Some of the best trip pictures require you to simply take the effort to stop and take the shot. While traveling in the Florida Everglades, I came across this Swamp Love mural painted on the side of a small store. With the PowerShot G1 X in the rental SUV console, I simply pulled in and took the picture. This shot turned out to be one of my favorites from this trip - and was well worth the small inconvenience of stopping. Especially with the extremely convenient G1 X by my side.
28mm f/8.0 1/30s ISO 100
Florida Keys Serenity
This incredibly serene location is found many miles west of Key West, Florida. When using a lens with no image stabilization and shooting from a rocking boat - with moving water, the minimum shutter speed selection becomes a bit more complicated. A circular polarizer filter was used to capture this shot.
25mm f/10.0 1/60s ISO 200
It was -4° F (-20° C) this morning and the wind was howling. The meteorologist was warning of frostbite occurring to exposed skin within 15 minutes.
800mm f/8.0 1/400s ISO 100
Caspersen Beach, Venice, Florida
Along with being scenic, Caspersen Beach in Venice, Florida has an unusually high number of shark teeth hidden in its sand. As with a significant percentage of my mid-day landscape photos, a circular polarizer filter was used for this shot.
25mm f/14.0 1/80s ISO 200
Florida Brown Pelican
A Florida Brown Pelican sitting on a pier preens in the late afternoon sun.
600mm f/8.0 1/640s ISO 400
Cayo Costa State Park, Florida
Cayo Costa State Park is on an island north of Captiva Island, Florida. This island is accessible only by boat - and therefore remains relatively secluded. This seclusion makes it a good choice for photography. A circular polarizer filter was used for this photo.
25mm f/11.0 1/60s ISO 160
White Ibis with Shrimp
This shrimp-hunting White Ibis was in a tidal pool at JN (Ding) Darling National Widlife Refuge in Sanibel Island, Florida. Bird photography at Ding Darling is hit or miss with tidal schedule being a key factor. Due to visitor restrictions, getting down to the bird's level is not possible at many of the better shooting locations in the refuge.
800mm f/8.0 1/500s ISO 125
Florida Keys Flats
A mid-day sun turns the white sand in the shallow Florida Keys flats into one of my favorite colors. This location is many miles west of Key West.
24mm f/11.0 1/100s ISO 160
American White Pelican
In the right location (such as Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge) and on the right day, the biggest challenge to photographing American White Pelicans is to keep them properly framed and in focus - at the same time of course. But, always look for something more than a simple portrait of the species (after you have a few dozen of those). In this case, a tiny fish is about to become breakfast.
800mm f/8.0 1/800s ISO 160
Charter Boat Snorkeling in the Florida Keys
Need to get the entire small boat in the frame while you are in the boat? This task is no problem for the Canon 8-15mm f/4 L USM Fisheye Lens. Removing my left arm from the picture in post was much more difficult - thanks to the transitioning black circle. I used Photoshop to copy and flip an area of the right side to paste over my arm. I then used a soft eraser to remove the copied portion that was not needed. Yes, it would have been easier to remember to keep the arm out of the frame in the first place, but the issue is not unexpected when using this lens.
8mm f/11.0 1/125s ISO 100
Snowy Egret Headshot
While this beautiful bird had its eyes on dinner, I focused on getting a tight headshot with blue sky framing. The bird was in constant motion, so I aligned myself with the sun and held the single selected focus point (one to the right of top center) where I wanted the bird to be in the frame. As soon as the head turned to align with my vision for the shot, I pressed the shutter release. While my timing and/or framing was not successful on every attempt at this image, I really only needed to nail one of them. Persistence paid off.
400mm f/8.0 1/500s ISO 100
Snowy Egret Hunting for Shrimp
This Snowy Egret is very intent on catching its shrimp breakfast. If the light is unchanging, I'm probably using manual exposure mode - especially when shooting a white subject on a dark background. I set the exposure so that there are no more than a few blinking highlights on the LCD with a Neutral Picture Style. Nearly every shot will then be properly exposed for ideal post processing image quality.
800mm f/8.0 1/500s ISO 125
Cormorants, when fishing, spend much more time under water than above water. And where they surface is a big guess. Eventually this one and I got together for a shot.
800mm f/8.0 1/500s ISO 160
Channel in the Florida Key Flats
Photographically cooperative clouds hover over a channel through the Florida Keys west of Key West. A circular polarizer filter was used for this shot.
16mm f/11.0 1/160s ISO 160
The 7D II, 100-400 L II and a Great Egret
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II, EF 100-400mm L IS II Lens and a great egret make a great combination. With the egret perched above me and the setting sun behind me, the remaining challenge was to catch the constantly moving bird in ideal positions with AF locked on the eye. The camera and lens performed really well on the latter requirement and my own performance on the former was good enough to land me a pile of shots that I like.
200mm f/10.0 1/320s ISO 100
Courting Blue Heron Pair
A pair of courting Blue Herons entertain in their Venice Rookery nest. Venice Rookery is a great location for birding, but a challenging location for photography. Getting a clean background is one of the challenges as you are basically shooting a small island full of nests in the middle of town complete with various structures.
800mm f/8.0 1/250s ISO 100
Boca Grande Key, Florida Palm Tree
Boca Grande Key is a tiny, uninhabited key about 12 miles west of Key West, Florida. It has one palm tree.
