Something I had no intention of ever trying has turned out to be one of the most rewarding and exciting, photographically speaking, aspects of my trip to photograph Texas birds so far. That would be “beach panning.” It involves attaching my longest lens (my Nikon 600mm with a 1.4 X teleconverter) and camera body (my Nikon D5) to a flat panning plate settled into a Frisbee and placing this awkward-looking apparatus directly on the sand. Yes, you read that right, an inexpensive plastic Frisbee is all the protects my expensive camera gear from total destruction by sand and surf. Once the apparatus is on the sand, the shooter, and that, as it turned out, would be me, stretches out on the sand, making sure to avoid any traces of sand getting on my hands or the camera. Awkward? yes! Difficult? yes! Rewarding? You bet! One of the side effects of this camera technique is that the shooter inevitably gets drenched when the surf rushes in, not to mention covered with sand.
I’m on a photography trip on the Texas Gulf Coast with Moose Peterson. When I read the suggested equipment for the workshop, I knew I wouldn’t try this technique because I didn’t trust myself not to tip over the entire rig into the sand and surf. I told Moose I had no intention of trying it. But he cajoled me into trying and I discovered it was an exhilarating way to view birds on a beach. Here is a series of 3 photos of a sanderling, one of my all time favorite Texas shore birds and one of the smaller shore birds (about 7 or 8 inches) that I try to photograph every time I come here. But I’ve never seen them like this. The photographic perspective is quite unique. Talk about a bird’s eye view!