Shoot the Way Your Shadow Goes

March 8, 2019

Mel and I have been out on so many picture walks since we arrived in Florida that it seems like we should be running out of new and interesting things to photograph. It’s definitely true that we’re finding it harder and harder to get pictures of things that we haven’t already seen– but it’s still possible! Today, for example, I saw two new dragonflies I hadn’t seen before (a Scarlett Skimmer and a Pin-tailed Pondhawk), one new butterfly (Horace’s Dusty Wing) and one new damselfly (Mel’s catch: a Rambur’s Forktail).*

But, when neither of us can find something new, we look for ways to take pleasing or interesting pictures of the things we are already familiar with—like the ospreys, green herons, egrets, cormorants, moorhens–and honeybees! Mel and I both enjoy the challenge of seeing whether we can be successful in finding the right settings for the subject at hand– and then holding the camera steady enough to get a sharp picture! It feels like such an accomplishment when we do get it right!

There are so many things I’ve learned along the way just by trial and error—like anticipating my shots. I didn’t used to do that.  If I’m walking into a shady area, I change my settings and then take a few practice shots so that I’m ready if a bird should flutter into view. Conversely, I change the settings again if I walk into sunlight.  I’ve also learned that I need to keep checking the settings on my long lens –making sure that none of the controls have moved accidentally. Too many times I’ve come home gravely disappointed because the ‘sliders’ for Focal Length or Optical Stabilization have moved out of place and the pictures I thought might have been good, are really blurry.

Eastern Pondhawks mating

Of all my little reminders and rituals though, “Shoot the way your shadow goes!” is my favorite. I made it up as an easy and alliterative reminder to make sure that the sun is behind me and my shadow is in front of me for the best possible pictures.

*I identify the birds and bugs we find as best I can using the resources I have available, but if you see any errors, please let me know.

Great White Egret

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