Shooting at a Rookery

HarrybHarryb old and lazyPosts: 22,719Super Moderators moderator
edited May 2, 2012 in Wildlife
Hi Y'all,

The subject of shooting at a rookery has come up a few times recently so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to bore y'all with a few thoughts on the topic.

Shooting at a rookery gives a wildlife photographer the opportunity to get some fantastic photo ops under conditions during mating season that we usually don't get during the rest of the year. We can get closer to our subjects.

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Plus we have a target rich environment
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The problems come in with the target rich environment. Often we have too many subjects and can't isolate our subject. Then you have cluttered backgrounds when every time you see a possible capture there's another bird standing right behind your subject.

Whenever I bring a photographer into a rookery for the first time I tell them to walk through the area and not to take a picture. I want them to look at the light, the backgrounds, the flight patterns, where the clean line of sights are, etc. The most important pieces of equipment in our tool boxes are our eyes and brains.

Invariably they ignore my advice and all I hear is click-click-click-click as they take a multitude of mediocre captures. Things improve once they calm down and recover from the sensory overload.

Rookeries afford a great opportunity for BIFs. The birds fly in discernable patterns and repeat those patterns over and over as they fly into the nest with nesting material and/or food for their young. You want to pick out the areas where you have the best light and a clear BG. Then you wait until the fly into those areas.

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You also get chances for interaction, nest,and portrait captures. The key again is your eyes as you eliminate most of the candidates due to lousy BGs, obstructions, and poor light. However the few remaining possibilities will result in some quality results.

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If you're near a rookery get yourself over there and takes some pics. You will get loads of captures that will go into your trash can but you will also find some gold. I delete around 90% of my rookery captures but the other 10% usually brings a smile to my normally dour face.

If anybody is going to be shooting at the rookery in St Augustine's Alligator Farm this season give me a holler. I'll be going up there frequently this season until I leave for S. Africa in June.
Harry
http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"

Comments

  • jwearjwear learning now shoot & cuss Posts: 7,962Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 26, 2012
    You are having way to much fun :D I know what you are saying busy and background 2 things that make wildlife shooting --work. The rookery looks like a fun place thumb.gif
    Jeff W

    “PHOTOGRAPHY IS THE ‘JAZZ’ FOR THE EYES…”

    http://jwear.smugmug.com/
  • PGMPGM Pam McI Posts: 2,006Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 26, 2012
    Harry, what great advice all around. And what are those last two photos--the next to last look like a mummy couple and the very last one looks like severe burn victims--what in the hell are they? We don't seem to have them here. I feel sure I would remember. Also, I love the great egret with those lacy feathers draped over the chicks. And what a beautiful sharp clear Roseate Spoonbill in flight. Best, Pam
  • Louis ChampanLouis Champan Major grins Posts: 110Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 26, 2012
    Another superb set Harry, wish I could have been along. #6 is over the top good, excellent composition on that shot.

    Louie
  • Dick on ArubaDick on Aruba My name is Dick. So what? Posts: 3,484Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 27, 2012
    Some stunning captures you have there Harry. Judging on those images: you have done this before :)
    "Nothing sharpens sight like envy."
    Thomas Fuller.

    SmugMug account.
    Website.
  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,719Super Moderators moderator
    edited April 28, 2012
    jwear wrote: »
    You are having way to much fun :D I know what you are saying busy and background 2 things that make wildlife shooting --work. The rookery looks like a fun place thumb.gif

    My old tag line was "if you ain't having fun you ain't doing it right". Rookeries are a lot of fun but also a lot of work to get good captures.
    Harry
    http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,719Super Moderators moderator
    edited April 29, 2012
    PGM wrote: »
    Harry, what great advice all around. And what are those last two photos--the next to last look like a mummy couple and the very last one looks like severe burn victims--what in the hell are they? We don't seem to have them here. I feel sure I would remember. Also, I love the great egret with those lacy feathers draped over the chicks. And what a beautiful sharp clear Roseate Spoonbill in flight. Best, Pam

    Te last two were wood storks and tri-color heron chicks. The wood stork capture was a prize winne rin the Alligator Farm's yearly photo contest.
    Harry
    http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,719Super Moderators moderator
    edited April 29, 2012
    Another superb set Harry, wish I could have been along. #6 is over the top good, excellent composition on that shot.

