Florida Birding Near Orlando

This article is about birding in Florida, where I will share my birding photography techniques and discuss some of the best birding spots in Central Florida, near Orlando. The below pictures are from my most recent trip to Orlando – the best bird images can be found in my Bird Gallery.

Florida Birding

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Great White Egret in Flight

I have just finished reviewing images from my recent trip to Orlando and I will be posting some images of birds tomorrow. I figured it is a good time to do it now, since I will be heading back to Orlando next week again. Here is one of my favorite shots:

Great White Egret in Flight

This above image was shot with the Nikon D3s + Nikon 300mm f/4.0 AF-S lens with a Nikon 1.4x TC @ 420mm. To freeze the bird in flight, I had to use a shutter speed of 1/1600 of a second at f/5.6 aperture (wide open with the 1.4x TC). ISO was set to “Auto ISO” with minimum shutter speed set to 1/1600 and maximum ISO set to 6400 and I shot in Aperture Priority mode. As for metering, I used spot metering – my normal metering mode when shooting birds.

iPhone Panorama

While driving through a local state park with my family, I saw this beautiful sunset and decided to take some pictures of it with my iPhone (I know, I left the real camera at home). I took a few shots and then realized that the scene did not quite fit the frame, so I put the phone in vertical position and took a few vertical shots using the same technique I describe in my “Panoramic Photography Howto” article. The only problem was, I could not lock the exposure or change white balance on the phone… So, here is the result:

iPhone Panorama

iPhone Panorama

I stitched the panorama in Adobe Photoshop CS5, then brightened up the grass a little and slightly increased contrast. I think the result is OK, although the colors are a little out of whack…still not bad for a crappy phone camera (the new iPhone 4G is supposed to have a much better 5 megapixel camera). As Chase Jarvis puts it, the best camera is the one that is with you :)

Puerto Rico and Sand Dunes

Two more wallpapers from Puerto Rico and Sand Dunes for those who want to download and use them as backgrounds. Both panoramic images were shot hand-held with the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G and stitched using the method described in my “Panoramic Photography Howto” article.

Puerto Rico Wallpaper

1) Puerto Rico 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

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Puerto Rico – Part 3

This is the final part of my trip to Puerto Rico and the last images from the beautiful Old San Juan and the fort. Part one can be found here and part two is here.

The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G is very wide on FX – so wide, that it can fit lots of foreground in the frame. On one side, it is very nice, because you can highlight the front objects, but at the same time it can be a little negative, since it makes background objects look tiny. Here is where a large cannon used to stand before:

San Juan #18

And by walking a little closer to the shore, I got this beautiful view:

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Puerto Rico – Part 2

After a long delay, I’m now trying to sort through some of the images from San Juan. Although I only shot for a couple of hours, the day was just beautiful and opportunities for photography were limitless. Old San Juan is a beautiful place and I was amazed by its history, size, textures and colors.

As far as gear, I mainly shot with the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G and both turned out to be excellent for street and architectural photography. The body was my favorite Nikon D700.

Beautiful streets of Old San Juan:

San Juan #1

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Sand Dunes Sunset Panorama

Looks like I did manage to capture a single landscape image from the last visit to Sand Dunes, where Sergey and I had some fun taking pictures of aerial kicks. I thought nothing good would come out, since it was extremely windy and there was too much dust and sand in the air.

Sand Dunes Sunset Panorama

The above is a panoramic image that I shot hand-held with the 24mm f/1.4G. It did not get stitched properly due to parallax errors, but the bad stitches are not that visible because of the moving sand. The 24mm was not wide enough for a single shot and I knew that it wouldn’t work, but I only took one lens with me and I did not have much choice…

I will soon write an article about Panorama stitching techniques, where I will go into more details about the above problem.

Puerto Rico – Part 1

It all started with my flight from Denver to Atlanta, where only about 10 passengers in total boarded the plane. It was an early flight, but a very pleasant one, since I got to sit where I wanted and really enjoyed the flight in a very quiet environment. After arriving to the busiest airport in the world, I thought things would change, but they didn’t – only quarter of the plane to San Juan was occupied, which was once again very nice.

San Juan through clouds

After the plane landed, I headed off to a shuttle that drove us from San Juan to El Conquistador Resort in Fajardo, which took about an hour.

The resort looked beautiful and once I got off the bus, I took a picture of a fountain that was sitting right outside the main entrance to the lobby. I really wanted to test the sharpness of the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G, so I took a few shots at different apertures. This one was taken at f/8.0 and I highly recommend seeing the full version here (6.6 Mb).

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Pics from Puerto Rico

Despite bad weather and very limited amount of time, I somehow managed to capture over 1000 images in Puerto Rico. It took me a while to go over everything and pick the images I like the most, so I now need to extract a few images and post them here :)

I took three lenses with me to Puerto Rico:
1) Nikon 24mm f/1.4G
2) Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G
3) Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II + 1.7x TC

I tried to use the 24mm f/1.4 the most in different lighting conditions and apertures. Despite what others are reporting about this lens, specifically its focusing issues, I have not seen a single image where the focus was incorrect. Whether I shot something up close or a distant object, all images came out tack sharp from center to corner, as reported in my Nikon 24mm f/1.4 Review. Not sure if there is a batch of bad 24mm lenses out there, but mine is working flawlessly and I did not notice any problems at all.

Here is the first picture I took at the El Conquistador resort in Puerto Rico:

El Conquistador Pools

And the last image of the resort on the day of departure:

El Conquistador

The above image is a panoramic image stitched with 4 vertical images. I did not have to correct any distortion issues before stitching the panorama and Photoshop did a pretty good job in aligning everything together. More to come!

Western Meadowlark

My last image of the Western Meadowlark did not come out so well, so when I saw one today I decided to take a picture and see how it comes out. I think this one is better, with that green grass in the background. Spring almost seems to have made to Colorado, but as soon as I plan to go and take some pictures of the blooming trees, it freaking snows (it is currently snowing outside again). It will be cold and windy this weekend and I’m hoping for a better weather next weekend, because I have 5 wide-angle lenses to test!

Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark