A Ring-billed Gull – Light on Dark

Ring-billed Gull in flightRing-billed Gull in flight – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 270mm, natural light, not baited

It seems that more than a few bird photographers avoid taking images of gulls perhaps in part because they are common in so many locations or because gulls are associated with trash but I enjoy taking images of gulls especially if they are in flight or in a great setting. For new photographers who want to work on flight photography gulls make excellent subjects to practice on.

In most areas of North America Ring-billed Gulls are the most commonly seen gull and not only are they beautiful they are also fun and challenging to photograph. The day I photographed this Ring-billed Gull at Fort De Soto’s north beach there were baitfish in the hundreds of thousands running just off shore and pelicans, egrets, terns and gulls were all in a feeding frenzy. Most of the images I took that day had water or sky in the background but when this Ring-billed Gull flew into the beach to land it had dark trees in the background. The light gull against the dark background was and still is very appealing to me and I also enjoy the wing position, flared tail and head angle.

Common? Maybe. I knew as soon as I saw this through my viewfinder I was going to love the image. I wasn’t wrong.

Mia

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Black Skimmers in flight

Black Skimmers in FlightBlack Skimmers in Flight – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

Just a quick post this morning of an image of a pair of Black Skimmers in flight over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I photographed these Black Skimmers at the north beach of Fort De Soto County Park in Florida one cool January morning. Black Skimmers are North America’s only skimmer species.

Mia

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Displaying Sandwich Terns in low light

Courting Sandwich Terns in low lightDisplaying Sandwich Terns in low light – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/400, ISO 500, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 330mm, natural light

Typically I prefer to photograph in what is called “sweet” light but there are times I shoot in low light because I like the subject, the setting or the behavior. These Sandwich Terns were courting early one morning at Fort De Soto’s north beach and even though the light wasn’t “sweet” I felt their displaying behavior was interesting. It wasn’t breeding season; it was taken in September, so I am not sure what this display was all about. Perhaps it was territorial.

Mia

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Landing Black Skimmer

Landing Black SkimmerLanding Black Skimmer – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1500, ISO 250, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 300mm, natural light

Black Skimmers are known by several nicknames which include scissorbills, knifebill and cut-water for how their bills slice through the water when they are hunting and how their bills snap shut on prey. They are also called flying beagle and sea-dog because of the yipping sound they make that can sound like a small dog.

I photographed this landing Black Skimmer at the north beach of Fort De Soto County Park as it came into for a landing near a resting flock of skimmers, I was fortunate that it landed far enough away from them to be able to isolate the skimmer from the rest of the birds.

Mia

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Waves and a Forster’s Tern

Forster's Tern in front of a dark colored waveForster’s Tern in front of a dark colored wave

The nonbreeding Forster’s Tern in these two images is the same bird and the images were taken ten frames  and a few seconds apart as the tern stood on the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida.

Forster's Tern in front of a light colored waveForster’s Tern in front of a light colored wave

When photographing birds on the shoreline when there are waves just a few seconds can really make a difference in the background. In the top image the wave had just barely begun to break while in the second image the wave had crested which gave the background lighter colors plus it gave the sand under the bird a glassy look where the wave had washed on shore.

Just a few seconds can make a difference.

Mia

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