Exploring Florida’s Freshwaters

A Florida manatee floating effortlessly within the gorgeous blue of a north Florida spring: Each winter, 1000’s of manatees journey into springs and rivers across the state to flee frigid coastal temperatures. The springs stay a continuing 72°F 12 months spherical, the proper manatee sauna. Fisheye lenses work finest for manatees, as not solely are manatees huge, they’re typically pleasant and can come proper as much as you. It is very important remember that not each manatee is thinking about an interplay and be aware and respectful of that truth. Anticipate a pleasant manatee to interact you on their phrases (Nikon D700, Nikon 8–15mm f/3.5-4.5 fisheye, Zen 230mm dome, 2x Retra Flash strobes)


For good cause, most divers and underwater photographers visiting Florida head proper for the world-famous Blue Heron Bridge, or the sharks of Jupiter, or maybe the reefs of the Keys. Nonetheless, to disregard Florida’s unbelievable freshwater ecosystems can be a mistake. From lakes and ponds to crystal-clear springs and blackwater rivers, the variety of habitats for freshwater life within the state is superb. Lots of of fish species, reptiles, vegetation, and naturally, the a lot cherished manatee, name Florida’s freshwaters house.

By far my favourite lenses for photographing the freshwater realm are wide-angle lenses, particularly fisheye lenses. Nothing exhibits off an setting like a fisheye, and whereas there are, after all, macro alternatives available, the wide-angle alternatives are much more impactful and quite a few in my expertise. Freshwater environments typically present much less house for maneurverability, so maintaining your rig as compact as attainable will be invaluable for creating pictures. Maybe probably the most essential bit of drugs for taking pictures in recent water is definitely extremely low-cost—strobe diffusers. Most freshwater fish are extremely reflective, and until you’ve got a strobe that naturally has a really large beam unfold, hotspots can damage many a freshwater fish picture.

Whereas sure freshwater animals like manatees or snapping turtles typically present curiosity and can strategy the digicam, the overwhelming majority of freshwater topics in Florida require a way more affected person strategy. Many fish can solely be photographed throughout their breeding exercise, as they are going to be completely distracted and nearly oblivious to the presence of a photographer. The pictures of the largemouth bass under, each the courtship and egg guarding, are examples of this sort of habits. Analysis forward of time to seek out out when your goal species is spawning or guarding eggs is extremely necessary close to photographing freshwater fish. It is going to be an train in frustration in any other case!

The hope by placing this small portfolio collectively is to point out divers that maybe it’s price spending a number of further days on their subsequent Florida go to devoted to freshwater diving and pictures. Simply watch out of the gators! None are featured right here, however nearly each physique of water within the state performs host to those toothy buddies!


Arguably the good turtle on Earth, the alligator snapper: That pink worm-like factor in its mouth is definitely a lure it’s going to wiggle round whereas ready for unlucky fish to swim immediately into its guillotine jaws. Whereas they’ll often be present in springs, alligator snappers are far more continuously present in blackwater, murky, creepy rivers and creeks. With a fisheye lens, it was attainable to fill the body with the turtle’s enormous head. As a result of the water is so murky, beam restrictors have been used on the strobes in order to not mild up all of the particles and detritus within the water (Nikon D7100, Tokina 10–17mm f/3.5-4.5 fisheye, Zen Mini Dome, 2x Sea&Sea YS-250 strobes with discount rings)


A typical fish in Florida’s rivers, the mosquitofish: They are often discovered by the lots of or 1000’s in sure locations, buzzing about simply beneath the floor. This one simply blew a bubble and seems to be kissing its reflection. The monitoring capabilities of the OM System OM-1 made this picture attainable. Mosquitofish earn their title, continually transferring in unpredictable instructions. The OM-1 locked focus and did a much better job at maintaining the fish in focus than is feasible manually (OM System OM-1, Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro, 2x Ikelite DS230 strobes)


Every winter, Florida gar mixture in springs and rivers to spawn. Among the many most prehistoric wanting of all fish, gar are voracious predators and their mouths are lined with massive, razor-sharp enamel. Regardless of their fearsome look, round divers they’re fairly skittish and really a lot favor to maintain their distance. That is a picture that exhibits off the significance of a fisheye lens in freshwater environments. They help you seize an enormous scene and on this case, give a glimpse all the best way up into the forest above the spring (OM System OM-1, Olympus 8mm f/1.8 PRO fisheye, AOI 4-inch dome, 2x Ikelite DS230 strobes)


A more in-depth have a look at a set of Florida gar from the varsity above, cruising by way of a spring. Utilizing a sluggish shutter pace allowed pure mild to bleed into the body (shaded springs are darkish locations) and let the environment soften right into a painterly aesthetic whereas the strobe mild saved the gar good and sharp (OM System OM-1, Olympus 8mm f/1.8 PRO fisheye, AOI 4-inch dome, 2x Ikelite DS230 strobes)


