A walk in the park

I usually walk in my neighborhood several times a week.  It’s a good way to get some exercise and say hello to folks.  I did something different last Friday and drove over to Orlando Wetlands Park for my morning hike.

It was still dark when I arrived and I could hear owls and whistling ducks calling on the way out to Lake Searcy – one of my favorite landscape places.  I didn’t like the view this time since the water was low and the appealing  mirror like reflections were missing.  I ended up moving to a new location for this:

Middle marsh mystery island
Middle marsh mystery island

Morning color was disappointing, but I do like the image.  After sunrise, I wandered around and made some bird photos.  There were many Little Blue Herons:

Pretty little bluePretty little blue

And the Palm Warblers are here in force, bobbing their tails as they pose in the reeds:

Palm WarblerPalm Warbler

And here’s one of the whistling ducks.  I caught it mid-preen:

Black Bellied Whistling DuckBlack Bellied Whistling Duck

The last time I was at Orlando Wetlands was in February.  It was good to get back and a lovely walk.  And carrying weights (photo equipment) made it better exercise.  Plus, I made some photos!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos yourself!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Regarding image selection

Editors note:  Although I’m feeling much better, I’m still going to take a sick day.  I’ll repeat this post from September 2014.  If you haven’t read it before, I think it’s still very relevant and worth a look.  If you have – then I apologize for the repeat.

If you use raw format in your photography, they look different from jpg photos.  Raw format is just the data read directly off of the sensor with no processing by the camera.  Depending on how you configure your camera and software, raw image contrast and sharpening can be very low, white balance may not be optimized, and exposure is often set for capture / low noise instead of display / print.. This can make it tough to judge raw photos and decide which ones merit further processing.

When I returned from Maine and reviewed my photos, I bypassed some.  When I finished working on the ones I’d identified as “selects”, I went back and re-looked at those I’d set aside.  Some of them deserved attention.

A calm morning on Bubble Pond
A calm morning on Bubble Pond

It’s not just raw images that can be difficult to evaluate.  Infrared photos usually need processing to optimize too.

Bass Harbor Light
Bass Harbor Light

And multi image panoramas make seeing composition and field of view a challenge before the individual frames are stitched together.

Behind Sand Beach
Behind Sand Beach

I can’t tell you how to rate your images and select your best.  But what I can tell you is to be very careful not to discard something before you’re very sure that it’s not worth pursuing.  Give your photos a second chance.  Learn your software so you know how far you can go with adjustments.  And as with any thing worth pursuing, practice will make you better.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Close Call

It’s been a while since we’ve had such a strong hurricane pass so close to us here in Central Florida.  Matthew was a category 4 storm last Wednesday as it approached our east coast and had just roared through Haiti with devastating effects.  Luckily, it veered a little further away and winds were lower than forecast when it hit here.  We had strong rain and winds, power flickers, trees down, and some damage in our area on the North East side of Orlando.  But we were spared most of the dire effects that we worried about.  Friends from New Smyrna Beach stayed with us and they too reported very few problems from the storm, although they lost power for a day.

Anyway, I wasn’t able or even motivated to do any photography last week.  So instead I’ll show you an image that has nothing to do with storms, from our recent trip Shenandoah.

Bearfence Mountain PanoramaBear Fence Mountain Panorama – This is part of the vista from the top of Bearfence Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. It’s one of the few places there where you get a true 360 degree view. This image is a mutli-frame panorama stitched together in Lightroom.

Scrambling up this rock pile on the top of the mountain, I had to acknowledge  that my 64-year-old knees aren’t as good as I thought.  But I did make to the top and the view was awesome.

I hope all of you also came through hurricane Matthew ok.  If not, our thoughts and prayers are with you.  And thank you for stopping by and reading my blog.  If possible – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.


Channeling the Beauty of our National Parks

Editors note:  Today we have another post from our roving correspondent,  MaryKate.  This time she travelled to the Channel Islands off the coast of California.   I hope you enjoy her report!

I’ve recently become even more enthralled with our country’s amazing National Park system. So when I headed to Los Angeles for an event with my friend Molly a few weekends ago, I jumped on the opportunity to visit two of our country’s jewels: Santa Monica National Recreation Area and Channel Islands National Park.

Just 35 miles from Los Angeles, the Santa Monica National Recreation Area is an escape from the bustle of the city. We headed to the Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center for some orientation (and souvenir shopping), and did the short but steep hike up to Inspiration Point. We saw lizards and birds along the way, and the dry landscape made for dramatic views against the Santa Monica Mountains:

Plant at the PinnaclePlant at the Pinnacle

That Saturday, we took a morning boat trip out to Anacapa Island – the smallest of the Channel Islands – with a company I’d highly recommend: Island Packers. For just $29 each way, the beautiful boat ride alone was worth the trip. On our way to Anacapa, we enjoyed stunning views of Oxnard Harbor, a few Harbor Seals “sunning”, and even an illusive Minke Whale (he was too quick to photograph and never came back up).

