Category Archives: Must do list

Lobster Roll Stroll

Mary Kate had a craving for Lobster Rolls last Saturday and her favorite place to get them is at Cafe Heavenly (http://www.cafeheavenly.com) in New Smyrna Beach.   Lynn and I like the place too, so we drove over with her.

After lunch the girls wanted to window shop.  Me – not so much.  We set a time to meet, I left them to it, and set out to walk up and down Flagler Avenue.  With my camera, of course.

Harley Ladies on Flagler Ave.Harley Ladies on Flagler Avenue.

 It’s an interesting place.  There are all sorts of people, shops, places to eat and drink, and even a few hotels and B&Bs.

No VacancyNo Vacancy – Fortunately we didn’t need a place to stay.

Our weather here in Central Florida is turning summer like.  After about 45 minutes I was getting hot and thirsty.  I saw this, and agreed completely:

Polly wants a cocktailPolly wants a cocktail – I was getting pretty thirsty.

Oh yeah, about that Lobster Roll – they are delicious!

Cafe Heavenly Lobster Roll
Cafe Heavenly Lobster Roll – photo by Lynn Rosack, used with permission.

I enjoyed the food and the stroll.  You can see a few more photos from the area in this album on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Circle B Bar Reserve – February 20, 2016

Surprisingly, it’s been 2 1/2 years since I’ve been to the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Florida.  Surprising because although it is a longer drive for me, it’s such a wonderful place.  Every time I go, I realize again that it’s well worth the time.

Anyway, four of us from the Photography Interest Group woke up very early (me at 4:25 am!) and headed over.  Sunrise wasn’t as colorful as some mornings are, but the calm winds made for nice reflections.

Calm morningCalm morning – Looking west before sunrise

When we had enough light, we all shifted to birding mode and explored.  The temperature was just right for walking around.  We saw many warblers in the trees and bushes –  I think most were Yellow-rumped, but I’m not so good with IDs on smaller birds.

U lookin' at me?U lookin’ at me? Yellow-rumped Warbler

And the canals were full of wading birds looking for breakfast.

Green HeronGreen Heron

In spots the surface of the water was completely covered with duckweed, but incredibly the birds still managed to grab small minnows.

Snowy Egret and minnowSnowy Egret and minnow

I saw another egret pounce and come up with a stick, but as I watched it dropped the stick and kept and swallowed the minnow that was also in its beak – amazing skills!

We also saw a good variety of other birds including some less common ones:  hawks, Osprey, a Barred Owl, Cardinals, Belted Kingfishers, Sandhill Cranes,  Caspian Terns, a Black Crowned Night Heron, an American Bittern, a Carolina Wren, a Sora, a Swamp Sparrow, American Robins, an Eastern Phoebe, and others.

On the way out we parked for a few minutes to meet some famous new arrivals.

Great Horned Owl nest and chicksGreat Horned Owl nest and chicks

It wasn’t hard to find this nest – the tree was roped off, and a volunteer was doing a good job protecting the site and keeping all the photographers in order and back away from the birds!  It was nice to see these two little ones, and it was nice that all the people were polite and respected the bird’s space.

You can find more info and photos at these links:

The Circle B Bar Reserve is an extraordinary place – one of the many blessings we count here in Florida.  If you haven’t been there, go.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Orlando Wetlands Festival 2016

Just a quick and early post this week to make sure everyone knows about the Orlando Wetlands festival this Saturday (2/20/2016).

Smoke on the waterSmoke on the water – Morning mist on Lake Searcy at Orlando Wetlands Park

It starts at 9am and since attendance has grown so much, you’ll have to park this year at Fort Christmas and ride the free shuttles out to the Wetlands.  Please click on this link to go to their webpage for all the details:

http://www.cityoforlando.net/wetlands/wetlands-festival/

You’ll have fun and learn about this outstanding outdoor resource for our area.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos – at Orlando Wetlands Park!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Death Valley National Park, California

As you may have gathered from last week’s post, I got home on October 24th from a trip to Death Valley National Park.  Four of us from the Photography Interest Group (me, Tom M., Kevin M., and Kevin K.) were out there together, exploring this waterless wonderland on our longest, farthest group photo expedition yet.

