Category Archives: Blue Cypress Lake

Blue Cypress Ospreys

May 12, 2017 update:  We’re far behind on rainfall here in Central Florida, so the water level in many lakes is very low.  It’s a good idea to call Middleton’s Fish camp (800-258-5002) and check on conditions at Blue Cypress Lake and whether rental boats / tours are available before you go down.

Here are a few more photos from our trip to Blue Cypress Lake.   Last week I only posted IR images, so this time I’ll use all color photos.

Joe Middleton's restJoe Middleton’s rest

It’s peaceful there.  Whenever our boat was still, the calling Ospreys and Whistling Ducks seemed very loud.  Occasionally we could also hear quiet voices from other boats carried across the water.

Many of the Osprey nests are in smaller trees out in the water.  The boats can maneuver for a good vantage point and standing up in the pontoon boats puts you almost at eye level with the wild birds – providing a wonderful view of their behaviors.

Breakfast timeBreakfast time – These chicks were very tiny.  The third one (low in front) shows how well they blend in.

Don told us that the younger chicks were probably from migratory birds, since they start nesting a bit later than the year round residents.  In this next photo,  two year round juvenile birds look almost ready to fledge.

Mama and two juvenile OspreyMama and two juvenile Osprey.

The Ospreys don’t have any trouble catching fish.  But getting a photo of one with a fresh whole catch is a challenge.  They almost always stop right away and consume the heads.

Osprey with fishOsprey with fish.

And then deliver the rest back to the nest for their mate and chicks.

Special deliverySpecial delivery

I have more photos from Blue Cypress Lake in this album on Flickr. And Kevin K. has posted his from last Friday in this folder.

I hope I’ve given you some sense of what a wonderful place this is.  You owe it to yourself to go and experience it.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Beautiful Blue Cypress

May 12, 2017 update: We’re far behind on rainfall here in Central Florida, so the water level in many lakes is very low. It’s a good idea to call Middleton’s Fish camp (800-258-5002) and check on conditions at Blue Cypress Lake and whether rental boats / tours are available before you go down.

Lone cypress at dawnLone cypress at dawn  (IR, B&W, panorama).

The trees at Blue Cypress Lake are simply gorgeous.  Their shapes remind me of  Bonsai, although I think instead Bonsai should remind me of these trees.  The ones here are all completely natural, formed by nature into elegant sculptures.  I love the way my infrared camera renders them.  The bright needles and clouds against the darker sky and water is very appealing.

Lynn and I spent last Thursday night near Vero Beach and met Kevin K. at Middleton’s Fish Camp just before sunrise on Friday.  Middleton’s is the only camp and the only development at all on Blue cypress Lake.  The rest of the lake and shore is completely pristine and undisturbed – very rare in our state.  It’s also quiet.  And peaceful.  And just stunning.

Photographing Blue Cypress LakePhotographing Blue Cypress Lake  (IR, B&W).

I wrote about Blue Cypress Lake back in June of 2012, and that’s worth a read if you’re interested.  All of the info there is still current.

This place really is Florida unspoiled, and a photographic “target rich environment”.  We went on one of their pontoon boat tours at first light and Don (our guide) was knowledgable and skilled at navigating in and among the trees near the shore.   He mentioned that this lake and the surrounding swamp form the headwaters of the St. Johns River, which flows north to the ocean in Jacksonville – something I didn’t know.

Lone cypress and OspreyLone cypress and Osprey  (IR, B&W, panorama).

Blue Cypress Lake is also home to a large colony of Osprey.  There are 200+ breeding pairs with  eggs, hatchlings, and some almost fledged juveniles in nests in the Cypress trees.  The birds fish in the surrounding swamp and carry their catch  back for the young.  Many of these Osprey are migratory and leave for South America after raising their young – something else I didn’t realize.

Jeanne Middleton told me that prime nesting time starts around 10 April so we hit it just about right.  I made a lot of photos of the Osprey last Friday too.  I’ll finish processing them and post them soon.

I have more photos from Blue Cypress Lake in this album on Flickr. And Kevin K. has posted his from last Friday in this folder.

