PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Subjects for nature photography, broadly defined, are always present at Woodruff, though if your focus is wildlife, the number and availability of subjects varies tremendously by season and by time of day.   For general habitat and landscape photography, nearly all parts of the refuge are photogenic at the right time of day.   It is generally recommended by most nature photographers that you concentrate your efforts in the first 2-3 hours after sunrise and the last 2-3 hours before sunset to experience the most pleasing light.  Fortunately, this coincides with the peak activity periods of most wildlife species.  Mid-day light, especially in the summer in Florida, is bright, harsh, and overpowering, and typically results in less than spectacular photographs.   Cloudy days can be a welcome exception, when the sky can act like a giant softbox and make mid-day photographs quite pleasing, especially when photographing birds or mammals where subtle colors or details are of interest. 

For specific information on finding individual species, see the Species Accounts section.

My recommendations for equipment are as follows:

Landscape/habitats

  

Tripod - CARRY IT (UGH!) AND USE IT


Lenses - from extreme wide-angle (<20mm) to long telephoto can be useful.   Wide angles are the particularly nice for shots of closed habitats such as the hammocks.   Longer telephotos are useful in taking landscape shots in the open habitats, allowing you to focus on and isolate key habitat components.    Keep in mind that as in most places in Florida, there is virtually no topography at Woodruff; landscape shots with an even horizon bisecting the photograph into two equal halves are usually boring. Try to compose your shots so that there is something in the frame to break up the monotonous horizon.  Long telephoto lenses (>200mm) can be especially useful at sunrise/sunset to isolate the setting or rising sun against silhouetted trees.  Sunsets are often spectacular, and fine shots can be obtained from virtually anywhere. 

 

Wildlife - birds

Long telephotos are key.  Don't expect to get frame-filling shots of any birds (even the larger herons) with anything less than a 400mm (though there are always exceptions).  Longer is better, but also much more expensive and tiresome to tote around.

 

Wildlife - macro

         

Many of the more interesting macro subjects (herps, flowers, insects) will be in the hammocks and closed habitats, so electronic flash with appropriate diffusers/bouncers is often useful.  For animal macros, my preference is for lenses in the 200mm range, though 50-100mm macros are fine for flowers.

About the photographs on this site

I've used a variety of types of equipment over the years, but the majority of shots here were taken with Nikon equipment.  Although I shoot digital these days, nearly all the photos on this site were taken on slide film.   Equipment for most of these shots was the following:

N70 bodies
24-120 mm Nikkor
200 mm f4 Nikkor Micro
400 mm f5.6 Sigma APO
1.4x Sigma Teleconverter
Nikon SB-28 Speedlight, SC-17 connecting cable,  Lumiquest Pocket Bouncer and Mini-Softbox
Bogen/Manfrotto  3221 tripod
MC-10 Remote release

Most of the photographs here were taken on Fuji film, including Velvia (landscapes, macros), Sensia, Astia, or Provia F, and a few older slides are Kodachromes.  All were scanned with a Nikon Coolscan V Scanner, and processed and sharpened in PaintShop Pro or Nikon CaptureNX2.

Lake Woodruff Home   Directions/map    Habitats   Seasonal Calendar   Species Accounts  Peter May Home Page