If you are looking for Everglades type habitat in the Tampa Bay area, you may easily check out Circle B Bar in Lakeland, Florida. It is a former ranch now used as a wetland restoration project, where some of the used water is naturally filtered until reaching the Lake Hancock. While I tend to prefer beach shore areas, Circle B Bar is a great spot for Limpkins, Purple Gallinules, Green Herons, Ospreys, Red-shouldered Hawks and even occasional Bald Eagles. Good photography opportunities are a bit harder to come by, especially when it comes to create a nice non obstructive background, but with a good eye you may create photographs not as commonly found.
The photograph above is a Green Heron hunting on a dead tree trunk at Circle B Bar, Florida. I always find Green Herons very difficult subjects. They don’t stay put very long, usually close to low brushes, which is not the best for clean background photography: the 4th angle! I was pretty happy to find this one hunting on a lonely branch in the middle of a stream full with small green leaves. Nice! That would make a beautiful Green (Heron) on Green (background). It was a bit difficult to find a low angle though as the stream ledges were very steep. So I went down as low as I dared to create this one. Note that the subject was in the shade and I did not hesitate to push the ISO to 3200 to ensure I would be able to capture potential hunting action. A good way to eliminate the noise when editing the image is to make a selection of the subject that you paste on a separate layer, then apply a surface blur (radius of 1 or 2 pixels, threshold 20) on the first layer.
The photograph above is a Limpkin family crossing the pound. The important thing was not to forget to lower the aperture size (increase the f/ number) in order to increase the depth of field to have everybody in good focus. Another good pointer with multiple subjects is to take many frames, so that you have a higher chance of having everybody with a good head angle!!
The image above depicts a Red Shouldered Hawk on a high perch while looking for its next feeding opportunity. Hawks can be quite difficult subjects as they often perch very high. It is best not to come to close to the base of the tree so that it does not look like the photograph was created too much from below. While it would certainly be ideal to be at the same height while creating the shot, that can only rarely be done for obvious reasons. Just try to find higher ground, shoot from the top of your car or even better bring a ladder! And aim at keeping a height angle lower than 45 degrees if possible.
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