Friday, November 5, 2010

Florida white tailed deer

White tailed deer are quite common in Florida, though seldom seen in the cities. I have lived in Clearwater for nearly ten years now and have yet to see a deer within 5 miles of my home. I spend a lot of early morning and evening hours out and about with my camera at parks in the area, prime times and places, and still have never seen one. I include the neighboring communities of Seminole, Largo, Pinellas Park and the beach towns of the barrier islands in this lack of deer sightings.

Driving a little farther north to rural Pinellas County, east and north of Tarpon Lake, and I see deer on nearly every trip. This morning I made the 25 minute trip to John Chestnut Senior Park on East Lake Road on the southeast corner of Tarpon Lake. I arrived just after sunrise on a cloudy, cool and blustery day. I saw more than 30 deer during my 1 ½ hour stay, most visible from paved park roads and unafraid of passing vehicles.
This visit also gave me a look at the largest buck I have in Florida to date. He was quite an impressive specimen. He was so busy with his harem that he barely paid any attention to me. The girls were all much more interested in breakfast than one more person with a camera.
Brooker Creek Preserve on Keystone Road, a little farther north and east, is another place I consistently see white tailed deer. Early morning and evening, dawn and dusk, are by far the best times to be out if you want to see these great animals. Florida’s population is so dense, particularly in my home county of Pinellas, that the animals are generally quite used to vehicles and people on foot. As long as movements are kept slow and deliberate and not overtly aggressive, the deer will normally allow quite a close approach. This makes photography much easier and more intimate.
The photos illustrating this post were taken this morning. Digital ISO was set to 800 and lens aperture to f/5.6 for the low light level(cloudy dawn). Shutter speeds were still in the one second range for these photos. A tripod was used and image stabilization was turned off. In this type of situation I like to shoot in bursts of 2-3 shots. Approximately one shot out of ten was useable because of subject movement during the long shutter speed. Fine detail suffers at this high ISO with my Digital Rebel XSi but many newer cameras do a much better job at even higher ISO speeds.

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