Lynn and I drove over to Viera Wetlands yesterday morning in her Prius. This was our first photo outing with the vehicle and it is outstanding for this purpose. There’s plenty of room. It’s very fuel-efficient when driving in the slow speed mode you use through an area like the wetlands. And, it’s quiet. Cars normally serve as a very good blind for bird photography, but when your vehicle is this quiet, you can get even closer to the subjects without scaring them.
This first image was one of the scenes that we saw. We’d been there for a while and were just turning a corner out in the middle of the wetlands when we both commented about the light on the left side of the car. The sun through the clouds was changing rapidly and I wasn’t set up for landscapes. I ended up asking Lynn to back up and then scrambling to switch to my wide-angle lens. I made the photo using this two image composite technique I described here. I think it came out pretty well for a hand-held, scramble photo.
Swamp grass, flowers, water, and sky
There is lot less activity at the wetlands than there was a month or two ago, but we still saw a good variety of birds. I’ve included a couple below and you can see more in my Viera Wetlands set on Flickr.
Anhinga drying wings: The bird was only a few feet from the car.I had to stitch together a two image panorama, in Photoshop.
Female Blue Wing Teal: This bird let us approach very closely.
The photo has nothing to do with the subject of the post, but I like it and I thought we should have at least one photo today. I made this one a while ago and went back yesterday to re-process it with some new SW. I was able to bring out more highlight detail as well as adjust the brightness / curves and saturation.
Now for the main section of the post. I promise that this isn’t a rant, although it might sound like it. Also, it isn’t a normal Central Florida Photo Ops post – but there are a few photo related things I need help with. I admit, I just don’t get them. Do you get them? Can you help me?
I don’t know if you’re a Flickr member or not. If you take a look at Flickr Explore, you’ll notice that there’s a surprising (at least to me) number of doll or toy photos there each day. To each his or her own, but I just don’t get this. I don’t really see why these are interesting to everyone. What is artistic or appealing about photos of toy dolls? How do these get on Flickr Explore? What am I missing?
The Lensbaby: OK, I’ve never used one, but why would I? It’s an inexpensive, imprecise tilt lens, with not so good optics. You can sort of cause an area within the frame to be in focus while blurring the rest. Is it just fun to play around with? Why would you put this on an expensive DSLR? Can you really do something artistic and controlled with it? Can anyone point me to an outstanding photo made with a Lensbaby? If so, was the Lensbaby critical to the photo or could you make it another way (Gaussian filters anyone)?
Micro 4/3 cameras: Yes, they have interchangeable lenses and larger sensors (=better image quality) than point and shoot cameras. And a 4/3 kit is smaller and lighter than a DSLR kit. But … Is it your only camera or a secondary / backup / travel camera? If it’s a secondary camera, you have to buy a whole new kit (body, lenses, flash?). That’s pretty expensive. If you want small and light, why not go for smallest and lightest (e.g. a point and shoot) for a lot less money. If you want quality why not go for quality (e.g. your DSLR). Will you be happy with a compromise? —– 9/2/11 Update: I think I do get this now. These cameras are much smaller and lighter. The lenses are less expensive than corresponding DSLR lenses. And they can be used (with reasonably long lenses) in places that don’t allow DSLR photography – like most theaters, some sports arenas, etc. Since they are less conspicuous, many people prefer to use them instead of DSLRs for street photography. And finally, although micro 4/3 sensor quality lags a generation or more behind the best APS C size sensors, it is enormously better than compact point and shoot sensors and good enough for most applications.
Not posting EXIF data with images: Some people go to great lengths to make sure the EXIF data captured by their camera gets filtered out before they post the photo. Why? How does it hurt to have someone on-line look at this data and try to understand how the photo was made?
Paying all those $ for a DSLR kit and not using it: You’ve got to have it with you, know how to use it, and use it. If you don’t know how to use it, use it anyway, make mistakes, and learn from them.
Paying all those $ for a DSLR kit and using it like a phone camera: Don’t leave it on “A”. Learn what all those other modes are and use them. Take charge – don’t let the camera think for you.
Not post processing: Some of my friends have expensive DSLR cameras and they live with the .jpg output of their cameras. I’ve tried to explain the benefits of RAW capture and post processing, but they don’t want to listen. I just don’t get this.
All right, no one gets this: Flash in the stands at sporting events and concerts: But why do you still see this? How can anyone do this without dying of embarrassment?
Film: Film is fun, but for most serious photographers, digital is so much better. OK, maybe I do get the 8×10 view camera people, but still It’s a lot of extra work and many compromises for an improvement in a few small areas.
Comment Spam on photo blogs (OK, any blog): I think the intent of comment spam is to get links back to their oh so relevant pages. Really? How are children’s shoes related to Central Florida Photo Ops? And that’s a G-rated one. There are many that are R-rated or worse. Why would I allow these comments through on my site? Does anyone? I really don’t get this.
If you “get” any of these things, or would just like to leave a comment to tell me how crazy I am, feel free (although I do moderate comments because of #10).
Lynn and I visited the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Bird Rookery this morning. Breeding season is in full swing and there are nests, eggs, and chicks of all varieties. This Native Swamp & Rookery blog post has the latest census for the rookery as of May 12th.
Here are three photos I made there this morning:
Little Blue Heron watching people
You can see many more photos that I’ve made in St. Augustine in this set on Flickr. By the way, I took a “new” camera and made some photos with it for a future blog post. It should be interesting if they turn out.
Once again, your intrepid Central Florida Photo Ops reporter was there – in person and on the scene – to record and report a sample of the photo ops on offer. You can see a couple of my photos below and more in this set on Flickr. You can also review a previous post I wrote here for more info and hints on flower show photography.
You should keep an eye out for these kinds of photo ops. They happen quite often are a great way to make some interesting photos.
By the way, the blog is now starting its 5th year. The first post was May 4th, 2007. That’s a long time in blog years! I hope you continue to enjoy it as much as I enjoy writing it.
Yesterday was another reminder of how blessed we are to live in Florida. We have opportunities all around us to go out and see nature in action. You should all do this at least occasionally – it can greatly enhance your perspective during the week.
At Viera Wetlands, the migratory birds have left and many of the year round residents seemed to be taking the day off yesterday. But there was still plenty to see. We especially enjoyed watching adults taking care of their offspring. There were Great Blue Herons, Anhingas, Sand Hill Cranes, and Limpkins all with young. We also saw a pair of severely back-lit Caracaras, an Osprey, a Green Wing Teal, Glossy Ibises (Ibi?), and several other varieties of birds as well as a few alligators. One person we talked to also showed us an outstanding series of photos she captured of a Great Blue / Water Moccasin battle that happened before we got there.