Monthly Archives: March 2015

A few minutes with a Reddish Egret

Reddish Egrets aren’t as common in Florida as some of our other wading birds.  I seem to see them fairly reliably over on Black Point Wildlife Drive in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  They’re handsome birds and they also have some interesting behaviors.  They  dance along in shallow water and wave / flap their wings while they’re fishing.  I made a video this morning as I watched one catch minnows in the canal along the drive.

Reddish Egret fishing for minnows (~40 seconds)

Perhaps you noticed the splash at the beginning and the brief shadow on the right after the egret catches the minnow.  I was trying to figure out what those were and stayed a little longer.  Here’s a “big reveal” still shot that I managed to get.

Redish Egret and large fishRedish Egret and large fish

That fish is about as large as the bird. It seemed to follow the egret around – maybe it was trying to steal the minnows that the bird scared up?  Anyway, it was a very interesting time  with the Egret – and the fish!

I never really know what I’ll see when I head out and look around.  That’s one big reason it’s so much fun.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

A couple of photo hints and a Gatorland update

It’s been a while since I’ve discussed any photo techniques, so I thought I’d share two hints that you might not have tried recently.  I also wanted to let you know what’s going on at Gatorland now that breeding season is in full swing.

Photo Hints:

#1 – Focus stacking:  I’ve written about this before. You can read the posts here:

Both of those were macro-photography related.  But the technique can also be used for other situations such as landscapes.

Beneath the bridge, by the rocksBeneath the bridge, by the rocks – Parish Park in Titusville, about a half hour before sunrise

I was at Parish Park in Titusville one morning, looking for a new view point and discovered this area where I could place these rocks in the scene as a foreground for the bridge and far shore.  My problem was that without a tilt-shift lens, using the Scheimpflug principle, it’s  hard to get the entire composition in focus.

I decided to make three exposures, changing the focus point in each.  In the first, I focused on the rocks in the foreground, in the second on the nearest portion of the bridge, and the last was on the far shore.  At home, I did some initial processing (the same for all three) and brought them into Photoshop on separate layers.  Then I aligned the layers and manually blended them together using masks.  I could have used Photoshop’s focus stacking capability, but doing this myself with layers gave me more control.  The resulting depth of field is just how I wanted it.  What do you think?

#2 – Fill flash:  I often carry my flash and use it to add fill light or catch lights in eyes.  It helps and doesn’t seem to bother the animals.  I’ve also used fill flash for sunrise or sunset portraits of people.  It can do a good job of balancing the exposure of your subject against a bright background.

When I saw this Tri-colored Heron posing in the bush, I made a few photos.  But then I thought about adding flash.  When I got home, the photos with the flash looked much better.  The bright, ambient sunrise was balanced with the fill flash on the nearby bird.  There’s a better detail in the bird when I used the flash.

Early birdEarly bird – Tri-colored Heron at dawn (ISO 800, f/5.0, 1/320 sec, on camera flash in auto slow sync mode, -1 stop flash exposure compensation).

If you try this, you’ll need to practice a bit before you use it in a pressure situation.  Make sure you know how to adjust exposure compensation (on both the flash and the camera), shutter speed, and aperture to get the best results.  And if your camera has it, try enabling high-speed sync.  This lets you shoot with flash at higher shutter speeds without getting any black bands on your photos (at the expense of a lower light output).

Gatorland Update:

I went by Gatorland again last week.  The Great Egrets continue to breed and their hatched chicks are growing fast.  There are Snowy Egrets and Cormorants on eggs now and I saw  Tri-colored Herons, Anhingas, and Wood Storks gathering nesting material although I didn’t spot their nest or eggs yet.  A few cattle egrets have also arrived and are courting.  And the gators are getting more active too.

Just before I left, I spotted this large turtle there – I’ve never seen one before.  It looks quite intimidating and I wouldn’t want to be too close to it in the water.

Alligator Snapping Turtle (?)Alligator Snapping Turtle

For a better idea of what you can photograph at Gatorland, you can look through my album on Flickr.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Breeding blue and hatching chicks

Thursday night, Tom M. invited me to meet him at Gatorland.  We both showed up at 7:30 Friday morning to see what’s changed from our visit on February 20th.  The answer is a lot!  Last time, it was mostly the Great Egrets starting to breed.  This time several more species are dressed up in their fancy colors and plumage and building nests.  And the Great Egret chicks are starting to hatch.  Here are some photos from the trip.

I saw this male Anhinga getting ready to take off and managed to make a frame  just as it left the tree.  You can see the breeding season blue around his eye as well as some of the crest on his head.

Anhinga close upAnhinga close up

Cormorant eyes are always pretty in the right light.  They add a striking blue mouth during nesting season.  Some of the Cormorants are already on nests.  This pair looked like they were just about to “get busy”.

Cormorant couple 2 Cormorant couple

Tri-colored Herons also add a dash of blue for breeding season.  They’re starting to show off with courting behaviors and poses to attract mates.