70mm f/11.0 1/100s ISO 200
One method of getting a clean background at Venice Rookery is to shoot into the sky. This Anhinga cooperated long enough for me to take advantage of the clear background.
800mm f/10.0 1/500s ISO 400
Corkscrew Swamp Wildlife Refuge
I carried a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS II USM II Lens through Corkscrew Swamp Wildlife Refuge, but fortunately had the small Canon PowerShot G1 X with me for some interesting scenery shots along the way - including the lichens-covered boardwalk.
28mm f/8.0 1/60s ISO 400
Drying Brown Pelican
A Brown Pelican dries itself in the warm late-day sunlight.
600mm f/8.0 1/250s ISO 160
Florida Keys Fisheye Picture
A fisheye perspective of the inviting shallow water in the Florida Keys.
15mm f/11.0 1/200s ISO 100
A 5-Step Recipe for Bird Photography Success
Cookbooks are filled with successful recipes and successful bird photography is similarly not limited to a single recipe, but here is a recipe that works every time.
371mm f/8.0 1/200s ISO 100
A Pied-billed Grebe swims across tidal waters in Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
800mm f/8.0 1/640s ISO 200
Clouds over the Florida Keys Flats
Really, it is hard to take bad pictures in the waters west of Key West. Just add a Circular Polarizer filter to a good lens mounted to a good camera.
21mm f/11.0 1/60s ISO 125
Snowy Egret with Shrimp
A Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge shrimp breakfast is about to be had by this Snowy Egret.
800mm f/8.0 1/500s ISO 125
Willet Standing on One Foot
Under a cloudy sky, the lighting was right at any subject angle and throughout much of this day at Blind Pass in Captiva, Florida. This giant softbox-like lighting permitted me to maneuver to the ideal angle for this subject (from the side) and the NatureScapes Skimmer Ground Pod II allowed me to comfortably work from right on the sand.
400mm f/5.6 1/320s ISO 100
Roseate Spoonbill Feeding
A beautiful Roseate Spoonbill feeds at low tide in Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island, Florida. The constantly moving back and forth head makes composition and critical focusing a challenge.
800mm f/8.0 1/400s ISO 125
Captiva Island Sunset
It is a lot easier to get up early enough for a west coast sunset than those eastern ones. Here the sun sets over the Gulf of Mexico as seen from Captiva Island, Florida. This composition is an easy one. Level the camera with the sun about 1/3 of the way into the frame and allow horizontal rows of color to run through the frame - starting with the dark sand as the base.
112mm f/8.0 1/400s ISO 400
Tricolored Heron Portrait
A simple portrait of a Tricolored Heron. Nothing exciting is happening here, but the bird is beautiful and the clean blue background is complementary.
800mm f/8.0 1/500s ISO 100
Great Egret Headshot
While you may or may not think this image is "great", the bird is undoubtedly a "great egret", and this beautiful bird is a great subject, especially at Gatorland, where they are acclimated to people.
Combine the permitted close proximity with the greatness of the Canon EOS R7 and RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens combination, providing an ultra-high-resolution APS-C imaging sensor and a tight angle of view at 500mm, and creative bird headshots become easy.
In this example, another egret behind the subject provided an all-white background, making the colorful bill and eye stand out artistically.
500mm f/7.1 1/320s ISO 320
Royal Terns at Cayo Costa State Park
The Zeiss 25mm f/2.0 Distagon T* ZE Lens is not my first choice for bird photography, but it was the only lens I carried on my trip to Cayo Costa State Park. You of course use what you have available when you encounter a subject as beautiful as Royal Terns.
25mm f/11.0 1/500s ISO 800
Little Blue Heron in Corkscrew Swamp Wildlife Refuge
Corkscrew Swamp Wildlife Refuge is a great place to photograph wildlife - from Painted Buntings to butterflies to alligators to Cottonmouth Water Moccasins to various wading birds and much more. This Little Blue Heron was intently hunting below the boardwalk.
600mm f/8.0 1/100s ISO 1250
Sanibel Island Lighthouse
Essentially all lighthouses attract photographers and casual observers alike, but not all are similarly photogenic. While it is hard to take a bad photo of the Portland Lighthouse, I found the Sanibel Island Lighthouse to be more challenging (especially with the weather conditions I was given). If you search for images of the Sanibel Island Lighthouse, you will primarily find the normal from-the-side, from-a-distance variation. While some of these images are great, I was looking for something different.
15mm f/11.0 1/80s ISO 100
Great Egrets in Love
Venice Rookery is a great place to find Great Egrets (and Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets and Anhingas) in love. The birds are very easily found and approached, but the challenge is getting remarkable images. Here, a male Great Egret presents nesting material to a female.
800mm f/10.0 1/400s ISO 160
Florida Brown Pelican on a Pier
The piers on the east/bay side of Captiva Island are great places to find Brown Pelicans - and late in the day is the ideal time to photograph these very interesting birds hanging out there.
600mm f/11.0 1/30s ISO 200
Roseate Spoonbill with Mouth Open
I don't remember why this Roseate Spoonbill has its mouth open, but I'll always remember the unique shape of the bill. Focus tracking these feeding birds is a significant challenge. They are never still - and their heads swing back and forth constantly.
800mm f/8.0 1/400s ISO 125