Ken Brennan Photography: Blog en-us (C) Ken Brennan Photography (Ken Brennan Photography) Sun, 16 Feb 2014 14:33:00 GMT Sun, 16 Feb 2014 14:33:00 GMT Ken Brennan Photography: Blog 120 86 A closer look at the Brown Pelican

Anywhere you go along the Texas Gulf coast one of the most impressive birds you'll see is the brown pelican.  These beautiful and common large water birds can be seen flying in groups up and down the beach or over the breaking waves, occasionally diving into the water and catching fish in their large beaks.  (check out the hook at the end of the beak to help the bird hold on to the fish)  When they're not flying, they sit at the water's edge on rocks or pilings and preen like the one seen in this photo.  Here's a picture of three of them flying over some rough waves on a cloudy and windy day at a Galveston Texas beach.

These two flew overhead the following day when it was sunny and a blue sky...

Next time we'll take a closer look at another beautiful Texas shorebird...


]]> (Ken Brennan Photography) Galveston Texas beach bird photography brown pelican fine art nature photography pelican photos of nature pictures of birds pictures of wildlife wildlife photo prints Sat, 28 Sep 2013 18:47:41 GMT
Birds and Wildlife at the Anahuac Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Texas The Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge is located in southeast Texas about 50 miles east of Houston, just north of High Island and just south of Winnie.  So, for fun and easy birding, first go to Boy Scout Woods in High Island, walk through the woods and look for migrating songbirds, then drive a few miles north and be in Anahuac where you'll find all kinds of shorebirds, waterbirds, songbirds and snakes and alligators.  There are roads that go through the refuge so it's easy to just drive through and see what's there.  These pictures of the Glossy Ibis,White Ibis and alligator were taken from the car window.   More on Anahuac and High Island bird species and sightings next time-


]]> (Ken Brennan Photography) Anahuac Wildlife Refuge Beaumont Galveston High Island Texas Winnie alligator bird photography birding birds glossy ibis images of nature photos of nature pictures of birds pictures of wildlife southeast Texas white ibis Wed, 11 Sep 2013 00:00:59 GMT
Beautiful songbirds in southeast Texas Here are a couple of bright red songbird migrants that visit the southeast Texas gulf coast.  Shown above is the Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea), a neon red medium size songbird.  This bird was seen in April in Boy Scout Woods in High Island Texas - southeast of Houston and east of Galveston.  It was hanging out high in the trees and not paying attention to the group of people below staring, pointing and taking pictures.  The colors in this photo are not enhanced - the bird is extremely red.

The next bird is a Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus), a small bright red songbird.  This bird was seen at the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Texas which is just north of High Island last January as it was wintering in our area.  They like open spaces and apparently don't mind people as this one was hanging out in front of the visitor center and posing for pictures.  It's always a thrill and a privilege to see these beautiful birds out in nature, and it's even more fun to be able to take their pictures!

]]> (Ken Brennan Photography) Galveston Texas bird bird photography fine art nature photography flycatcher images of nature photos of nature pictures of birds pictures of wildlife scarlet tanager songbird tanager vermilion flycatcher Sat, 24 Aug 2013 00:33:20 GMT
Unusual bird identification Here's an unusual bird identification story I'll share with you.  Looking through my photos from earlier in the year recently, I came across some pictures of a hawk that I couldn't identify.  The pictures were taken on the east end of Galveston Island on the bay side near the ferry.  The weather was chilly, cloudy and lightly raining, and driving around I saw the hawk in the distance sitting on a structure of some sort.  Being too far away to see it clearly, I decided to take some photos from the car and look at them later just for id purposes.  After cropping the photos and looking through every bird book I own and searching the internet, I wasn't able to determine what the hawk was - as you can see it's rather light in color and has mottled brown and white feathers and a white face.  When all else fails, I contact my ornithologist friend Jim Stevenson from the Galveston Ornithological Society (GOS) and get his opinion.  He was quick to tell me that this is a first year Red-tailed Hawk with a mix of Krideri genes in him, which makes him a lighter color.  The Krideri type Red-tailed hawk is a light colored variation that lives in the Northern Great Plains and winters in Tx and Oklahoma, and can be found near the water on the Tx gulf coast - which accounts for the location and his unusual appearance.  I'm just glad to get a positive id and have a few pictures of a great looking bird!

