St. Petersburg

Brown Pelican Bird in Flight St. Petersburg Florida Fine Art Nature Photography

Brown Pelican preparing to dive St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/1250th

Regular followers of my nature posts will know that I am very fond of photographing the many local brown pelicans in my St. Petersburg, Florida neighborhood.  I have not yet achieved my long-term goal of photographing a pelican skimming just over the water, but I was glad to be able to add these images to my pelican portfolio.  On Saturday pelicans were regularly diving out of the sky into the water for fish around The Pier.  Once getting the settings dialed in using shutter priority mode and multi-point focus, it was just a matter of tracking the birds fast enough as they made their dives.

Brown Pelican on an aerial fish survey - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/1250thThis collection of pelican images focuses on the birds as they are about to make a plunge into Tampa Bay hoping to come up with a beak-full of small silvery fish.  Observing a bird's behavior is key to being able to capture the photographs one wants.  I watched where and how they circled and what they did with their wings right before their split second descents.

Brown Pelican wings arced for diving in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/1000thDuring this shoot I also became, at long last, a believer in shutter priority mode.  With the pelicans diving from a bright blue sky background down to the dark waters of Tampa Bay, I knew what shutter speed I needed to freeze their flight, but adjusting the aperture constantly to maintain the correct exposure would have been nearly impossible.  Thus, shutter priority was the best exposure mode to use for these bird-in-flight images.

Brown Pelican hovering before diving in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4.5 ISO 200 1/1250thI also used multi-point focus because I was able for the most part to fill the frame with the pelicans, allowing the 21-focus points to act as a net.  If I could not fill the frame with the pelicans, well, I probably would not even push the shutter, but in that case I would use a single focus point to place right on the bird to distinguish it from any other possible background elements.  In relative close-up shots like these, the multi-focus point setting gave me the best chance of landing a focus point on the subject (pelican) where a single focus point might get lost under a single wing flap.

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  • Starting the week of with a headshot

    On location ( Saint Petersburg) headshot challenging the rules of backlighting with only a SB-600!

    I started off my week by making the very short drive to downtown St. Petersburg for a headshot with Pam.  I met her last week at the new member orientation for the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce.  Networking pays off!  She also invited me to an exclusive meeting for select businesses in the area, with the one catch that it's at 7:15am!

    Pam was a great headshot client.  She knew how to pose without any coaching from me practically.  I just tried to find good backgrounds within her office and also out in the building's elevated walkways.  For the above shot, I thought I'd try to shoot the opposite way one would normally.  Instead of having the subject face the natural sunlight, I chose to use that light as the background.  

    For the shot below, there was this very cool orange wall in Pam's office.  Even though she has red hair, I thought I would again go against the rules and use it as a backdrop for a fun headshot. 

    A funky orange wall made for a very season autumn background.

    RAW Vibes Art & Performance Space Grand Opening

    Cutting the ribbon on the Grand Opening of RAW Vibes Art & Performance Space in St. Petersburg

    Two weeks ago I first met Jeff, the owner of RAW Vibes Art & Performance Space in St. Petersburg.  I showed him some of my haikyo photography from Japan and to my surprise he really liked it.  Jeff quickly began talking about having an exhibition of my work and of RAW Vibes' upcoming grand opening.

    Some of the paintings and photography already on display at the grand opening of RAW Vibes.

    I arrived a bit fashionably late to the grand opening (had to stop at Publix and buy more Gatorade!).  Even from half a block away though I could tell the place was already packed as there were some people also outside milling around.  After meeting Jeff at the door and giving him a small grand opening present (a framed haikyo 8x10 print) and getting a water from the bar (I do not drink), being a relatively shy person I just quietly browsed all the paintings and photographs along the lengthy wall spaces.  After that lap I got the ok from Jeff to start shooting away, and I went right to work and as I raised my D300 to my eye all my shyness went away, as it always does.  I now had a purpose and could stop being in the event and switch to being in the event while outside of it via my lens.  This is how I feel most comfortable at such social gatherings--in them, but not of them.

     The crew that helped get RAW Vibes up and running (owner Jeff, center with hat & white shirt)

    I was mostly on the hunt for candids and interesting angles, but there were a few posed shots like the above one with Jeff and the crew that helped him get RAW Vibes off the ground.  I know the guy on the far left is the photographer whose work was on display, and the guy second from the right was one of thew two DJs.  The guy to the left of Jeff is an illustrator.  

    A flamenco dancer was the first entertainment of the night.

    Jeff gave a short speech thanking everyone who made the grand opening possible and to everyone who came out to show their support.  A small stage was setup and and a flamenco dancer performed several dances which got the people in attendance quite energized.  I was focused on trying to get a good shot switching between full power flash, and a bit of shutter drag as can be seen in the above image.  

    Jeff takes a turn at the turntables to be the DJ for awhile.

    After the flamenco dancing Jeff took over the turntables and did a bit of DJ-ing.  I thought the dark brown wall behind him made for an interesting color background.  Fortunately, he was wearing a white shirt too.  I had to to experiment with angles to get only Jeff in the shot as there were always people ambling in and out of frame.

    Pedro put on a strong spoken word performance ending in two hip hop songs.

