Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yaupon Holly

I thought by now you're all getting sick of my birds, so I'd post something a little more in season.

This is Yaupon Holly. Although the leaves don't have the traditional points that you'd expect to see, it is definitely in the Holly family. It's also one of the more seasonal-looking plants that one would find in nature. I found this during my meetup at Lake Seminole last Sunday. The bush was pretty full, so I got under the branch and shot up at the sky. This way, it eliminated the busy background, and it helped to make the plant stand out more. Yaupon Holly can be found in Florida growing in upland woods, streamsides, pondsides, dunes and pine flatwoods.

Settings used for this shot were, Aperture priority, with partial metering on the plant, ISO 400, 1/80th @ F5.6, -1/3 exposure compensation. I chose ISO 400 because it was very cloudy and their wasn't much light as you can tell by the settings used. The -1/3 exposure compensation was to keep the sky from blowing out.

This is another shot with a loss due to jpg compression for the site. This is much brighter not compressed.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Yup; another bird shot. I'm on a roll with these right now. When I visited Lake Seminole Park with my students, I couldn't believe all the birds we shot. This is one of the better shots I made.

This one, a Yellow-crowned Night Heron just kept right on posing for us only moving once. We first shot him/her when she was on the footbridge, then in an effort to get away (sort of) he/she flew down on the ground on the edge of the water. I think he wasn't giving up his spot for lunch, no matter what we did.

It's always a thrill to see and capture one of these elusive Night Herons. Since they're largely nocturnal, we don't get to see them too much during the day. When we do, they're pretty secretive. The only time they show themselves is when they're hungry, so it's usually a pretty easy shot. They don't give up their spots that easily just because we humans are there. They want to be sure to keep all the Crab for themselves.

Settings used for this shot were: Aperture Priority Mode with partial metering on the bird, ISO 400 for extra light sensitivity because I was shooting him under a bridge and it was a cloudy day. There wasn't much light to work with, 1/20th at F5.6 and -1/3 exposure compensation to keep the whites from blowing out. Focal length 208mm with my 55-250mm lens.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Great Egret

I don't think I've posted any birds in a little while. This one was shot at Lake Seminole Park yesterday while I was teaching a class.

He was so funny, he just came up to the picnic table where I was speaking to my group about exposure, and he was just begging to be photographed. I could see everyone getting a bit edgy, wanting to shoot him. He was posing so nice. Finally, I relented, since they weren't listening anyway. As soon as I said, "Well, what are you all waiting for? He's posing just for you". You could hear all the shutters being released. While they were shooting, I answered any quick exposure questions about shooting all white birds. Of course, all the while wanting to shoot him as well. I just couldn't help myself, I had to shoot him, too!

Settings used for this shot; ISO 400 because it was a cloudy day, and I needed more light. F5.6 at 1/250 in case he moved and because I was handholding the lens, +2/3 exposure compensation to capture detail in the whites without them going too gray, Aperture Priority Mode with partial metering on the bird. My focal length was 250mm with my 55-250mm lens.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lake Seminole in HDR

Today I took my students to Lake Seminole Park for a lesson on exposure. This is one of the original images I made with the class. This image looked like it would make an excellent HDR study, so I tried it with this one. When I downloaded my photos to my computer, I noticed that I deleted the -2 stop exposure by mistake, so I made a pseudo HDR. I'm surprised it came out so well from one image.

The second image is the HDR image. As you can see, this one is much, much better. I don't like HDR when it's done over the top. It seems to present unnatural colors and a lot of noise, and I'm very happy with the way this one turned out. It's much brighter, the colors are more saturated and vibrant, and it's natural and believable.

Settings used for the original image are, ISO 200 because it is a cloudy day and the sensor needs more light for a proper exposure, Aperture Priority mode, which I use for about 95% of all my photography. The shutter speed was 1/100 at F7.1, which is the sharpest or sweet spot of my lens, 0 exposure compensation, with partial metering off the trees, which was the most important part of the scene (actually the greenery and reflections), 36mm with my 18-55mm lens.

Chicken Turtle and American Alligator

Note to my followers: I must apologize for getting out of my normal routine of posting one photo a day. I've been not feeling well, and terribly busy these past couple weeks.

This Chicken Turtle certainly isn't living up to his name as he sits atop an American Alligator's head. He must know that Alligators go into a semi-hibernation in the winter months and don't eat during this time. They go without food for approximately 4 months, living off their body fat.

This image was photographed Christmas day at Busch Gardens in Tampa, FL. I took my grandson to the park as part of his Christmas gift. We got off to a late start because it was raining in the morning, so we waiting for it to clear up. We still had a great time and stayed until closing.

Chicken Turtles can be found in shallows and fresh water, while American Alligators can be found in ponds, rivers, swamps, both fresh and brackish marshes, mangroves, canals and oceans (rarely) throughout Florida and the southern states.

This image was captured with my Canon 40D, Canon 55-250mm lens at 131mm, in late afternoon on a cloudy day. I used 400 ISO, in Aperture priority mode and partial metering off the turtle at 1/20 and F5.6.

Monday, December 7, 2009


I caught this guy climbing up the side of a Palm tree in my backyard the other day. He was really big, as you can tell by the Palm tree trunk. It's amazing how they can cling to surfaces with their webbed feet.

The Bullfrog is the largest native American frog reaching lengths of 8 inches. They're found throughout central Florida in ponds, lakes and slow-moving streams. They eat young birds, snakes, crayfish and other frogs. That may explain why he was climbing up this tree.

The jpg compression has taken away the greenish tinge across his lower body. He's a lot more colorful than he looks in this shot. I wish I could post the full resolution image.

Settings used for this photo were at ISO 200, with my on camera flash (he was in a dark spot between 3 other trees) at 1/250 which is the shutter speed I set my flash to fire, F5.6 and +2 exposure compensation to be sure to get all the shadow detail, partial metering on the frog in aperture priority mode. I used my 50-250mm lens at 250mm so I wouldn't scare him away.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lyman and Pat

My friends, Lyman and his brand new wife, Pat (as she likes to be called when in America) were married on the 30th of November on a little bridge that separates the Unity church and the Buddhist temple in Tampa. They had his minister and her monk officiate.

They met last year while Lyman was doing business in Thailand. He has a factory there, so he goes to Thailand every year for about 4 or 5 months to make sure everything is running all right.

They've had this long-distance relationship for the last year and now they've finally married. Lyman has had some serious health problems in the last few months and hopefully it'll all be ironed out before they leave to go back to Thailand in January. They'll be there for 4 or 5 months, then come back to Florida to live.

Lyman has been my friend for a few years now, and Pat has been my friend since she came to Florida last year. She is the sweetest girl and will make a good wife to Lyman. I'm very happy for both of them.

When Pat was here last year, she could barely speak English and was very shy. This year, I couldn't believe how well she speaks English. You'd think she'd been here for years. She says Lyman's been helping her to learn. But I think it's been sheer determination on her part that helped her to learn our language that quickly. Amazingly, since she can now speak the language well, she doesn't seem as shy.

They are both good friends and I wish them all the luck and happiness in the world.