Saturday, May 2, 2009

Photos | Eyes, ears wide open at Turkey Creek in Palm Bay

You can almost see my reflection in its eye.

When I played baseball in high school, I batted in the leadoff position. Base hits were my specialty. But more importantly, I had a good eye; I could take a pitch or two when needed. Now, I consider my baseball-playing days to have been training for my picture-taking days.

Eager to try my new telephoto zoom lens in a wild forest, I drove southward to Palm Bay's Turkey Creek Sanctuary. I thought it would be a good test of the lens in low light, both because of the dark woods and because I was shooting later in the afternoon, from 5:30 to sunset.

I slowly strolled over the boardwalk, becoming more in tune to the sights and sounds of nature along the way. I noticed the colors of tree lichen or the head of a pileated woodpecker. I heard the rustle of squirrels in the thick underbrush. I recognized the chirp of the cardinal, a bird I desperately wanted to capture. It requires a careful, quiet approach. Hearing cardinals was a clue that I had to slow down and go into stealth mode.

I saw several photogenic creatures Friday. In this post, many are included, except for a few birds and the manatees, photos of which were too dark or too out of focus. The new Sigma 150-500mm lens performed admirably again, though it was insufficient as the sun got lower in the sky.

Maybe sometime soon, I'll return at midday.

The squirrels were photographed at the beginning of my walk, when the sunlight was more favorable for sharper shots.

The squirrels were particularly difficult subjects. It wasn't because they kept running away. Instead, they kept running up to me. The tame animals begged at my feet. My lens will not focus so closely.

This cardinal was deep in the dark woods, so this image had to be cropped tightly. That makes the noise, or graininess, more apparent.

It's important to look everywhere - up, down, side to side - while out taking photos.

I like the color contrasts of this pink lichen coating a tree.

I didn't see any turkeys near Turkey Creek, but the water was teaming with turtles. At this point, the sun was below the tree level and fading fast.

Here is that pileated woodpecker I mentioned. Again, this image is tightly cropped and poorly lit. It's my fault, though: I should have made the trip earlier in the day.

As I was about to exit the sanctuary, my ears heard a rabbit hopping on top of dried leaves. It's the live leaves that distract from the animal in this photo, though.

I like to do interesting things with the camera. This sun-and-leaves effect probably couldn't be achieved as well with my Nikon 18-200mm lens.

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