Sunrise Birding Photography

Like most mornings, I was in my car driving to my first birding location before the sun rose over the horizon. Aside from the fact that birds are most active in the morning when they are busy finding breakfast, one can not stress to strongly if your goal is to capture some nice images, the Golden Hour is named such because the soft light of dawn dramatically enhances the type of photograph one may capture. Many birds have plumage which get “blown out” as the bright light of day progresses. Such is the case with each of this mornings subjects:

  • Great Blue Heron
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Common Merganser

Their feathers have lots of grays, whites, and light blues which do not tend to photograph well later in the day. In addition, the rest of the scene often has nice colors which helps the end result. One drawback is it is very, very difficult to get high quality “motion” photos in the early light. I actually watched all three of today’s subjects catch fish, but it was impossible to have a fast enough shutter speed to capture the “act of the catch”! The final advantage of the time right after sunrise is one may often get closer to individual birds. If you sneak up with the sun directly behind you, the birds have difficulty seeing you given the low angle of the sun to the horizon.

Great Blue Heron Sunrise Photo Studies

Belted Kingfisher and Mountain Ash Berries

Common Merganser and its Serrated Mouth (good for holding onto fish)

Meet the Plovers! (Black-Bellied and American Golden)

The rains finally ended, and the fields of Park Point were some perfect mud flats for migrating shorebirds yesterday morning. Although some pesky clouds were still hanging around, the winds out of the North brought quite a few migrating plovers into the Duluth area. I had fun watching this Black-Bellied Plover for about 1/2 hour … and it helped me out by posing with various other birds.

Black-Bellied Plover and American Golden Plover (immature)

Black-Bellied Plover and Lesser Yellowlegs

Sky Check … Watching a Bald Eagle

Two more shorebird pics … from my recent bike tour … Short Billed Dowitchers

Northern Night Lights

Have been off the grid at my remote small Northwoods cabin. A few nights ago I walked down to the dock at midnight and took this photograph of the Milky Way over our cabin. I knew from a photography app I utilize that the core of the Milky Way would be in the proper position of the night sky. The app is named PlanIt! for Photographers which is available for only a few dollars both on Android and IOS. This app allows one to determine many important items which are helpful to photographers such as sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset, dark night period, dark sky regions and much, much more. I’ve included a screenshot of how I used PlanIt! for planning my Milky Way photo. Note how the app utilizes Google Maps and thus is location specific. In the Google Maps satellite view one may actually see my fishing boat!

The light in showing through the window is from two small night lights. My camera settings are ISO 3,200, Aperture 2.0 for a 25 second exposure.

Northern Night Lights … Milky Way

Screenshots from PlanIt!