Seal ReflectionsSeal Reflections

The Channel Islands are truly a magical place, sometimes called the United States’ Galapagos Islands because there are 145 species of plants and animals only found there. We stayed 3 hours on the island exploring, seeing as much as we could, and eating the picnic we brought, but there are many arrival/departure options so you can stay as long as you’d like (or even camp over – although the smell of pigeon poop was rather strong!).

Anacapa LighthouseAnacapa Lighthouse

I also enjoyed playing with the fish eye lens I borrowed from my Dad – I thought it brought an interesting perspective to the Island.

Channel Islands National Park SignChannel Islands National park Sign

On our way back to land, we had the treat of a humpback whale doing acrobatics for us: for about 10 minutes we watched him partake in “pectoral slapping” – spinning back and forth and slapping his fin on the water – quite the site juxtaposed against a giant oil rig in the background.

Whale vs. ManMan vs. Whale

If you ever find yourself on the West Coast, it’s definitely worth the trip out to the Channel Islands (and a hike over in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area).  It’s amazing to find so much nature near such a large metropolitan area.  Check out the other photos from my trip in this flickr album (including a life bird: the Rock Wren!).

Thanks for stopping by and reading MaryKate’s blog post.  Now, go make some photos!

©2016, MaryKate. All rights reserved.

A bad day for fish…

Photography Interest Group members haven’t been doing much photography together lately.  I was happy that Kevin M. arranged a trip to Viera Wetlands last Friday.  Kevin K. also went along.

Early morning calmEarly morning calm – Along the St. Johns River where it crosses HW 50

On the way, we stopped at a favorite sunrise spot and even though it’s been well photographed, managed to get images we liked.

At Viera, we drove around the main cells a couple of times and saw some interesting things.  This Tricolored Heron had speared a large fish and was trying to swallow it.   It couldn’t hold on and dropped it just after I made this photo.

Tri-colored HeronTri-Colored Heron, this one with breakfast.

We saw a few of the regular birds there, but the ducks and other winter migrants don’t seem to have arrived yet.  On the way out, Kevin M. talked us into taking a quick spin around the Click Ponds and I’m glad he did.  The water’s been low there for a while and the birds are having a feast.  The shallow water concentrates the fish and makes them easy prey.  Birds lined up and grabbed fish out of this small stream that flowed toward the low point in the pond.

Chow lineChow line – The water level in the Click Ponds at Viera Wetlands was very low yesterday. 

Over in the corner was a very large mixed flock also enjoying the banquet.  I spotted Wood Storks, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Glossy and White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills, Black Vultures, and a White Pelican in this one photo.

A large flock of birdsA large flock of feeding birds

So, it wasn’t a good day for fish, but the birds enjoyed it.

I have many posts about Viera Wetlands here on the blog  that you can scroll through at this link, and many photos you can look through in this album on Flick.

You might also be interested in this quite literal “behind the scenes” look at a very handsome gentleman photographing the sunrise on Friday morning:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/34024553@N08/29844690526/in/dateposted/

Oh, and I might be joking about the handsome gentleman part    😉

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Two Merritt Island Photos

Both of these images are from a short trip to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge  yesterday morning.  I thought I’d tell you a bit about how I made them.

It was a good thing that I got there well before dawn, because the place I had in mind for a sunrise photo didn’t turn out (construction and street lights).  On the way over I noticed a massive thunderhead that looked like it would add some interest to my photos.  Unfortunately, it also added a lot of rain to the area, so I spent some time wandering around looking for a new place and making a few uninspired photos during gaps in the downpour.

Almost made it...Almost made it… A sunken sailboat near the Titusville Municipal MarinaI

I ended up at the Titusville Municipal Marina. There always seems to be a sunken boat or two there.  I think this one is recent, but it’s hard to be sure.   By this time, the rain was slacking off, so I parked and hurried over to where I could get a good angle on the colors in what was left of the rain clouds.   The light was pretty and I used the boat and the rocks on shore to add foreground layers to my composition.

