Sunday, May 8, 2011

Summer is here

And that means more time on Biscayne Bay. It's been over five months since I had seen the bay near the Deering Estate. Going there this morning was the first day of my summer and I can't think of a better way to spend a morning than on Biscayne Bay. It Mother's Day and it seemed very quiet at 6:45 am at the launch site. With a mostly cloudy sky, the sun shown on the horizon only for a short while before it hid behind a large splay of clouds that would disappear an hour later. Low tide was about 8 am, so I expected to see birds on the water.

I headed toward the bird rookeries with calm waters and barely a breeze. There were a few wading birds, a great blue, a great egret and not much else. Ibis and cattle egret flocks flew over and cormorants were flying about. Once at the rookery, I noticed that my rookery island was no longer being used by the cattle egrets, or any egrets from what I could tell. Only cormorants were nesting. It was 3 years ago that I spent many mornings at this little island photographing cattle egrets and cormorants. For the past 2 years, I have had little opportunity to photograph the white birds. Now this year, the egrets are no longer using the island. Seems the cormorants have taken over. Such is life in the city.

I paddled the short distance over to the other rookery islands that are not located in as secluded an area as the previous island. There are 3 tiny islands separated only by about 15 feet from each other and this is now where the egrets are nesting. I caught on to them a couple years ago, but this is not my favorite place to hang out and photograph, so I don't come here often. First, the islands are adjacent to a boat channel, although not often used. And the lighting is such that I need to anchor on the channel side, rather than the more protected west side. Second, the water is relatively deep, so anchoring is the only way to go; the stake out pole is useless here. And third, it is close to several condominium buildings, thus lacking privacy.

Once I got over my complaining, I was glad that the sun was no longer hidden in clouds. The morning was not burning white light yet, so there was a good hour of warm morning light to play with. Cattle egrets mostly, but several tricolor herons were flying about, often with sticks. There were many cormorants here, but clearly, the egrets outnumbered them. Once I got the birds' flight patterns figured out (of course they altered them as soon as I arrived), I stayed in one or two spots for awhile and captured some incoming flights. Here are a few shots of the day.

Later, I paddled past the cormorant island and then headed over to the sponge farm where several cormorants were resting. The sun was high and it was time for some high key photos. Looking for the right cormorant wing spread or combination of birds on sticks, I staked out and captured some shots. This has been a fun experiment lately and the black and white images have turned out quite well. These shots, by the way, are pretty much what came out of the camera. I overexpose by 1 2/3stops or more. Depending on how rough the water is, I may have to remove some blue streaks from the water area in post processing. For fun, I played around with some of the artistic filters in photoshop. The second one you see below has a filter added to it, rendering the subjects completely black.

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