Sunday, March 14, 2010

Back to Biscayne

This was my first trip to Biscayne Bay since November. I've been craving a Biscayne fix for so long that it didn't matter that the tides were not perfect and that we would have 10-15 knot winds. High tide was scheduled about 9:30 am, which meant that I would see no wading birds this morning. The good news was that the winds were westerly, which meant I would be protected along the bay shoreline. We arrived at Matheson Hammock launch site at 8 am and with the time change, the bright sun ball was fully over the calm water, casting its brilliant oranges. This wouldn't last long as the orange cast turned hot white as the sun continued to rise in the mostly cloudless sky.

By the time I was on the water, the sun felt very warm, not quite hot, but most definitely warmer than its felt in weeks. This was a nice prelude to our up-coming summer days, primarily spent on these waters. I miss those Biscayne summers and with the cold temperatures we've experienced this year, it couldn't arrive soon enough.

Today, I brought the 180mm macro lens for the a700 and the 70-400mm for the a100. I hadn't used the macro lens in months. I had fun using it last summer on the bay taking highkey photos of the mangroves in the water. I thought I would play with that today and maybe see some other interesting macro opportunities in the creeks. Some clouds came over the sky and for the remainder of the morning, the sun went back and forth between full intensity to cloud covered diffuse light. I brought out the flash and used alittle fill for the high key mangrove shots. This was not going to be a morning of bird photography so I hung out with the trees and just paddled around, heading south past the Snapper Creek canal.
As far as birds were concerned, I saw a few brown pelicans silhouetted against the sun as they flew over the bay waters on to some distant point. At one time, I watched a noisy flock of gulls coming from the distant waters. A handful of cormorants could be seen here and there. Along the shoreline, I spotted a few ibises, colored brightly, a couple little blue herons and an osprey or two. I spotted a juvenile yellowcrown nightheron resting on a mangrove root. I captured some flash shots of the bird as it basically stood still, putting up with my presence.

On days like these, you have to be a bit open or creative with photography. Knowing that there would be no exceptional bird photo opportunities, I started looking for other possibilities. With the sun blazing high, the shallow Biscayne Bay water was clear. In some areas, the grasses shown through the water brilliantly with brown and copper tones. The wind was creating vigorous ripples which caused the grasses to blur. This was beautifully seen, so I played around with the macro lens taking some shots of the colorful abstract display around me.

Later, I headed up the creek that eventually leads to the canal. I paddled upwind to an area near some residential homes (very large homes with yachts parked in front). I had already put away the camera but as I leisurely paddled around, I noticed several small jelly fish in the water. They were translucent as they floated, letting the current take them where ever. When close enough to the surface, the creatures glimmered in the light and I could see illuminated threadlike structures that gave the body distinct form. I attempted to photograph them hoping to at least get a good enough shot that would distinguish them from the water. The boat and water movement made it difficult to focus on them. I used manual focus and that seemed to work well enough to at least get some kind of photo. Here are two examples.

Despite the birds looking bored, this morning on Biscayne was classic. It simply felt good just to be out there paddling around. I'm looking forward getting back this summer. In the meantime, there will be more camping trips in the Everglades.

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