When you think of the desert in the western US, you might imagine extreme heat and monochromatic scenes of empty barren land.  If so you probably haven’t been to Death Valley.  There is some empty barren land:

Badlands sunriseBadlands sunrise – This was my first visit to Death Valley and what I thought it would look like. 

And there are sand dunes and wind-blown textures:

Photographing Mesquite Flat DunesPhotographing Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes – A distant photographer lines up his shot.

But there are so many more things to experience there.

It’s the largest national park in the contiguous US at over 3.4 million acres.  The habitats are varied and the elevation ranges from 282 feet below sea level in Badwater Basin (the lowest point in North America) to more than 11,000 feet at the top of Telescope Peak.

Badwater panorama from Dantes ViewPanorama of Badwater from Dantes View, looking west toward Telescope Peak

Wait – did I say “waterless wonderland”?  When we arrived on October 18th, there was an epic rain storm in progress that caused flash flooding, road closures, downed power lines and other damage inside the park.  If you’re interested, I’ve posted a short video on YouTube that we made on our drive into Death Valley, showing the rain storms and some of the flooding we ran into.  And you can read this article on the National Parks Traveler webpage about the floods and damage.

Many of the places we wanted to see weren’t accessible while we were there.  The good news is that there were more than enough locations we could still get to, and the water created some rare views of the area.

Death Valley FloodsDeath Valley Reflections – Some locations had 5 inches of rain.  The following morning, we saw large pools of water west of route 190 and north of Furnace Creek.  It was a long walk (~1.5 miles from the road) to get close, and at times I wondered whether it was a mirage.  I’m guessing it’s rare to see the mountains and clouds reflected in standing water at this spot.

And are there any waterfalls in the desert?  You wouldn’t think so, right?  We decided to find out one day and after a long drive, hike, and rock scramble through a gorgeous canyon, we arrived at Darwin Falls, which seems like a miracle in the middle of such arid country.

Darwin FallsDarwin Falls – This desert waterfall in Death Valley had about a 40 foot drop. It’s spring fed and  flows year round, although the rains may have added some water while we were there.

There’s a lot of history in Death Valley too.  The Native American Timbisha tribe have lived in the valley for at least 1000 years.  Gold and silver mining started in the 1850s and Borax was discovered in the 1880s.  There are also several ghost towns to explore in the park and the surrounding areas.

20 Mule Team Wagon Train20 Mule Team Wagon Train – Used in 1885 to haul Borax From Death Valley to Mojave.
Borax Museum, Furnace Creek, California

Landscapes and scenery aren’t the only things to see.  There’s very little light pollution in the area.  The milky way is easily seen and we viewed an active Orionid Meteor shower on the morning of 21 October.

There’s also a surprising amount of wildlife.  While hiking back from the Mesquite Flat Dunes we spotted some motion ahead that turned out to be my first sighting ever of a fox in the wild.

Fox at Mesquite DunesKit Fox at Mesquite Dunes – We saw it from a distance. At first I thought it was a coyote, but Eric Vanbergen on Flickr suggested it might be a Kit Fox. Judging by the info on Wikipedia, he’s right.  I made the photo handheld (with my tripod still attached!) using a 24-120mm lens that I was using for landscapes. This is a small crop from the frame. It was nice of the Fox to stop, stand in the light, and look at the camera for me – but it should have come closer!

We also saw several of these, curiously along or as they crossed the road.  They’re large enough (~3 inches across) to spot as you drive by.

Classic Death ValleyClassic Death Valley (Photo by Kevin McKinney – used with permission) – We saw several Tarantulas while we were there.

And birds:  The National Park Service official bird list has hundreds of species that frequent Death Valley.  On this page they have some info on where to look and migration patterns.  Kevin M. also had a good time birding in places around and on the way to the park.

Here’s one last photo.  We’d been searching for a Road Runner all week but hadn’t seen any.  On the last afternoon we finally sighted this one as we drove by the visitor’s center. Of course, none of us had our camera gear – thank goodness for iPhones!

Greater Roadrunner, running“Beep Beep” – A Roadrunner outside the Visitor Center at Furnace Creek. I think this is the one the rangers have nick-named “Robbie”. It’s very tolerant of humans and went about catching and eating bugs while we watched.  

