Sunday, July 03, 2011

July 3rd Tallahassee Trip

A Distant View #2
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
We spent the morning working, then we went to visit Wakulla Springs and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge on Apalachee Bay.

So Megs, the wife and I drove out to experience native Florida, away from theme parks and all the artificiality that soaks through a lot of Florida. St. Marks is a real jewel. Just like with Wakulla, I have to give credit to Megs for finding and sharing St. Marks with us. Megs discovered these parks and so much more as she was discovering how to document the world with her photography.

Although we went to Wakulla first, I'm going to start off with St. Marks. I'd been to Wakulla once before to see the manatees earlier this year. The visit to St. Marks is my first. And I regret, after all these years and all these trips to Tallahassee, that I never knew this was here before today.

Most folks when they go to St. Marks go to the lighthouse. I did that, and even took a few photographs. But I spent the majority of my short time there looking at the various environments there, the various pools and marshes and hardwood swamps that line the road leading to the lighthouse.

When we got to the entrance to the refuse I drove us slowly up the access road to the lighthouse where we stopped. Megs and I got out to do a little photography. Megs knew what she wanted to work on. I just wanted to wonder about a bit and enjoy the scenery.

This little guy came up out of the Gulf shoreline and went around my feet on the shore. I played "target practice" with my E-3 and 50-200mm, using him as the target. He eventually went back into the water, where I finally took this particular photo.

Fiddler Crab
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

I found the behavior of the dragonflies particularly interesting. There was a nice constant breeze coming on-shore from the Gulf. The dragonflies would alight at the top tips of these dry stems, and then would face into the wind like living wind socks. While I only show two here, they would cluster together thick enough that they would fill the tops of the tall dry plants. The problem was that every time I tried to get close enough to use the 50-200mm effectively at 200mm, I managed to chase many of them off.

Blowing in the offshore breeze
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

So now we come to the first place we stopped, Wakulla Springs.

I wanted to try my hand at wildlife photography again, especially birds. I too the boat tour and carried the E-3 with 50-200mm and the E-P2 with 14-42mm. I needed to practice using the combination. I was not satisfied with my last Wakulla Springs "expedition". Although I feel I improved a bit from the last time, I still need a lot of practice.

Blue heron
Wakulla Springs

I also realize I need to invest the EC-14 telephoto extender. I need that extra reach (about 160mm effective focal length) so that I can stand back from wildlife a bit more yet still fill the viewfinder with the subject. The 50-200mm makes an excellent utility telephoto zoom, but using it out in the field for certain wildlife subjects is stretching its abilities a bit too far at times.

I also need to rent a canoe and try this further up the river, where I can slow down and photograph. It's tough trying to photograph a moving subject when the boat your sitting in is also moving at a fairly good clip in a direction different from the subject.

Gray Bird
Wakulla Springs

I found a few disturbing scenes at Wakulla. The first was this alligator nick-named Shaft. Shaft got his name from the broken-off arrow somebody shot into him from a bridge running over the Wakulla Springs River. Such great sport. Everybody's afraid of the gators, but they're nothing compared to a mean and stupid human being with a bow.

Shaft
Wakulla Springs

The second view is this charming group of swimmers jumping into the springs itself. Turns out that if there's a manatee in the area they try to jump on top of it. Such great sport.

Clutching the family jewels
Wakulla Springs

Too bad the gators can't evolve into something a bit more lethal, a bit more cunning, and go after the humans. They don't seem to bother the manatees, which is interesting. But then the manatees are victims of us humans as they are.

Technical

A mix of E-1, E-3, and E-P2. I came loaded with everything, and I used as much of it as I possibly could. You can click on the images to check their particulars if you wish.

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