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.

A Jacksonville Jaunt

Although there’s no official definition, Wikipedia’s article about Central Florida (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Florida) says Jacksonville is outside the region. I also consider it to be outside the region – it’s such a long drive and I seldom go up there. But there are a great many photo ops around the city and it’s well worth exploring.

Which is what MK, Lynn, and I did last weekend.  And it was a great weekend for a day trip to national parks and monuments since August 25, 2016 was the 100th anniversary of the National Park System.

Our first stop (other than breakfast!) was at the Fort Caroline National Memorial, which was one of the first French settlements in America (around 1562).  The rangers were setting up to serve National Park birthday cake when we were there.  The rain started coming down pretty hard and I’m trying to control calories, so we moved on.

Fort Caroline rampart Fort Caroline rampart. Along the St. Johns river near Jacksonville, Florida.

I haven’t used my infrared camera for a while and brought it along this time.  Most of the photos I liked best from this trip were IR.  Kingsley Plantation is a well preserved / restored example of pre-Civil War Florida homesteads.  Zephaniah Kingsley moved there in 1814.  The site does a good job describing life during those times, including the use of slave labor to produce cotton, citrus, sugar cane, and corn.  Tours inside the plantation house are by reservation only and were full so we’ll have to see that next time.

Kingsley Plantation - main house Kingsley Plantation – main house. 5 frame infrared panorama

On the way up to Cumberland Island National Seashore, Lynn discovered Amelia Island Light in Fernandina Beach.  We managed to find it in the middle of a neighborhood after a wrong turn or two.  I’m glad we went by – I thought the vultures flying around the structure were photogenic.  I’m also glad I could add it to my collection of Florida lighthouse photos.

A kettle of vultures around Amelia Island Light A Kettle of vultures around Amelia Island Light. I combined birds from several infrared exposures to capture as many of the birds as possible in my image.

You get to Cumberland National Seashore via ferry from Saint Marys, Georgia.  The ferry’s also by reservation and runs only twice a day, so if you want to spend time on Cumberland Island, plan in advance.  I wandered down the street while MK and Lynn finished in the gift shop and found this interesting old building.

An old building on the street in St. Marys Georgia An old building  in St. Marys, Georgia, across from the ferry dock. Single infrared exposure.

This was a long drive from Winter Springs, but well worth it.  We have lots of ideas for where to go back and spend more time.

If you’re interested, here’s one other blog post that includes photos from near Jacksonville (Little Talbot Island State Park).  And here’s a folder where I’m collecting images from that area.  Coincidentally, they’re mostly infrared.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Flowers and Flyers

I hope you don’t mind a few more photos from Virginia.  The wildflowers and butterflies were beautiful, and the birds varied from what we normally see in Central Florida.

Wildflower Chicory bud wildflower. Thanks Charlotte Norton for identifying this for me!

There were butterflies everywhere, probably because wildflowers were everywhere.  We had a marvelous little meadow under the balcony behind our room.  It was fun and relaxing to sit there and watch all the activity.

SwallowtailSwallowtail

Bees and birds were busy too.

Wildflower and BeeWildflower and Bee B&W

We stood in line for the dining room at the lodge one night and the woman in front of us was carrying a large DSLR camera and lens.  She lived close by and had come up to photograph butterflies in Big Meadows.  I said we were enjoying them too, and then we started talking about birds.  I was all excited about the Indigo Buntings and American Goldfinches we’d sighted, since we don’t often see them in Florida.  She didn’t seem to care about such common birds – and was much more interested in getting to Florida to see some Spoonbills.  To each their own!

Eastern TowheeEastern Towhee (life bird!) – Thanks Kevin McKinney for the bird ID help!

And one more image to wrap up.  I made all the photos in this post with a micro four-thirds camera and 100 – 400 mm lens (200 – 800 mm equivalent).  I found it very useful for close up photography and even though I had a macro lens with me, I never used it.

Wildflower 3Wildflower 3

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and more photos from Shenandoah in this album on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Shenandoah – Starscapes, Sunsets, Storms, and Falls

Our visit to Shenandoah National Park this year  was extremely enjoyable (mentally not physically!)  relaxing, and cooler than back here in Central Florida (highs there in the 70s).   It was also interesting from a photography perspective and different from last year’s trip.  I did a lot of sunset / night photography and didn’t try very hard to get up early every morning for sunrise.