I should go down there and write about this place more often.  It deserves to be seen, photographed, and saved for the future.  Have you been?  If not, what are you waiting for?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – get some of your friends, head down to Blue Cypress Lake, and make some photos!

©2017, 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.

Review and Reprocess

Sometimes after a photo shoot, I’ll skip over images if I’m short on time or something looks too hard to deal with.  Other times, I may play with a photo for a while and then set it aside when I just can’t seem to get it right.  When I learn a new technique or get a new software package or upgrade I try to go through my image library and pick out existing photos that could benefit from the new capability.  And yes, I also notice images that no longer look as good to me as they did at first.  Something I did a few years ago may have seemed great then – but tastes change.

I use Lightroom to catalog my photos and I have a keyword called “Process” with three sub-keywords “Color”, “pano”, and “other”.  Using these, I mark photos I want to revisit and I’ve built up a collection of them for future processing.  I had a little time this week to go through and pick three to work on:

Reflections at Kelly Park
Kelly Park Reflections:  Merritt Island, Florida, February 19, 2013. The water was amazingly calm that morning and I like the reflections as well as the detail / lights on the horizon.  I  bypassed this image at first because of trouble with the white balance.  This time through the result is much closer to the look I wanted.

Main Sanctuary of the Cathedral Basilica
The Main Sanctuary of the Cathedral Basilica, Saint Augustine, Florida, February 28, 2013.  Black and white infrared.  I don’t remember why I didn’t finish this photo back in February.  I like the light, detail, and tonality.

Three more cypress trees
Three more cypress trees:  Blue Cypress Lake, near Fellsmere, Florida, June 2, 2012. False color infrared.  Since IR doesn’t capture color as your eye sees it, color conversions are very subjective.  As I gain experience, my tastes are changing.  This version is very different from how I processed other IR photos at the time.

So, some recommendations:

  • If you’re struggling with an image, don’t delete it.  Mark it and move on.  Come back and revisit it later.
  • Organize, document, and keyword your images so you can find hidden gems to re-process.
  • Review your photo library occasionally.  Your photography skills and tools aren’t static.  So your portfolio shouldn’t be static either.  Revise older images and make them better.  You might be surprised what comes out of your archives.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Thanksgiving 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Many places in the world celebrate a thanksgiving holiday. In the United States, we pause on the fourth Thursday of November to commemorate our founders and give thanks. The “first Thanksgiving” took place in 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts to celebrate a good harvest. In 1789, President George Washington declared it a national holiday. The date shifted over time until December 26, 1941, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress moving it  from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday.

Thanksgiving dinner can be quite elaborate.  Turkey is the most common main dish, and Thanksgiving is sometimes called “Turkey Day”.  Bread stuffing, gravy, cranberries, and pumpkin pie are also traditional.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey – This Tom Turkey was posing in a field next to the road into Blue Cypress Lake. He was initially so still that we thought he might be a decoy. There were several more on the other side of the road.

Wild Turkeys were endangered in the early 1900s, but are common now throughout the US and in Florida.  I’ve even seen some in my neighborhood (in Central Winds Park).  They’re native to North America and the largest game bird on the continent.  In the 16th Century, the major trade route from the Americas went through Constantinople in Turkey before going on to Britain. They associated the birds with the country Turkey and the name stuck.

I’m a very fortunate person and have much to be thankful for.  I realize this and sometimes worry about the odds catching up with me.  At the top of the list, of course are my family and my friends.  What are you thankful for?

You can read more about Blue Cypress Lake in this post, and see more photos from there in this set on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – be thankful, have a great day, and go make some photos!

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Blue Cypress Lake

Intro / Description

What a beautiful place.

