Kevin M. and I knowingly and by chance violated many photography thumb rules yesterday morning. My first example:
Sunrise over the pasture
As landscape photos go, it breaks rules: It’s not all in focus; I didn’t use a low ISO to minimize noise; I used a long lens (so I could keep power lines out of the frame), not a wide-angle ; And I didn’t use a tripod. But I like how it turned out. I’m pleased by the composition and colors. It also has a bit of mystery with the fog, and the cows that are a bit hidden. Florida does look like this.
Next up are some bird photos. In Florida, July is one of the hottest months. Most photographers know this and many choose to stay inside – because the birds know this too and many of them also seem to disappear when it’s this hot. So what did we do? We went out looking for birds.
When we were photographing sunrise, we heard Bobwhites calling and spotted this one on the fence by the pasture. It was very patient and waited with us for better light. But I still had to violate one of my thumb rules and shoot at ISO 3200 to get a decent photo. By the way, let me just say again that technology today is wonderful. This image was at a focal length of 600mm, with a shutter speed of 1/50 second, hand-held!
The Burrowing Owl was a little way down on the same fence line. By this time the light was somewhat better and I could shoot at ISO 1600 and 1/100 sec. Still pretty impressive stabilization and sensor performance.
Those three photos were at our first stop! Kevin wanted to show me some Red-cockaded Woodpeckers he’d spotted at the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area. I’ve been there before looking for them and this time we think we heard some, but didn’t manage to see or photograph any.
We did spot some other not so common birds including Brown-headed Nuthatches, Common Ground Doves, and Eastern Meadowlarks.
On the way back, we went by a farm where one of Florida’s Whooping Cranes hangs out. I’ve been there several times looking for it without success. Until this time:
Whooping Crane and two Sandhill Cranes
This is more of a record shot than a great photo. The light is harsh and the birds are beyond the range limit for this lens so it’s cropped in. And the July heat was making waves too, harming the image quality. But I still like it. Thumb rules? Who needs stinking’ thumb rules!
Until the 1930s, Whooping Cranes occurred naturally in Florida (see this article on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation site). There have been efforts to re-introduce them by leading them with ultra-light planes on migration routes (see this site). In January 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced they’d “stop supporting the use of ultralight aircraft to help young whooping cranes migrate from Wisconsin to Florida each fall“. Studies show that interacting with humans has a negative effect on the birds. I’m pretty sure this particular Whooping Crane is a survivor of the program. It’s banded yellow over green on its left leg, but a short google search didn’t turn up any info.
So rules of thumb are good – especially if you understand them and know when to break them. Breaking the rules led me to a sunrise photo I like and four life-birds yesterday (thanks Kevin!). By the way, you can click on any of these for larger versions on Flickr.
And thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!
©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.
P.S. Stay tuned for some photo stories from Utah. MK and I had an epic weekend out there and I’ll share it when I finish processing the images.