Jay Watcher on Sentinel Lands
On April 29, 2018 I had the chance to photograph wildlife biologist Natasha Lehr. Natasha monitors Florida Scrub-Jays for the Department of Defense at the Avon Park Air Force Range. She is a seasonal technician working for Archbold Biological Station, who is contracted to monitor the jays because of their status as a federally listed threatened species. The Florida Scrub-Jay is imperiled because of habitat loss, which has driven their population down to only 5% or less of what they were one hundred years ago. This Florida-only species (FL endemic) is found on ancient sandy ridges of white sand living in the rare Florida scrub habitat. Though an active bombing range may not seem like the first place to look for endangered species, the sites 106,000 acres is mostly undeveloped and provides some of the highest quality conservation land in Florida.
You can learn more about Florida Scrub-Jays on my website here.
Natasha and I photographed for about 1.25 hours at the end of the day. These two side portraits are similar at first glance, but take a look at the lighting on her face and clothes and you will see they are quite different. The first image is taken in the all-natural glow of the "golden hour" before sunset. The other is taken using an off-camera flash as the primary light source while the sunlight is acting as a highlight. The light in this image does not look natural, but I find I like it more than the first. How about you?