Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tarpon Lake Scenic

We had a "girls" morning out on Friday morning, bright and early. Four of us went to John Chestnut, Jr Park in Palm Harbor for 7:00 am to try our luck at catching a few Deer.

We saw plenty of Deer all morning, but in low light, they're pretty hard to shoot through the fog and darkness. I did get a couple shots that I'm fairly happy with, but I had to increase my ISO to 800. That high of an ISO nearly always degrades the shot. So, I'm wondering if it's worth it. Maybe if it's a once in a lifetime shot, it's worth the trouble to clean up the shot; other than for that reason, it's just not worth it to me.

Personally, I'm happier with the scenics I shot that early in the morning. I'm more into waterscapes than I am into landscapes. It could be that I just don't "see" the landscapes we have in Florida. I'm a native New Englander, and used to landscapes with mountains, rolling hills, etc.

This one is one of my favorite that I shot this morning. I like the way the clouds and sky are reflected in the water, yet cannot be seen in the sky. That's pretty weird, isn't it? I'll probably be posting my Deer shots at a later time once I get all the editing done.

Settings used in this image taken in the early morning just as the fog/mist was lifting: ISO 400, 1/800 at F4.0, normally I don't make landscapes at F4.0, but I wasn't really trying to keep the background sharp, just the water and reeds, -2/3 exposure compensation to keep the sky from washing out completely, with partial metering on the reeds at 55mm with my 55-250mm trusty walk-around lens.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chinese Shar Pei

This Chinese Shar Pei was being walked by his owner on the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs, FL. I've always been fascinated by these wrinkly dogs. They look so soft and cuddly. This one, for some reason looked sad to me.

Shar Peis are known for their wrinkled skin and bluish tongue. At one time, they were a rare breed. Today, they are getting to be more common. The younger the dog, the more wrinkles they have. As they mature, they grow into their skin and some of the deep wrinkles disappear. Their fur is very course and bristly.

Shar Peis were bred in China as fighting dogs, but due to their prohibitive cost, they're now kept as guard dogs. They are extremely loyal and protective of their families and can become quite aggressive.

Settings used to create this image: ISO 400, 1/80 at F5.6, +1/3 exposure compensation to keep the shadow detail, aperture priority and partial metering off the dog. Focal length was 135mm with my trusty 50-250mm lens.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


It seems I never shoot portraits or people, but here I am with another portrait just two days after my last one. I guess people are part of the natural world, so in a sense, it can qualify as nature--sort of, but not really.

Igor is one of my roommates. He needed a portrait for his sites and had been asking for months. Finally I gave in and made several of him. This is one I like.

He insisted on wearing his sunglasses, and it was a little difficult exposing so I'd show his eye without underexposing all the shadows. I used partial metering on his eye and it worked perfectly! Even I was surprised.

Settings used for this image taken in my backyard were as follows. ISO 400 because he was in the shade, 1/320 at F5.6 for shallow depth of field in aperture priority, (You may notice I use aperture priority mode for 99% of my shots. That's because I like to control the depth of field.) +1/3 exposure compensation, 180mm focal lenth with my 55-250mm lens.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Teddy Bear Sponge

This sponge was roped and drying on the side of a sponge boat at the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs, FL. When I saw it hanging there, it reminded me of a Teddy Bear holding a bunny. It just looked so soft and cuddly, I had to snap a quick shot of it.

I tend to have quite an imagination when it comes to patterns and things spotted in nature and I'm always on the lookout for things like this. My visions seem to remind me of when I was a kid, lying on a hill with my friends looking up at the clouds and finding all sorts of interesting characters in the cloud formations. I guess this is a take-off from those times on lazy summer afternoons.

I keep a folder for things spotted like this, and I call it my Arbor Menagerie. This isn't a formation in tree bark, but it's close enough to include it there.

What does it remind you of? Let me know in your comments.

Settings used for this image were 1/200 (because I wasn't using my tripod (which I was carrying and too lazy to set up)) at F5.6 for shallow depth of field to blur the background, ISO 400 (it was a cloudy day, so I needed more light), 146mm with my 55-250mm trusty walk-around lens. Metering was set at Partial Metering in Aperture Priority mode.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Old Salt

Last Friday afternoon a couple friends and I went to the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks to shoot a bit and then go to dinner. While walking around on the docks, I spotted this elderly gentleman and he reminded me of an elderly sponge boat captain.

Whether he was actually a captain or even a diver I have no idea. He graciously let Frank and I take all the photos we wanted to of him. He has an amazing look.

For those of you who don't know about the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, if you are ever in Central Florida it is a must see. It is a Greek community built entirely around the sponge industry. This is where you will find the worlds finest natural sponges. There are many Greek restaurants, bakeries and boutiques. The little mom & pop stores are all along the docks with each of them carrying sponges, loofahs, shells and just about anything else you want. There is also a museum where you can watch the divers harvest the sponge. Many of the divers still use the old ways like their fathers and grandfathers did many years ago.