]]> (Ken Brennan Photography) Krideri bird bird photography hawk images of nature photos of nature pictures of birds pictures of wildlife raptor red-tailed hawk Thu, 15 Aug 2013 17:28:20 GMT
Photographing birds in flight Taking pictures of birds in flight is one of the most fun and challenging types of photography there is.  This is a photo of a roseate spoonbill that was building a nest at the rookery at High Island Texas just east of Galveston.  He or she was flying back and forth in front of me gathering nesting material which made this shot relatively easy.  Since the flight path was at my eye level and was predictable, I just set up my tripod and left the ball head on a loose swivel setting, took a few test shots to get the exposure right, and got quite a few "keepers".  Since these birds are large and don't fly very fast it was relatively easy to focus and keep it in the viewfinder.  To me the interesting part is seeing the photos afterwards and seeing all the different poses and wing positions birds have when flying that you can't normally see since they move so fast.  

The hawk picture below was taken out in a field near Georgetown Texas where I was trying to take photos of meadowlarks.  The meadowlarks weren't cooperating, but this hawk decided to check me out and was circling pretty close overhead, which resulted in a few nice shots.  For successful bird in flight shots, it's important to have the sun low in the sky in the morning or evening, to have the bird flying in the right direction relative to the sun so it's head is not in shadow, and to at least have the eye in sharp focus.  For a fast flying bird that means a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 or higher.  More on the technical details next time...

]]> (Ken Brennan Photography) Galveston bird bird photography birds fine art nature photography hawk images of nature photos of nature pictures of birds pictures of wildlife roseate spoonbill Fri, 02 Aug 2013 20:34:08 GMT
Golden slippers and other mysteries

In this photo you can clearly see what are called the "golden slippers" on this snowy egret.  It's an unmistakable field mark that leaves no doubt which egret you're looking at.  This species tends to fish in shallow water, darting and jumping around in a very energetic, entertaining and acrobatic display, stirring up fish and other critters as it runs around in the water.  This one was walking along the edge with it's shorebird friends apparently moving to a better fishing spot.  A good way to photograph these are down at ground level with the camera set to shoot multiple frames per second on autofocus - like you're shooting sports.  That way you can catch it in all its crazy poses as it runs around in the water - which makes for some fun and interesting photos.


]]> (Ken Brennan Photography) Galveston Texas beach bird photography dunlin egret golden golden slippers images of nature least tern pictures of birds saltwater shorebirds snowy egret Thu, 25 Jul 2013 21:06:38 GMT
Shorebirds at eye level

These are ground-level photos of cute little least terns and other shorebirds in the background that I believe are dunlins (but could be wrong).  I saw these at Bolivar Flats across the ferry to the east of Galveston.  At low tide you can walk out on the damp sand to get to where the birds are resting and eating in the shallow water.

In my opinion this is the best photographic view of shorebirds - down low and at their level - instead of taking the pictures from up at normal human eye level down toward the sand.  With a telephoto lens at a wide aperture you get a narrow band of focus right where the bird is with natural looking blur in front and behind the subject as you can see in these shots.  These shots are right out of the camera with only some minor post processing done.

To do this easily, there is a device called a Ground Pod that is basically a frisbee shaped plastic disc with a camera mount in the center.  I mount the camera on a small ball head and attach the ball head to the ground pod which puts the lens about 6 inches off the sand.  Then laying on the ground behind the camera you can get some amazing shots.  Next time I'll post some more photos like these and get into more detail about how to do it.

]]> (Ken Brennan Photography) animal photos beach bird bird photos birds dunlin fine art nature photography images of nature least tern photos of birds photos of nature pictures of animals pictures of wildlife shorebird shorebirds tern wildlife photo prints wildlife photos Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:38:36 GMT
Summer's here Since it's too hot in Texas right now to get out and take many pictures and all the migrating birds have gone north for the summer, I'm spending my time going through my photos from last spring.  Had a great time in Galveston during April - prime time to see shorebirds and other migrating birds of all kinds at High Island and all over Galveston as they stop off before heading north.  Here's are some photos from around that time...You can see more photos at

The Canon 7D and 400mm 5.6 lens are turning out to be a great combo for bird photography.  I decided to go with these a couple years ago after attending Featherfest in Galveston and talking to some bird photography experts.  Next time I'll talk about techniques to get down low at the birds eye level - it helps to get a better point of view especially for the little shorebirds like you see here.

]]> (Ken Brennan Photography) 400 5.6 Canon 7D Galveston bird bird photography birding birds brown pelican fine art nature photography gulf coast images of nature island lens nature nature photography photos photos of birds photos of nature pictures of birds pictures of wild animals pictures of wildlife plover shorebird waterbird wildlife photo prints wildlife photography Fri, 12 Jul 2013 20:03:09 GMT