Tri-colored Heron displayingTri-colored Heron displaying

And here’s a couple of Great Egret siblings huddled up close to Mama in the nest.  I’m not sure you can call these young chicks without a full set of feathers beautiful, but they are cute.

Mama and two chicksMama and two chicks

Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Wood Storks and other species usually also nest in the this rookery – so we still have those to look forward to.  It’s a wonderful time to visit Gatorland, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, or your local bird rookery.  Don’t miss this chance to see nature in action!

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Fisheye, fog, and Flower

Wow – it’s been over a year since I’ve posted any fisheye photos on the blog. So one day last week, I mounted my Rokinon 7.5mm Micro Four Thirds lens and went out looking for some photos.  I ended up at Central Winds Park in Winter Springs.  It was very foggy and the light was a bit dim – it was a good thing I brought a tripod with me.  I noticed several kinds of wildflowers blooming and decided they might be good subjects..

Fog and mist can blur detail unless you get close.  Fog in the background can also help isolate your subject.  Getting close with a wide-angle lens (especially a fisheye) will emphasize close in objects and make them stand out.  So I got close to this flower.  It was off to the side of the path and I was able to frame it against the dead leaves so colors also helped it stand out.

Flowers in the forest by the footpath in the fog

Flowers in the forest by the footpath in the fog

Using an approach like this can give your image an almost 3d look. I stopped down to f/8 which made my depth of field large enough to cover the flower, but shallow enough to blur the background a little.  At base ISO (200) my exposure was 1/50 second.  I used -1 stop of exposure compensation so the sky in the background didn’t blow out, and this also helped with saturation.  The Rokinon is manual focus.  Since focus was critical, I carefully used magnified live view to get it just right.   I like how this turned out, but looking at it now maybe I should have gotten even closer.

You can see more of my fisheye photos in this set on Flickr.


A note about the blog:  I’m working to add Gallery / Portfolio pages to my site.  I’ve posted two so far.  You can get to them from the pull down menu at the top of the page, or by clicking these links:  Florida Landscapes,  Florida Wildlife.  Please take a look and let me know what you think.


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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

One way to improve your photography

If you want to get better at photography, you can find a lot of free advice on the inter webs.  Buy a new camera or lens, use new software, travel to an exotic location, take a workshop or a course, read books, study the masters, etc.

My free advice isn’t any of the above and it won’t cost you as much money as some of those things will.  And I don’t see it come up very often on-line.  Take my advice and not only will you learn new things – you’ll be exposed to different genres of photography, and you’ll be able to practice what you’ve been exposed to.  What’s the secret?

Join your local camera club.

The weather’s been gloomy around Central Florida recently.  solid grey clouds, rain and drizzle, and not much light to make photographs with.  So I was happy that there was a Still Life Event at the Orlando Camera Club meeting last Monday.  They brought in interesting items to photograph and had tables, lighting, and backdrops to use for set up.  I brought a camera, tripod and flash (although with my tripod, I ended up not needing the flash).  It was a lot of fun to choose items and arrange compositions.  It’s something I don’t usually do – but that’s a good thing.  Here are three photos from that evening.

TelephoneTelephone

Keb Mo bluesKeb Mo blues – Playing around with compositing: I made the foreground shot of the guitar & Blues sign at the Still Life event.  I added the background photo of Keb Mo that I made at his concert in the Plaza Theater in Orlando on Feb. 1 2012. 

Wrench, bolt, and lockWrench, bolt, and lock

I belong to the Orlando Camera Club (http://orlandocameraclub.com).  I’ve also attended meetings at the Port Orange Camera Club (http://www.portorangecameraclub.com) and the Oviedo Photo Club (http://oviedophotoclub.com).  Membership in any of these will benefit your photography.  Some things most clubs offer:

  • Photo competitions in different genres with feedback
  • Events (like the still life one I went to)
  • Guest speakers on many related topics
  • Workshops (free or inexpensive) about many subjects
  • Field trips to local photo ops
  • Libraries of photo books that you can borrow for free
  • And other people with similar (and diverse) interests to share your passion with

I’m sure that wherever you are, there’s a camera club that you can join too.

Here’s one other post I’ve written on still life photography, and you can see some of my other still life photographs in this set on Flickr


Update on the blog hosting change:  It does look like the transition’s been successful.  The email subscriptions seemed to go out ok last week and I haven’t received any problem reports.  One issue I’m aware of is that the move appears to have broken RSS subscriptions.  So If you’ve come here directly to find out why your Central Florida Photo Ops RSS feed isn’t working – I’m sorry.  I don’t think I can do anything about it.  You’ll have to re-subscribe.


And finally, I’m sure you heard that Leonard Nimoy passed away on Friday and will be buried today.  Of course I didn’t know him, but I felt I knew his famous Mr. Spock character that saved the day (and even the universe) so many times over the years.  May he rest in peace.


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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.