    In a very subtle way, all of a sudden Pedro (above) commanded the attention of the crowd with a seemingly out of the blue spoken word performance.  There was quite a diverse demographic on hand from perhaps his usual target audience all the way up to older family members and kids, so it was interesting to see how the words he was spitting fell on the different people in the crowd.  He transitioned into a hip hop performance with a crowd pleasing number with I think his wife rapping back and forth with him during the chorus.  

    David rips into an energetic freestyle in the "Black Box" roomLast but not least for the happening in the main gallery room, was David, a well-known poet in the St. Petersburg area.  I had met him that first night I met Jeff, but this was my first time to hear him speak.  I was immediately impressed as his normal somewhat laid back demeanor dissolved into a rapid-delivery poet of demanding attention.  He gave only a few sentence burst in the main gallery room, and said if you were feeling what he was saying, then join him in the back room, also called the "Black Box" room, a place where Jeff has stated several times there is "no censorship."  A bold performance ensued and I was able to make my best photograph of the evening (above).  

    RAW Vibes Art & Performance Space exterior at 2109 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33713 Although the performances continued on, I made my way home early as is also my custom.  

    RAW VIBES Art and Performance Space info: 

    DSLR Photography Lesson with Cralle & my first hands on Canon experience

    DSLR photography student Cralle & his newly acquired Canon 40DMy advertisement on Craigslist offering DSLR Photography Lessons, which I just put up at 2am last night, has already yielded a student!  Cralle called me this morning and booked a lesson for the afternoon in downtown St. Petersburg.  He said he had just bought a used Canon 40D.  I am of course a Nikon shooter so I did a little research on the controls of a Canon 40D.  

    Cralle was a very good student, asking many questions, and best of all not afraid to ask the same question many times throughout the lesson to make sure he understood it.  As every photographer knows, when you are starting out just trying to get your head around a large aperture being a small number is enough to drive you crazy.  

    What was my experience with the Canon 40D?  I realized I greatly prefer the button layout and ergonomics of Nikon bodies.  I already determined this when I bought my first DSLR (a Nikon D80), but back then I was not looking at bodies in the range of the Canon 40D and my current Nikon D300.  The Canon 40D has only one dial for adjusting settings, and the button to push to adjust settings is on the same side as the dial.  It took some getting used to.

    We ended up having a 2-hour lesson, but the end of which Cralle was catching on to which aperture to use to get a large DoF and which to use to get a short one.  He knew which f-stops to use with the lenses he had and when to use which white balance.  We also tackled ISO and how to use it to increase shutter speed when necessary.  

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    Photo Story: Cotton Candy Man

    If you job is selling cotton candy at parades, how can you not smile?

    When I lived in Japan I was often asked what my favorite food was.  I always answered straight-faced:  watagashi -- which is the Japanese word for cotton candy.  I was only half joking.  It is definitely my favorite candy.  I like the texture, a texture truly fitting its name.  I also like the texture when you squish and roll up a wisp of cotton candy, which makes it hard and almost crunchy.

    I photographed this cotton candy vendor while waiting for a parade to begin in downtown St. Petersburg.  I was surprised to draw his attention from across the street as I photographed him using my Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8 D lens at the full 200mm length.  Him looking into the lens and smiling I think greatly improves what otherwise would have been an anonymous street photography shot.

    Cotton candy is a ludicrous $500 ($5) in Tokyo.  I was disappointed to see that it is still expensive ($3) even in the U.S.  However, no matter what the price, this time, like most times, I could not stop myself from buying a bag.  I prefer pink over blue in case you ever wanted to ever surprise me with some.

    Photo Story: The bird rookery that stinks up millionaires homes

    Photo Story is a new addition to the Jason Collin Photography website.  In these posts I will tell in detail the story about the featured photograph.  That story may be what is actually captured in the image, or the story of what it took me to make the image, or both.

    I was not even sure about this photograph because of the unusual composition I tried with it (framing it with the boat docks).  However, it received no criticisms on flickr even though I asked for them.  I often use flickr to gauge what the general public thinks of my photographs, as what I think is cool is often not necessarily what attracts the most attention on flickr, a more general, albeit informed, photography audience.

    Anyway, the island in the center is a crowded rookery for quite a few species of bird (pelicans, ibises, herons, etc.).  This gathering of birds creates a very large . . . stink.  Even though the island is in fact a good distance from the sidewalk I was standing on, and the houses are further behind a small street, no doubt if you'd open a window the odor would waltz right in.  I have cycled past this island quite a few times, and the wind seems to always carry it in the same direction.  I always think, "these people have million dollar homes, but it stinks a lot of the time."  This fascinates me for some reason.  I like thinking of the conundrum of, "you could be given one of these homes, but you'll have to live with the stink."  I also wonder if the owners of the houses were fully aware of the stink, or if they someone got lucky the first few times they checked the house out and the wind was blowing the other way so they had no idea of the smell until after they signed the deed?  

    The photograph above cannot relay the smell to the viewer, but if you ever find yourself near the Snell Isle area of St. Petersburg, give it a pass by and think if you could make the compromise of living in a million dollar+ house, with the windows closed all the time.  Then let me know what you decide in the comments below.