Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Out of the canoe and on the trail

Only about 2 or 3 times a year do I get to the Anhinga trail. It lacks the solitude of being in the canoe, but I do love the bird and gator activity that can be seen up close and personal. I like coming here primarily for one reason, I can experiment with and practice taking bird portraits. I rarely get that opportunity in a canoe. What am I saying, I never get that opportunity. On the anhinga trail, you can get so close to a cormorant that you can outline your reflection in its cyan eyes. And let's not forget the vultures. With plenty of them around, they are excellent subjects. With the right light they have a twinkle in their brown eyes, it's irresistible.

The cormorants were the subject of the day for me. Many anhingas had begun nesting, but none were in good light or position to be photographed today. I spent time with the cormorants who were mostly obliging. On the trail, there are some challenges to photographing even a very cooperative bird. First, the wood fence that gets in the way. It casts shadows and often prevents you from getting a good angle. The other challenge is background. The tall saw grass is a beautiful background with the morning sun, if you can get it. Lighting is also a challenge in the morning. On the paved trail, you have to shoot at a sharp angle toward the water for instance.

And then there is the depth of field issue that comes with close ups. Today, I wanted speed, so I settled with low dof, at f5.6. I went for the preening cormorant pose and tried to capture it as the bird's head, beak and feathers were all on the same plane of view so as to get it all in focus.

I spent less than 2 hours on the trail, but enough to make me want to go back there sooner than later. But first, we have our upcoming new years eve everglades trip. Hoping to spend some quality time with the white pelicans near Turkey Key. In the meantime, here are some photos from the Anhinga Trail.

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