Category Archives: Downtown Orlando

Orlando – Downtown in the Dark

People probably don’t think of Orlando as a metropolis or street photography mecca like New York or Chicago, but it does have a photogenic downtown.  I wrote about a daytime stroll there in this post back in October of last year.  I suspected that it might be even more photogenic at night.  Last Wednesday evening I went back with Keith H. and Tom M.

The new Dr. P. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts was finished after our last trip and I was looking forward to seeing it at night.  It’s an impressive building and the architecture and lighting make it an attractive photo subject.  Here are two views of the main entrance:

Dr. Phillips Center 1 Dr. Phillips Center 1 – The new performing arts center in downtown Orlando

Dr. Phillips Center 2 Dr. Phillips Center 2

City hall is just west of the Performing Arts Center.  This view is looking up at the front doors from the base of the steps:

Orlando City Hall Orlando City Hall

Church Street Station is even further west and a bit north.  This sidewalk next to the SunRail tracks passing through caught my eye:

Down by the tracks Down by the tracks – Near Church Street Station

You can see other photos from this trip and many more from downtown Orlando in this set on Flickr.  I’m sure you can find many images of your own when you wander around downtown.

If you go:

  • Street parking is hard to find.  There are convenient parking garages – we used the one on South Orange Avenue at the Plaza Cinema Cafe.  I’d like to find a garage with access to the roof and a good panoramic view.  If you find one, please let me know!
  • The area by the Dr. Phillips Center / City Hall is well-lit and photogenic.  Lake Eola is also very popular with photographers.
  • There are a lot of people around early in the evening so the areas seem relatively safe, but be careful.
  • A wide-angle lens and tripod will help your architectural photos.  A high ISO capability and bright lens would be good if you want to try hand-held street photos.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

James Taylor at the Amway

Lynn and I went to see James Taylor last Tuesday.  He played at the arena downtown and the place was packed.  I guess there’s still a lot of us old timers that like his music (and can still hear).  He played a lot of his hits and a few newer songs too.

James Taylor and his All Star Band
James Taylor and his All Star Band – In concert at the Amway in Orlando, Florida. November 18th, 2014.  (ISO 800, f2.8 @ 1/80 sec., 70mm eq.)

Like any large sports type arena, the acoustics and sound mix weren’t the best, and the prices for this type of entertainment (along with parking and popcorn) are very high.  But it was a very good show and we both enjoyed ourselves.

Photographically, this is a very tough assignment.  Unless you have a stage or press pass, your camera gear and access will be limited.  For these events, the Amway has a very restrictive camera policy:  Your camera has to “fit in your pocket”.  Even though we had good seats, we were still pretty far from the stage.  My Sony point-and-shoot camera does fit in my pocket and I thought the photo above was worth keeping.  But I still wish the lens was longer than 24-70mm equivalent.

Back when I was in the Navy, I had to go to sea for months at a time and leave Lynn behind in Charleston, South Carolina. We missed each other terribly.  One of my favorite songs from then was James Taylor’s  “Carolina in my mind”. It was wonderful to hear him play it live – with Lynn in the seat right beside me.

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

Downtown Orlando

I seem to have a preference for wide views.  Hence my attraction to stitched multi-frame panorama images.  They’re a great way to extend the field of view of lenses you have with you.

Keith H. and I walked around downtown Orlando for a few hours one day last week.  I made a lot of photos, and after getting home and reviewing them, my favorites all turned out to be stitched panoramas.  I guess I just enjoy being able to see the whole scene.  Here are three examples:

Back alley break
Back alley break – A woman takes a work break on the back stairs. 4 frame panorama

Also, I hardly ever make selfies, but on this walk I ended up with two that I like – although they aren’t typical of the genre.

A selfie
A window selfie – Looking south across Church Street from the 4th floor of the Plaza parking garage. That’s my reflection in the glass towards the middle bottom. Infra Red, Black & White, 4 frame panorama.  (Click for a larger view on Flickr)

And this next one isn’t a Black & White photo – the sidewalk and wall were that color.

Cracks me up
Cracks me up – A shadow selfie. 3 frame panorama.

You might find you like stitching panoramas too.  I’ve written about them before.  This article has a detailed workflow example and there are some more ideas in this post.  Composition can be difficult since you can’t see the final image through your viewfinder as you capture it.  Try to cover a larger area than you think you’ll need so you can crop into the assembled image to fine tune the composition.  And watch out for long lines and patterns of lines.   Look for any errors / mismatched lines between frames after you stitch them together and clean them up with the clone tool.

Besides downtown itself, there are several areas in Orlando with interesting photo ops: the Plaza Theatre, Leu Gardens, Lake Eola, Meade Gardens, and Greenwood Cemetery.  I’ve collected photos from all of them in this set on Flickr.

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

RIP Tim Hauser

Sad news:  Tim Hauser, who founded the Manhattan Transfer in the early ’70s, passed away Thursday. He was 72.

Lynn and I are long time fans of the group’s unique music. We enjoyed seeing them perform live early this year.

Manhattan Transfer at the Plaza in Orlando, Florida - 1/24/14
Tim Hauser, Janis Seigel, Margaret Dorn, Alan Paul
Manhattan Transfer at the Plaza in Orlando, Florida – 1/24/14

If you have an opportunity to see an artist you enjoy – go do it.  You don’t know if you’ll get another chance.

