Focus on the Eye

Standard advice when shooting wildlife: focus on the eye.  Not always possible, such as when the subject is moving, and the photographer is panning. On this day in the Florida Everglades, I had enough time to focus on the great blue heron’s eye while hand holding my Nikon D800 with a 200mm lens.

#blueheron, #greatblueheron, #heron, #bird, #profile, #wildlife, #nature, #florida, #everglades. #sharakvalley, #nikon, #nikond800, #eye
In this close up of the Great Blue Heron, you can admire the delicate feathers of the neck, the plume, the eye and the well worn beak.

Blue Heron Landing

Recently in the Florida Everglades, I shot a series of images of this blue heron as it took off and landed. I was pleased to see this magnificent bird with its wings outstretched. In order to freeze motion of wildlife, I usually increase the ISO on my camera making the sensor more sensitive to light. That way, I can still get a good exposure with a very fast shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second. In this case, I increased the ISO to 2000, anticipating the bird’s flight. (I was just explaining this formula to my daughter who will be traveling to Africa to enjoy a safari in a few days.)

I also made a conscious choice for the f stop setting. A lens is usually at its sharpest in the mid-range (f/7.1 here), and the depth of field is forgiving — keeping the bird in focus for the split second between the time I focus and the shutter releases. Had I opened the lens aperture wide (to counter balance the fast shutter speed), it would have been very difficult to keep the flying bird in focus. You can see, the image is successful, as long as you don’t mind a little grain, resulting from the high ISO. I will share some of the other photos in the series in subsequent blog posts.

#blueheron, #wings, #blue, #flight, #sharkvalley
This blue heron in Shark Valley spread its wings as it came in for a landing on this tree.

Egret Composition

This great egret wading near a mangrove tree makes a serene scene. When you take a careful look, can you see the circular bands of light reflecting up on the egret?

#greategret, #egret, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #florida, #wildlife, #nature, #bird, #reflection, #blueandgreen
The great egret stands alone in the still water, accompanied only by his reflection.

My favorite part of this image is the composition, in which the strong vertical lines complement the horizontal lines. In addition, the generous amount of negative space adds to the simplicity and the serenity of the image. The color palette is also simple and natural.

What do you see? What do you like?

White Pelicans of Sanibel

I was an early bird this morning, driving an hour from Naples to the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge to photograph the American White Pelicans. These giant snowbirds only live here in Florida from October to April each year. I enjoyed watching them in the early morning sun. Nearby white ibis, great egrets, anhinga and sandpipers waded and fed in low tide.

#whitepelican, #pelicans, #florida, #wildlife, #snowbird, #morning, #sun, #dingdarling, #wildlife, #refuge, #birds, #florida, #sanibel
Gathering of American White Pelicans on a sandbar on Sanibel Island.

Black Crowned Night Heron

I arrived at Six Mile Cypress Slough right at sunset, just in time to see this large and beautiful bird begin to hunt for dinner from a cypress knee in the swamp. This is a tall bird, typically 23″ tall with its neck extended, and look at those claws. I loved its indigo coloring as well as the plume of slender white feathers that emerge from his crown.

#nightheron, #blackcrested, #fortmeyers, #sixmilecypressslough, 3nature, #wildlife, #florida, #bird
Daylight was fading fast, so I needed my tripod to capture this beautiful black crowned night heron at 1/13 second with my lens opened up to f 4.5.

I was really excited that the heron chose to hang out with me for 10 minutes or so, giving me time to capture him in several positions.

Sleepy Screech Owl

This little owl and I have one thing in common: we both like to sleep in. He lives in a hollow of a tree trunk in a south Florida swamp. When beach goers walk by on a nearby boardwalk and make lots of noise saying, “Is the owl there? I don’t see him. OH THERE HE IS!” he just sleeps right through it.

#owl, #naples, #florida, #pelicanbay, #sleepy, #naptime, #wildlife, #nature
Well camouflaged Eastern Screech Owl taking a late morning nap.