Photographing Beauties And Beasts In Florida; Focus Your Lens On Butterflies, Birds, And Big Cats
Me? I go to Florida to photograph real animals with my digital SLRs. Five of my favorite places to shoot are Big Cat Rescue in Tampa; Butterfly World in Coconut Creek; The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory in Key West; Parrot Jungle Island in Miami; and Wildlife Inc. in Anna Maria.
For shots of the birds and cats, I suggest packing a medium telephoto lens and a long telephoto lens or zoom. I found my 100-400mm zoom for my digital SLR just perfect for shooting in all of the locations (except at Wildlife Inc., where I shot with my 28-105mm zoom). You'll also need a flash for daylight fill-in flash photography. For your butterfly shots you'll need a macro lens and, for the best lighting, a ringlight. Forget your tripod. You can't use it in the butterfly centers. What's more, it's impractical to use a tripod when photographing fast-moving subjects in small areas.
Here's a bit
about each location:
Parrot Jungle Island--You'll find more than 3000 exotic animals and 500 species of plants in this 18+ acre facility. Get there early in the day before busloads of school kids flood the park with their enthusiasm. Skip the "shows" and focus on the parrots and macaws on their perches. Use your telephoto lens and a wide aperture to blur the background for natural-looking shots.
Wildlife Inc.--You'll need to make a personal appointment with Gail Straight, the owner of Wildlife Inc. She has many exotic birds for you to photograph and an orange iguana that's almost 3 ft long. You can get up close and personal with her critters so you don't need a long telephoto lens. A flash, however, will help you get sharp shots of the animals, which are mostly in the shade. Contact Gail through her website for an appointment.
Rick Sammon's 23rd book, "Flying Flowers," will be in stores this fall. For information on Rick's other books and how-to Adobe Photoshop CDs, see www.ricksammon.com.
Parrot Jungle Island
The Key West Butterfly &
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