Greg Rickaby

Greg Rickaby

Full-Stack Engineer / Photographer / Author

Adventure: Panama City, Florida 2022

Posted on | 7 minute read

This year for Platinum Dance Nationals, we stayed with several other dance families at the Sheraton Panama City Golf & Beach Resort. This place has an amazing boardwalk/dock and a private beach, which offered some great photographic opportunities!

A quick photo upon arrival at the Sheraton. Photo by Chloe. Shot on iPhone™️.

My gear and a map for the trip:

A map of the Sheraton's dock and private beach.
A map of the Sheraton’s dock and private beach.

Beach Day!

I was on the fence about lugging the 4.5 lb Sony FE 200-600mm to the beach, but I’m glad I did! Walking along the dock we saw Great Egret everywhere. This one was spearing fish for lunch.

Great Egret spears a fish for lunch
f/6.3, 1/2000 sec, ISO 800, 600mm

Now it was time to settle in and enjoy the view…however, it didn’t take me long to spot birds in flight. The next few photographs were taken handheld, while laying on a beach chair. ????️

View from the private beach at Alligator Point. Shot on iPhone™️

This Snowy Egret was gliding low to the water as it passed by.

A Snowy Egret in flight over St. Andrew's Bay
f/6.3, 1/2000 sec, ISO 200, 437mm

Below is a Great Egret and according to the EXIF data, the focus distance was 314 feet! Which showcases the mind-boggling reach and cropping capability of the Sony a7R IVA and Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS.

Great Egret soaring above
Great Egret soaring above. f/6.3, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, 600mm

There were no shortages of Osprey circling above either…

Osprey looking up while in flight
/6.3, 1/2000 sec, ISO 200, 600mm

Aa pair of mallards way off in the distance… 1,771 feet away to be exact!

Pair of mallards flying over St. Andrew's Bay.
f/6.3, 1/2000 sec, ISO 200, 600mm

Out of nowhere the elusive Orange Bird made an appearance! He was kind enough to let me hold him. ????

The elusive Orange Bird let me hold him!
f/5.3, 1/1250 sec, ISO 100, 24mm

This person slowly paddled on by. Truth be told, this looks like a lot of fun!

a man on a paddle-board off Alligator point in Panama City Florida
f/7.1, 1/500 sec, ISO 200, 600mm

There were so many people enjoying water sports. Big boats, small boats, and of hundreds of folks out on jet skis.

Gentleman on a jet ski on St. Andrew's Bay
f/6.3, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, 600mm

The kids doing what kids do at the beach: play in the sand…

Chloe and Wyatt play with sand at Alligator Point
Chloe and Wyatt at Alligator Point. f/6.3, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, 303mm

While shooting from a beach chair sure is relaxing, it was time to stand up and walk around. I swapped lens to the Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS and took a dozen photos of this old, dead tree. Using ON1, I applied the Vintage Matte –> Simple LUT.

Old beach tree and scrub brush
f/4, 1/1250 sec, ISO 100, 35mm

After a while, it was time to head back to the hotel. I snapped this very candid shot of the crew walking on the dock.

Tara, Faith and the kiddos on the walk back to the hotel.
f/6.3, 1/500 sec, ISO 200, 376mm

A couple days later

The hot Florida sun was no match for my SPF 50, so after taking a day and a half off to recover from a sunburn… I wanted to grab an HDR sunset shot from the dock, so we met up with some friends before dinner and took a sunset walk.

The kiddos were enjoying each other’s company and the sunset.

The kids enjoying the sunset and watching the Great Egret
f/4, 1/30 sec, ISO 200, 24mm

This was supposed to be a practice shot before peak golden hour. I really just wanted to make sure my camera was set correctly for a 3-shot exposure bracket. It ended up turning out great!

Sunset on the dock.
-1, 0, +1 EV exposure bracket. f/10, 2 sec, ISO 50, 24mm

8 minutes later, I knew this was going to be special because the colors and reflection from golden hour were at their peak and completely mind blowing.

Just then, a Great Egret landed front and center! What luck! I put my camera on the dock to get a lower angle (and for stability) then pressed the shutter release button. This 3-shot exposure bracket is now one of my all-time favorites!

Sunset over St. Andrews Bay
-1, 0, +1 EV exposure bracket. f/11, 1/2 sec, ISO 50, 24mm

As the sun continued to set, we all hung out and watched that Great Egret spear its dinner. It was a nice family moment that I’ll remember forever.


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