August 2018
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DAJ Designs Photography
Speed and Agility
Angel Wings
Angel Wings
By: Benjamin DeHaven
So, what does it take to make great bird pictures? Much more than you might think. First off, you need to be where the birds are. There are several wildlife refuges in the mid-Atlantic that have a high bird density. "Angel Wings" was taken at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge which is in New Jersey. Birders regularly see over 50 species of birds there in a day. However, this refuge is 3 hours from my home in Baltimore County. And, you cannot just show up. You need to get there early to get the best light. My mother and I left my house at 3 am to pull in right as the sun was rising.

Now that you have arrived where the birds are and with good light, you have to choose: sitting birds or flying birds. Flying birds often make much better images. I love Forster's Terns and the way they hunt for fish is amazing to me. Forster's Terns fly in straight lines about 20 feet off the water looking for fish. When they spot one, they stop on a dime and hover for about 2 seconds before falling out of the sky and splashing down in the water. They then rise out of the splash... sometimes with a fish.
Banking Left
Banking Left
By: Benjamin DeHaven
Forster's Terns are only about 13 to 14 inches long, so they are between the size of a robin and a crow. When they stop and hover they are fairly straightforward to photograph, but when they dive and splash down the level of difficulty goes up exponentially. In addition, you are dealing with a black and white bird which is hard to expose properly for. It is far too easy to over expose or under expose the bird. Your shutter speed needs to be high enough to freeze the action while your ISO needs to be low enough to not end up with a noisy mess. A careful balancing act is required to keep the bird sharp and the exposure proper.

The other hardship I will talk about is when the flies and mosquitoes find that you missed a spot with the bug spray and decide to eat you. Nothing breaks your concentration like the piercing pain of a green-headed fly biting you. I personally got bit on the palm of my hand and in between the straps of my sandals. But all in all, there is no other place I would rather be then out with the camera photographing birds or landscapes.
By: Debbie Jordan
Unlike the Forster's Terns Ben wrote about above, Egrets are stalkers. They move slowly through the water keeping a vigilant eye for movement beneath the surface. Each step is deliberate and calculated. It is not uncommon to see an Egret standing in one spot for a long time with it's head cocked so that one eye is downward watching the water. It will then take one or two steps forward, cock its head to the side again, and stare at the water. I am amazed that they can see anything through the murky marsh water.

In the photo above, this Egret is standing in what appears to be clear water. In fact, the water is clouded with mud and algae. The reflection of the sky above, however, makes the water appear a lovely, clear blue. I watched this Egret for quite a while as he stood there, turning his head ever so slightly to better focus on movement in the water. He would take a step or two, cock his head to the side, then launch his head into the water. Sometimes he would be successful and nab a nice fish snack. Sometimes, he would come up sopping wet with nothing to show for his efforts. And then this time he caught a rather nice-sized fish, but his catch got away. I continued to watch this masterful fisherman in the hopes he would have better luck, and - as you see below - he was successful.
Down the Hatch
By: Debbie Jordan

As a photographer, you need to be ready at an instant to capture the speed and agility of birds in action. Whether flying, diving, or catching a meal, it is always a challenge.... but also a great deal of fun.

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Bel Air Festival for the Arts
Sunday, September 16, 2018
Bel Air, MD
Booth #146
Until Next Time
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