara to the Meadow Lark this photo adventure offers opportunities to see and photograph images of 60 species of birds or more in just a couple of very focused days of exploring. After a few trips to the area Marvin & I are now very familiar with the habitat and wildlife movements and each trip adds to that knowledge base. This allows our workshop attendees to just come along, enjoy the ride and have a unique outdoor adventure that won't soon be forgotten.
 First wading bird we saw "Great White Heron" (not an Egret : )
 The "Swallow-tailed Kite" - several birds flew right overhead
 The endangered "Snail Kite" are a species we were especially interested in observing (here with snail)
 "Red-Tailed Hawk" (flew overhead as we were shooting Sandhill Crane)
 "Barred Owl" I scared him from his perch driving the ATV, then he stayed here for several minutes
"Red-Shouldered Hawk" busy feasting when we first spotted him, let us get close (full frame 500mm)
"Burrowing Owl" @ Devils Garden Bird Park (ATV & approached on foot)
 Sandhill Crane (next four shots)

We watched three on the ground feeding for a few minutes, then several more birds landed, headed right toward the cameras
 "White Ibis" (environmental portrait - I loved the perch)

Plenty of large gators
 "Northern Shrike" (shot from the vehicle)
 "Eastern Meadowlark" (ATV & approach on foot)
 "Belted Kingfisher" not an easy bird to get close to but we sat near one of his favorite perches in ATV
 "Anhinga" drying wings @ Circle B-Bar Ranch
 "Black-bellied Whistling Duck" because of hard 45degree, rather contrasty light I choose to make this single image HDR combining (3) exposures
"Little Blue Heron"
 "Cattle Egret" and white-faced steer
Big Bull @ Devils Garden

All three scenics @ Circle B-Bar Ranch - Lakeland

Monday, October 3, 2011

Oct 2011 "Photo of the Month"

Tree Swallows                       
Photo of the month / Eric Horan
October/ 2011 Lowcountry Calendar

Nemours Plantation: While driving the old rice dykes early one morning, last May, scanning left and right trying to identify the different species of shore and wading birds I was struck by the vast numbers of tree swallows on the wing, in a feeding frenzy feasting on airborne bugs. I stopped to watch their aerial acrobatics and to see if I could actually see them make a catch with the binoculars. This was a difficult challenge, maybe second only to capturing a good photograph of them on the wing. Then suddenly, as if a silent bell rang out announcing a naptime or declaring a rest period, they all landed on these dead cattails forty yards form where I  had stopped the vehicle. As I scrambled to add a tele-convertor to my 500mm lens that was attached to a window mount, I noticed the beautiful iridescent blue-green plumage on their upperparts. I was able to fire only six shots before they, as if answering another bell, took off again.

They say so much of getting good wildlife photography is luck. Well if you define luck as “ that place where preparation meets opportunity” then I think what “they say” may be right. If we have done our homework and gotten ourselves in the right place at the right time with the right equipment then we should have some chances at least, to capture some of those special moments in nature’s ongoing ballet. I have learned to always expect the unexpected. This Tree-Swallow image was captured with a Canon 7D, 500mm F4 lens + 2x tele-convertor on a Kirk window mount.

To see more about Eric Horan, his images and his Lowcountry Wildlife Photo Safaris, please visit us at

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sept 2011 "Photo of the Month"

Red-tail Hawk                       
Photo of the month / Eric Horan
September/ 2011 Lowcountry Calendar

I’m so happy the Laurel Hill wildlife drive in the Savannah Wildlife Refuge is open again after a long but necessary construction project by the Army Corp of Engineers’. They renewed the fresh water canals from higher up the Savannah River to irrigate the compounds, in order to mitigate the higher salinity levels brought on by deepening the Savannah Shipping Channel.

This wildlife drive is a jewel of a place for any wildlife junky (photographer, birder or the like). Different the year around it provides a insiders view of a wide diversity of wildlife behavior, without having to leave your vehicle. But if you do leave your vehicle it can be all the better. This Red-tail Hawk I spotted from the car, perched high up on a pine tree limb. I stopped and got out with a 400mm lens. The bird was just out of range for this lens so I shot a frame or two and waited and watched. After several minutes the bird took flight and came my way. I have witnessed their curiosity before, and wondered if I might be so lucky to have him he come over to check me out as he circled right over my head.


So much of good wildlife photography is just “being there” with the animals & birds, staying in the moment and observing their natural behavior. And because my previous observations in the field, I knew that the hawks at times, showed a certain curiosity, and so I waited for the bird to move. Call it luck and in one sense it is, he did not have to come my way, but because I have seen them behave this way on previous encounters, I had hope that he might J

To see more about Eric Horan, his images and his Lowcountry Wildlife Photo Safaris, please visit us at

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Photo Adventure- South Florida w/ Marvin Bouknight & Eric Horan

 If you want your bird sightings and /or photographed birds list to grow by leaps and bounds, come join Marvin and I early  November this year as we explore a 12,000-acre bird sanctuary in South Florida.  Below is a list of birds sighted over the last few years -  185 species and counting.   I've listed them below in a format that you can print and bring with you! 

