Synchronized Swimming: White Pelicans

These White Pelicans reminded me of swans as I watched them forage together and look like mirror images of each other. As these three swam away from me and kicked up ripples on the surface, they looked back toward the camera.

White Pelicans forage in a small group on Sanibel Island during low tide. This photograph captures their synchronized swimming.

White Pelicans are true “snow birds,” as they migrate to Southwest Florida in winter from the Great Lakes region. Dozens of them return to Sanibel Island every year.

Unlikely Pairing: Infrared and Wildlife

When I set out to shoot Infrared Photography with a modified camera, I usually employ a wide angle lens and look for sunny skies and green foliage that create a strong composition. The direct sun and the strong composition are key.

When I set out to shoot wildlife, I use a regular camera (not modified for infrared light) and a close up lens, so I can capture true color and detail and avoid approaching and disturbing the wildlife. My strategy and my equipment are completely different.

So, today when I was roaming the golf course along the lake with my Infrared camera and wide angle lens, I was surprised to see an Anhinga (large bird) that just happened to contribute interest to my composition. “Hello, and hold that pose!”

The female Anhinga perched in the lakeside tree added interest to this Infrared photograph. Green foliage appears white in this south Florida scene.

A Lizard’s Camouflage

I was attracted to the silhouette of this lizard along the lake and moved in slowly, hoping he wouldn’t dash away before I got the shot. As I examined the photograph later, I discovered the lizard was mostly green, and brown in the tail. I’m guessing now that the lizard had turned green while sitting in the grass, and was in the process of changing to brown to match the rock where it was now sitting.

This large lizard, over a foot long, appears to be changing color from green to brown, starting with its tail. Did you know that this magical quality of lizards inspired the use of “camouflage” uniforms for the military?

Bird Drama

As soon as a Great Blue Heron flew into the space shared by the Woodstork and the Anhinga, tensions rose. The Woodstork had enough, and sent a clear message to the Anhinga, “Back off. I need some space!”

With feathers extended and beaks open, there was plenty of body language between these birds to communicate a “Back off!” type of message. I had to frame and focus quickly to catch the action.

The Woodstork and the Anhinga got along really well on the lakeside… until they didn’t.

At first, the scene with two dissimilar birds was one of peaceful co-existence. The Woodstork preened its feathers, and the Anhinga walked over to be alongside its friend. This scene contradicts the old adaage, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

What the Woodstork said…

December greetings! I’m back in Florida with my camera pointed at the wildlife and tropical landscape. On a recent morning, I spotted this Woodstork and Anhinga foraging along the water’s edge, and I watched for awhile to observe their interactions.

The Woodstork yawned, and I wondered if birds (like dogs) yawn to express anxiety. My imagination is often thinking like a storyteller, and these words came to my mind: “And the Woodstork said to the Anhinga…” I wondered what he would have said?

The Anhinga was “all ears” when the Woodstork opened his beak, as if to speak. The golf course was all theirs in the morning along the 18th hole in Naples, Florida.

Pelican Landing

As I captured some action shots of the Brown Pelican flying low along the Gulf, I was able to sequence the glide, the “wheels down” position and the soft landing on the water. Today, I combined the three photographs into one to illustrate the sequence. In reality, this sequence would happen over a greater distance.

The Brown Pelican is fun to watch as it glides and lands in Naples, Florida.
Three images combine into one, ready to hang for pelican lovers.

The brown pelican is a family favorite. They fly in a V formation, and they never bother people. They just enjoy fishing and flying and make our time on the Pelican Bay beach entertaining.

Snowy Egret’s Galoshes

The easiest way to identify a Snowy Egret is to spot his Yellow Galoshes. This image from January 2020 in Naples, Florida shows the Snowy stepping from rock to rock while looking for some fresh fish to catch and eat.

A fast shutter speed (1/1600 second) creates an image with clarity in the feathers and the ripples of the creek while stopping the action of the Snowy Egret with his yellow galoshes.

While not very skittish, the snowy egrets generally take a step away from you when you approach. It’s best to give them space and not cause them stress in the wild.

Jumping the Waves

Humans of all shapes and sizes flock to the beach on a hot summer’s day, saunter to the water’s edge and…jump the waves! The water feels so good. I think it’s fun to find animals doing the same things people like to do. So I had fun photographing this Snowy Egret in the air, jumping the waves.

#egret, #snowyegret, #jump, #wave, #ocean, #beach, #action, #wildlife, #birds, #wadingbird, #florida, #naples
Snowy Egret jumps the wave while fishing on the beach in Naples, Florida.

This image also gives us a good look at the crashing surf, frozen in time, and the snowy egret’s wings outstretched. He/she is such a graceful bird!

How to Improve Your Photography

Looking through my archives for color photographs that would make a satisfying black and white image made me realize that “seeing in black and white” will make me a better photographer. Any consistently successful photographer will pre-visualize the image before image capture. For starters, one evaluates dynamic range, depth of field, light quality, composition, timing of the action and whether the subject is meaningful.

To choose a good subject for black and white photography there are more factors to evaluate: tonal range and contrast, simplicity, shape, texture, interest. I like my black and white images to be strong. The image has to be eye catching and hold the viewer’s interest without the help of color. I admit, I’m a photographer who loves color, so this challenge is fun for me!

This photograph of a mother Bison and her calf grazing on top of the hillside made the cut for a color to black and white candidate. In my judgement, it has simplicity, large repeating shapes, texture in the fur, wide tonal range and plenty of interest — from the unusual wildlife sighting to the eye contact and tongue in mid-air.

#bison, #motherandcalf, #buffalo, #gtnp, #grandteton, #wyoming, #jacksonhole, #givethemdistance, #safedistance, #wildlifephotography, #wildlife, #photography, #nature, #blackandwhite, #sonyalpha, #nik, #silverefexpro
Mother and calf bison grazing in Grand Teton National Park (shot from a safe distance inside a car with a 600mm lens).

Dawn’s Early Light

While we are staying “safer at home,” I’m looking through the images I captured in February and uncovering a few hidden gems. I have found new examples of why it really pays off to wake up in the dark and get on location as the sun rises. The reflections on the lake makes this egret look regal.

#greategret, #reflection, #lake, #light, #morninglight, #earlybird, #fishing, #color, #dawn, #florida, #naplesflorida
Great White Egret catches a tiny fish while dawn’s early lights paints the lake with color.

This image is similar to one I blogged about in February, but it’s different with the fish in the egret’s bill. Here is another frame from moments later.

#greategret, #ripples, #lake, #water, #fishing, #reflection, #color, #dawn, #morninglight, #florida, #birds, #egret, #wildlife
Walking about in the shallows and dunking its head, this Great Egret makes circular ripples in the lake.