We’ve had a few days of cooler weather here in Central Florida – good news if you’d like to see Manatees in the wild! When temperatures drop, they tend to gather in and around springs where the water is warmer than the rest of the environment.
We were over at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City last week for a wonderful family picnic. One of the highlights of the trip was spotting these large gentle mammals from the boardwalk along the spring run.
Many extra activities are planned for this weekend’s annual Manatee Festival. But if you can’t make it now, try later in the winter. The Manatees are often there through March.
Depending on where they are, you can make photos with just about any camera. Up by the swimming area they get very close. Down nearer the river, you’ll want to have a longer lens to fill the frame from the boardwalk. Bring your polarizing filter to help cut glare / reflections on the water surface.
I went for another walk last week at Orlando Wetlands Park with Tom M. It was a pretty morning and in addition to the normal bird suspects, we also saw Soras, Purple Gallinules, and heard reports of Bald Eagles and many Black Crowned Night Herons.
“Compositing is the combining of visual elements from separate sources into single images, often to create the illusion that all those elements are parts of the same scene.”
Multiple exposures are a subset of compositing, and are much easier to produce in today’s world of digital photography. In addition to creating an illusion, they can be used to show things that are difficult for a camera to capture in a single frame and better show reality. Examples are panoramas, focus stacking, HDR, etc.
There’s a lovely Pink Trumpet tree on the west side of the main path into the park. It’s in bloom and that morning the moon was setting behind the tree. This snap from my iPhone shows how the tree looked against the sky and moon.
I wanted to isolate one bloom with the moon and clouds behind it, but the depth of field with my telephoto lens was too shallow to show both in the same frame. So I made two, with one focused on the flower and the second on the clouds / moon. Then in Photoshop it was relatively easy to combine the two frames to show what I wanted.
Moon, clouds, and flower
Here’s a second example:
Ibis flight sequence
This one is from a sequence of a single White Ibis flying by in a little under 2 seconds. I brought all 25 frames into Photoshop on separate layers and aligned them. Then I used the focus select function to mask the birds from each layer into a single composite. I ended up having to omit every other frame to avoid overlapping birds.
If you’re willing to dive into Photoshop or any other image editing software that offers layers and masking, you can do the same sort of work. Think about techniques like these when you’re out photographing. If you capture the source frames you need when you’re out, then when you get back to your computer you can use them to solve problems and enhance your creativity.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some multiple exposure photos!
It was the first Friday the 13th of the new year, but our luck wasn’t completely bad. The day started early with some challenging light and fog at sunrise. I’m glad I brought my IR modified camera and used it to cut through the limited visibility. I did get one or two pleasing photos, including this one. But it’s a B&W sunrise! What’s up with that?
The boardwalk by the boat ramp in the fog – at SR 520 and the St. Johns River
Kevin led us right to the Smooth-billed Ani (thanks Kevin!). The light was still poor and we ended up coming back later for a better look / image. These aren’t normally found this far north in Florida and they’re unusual looking with a very large beak – fun to see. People have also reported a close relative (Groove-billed Ani) on Apopka Wildlife Drive.
We saw Scaups, Mottled Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Limpkins, White Pelicans, a Wilsons Snipe, a Great Horned Owl, Coots, Moorehens, Roseate Spoonbills, and Osprey among other things.
Hooded Merganser pair
Mom and juvenile Limpkin about to enjoy escargot
The light was spotty all morning with periods of rain. There were a couple of images I tried that didn’t work out. I’m going back soon to try again. NOTE: Their website says that Viera Wetlands is closed January 16 – 20. Plan accordingly.
Based on this post and my previous one, I think you can see that the bird activity has picked up here in Central Florida. It’s time to get out and enjoy our natural wonders.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!
One of the first birds we watched was a Redish Egret fishing close to shore. It’s great fun to see these birds dance and pounce.
Reddish Egret and Minnow
I had the Olympus E-M1 Mark II with me and practiced with the “Pro Capture” mode (I brought the right lens this time). This really helps you catch a decisive moment – it’s almost cheating. You’d better have a large card in your camera and time to go through all the images, though. I used low-speed and still had way too many frames. Here’s one example:
Wood Stork and Minnow
There were a huge number of White Pelicans and they treated us to “air ballet shows” all morning.
Several (3 or more?) large fish (carp?) swimming in the canal near the road. These were about two feet long.
And there were more gators visible than usual. They look well fed – perhaps they’ve been after those large fish. These monsters stay so still that you can take your time and make a stitched panorama of them. Unless they’re chasing you 🙂
We also spotted Belted Kingfishers, a Bald Eagle, Osprey, several varieties of duck, a wild pig, and many other interesting things.