Most people leave the beach at the end of the day. That’s when the second shift starts and all the sunset watchers show up.
That’s good for me because I’ll be driving against the traffic to get to the beach on time. If you’re one of the three people reading my blog, you know I’m a procrastinator. So, even though the traffic is going the other way, more often than not I am rushing to get there before the sun goes down.
After I finish taking photos, I still get stuck in the traffic leaving the beach. That’s no problem though, being stuck in traffic with the beach on one side and no place to be is a dream. I roll down the windows and inch along. I could do that all day.
Cortez is one of the last fishing villages on the east coast of the United States. That would mean these pelicans picked the perfect place to live.
We came for the annual fish festival and left stuffed to the gills. They had every kind of fish dish you can imagine, and then some.
Fishing vessels were docked alongside the processing plant, and I captured these fellas preening themselves, oblivious to all the commotion around them. Sea birds in Florida coexist with fishing and are not afraid of humans at all.
Anyway, this reminded me that I need to come back to Cortez on a regular workday to see everything in action. It’s one of the first places I came with the new Sony camera about five years ago, and I always find something interesting to shoot here. And, as one of the last villages of it’s kind, it is a little bit of history.
If a cormorant is out of the water, it will spread its wings to dry off. On this morning, however, they were still dry.
These birds spend a lot of time under the water catching food. It’s a little ironic that they even though they have feathers, they are excellent swimmers and spend a lot of time underwater. When they are fishing, you might only see their snake-like head and neck pop-up for air. We also have snakes in the water, so seeing a Cormorant’s head pop-up might give you pause.
Just as often they’ll sit on a low branch or along the shoreline with their wings outstretched. Initially, I thought that it was to ward off predators by making themselves seem more prominent. But in fact, it’s to dry their feathers which are not as water repellant as other birds like ducks or pelicans.
Here’s a common pigeon from Plaça de Catalunya in the heart of Barcelona. It’s a fun place to watch the craziness in all directions.
It had just rained, and that’s when the reflections are best. I used the Platypod to get a low perspective and shot this at f2.0 which creates big colorful bokeh balls in the background. It’s a technique generally used in portraits, so I guess this we could consider this a bird portrait.
The pigeons are used to people feeding them they’ll come right up. They have almost no fear of humans. A little boy next to me caught one in his hands and then released it. I only had the desire to capture one with my camera. I got several shots, but I think this is my favorite.
These egrets will sit on trees to preen while keeping an eye on the fishermen and their catch.
I took this at a bayou that is also a state preserve. Florida preserves give wildlife a safe place to thrive outside of the urban sprawl. Egrets are opportunists that adapt to just about anything. Often I’ll see them on the front lawn looking for lizards. It’s not uncommon to see them perched on the roof of a car.
However, just because they adapt doesn’t mean they’re not skittish. If you get too close, they’ll fly away, so I had to keep a comfortable distance to capture this photo. That meant using a 70-200mm lens with a 2x converter for a total of 400mm. It’s rare that I carry that combination, but I’m glad I did on this day.
I drove through our local state park the other day. Typical for this time of year, Myakka River State Park is flooded from recent rains and the rising of the river. I stopped at a submerged path next to the river and watched as Egrets, Limpkins, and Herons forage for food in the shallow water.
Also typical for this time of year is the oppressive sun and heat. But this section of the trail is covered in a thick canopy. The shade was a welcome reprieve and the scene was quiet and peaceful.
I set up with a tripod at the edge of the water and tried not to move too much. Once I was still the birds would ignore me and I managed to get a couple of shots like this. The light would filter through in beams and illuminate small sections. I caught this heron (at least I think it’s a heron) at just the right moment.
The other day I was at Myakka River State Park to try out some experimental gear. I didn’t have a plan other than to line up a few landscape shots. As I sat on a bench working with the apparatus, a mama and baby Limpkin strolled by.
They were eating snails and clams. The snails were easy enough to catch and eat. The clams they would batter with their beaks to break open the shells. I was no more than six feet away and what I found surprising was that, as long as I remained still, they tolerated my presence.
There’s nothing better than to observe wild animals in their natural habitat. The baby Limkin was more wary of me, but the mother seemed to decide that it was more important to eat than worry about me. Or maybe she did both. Whatever the case, it was a rare privilege I’ll not soon forget.
My dog is the most patient being on the planet. Even when we go to his favorite parks, he waits for me to take my photos. Here he’s waiting to go over the bridge, but I’m busy composing. If I could paraphrase the look, he was saying, “Seriously daddy?”. I’m just saying.
Mr. Wiggles loves going to parks and exploring. I like the scenery. We have slightly different interests, but the excursion benefits us both. At the park, I have to be careful not to get too carried away. When taking photos, I need to be mindful of our surroundings. For instance, there was a small alligator in the lake on the left. It wouldn’t bother us, but the bigger ones love to snack on small pets.
The summer heat makes it difficult for Mr. Wiggles to get much exercise during daylight. Imagine walking around in ninety-percent humidity wearing a coat. So we either go out after dark or on overcast days when the sun is less harsh. When we get home, he has a long drink of water and collapses on the cold tiles. And no matter how hot it is, he still looks forward to it every single day.
On Christmas day, we did something out of the ordinary and headed over to a nearby horse ranch for a picnic and bonfire. The horses there spend days in their stalls or with riders out on the trails; however, in the evening they are free to roam the property. As it was a holiday the horses came and went as they pleased. That meant they would come up to the picnic table looking for handouts.
At night, the only light was from the bonfire so when I stood up and turned around there was usually a horse looking right at me. Someone turned on their iPhone flashlight and I snapped this profile. It might look staged but it was just luck on my part that I was able to get this shot.
I’m an animal lover so I’ll jump at any excuse to hang out on a ranch. In addition to horses there were sheep, goats, pigs and at least one ostrich. It was a fun way to spend an evening and if I’m not mistaken, the horses thought it was pretty cool too.