August 2023 Photo of the Month

At Tom Bol Photo Workshops, we celebrate great participant images by selecting a Photo of the Month. For August we chose an image taken on the Ecuador Cloud Forest Photo Tour created by Elaine Bedard. Elaine photographs pets, birds and nature in rural Connecticut. Ecuador was her first workshop out of the country with us. You can see a portfolio of her images here .

Congratulations to August 2023 ‘s featured photographer – Elaine Bedard

Elaine with a Canon 600 mm lens

The Story… 

Cree and I were patiently waiting out front of the lodge. I was just sitting quietly and seeing what would come in. He flew in and started eating bananas.

The bottom of the frame is the banana feeder. I used the new remove tool in PhotoShop to take out the banana tray. Then I darkened it using a linear gradient.

I always shoot the 100-500 mm lens at 500 mm. This meant I could focus on getting the exposure right. I start by working the shutter speed in manual mode with auto ISO on. I capped my ISO at 6400 for this trip and use Topaz Denoise afterwards.

II watch what the bird is doing. After I get a baseline photo of the bird, I try to predict interesting behaviour. It’s not Rapid Fire, but Intentional Fire. I look for a head tilt, an interesting walking motion and then I use a short burst when it gets interesting. If the bird does not move, I stop shooting.

August 2023 Photo of the Month

EXIF Data:

Camera: Canon R6

Lens: 100-500 mm at 500 mm

ISO: 3200

Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec

Aperture: f/7.1

Shooting Mode: Manual mode with auto ISO

Equitorial Antpita at Zura Loma Preserve

About Photographing in the Ecuador Cloud Forest

This is a bird photographer’s heaven. It is one of those places you have to experience. It really is so different from New England. The light is different and you have the canopy of the trees. It has a nice diffuse quality to it.

At the reserves, there is often space between the perches and the background canopy. This creates really good bokeh.

The climate is also different. It is very comfortable to be there in the summer, but damp.

The birds come in every color of the rainbow. It is not just little brown birds like where I live. The beauty of Ecuador is that birds are abundant and they come right to you. The lodges and reserves are built around the birds. There are so many species there that you would never see otherwise.

Collared Inca at Guango Lodge

Elaine’s Tips for Photographing Birds

Tip 1

Learn and study bird behaviour as you are taking your shots. This way you will be able to predict where the bird will go and what it will do.

Tip 2

Know how to operate your camera. Know your settings. For fast moving birds you want to have this locked down. I want my settings to be the last thing I think about. My camera should already be ready to go before the bird lands.

Tip 3

Once you get a decent bird photograph, ask yourself, “How can I make this different.” How can I go beyond a bird on a stick.

I try to get the ethereal fell of being there in the image. In Ecuador, the mist, fog and dampness helps create that feel.

Tip 4

I use a radial gradient to create a moveable light” in my images. This creates a highlight in the overall image. I also use a neutral gray filter to accentuate the feathers in the photo.

Buff-tailed Coronet at Birdwatchers House

On Elaine’s Horizon:

Route 66 Albuquerque to Amarillo

The Pantanal in Brazil

Northern Italy

Texas Birds

Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

Costa Rica

Elaine getting low for a Violet-tailed Sylph

Tom and Cree just returned from paddling through the heart of Canyonlands in a canoe . Check out this article that Tom wrote for NBCNews when Skyler was much younger, click here. They are headed to arctic Alaska next to work on a project for Nikon and scout a Fall trip in the arctic.

Enjoy the end of summer!

Tom and Cree

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