Monthly Archives: April 2015

Viera Wetlands, Earth Day 2015

I realize this post comes a little late for Earth Day.  But I usually only publish once a week on the weekends, and on April 22nd  I was out enjoying the Earth.

“Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which day events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970″  Wikipedia

I haven’t written anything here about Viera Wetlands lately and decided to head down and see what’s going on there.  On the way, I ran into this scene.  I really liked the clouds, the way the their edge leads to the sun, the reflections in the calm water,  and the illumination on the flowers in the foreground.

Sunrise by the riverEarth Day sunrise by the Arlington / St. Johns River at SR 50, east of Christmas, Florida

I think Viera Wetlands is an appropriate place to celebrate Earth Day.  It’s a water reclamation facility and the very clean water provides a home for many birds and animals.  Here’s a link to a chart showing the 233 kinds of birds sighted there, organized by month.  Last Thursday, I saw:  Alligator, American Coot, Anhinga, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Double-crested Cormorant, Osprey, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron,Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Limpkin, Pied-billed Grebe, Common Gallinule, Grackle, Northern Cardinal, Mockingbird, Least Bittern, and Red-winged Blackbird.

This next photo is interesting.  The bird was hiding in the reeds and severely back-lit.  I couldn’t really tell what it was but managed to focus through the plants and get a good exposure.  At the time I thought it was probably a Green Heron since I’ve seen many of them at Viera.  When I got home and could check it on the computer, I realized it was a Least Bittern, a much rarer sighting (for me anyway).

Had I realized it then, I’d have spent more time trying to get a better photo.  Two teaching points (remember these, Ed):  1)  The camera is a good tool for extending your eyesight.  It can see what you sometimes can’t.  2) Always take the photo – you can’t be sure what you’ve got until later.

Least BitternLeast Bittern – I found this little one hiding in the reeds at Viera Wetlands. It was extremely back-lit and hard to see.

Here’s one more somewhat interesting photo from that day.  To me, these look like a large sparrow, but they’re actually female Red-winged Blackbirds.  If you start trying to ID it by comparing it to different types of sparrows, it’ll take you a while to climb back out of that rabbit hole.  The good news is that once you do learn this ID you’re more likely to remember it next time.  If you’re interested, here’s a photo of a male.

Female Red Winged BlackbirdFemale Red-winged Blackbird

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Algorithmic and Computational Photography

I have a long time interest in photography and a degree in Electrical Engineering.  I’ve also worked for many years in digital design, software engineering, and system engineering.  The changes happening in photography fascinate me.  Here’s an example:

TranquilityTranquility – An exceptionally calm morning in the marsh (On Black Point Wildlife Drive in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.)

I made this image yesterday using the high-resolution mode available in the Olympus OM-D E-M5II.  It’s a two frame panorama, but this discussion applies to single frame images too.  The camera comes with a 16 Mega-Pixel sensor and can generate images 4 times larger (~64 Mega Pixels) using some very clever built-in technology and processing.  I won’t go into how it does it (if you’re curious, here’s a good explanation).  If you’re careful and the conditions are right (no motion) the results are outstanding.  I’m also seeing  lower noise and better color results compared to normal resolution images.  Heres a small crop that’ll give you an idea of the detail captured.

An exceptionally calm morning in the marsh; On Black Point Wildlife Drive in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
A 1:1 crop from the photo above showing the detail captured

Each new model of camera adds more capability:  High Dynamic Range, Panoramas, Lens distortion / aberration correction, 3-D / post shot focusing (Lytro), face recognition, image stabilization, Live Composite, and many more algorithms are all being done now in camera.

Most of these (and more) can also be done with software on your computer or phone.  In fact, the computation capabilities inside your phone are one reason they’re replacing point and shoot cameras.  Algorithms / computation  can overcome many of the limitations of the relatively simple camera in your phone.  Look at the Hydra app for an example of this.

Photography started as an analog activity.  Capture the light via optics, film, chemicals, and sometimes (for experts) manipulation / fine tuning of the chemical process.  Create prints with more chemistry and manipulation of light during printing.

Photography today still involves capturing light using optics.  Instead of chemistry, most people use digital sensors.  And capturing the light as digital information allows us to apply algorithms using computers in many places in the process – either in camera like the E-M5II or in post processing.

I think the pace of change in the camera industry is slowing down at least with regard to sensors.  For instance, the E-M5II sensor is said to be identical to the first model (from three years ago).  But the rate of change in algorithms and processing is speeding up.  The new model has a faster processor with added capabilities.