We were fortunate with seeing conditions on the night we arrived. There were no clouds, and the Milky Way center was above the horizon for about two hours after moon set.  Shenandoah has dark skies and the large cleared meadow near the lodge provides wonderful views all around the compass.  Lynn hadn’t ever really seen the Milky Way before and I’ve never seen it this well.  We were both amazed, and I was also impressed with how much detail my Nikon D800 was able to capture.

Big Meadows Milky Way Big Meadows Milky Way.  Three frame panorama, 24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 2500, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

Lynn is a big fan of meteor showers, and due to a gravity assist from Jupiter, the Perseid was predicted to be spectacular this year.  We set the alarm for 1am the night it was forecast to peak and went out to watch.  The area around Big Meadows was crowded with over a hundred people watching the show, and each overlook had cars parked with more people observing.  It was a good show.  Here’s one of my photos from that morning.

A Persied Meteor and a cloud in front of a portion of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy A Perseid Meteor and a cloud in front of part of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy – From Old Rag View Overlook on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.  24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 3200, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

I tried sunset photos on most nights.  The sky wasn’t as dramatic as I’ve seen it in the past, but there were many wildflowers in bloom helping to make up for that.

The end of the dayThe end of the day – Looking out over Shenandoah Valley from Skyline Drive. The wildflowers were beautiful when we were there.  Two frame composite, manual masking in Photoshop.

And storms also added interest.  We watched this one develop from the balcony outside our room at the lodge.

Shenandoah Storm #1Shenandoah Storm – A storm built up to the west at sunset. As seen from our balcony at Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah National Park.  Multi-frame panorama.

Dark Hollow Falls is one of the most popular places in Shenandoah.  When we drove by on Sunday, the parking area was overflowing with cars.  We waited until the next morning to hike down.  Last year, I didn’t make it to these falls and used one of my  20-year-old photos  to illustrate it.  For some reason, the hike (especially the return up from the falls) is more difficult than it was when I was 20 years younger.  Hmm – I wonder why?  This is from very near the same place, and a horizontal, wider view.  I like this one too.

Dark Hollow Falls Dark Hollow Falls.  14mm equivalent FOV, ISO 100, f/8.0, 1/13 seconds, Olympus hires mode.

We did a bit more hiking this year than last and went on trails we hadn’t tried before.   Rose River Falls and Black Rock Mountain were two new favorites.  Another one we hiked was Pocosin Trail.  It was interesting, although I didn’t like it as much as the others.  Maybe it was because of one sentence in the trail guide:  “Soon the trail flattens.”  It never did!

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and more photos from Shenandoah in this album on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Shenandoah wildlife

I wrote this on board the Amtrak Auto Train between Lorton, Virgina and Sanford, Florida. Lynn and I were returning from Ohio where we attended the annual  PITCA convention and Virgina where we spent a week in Shenandoah National Park.  We both enjoy riding this train and we’re grateful for the 900 miles of driving that it spares us.

I made a great many photographs on the trip and haven’t gotten through them yet, so I thought I’d post a few wildlife photos now as a teaser for one or more posts to come.

Stop and smell the flowersStop and smell the flowers – The wild deer in Shenandoah are protected and the ones around Big Meadows are very tolerant of people. We saw this faun feeding with its mother in the field outside our room.

It’s exciting to spot and photograph animals in the wild, some more so than others!  I was farther away from this next one than it looks (I used an 800mm equivalent lens).

Shenandoah RattlesnakeShenandoah Rattlesnake – Lynn spotted this and came and got me so I could photograph it.  It was a surprise to see it moving through the grass outside the Big Meadows Lodge. Some folks called the ranger and he “escorted” it away from the cabins.

Lynn is a really excellent bear spotter too.  She saw three and was always the first to notice them.  This one caused a small “bear jam” along Skyline Drive.

Shenandoah Black BearShenandoah Black Bear – This young bear was wandering near the road. It kept foraging while I made a photo from inside the car. Sorry for the motion blur – it was pretty dark back in the trees.

I’ll definitely post more about this trip.  You  can read one earlier post about Shenandoah here:  http://edrosack.com/2015/09/20/vacation-part-2-shenandoah-national-park/

And you can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them.  I’ll also be adding more from our trip in this album on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.