Kevin M., Kevin K., and I went to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge yesterday morning. We stopped by the Titusville Marina for a few sunrise photos.
Then we drove around Black Point Wildlife Drive. The water there is very high and although wildlife numbers might be a bit below average, there’s great variety with both normal residents and winter visitors present.
A ternery pano – Caspian Terns and a Sandpiper in a four frame panorama
We saw Green, Blue, Great Blue, and Tri-colored Herons, Reddish, Snowy, and Great Egrets, a Roseate Spoonbill, Sandpipers, Caspian Terns, Belted Kingfishers, Blue Wing Teals, Coots, Ospreys, a Bald Eagle, Savannah Sparrows, White Pelicans, Gulls, Vultures, an Alligator, and probably others I missed. A person we talked to at the rest stop had just seen a bittern.
My friend Jim Boland reported seeing a Red Headed Duck, Northern Pintails, Blue Winged Teal, American Wigeons, and Northern Shovelers on BPWD in his newsletter* last Monday. We didn’t see that many – I suspect they were out there, just hidden. We heard hunters making a lot of noise throughout the morning and I bet the ducks are skittish.
If you’ve held off visiting MINWR or BPWD because you were uneasy about hurricane damage and lack of wildlife – stop worrying. The place is rapidly getting back to normal and there’s every reason to get out there and witness some of Central Florida’s beauty.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Four of us from the Photography Interest Group went to Viera Wetlands last Saturday. On the way, we stopped by Riverfront Park on the Indian River at SR 520 in Cocoa for sunrise.
Old boat by a bridge
There weren’t many clouds, but with a longer lens than I normally use (120mm equivalent instead of an ultra wide-angle), I managed to place this boat in the frame against a background of clouds and the causeway bridge. The colors on the water are nice and I was happy with the result.
As we left, I saw what looked like a sunken boat out of the corner of my eye to the south of where we’d been photographing. Since the good light was fading, and everyone else was ready to leave for Viera, I didn’t get a chance to check it out at the time.
For some reason, sunken / abandoned boats really appeal to me as photographic subjects. Maybe it’s because I spent time in the Navy. They seem sad and make me wonder what happened and why. This one nagged at me, and I really wanted to explore it so I decided to drive back over on Wednesday to see what I’d missed. Many times the boat gets salvaged – so if you don’t photograph it when you find it, you may not get a second chance.
A dream, gone – in the harbor at dawn.
Luckily the boat was still right where I’d seen it. I found a spot where I could use the sailboat mast reflections to outline the sunken hull and place it between the blue and orange colors mirrored on the water. I like the first photo, but I think this second one is stronger.
If we’d taken the time to explore this on our first visit, would I have gotten as strong a photo? Did I get a better photo on my second trip because I was by myself? Is photography essentially a solo activity?
Cue the standard photography answer: “It depends.” I believe you need to be “in the zone” to make great photos. Distractions and / or fellow photographers can hinder concentration – or they can point you in the right direction. When you’re with a group you also have to compromise and go along – you can’t do everything you want and force everyone else to do it too. If you’re mainly a landscape photographer, going photographing with someone really into bird photography may not help your landscape images. Or it might – birds hang out in some beautiful places.
If you go with people more experienced / knowledgable than you are, you may learn a bit and make better images as a result. Or you may find out about new places that they know but you don’t. Or you might even open your eyes to a different way of seeing something. If you’ve ever been out photographing with a group, you know there will be many similar images. But there will also be some that look completely different even though two photographers stand right next to each other.
So to answer the question in the title of this post: Is photography a solo or a group activity? Yes. You’ll be a better photographer if you go photographing both by yourself and in groups. Mix it up and take advantage of both ways to enjoy and improve your photography.
By the way, we did make it to Viera Wetlands. We saw many of the usual animals in the main area including Hawks, Ospreys, Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Green Herons, Snowy and Great Egrets, Grebes, Black Bellied Whistling Ducks, Alligators, Turtles, etc. We saw a few more species in the Click Ponds: White Pelicans, Sandpipers, Roseate Spoonbills, and Woodstorks. A nice visit.
Sandpiper flock and reflections
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos – alone and in a group!
Three of us from the Photographic Interest Group went over to the Canaveral National Seashore yesterday to explore. We entered at the north end near Turtle mound. We could only go about 2 or 3 miles into the park, the road was closed after that.
CNS is a national park located on the east coast of Florida, south of New Smyrna Beach. It’s a very scenic place and there are many activities available. The surf was very high yesterday (due to Hurricane Bill?) and there were quite a few people out taking advantage of it.
In the short time we were there, we also saw people fishing:
There’s a lot of wildlife in the area, but the number of people here at certain times of the year (like yesterday), probably makes it difficult to see much of the animal population, unless you’re here when the people aren’t. We did see some wildlife – here’s a CNS Anole:
And a sandpiper:
We also stopped by the Eldora Statehouse, which is a historic example of earlier life along the Mosquito Lagoon.
Speaking of mosquitoes, make sure you bring some bug spray – they were pretty vicious at times.
Bring what you have. I don’t like to take my expensive DSLRs into the hot sun near the ocean for long periods of time, but you might if you’re careful. Shorebirds can be small (and fast) – so to get prize winning bird photos here, you’ll need to be lucky or a very dedicated and good photographer willing to forgo other activities. It might be a good place to practice "birds in flight" photos in your spare time – Pelicans often cruise down the shoreline. If the surfs up, that can be fun to watch / photograph too.
One non-photo hint: Be careful where you park. The rangers are rather zealous about enforcing the parking regulations. Parking on the grass is not allowed – even when it isn’t specifically posted.
The beach is a nice place to take some photographs and CNS is a very nice beach. We originally went there to explore a new place as a bird photography location. We didn’t find many birds, but we only stayed for a short time. I wonder if other times of the year would be more productive? The surfing would have been an excellent photo opportunity if I had been prepared for it (beach clothes, longer lens, etc).
If you’re here to visit the beach, bring a camera – over the course of of your visit, interesting photo opportunities will present themselves.
I have a few additional photos of this visit posted on Flickr .