Friday, May 1, 2009

Florida Birding & Foto Festival - One Week Later...

Well, I had the best of intentions of blogging from the festival with my latest pictures. I should have known that the time I was participating in the events, my driving time, and the time involved in reviewing/editing pictures would prohibit much of anything else. I didn't want to waste a moment of my field time, and the number of images I came back with is staggering. Finally, I have a days worth ready to share.

My second day of the festival was primarily in the field. I started with a morning long visit to the Jacksonville Zoo, featuring their wood stork rookery. What an amazing place for a bird fan. It was fascinating to watch them nesting and caring for the babies. I could have stayed there all day. If I lived in Jacksonville, this would be one of my regular haunts, at least during nesting season.

The woodstorks weren't the only birds to be seen there, of course. These are a few others that I came across that day.

After four hours at the zoo, I drove the hour (plus) down south of St. Augustine for a workshop on some tips for bird photography. The speaker talked about all kinds of gear and how to approach the birds to get a great shot. PATIENCE is the's that simple. I learned that the truly great wildlife photographers are either the most patient people on the planet, or they know all kinds of tricks to stage a shot. Personally, I'm disappointed to think that some of the photos that have wowed me in the past were not a spontaneous capture, but a well thought out staging. I was naive, I guess. One speaker talked about going out into the wild where he knew there were eagles and throwing fish into the lake in front of his camera. They would swoop down and grab the fish right where he wanted them...and that's how he got the shot. It kind of bursts your bubble, doesn't it.

I wrapped up Tuesday with a four hour field shoot at the beach. They drove us out in pickup trucks and when we spotted interesting birds, we'd all pile out and start shooting. I got some decent images, but I felt like a rank amateur. There were at least a dozen guys with HUGE lenses on their cameras. They had them mounted on a dish type support that held the camera low to the ground and could be pushed through the sand. This would allow them to belly crawl slowly toward the birds like GI Joe. It looked kind of hysterical really, and I didn't mind that I wasn't prepared to crawl through the sand. I did fine kneeling behind my tripod with the other less experienced avian paparazzi. It was a beautiful night and we were out until we could see that the tide was about to render the beach impassible. I returned to my sister's that day with three 4 gig cards FULL...and a lot of work to do.

Aren't these terns a riot?!? I think they look like they're both wearing a bad toupee!

I'll be posting more images on my blog 'In My Dreams I Can Fly...,' tonight if I have the time. If not, they'll be there sometime tomorrow.


nance said...

EEEK! I can't believe these awesome shots Kat. Well actually I CAN believe them. You took them and they are brilliant! Can't wait to chat soon.
Love you,

MariesImages said...

These are all amazing shots, Kat. They are so crisp & sharp, the texture in the feathers are perfect. Excellent color & composition. Over all, magnificent!!
I am always amazed at the clarity of your shots, but this time....even more so.

Helen said...

Great shots. The third one down looks to be the Green Heron. I have seen these before. I have been reading some bird blogs and have enjoyed reading them. I like those blach headed terns LOL. Helen

Vicki said...

Kat, fascinating story of your adventures in bird photography...and awesome photos, as always. I'd love to know what the 5th photo is...maybe a bird I've seen but from a different angle? Interesting comment about being disappointed that photographers stage a lot of their photos. I had always assumed there was a trick to some of the really incredible photos captured by the likes of Art Morris. Thanks for sharing such an interesting, well-written story, Kat.

gina said...

i don't care how big or expensive those guys lens' way could they top what you've got here! wonderful clarity, color and composition. i love them all.