I made many exposures, framing the boat in different ways.  The color built and I like the last set of frames best.  For this image I made seven exposures from the tripod.  Four were for the sky / clouds, pointed up slightly and bracketing exposure to make sure I captured the entire dynamic range.  I pointed three down slightly for the boat and water, to make sure I had everything in focus.  One of these three was through a neutral density filter so I could get a long shutter speed and smooth the water surface.  At home, I ended up using six of the frames, combining some in Lightroom’s merge function, and blending the rest manually in Photoshop.  Finally, I used Nik Color Effects Pro to tune the colors and Topaz Clarity to increase mid-range contrast to get what you see above.

After sunrise, I headed over to Black Point Wildlife Drive for a look around.  It’s been closed while they worked on the road.  It’s open again, in great shape, and ready for all the fall visitors.  There’s not much bird activity yet, but I did find this nicely posing Tri-colored Heron.

ReflectionsReflections – Tri-colored Heron, Black Point Wildlife Drive

This image is less complicated.  It’s just two frames, hand-held.  One’s focused on the bird’s eye and the other on its reflection in the water.  I merged them in Lightroom via the Photo Merge – Panorama function, and finished this one too with tweaks to color, contrast, and cropping in Photoshop.

Should you try these techniques?  I can’t decide for you.   For me, it’s more work, but it gives me much more control over the final result.  If you do decide to try them and have any questions about how to do this kind of thing, please leave a comment and  I’ll do my best to answer.

Thanks again to Mary Kate for writing last week’s post.  I apologize for the lack of images in that email.  I need to figure out how to get the server to send the photos when they’re not referenced from Flickr.  If you didn’t get a chance to see her photos, please click through and visit the blog.

Reminder: The flowers are coming!  The annual Florida Sunflower bloom should start by the end of September, and only lasts for a couple of weeks – be ready!.  In Central Florida, you can see them at Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation area. See here for more info.

You can see many more of my photos from MINWR in this album on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now, go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Kodiak, Alaska

Editors note:  Today we have a special treat.  MaryKate has agreed to write a guest blog post about her recent trip to Kodiak Island, Alaska.   Sit back ,relax, and enjoy your vacation from my writing!

Five years ago, my birthday snuck up on me. A week or so before the big day, I called my good friend Monette and said “It’s a birthday emergency! I have no plans!” We booked a last-minute cruise, and ever since, our annual Emergency Birthday Trip has become a tradition I look forward to every year – exploring places as close by as the Florida Keys, and as far away as Oregon and Alaska. The trips always involve spontaneity, road tripping, shopping, National Parks (or the outdoors), wildlife, shopping, eating, shopping and exploring. This year, I returned to Alaska to visit Monette in her current location: Kodiak, the country’s second largest island.

These Boots Were Made For Traveling (Courtesy of Monette)

I take a lot of iPhone photos. But for this trip, my Dad let me borrow one of his many cameras since photo opportunities would be plentiful and I knew I might want to enlarge and print some wildlife pictures. He added an all in one 28 to 240mm equivalent lens to his Olympus E-M1 camera and programmed it with an iAuto setting (for fast-moving wildlife) and a P setting (for “Pretty much everything else”). While we had some rare Kodiak sunshine, the lighting was generally overcast and difficult. But with my Dad’s processing, I got some great shots!

Near Reflections: Boat harbor on Near Island

Saturday morning, we drove the Island road system and saw everything from a herd of wild buffalo to majestic mountains and mud flats. Monette said a lot of the vegetation had changed over the last week or so from bright and blooming to brown. I thought this picture eloquently captured the end of a season.

The End of Fall

That night we took an intimate dinner cruise with Galley Gourmet. Marty and Marion Owen were amazing hosts on board the Sea Breaze, where Marion made a from-scratch dinner with fresh ingredients from her garden and Marty steered the boat towards captivating wildlife like Stellar Sea Lions, Horned and Tufted Puffins and Sea Otters. I would highly recommend this dinner cruise for anyone in the area!

Marty said they hadn’t seen whales in a week or two, but sure enough, it was a Birthday Miracle and we found some Humpback Whales to watch and enjoy for about 30 minutes. I have some Humpback pictures from when my Dad and I were in Maine, but I’ve never been able to catch the illusive Puffin (which fly faster than I zoom through an airport!). I found that the P setting on the camera worked a little better.

Puffin Zone

We enjoyed watching this pair of baby Stellar Sea Lions play (the two smaller, darker ones near the middle). To our entertainment – but to the annoyance of the older residents – the babies kept jumping and splashing in and out of the water.

Stellar Viewing

It was an amazing trip filled with beautiful views and memories. And like all Emergency Birthday trips, I’m already counting down the days until next year.

You Otter Be Here

Here are more photos from the trip.  Click on any of the thumbnails to see them larger.

Thanks for stopping by and reading MaryKate’s blog post.  Now, go make some photos!

©2016, MaryKate and Monette. All rights reserved.