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Riding the Rails – Orlando’s New SunRail Commuter Train

There are a lot of posts on here about nature / wildlife / landscape photography in our area.  But the blog isn’t only about those subjects – it’s about Central Florida Photo Ops in general.  So this week we have something a little different…

Central Florida’s new commuter rail system opened on May 1.  The first phase of SunRail is 32 miles long and connects DeBary to Sand Lake Road, with 12 intermediate stations.   The fares have been free for the first two weeks while they work the kinks out of the system.  And I had some free time – so it was a perfect chance to check it out.

Trains run every 1/2 hour during the morning and evening rush hours and every two hours in the middle of the day.  Getting there early gave me more opportunities to get on and off the train and explore nearby locations.  And sometimes the light is really pretty in the morning too!

A beautiful morning to catch the train
A beautiful morning to catch the train – at the Maitland SunRail platform

The trains are new, clean, modern, air-conditioned, and the morning I rode they were all on time.  They’ve been crowded with many folks riding for free to scope out the system.  But by the time I boarded last Wednesday the crush had thinned out – I had no problem getting seats all morning.

Northbound Sunrail
Northbound

There are plenty of scenic locations within walking distance of the SunRail stations.   Exploring them all would take longer than a morning so I only stopped at three: Orlando Health, Winter Park, and Maitland.  Finding subjects to point my camera at was easy. Here are two examples:

Seaboard Coast Line - Amtrak
Seaboard Coast Line – Amtrak Station

Lucy Bleuz and the Jazzy Dog
Lucy Bleuz and the Jazzy Dog –  they look like good places to eat

I didn’t try photographing from inside the train – motion and glare would make it tough.  But there are some interesting sights between stops.  If you want to try this, the east side of the car in the afternoon might have the best shots and light.

Initially, SunRail isn’t operating on weekends – so you’ll need to get around another way on Saturday / Sunday.  But if you have time during the week, it’s an enjoyable experience.  And did I mention there are photo ops?

You can see these and a few more photos from this trip in this set on Flickr.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Keb Mo at the Plaza, February 28, 2013

Keb Mo (Kevin Moore) made a return visit to the Plaza Theatre in downtown Orlando last night.  This time he left the band home and performed solo.

Keb Mo at the Plaza Theatre, Februaey 28, 2013
Keb Mo

The man has a lot of talent.  I enjoyed this show every bit as much as his last one here.  He sang and played four different instruments – including three guitars and a harmonica.  The place was full of his fans and they obviously enjoyed the show too.  He interacted quite a bit with the audience and most of the songs he played were based on requests.  There was even one funny part where he played a montage of several cover tunes while waiting for an audience member to return – since she had requested the next song.

Once again Lynn and I had excellent seats (this time on the left) and I was able to get a couple nice photos of him.

Keb Mo at the Plaza Theatre, Februaey 28, 2013
Keb Mo

I highly recommend both Keb Mo’s music and the Plaza. If you get a chance, check ’em out.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos (and listen to some music)!
©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Long exposure at Lake Eola

Deborah Sandidge and Jason Odell led a sunset photo walk around Lake Eola in downtown Orland on Friday evening.  I’ve followed their work online and wanted to meet them, so I signed up.  Conditions weren’t the best for sunset photography, but I still had a good time.  I used a neutral density filter to make several long exposure photos and I thought I’d walk you through my process.  First of all, here’s the final version:

Lake Eola - Orlando, Florida
Lake Eola – Orlando, Florida.  Long exposure, cloudy, sunset. You can click on this image to see a larger version on Flickr.

And here’s the initial version of this photo:

-_D8C7377- Ed Rosack

f/8, 25 seconds; after initial adjustments in Lightroom.

Here are the steps I went through to get to the final version:  First, I corrected the distortion to make the buildings vertical in Lightroom.  Then I edited it in Photoshop.  I used content aware fill to finish the vertical distortion fix, then added a layer and masked out noise from darker areas.  Finally, I ran the single image through Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 to enhance color, contrast and details.  Back in Light room again, I finalized exposure, contrast and white balance and applied sharpening and a small amount of vignette.  I like how it came out.
For comparison purposes, here’s a 1/20 second exposure of the same scene.

-_D8C7376- Ed Rosack

f/8, 1/20th second; Same initial adjustments as the version above.

Looking at the long exposure version, the main differences I see are:  the smooth sheen on the water surface, the much more prominent tree shadow in the lower right, and the radial motion blurring in the clouds.  The tree shadow surprised me the most.  In the short exposure version, the water ripples break up the shadow.  They don’t in the long exposure version, which makes the shadow much more interesting.

There are lot of upsides to long exposure photography and a few downsides.  For instance, since the wind was blowing so hard on Friday, some of the smaller tree branches are a little blurry.  Also, when you use very dense neutral density filters, your camera probably won’t auto expose or auto focus correctly, so you’ll have to take care of those things on your own.  And some of these filters can also add a color cast to your photos, so you may need to be careful with your color balance.  But all in all, it’s a great technique to have in your bag of tricks.  Have you tried it yet?  Why not?

You can see more photos from Lake Eola in this set on Flickr.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.