Monthly Archives: October 2009

Don’t put your camera away until you’re in the car

I was out this morning with a couple of people from the Photography Interest Group.  We planned to explore a part of Orlando Wetlands Park that we’d never been to.  If you look on a Google map of the park, you can see a finger of land that sticks out into the lake on the east side.

On the map, you can also see two paths that lead there.  Our plan was to work our way over and along the finger into the lake to make some photographs from the new location.  Here’s a photo I made from the fork in the path at the beginning of our explorations.

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You can’t tell where a path ends from the beginning – Nikon D700, ISO 200, Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 @ 24mm, f/8.0, five exposures: 1/15 sec – 1/250 sec, Photomatix. Edited with the Topaz Adjust filter to bring out more detail in the clouds and to make the foreground slightly brighter.

We walked down this open and inviting path for a while until we were suddenly blocked by a solid mass of bushes and underbrush.  I really wonder why this is here if it leads nowhere.  Maybe it has been open in the past.

We trudged back out the way we came, and went up our normal route a little farther to the next path leading east.  This time, we managed to follow it for quite a ways – before it suddenly went under water.  So, we then backtracked again and circled around the lake clockwise for while, but we just couldn’t find anything interesting to photograph.  At this point, we were hot, tired and getting frustrated at our inability to get to where we wanted to go and the lack of photographic targets.  We started heading back to the car.  And that’s when we began to notice interesting things.  Here’s a photo of a butterfly hiding in the damp grass:

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Butterfly, flowers, dew – Nikon D90 @ ISO 200, Nikon 70 – 300 @ 300mm, f/5.6, 1/320 sec. Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom.

And here’s a photo I made of a hunting Little Blue Heron.

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A Little Blue Heron catches a worm. (Is that an alligator to the left?) – Nikon D90, ISO 200, Nikon 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/8.0, 1/250.

So, even though our explorations this morning didn’t succeed, we did end up getting some nice photos.  And we didn’t get them until we forgot about exploring and headed back toward the car.  The moral of this story is the title of the post.

Have you had a similar experience?  Post a comment about it.

These and a few more photos from this outing are on my Flickr page here.  As a special treat to my loyal readers (especially you, Mary!), I’ve uploaded this photo set as full resolution jpeg files and changed the license to an “Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license“. Click on any of the photos, then click on the “all sizes” icon and choose a size to download.

Oh, and Happy Halloween.

©2009, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Description

If you are at all interested in technology and space exploration, then you should really visit the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) when you come to Central Florida. Living in the area and having a life long interest in space, I’ve been several times. Most recently last Thursday. This visit was with (among others) a fellow member of the Photography Interest Group: Kevin Krause. In a first for this blog, he’s agreed to help me write this entry describing KSC for photographers.

KSC is located on the east coast of Florida about an hour from Orlando. Here’s a link to a Google Map of the area, and here is KSC’s directions page.

Exhibits: The entrance fee to KSC is currently $38 ($28 for children). There are many museum exhibits at KSC as well as the relatively new Shuttle Launch Experience simulator, Two IMAX theaters, an Astronaut Training Experience, and several bus tours that will take you to places that are otherwise restricted. Several things at KSC, including the bus tours will cost extra. The “NASA up close” tour that we took was an extra $21, and the bus and tour guide showed us the Vehicle Assembly building, the shuttle landing strip and control tower, an observation platform close to the launch complexes, and a theater re-enactment of an Apollo launch. We also toured the Apollo-Saturn V Center where there is a restored Saturn V launch vehicle and other space vehicles.  You can also take a bus from the Saturn V center to the Space Station exhibit.

(NOTE:  clicking on the photos below will take you to their Flickr page, where you can see a larger version – select all sizes at the top)

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Panorama image of the Rocket Garden at the main visitor complex, Canon G9, 4 vertical images (full res is 11215×4123), ISO 80, 7.4 mm, f/2.8, 1/50 sec.

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A space capsule gang way in the KSC Rocket Garden, Canon G9, 2971×3978, 3 shot HDR, ISO 80, 7.4mm, f/6.3, 1/160 sec, 1/320 sec, 1/640 sec.

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The Apollo 14 moon capsule, Canon G9, 4000×3000, ISO 80, 7.4mm, f/2.8, 1/60 sec, built in flash.