Settings used for this image were at ISO 400, Aperture Priority and partial metering, F 5.6, 1/160 and 0 exposure compensation at 90mm with my 55-250mm lens.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Water Lily

I thought a pretty flower might chase the Winter Blahs's away. This Water Lily was in bloom in the fountain in front of Plant Hall at the University of Tampa in November.

It has lost a lot of saturation due to the compression and I'm very disappointed. I wish you all could see how it really looks. It's a beautiful flower. This blog really does a number on my photos. :( What a shame!

Settings used for this shot were: Aperture Priority and partial metering off the flower at F7.1 at 1/250 with 200 ISO, -2/3 exposure to keep the highlights in check. Focal Length was 200mm.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mallard Fight

A personal note to my followers: Sorry I haven't been posting much lately, but it's been way too cold in Florida and I haven't been taking any photos lately. In addition, my computer is right next to the front door so I haven't been editing due to the draft from the door. I just freeze.

You will probably have to click on this shot to get the best view. I wish there weren't so many reflections. These two Mallards got into a squabble and I was lucky enough to catch them in the heat of it. It was cool to watch them.

This is the first time there's been so many Mallards here. Usually, there's 4 Mottled Ducks who come back every year. I counted 10 Mallards this morning and I haven't seen the usual Mottled Ducks. I wonder why that is?

Settings used for this shot were ISO 400 to get a high shutter speed (1/250) to stop the action enough to get some clarity, F5.6 to try to blur out some of the sharp reflections, 55-200mm lens at 250mm, partial metering off the duck in flight, + 1 1/3 stops exposure compensation because the birds were backlit.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mallard Drake

Nothing spectacular tonight; just this Mallard Drake swimming in the lake in my back yard.

Every year we get Mottled Ducks, but this year when they came back they brought along a few Mallards with them. This one is a young Drake. His head still isn't fully green, it's more of a dark green/black if that's such a color. He was one of about 10 swimming around today. In the past years, we've only had 2 pair that would come, nest, fledge their young and leave, only to return later and do the whole thing again. This is the first time I've seen these Mallards here and their quite welcome. It's nice to be able to photograph a few different birds when it's too cold to go out shooting anywhere else.

I just can believe how cold it is in Florida. Usually in January, we'll see a few days get into the 60's and maybe a night or two in the low 50's or upper 40's. This has been a rough 3 weeks! We're expecting more cold weather over the next week. I wish it would go back up north where it belongs.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Blackberry Lily

I was wondering what I was going to post tonight, since it's been so cold I haven't been shooting, when my screen saver came up and I saw this one.

This Blackberry Lily, which I mistook for some kind of Orchid is one of the only flowers other than the Sweet William that's still standing after this cold spell in the Butterfly garden at the Safety Harbor Marina.

I didn't this it was a lily because it is so small. It's only about 3" across from tip to tip. For a lily that's pretty small. I found one in my wildflower book while looking for another flower and I'm glad I did. I wasn't even aware that these are native flowers and grow wild.

I guess we learn more than photography whenever we shoot nature. I'm one of those curious souls that has to know everything about anything I capture with my camera. I've had an insatiable curiosity ever since I was a kid. It drives me crazy when I can't identify a plant or a bug or whatever. I'll keep digging and digging until I can come up with an answer.

Settings used for this image were ISO 200 at 250mm in Aperture Priority at F5.6 and 1/60th.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Snowy Egret

During my last Meetup at Lake Seminole Park, I spotted this Snowy Egret under a foot bridge hunting for his next meal. I was immediately attracted to the reflection of him in the water, which was so clear it showed his underparts.

This particular area under this footbridge is a favorite hunting/fishing place for all the shore birds in this park. There are plenty of Blue Crab to feed all of them. I've never failed to be able to find the birds here any time I've been to this area.

Settings used in making this image were with my camera set to Aperture Priority with partial metering on the bird, at 400 ISO because the light was pretty dim under the bridge, I exposed it at 1/30 at F5.6 with -2/3 exposure compensation to keep the white feathers of the bird from blowing out. I used my 55-250mm at 250mm to capture him.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Fountain Detail in Safety Harbor, FL

I've posted several shots from this fountain while the water was running and nighttime shots a while back in this blog, but never any detailed shots.

This fountain is located at the entrance to the Safety Harbor Marina on Bayshore Boulevard in Safety Harbor and the sculpture is one of the best I've seen. This is only one of the avian sculptures in the fountain. It is most likely a Great Blue Heron. I'm judging that by the feathers at the back of his head.

The shape of the bird is similar to the Great Egret, but the Great Egret has no feathers at the back of their heads. The detail is phenomenal and it's one of my favorites of all the fountains I've seen.

Of all the various subject matter that I photograph for personal leisure, fountains and bridges are probably my favorite with birds running a close second. This combines both.

Settings used for this image are as follows: ISO 200, 1/400 at F4.0 on a sunny afternoon, just prior to sunset. I added 1 2/3 exposure compensation because it is backlit by the sky in the background and I wanted to preserve the detail. I used aperture priority and partial metering off the bird, and my focal length was 60mm with my 55mm-250mm zoom lens.