One of the things that makes photography so interesting is the ability to share sights and vision. We photographers love to capture the sights we see so that we can revisit them later and show them to others. We also love to capture the sights we see in a different way so that even if someone else has already seen something, we can show our unique vision to them.
This morning, I revisited some photos I made in September of 2006. Before Sara and Mike took Lynn and I to Wisconsin’s Door county, I’d never seen (or heard of, or even thought about) goats on a roof. But on N Bay Shore Dr in Sister Bay, you’ll come across a small herd of goats on the roof of Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant. Not only that, but a Google search will reveal other goats on other roofs. And – a search on Flickr returned 143 images this morning (actually this is a surprisingly small number) of goats on roofs. I wonder if this is a trend? You really do need to pay attention to keep up.
Door county is a beautiful place. And it has goats on a roof too. I don’t think I captured them in a unique way, but they’re certainly worth sharing with others. What unique or unusual things have you seen and shared lately?
One thing I didn’t see mentioned is how great nest building season is for bird flight photography.
Great Blue Herons like the one above frequently nest in the tops of palm trees. The female will generally stay at the nest, while the male retrieves sticks for her to use. If you come across this situation like we did yesterday at Orlando Wetlands Park, you should take advantage of it to really boost your ability to get good frame filling photos of birds in flight.
Why? Well when they’re building a nest, the birds can be very predictable. The nest is in one location, and frequently the male bird will return to the same tree or general area to get another branch for his mate to use. The nest building usually goes on for quite some time and predictable flight paths together with multiple opportunities are a huge advantage for the observant, prepared photographer.
If you watch the activity for a while, you should be able to determine where to position yourself for the best chance of a good photo. You want to be along the flight path close enough to fill the frame, and have the sun in a good position to light the bird.
Optimize your camera settings for this type of photo and take time between flights to double check your results.
Do you have a high enough shutter speed (generally 1/1000sec or better)?
Is your aperture appropriate (one or two stops down from wide open would be best for image quality and depth of field)?
What’s your ISO set to (as low as possible given the light and desired shutter and aperture)?
Have you set continuous focus mode and high speed release?
Did you turn off bracketing from your last HDR shot :-)?
When the bird takes off (probably into the wind) concentrate on keeping the focus mark on the bird (the eye, if possible). Pan smoothly as the bird flies. For better composition, try to leave a little room in the frame in front of the bird. Wait until there’s a lull in the action before you chimp the shots. Make sure they’re what you expect. If not, adjust and wait for the next flight.
And don’t forget to get some photos of the male as he passes the stick to the female.
One more thing – after the chicks hatch, you can still use this tip. The birds will be out searching for food for the babies, and you can stake out the nest in the same way as they return with a meal.
Great Blue Heron in flight, bringing stick to mate in nest, 1/2500 sec, f/5.6, 300 mm, ISO 640
I hope you liked this photo tip. Let me know if it helps you.
(Note: You can click on either of these photos to see a larger version on Flickr.)
My drive yesterday reminded me that the Turnpike and Interstates in Florida break out in bloom this time of year too. I’ve seen this before – here’s a photo I made way back in 2001 on the side of I-75 near Ocala, Florida:
New Flowers, Old Barn
So if you’re in Yosemite or some other photogenic place during wildflower season that’s great. If not, don’t worry about it. Stop and smell the flowers wherever you are and make some interesting photos too.
Note: You can click the photos above to go to Flickr where you can see a larger version.
This large lake in downtown Orlando formed from a sinkhole and has been a city park since 1892. It’s famous for its fountain – which unfortunately isn’t working now although it’s supposed to be repaired in 2010. There are swan shaped paddle boats that you can rent and live swans you can feed along with occasional other birds that you can watch and photograph. There’s also a playground, a small outdoor café and an amphitheater for special events. The night we were there the First Annual Orlando Chillounge Night at Lake Eola was taking place on the east side of the lake, which made for quite a crowd.
We saw a boat leave the dock as we arrived with what looked like fireworks aboard. We kept an eye on it and tried to be ready when they launched. After a while, we gave up and of course, they launched right after that. There was only one quick set. Lynn really enjoyed watching us scramble to reset our cameras and by the time we were ready there was nothing left but a few smoke trails. Oh well, a reason to go back.
If you’re looking for a place in Orlando to take a photo walk, practice some street photography, and / or make some cityscape images at sunset – Lake Eola is a good place to start.
Info for Photographers
Photo hints: Get there well before sunset and stay for a while after. You never know what the sky colors will do. You’ll want to set up on the south-east side for sunset. After sunset, try a few small aperture / long exposure photos to blur the water in the fountains and make the lights into nice star shapes.
Tripod/Monopod: No problem – there’s plenty of room to set up. You’ll definitely need one for long exposures. Bring your cable release or remote too.
Lenses: This is a wide-angle photo-op. My 16 – 35mm lens worked nicely to take in the whole lake and cityscape. To practice your street photography a 35mm will probably work, although you might want to bring another lens (24 – 70?) too.
Best time to visit: You’ve heard me say before that spring is a wonderful time in Central Florida. The weather is just fantastic. We had temperatures in the 70s and the humidity wasn’t too high. There were some insects out, but they weren’t the biting kind.
Other: Parking could be a problem depending on what else is going on when you visit. We were there on a Saturday evening, and even with an event happening at the east end of the lake, we found a parking spot in a lot about a block south for $5. The park hours are Mon-Sun 6 a.m. – 12 a.m