Landscapes: KSC is situated on typical Florida coastal landscape. There is some opportunity for landscape photographs, so be prepared. You might luck out with some interesting clouds during one of your tour bus stops as a background to the launch pads.

Launch pads
(Photo by Kevin Krause) Launch complex, clouds, water, Nikon D90, 3666×2445, ISO 200, Nikon 18-200 lens at 24mm, f/10, 1/400 sec.

Wildlife: KSC is right next door to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  As such, wildlife should be abundant at KSC, although it will be tough to photograph in the middle of the day with so many people around. On our tour, we did get a glimpse of a solitary alligator in the canal on the side of the road as well as  egrets, herons, and other birds. There is also a 42 year old eagle nest on the property, but the eagles were not in sight.

Eagles' nest
(Photo by Kevin Krause) This eagles’ nest has been in use for 42 years at KSC, Nikon D90, 2344×1645, ISO 3200, Nikon 18-200 lens at 200mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec.

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A stuffed possum in the wildlife exhibit at the KSC main visitor center, Canon G9, ISO 80, 44.4mm, f/4.8, 1/60 sec, built in flash.

Photo hints

Tripod/Monopod: There is no posted policy on tripods. It might be a problem to use them, if only because of the short time available at most tour bus stops.

Lenses: Bring what you have. Longer lenses will come in handy, except when you’re trying to show several launch pads in a single image.  Have a wide lens for that situation, or you can experiment with multiple images stitched into a panorama.

Other: Check out the NASA Images web page where you can search their archives for down-loadable photographs of almost any NASA subject.  Many of these are available in high-resolution. Let’s face facts – you will have a very hard time making better images than these in the static exhibits or on the tour bus at KSC. Browsing through NASA’s image archives may discourage you from trying too hard to make any images yourself, other than the requisite, documentary “We were here” photos.  But hey – we’re photographers and we live for the challenge, right?

Summary

If you’re interested in aeronautical engineering, space exploration, or Apollo program history this is a very good place to visit. Since the shuttle program is winding down, you won’t have many more chances to see a space shuttle on the launch pad.  If you’re interested, check the KSC launch schedule before you go and try to show up when a shuttle is out. Photo opportunities abound, although they’re of the “museum exhibit with people around” variety.

If you want to see more of the photos that Kevin (131 images) and I (30 images) made, the links below will take you to our respective KSC Flickr photo stream sets.

Our Galleries: Ed: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8231395@N04/sets/72157622475589561/

Kevin: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34024553@N08/sets/72157622599372346/

Website: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/home/index.html
Address: John F. Kennedy Space Center
SR 405, Kennedy Space Center, FL, 32899(866) 737-5235
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: Space buff bonanza, photographic clichés

©2009, Ed Rosack and Kevin Krause. All rights reserved.

Lake Jesup Conservation Area Wildflowers

Intro / Description

I’ve posted once before about wildflowers on the north-west shore of Lake Jesup.  They bloom this time of year and I’ve photographed them since 2006, mostly from the side of the road.

Lake Jesup Wildflower Panorama
October 10, 2006: Lake Jesup Flowers and Sunrise. 4 shot panorama, assembled in Photoshop; Nikon Coolpix P1, ISO 50, 126mm eq. focal length, f/5.2 at 1/30 sec.

In 2008, the area was completely under water and there were no blooms.

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August 31, 2008: Lake Jesup flood waters from tropical storm Fay; Nikon D80, ISO 100, Nikon 18-70 lens at 18mm, f/16, three exposures combined with Photomatix

All year, I really hoped that the flooding hadn’t killed the flowers permanently. Once the water receded, I did a little exploring and found a park and a path out into the blooms through the Lake Jesup Conservation Area.  About two weeks ago, I revisited the park and made these photos.  As you can see, the blooms came back from the flooding.  If anything, there are more than ever.  If you are into flower photography, you have to ask yourself why you’ve never explored this wonderful place in late September.  Get ready for next year!

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September 28, 2009:  Lake Jesup flowers and moon; Nikon D700, ISO 200, Nikon 24-70 lens at 62mm, f/16 at 1/50 sec

Here’s a close in photo of one of the blooms.  There are so many different types of wildflowers, that Identifying them isn’t easy (for me anyway).  These are in the Aster family and resemble Black Eyed Susans, but are taller than the 14 – 36 inches my book says Black Eyed Susans should be.  If you recognize them and can supply a positive ID, please let me know in the comments.