    Louie

    Wish you could have been there too Louie. We haven't shot together in a few years. You were out of town when I hit SEattle, and then I was in Africa when you hit the Space Coast. :bash
    Harry
    http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
  • toragstorags Major grins Posts: 3,973Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 29, 2012
    Wow nice work.

    Today I took one of my spring trips to our local reserve in East Palo Alto. The Herons were nesting. Next month the Snowy Egrets

    We don't have the variety you guys have but I enjoy the few spring shoots.

    I agree #6 is over the top... thumb.gif
    Rags
  • Dennis KaczorDennis Kaczor Major grins Posts: 2,413Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 30, 2012
    Great set Harry. The ones that stands out for me is the Cattle Egret head shot and the Egret with the feathers draped over the little ones.
    Regards - Dennis

    Dennis Kaczor Photography
  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,719Super Moderators moderator
    edited April 30, 2012
    Some stunning captures you have there Harry. Judging on those images: you have done this before :)

    Thanks Dick and I have done this a few times
    Harry
    http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,719Super Moderators moderator
    edited April 30, 2012
    torags wrote: »
    Wow nice work.

    Today I took one of my spring trips to our local reserve in East Palo Alto. The Herons were nesting. Next month the Snowy Egrets

    We don't have the variety you guys have but I enjoy the few spring shoots.

    I agree #6 is over the top... thumb.gif

    Thanks Rags and #6 is one of my all time faves. Intersting note on that pic. It was one of 5 pics I entered into the Alligator's Farm photo contest. They selected 3 of the 5 for their calendar but #6 was not one of the winners. I'm guessing the other egret behind the mother was the reason it didn't win. I told y'all about those busy backgrounds. :D
    Harry
    http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
  • PGMPGM Pam McI Posts: 2,006Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 30, 2012
    Harryb wrote: »
    Te last two were wood storks and tri-color heron chicks. The wood stork capture was a prize winne rin the Alligator Farm's yearly photo contest.

    Wow! They are great photos of unusual looking bird, at least to me. We do have tri-color herons, so I will be on the lookout for nests and chicks. Apparently years ago we had wood storks, but none in many years. Best, Pam
  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,719Super Moderators moderator
    edited April 30, 2012
    Great set Harry. The ones that stands out for me is the Cattle Egret head shot and the Egret with the feathers draped over the little ones.

    Thanks Dennis, glad you enjoyed them.
    Harry
    http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
  • MakeMeShutterMakeMeShutter Guest Posts: 386Unregistered / Not Logged In Major grins
    edited April 30, 2012
    Wonderful write up about shooting in a rookery.
    Another thing to add to my bucket list!
    Useful information that I will try to use up here in NY, thanks for sharing!
  • csmallaricsmallari observateur d'oiseaux Posts: 17Registered Users Big grins
    edited April 30, 2012
    It's always nice to see a set filled with wonderful photos. Thanks for sharing :-)
  • dniednie Major grins Posts: 1,351Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Major grins
    edited April 30, 2012
    I got the opportunity to visit High Island this past weekend and saw my first rookery. Absolutely amazing! I got nothing as good as yours, but just getting the chance to experience it was enough for me.
  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,719Super Moderators moderator
    edited May 1, 2012
    Wonderful write up about shooting in a rookery.
    Another thing to add to my bucket list!
    Useful information that I will try to use up here in NY, thanks for sharing!


    Thanks much hope it is some use to you.
    Harry
    http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,719Super Moderators moderator
    edited May 2, 2012
    csmallari wrote: »
    It's always nice to see a set filled with wonderful photos. Thanks for sharing :-)
    dnie wrote: »
    I got the opportunity to visit High Island this past weekend and saw my first rookery. Absolutely amazing! I got nothing as good as yours, but just getting the chance to experience it was enough for me.

    Thanks and I'm glad you enjoyed the images. I just came back form the rookery in St Augustine. I spent quite a bit of time just looking at the activities of the bird and not taking pictures.
    Harry
    http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
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