Hartney Bay Sandpipers 32

Hartney Bay Sandpipers 32

This is another image from my visit to Cordova, Alaska last month. The focus of my trip was photographing the shorebird migration that takes place each spring along the Copper River delta. Naively, I anticipated millions of shorebirds, but I never saw more than perhaps 10,000 all at once. This was still a spectacular sight to photograph, and how many birds did I really need? The best time to photograph the shorebirds was at high tide, which fortunately corresponded with sunrise and sunset that week. I was also lucky that the sky was clear so that I was able to take advantage of the golden light. This is one of my favorite pictures of the birds in flight. I created this image with my Canon 7D and 400mm f4 DO IS lens plus 1.4X tele-converter. I slightly cropped the original image to make a stronger composition, otherwise, it required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Hartney Bay Sandpipers 2

Hartney Bay Sandpipers 2

While visiting Cordova, I saw flocks of several thousand shorebirds, but never the millions that I had read about. If there were millions, they were spread out over the entire Copper River delta region. The shorebirds that I saw were scattered all over the mudflats of Hartney Bay which made photographing them difficult. The best opportunities to photograph them was when they grouped together at high-tide. During the week of my visit, high-tide luckily corresponded with sunrise and sunset. There were also no clouds just clear sky, so I was able to take advantage of the good light. In this image, I positioned myself on the sunlit side of the birds and added some color by including the reflection of the blue sky in the mud. I was attracted to the repetitive patterns of the resting shorebirds, but even when they were resting many of them still moved around. I created this image by hand-holding my Canon 7D and 400mm f4 DO IS lens with my 1.4X tele-converter. Depth-of-field was a real challenge, so I stopped my lens down to f18 and chose ISO 400 to give me a reasonable shutter speed for hand-holding my camera. This image required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Hartney Bay Sandpipers 1

Hartney Bay Sandpipers 1

ALASKA!!! That sums up my feelings about my recent trip north. I began my trip by teaching some classes in Anchorage and Fairbanks, but then my friend and fellow photographer Steve Kazlowski joined me for a week photographing the Copper River shorebird migration near Cordova. It was the first time that either of us had been to Cordova. I was prepared for a week of terrible weather based on what I’ve heard, so imagine my surprise when the sky was clear the entire week! Not only was the weather perfect, but high-tide (when the shorebirds were best photographed) actually corresponded with the prime light of sunrise and sunset. I could not believe our fortune, since neither of us did any research before our trip. It was very difficult to photograph the flocks of mostly Western sandpipers, but this is one of my favorite images. I like how the shorebirds are landing towards me and a few of them are in sharp focus amongst the chaos. I created this image with my Canon 7D and 500mm f4 IS lens (which Canon Professional Services was kind enough to loan me). I slightly cropped the original image to make a stronger composition, otherwise, it required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.