Egret on a Tree

These egrets will sit on trees to preen while keeping an eye on the fishermen and their catch.

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Egret on a Tree
An egret perched on a tree in a Florida bayou

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.

more bird images

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.

A Good Life

Pelicans are always sitting on posts waiting for fish to swim by. Who would have thought life could be so good.

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A Good Life
A Pelican sits on a post in the Manatee River in Palmetto

As soon as the sun goes down, they fly back to their nesting site and settle in. At dawn, you see them flying to places like this to catch fish. Dawn and dusk are the best times to capture pelicans in flight.

see the sunset gallery

This is from the Manatee River where there is always a lot of fish. Sometimes man and bird are hunting the same fish. When fishing you should always bring a pair of gloves and needle nose pliers. That’s so you can grab the pelican and free it from your hook. It happens all the time. So, other than the occasional brush with us, they have it pretty good on the Manatee River.

Focus Stack

I took this earlier in the year before the red tide came in, back then there were plenty of seabirds trolling the coast for fish. The red tide is finally decreasing so hopefully now the birds will return in more significant numbers.

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Focus Stack
A sand piper on one pier and people on another

Here’s an interesting photo that uses focus stacking to get the effect of both the foreground and background in focus. It’s a typical scene along the beach with the ever-present sandpiper.

More from Anna Maria Island

To make this I took two photos, one focused on the piper and one on the people further off. Then by blending the two, they both appear in focus. This technique is not so good for scenes like this because the movement of the water complicates the blending. You can see a little blurriness between the two in-focus points. Nevertheless, I think the overall effect is rather nice.

Myakka Heron

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.

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Myakka Heron
This photo was taken on a flooded trail next to the Myakka River

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.

more birds in the gallery

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.

Morning Rain

Here is a scene that I took from along the river a few years back. I’ve been going through the catalog looking for old photos, and this caught my eye.

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Morning Rain
An early morning capture along the Manatee River in the rain

I added a color filter and straightened the horizon; all in all, that took about 3 minutes. I’ve not done much to process this photo which stands in contrast to other images that I’ve spent hours processing; like the one yesterday. The pendulum swings both ways.

favorites gallery

If you are into photography, I have some free advice, do what makes you happy. Whether that means processing a lot or none at all, follow your heart. I’ve spent years studying and learning from others, but that’s no substitute for my “voice” or style. If we do what makes us happy, the rest will fall into place. That’s it for the free advice. For the next one, I’ll need 25 cents.

Making Up Stories

This image is an example of the kinds of things you’ll see just by showing up to a location and observing. It’s not staged, yet it has receding elements: a girl, a bird, and a sailboat, not to mention the evening sun. The objects are receding, and from a compositional perspective, that’s pretty cool. Let me explain.

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Making Up Stories

There were other objects and people around, but I positioned the frame to simplify the image. Unconsciously our eyes are drawn from the close-up objects to those far away, and in that split-second traverse, each observer (you) creates a story. I refer to “story” a lot in my images, but what I mean is the musings of an observer (you). When you muse, you automatically make up a story. That makes me the story-teller, and now I’ve connected with you. It’s pretty simple really, and it’s the idea behind stories in photographs.

favorites in the gallery

We can create stories in different ways; for me, it often involves simplifying a scene and engaging the viewer. But each person is different, and we could take a complicated scenario and do the same thing, there are no rules. My photos at the beach are simple, but I also like busy city streets with a lot of things to explore. (In fact, I’ll post one like that next week.) But I digress. When taking photos, you want to tell a story. No matter where you are, you can compose the shot in such a way that when I see it, I make up my own story.

Room to Breathe

I have purposely left a lot of space in this image so that it can breathe. Sometimes images tell a story and are arranged with objects here and there. In this case there is no story, just open space and room to breathe.

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Room to Breathe
The empty space in this image is on purpose

We are bombarded with information at every turn. We are plugged into the information superhighway and deceive ourselves if we think otherwise. Finding respite might be as simple as standing by the water’s edge and looking out at nothing for a few minutes.

minimalism in the gallery

This theme is one I’ve been exploring lately in images. Not that I have answers to anything, it’s just that I feel the need to slow down from time to time. But do as I say and not as I do. If I took my own advice it might actually do me some good. I’ll try to keep that in mind, gotta run.

The Line Across the River

This is a spot I like to photograph. There are a lot of reasons but the main one is that the tracks form a leading line across the river. We are drawn to leading lines because they provide a sense of movement and direction. For some reason that’s important to us at an instinctual level.

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The Line Across the River
The line across the Manatee River in Bradenton

Maybe the rules of photography are based on some primal desire for survival. If that’s true it’s an interesting idea and, all the more reason to break the rules once in a while. That might mean considering compositions that will not lead us back to safety.

more from bradenton

I know I’m drawing a long bow, but writing about photos as I do forces me to think about these things. Let’s just say I do more than my fair share of introspection. In the end, I would really prefer to just get out and take pictures and worry about the intellectual stuff later. Or, not worry at all.

This Spot at Bradenton Beach

I take so many photos from this spot at Bradenton Beach they may as well name the pier after me (no, not really).

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This Spot at Bradenton Beach
This Spot at Bradenton Beach

Piers make great leading lines and they always attract people. So if you’re a photographer and you sit near one long enough you’ll see all kinds of things to take pictures of. And, by the way, this pier and several others nearby were recently built to replace old piers destroyed in storms. I’m happy to say that after a recent hurricane the new ones had no damage at all. Yay!

This spot is popular with surfers and sometimes they use the pier to launch. When I took this, another offshore storm was creating waves, which in turn brought out the surfers and photographers including yours truly.

more images of piers

The pier is made of massive concrete blocks attached to pilings. It took about a year to construct and I remember wishing it would be finished. The day finally came and now they’re magnets for everything from surfers to seabirds, not to mention photo guys like me.

By the Waters Edge

The other evening I was standing along Sarasota Bay and there were all types of birds by the waters edge. This egret was picking through grasses exposed by the low tide. Egrets are accustomed to humans and will come quite close without feeling threatened. However if you’re fishing it’s a different story altogether. They have no problem walking right up and stealing fish or bait right at your feet.

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By the Waters Edge
By the Waters Edge in Sarasota Bay

This one thought I might be fishing and came to investigate. When he realized I didn’t have a net he lost interest. In this moment he seemed to lose interest and hop a few meters down the shore.

I love animals very much and tend to anthropomorphize them. For instance I would say this little fella is striking a pose, deciding on his next move. If they squawk I’ll attribute it to human emotions, as though they are complaining or mad about something. I do that with wild animals all the time and especially with my own pets. Sometimes if I talk to animals they’ll take an interest in me and look back quixotically. That’s because they’re not sure what to make of a crazy human like me. At least my dog understands me, but that’s another story.

more animals

I’m not so much of a wild life photographer, but I do like capturing birds along the shore, especially here in Florida. There are a lot of egrets and herons that make for good subjects with their graceful poses and antics. But real wildlife photographers are a different bred, they are patient and calculating, and will end up with spectacular shots of nature. Me, I’m more of an opportunist; I’ll capture the wildlife if I happen to be in the right spot at the right time.