You can view many more photos from our trip at these links:

This is really more of trip report than a review or guide.  With so little time on site, I’m not qualified to give you much specific advice on photographing Death Valley.  But here is some info I found very useful:

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. We are really blessed in the US with all our national parks.  Now – visit one and make some photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Vacation, part 2: Shenandoah National Park

On July 4th, 1936, in the Virginia Blue Ridge mountains along Skyline Drive at Big Meadows, President Roosevelt dedicated Shenandoah National Park.  Since that time, people have greatly enjoyed wonderful vistas, beautiful waterfalls, quiet wooded hollows, hiking, wildlife and the night sky.

Shenandoah sunrise at Spitler KnollSunrise at Spitler Knoll

I’ve been to Shenandoah many times.  It’s the first national park I ever visited – too long  ago to admit.  I hiked there with our Boy Scout troop from Bowie, Maryland when I was a very young man .  Hiking’s a major activity at the park – the Appalachian Trail runs along and crosses Skyline Drive in many places.

Appalachian trail viewAppalachian trail view

Lynn and I also took Mike and Mary there when they were younger and we have fond (and scary!) memories of hikes with those two scrambling over rocks and along ridges to be first to see a view.  On one of our visits, we also picnicked with our good friends the Sullivans, and hiked with the kids down to Dark Hollow Falls.

Dark Hollow FallsDark Hollow Falls – A gorgeous waterfall, although crowded at times since it’s one of the closest ones to Skyline Drive.  (Photo from 1996).

To get the most out of your visit, you need an up to date guide-book.  We had one from our previous visits (printed in 1988!), but unfortunately we didn’t realize how out of date it was.  Fires and other events have changed places in the park, sometimes quite dramatically.  Fortunately, we found updated books at the park.  One example of the changes:

Dead eastern hemlock treesDead eastern hemlock trees – Hemlock Springs, Shenandoah National Park. We really enjoyed hiking through large stands of hemlock trees the last time we were there, 20+ years ago.  Now, 95% of the Hemlock trees in Shenandoah have been killed by the hemlock woolly adeligid, an invasive species introduced by humans. 

Weather can vary in the park.  All of our visit was beautiful, but we spent one day completely socked in with heavy rain and visibility of 50 to 100 feet.  I had fun walking around in the fog looking for photos, while Lynn wove a White Oak basket from scratch.

Rain drops in the mistRain drops in the mist

We saw lots of wildlife while we were there.  The deer are all over and not very skittish, since animals are protected in the park.  We also saw 2 black bears – exciting!  I didn’t look too hard for birds, but managed to spot at least one life bird (Dark-eyed Junco).

If you search the web you’ll see things to do in the surrounding area too.   We’ve been to Luray Caverns in the past, although we didn’t have time to explore outside the park this time.

In summary, Shenandoah National Park deserves to be on your bucket list.  If you haven’t been there yet, just go.  If you have been there, you know what I mean.

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and some other photos from our trip in this album on Flickr.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

 

Lion Country Safari

Intro / Description

I’d heard about Lion Country Safari and I’ve wanted to visit for a while.  Lynn and I finally got a chance to go last week.

“Lion Country Safari is a drive-through safari park located in Loxahatchee (near West Palm Beach), in Palm Beach County, Florida. Founded in 1967, it claims to be the first ‘cageless zoo’ in the United States.  In 2009, USA Travel Guide named Lion Country the 3rd best zoo in the nation.”  Wikipedia’s Lion Country Safari Page

Striped stareStriped stare

There are about 5 miles of paved roads running through several large areas divided by water and fences with more than 1,000 animals throughout.  I haven’t been to Africa, but it seems like a wonderful place to get a small taste of what safari might be like.

Info for Photographers

Rhino napRhino nap

Access for photographers is excellent.  It’s similar in some ways to Animal Kingdom in Orlando.  The photo ops for most of the large African animals  are better than the safari ride at Animal Kingdom.  At Lion Country Safari you go at your own pace in your own car.  At Animal Kingdom, you’re in a vehicle with others that you have no control over and most of the time you’ll have to shoot from the moving / shaking vehicle.  That said, Animal Kingdom does have some animals that Lion country Safari doesn’t have and in some cases with much better photography access.

Photo hints:

WildebeestWildebeest

You’re cautioned to drive slowly and not stop too close to the animals.  You’re also supposed to keep your doors locked and windows shut at all times.  I did cheat and one of the rangers yelled at me on a loudspeaker – “Close your window right now!”.  I did, of course and felt a little embarrassed.  The ranger probably would have been embarrassed too if she knew she yelled at the Central Florida Photo Ops lead writer!

