Happy Birthday Lee!

Another hot day here in Venice, FL with temps in the mid 80sF and still no rain in the forecast, so no complaints here at all.  We were invited out for dinner at Myakka River Oyster Bar tonight in celebration of Lee’s birthday.  The food was wonderful and we got a table overlooking the Myakka river too.  Chris had her favorite – fish & chips – while I tried the grilled grouper with wild rice and coleslaw.  We’d definitely do that again. Earlier today, Chris found a good hair dresser nearby and spent a couple of hours there this afternoon before we all went for supper.  That is one of the hardest things we find while traveling in an RV, finding a good barber and hairdresser.  Admittedly, for the guys a barber is pretty easy to find, but finding a good hairdresser for the ladies when you are new to an area can certainly be difficult.  Our neighbor suggested one place she has been going to for almost twenty years but Chris likes to actually see the salon before making an appointment.  With a little ingenuity she managed to find a salon online and managed to get an appointment.

I was up early this morning and seeing how we didn’t have much on our social calendar until later today, I packed up my photography gear and headed back to Venice Rookery for a few hours before lunch.  I saw some young great egrets on a nest on the backside of the pond which was kind of cool to see.  I shot for about an hour and was wondering why my images seemed a little fuzzy in the LED screen on the back of camera.  Turned out I had all 45 focal points activated instead of just the central cluster.  Fixed that with a quick adjustment though and I was good to go.  It was pretty foggy for the first hour or so at the rookery so I used my Canon 580EX II flash with Better Beamer to brighten up some images.  I know some of the professional wildlife photographers also use the better beamer when shooting handheld in flight images but I’ve not yet tried that.  Hopefully perhaps while we are here though.

Most of the photographers I see at Venice Rookery seem to concentrate their efforts on setting up immediately in front of the gazebo or at the 9 o’clock position (to the left) of the rookery as these positions are the closest to the nesting area.  I tried some flight shots from the 9′ o’clock position with my 500 mm lens with 1.4x extender.  The birds were flying from the rookery, across my viewing path to a stand of bushes behind the pond, in search of nesting material.  It was just too hard to pan with the birds using my big lens as I was a little too close.  Instead, I moved to the back of the pond immediately behind the rookery and managed to get some good flight shots with the birds basically flying right at me which made for much easier tracking.  Flight photography is definitely a useful skill to have though and of course the only way to get better at it is to practice, practice, practice.  Today’s Flying High shot would have been better with a flash to better illuminate the under wing area but I think it turned out pretty well for a flight shot done with my big lens handheld.

I am most satisfied with Winging It.  This great blue heron flew across my viewing path behind the rookery from left to right but was further away from me than he would have been had I tried the shot from the 9 o’clock position.  The extra subject to camera distance made it much easier to pan with the subject.  I took 5-6 shots as it flew past and this one turned out the best.  I used Color Efex Pro and Viveza 2 for processing in Photoshop CS5 with a very slight crop of the original.


  1. Erin February 25, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    Beautifully done shots. You’ve really landed at a great place for bird photography.

  2. Marsha February 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    Good for you Chris. I think finding a place to get my hair done is my biggest hang up about this lifestyle!
    I can tell you have been practicing your flight photography because it is gorgeous!
    Happy birthday to Lee!