Sunday, a friend and I went up to St. Augustine, or more accurately, over to St. Augustine. Our purpose was to spend a day with Charles Glatzer in his Shoot the Light Technical Workshop session on post production. If you don't know Chas and want to become a better photographer check out Shoot the Light. Ansel Adams was quoted as saying, using an analogy to the music creative process, "the negative is the score and the print is the performance". In digital photography terms the technical side of capturing the raw file equates to creating the negative. There certainly is a lot to know in order to produce a high quality file. But the work is only partially done. The post production process really creates the final image. There are many photographers who shoot jpeg files and put them up on the web. But if you want to produce high quality images you need to know almost as much about computers, software, printers, monitors, etc. as you do about cameras, lenses, flashes, etc.
Since Chas consistently produces images with impact, and since he is constantly looking for new ways to enhance and simplify the post production process, it pays to check him out from time to time. Lately, the focus of his workflow, which used to be almost exclusively Photoshop, now includes Lightroom and his latest fascination, NIK plug-in filters. But enough on this. My purpose for this journal entry is to talk about the photographic opportunities at the Alligator Farm. Every year he puts on a four day technical workshop covering all aspects of the photographic process. The last day is on post processing, which is why we went. It is also scheduled so there are a lot of practice opportunities at the Alligator Farm.
Located on the eastern side of St. Augustine, the Alligator Farm has been around since 1893. They have hundred of alligators, crocodiles and a variety of other animals and birds in a very "old Florida" setting.
While spending time touring the park is fun and interesting, particularly for children, the Native Bird Rookery is quite an experience for photographers. The link has a very good description of what happens at the rookery during the year. Right now there are hundreds of Egrets (of all kinds), Wood Storks, Herons, Roseate Spoonbills and others on nests. Many have eggs, many have young chicks and many have chicks about to fledge. It is quite a visual and aural site to walk along the boardwalk and see all of this just a few feet from the deck. Oh, and if you look over the railing, you will see lot's of gators.
If you go, you really only need a medium range zoom. You will see many photographers with elaborate rigs but they really only get the close ups and portraits. Something in the 70-200 or 70-300mm range will do just fine. If you have a flash, bring it since even in bright light a lot of the nests are in fairly dark shade. As with all wildlife it seems, the best times to go are early in the morning and late in the afternoon. They have a photographer pass available that allows you into the park an hour before and after the regular crowds are in.
St. Augustine Alligator Farm, another Florida tradition. St. Augustine is also the oldest city in the United States and a day or two being a tourist there is also a worthwhile vacation experience.
Th full size gallery from our visit is here.