I had a really nice morning earlier this week out at Fort Desoto park in St. Petersburg FL. Dick and Vicki from DVWildlife.com (they run the Eagle photography tours in North Florida) came down the day before and we met up for a morning shoot. I really like this time of year because the sun comes up after the park opens, so it gives me a chance to work some warm soft light photos and some pastel colors.

I even work some backlighting spots as the sun comes up, which is always fun for a few reasons. Of course the wonderful (and different) photos are a great reward for working the backlit areas. But one of my favorite experiences is listening to other photographers walk by me just about every time I do this. They either make a comment out loud “Don’t know what you’re going to get… you’re shooting right in to the sun”, or whisper to their friends (which I can usually hear), “that guy is shooting right in to the sun… doesn’t he know he’s not shooting on the correct sun angle?”. I just smile and nod my head and say good morning 🙂 But that’s probably a post for another day when we can talk about breaking the rules a bit. Anyway… back to Desoto park, and getting there early.

See, Ft Desoto Park opens at 7am. And for much of the year the sun rises before the park even opens. But right now it actually rises 30 minutes later. So it gives you plenty of time to get in, parked, and walk to some nice spots to get some of that early soft light and pastel colors. Next month, after the time change, we’re going to lose the pre-sunrise times for about 30 days, but it’ll be back to rising after the park opens in December for a few months.

Actually, the other morning was really nice because there were some low level clouds too, so that gave us diffused light on and off for about 2 hours. And the winds were perfect. Coming right out of the east for the most part, so I have a ton of in-flight shots too. Overall it was a great morning, and I got to talk to some really nice people out shooting too 🙂

Preening Shot

I don’t often post preening photos, but I liked this one. Still has nice eye contact with the Great Egret and the soft glow, with the whites almost blending in to the background, look perfect.

Sony Alpha 1 + 200-600mm | f/6.3 | 1/1600th | iso 1250

Gear, Settings and Post Processing

I used my Sony Alpha 1 with the 200-600m lens. I had my camera set to AF-C, though AF-S would have been fine here since it wasn’t moving much. I was using Zone Auto Focus (center position) and the Bird Eye feature was engaged at the time. Though it wouldn’t have made a difference if it wasn’t on at all since I was far enough away from the egret that it would have all been in focus.

I was on Manual Exposure mode at f/6.3, Auto ISO which was at 1250, and 1/1600th sec.

Post processing was done in Lightroom for exposure, cropping, color and toning corrections and a quick trip to Topaz DeNoise AI for some noise reduction. (more on Topaz here)

As always my editing is covered in my Wildlife Editing Secrets Course. Also, you can find links to all of my gear, computers, hard drives, etc… over on the Gear page which can be clicked on in the top menu (or just click here). And it’s always appreciated if you use the links on that page (even if you’re not purchasing that specific item) when buying anything. It doesn’t cost you a penny and it’ll help me out a bit ?

And if you want to learn more about actually photographing the birds, check out my newest release “Matt’s Guide to Bird Photography”. People absolutely LOVE this course!



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