Category Archives: St. Augustine

St. Augustine

Indisposed

… Interesting word.  dictionary.com shows two definitions:

  1. sick or ill, especially slightly:  to be indisposed with a cold.
  2. disinclined or unwilling; averse

Both applied to me last week.

Springtime colorSpringtime color – Flowers in a courtyard in St. Augustine, Florida

Lynn mentioned she’d like to spend a night or two in St. Augustine and I readily agreed.  It’s one of my favorite, must do photo ops.  She made reservations at a Bed and Breakfast (http://www.44spanishstreetinn.com) just behind the Columbia Restaurant and we headed up there last weekend.

I’d been feeling a little sick, although not bad enough to cancel the trip.  I was looking forward to going back to Marineland Beach (earlier posts here and here) and perhaps the Alligator Farm (many posts here).

We arrived mid-afternoon on Saturday and checked in.  It was a lovely place and extremely convenient.  Strolling around town before dinner, I warmed up my camera with a few photos including the one above.

I woke up feeling worse on Sunday morning and decided to sleep in.  We were staying one more night and I figured I could always do sunrise the next morning.  After a wonderful french toast breakfast and some cold medicine, we set out to explore on the Old Town Trolley.  We’d never done that before and I was glad we did this time.  Riding the entire route, we got to locations we hadn’t seen on previous trips.  It was also very nice to just sit there and still be able to make some images.  My energy was very low and I was indisposed to walking around.

Est. 1875Est. 1875

I had a small camera bag with me, and shot mostly with my infrared camera.  I like the way it rendered the old buildings.  It was out and ready when I noticed this fellow riding in front of the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

Infrared bicycle pirateInfrared bicycle pirate – commuting to work?

I tried searching for ‘infrared bicycle pirate’ photos on both Google and Flickr and didn’t find any.  Apparently they’re a very rare genre.  Perhaps I should specialize.

Monday morning came with my symptoms getting worse and once again I couldn’t get up for sunrise or even make it to the Alligator Farm.  I guess that means we’ll have to schedule another trip.  I’m feeling a better as I write this and hope I won’t have to go to the doctor tomorrow.

I’m happy I made a few images I like.  If you’re sick (indisposed) fight your lack of desire (indisposition) to make photos.  You can look at other photos from St. Augustine in this folder on Flickr.

Happy Easter and thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – don’t be or get indisposed – go make some photos!

©2017, 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

St. Augustine, Florida and vicinity – photo hints

Lynn was out-of-town last week at the Pressing Iron & Trivet Collectors of America Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. I talked her into letting me out of my spousal support services subcontract, so I had a chance to sneak in a few days of photography while she was away. I spent the time in St. Augustine, Florida, which is “the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States”. I’ve written about it many times (see this link) and it’s one of my favorite places to photograph. Photo ops abound and include landscapes, architecture, street scenes, beaches, historic landmarks, wildlife, and much more. It’s hard to go anywhere in the area and not come back with a photo! Here are some of mine along with hints on how I made them.
There are some wonderful sunrise and sunset spots. Friends told me about Marineland Beach (thanks Kevin M. and JT) which is just a little south of St. Augustine. It’s now one of my new favorites. The coquina rocks there worked really well as foreground objects in my photos.

Long exposure sunrise

Long exposure sunrise – Marineland Beach, Florida

This is a single exposure, made through a Hoya ND400 filter right after sunrise. The waves were coming in around me, but I stood my tripod on one of the rocks to keep us dry. I used my lowest ISO setting (50) and even with the sun in the frame, the 8 2/3 stop ND filter gave me a 14 second exposure at f/8 . The long shutter speed makes the water surface contrast nicely with the rock texture.

One thing you’ll run into in Florida on summer mornings is condensation. It’s so humid that if you take your camera gear directly from your air-conditioned room or car out into the moist air, you can expect 15 to 30 minutes of fog before they clear. You can decrease this by not running your car’s AC on the way. You can also seal your camera and lens in a plastic bag with as much air removed as possible until it warms up. And it’s a good idea to bring along a micro-fiber cloth to remove condensation if needed. The larger your camera / lens is, the longer it will take to warm up. This is one time that good glass works against you – at least until the temperature equalizes. One more point: try not to change lenses under these conditions. If water condenses on your sensor, it can be hard to remove and may cause dust to adhere to the surface.

The harbor and fort (Castillo de San Marcos) also provide interesting detail for sunrise or sunset and landscapes in general.

A calm morning in the St. Augustine harbor.
A calm morning in the St. Augustine harbor: Clouds to the north over the Castillo de San Marcos and the quarter Moon above the Bridge of Lions add interesting detail to this image.

This photo and the next were both multi-shot panoramas made with the techniques I described last week. Images like the harbor scene can be tough to blend due to smooth gradients in the sky and water. Be sure you check carefully and correct any glitches.

Another thing about summer in Florida: We have awesome afternoon thunderstorms. Clouds add a lot of drama to photos, but the storms were so bad on two of the days I was there that I couldn’t go out for sunset. Plan accordingly.

St. Augustine Sunset
St. Augustine Sunset behind the Castillo de San Marcos

On this evening at the fort, there was a large thunder-storm to the west. The sky wasn’t colorful at all until the sun moved down below the thunder head, resulting in these shadows and rays. One big advantage of sunset photography vs. sunrise is that you can wait to see what develops. At sunrise, you need to be in place extremely early to see all the variations happen.

