Tag Archives: Kayak

One More Shorebird – a Willet

It’s a rainy morning along the coast of North Carolina. I supposed I could suck it up and head out to try and make some images anyway, but I’m going to wimp out and stay inside instead! While raining days can make for some great photographic opportunities… and the dampness can help quiet your movements in the forest… I’m simply not in the mood to deal with rain today Instead I think I’ll share a few photos from an outing a few days ago, then work on a bit of marketing. Nice “high and dry” activities.

Today’s image offerings are of a Willet taken within the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve. As is often the case with my shorebird photographs, I took these images from my kayak. I like using the kayak for making these kinds of photographs because the birds are sometimes more tolerant of an approach from the water.

Willet at the mouth of Deep Creek and Taylors Creek, Beaufort, North Carolina

A classic Willet pose, one of the more common shorebirds found along the North Carolina coast.
Willet, Crystal Coast North Carolina.

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Greater Yellowlegs

I enjoy finding these birds when I’m out doing shorebird photography from kayak. One of the larger shorebirds, these are migrants. They travel to Canada for breeding in the Spring then winter in warmer climates… including the North Carolina coast. A somewhat similar looking and named bird, the Lesser Yellowlegs, is difficult to tell apart unless you find them together. The Greater is larger, has a slightly upturned bill that tends to be blue-gray near its base.

For shorebird photography I like to work from my kayak. Even though I’m approaching from the water, these birds can be a little skittish… ok, most shore birds can be a bit skittish… so a slow, careful approach is called for. The best bet is if you can let the wind and/or current drift you into camera range. If you need to paddle you need to keep the paddle movement to a minimum. Don’t make a direct approach of the bird is bound to take to wing.

Making photographs of small shorebirds from a kayak requires a long lens and hand holding rather than using a nice, sturdy tripod. The combination of a telephoto lens and hand holding the camera sets up a bit of risk of camera shake and motion blur. The trick is to keep the shutter speed fast to minimize the effects of this problem.

Greater Yellowlegs at Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve.

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Posted in Avian Photography, General Photography, Natural History in the Carolinas, Nature Photography, Photo Tip, Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Snowy Egret at Low Tide

I decided to go for a paddle yesterday morning. As always, I had my camera along with the hope of getting a few images. I was fortunate to come across a couple of very cooperative Snowy Egrets that allowed me to watch and photograph them as they hunted an oyster bed exposed by the low tide. Here are a few of the shots.


A Snowy Egret hunts along the mouth of Deep Creek

Snowy Egret at the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve

Snowy Egret near Beaufort, NC

A Snowy Egret stalks its breakfast

A Snowy Egret fishing

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Wild Horse Crossing

Many folks that visit the wild horses living within the boundaries of the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve or the Cape Lookout National Seashore don’t get to see the horses swimming between islands and shoals. If they do it’s often from a distance and seldom provides a chance for the viewer to photograph them. To get these kins of shots you usually need to be working from either a boat or a kayak. This is one of the reasons I’ve arranged for participants to spend one day working from a boat during the 2013 Wild Horse Photo Safaris. You can learn more about these tours by visiting the following page: http://carolinafootprints.com/index.php/workshops/. Below are a few images taken this winter.

A wild horse swims between islands in the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve.

A wild stallion emerges from a cold swim on a January morning.

Wild horses swim between islands.

Posted in Banker Horses, General Photography, Kayaking, Natural History in the Carolinas, Nature Photography, Wildlife Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Wild Horses on the Tidal Flats

I launched my kayak one morning last week and it was a perfect morning for photographing the wild horses of the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve from a kayak. These majestic animals were out feeding on the flats at a time that the water was high enough for navigation with a kayak. I always love the low perspective gotten by making photographs of these large animals from the cockpit of a kayak. Below are a few of the images from the morning’s adventure.

Wild horse feeding on the tidal flats.

The Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve has one of North Carolina's three herds of wild horses.

I offer several wild horse photography wrokshops each year.

A wild horse feeds along North Carolina's Crystal Coast.

Wild horses seen near Beaufort North Carolina

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White Ibis and Little Blue Heron Along the Beaufort NC Waterfront

I had the opportunity to launch my kayak and do a little wildlife photography the other morning. It was an extremely winding morning, making it a little difficult to hold position while shooting. The fast moving air, however, help provide some relief from the heat and humidity of the morning. All in all it was a nice way to spend the morning.

White Ibis along Taylors Creek

Little Blue Heron along North Carolina's Crystal Coast

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Semipalmated Plovers at Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve

I loaded up my kayak and paid the reserve a visit a few mornings ago. As is usually the case, my efforts were awarded with plenty of photography opportunities. I found these plovers feeding along mouth of Deep Creek, the entrance into the tidal flats. These small birds are a joy to watch and a challenge to photograph. They tend to be more than a little suspicious of anything approaching them. Getting close to them, however, is easier from the water than from land. Such is one of the benefits of using a kayak for photography. Here are a few shots from the encounter.

