Chincoteague NWR

I had a wonderful opportunity in the middle of November to join up with a small group of photographers (Brian Kennedy, Norbert Rief, Chuck Jacobs, Cezary Raczko and Bob Mohr) and do some shooting at the Chincoteague NWR. We were extremely fortunate weather-wise, and generally had clear skies with reasonably cool temperatures. We were out before dawn, and were treated to some gorgeous sunrises, as well as sunsets at the end of the day. The migrating snow geese were present in fairly good numbers, although they kept their distance from us, and seemed to rarely be in favorable lighting conditions. The sound they made as they unitedly lifted off is something to experience!

While I didn't have opportunity to try and capture the kind of well-lit flight shots I was hoping for, it was a sheer joy being out there, enjoying some good companionship, and I hope you all enjoy this small selection of images from this trip.

Click on each thumbnail to open up a larger image in its own window. Just close these windows after viewing them.

These images, along with all the others present in the various galleries, are available for purchase as prints up to 13"x19". For more details on buying prints, please click here.

 

Deer Pair Jumping at Sunrise

Image # 02075

Chincoteague NWR

Chincoteague Island, VA

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 800, f/4, 1/100 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

We did have several opportunities to watch, experience and photograph deer crossing the water. This was very early sunrise, as evidenced by the shooting parameters above. I was fortunate to catch this pair virtually synchronized in their jump.


 

Deer Pair at Rest at Sunrise

Image # 02076

Chincoteague NWR

Chincoteague Island, VA

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 800, f/4, 1/80 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

Taken shortly after the shot above, I don't recall if this was a different pair, or the same one having just turned to face the other direction. I was pleased with the relative sharpness, considering I was shooting at 1/80 second with a 600 mm focal length!


 

Snow Geese in Flight

Image # 02097

Chincoteague NWR

Chincoteague Island, VA

Canon 600L/f4 IS with 2x II Teleconverter

ISO 400, f/11, 1/1250 second

Evaluative Metering at -2/3

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

As I commented above, the Snow Geese definitely kept their distance from us, especially when the light was at its best. But I was able to get at least a few shots in mid-day. The harsh light definitely takes its toll in shooting these mostly white birds, but sometimes you take what you can get.


 

Sika Deer at Sunset

Image # 02106

Chincoteague NWR

Chincoteague Island, VA

Canon 600L/f4 IS with 1.4x II Teleconverter

ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/100 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

We had several beautiful sunsets, and as we were watching and waiting on the Snow Geese, I spotted a few Sika deer starting to cross in front of us. We all took a number of shots, and this is my favorite among the ones I was able to get. Even though it was mid-November, and the temperature must have been in the 40's, I was amazed that we were getting eaten alive by mosquitos this evening, but it was worth it!


 

Northern Harrier in Flight

Image # 02092

Chincoteague NWR

Chincoteague Island, VA

Canon 600L/f4 IS with 2x II Teleconverter

ISO 400, f/11, 1/2000 second

Evaluative Metering at -2/3

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick


I spotted and shot this hawk a couple of different times during the week-end, but he also kept his distance. This was taken with the 600 and 2x teleconverter, and was still significantly cropped from the original. But the sharpness of the eye of this amazing bird still shines through. The correct i.d. (which I incorrectly called a red-shouldered hawk initially), courtesy of Peter May.
 

Canada Geese at Sunrise

Image # 02074

Chincoteague NWR

Chincoteague Island, VA

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 400, f/4, 1/50 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

This was taken the same morning as the deer pair above, and recaptures in my minds eye the beauty and serenity of sunrise at Chincoteague.


 

Tundra Swan at Sunset

Image # 02099

Chincoteague NWR

Chincoteague Island, VA

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 500, f/11, 1/1000 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

This was taken at sunset, a short while before the Sika deer shot above, with the clouds creating a dramatic setting for the beautiful lines of this elegant bird.


 

Savannah Sparrow

Image # 02127

Chincoteague NWR

Chincoteague Island, VA

Canon 600L/f4 IS with 1.4x II Teleconverter

ISO 200, f/8, 1/1000 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

I was set up along the main road in the refuge, overlooking the water and waiting for Snow Geese, Hawks, or anything to fly toward me, with the sun at my back. I had seen these little sparrows flitting around constantly all week-end long, never staying in plain view for more than a split-second. But this one surprised me and lighted in a bush not too far away from me, with a minimally cluttered background (in contrast to the usual thicket of bushes they frequent). It sat still long enough to at least give me a chance at a decent shot. Thanks to both Peter May and Rob Turner for alerting me to this being a Savannah, not a Chipping, Sparrow!


 

Great Blue Heron Splash

Image # 02129

Chincoteague NWR

Chincoteague Island, VA

Canon 600L/f4 IS with 1.4x II Teleconverter

ISO 200, f/8, 1/1000 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

This was taken from the same spot as the sparrow above. This great blue heron was mostly lurking in the shadows near the shore, but ever once in a while ventured out into the sun in search of a meal. I snapped this single shot as he lunged toward some unseen fish, and caught the entry splash.


 

Juvenile BCNH Flight Sequence

Image # 02133-02136

Chincoteague NWR

Chincoteague Island, VA

Canon 600L/f4 IS with 2x II Teleconverter

ISO 200, f/8, 1/1250 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

A couple of us were watching and shooting this juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron, posing nicely in a tree, when it took off. It circled a time or two, and eventually landed. This repeated a couple of times, giving me a few chances at some flight shots. I had one series of shots that looked pretty decent, so I decided to play around a bit in Photoshop, and this is the result. It is a composite of the 4 shots of this same individual, as he came in for a landing. I'm not sure how well this image works, but it's still fun to try some different things.


 

Blue and Gold Macaw

Image # 02145

South Carolina Aquarium

Charleston, SC

Canon 100/f2.8 USM Macro

ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/200 second

Manual Mode

Handheld

Well, you probably realize this one wasn't shot at Chincoteague NWR ;-). I spent Thanksgiving week-end with some family at Kiawah Island, one of our favorite places to relax. We spent an hour or two at the new Aquarium in Charleston, and for whatever reason, they had a couple of gorgeous Macaws near the entrance. I couldn't resist, so took a shot or two, and this is the result. I'm just amazed by the beauty of these birds, the detail and color they exhibit, and just had to share this image.