Friday, June 25, 2010

Black Skimmers

1) Black Skimmers are one of my favorite birds to photograph. They have a very unique technique by which they catch fish. They have very long beaks and literally skim the surface of the water with their beaks open. When they come upon a fish, the beak snaps down and its dinner time.

2) I've been dreaming about getting shots like this for the past few years. Black skimmers are migratory birds and are only found here certain times of the year. I tried to get some shots of them last year but I could not get close enough for decent shots. A photographer friend of mine named Thang had posted on the fredmiranda nature and wildlife forum that he had spotted some recently at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. I was psyched.

3) San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best places to shoot them for a couple of reasons. The ponds there are relatively small and so this lets you get close up shots of the skimmers. Also you can get down to the water line and shoot low angle shots. Getting low angle shots is really key. It helps to create a cleaner background. Also in the late evening close to sunset, the golden light reflects off the water and makes for some really beautiful compositions.

4) Double head on shot.

5) I really can't describe how graceful they are to watch. They glide over the surface of the water so beautifully and remind me of olympic speed skaters as they whip around a corner. One of the things I tried to do with these shots is to capture a sense of motion in a still picture. The water wake adds a nice element of movement to these compositions.


7) Dinner time.

8) Sometimes you don't need to go for the super close up shots. By opening up the frame its gives the subject more room to breath sorta speak. Also it gives you room to place the subject in the frame which makes a huge difference in the final composition. I always try to avoid putting the subject dead center. I often will leave some room in front of the subject to give it a sense of space to move into. However in this shot, I left more room behind it because of the water wake which illustrates where the subject came from and the speed by which it is traveling across the frame.


  1. These are simply incredible!!!

  2. Great shots. These are very graceful birds. Absolutely stunning. My fav would have to be #3, cuz it has the trail behind it circling around, which is pretty awesome!

  3. Congrats on #2. Your dreams were well worth it. The shot is so beautiful and dynamic.


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