A tiny plover explores the beach looking for a meal.

Semipalmated Plover at the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve

Plovers are very small shore birds.

North Carolina's Crystal Coast is a wonderful destination for nature and wildlife photographers.

Posted in Avian Photography, General Photography, Kayaking, Nature Photography, Uncategorized, Wildlife Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

A Tough Shot from a Kayak!

I launched my kayak last Saturday afternoon with the goal of paddling into a blackwater swamp and sitting for a while in hopes of getting a shot of a Prothonotory Warbler. It was suppose to rain that hint and all-day Sunday. As I started my paddle the wind was starting to pick-up and I could see clouds building off in the distance. I made it into the swamp as planned but my stay was cut a bit short as light was fading quickly because of the increasing cloud cover. Finally I realized it was time to head back to the ramp or risk a return trip in total darkness. As I made my way to the ramp I noticed a Great Blue Heron feeding along the river bank. It was a picturesque location and certainly was worth an attempt at getting a shot.

The challenge was going to be getting a useable shot. In the dim light getting a shutter speed that would be fast enough to make a sharp image was going to be tough. I started cranking up the ISO, going all the way up to iso 1250! A high setting like that would almost insure a lot of noise in the resulting image. Checking my exposure settings, even at that high ISO setting, my shutter speed was going to be less than 1/100 of a second. That’s much too slow to insure a sharp image when hand-holding a 500mm lens. In order to get to a faster shutter speed I opened my aperture up. I know this lens and this lens is at its sharpest at around f/8.0. Opening the aperture wider than that can result in images that a bit soft. I ended up compromising, choosing an aperture of f/7.1. That got me a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second. A speed still much slower than the theoretical minimum target of 1/500 of a second for hand-holding a long lens like this. Considering I’m shooting from a kayak on choppy water and ideally I’d have a shutter speed closer to 1/1000 of a second! In these lighting conditions this was the best I was going get, 1/125 at f/7.1 and iso 1250. I tried to steady myself, holding as carefully and steady as possible and squeezed off a few shots. Honestly I was optimistic about what I’d find on the memory card.

When I got home I unloaded and stored the kayak away, put the camera up and spent some time visiting with my wife. I didn’t even bother to check the images for several days. I knew the odds of getting and image that was even suitable for use on the internet were pretty low. Much to my surprise there was a fairly decent image in the series. Was it perfect? Not by a long shot but the noise wasn’t too bad and it was reasonably sharp. A little post processing work in photoshop include a touch of noise reduction resulted in a fairly pleasing image.

Sometimes conditions are tough. When you understand the limitations of your equipment it’s easy to convince yourself to not even try to make and image in some situations. Personally I think it’s always worth the effort to give it a try. You probably won’t get anything for the effort except the comfort that you gave it your best shot. Then again, sometimes you get lucky. Below is the image described above.

Sometimes you just get lucky.  Theoretically this image wasn't possible in the conditions shot.

 



 

Now available my “Introduction to Kayak Photography” eBook. Learn how to approach skittish wildlife from the water to add an interesting perspecitve to your photographs. Take advantage of the low introductory price while it lasts.

 

USD 4.99 / Download

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SOLD OUT! – May 19,20 Wild Horses of the Crystal Coast Workshop

Wild horses of the Crystal Coast workshop Sold Out!
 The May 19 & 20, 2011 Wild Horses of the Crystal Coast is now Sold Out. There is still space left in the June 23, 24 2011 workshop. If you’ve been wanting to join me for a wild horse adventure don’t put off booking your space. These workshops tend to fill-up very, very quickly. For more information on my instructional offering visit my workshop page.

 


If you enjoy the photos you see on this site you may want to consider purchasing my “Introduction to Kayak Photography” eBook. Many of the images that you’ve been enjoying are made from my kayak. Kayak’s are a wonderful tool that allow you to be up close and personal with many kinds of wild life.

 

USD 4.99 / Download

Posted in Banker Horses, Business and Administration, Ebooks, Education, Uncategorized, Wildlife Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , |

Intoduction to Kayak Photography: A How-to Ebook

Now available for instant download, my “Introduction to Kayak Photography” is a basic guide to using kayaks for nature photography. Presented in PDF format the book consists of five chapters: Choosing a Kayak for Photography; Gearing Up for Kayak Photography; Camera Equipment Considerations; Making Useable Photos from a Bouncing Little Boat; Finding and Approaching Wildlife. Concise and direct, there is a lot of useful information packed into 20 full-sized pages for only $4.99.

 

Cover shot of new ebook.

 

USD 4.99 / Download

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