Four of us made our way over to the east coast of Florida in late April for our annual morning on Blue Cypress Lake. Located near Vero Beach, Blue Cypress is a pristine, very undeveloped lake with a unique attraction: there are over 200 nesting pairs of Osprey populating the Cypress trees growing along the western shore of the lake.
Our trip begins with a three hour drive from Estero, Fl, where we live. We usually go the day before our morning shoot. Booking a room at a hotel near the freeway by Vero Beach puts us less than a half hour from the lake. In the past few years we have gotten there early enough to take a run up to the Viera Wetlands about an hour's drive north. If you go, be sure to visit both the Rich Grissom Memorial Wetlands and the nearby Dan Click Ponds. Both are accessible by car. Some years we have had a great late afternoon shoot, but this year it was pretty sparse. I think I only added a few images to my Viera gallery.
After checking into our hotel and finding dinner in Vero Beach we pack it in. We get up early to be able to be at the Middleton's Fish Camp to connect with our pontoons. Our experience has been that renting a pontoon including a captain makes for more and better photo ops for us. Middleton's is a step back into old Florida. Basically, the only commercial venture on the lake, there are cabins for rent and, it is a popular gathering place. Joe Middleton passed away last year but his wife, Jean, has kept the operation going with what appear to be a steady group of locals. In any event, they are nice folks and interesting to visit with.
This year, our experience was different than the past. It was an overcast day with heavy rains forecast. We usually rent a boat for three hours but this year were only able to use about two of them. At one point along the way the captain said the rains are coming and we need to get back. The first drops came down as we were docking the boat.
Photographically, the light was not as exciting as the low morning sun of previous years. If you peruse the gallery you will notice quite a difference. The early morning and overcast sky caused a lot of high ISO images. I spent a lot of time at 3200 and 6400 ISO to get the 1600th to 2000th shutter speeds I like. Remember, you are on a randomly moving boat photographing from long distances and very often fast moving subjects. Faster shutter speeds are necessary.
This year the environmental images also looked dramatically different with the blue cast of the sky emphasizing the greenery.
After packing up the gear, we drove home in the rain. This is an annual trip for us and I am looking forward to next year. Here is a slide show with this year's images: