Monthly Archives: December 2014

Santa’s Workshop

Santa's workshop
Santa’s Workshop – Santa and his elves took a break and I was able to sneak in and make a photograph of his workshop. It looks like he’s just about ready for Christmas!

I hope all of you have a joyous and happy holiday season and a wonderful new year! Thank you so much for following my blog again this year. Now – get back to your family and enjoy the holidays!

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Birds Abound at Blackpoint

I spent last Wednesday morning at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  I hadn’t been in a while and I enjoyed seeing what’s going on over there.

As usual, I arrived early for a sunrise photo.  I’ve photographed from this spot on Gator Creek Road several times, but I’ve never noticed flowers blooming there before.  I think they make a nice foreground accent.

Another day beginsAnother day begins

After the sun was up, I drove around both Blackpoint Wildlife Drive and Gator Creek Road.  There were a tremendous number of birds around – the winter visitors are here in force!

You can get an idea of which species to expect at MINWR (and when) over at this page on ebird.  Here are the ones I recognized on my visit:  Northern Shoveler, Lesser Scaup, Hooded Merganser, Pie-billed Grebe, Wood Stork, Double Crested Cormorant, Anhinga, White Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Tri-colored Heron, Little Blue Heron, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Coot, Black-bellied Plover, Killdeer, Willet, Ring-billed Gull, Laughing Gull, Black Skimmer, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Loggerhead Shrike, and Savannah Sparrow.  I’m sure a more experienced birder would have recognized even more.  I also saw an Alligator or two and a River Otter.

And my online blogging friend Jim Boland also spotted a Red-headed Duck there recently.

This bird was posing on a mound of seaweed next to the causeway.  I was able to crouch down and make some eye level photos with a nice out of focus background.

Black-bellied Plover Black-bellied Plover

And this Willet was hunting in the surf, also along the causeway.  The sun was coming over my shoulder and the small waves rolling in made the blue sky reflections contrast nicely with the sandy bottom showing through the water.

WilletWillet

And here’s a bonus sunrise photo – made with my long lens.  I like the group of birds flying in front of the sun in the distance.

Merritt Island MorningMerritt Island Morning – The sun rises next to NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

What a nice visit to one of our Central Florida Photo Op treasures!  If you haven’t been over there recently, now is a great time of year to check it out.  You can see other photographs from MINWR in this set on Flickr, and from BPWD in this set.

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

Modern Monochrome Homework

You may have noticed that I like Black and White photography.  It’s how I started out, way back when (with Tri-X film, developed in a make-shift darkroom).  So I’ve done it for a while, but I’m mostly self-taught.  I’ve studied many books and looked at a lot of online info, but I felt it would be good to take a course and expose myself to techniques and ideas I haven’t discovered on my own – to see how others are doing it.

I signed up for “Modern Monochrome” at the Crealde School of Art in Winter Park, Florida.  The course promises to cover “the aesthetic qualities of black-and-white photography, seeing in black and white, RGB conversion methods, tonal relationships, luminosity versus luminance, and demonstrations in Photoshop and Lightroom.”

I was a little worried at the first session.  There were a couple of people who didn’t appear to meet the prerequisites and it seemed like we’d struggle trying to bring them up to speed.  But they ended up dropping out and the remaining students all easily kept up with the agenda.

Next week is our last class and we owe the instructor ten B&W images.  I thought you might be interested in seeing some of the ones I’m going to turn in.

Wild OrchidsWild Orchids – at Fort Christmas

High Key GrebeHigh Key Grebe – along Blackpoint Wildlife Drive

Gloomy dawnGloomy dawn – Blue Cypress Lake

Misty MarshMisty Marsh – Orlando Wetlands Park

The instructor’s going to critique our work and I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

This course has definitely lived up to my expectations.  I learned several techniques in Photoshop – some that I’d heard about and never tried, and others that were completely new to me.  I also enjoyed discussing printing techniques and I intend to apply these more in the future.  I haven’t been printing my photographs as much recently as I should.  The course was also a great incentive to think about and practice photography and especially B&W processing.

You can see some other photographs I made for the course in this set on Flickr.

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

Cruise Ship Photo Experiments

We went on a family cruise to the Bahamas during Thanksgiving week aboard the MS Carnival Liberty, out of Port Canaveral.  It was a large group with Lynn and I, Mary, Mike and Sara, Julie, and Nancy and Howard all along for a wonderful vacation.  Except for wind and current on the day we were supposed to visit Half Moon Cay, the weather was nice.  And the food was delicious and plentiful and the company was delightful too!  We had a great time!

It was a family vacation, but of course I brought along a camera (or two, or three) and I made some photos on the trip.  I’ve written about cruise ship photography before (see Cruise Ship Photography Ops and Christmas Time Cruising).  In this new post, I’d like to tell you about some techniques I tried on this cruise.  It’s fun to experiment and I thought you might be interested in how they turned out.  Here are three photos and some background on how I made them.

1.  Long exposure photography from a moving ship

I’ve wanted to try something like this on earlier cruises, but never have.  Long exposures can add interest to a photo and make it look very different from most tourist snapshots.  But usually, you lock your camera down on a stable tripod and only some things in the scene (e.g. water, clouds) are moving.  On a ship, I was worried that everything is moving.  If I tried to use my tripod for a sunrise for instance, the sun might be unacceptably blurred due to the motion.    But I made it work for this photo by composing with the ship as the subject and using it to fill the foreground.  Since the ship doesn’t move relative to my camera, it’s very sharp.  The horizon and the other ship are far enough away so that any motion blur isn’t a problem.  And with a four-second exposure, the water and clouds take on a dreamy look that I like.

The view aft, before dawn
The view aft, before dawn.  (21mm eq. field of view, f/8, 4 seconds at ISO 200)

2. Stitched panoramas from a moving ship:

Panoramas are also problematic from a moving ship.  The change in the camera’s position between frames can lead to issues when stitching frames together, especially if you use automatic stitching software.  For this photo, I made two frames.  Instead of using automatic stitching, I loaded the frames into layers in Photoshop and selected Edit -> Auto Align Layers.  Then I manually blended them using layer masks and was able to use the natural seam along the right hand side of the breakwater as the line between the images.  Since not much overlaps there except water, I could hide any perspective shift stitching errors.

Nassau Light
Nassau Light – Leaving port late in the day.  (f/2.8, 1/100 second at ISO 125.  70mm eq. focal length, two vertical frames, stitched panorama, hand-held)

3. Low light photos without a tripod

And finally, here is another stitched panorama.  In this one, the ship was moving very slowly, so I probably could have used a tripod.  But – I didn’t have it with me!  Bad Ed!  So instead, I upped my ISO, and opened my aperture so that I could shoot hand-held.  Even though the pre-dawn light was dim, I was still able to make a super wide image consisting of 9 vertical frames showing our arrival back at Port Canaveral.

Pre-dawn arrival in Port Canaveral
Pre-dawn arrival in Port Canaveral.  (f/1.8, 1/50 second at ISO 1000.  24mm eq. focal length, nine vertical frames, hand-held, stitched panorama)

So that’s how I got these three shots.  Photography is an interesting pursuit.  Creativity helps – and not just with subject, composition, etc., but also with technique.  Now I know these descriptions aren’t very detailed, but maybe they’ll give you an idea or two to try for yourself.  If you want more information, please feel free to ask in the comments.  I’d be happy to answer questions.

You can find larger versions of these photos on Flickr (just click the image).  And more photos from this cruise are in this set:

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