One cypress treeBlue Cypress Lake

I’d seen a few mentions online of Blue Cypress Lake near Vero Beach, Florida. It’s a long drive from Winter Springs – which is why I hadn’t made it down there. But that’s also why I was up at “0 dark thirty” last Saturday. Fortunately, I packed the night before so I was able to sleep in just a bit.  I also didn’t want to arrive in the dark on my first time there. So Kevin M. and I met at 5:30 near his house and were off.  There was a lot of fog and drizzle on our drive down, although it eventually cleared up and the clouds added some drama to the skies.  We turned in to Blue Cypress Lake Road just after 7am, but were delayed by stops for photos of Wild Turkeys in the fields on the west side and three Otters playing in the road up near the lake.

At Middleton’s Fish camp, we first parked near the camp sites, but couldn’t really see much from the shore – although with the right lens a sunrise shot from the bridge over the canal might be very pretty. We decided to rent a small boat to explore out in the water and wow, I’m glad we did!  We went north and scouted the trees, shoreline, and birds for about two hours.

The calm water and weathered cypress trees make for some outstanding scenery. We also saw literally hundreds of Ospreys and a good portion of them were carrying or eating fish. There were also plenty of alligators, a few quite large.  Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were also numerous and they serenaded us the whole morning.  We heard an eagle but didn’t see it and although there are supposed to be hawks and barred owls, we didn’t see any of them.

Osprey Family
Osprey Family – One of the many nests on Blue Cypress Lake. Many are just a few feet from the water. (Photo courtesy of Kevin McKinney)

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:

According to the locals, the best cypress trees are on the west side of the lake (where Middleton’s is) both north and south of the canal. For sunrise shots, you’d probably want to get between the shore and some of the farther out trees. This might be tough, especially in the dark if you don’t know the lake.  Be careful of hidden snags / submerged fallen trees that could hang you up! If you’re on the lake later in the day, a safer photo might be an evening sunset from a little farther out with a telephoto lens.

Many cypress trees
Many cypress trees: The north-west shore of Blue Cypress Lake, Black & White, Infrared

If you have an IR camera or filter, YOU MUST BRING IT to Blue Cypress Lake! I just love the way Cypress trees show up in infrared.

Depending on how much time you have available, there are a couple of other places you could check out in the area.  On the way home, we went by Joe Overstreet Road.  On the way we saw (and I finally got a photo of) a Swallow-tailed Kite.  When we arrived, we saw Eastern Meadowlarks, Sandhill Cranes, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Bobwhite, egrets, herons, and other birds.  We hoped to see a Whooping Crane, but no such luck.

Swallow-tailed Kite with snake
Swallow-tailed Kite with snake

Tripod/Monopod:

I brought mine, but didn’t use it out on the lake.  It’s not much use inside the boat.  Although many people get out into the water to use theirs, I was a bit leery of doing this.  If you do, just be very careful of the depth and your footing and be sure to watch for alligators!

Lenses:

I had a 16 – 35mm on one camera and a 28 – 82 equivalent on the other.  I felt the 16 – 35 was a bit too wide for the conditions.  Next time I go, I think a 24 – 70 would be ideal for Cypress trees /  landscapes.  For birds of course, you’ll want a stabilized telephoto lens that you can handhold in a moving boat.  Kevin used his 70 – 300VR  on his DX crop body for some great shots.

Best time to visit:

If you go in February – April, you’ll be able to see Osprey’s nesting, breeding and raising their young. Some of the nests are quite close to the water so you can get an excellent look. Just be sure you don’t stress the birds.

There will still be many Ospreys around to photograph the rest of the year. Many of them are fishing and carrying their catch back to a convenient tree, so opportunities for flight shots of these magnificent birds with their prey abound.

Of course, the cypress trees are here year round.

Other:

Middleton’s Fish Camp offers tours and rents boats, and cabins.  If you also fish, they rent fishing tackle and sell bait.  If you do want to rent or take a tour, call ahead for availability.

Summary

My Gallery / Flickr photo set: My Blue Cypress Lake photos on Flickr

Kevin M’s Blue Cypress Lake photos on Flickr

Website: http://www.middletonsfishcamp.com/
Address / Phone:

21704 73rd Manor
Vero Beach, Florida 32966

1-800-258-5002

View in Google Maps

Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: Central Florida Photo-Op must do!

A wonderful, wonderful trip.

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.