Where’s all this going?  I don’t really know.  As they say:  “It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future”.  I do know it’s a very interesting time to be a photographer.  And if you’re a photographer, I don’t think you should ignore the algorithmic and computational side of things.  Some of the processing tools can provide exciting capabilities.


On a different subject, there’s a Clyde Butcher exhibition in town at the Maitland Art Center until May 16th, 2015.  If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend that you go.  The subjects / compositions / technique are wonderful and the prints are large and masterfully done.  Lynn and I went last Thursday and as we were leaving, Clyde Butcher walked in.  I very much enjoyed meeting him.

He achieves beautiful results with an analog, large format, black and white approach which would be very difficult to reproduce with a digital workflow.  That won’t be true forever.  What will most likely be true forever is that his kind of artistic inspiration and results will be extremely difficult to reproduce with an algorithm.


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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Climate Change

We had a wonderful visit with Mike and Sara last week in Wisconsin.  We waited until April to go so the weather would have time to warm up.  And it did – but it was still a change for Lynn and I.  We’re used to Florida’s climate.

On one day, we drove up into Door County and had a good time tasting local wines.  The area’s scenic, although not quite thawed out yet.  It was just above freezing with a strong wind – nice and brisk!  This photo is from Fish Creek Harbor.

Spring is on the waySpring is on the way – Door County, Wisconsin

By way of contrast,  yesterday in Florida looked like this.  When I made the photo, it was in the mid-70s and on the way up to 90 degrees F.

No one watching?No one watching? – Just south of Rotary Riverfront Park in Titusville, Florida

We did find patches of color while we were in Wisconsin.  Here’s one scene we all enjoyed on another morning.

S.A.L.T. Restauranct in De Pere, Wisconsin
S.A.L.T. Restaurant in De Pere, Wisconsin

So that’s our version of personal climate change over the last week.  It was chilly in Wisconsin, but we got a very warm welcome.  And if you clicked on this hoping for a debate about global warming, sorry.  Maybe another day.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go spend time with your family – and make some photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Explore and discover – then react

Some photographers plan their photo ops in detail.  In many cases that’s a good approach. Portrait and wedding photography are genres that need advanced planning.  And if you’re going on a once in a lifetime trip, planning is prudent.  Other genres are more reactive (e.g. photo journalism).

I try to do research and planning if I’m going somewhere I haven’t been, but I don’t plan most of my photography.  Especially if I’ve been to a place before, my approach is to explore and discover, and then react to what I find.  Often, I end up with photos that I never imagine when I start out.  Which is loads of fun!

A few weeks ago, I went over to the Sanford Marina to make sunrise photos.  I arrived early and discovered very calm conditions in the harbor.  I reacted with this photo.  It’s nothing like the sunrise I originally went looking for.

Still water, sailboats, and starsStill water, sailboats, and stars – Very early and very calm at the Sanford marina

Last week, I took a ride here in Central Florida along Maytown Road between Osteen and Oak Hill.  It goes through some very undeveloped areas and ends at Seminole Rest, a small park in the Canaveral National Seashore.  In this case, I hadn’t really planned for any photos.  I was just driving to see what’s there.  I was glad to discover this gnarled old tree, although I wish I’d found a little better light to go with it.

Weathered TreeWeathered Tree – Seminole Rest, Canaveral National Seashore in Oak Hill, Florida

This last photo is from back in 2013.  It sat in my archives until this week when I discovered it again and processed it.  It took a while for me to complete my reaction to the scene.

Sun and shadowsSun and shadows – Long exposure under the pier at Cocoa Beach

The photo and video in last week’s post also resulted from the “explore, discover, react” approach.

So what’s the moral of this story?  I suppose it’s this:  If you approach photography like I do, you’d better be ready to react to a scene when you see it.  Know your equipment so you can capture what you need when you discover something.  Even in the dark or in rapidly changing situations.  Know your software capabilities too, so you understand what you need to capture.  Be ready for the opportunities that you find, and the ones that find you.


On a different subject, I realized after I published last week’s blog that embedded video isn’t included in the email.  The Jetpack plugin software that I use doesn’t even put in a link to it.  So if you read the blog only via email and wondered what the video was about, you can click here to view it on YouTube.   And you can always click on the title of the post inside the email to view it on the web.  Sorry for any confusion.


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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.