Maybe not as gnarly because the alligator snapper however no much less charistmatic is the widespread snapping turtle. Snapping turtles typically get a nasty rap as they tend to be fast to defend themselves when on land. Nonetheless, within the water, they’re fairly curious and can typically strategy snorkelers or divers. This particular person could be very well-known within the spring she calls house and is each used to folks and blind, so her inquisitiveness is probably going as a consequence of her lack of ability to see. She has to seek out out what’s round her by getting shut and utilizing her sense of scent. A mini dome is usually a essential device in freshwater environments as house to maneuver will be restricted. It additionally permits for far more impactful close-focus wide-angle pictures. The dome was proper within the face of this huge snapper (Nikon D7100, f/3.5-4.5 fisheye, Zen Mini Dome, Sea&Sea YS-250 strobes)


A largemouth bass guarding a clutch of eggs on the very fringe of a spring: After excavating the nest on which the feminine will deposit eggs, the male largemouth acts as guardian. He’ll vehemently defend the nest in opposition to any intruding fish. Curiously, bass appear to know divers pose no risk and can enable an in depth strategy whereas they’re on their nest. However any fish that comes inside a number of ft will instantly be chased away. Whereas this fish was straightforward to strategy as a result of it had eggs, the Nauticam Prolonged Macro Broad Lens (EMWL) proved invaluable for getting a really low, nearly in-the-nest perspective than might be achieved with a daily fisheye (Sony a7R Mark II, Canon 60mm f/2.8 macro, Nauticam EMWL with 130° optic, 2x Nikonos SB-105 strobes)


A Florida redbelly turtle cruising under the floor beneath a winter cover: Yr spherical, turtles are lively in Florida. Throughout winter months, the colder water temperatures push them into the springs just like the manatees, and they’re typically far more photogenic and approachable in the course of the winter. The chilly retains them much more sluggish than regular. That is one other state of affairs when doing all of your analysis forward of time and understanding reptile habits is effective if you’re going to particularly shoot turtles within the springs. Spring, summer time or fall can be far much less profitable (OM System OM-1, Olympus 8mm f/1.8 PRO fisheye, AOI 4-inch dome, 2x Ikelite DS230 strobes)


A male largemouth bass making an attempt to induce the bigger feminine to mate over a nest he meticulously excavated. For hours, the male bass will court docket the feminine, continually rearranging or clearing out the nest, nibbling her stomach and tail. Mating will happen in only a few seconds earlier than the male spends a number of weeks guarding the eggs after which the newly hatched fry. Many fish are creatures of sample. They’ll return to the identical spot time and again. Whereas these bass swam round, they all the time got here again and interacted in the very same spot over the nest. Don’t attempt to comply with them from place to put; sit in the identical spot and anticipate them to come back to you. This strategy typically permits for higher photos because the fish typically appear to neglect you’re there (OM System OM-1, Olympus 8mm f/1.8 PRO fisheye, AOI 4-inch dome, 2x Ikelite DS230 Strobes)


A photographer traces up a shot on a large widespread snapping turtle rising from the algae. Agricultural runoff and rising water temperatures are leading to massive algal blooms in lots of rivers, creeks and is derived. The algae suffocates and kills lots of the native vegetation and coats the bottoms in a dirty mess. Some springs have escaped this destiny for now, and this snapping turtle didn’t appear to thoughts both the algae or the dome port up in its grill (Nikon D700, Nikonos 13mm RS fisheye, 2x Retra Flash strobes)


The spectacular yellows and oranges of this male bluegill distinction fantastically within the blue spring water. A number of sunfish species will be discovered round Florida, from the diminutive and uncommon bluespotted sunfish as much as dinner plate-sized bluegills. Usually a skittish fish, they are often approached when guarding nests, or as on this case, whereas he picked microscopic meals bits out of the spring boil. One other instance of a tiny dome and compact system coming in clutch. The small measurement made it attainable to get proper up on the bluegill and have the housing on the underside pointed up into the water. With a bigger dome, that wouldn’t have been attainable (OM System OM-1, Olympus 8mm f/1.8 PRO fisheye, AOI 4-inch dome, 2x Ikelite DS230 strobes)


Usually a salt- or brackish-water fish, this gulf pipefish discovered its manner many dozens of miles from the closest salty water. Pipefish aren’t the one marine fish that can typically present up in springs. Stingrays, snapper species, and striped bass can typically be present in Florida’s freshwaters. As with the bass picture above, the small measurement and close-focus wide-angle capabilities of the Nauticam EMWL made the picture attainable. Photographing this picture work with the Olympus 8mm f/1.8 fisheye can be not possible (Sony a7R Mark II, Canon 60mm f/2.8 macro, Nauticam EMWL with 130° optic, 2x Nikonos SB-105 strobes)


An enormous, boat-scarred manatee snuffling round for snacks on the underside of a spring: An unlucky actuality of life as a manatee in Florida is contact with boats. Manatees favor shallow waters, be it rivers, springs or estuaries, and Florida doesn’t undergo from an absence of boats. Virtually each single manatee in sure areas sports activities boat strike associated accidents. This manatee was fairly younger and nonetheless had a vicious prop scar down her facet, clearly seen within the picture (Nikon D7100, Tokina 10–17mm f/3.5–4.5 fisheye, Zen Mini Dome, 2x Sea&Sea YS-250 strobes)


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