Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February 2011 "Photo of the Month"

Great Egret Stalking on Lemon Island

I was working from a photo blind on Lemon Island when this Great Egret landed right in front of me. I had been shooting Blue-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser and Bufflehead when she passed before me in hot pursuit of small baitfish.  I had everything I look for when composing environmental portraits … strong graphics, good light and interesting subject matter. The warm, soft glow in this image was provided by early morning sunlight, and the surrounding black needlerush provided color, texture and design as well as habitat.  All I had left to do was check my camera settings and click away.

While I grumble about my time spent sitting in a photo blind, the opportunities make up for the restrictions.  For undisturbed animal behavior, there is no better way to capture images than with total concealment.  Another advantage the blind provides is a single focused attention through the lens - which becomes almost meditative.  And nothing in the field of view escapes you.

PHOTO TIP:  To avoid loosing detail when whites and blacks are in your image, always check the exposure your camera is giving you.  You can do this by taking a test shot, reviewing the histogram, and also the LCD screen. Your camera meter averages all light values to give you a neutral grey and it depends on how much of the viewfinder the white or black occupies to determine how you’ll have to compensate. If using a spot meter, it will turn white to grey and black to grey so you would want to overexpose whites and underexpose blacks until you have the correct exposure. When using matrix or center-weighted metering, it will be the opposite adjustments. To be sure that your images are properly exposed use both the histogram and the LCD, then make whatever adjustments are needed. Learning to read the histogram is well worth the time. 

To view additional images by Eric or to learn about his Lowcountry Wildlife Photo Safaris, please visit

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Field Trip- Eric Horan & Sherrie Winarski

Sherrie Winarski from Atlanta called and wanted to see and photograph the area while she and her husband were her visiting Hilton Head Island in early January. I choose Fish Haul Creek on the island and Hunting Island State Park (also Chapel of Ease & National Cemetery) for two different trips. Both locations are great for sunrise so we went on two separate days. Below are some of our images : )

Hi Eric,

Thanks for the map noting the spots we shot!  I just love the shots of the ruins and the mossy trees....gotta come back for some more!  Here are a few of my favorites!

Hope all is well!



Thanks for sending all you stuff, it's great! And interesting to me how we were in the same places and saw different things. This is one of the things I love about photography and sharing the outdoor adventures with other photographers! 

Looking forward,


  "how pleasantly surpirsed I was to see the uprooted tree in the ocean on that early created interest in the foreground of the beautiful sunrise!"

For the first few moments at the ruins, I struggled to find my composition.  My immediate thoughts were that the ruins were the main interest, but after studying the area, it occurred to me that the real stars here were the old mossy oak trees.

 This beach was beautiful in a most unusual way!  It was a busy, but peaceful landscape.  I paced back and forth a few times studying it's vegetation and the tide. Eric recommended "isolating" the subject and waiting for the light. Success....I love the sunlight beaming down on the water at the horizion.

 I actually climbed to the top of the light house with the intention of photographing the spiral of my standard lighthouse shots.  But, when I reached the top and looked out, I was captured by this dramatic storm cloud moving across the ocean. I hand held, using the lighthouse railing to stablilze my camera, and shot mutliple different exposed images. I processed the images to create this HDR shot!  I was thrilled with the result!

 Dunlin feeding @ Fish Haul

 Willit feeding with gull overhead

 Pair of Sanderling

 Marbled Godwit

 National Cemetery, Beaufort, SC

 Fish Haul, a great place for sunrise

 Willit resting

 Crested Cormorant

 Black Skimmer, Short-billled Dowitcher, Willit & Laughing Gull

 Western & Least Sandpiper, Semi-palmatted Plover & Sanderling

 For these three shots I used HDR and a limited color palette to accentuate natural beauty the graphic qualities

 Look how different this version is from Sherrie's. Both HDR, it can be such a wonderful, creative tool!