This reporter loves taking pictures (still shots or video)

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -  Bright sunshine bounced off the water.  Pelicans soared. And I renewed my appreciation about choosing to live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

I spent my day off on Tuesday taking pictures of brown pelicans soaring around Ocean Springs harbor.

Still photography has become my hobby and great passion in recent years. And I'm especially fond of photographing wildlife and nature scenes along the coast.

Some people I meet as a reporter are surprised when they learn that I shoot my own stories. Part of shooting my own video is the television trend toward more "one man bands" who serve as both reporter and photographer.

Some reporters might bemoan the added task of shooting video, but it's my great pleasure. I like shooting video almost as much as taking pictures.

Call it the creative desire inside.  I've always thought I had a pretty good eye for photography composition.  Now both my full time job and my hobby enable me to work those creative skills as a videographer and still photographer.

Back to those pelicans for a moment. They've managed to become my favorite photo opportunities. Whether perched on a piling, or soaring high above the pier, pelicans are incredible creatures. (Click here to see some of Steve's shots on!)

I'm especially taken by the way they'll soar just inches above the water; seemingly oblivious to their surroundings. Watching them "suicide dive" for a fish in the water is also a sight to behold.

Tuesday, I was practicing taking pictures of pelicans in flight. Before venturing out to the harbor, I first got some free advice from my favorite mentor-for-everything (Google)

I found several articles with tips about shooting birds (with a camera) in flight. It suggested a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second to "freeze the action".

I experimented with several shutter speeds and apertures, but found that 1/1000th was perhaps the best.

I'm still playing around with and learning the shot settings on my new camera.  You see, I recently bought a Canon Rebel XSI.  I'm really proud of it because it's my first SLR camera. (single lens reflex)  Basically, that means I can change lenses on my camera, something that you can't do with a "point and shoot".

My previous camera was a Canon Powershot SX100. I was most pleased with that camera, which takes incredible pictures.  It's now become my trusty back-up camera, but in most instances, it shoots every bit as good as my Rebel.

Tuesday's sunshine seemed to stir up the pelican population at the harbor. They congregated along the rocks. They dove for fish. They glided inches above the water.

And I did my best to capture their magnificent motion with my photography skills.

I enjoyed shooting on film with various cameras while growing up, but I didn't get serious about photography as a hobby until a couple years ago.

And I must tell you, I love the age of digital photography.  To me, it enables me to take as many pictures as my card will hold. I can then download them to my computer, review the results, and delete the ones that don't make the cut.

For example, last weekend I took my camera to two Mardi Gras parades. (Second Liners in Biloxi and the Ocean Springs parade).  Between the two, I took more than 500 photographs.  I culled those down to a manageable 60 or so.  The rest I simply deleted.

On Tuesday, I formatted my 4 gig card and went to work on the pelican pics.  Ah, the beauty of digital.  I love shooting on it, even though I'm still practicing my skills with my photo editing software. (No, it's not Photoshop. I can't afford that right now!)

I also enjoy sharing my photographs with others.  I think I mentioned in a previous blog that I've begun selling some of my work on the "arts and crafts" circuit.

My main show remains the First Saturday gatherings at the Mary C. O'Keefe cultural center in Ocean Springs. It's close to home and it's a great monthly event, thanks in large part to the ambitious and talented manager of the Mary C., Eric Zala.

You may run into me at one of the Saturday shows, or at the Ocean Springs harbor, taking pictures.  Please stop and say hello. I love talking about photography and learning from others, almost as much as taking pictures.

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