Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ossabaw Weekend Photo Adventure, April 28th-May1-Eric Horan

 Before heading out after the birds, like most of us I choose to walk around the deadfall and bone yard beach. Instead of singling out any one tree, I was after an image that captures natures ability to re-shape our world at will, a fact mankind has a hard time accepting.

  When we arrived Saturday morning @ Middle Beach I knew right away I wanted to do something with the Palmettos. They were so commanding, standing tall guarding over the water front. Maybe it's my photojournalism training but I  try to see things from  as many different perspectives as I can when shooting. I  first made the long lens silhouette, then with the same angle shot with a 12mm lens. Then I  turned around and shot using the same lens, using front light. Hopefully each image stands on it's own but as a collection they may be stronger, kind of a collective portrait.
 The Ossabaw Landscape: I think the South Carolina and Georgia Coast is second to none in terms of tidal marshes and raw beauty. It's hard to do it justice with a two dimensional photograph so I try to make them look less so, by using foreground elements to bring the eye into the background to give them more the feeling of depth.
Spoonbill flight
Great Egret
 Immature Black-crowned Night Heron
What could be more amazing than watching birds in flight. And what could be more challenging than trying to capture this with our cameras? Here are a few of my successes, the egret and the heron @ Middleplace and the Spoonbills, to everyone's surprise, at the Willows.

 Walking back into the maritime forest behind Middle Beach I was struck by the dense tangle of the trees, vines and Spanish Moss, almost fairy-tale like. The  challenge is to make sense of it all, I attempted to single out points of focus, something for the viewers eye to settle on and  not just be caught up in the tangled knot of it all.
 The Back Dunes

 Photographic Paradise: I was not the only one out there enjoying the challenge of getting some good shorebird  images. I made Michael Short part of this image. I think the image tells the story.
 Red Knot & Dunlin: Marvin & I were hoping to see the Red Knot, though it was a little early for the majority of birds to make it here from South America, their arrival always timed for the Horseshoe crabs laying their eggs at the beach. The eggs being the Knots primary food source, it is essential for them to be here after their 2,500 mile trek. Notice the Dunlins belly is just staring to turn black. Before they head north for the summer they'll look as if they just squatted down on and ink pad.
 Sand Dollar Sculpture
 Shorebird Brotherhood
Dowitcher Landing
  Brown & White
Photographing birds from a boat (3 images above): I am out on the water a few days each week, but I never really know what we'll encounter during the time we're out. Most of my trips are planned around a high tide when birds are congregating on the high ground for rest and relaxation. Because it is their resting time it is not good to pressure them too much, we can accomplish this by using long lenses from a good distance. We move slowly with a trolling motor or adrift or sometimes on anchor at a distance away and just experience the constant in and out of birds coming and going. At Ossabaw it was no different, we went on a rising high tide and were able to watch birds coming and going by trolling motor. The White Pelicans were the unexpected treat on Saturday. In Shorebird brotherhood you'll see Ring-billed Gulls, Laughing Gulls, Black Skimmers, Marbled Godwit, Willet and Short-billed Dowitchers.
 The song of the Red-winged tells me it's spring and I'm in the Lowcountry. When we saw these birds late in the day at the Willows it was an easy photo assignment. We had beautiful light, vivid colors and many choices of background to choose from. I picked my background by using camera position and lens choice; so all I had to do was compose and shoot when the bird was singing.
  It's funny to me, even though I was not treating this photo weekend as and assignment I ended up with a set of images, like the ones I  would have turned in as a travel photographer, where you are supposed to come back with "the essence of a place". To do this you really have to shoot wide and long, micro and macro. I guess it is ingrained at this point. Also shot @ Middle Beach the Sand Dollar and the back dunes.
 Synchronicity of Flight: To me, there are not many things more amazing to see than watching shorebirds flying in mass going this way and that, turning almost literally on a dime and heading 180 degrees in the other direction. Science believes it is not one bird leading the others but a group decision, some kind of mass communication. With a camera, all we can do is try to keep them framed and watch for moments when you like the mass formation or gesture : ))
 The Willows
Willet Feeding: Photographing shorebirds afoot or on your belly is fun and takes patience, some stealth and the ability to blend. By that, I mean birds need time to accept you as non-threatening and it helps if you have a small profile (stay low) and move very slowly. Long lenses are imperative for bird photography (200-600mm), this image shot with 500mm lens, the bird is about 30 feet away a quit comfortable with my presence.

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