Wintering Waterfowl

Happy New Year! 2018 has started out brutally cold. As I'm entering this entry ice & snow is currently falling outside and all I can think about is making the drive back out to Pungo in hopes of photographing waterfowl & bear in the snow! Fingers crossed the roads are clear and the snow sticks around long enough for me to get back out there. So for now, I decided to reflect on my last trip out. I lead a small workshop on the first Saturday after Christmas. It started well below freezing, leaving most of the canals & impoundments completely frozen. At first light, we found a small group of tundra swan resting on the ice. After photographing the beautiful sunrise we began our search for the snow geese. Luckily it didn't take very long and boy did they put on a show!


We watched & photographed them for several hours as they fed in the cut corn fields. They would all take off, circle the fields and land in a different spot. Allowing for great opportunities to create photos from all angles and to experiment. Most photographers are dead set on using extremely high shutter speeds, freezing the action completely. Sometimes it's nice to slow things down a bit and drag the shutter. Not sure what that means? Its just a phrase photographers use when using a really slow shutter speed.


Slowing the shutter speed down allowing to show motion in your photograph tells a better story. In the photo above with ever goose completely frozen in place is nice but when you drag the shutter and you can actually see the movement, the chaos, the story. This technique requires some patience and practice.  You need to pan smoothly and just the right speed to make sure that the heads of the birds are in focus and their wings along with everything else has nice blur.


We were also lucky enough to photograph a family of bear. If you look closely you will notice its the same family group I photographed all summer last year. It was great seeing them again!


At the end of the day we watched snow geese land just outside the refuge. We turned our attention towards the beautiful moon and noticed the geese were flying in front of it. We began photographing them continuously until we lost all available light. We had a great workshop and I'm looking forward to the next one!

So until next time,

Cheers, Neil

Also, the snow is now covering the ground!



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