Sunny days and blue waters

The past two days in Florida have left us excited as we had some nice morning light for photographing the sandhill cranes at Lake Weohyakapka. I had been told that the previous 10 days had been cloudy and rainy in this region but that the rain was needed due to a drought. Since the nesting crane was comfortable with us, we were able to get close enough to work on headshots without disturbing or distressing it.

Sandhill crane and nest 8698

Image: Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm at 290 mm, f/6.3, 1/1250 sec at ISO 400, hand-held

As I begin to learn more about bird photography, many considerations swirl in my mind as Artie calls out advice and suggestions. For these sunny conditions, Artie advised using ISO 400 and an aperture of f/6.3 with a starting shutter speed around 1/1600. I adjusted from there, trying to make sure that the “whites were not blown out,” as photographers like to say.  For those new to the photography world, this means that I needed to capture enough light to get the details in the white feathers of the birds’s head without allowing too much light into the camera’s sensor that takes away our ability to see the details of the individual feathers.

Sandhill crane adult 8785

Image: Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm at 480 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000 sec at ISO 400, hand-held

We also discussed head angle, an important feature in bird photography.  When taking an image using a long lens that gives us a close up shot of the bird’s head, the depth of field becomes less.  That means it is more difficult to get the whole bird in focus from front to back. Because of this, head angle becomes critical to get the eye and beak in focus.  If we focus on the eye, we want the beak turned just a degree or two towards us so the tip of the beak is in the same plane as the eye.  This allows for an image with sharp focus on the eye as well as the beak, a very pleasing result.

Sandhill crane juvenile 8516

Image: Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm at 210 mm, f/11, 1/500 sec at ISO 1000, hand-held

To learn more about bird photography in greater detail than I can provide at this point, please visit Artie’s blog, Birds As Art Blog, where he gives great daily tips on his images.

Now on to our infamous patient…

I have returned to the basics with Artie, teaching him how to breath differently to help relax his autonomic nervous system.  It has been 6 weeks since I last treated him, so he had tightened up quite a bit after undergoing a procedure and dealing with a few health issues.  Because of this, his body was in a “protective mode” and his muscles had been taught to guard.  He was unaware of this, other than feeling “tight all over” and pain in his certain joints with movement.  We can all relate to how our body feels when we are in the “fight or flight” mode and our body tenses up all over.  Now imagine that your body is in that state all the time and that becomes your new norm.  That is how I found Artie on Tuesday.  After a couple sessions of going through some breathing techniques plus my hands-on treatment to reposition his ribcage and pelvis, he had significant relief.  Yesterday and today, we got him back to something that gives him almost as much joy as photographing birds.  Below is a man whose left shoulder MRI 6 weeks ago showed a full thickness  rotator cuff tear with 3.2 cm retraction and a biceps pulley injury.


Image: iPhone 7 Plus, hand-held by Amy Novotny

He told me, “when I got into the water, I almost cried because I thought I might never be able to swim again.”  Sometimes, alternative healthcare techniques can do wonders to help get rid of pain and restore motion and function.  He wasn’t the only one about to cry when seeing this.  🙂




Author: Dr. Amy Novotny

Amy Novotny is a physical therapist, marathon/ultra runner and nature photographer. She treats patients for a variety of conditions but specializes in chronic pain and calming an overactive nervous system using special diaphragmatic breathing. She has used this technique to help her qualify and run in four Boston marathons! She enjoys the outdoors and can often be found running and hiking on trails in throughout Arizona. She attempts to capture the beauty of nature with her photography both locally in Arizona and also throughout the United States. She is becoming more interested in wildlife photography and attempting to capture the emotion of animal interactions. In her spare time, Amy volunteers as a photo guide for the Arizona Highways PhotoScapes nonprofit and shares her joy of nature with others. Please feel free to contact her regarding her photography, physical therapy or running.

13 thoughts on “Sunny days and blue waters”

  1. You are nailing those birds girl!! The Sandhills headshots are beautiful – sharp, perfectly lit. Rarely can you get that close – or at least to the ones near us. Glad you are getting your “patient” loosened back up!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi,and terrific blog, Amy! So happy to see these graceful and elegant cranes. Neat comments on using the handheld Nikkor telephoto(?) zoom lens. I have been curious about it since reading one of Artie’s recent blog entries also showing crane photos. Artie is really going for it in that pool. All I can say is double WOW. So glad he is feeling better, and needless to say it must be rewarding for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww. Thanks Chris! Yes, seeing all these birds and following his advice on the settings has really helped me get sharp images. I’m going to have to lift weights though to be able to keep a steady arm if I keep doing hand-held!


  3. So enjoying the photos …the eyes if one would could only know what they are thinking….on the other note, so happy for Artie on him able to swim…take care and happy capturing 😊

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You go girl . Thanks for all the info. Can not wait for the next adventure. As for artie by the time the year is over if not sooner he will know what we already know he has a true healing angel by his side.


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