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Tag : Florida

23 Feb 2017

Sunrise at Juno Pier

One of the nice things about doing art shows in Florida is being able to get out early for sunrise and not freeze. I headed to Juno Pier this morning hoping to get some good clouds at sunrise. I wasn’t disappointed. I had hoped to go at 3 a.m. to catch the Milky Way over the pier but it was cloudy when I got up. I went back to sleep for a couple of hours and by then many of the clouds had cleared away.

The crescent moon was shining bright when I got there before any light was in the sky. As the sky filled with color the became less distinguishable and by the time the sun cleared the horizon, the moon was barely visible.

05 Jan 2017

Unexpected sighting while on a Florida beach

I went to a Ft. Meyers beach for sunrise today that is more populated by wildlife than people. There are lots of better beaches for sunbathers, so the only people that come to Bunches Beach are there to either walk, look at birds or photograph birds. Today there was a large group of bird watchers carrying binoculars and scopes, wearing their bird watching clothes and their boots. Which means they were going to mess up a lot of photos.

So I went the other direction on the beach. There weren’t as many birds and no people, but one great blue heron was working the surf to get a fish. Herons are one of my favorite birds to photograph. Their long necks make great shapes, it is either curled back as they relax or it gets taught when they have prey in sight. My heron today was standing in shallow water as small waves rolled in on. It didn’t move a whole lot so I tried lots of different shots, using different composition and placement of the bird in the photos. I decided to try some very slow shutter speed to see if I could get a unique effect blurring the incoming waves.

The heron had caught a good size fish was standing pretty still so I knew it would be sharp and the blurry water surrounded it. Of course, as soon as I make lots of setting changes the heron kind of turned around and a bald eagle came out of nowhere and stole the fish from the heron’s mouth. I was a bit dumbfounded knowing I didn’t have time to change camera settings and fired the camera anyway knowing that anything moving would be a blur even though the eagle was moving fast. I got cool wave effects but the two birds look like blurry blobs. It was fun knowing I was the only person to witness nature at its peak.

04 Jan 2017

Watching willets at Ding Darling

I love the name Ding Darling, it is a National Wildlife Refuge on Florida’s Sanibel Island and a great place for people to observe birds. I was named after a cartoonist who was instrumental in wildlife conservation in the early 1900’s and helped initiate the duck stamp program. The park has a four mile long Wildlife Drive where you can walk, bicycle or slowly drive your car and see wildlife in its natural habitat. I’ve been there several times and it always has something going on. The park claims to have 230 bird varieties visit and I think there are that many types of photographers too. The nice thing is it is easy to drive your car and not have to carry a ton of gear long distances.

This morning I found this group of willets. I’m not a birder and I can’t name a lot of birds, so I had to look this one up. They were fun to watch, they would come to attention as a group and they start milling around looking for food. I tried a long exposure to show some of their movement and I think it worked pretty well.

08 Nov 2016

Watching the color float past on a Florida beach

I was out on a beach tonight in Jupiter, Florida, as the sun went down and color came into the sky. The moon was bright and clouds were blowing past as surf was crashing on the sand.

When I looked south, there was a colorful glow on the horizon. I love what happens when clouds and waves are moving during a long exposure, so I used a 30 second exposure so the movement would be recorded as a blur.

05 Nov 2016

Hanging out at Pensacola’s pier

Pensacola PierWhile doing the art show in Pensacola, FL, I’m getting lots of requests for local photos. Since this is the first time I’ve been in Pensacola, I don’t have anything to show them so I went to the beach after the show tonight to catch sunset and see what was going on around the pier.

There was some great color in the sky after the sun went down, as I waded in the edge of the surf, I was able to get the pier in the foreground and the sky blazing behind it.

After the color faded a bit I went under the pier but I didn’t want the typical shot of the silhouetted pier and smooth water. I brought a flashlight with me to try some light painting. I did a 30 second exposure and used the flashlight to illuminate the pier and give me a different effect.

Under Pensacola's Pier

17 Mar 2015

Ding Darling isn’t done

cormorant with eelThrough the years I’ve read about the great wildlife at the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island near Fort Meyers, FL. You can drive through the refuge and go past several different habitats, but people say after a hurricane a few years ago, it isn’t the same. I’ve only been there twice in the last three years, but it is still pretty cool. I can only imagine what it must have been like before and I hope it comes back to full strength again soon.

But I took my Florida Photography Workshop there and shot some amazing stuff. Cormorants are pretty common but it was fun seeing one pop up from the water with an eel in its mouth and then watch as the cormorant maneuvered the long thing around so it could be swallowed head first. The cormorant flew to a nearby branch and looked like it had some good indigestion after downing the whole thing.

We were just about done when we saw a couple of other photographers stopped so we had to see what was there. It was a yellow crowned night heron in beautiful light and doing great breeding displays. It was my first time seeing one and the beauty of the bird is amazing. It was worth the trip.

See photo gallery from Loren’s Florida photography workshop.