                                                           SOUTH FLORIDA

__ Black-bellied Whistling-Duck__ Fulvous Whistling-Duck__ Greater White-fronted Goose__ Snow Goose__ Wood Duck__ Gadwall__ Eurasian Wigeon__ American Wigeon__ Mallard__ Mottled Duck__ Blue-winged Teal__ Cinnamon Teal__ Northern Shoveler__ Northern Pintail__ Green-winged Teal__ Canvasback__ Redhead__ Ring-necked Duck__ Lesser Scaup__ Hooded Merganser__ Red-breasted Merganser__ Ruddy Duck 

__ Northern Bobwhite__ Wild Turkey

__ Pied-billed Grebe 

__ American Flamingo

__ American White Pelican__ Double-crested Cormorant__ Great Comorant__ Anhinga

__ American Bittern__ Least Bittern__ Great Blue Heron__ Great Blue Heron       (White Morph aka  Great White Heron)__ Great Egret__ Snowy Egret__ Little Blue Heron__ Tricolored Heron__ Cattle Egret__ Green Heron__ Black-crowned Night-Heron__ Yellow-crowned Night-Heron__ White Ibis__ Glossy Ibis__ Roseate Spoonbill__ Wood Stork

__ Black Vulture__ Turkey Vulture__ Osprey__ Swallow-tailed Kite__ White-tailed Kite__ Snail Kite__ Bald Eagle__ Northern Harrier__ Sharp-shinned Hawk__ Cooper’s Hawk__ Red-shouldered Hawk__ Short-tailed Hawk__ Swainson’s Hawk__ Red-tailed Hawk__ Crested Caracara__ American Kestrel__ Merlin__ Peregrine Falcon

__ King Rail__ Sora__ Purple Swamphen (Exotic)__ Purple Gallinule
__ Common Moorhen__ American Coot__ Limpkin__  Sandhill Crane

__ Black-bellied Plover__ American Golden-Plover__ Semipalmated Plover__ Killdeer__ Black-necked Stilt__ American Avocet__ Solitary Sandpiper__ Spotted Sandpiper__ Greater Yellowlegs__ Willet__ Lesser Yellowlegs__ Marbled Godwit__ Ruddy Turnstone__ Sanderling__ Semipalmated Sandpiper__ Western Sandpiper__ Least Sandpiper__ White-rumped Sandpiper__ Pectoral Sandpiper__ Dunlin__ Stilt Sandpiper__ Ruff__ Short-billed Dowitcher__ Long-billed Dowitcher__ Wilson’s Snipe__ Wilson’s Phalarope

__ Bonaparte’s Gull__ Laughing Gull__ Ring-billed Gull__ Herring Gull__ Lesser Black-backed Gull__ Great Black-backed Gull__ Gull-billed Tern__ Caspian Tern__ Black Tern__ Forster’s Tern__ Royal Tern__ Sandwich Tern__ Black Skimmer

__ Rock Pigeon__ Eurasian Collared Dove__ White-winged Dove__ Mourning Dove__ Common Ground Dove

__Yellow-billed Cuckoo__ Smooth-billed Ani

__ Barn Owl__Eastern Screech-Owl__ Burrowing Owl__ Barred Owl

__ Common Nighthawk

__ Belted Kingfisher

__ Red-bellied Woodpecker

__ Eastern Phoebe__ Great Crested Flycatcher__ Tropical Kingbird__ Cassin’s Kingbird__ Western Kingbird__ Eastern Kingbird__ Gray Kingbird__ Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

__ Loggerhead Shrike__ White-eyed Vireo__ Blue-headed Vireo

__ Blue Jay__ American Crow

__ Northern Rough-winged  Swallow__ Purple Martin__ Tree Swallow
__ Bank Swallow__ Barn Swallow__ Cliff Swallow__ Cave Swallow

__ Carolina Wren__ House Wren__ Sedge Wren__ Marsh Wren

__ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

__ American Robin

__Gray Catbird__ Northern Mockingbird__ Brown Thrasher

__ European Starling

__ Cedar Waxwing

__Yellow Warbler__Magnolia Warbler__Black-throated Blue Warbler
__Yellow-rumped Warbler__Yellow-throated Warbler__Pine Warbler
__Prairie Warbler__Palm Warbler__Blackpoll Warbler__Black-and-white Warbler__American Redstart__Ovenbird__Northern Waterthrush__Common Yellowthroat

__ Eastern Towhee __ Savannah Sparrow__Grasshopper Sparrow
__Swamp Sparrow

__Northern Cardinal__Blue Grosbeak__Indigo Bunting__Painted Bunting

__Bobolink__Red-winged Blackbird__Eastern Meadowlark__Common Grackle__Boat-tailed Grackle__Brown-headed Cowbird__ Orchard Oriole

Monday, July 18, 2011

Florida: Photographic Road Trip planned for November!

