Friday, March 18, 2011

Pic of the Day

  Snowy Egret – Estero Lagoon; Fort Myers Beach, Florida:  After spending a week driving from Fort Desoto in Saint Petersburg south to Sanibel Island, east to Anhinga Trail in the Everglades then North (with stops along the way) to Merritt Island National Refuge, I finally had a couple of mornings of good shooting at Estero Lagoon on by second drive around the state.
   Estero Lagoon begins, or ends, depending on your perspective at the Holiday Inn in Fort Myers Beach.  I arrived at the lagoon just as the sun was rising and was excited to see about fifty or more waders feeding in the shallow waters of the lagoon.
   The morning was perfect.  The sea breeze was cool, and the birds were bathed with the warmth of sunrise light.  More than a dozen species of birds filled the lagoon and each searching and catching food from the shallows.  Spoonbills waded back and forth along the stretch of water in front of my camera while egrets, herons, ibises and shorebirds stalked the waters.  Herons, egrets and spoonbills were catching Sheepshead, each about four to six inches in length.  Ibis were busy gleaning blue crab and least sandpipers were pulling marine worms from the mud. 
  Great opportunities were present at Estero Lagoon and I took advantage of as many as possible.  While I took many shots that I am very pleased with, so many good shots got away.  I was shooting three cameras during the feeding frenzy.  I used a Nikon D300 with a 500mm f4 lens mounted on a tripod.  I also used a Nikon D7000 with a 300mm f2.8 VR lens hand held.  Many of the close up shots were taken with this particular set-up.  I also used a Nikon D3 with a Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8 for shots of birds when the came too close for the other lenses.  And, the birds did come close.  I sometimes moved out of their way instead of them moving out of mine.  The birds seemed to pay me no attention.  I am not surprised since Fort Myers Beach is a popular tourist destination and is heavily used.
   I photographed this Snowy Egret using the D7000 camera and 300mm lens set-up.  I saw the snowy catch the fish and then start flying.  Using a fast shutter speed and panning with the bird I was able to get a focusing senor on the eye which allowed for a tack sharp image.  I shot two frames of the bird as it flew by.  This one was sharp, the first image was slightly out of focus.  The VR (vibration reduction) feature , fast shutter speed, and ability to hand hold the lens made this image possible.

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8, Digital Capture ISO 200,   1/800 sec. @ f8

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