When we drove through the zebra herd, I was a little leery of stopping behind any of them – I believe they have a very powerful kick.  But in general we felt very safe and I didn’t have any problems positioning the car for the shots I wanted.

Tripod/Monopod:  Nope.  You’ll be in your vehicle – so they aren’t useful.

Lenses:  Long lenses are good, although the animals are very close at times.  You’ll do fine if you have at least a 200mm equivalent lens.  Zooms are also very helpful to frame your composition from inside your car.  Unless it’s very overcast you should have plenty of light, but you’ll want to use a wide open aperture to blur out distracting detail (e.g. fences, etc.) and to keep your shutter speed high.

Best time to visit:  The animals are most active early in the morning.  Plan to drive through at least twice (no extra charge):  the light and the animals activities / positions will change.

Other:

The entrance fee is $31, although you can find discount coupons on-line.  This includes both the drive through safari park as well as the walk through safari and amusement park areas.  Lynn and I didn’t really explore the amusement park side, for more info on this, please see the Lion Country Safari web page.

We stayed at Jonathan Dickenson State Park in Jupiter, Florida in one of their small cabins and it made a great base of operations for exploring the area.

Our cabin at Johnathan Dickenson State Park

Our base of operations at Jonathan Dickenson State Park

Summary

We both liked Lion Country Safari.  The animals all seemed well fed, healthy, and even interested in the visitors.  They do animal rehabilitation, sanctuary, and research and seem to take very good care of the residents.  It’s one of the best zoos I’ve been to and I wish I’d gone sooner.  You can see more Lion Country Safari photos in this set on Flickr.

My Gallery /  Flickr photo set:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157650144549843
Website:  http://www.lioncountrysafari.com
Address / Phone: 2003 Lion Country Safari Rd
Loxahatchee, FL 33470
(561) 793-1084
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating:  A Central Florida Photo Op must do!

 


On a different subject, this blog celebrated its 8th birthday last week – the first post was published on May 4th, 2007.  That’s a long time ago in web years!  I hope that my photography and writing has improved at least a little since then.  Many thanks to everyone stopping by to read the articles and comment on them. It really helps to motivate me!

Now – go make some photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Pioneer Settlement at Barberville

The Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts in Barberville, Florida was founded in 1976. Lynn and I first went there when our kids were little – sometime in the 1980s. It’s grown a lot since then and the non-profit organization that runs it has kept it up and added many more buildings and displays than I remember.

Three of us from the retired chapter of the Photography Interest Group went over on November 19th.  The centerpiece of the campus is the original Barberville High School.

The Schoolroom
The Schoolroom – This is in the Barberville Central High School, built in 1909.  It was added to the National Register for Historic Places in 2002.  The window light and the wooden floors and desks were lovely the morning we were there.

The photos in this post are from just four of the buildings / displays that you can tour.  There are 22 in all.  I have photos of several more that I haven’t processed yet.  As I finish them, I’ll add them to this Barberville set on Flickr.

The store below was originally at the turpentine operation in Bakersburg, Florida.  It was moved to Barberville in 1984.

The H. L. Wynn Country Store
The H. L. Wynn Country Store – Get your insurance and your livestock feed, all in one place!

The only building at Barberville that isn’t from Florida is the log cabin.  It was built by Mr. Jim Lewis in 1875 in southern Georgia, and moved to Barberville in 1992.

Log Cabin Porch
Log Cabin Porch – complete with laundry!

The blacksmith’s shop was built in 1987.  The Florida Artist Blacksmith Association uses it for their monthly meetings and to work on their projects.

Tools of the trade
Tools of the trade – I love the huge bellows and the overwhelming number of tools available.

Check out the Pioneer Village web site for much more information.  They have many special events scheduled including their upcoming annual “Florida Christmas remembered”.  I think it’s worth another visit back to see the decorations.

Barberville is only about an hour from Orlando – right where SR 40 crosses US 17.  It’s well worth the trip.  If you have kids, they’ll like the exhibits, demonstrations, and animals.  Adults will enjoy seeing how Floridians used to live.  And as a photographer, it’s another “target rich environment”.

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