July 19, 2011

Join myself and Marvin Bouknight, staff naturalist @ Old Field Plantation, for a 3 day, 2 night photo adventure  to central and south Florida. To avoid any redundancy please read what Marvin has written about our recent scouting trip and the upcoming photo adventure. We will focus on good working field techniques and natural history information on all species viewed and photographed. We will discuss use of lighting, composition, proper exposure, lens selection and much more for all outdoor nature and wildlife photography. These images were made last week in July! This is not the best time for wildlife action in south Florida but November is, we hope you will join us :-)

 Great White Heron
 Burrowing Owl
 Swallowtail Kite
 Sand Hill Crane
 Crested Caracara

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tomkins Island Seabird Rookery Tour -White Pelican

On one of my recent photo safaris to Tomkins Island @ the mouth of the Savannah River I was thrilled to see a large group of White Pelicans! They are known to be along our coast during winter and spring months but not so much this time of year. We were able to observe these birds from a distance while drifting in the tidal currents with our motor off. We must have watched & photographed for around 10 minutes before they finally took flight and headed north.  Still in beautiful breeding plumage, it was quite a thrill : -)

These images were made with a Canon 7D and a F4 500mm lens (hand held) 400 ISO f6.7 @ 1/4000 sec

See more of my work and all of my seasonal photo safaris @ my website: Southernlight

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Seabird Rookery Photo Safaris

July "Photo of the Month" column

Great Egret Portrait                       
Photo of the month / Eric Horan
July/ 2011 Lowcountry Calendar

Using a tripod mounted 500 mm lens, I made this image of the Great Egret on a visit to the Savannah Wildlife Refuge. I followed her as she fished the waters edge. For some time, I purposely kept her between the sun and myself to maintain the strong back lighting. Behind the bird you can see the pale blue sky reflected in the water. All this made for a high key portrait with a limited color palette. A natural backlight, the bird’s gesture, and a monochromatic color palette were the image qualities I used to create this portrait.


Good wildlife photography requires a diverse and variable set of skills and choices.  With each situation, you will have to employ different ones in various combinations to enhance your success.  Anticipation, patience, knowledge of subject, stalking, listening, lens selection, color mix, control of light, composition elements and camera position are a sampling of ingredients. For this shot, I used a combination that included choice of lens, camera position, back lighting, subject knowledge and anticipation of the bird’s movement in order to isolate the Great Egret against this natural backdrop for a studio-like portrait.

To see more about Eric Horan, his images and his Lowcountry Wildlife Photo Safaris, please visit us at


Monday, June 6, 2011

Ossabaw Weekend Photo Adventure, April 28th-May1-Michael Short

Death Throes
 Eric's Buoy
Golden Sunrise
 Hey Buddy, Come Here..
 I Was Here First
 In Search of the Golden Moment
 MMMMM, Sushi
 Mossy Tree
 Out for Breakfast
Rocky Racoon
Sunset Fire
 The Promise Still Holds
 Tied but not Moored
Your Clear for Takeoff
Opportunity knocked once again and I knew there was no way that I could let it pass me by.  I had been on one little photo jaunt with Eric Horan and loved it and now the chance for a whole weekend expedition to Ossabaw Island.  The only thought was what and where is Ossabaw Island?  I started with a little research on the island and found that it sits just south of Savannah and it is a Heritage Preserve owned by the state of Georgia.  Access to the island is by boat only, no roads, no bridges, very few people.  I was stoked, an opportunity to capture a few photos that you might find in a book or museum or some other collection.  How could I not go?

The weather for the trip was spectacular save the first day, but even it was not a loss.  I was able to capture a few nice frames of a raccoon that was startled to see me and had to check me out as I shot his picture.  Once the front that caused the rain had passed we were treated to a nice sunset and an opportunity to capture a rainbow. 

The beaches of the island offer wonderful things to see and take pictures of.  My personal take away from the island was not the wildlife but rather the lines and patterns the trees and vegetation made both alive and dead.  The moss hung in the oaks almost like snow and the light made the moss appear whiter than any I can ever remember seeing.  The birds were plentiful and did their part as grand models for our craft.  The islands’ use and history also provided wonderful props for compositions that for me is not only captured in bits and bytes but in memories that will live in my mind for the rest of my life.

Our hosts Eric and Marvin provided all of us with an awesome place.  Their knowledge of photography and their love of nature were on full display and for this photographer made for a great trip.  But as great as Eric and Marvin were I have to tip my hat and say job well done to two very wonderful people, Jan and Jill.  Their efforts provided for the nourishment of the entire group and was done with great skill and a lot of love.  They were the ones up early so we could have a bite before we met the sun and would have lunch ready when we returned and dinner was prepared with the thought of time for the evening’s golden hour.  If you love photography and you love nature you could not ask for a better group of people to go on a trip with.  Take a Low Country Safari, you won’t be sorry.

--Michael Short