1/24/2010 update – These are most likely Narrowleaf Sunflowers, also called “Swamp Sunflowers”.

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September 28, 2009: Lake Jessup flower closeup; Nikon D700, ISO 200, Nikon 24-70 lens at 70mm, f/4 at 1/500 sec

Photo Hints

This web page has directions on how to get to the Marl Bed Flats part of the conservation area, where I made these photos.  It’s a short hike over flat ground from the parking area to where the flowers are.

The plants are fairly tall and the blooms range from a few feet off the ground to as high as 6 feet.  A tall tripod will be helpful to get your camera above the vegetation. Bring a wide-angle lens to take in the incredible vista of  so many flowers in one place.  You might want to carry your macro lens too.

Get there early for calm winds. I was a little leery of walking out there in the dark, so I passed on sunrise shots this year.

If you plan to do this, you should scout the area and the time-line before hand.  The blooms last a couple of weeks, but they are definitely better in the middle of the period than at either end.

Summary

Website: http://www.sjrwmd.com/recreationguide/lakejesup/index.html
Address: Off of Oakway loop
Sanford, Florida
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: Nothing here until late September – then, WOW!

You can click on the photos in this post to go to Flickr, where you can look at a larger version. I’ve also posted several more photos in my Lake Jessup Wildflower set.

©2009, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Our vacation – Ch. 3: Other Alaskan and Seattle photos

This is the third installment of our vacation adventure, where I’ll show you the some of the other things we saw, both in Alaska and Seattle. Chapter One is here and describes the wildlife we encountered on our trip.  Chapter Two is here and is about the glaciers we visited.

I’ve finally gotten through the rest of the photos that I made.  The only ones left to process are the “people pics”.  When I finish these, the final part of my post processing will be to go through everything and then selecting a “best of all set” to try making into a photo book.

Before we get started, please note that the photos in this post are linked to my Flickr account and you can click on them to go to Flickr where you can see a higer res version.

First of all, here’s my favorite photo of me from the trip.  It’s a picture of Lynn and I that Sully made.  We spent a lot of time sightseeing from our balcony, and looking at this really brings back memories.
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Ed on vacation with three cameras. Lynn on vacation with two glasses of wine.; Canon PowerShot A700,11.546 mm,1/80 sec at f / 3.5,, Dimensions are 2816 x 2112, Photo by Marin Sullivan

There were quite a few impressive sunrise and sunset opportunities.  I often shot in “panorama mode”.  Most of these I took hand held and they seem to have worked out quite well.  I was careful to line up the horizon or another feature in the terrain with one of the marks in the viewfinder, and this really helps when you stitch.  I’ve also found that running Nikon images through CaptureNX before I stitch them in Photoshop really improves the final image quality.  The key is to use the CaptureNX function that corrects lens distortion.  Here’s a sunrise from our final morning on the ship.  It’s composed of 4 images stitched together vertically.  In the full res version, you can see the planet Mars (if my astronomy software is correct) underneath the moon!
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Seattle sunrise panorama with moon and Mars(?); NIKON D700,48 mm,1/50 sec at f / 2.8,ISO 800, Dimensions are 4312 x 7619

Here’s another one I really like. I took this in Juneau, when Lynn and I went gold panning. I had just my Canon G9 with me (in a pocket most of the time – it was raining), and I used a flat rock in the creek as a tripod.  By the way, Lynn and I both found flakes of gold in this creek!
The gold panning creek in Juneau, Alaska
Juneau, Alaska – gold panning creek; Canon PowerShot G9,7.4 mm,1.0 sec at f / 8.0,ISO 80, Dimensions are 4000 x 3000

And here’s one last photo for the blog of some trees at the Lake Washington Ship Canal.  I’m not sure what this tree was and whether it was turning already for fall, but I really liked the color contrasts.
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Trees; NIKON D90,19 mm,1/50 sec at f / 3.8,ISO 100, Dimensions are 2848 x 4288

As before, I’ve posted the rest of the photos for this blog entry in two ways.  I added a set of “other” photos here to my photo galleries.   You can also look at our Alaska photos together in a single time ordered set of 72 photographs here on Flickr.  Clicking on one of the photos above will also take you to Flickr, where if you click on the “all sizes” button, you can see the photo in a higher res version.

©2009, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.