Photo Essay: Get Down Low

Photo Essay: Get Down Low by Josh Haas

Black-bellied Plover

Black-bellied Plover © Josh Haas

Black-bellied Plover:
There really is nothing better to a photographer than morning and evening light, the glow that turns subjects into warm masterpieces.  For shorebirds, it’s imperative to get down and shoot as low as possible.  This winter plumage Black-bellied Plover was feeding on a South Carolina beach late one evening and allowed me to approach its area while he moved around hunting.  Laying in the sand with my camera rig mounted to a extremely low support, I was able to capture the Plover mid-step giving the bird a nice pose while the sun softly lit his entire side.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel XT, 300mm f4 lens with a 2x extender
Aperture- f8
Shutter Speed- 1/400th
ISO- 400


Short-billed Dowitcher

Short-billed Dowitcher

Short-billed Dowitcher:
This image created quite the ID process fro me.  I was sure I had the ID correct but back then, checked with one of my birding mentors just to verify.  As it would turn out, what I thought was a Long-billed Dowitcher turns out to be a Short-billed Dowitcher.  I was given a couple tricks on determining this but the most important was the range map of the two birds.  The location the bird was photographed was nowhere near the wintering grounds of Long-billed Dowitchers.  While freak things can happen, this should’ve been one of the first things I looked at.  Range maps aren’t just in the books for fun, they serve a great purpose!  Also of note, this is another example of shooting low.  This image doesn’t have that warm low light glow but knowing how to compensate exposure up and down in certain situations really helps, especially in bright light overhead.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f75.6
Shutter Speed- 1/3200th
ISO- 250


Horned Puffin

Horned Puffin © Josh Haas

Horned Puffin:

Here is an image that brings back great memories.  It was taken from a kayak in Peterson Bay, not far from Homer, Alaska.  This particular day happened to be my birthday.  What better way to spend it than kayaking in Alaska.  Most of our group that day was completely turned off to the smell that was “bird island” where sea birds were packed in with their newly hatched young.  This was the one spot I banked on going when we scheduled the tour and I was in heaven.  Birds were everywhere, flying in and out.  Throughout the madness, I was able to focus in on a lone Horned Puffin, preening in the water.  Given his attention was elsewhere, I was able to get close enough for a nice shot from a low vantage point that really shows the cool colors of the scene.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel XT, 300mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f5.6
Shutter Speed- 1/800th
ISO- 400


Black Turnstone

Black Turnstone © Josh Haas

Black Turnstone:
Another species photographed in Alaska, this was also a life bird for both my wife and I.  After a long day of driving from the Anchorage area to Homer, we set up camp on Homer Spit.  My wife was gracious enough to begin dinner while I hit the shore looking for birds.  I came across this little guy, ID’d him and called Kara over so she could get views.  After we were both satisfied with the ID and took notes about the added lifer, it was time to get to work and go after a nice image of the bird.  Seeing where the bird was headed, I ran way around the bird and tried to get ahead hoping it’d continue the path towards a rocky shoreline not far away.  As luck would have it, it ended up coming right to me and at one point jumped on a rock, turned around and then jumped back down.  This image is part way through that movement as it was getting ready to jump back to the sandy shore.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f5.6
Shutter Speed- 1/800th
ISO- 100

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Josh Haas

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One Response to “Photo Essay: Get Down Low”

  1. Karl says:

    – OH MY GOODNESS!!! He is so sweet and precious! I love his dilpmes! I actually just jumped out of bed (literally) to show my husband photos of your beautiful son. He agreed, he is darling! Congratulations to you and your family to be blessed with this happy bundle- he is a very lucky boy to have you and Josh as his parents. Enjoy every second (even when he’s crying, it will all change faster than you can blink), give him TONS of hugs and kisses, and videotape life whenever possible. The photos are nice, but you will forget the sounds and the little ways they move. Seems impossible now I am sure, but my baby, Kate, is only 17 months old and she changes so much week to week. Congrats again new momma! Welcome to parenthood!