The birds and the beasts
Living in Florida, Daniel Moll is surrounded by hundreds of species of exotic birds, and plenty of land-based wildlife too
Growing up in Pennsylvania, I started learning the art of photography from my father using a Nikon N6006 film camera. It was instilled in me early on to use manual mode to help me be more creative with my photography, and although the new Nikon bodies take great pictures in auto and program mode, I still shoot in manual mode 99 per cent of the time. To be a good photographer you need to learn everything you can about your equipment, and you never stop benefitting from the input of others.
I moved to St Augustine in Florida four years ago, and I’ve been inspired to get out and capture the myriad photographic opportunities in my new environment. Located in the historic district of America’s oldest city, we are surrounded by abundant wildlife, forts, landscapes, beautiful beaches, and – my personal favourites – birds. Florida has hundreds of native species of birds, ranging from small sandpipers to the majestic bald eagle, to which you can add the many species that migrate from the north to our state, where the weather is so much warmer.
My portfolio includes a big variety of subjects, but taking pictures of birds is my passion.
It’s always a huge thrill to see the baby ospreys growing, learning how to fly and preparing to venture out on their own
Although there are plenty of species to choose from, the majority of my time is spent capturing the osprey , a bird of abundant grace and character. I’m captivated by the beauty of these birds as they gather for their daily fishing expedition, and about three hours before low tide I love to watch them hovering over an inlet close to where I live, waiting for the perfect fish to hunt. They start their dive with their talons fully extended, before plunging deep into the water to catch their prey, and it can be comical to watch them fly away hauling fish almost as big as they are!
I visit numerous nests to observe and photograph the adults returning with the catch of the day to feed their chicks. It’s always a huge thrill to see the babies growing, learning how to fly and preparing to venture out on their own. Several times I’ve marvelled as an eagle has attacked an osprey in mid-flight to steal its fish; when this happens, the osprey just goes back and catches another one.
Given the abundance of other wildlife in this area, I’ll also occasionally photograph deer, wild pigs, alligators, manatee and bobcats, to mention just a few – I love being surrounded by the sound of alligators bellowing early in the morning.
I’ve always shot with Nikon equipment. My first digital camera was a Nikon D70 and I’ve gone through a couple of other models, working up to what I mainly use today, the D300 and the D7000. Most of my shots are taken with my Nikon 300mm f/4, but I’ll also use my 70-300mm, 55-200mm and 18-55mm Nikon lenses.
St. Augustine has been voted one of the top 10 locations in the world for photography, and while I can’t speak for anyone else, I can definitely say it’s become number one on my list. It’s a bird-lover’s paradise, and a photographer’s paradise too!
01 Pelican Crossing Nikon D300, Nikon AF 300mm f/4, 1/1600 sec, f/7.1, ISO200 get £50 for every photo story we publish!
03 Retu rning home Nikon D300, Nikon AF 300mm f/4, 1/1600 sec, f/5, ISO250
02 BRANCH LINE Nikon D300, Nikon AF 300mm f/4, 1/1600 sec, f/8, ISO400