If you’ve been a long time reader of my blog you know that I don’t claim to be the world’s best bird photographer. In fact when people see me walking around with my camera, I get asked, “What kind of bird is that?” I smile and simply reply, “A white bird” or “A black bird”. I know a few, but I’m no Audubon person, that’s for sure. When I first got started in photography that is what I shot was birds, birds and more birds. I generally don’t go out looking for them as I’m kind of birded out (however I do like to photograph raptors such as hawks and eagles). If I’m out and about and there is an interesting bird, then I’ll photograph it.
When folks come to Florida to photograph birds, I’m sure Ollie’s Pond in Port Charlotte, Florida isn’t on their list. Most folks never heard of Port Charlotte. Just for reference if you don’t know where it is, Port Charlotte is located between Sarasota and Fort Myers. So what’s the deal with this “Ollie’s Pond”? I live about two minutes away from this location. It’s a popular spot to take a walk and be in the quiet and get away from it all. There are different kinds of birds that come here to make it their home. I never know what I’m going to see so I like to take my camera just in case.
Speaking of the camera, what did I use for these shots? Awhile back, my 400mm found a new home so I’m now using my next longest lens, my Nikon 70mm-300mm. I really like this lens as its light, fast focusing and sharp. This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t want a Nikon 800mm! (This is where we take a donation to see if we can get close to the $18,000 price tag!) I have the camera set up for burst shooting and I like to shoot in manual mode. This way I know exactly what the camera is shooting at and there won’t be any surprises when I get home. Some folks that I run into think manual is this big scary hairy creature in the dark corner of the room. It’s pretty fluid when you practice, the big suggestion I could give someone is to learn where the buttons are on your camera. This will make your life much easier when you need to make a setting on the fly. One of the settings that I make sure is set correctly is my shutter speed. I like to be over 1/1000 if possible. Anytime you want to ensure that you are going to get a sharp photo, shoot over the focal length of your lens. For example, since I was using a 70-300, most of the time I was at 300mm. Since I’m on a crop sensor camera, I have the field of view of a 450mm lens (300 x 1.5 = 450). Since there isn’t a 1/450 shutter speed, I need to make sure I’m at 1/500 or faster. This is a neat little trick that you can use to make sure your going to get a sharp photo. This is also why if you have a bridge camera where it has a long zoom on it, that they can produce blurry photos. The Canon SX50 for example has the equivalent of 1250mm. This means that the lowest shutter speed that one should use is 1/2000 due to their sensor size. Nikon just released a camera that has the equivalent of 2000mm! As you guessed, I would want to be up around 1/4000 for this camera. There better be a lot of light or use a high ISO.
As I walked around the pond, I noticed some new birds that I had never seen before. Since I’m bird stupid, I sent these off to my good friend to knows birds and volunteers at the local wildlife center just to make sure we had the names right.
Everyone needs a few bird butt shots in their collection. The color was just beautiful as the late afternoon sun was dropping down for the day.
This guy caught my attention from across the pond as his hair looks like mine when I get up in the morning. I like to crop my photos so the subject has room to move in the frame, something I picked up in design school.
As I was walking around the pond I heard this loud chirping noise. I came upon this little black bird with an attitude problem. I’m not sure if this is her nest or just a piled up bunch of weeds. I wanted to use the reflection as an additional composition tool, but as you can see the lovely water isn’t so lovely.
This Little Blue flew on a stick right in front of me. I think he wanted a good spot to look at the fish in the pond. The afternoon sun kind of hides his blue color, but that lens rendered him razor sharp.
There was a group of these ducks around the pond and they are doing a lot of flapping their wings like they were ready for take off, but they never left the ground. I guess they failed flight school. I was lucky to get this shot as every time I was getting ready to shoot they would all flip their butts in the air. I have a couple of those but I thought I would spare you!
So there you have it. If your ever in the Port Charlotte area, stop by Ollie’s Pond and take a few photos. This is a county park and is kept up well. Nice place to take a walk and is dog friendly if you would like to bring fido. Just bring a long lens and watch your shutter speed and all should be well.
Until next time…
Keep Your Glass Clean