Yellow crowned night heron

17 Mar 2015

Burrowing owls take over Cape Coral

1264There are these cute little owls called burrowing owls that live in Florida and other warm places. Like many species, development has encroached on their territory and their numbers have dwindled. Cape Coral boasts the largest concentration of the little critters and they are trying to protect them as much as they can, or so the say. The owls dig nests in the sandy soil and tend to return to the same place year after year. They don’t particularly like people or pets to get too close, their little heads start bobbing when they get nervous and they head back down their holes. PVC pipes have been constructed around more of the burrows, warning people to stay away. They can be found in parks, in church yards, around government buildings, in yards of homes and since owls are so smart, many are around the library. If someone wants to build on a lot that has a burrow, they can’t just fill it in, they have to get a permit first and then they can fill it in. Government encourages people to build around the burrows, but if you can’t, that’s OK, just kill them off.

See photo gallery from Loren’s Florida photography workshop.

16 Mar 2015

I’m not a birder but I like photographing them

egret reflectionI decided to host a photography workshop in Florida based around photographing birds, not because I get excited seeing birds but because I love the challenge of getting a special shot. A mug shot of a bird bores me. Seeing another photo of a bird sitting on a branch or looking around doesn’t do a thing for me. So I always strive to get something different, something that shows personality, something with composition, something that has more elements than just a bird. And I push that upon all my workshop participants.

line of pelicans

So I was happy today to get some decent shots during the first full day of the workshop. Yesterday afternoon we went to a preserve east of Orlando that was pretty nice. This morning we made the trek west of Orlando to a county park that is well known to birders and photographers and saw lots of different birds. We missed seeing a bobcat by five minutes, another photographer was happy to show us on his camera what we missed. A woman told us about a pond in Lakeland that has lots of friendly birds, like these pelicans, so we stopped there too.

You never know what is around the next corner, which is one of the things that keeps me heading outside.

See a photo gallery from Loren’s Florida photography workshop.

22 Mar 2013

Two days isn’t enough in Florida, but there were plenty of photos

I checked out a couple of parks along the Gulf this morning and then headed to the famous rookery in Venice. Unlike yesterday at Gatorland, this is a much smaller rookery that has been preserved by the Audubon Society. It is right off a major highway, smack in the middle of way too many people, but the little park is just what the birds need.

The rookery itself is a little island with a bunch of small trees in a little pond. It is the perfect place for the birds, alligators live in the pond, protecting the birds and people are just far enough away that the birds don’t care about us.

A nice pavilion is near the pond, so people can sit under cover and watch the birds all day. It is free and always open, luckily I noticed a donation box, this is worth as much as the $20 I paid at Gatorland.

When I arrived, a light rain was ending but there were five other photographers there. You can walk around the entire pond, so the light is always coming from the right direction. Within 30 minutes the others were gone, I didn’t take it personally, but I was happy to be the only one shooting.

There was plenty of action. Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Anhingas, Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Glossy Ibises, Green Herons, Tricolored Herons and Black-crowned Night-Herons all make the island their home. I saw young Anhingas sticking their heads literally down the throats of their parents to get food. Two young Great Blue Herons went crazy when mom arrived with food. There was constant screeching coming from the nests as little loud-mouths were yelling for food. It was quite the scene.

I ended the day along the beach in Ft. Myers, shooting shore birds. It was quite a two-day adventure.

See a photo gallery from my two days in Florida.

 

21 Mar 2013

A quick road trip to photograph birds in Florida

When I’m driving in Florida, I have this crazy expectation that the drivers are friendly and relaxed. They aren’t. My first day here and I’m driving around Orlando and Kissimmee and people are frantic. I expect that in New Jersey, but people should be calmer in Florida. Four times I got honked at within the first hour around here.

I come to Florida looking for nature and wildlife, the critter kind. So it is rather crazy that I am hanging out in the ultimate tourist trap of Orlando. Everything looks like it was built for $15 and there’s a million signs wanting me to stop and buy something.

But I’m here to photograph birds and I’ve made my first journey to Gatorland. I’d heard about the rookery at Gatorland and I was extremely doubtful. But I did a lot of research and it seemed to be real. A tourist trap had been built around a rookery and they made sure plenty of gators are around to keep the tourists happy. They put a big boardwalk through the rookery and built some towers to make observation even better. I was initially repulsed by the idea of it but the more I thought about the more I realized that if money wasn’t being made, then somebody would fill in the ponds, knock down the trees and build another un-needed hotel.

Gatorland lets photographers come in at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday through Sunday for $20, while the rest of the public doesn’t come in until 10 a.m. There were about 15 people heading in this morning, a few had been there before and several, including me, were Gatorland rookies.

It was worth the $20. It is the largest rookery I’ve ever had access to. There are lots of different species nesting and most are close enough to get good photos with a 200mm lens. The nests are down low because they are protected from raccoons and other predators by the big, mean-looking gators. The gators get fresh snacks when young birds fall out of the nest, so it is a good thing for everybody.

The birds have grown accustomed to the people because they know they are protected. Hundreds of birds were sitting, flying, wading and doing everything birds do and I shot until my trigger finger was sore and the sun was moving up in the sky.

I left the busyness of the Orlando area and headed west to the coast to check out some parks in the Tampa area.

See a photo gallery from my two days in Florida.

A wood stork carries a stick to its nest.