The light faded to pastels as the sun dipped behind the clouds, making a threesome composition — heron, gull, sun
and then all cleaned up and out for dinner, we prevailed upon the waiter, like tourists, to take our photo.
Julie Zickefoose, talented artist and writer, came to Sanibel Island, FL for a talk and book signing for her new Letters From Eden book. We went to hear her talk and later hung out and did some photography together, then had dinner. What an enjoyable time!
During her talk, Julie showed some of the wonderful illustrations from the book and read a sampling of entries. The book is a collection of essays that take place over eight years on her "eden", the farm in the Applachian foothills of Ohio that she shares with her husband, children, and, of course, her canine companion and frequent blog subject, Chet Baker the Boston Terrier. Julie is a compelling writer and her essays are richly imbued with her own feelings and reactions to her nature experiences on the farm. Julie had a long line of fans for the book signing.
At the end of the day, I took Julie out for some photography fun at a sunset spot on the end of Sanibel, called Blind Pass. We got there just as the golden orb was sinking into the sea. I noticed a man feeding some gulls (a no-no on Sanibel) but it presented an opportunity for me to try and grab some flight photos of gulls against the rosy-gold glow. For you photography geeks out there I will mention my camera gear and camera settings. I was using a Canon 1 D Mark II camera, sometimes with a 1.4 teleconverter and Canon 300 mm IS lens, hand held. Most photos ranged from 400 to 500 ISO, f 5.6 and from 1/800 to 1/2000 sec.
There was a wonderful Great Blue Heron on the sand, head plumes blowing. The sun began to morph into a half pie as it dipped behind the horizon cloud. Julie, who has a Canon Rebel XTi and was using a shorter focal length lens, was down low in the sand, a good idea to frame birds against a setting sun. One of the great things you can do in lowered light situations is to bump up the ISO setting on your camera. By getting off the auto settings in the camera, onto the AV (aperature priority) setting and opening up the aperture (note: a wider aperature means a lower number, such as 4.0, 4.5 , 5.0, 5.6) more light is let in, shutter speed increases, resulting in less blurry photos. I love to teach others about photography and it was fun to share this information with Julie, who is still a newbie with her camera.
After sunset, we went out to dinner at Traders and had delicious seafood. Julie said she likes to take advantage of all the fresh seafood available here, which is harder to come by in the Midwest. We have alot in common, as we are also in the book business and we, as with Julie and her husband, Bill Thompson, III (editor of Bird Watchers Digest) have land that we love that is rich with nature. We talked about how Julie's learning photography might affect her art — I think it will make her a better artist. Keep on taking photos, Julie!
Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2007