Showing posts from February, 2012

Creating a Digital "Slide" Montage

This past weekend I spent two mornings at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  As I was returning to my car from a morning a bird photography, I found myself walking through many Live Oaks.  These are absolutely beautiful trees.  I don't often photograph them because I frequently only take with me my 400mm lens.  But more and more I've been bringing a long my 10mm-22mm lens and 17mm-85mm lenses just so that I can be ready for more wide angle photographic moments.  These trees captured my attention so much that I decided it was worth changing lenses to spend time photographing the trees.

For these photos, I simulated a "slide montage" in my image editing software.  I duplicated the image as a separate layer, applied a Gaussian blur to the bottom layer (set to 45) and then set the layering mode to "multiply."  This gives you one "color" layer and one "detail" layer.  When these two layers are combined, the effect blurs the colors while still mainta…

Boyd Hill Park, 2/25/2012

On Saturday morning we decided to visit Boyd Hill Park.  I had read that the park was designed to support multiple habitats, and we had heard that there was good birding there.  Now I have to say that I love the idea of the park.  The path leads you to different sections that highlight different Florida ecosystems.  There's a Sand Scrub area, a Pine Flatwoods area, and an Oak Pine Hammock area, as well as Swamp, Marsh, and Lake areas.  There were covered pavilions and water stations at the trail heads for each of these habitats with informative signage to describe what you're about to see.  I loved that.

Unfortunately, the birds were not there in any great numbers.  I was surprised by how little I heard or saw.  I stayed there from about 7:30 to about noon, just waiting for things to pick up, but they never did.  There were some highlights, though.  We saw an Osprey nest, and one of the pair was building or repairing the nest.  A Green Heron and a Little Blue Heron were both …

Circle B Bar, 2/26/2012

This morning on the way back from St. Petersburg we dropped by Circle B Bar Reserve one more time.  The weather wasn't cooperative; it was cloudy and even a little chilly, but we had fun spending the morning at Circle B Bar. Highlights from the morning were seeing two Sandhill Cranes by their nest, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher that posed for me, and an Anhinga prepare a fish for consumption. It was also very nice to see my first Black-bellied Whistling Ducks of the  year. On the way back to the car, a couple Giant Swallowtail butterflies came out to play with us as well.

Here's a list of species we saw this morning at Circle B Bar from about 9am to 12pm.Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 15
Blue-winged Teal 20
Pied-billed Grebe 5
Wood Stork 3
Double-crested Cormorant 10
Anhinga 10
Great Blue Heron 5
Great Egret 10
Snowy Egret 12
Little Blue Heron 9
Tricolored Heron 3
Cattle Egret 17
White Ibis 50
Glossy Ibis 5
Roseate Spoonbill 10
Black Vulture X
Turkey Vulture X

Reddish Egrets at Fort De Soto

Shortly after arriving at North Beach in Fort De Soto on Friday, we were met by a white morph Reddish Egret.  As we were photographing it, a dark morph came by and began interacting with the white morph.  They put on quite a display for each other, in beautiful breading plumage.  I sat in awe of these birds for perhaps an hour, and here are a few of my photos from that time--I'm afraid the photos don't do justice to the beautiful sight we were able to experience that afternoon.  These are the reasons why I never tire of photographing nature.

Fort De Soto, 2/25/2012

On the second day of our birding weekend, we returned to Fort De Soto this afternoon.  It was a very different  but equally enjoyable experience.  We first went to the Egmont Key Ferry.  While we didn't ride on the ferry, we walked out on the pier, and were met by three dolphins, including one young dolphin.  They were right by the pier, so I had to change lenses to get photographs of them.  We also saw a Brown Thrasher, a few Forster's Terns, and two Red-breasted Mergansers.

From there we went back to North Beach, where we saw many of the same species we saw yesterday.  We entered the beach area on the south side of the parking lot this time in search of warblers, and we found many, though most were Palm and Yellow-Rumped.  We did find 2 Pine Warblers there.  On the beach we saw about 50 Royal Terns and lots of shorebirds including Wilson's Plover, Sanderling, and Willet.  Two of the Willets got into a pretty good fight--that was amazing to watch.  As we were leaving, we…

Circle B Bar, 2/24/2012

Yesterday morning a friend and I headed out towards St. Petersburg, FL.  We got a late start, but we decided to go to Circle B Bar on the way to see what we might find. It was a pretty good morning, though not as fantastic as it was when I was here last in November. Highlights for me were seeing several Limpkin, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and Roseate Spoonbills. We saw a Sandhill Crane sitting on a nest, but we didn't want to watch it for very long.  I saw very few ducks; in fact, I only saw Blue-winged Teal, and the American Bitterns we were hoping to see eluded us.Others there told us that there was a Bobcat that was chased off by several River Otters before we were able to see the Bobcat.

Here is a list of species I found between about 9:30am and 12:15pm yesterday morning.

Blue-winged Teal X
Pied-billed Grebe 5
Double-crested Cormorant 11
Anhinga 8
Great Blue Heron 8
Great Egret 5
Snowy Egret 7
Little Blue Heron 1
Tricolored Heron 11
Cattle Egret 3
White Ibis X

Fort De Soto, 2/24/2012

This afternoon I went to Fort De Soto with a friend, and we had a fantastic time.  We only saw a total of 30 species of birds from about 3:30pm to 6:00pm, but the lighting was wonderful and the birds put on quite a show.  To start the afternoon off, we went to East Beach and there was a very nice Willett among some Laughing Gulls.  Some Palm and Yellow-Rumped Warblers were in the trees, and a beautiful Palm Warbler put on a show for me.  We also saw one Prairie Warbler.

From there we went to North Beach, and here things really were fun.  The first thing we saw once walking to the beach was a white morph Reddish Egret, and then a dark morph came by and they put on quite a display.  In fact, I took so many pictures of these two birds that I'll include them in a later post.  We saw five American Oystercatchers, lots of Willett, Dunlin, and other shorebirds.   One of my favorite moments was seeing a Great Blue Heron fly up into a tree with a Belted Kingfisher.  I thought for sure the…

Photographing Birds with Reflections

One of the biggest challenges to bird photography is that you can never seem to be close enough to the birds to suit your lens.  I use a 400mm lens, but even if I owned an 800mm lens, I would frequently wish I could make the bird larger in the frame.  While cropping is almost always needed, you don't have to crop as much if you include more of the bird's environment.  If you can ever shoot birds with their reflection included, though, you can have your cake and eat it too.  You don't have to crop as much, and in most situations, your composition will likely be improved by including the bird's reflection.  Whether the reflection is a crystal clear and perfectly formed or wavy and deformed, they add a sense of tranquility and beauty that I think benefits most images.

The only exception to this that I can think of is when there's muck on the top of the water.  Whether it be pollution, floating debris (litter or otherwise) or the tops of plants, sometimes the muck det…