I had a great time walking around the fort at sunset with my large tripod and big DSLR camera. Most people were oblivious and walked right through my photos (I don’t blame them – I don’t own the place).  I’d wait for a clear spot in the traffic and make another exposure. Other folks stood next to me since they thought wherever someone with a big camera is has to be a good spot. At one point, a tour guide in a pirate costume leading a group of 20 or so people saw me and stopped his group from walking in front of me until I finished my exposure. It turned out he’s a photographer too.

I wanted to try a night photo of the lighthouse. I also wanted to capture the look of the beam coming out of the light. This turned out to be a tough assignment. The contrast range is huge and there’s a lot of glare from the lights in the scene.

St. Augustine Light Station
St. Augustine Light Station

I ended up merging two exposures. The first one was long (f/4 @ 3 seconds) at a low ISO (400) to decrease noise. The slow shutter blurred the light beam, so I made a second exposure (ISO 3200, f/4 @ 0.4 seconds) and this stopped the beam enough to highlight it. The second exposure had some noise, but was fine with a bit of post processing before I blended the two manually in Photoshop.  I made this photo about an hour before sunrise. It was dark and there was no one around. One of my contacts on Flickr commented that spooky things happen in this area. I’m glad I didn’t notice any when I was there.

Tom M. met me up there on one of the days and we spent several hours just walking around. There were many interesting scenes, and I never saw any two doors  alike.

Red door #33
Red door #33

We were walking down one street and saw someone in the distance photographing this house with his iPhone. He was really working it, making multiple photos / compositions and was still there when we arrived several minutes later. We waited for him to finish and when he looked up and noticed us he asked what kind of cameras we had. It turned out he’s a photographer too and was there on vacation, but forgot his Nikon D3S DSLR. He said using the iPhone was “very liberating”. Photo hint 101: If someone’s taking a picture, look at what he’s photographing – it might be interesting. Photo hint 102: Don’t forget your camera.

A little later, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this waiter zipping through traffic on the way to work.  On a skate board.  I managed to make a quick photo.

Morning commute
Morning commute – very eco-friendly

We also noticed this person reading on the bench.  I really liked the symmetry of the columns and how they led my eye towards the subject. Tom posted a different composition that I think is really good too.

Reading
Reading.

By the way, if you have Lightroom 5, try out the “Upright” settings in the Lens Corrections panel on photos like the one above. It does a great job squaring things up.

Like I said, there’s a tremendous amount of photo-ops in the area. I didn’t make it by the St. Augustine Alligator Farm on this visit, but from March to June, it’s one of the best places in Florida to photograph a variety of wild birds nesting in the rookery there.  I also didn’t get to Fort Matanzas.  It’s a little south of the city and makes a nice side excursion. The Nombre de Dios Mission in the northern part of the city has a beautiful chapel and grounds as well as a view into the harbor.  And I’m sure that there are a great many more photo ops that I still have to discover in this beautiful place.

You can see these photos larger if you click on them and I have many others from St. Augustine in this set on Flickr.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A few photos from St. Augustine

I visited St. Augustine, Florida last week with fellow Photography Interest Group member Tom M. It’s a high density photo-op  environment and if you haven’t ever been there you really should go.  We only spent a few hours, but we saw interesting things to photograph almost everywhere we looked.  Here are a few examples:

Three trees, their  shadows, and the  Castillo de San Marco
Three trees, their shadows, and the Castillo de San Marcos

Bottoms up
Bottoms up – The St. Augustine Lighthouse staircase

Alcove in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine
Alcove in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine

Whistling waters
Whistling waters

I’ve written about this town several times before. You can browse through those posts by selecting the category from the pull down on the right (or click this link). And you can visit this set on Flickr to see other images from St. Augustine.

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

Red, white, and blue (birds)

Lynn and I visited the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Bird Rookery this morning. Breeding season is in full swing and there are nests, eggs, and chicks of all varieties. This Native Swamp & Rookery blog post has the latest census for the rookery as of May 12th.

Here are three photos I made there this morning:

Spoonbill
Spoonbill

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret

Little Blue Heron watching people
Little Blue Heron watching people

You can see many more photos that I’ve made in St. Augustine in this set on Flickr. By the way, I took a “new” camera and made some photos with it for a future blog post. It should be interesting if they turn out.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery Update

I visited the Rookery in St. Augustine for the first time this year with two other members of the Photography Interest Group.  Things are really hopping!!!

Cattle Egret pair in breeding colors
Cattle Egret pair in breeding colors: These go from plain white to very colorful during breeding season.  This pair was hiding back in the bushes and it was difficult to get a clean  image, but they eventually moved a bit right before I made this photo.

We saw Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Woodstorks, Spoonbills, Little Blue Herons, Tri-Color Herons, and of course – alligators.  Some are just starting to build nests and breed.  Others (the Great Egrets) already have good size chicks in the nest.

Great Egret and chicks
Great Egret and chicks

There are very few places that you can get this close to tolerant, wild birds.  It’s wonderful for both experienced and beginner bird photographers.  If you haven’t been by yet, now is the time.

Snowy Egret Portrait (in breeding colors)
Snowy Egret Portrait (in breeding colors)

You can read previous posts I’ve written about the rookery here, here, here, here, and here.  And you can see many of my photos from St. Augustine in this set on Flickr.

Thanks for visiting – now go make some photos!

©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Gatorland cancels early entry program

Update (1/8/2012):  Gatorland has re-instated their photo pass.  See their blog post here.

Gatorland in Orlando announced on their Blog that they’re canceling the 2011 Photographers Pass Program.  This is very unfortunate for bird photographers, since the early entry / stay late times are during the best light of the day and when there are no “civilian” crowds.

The Alligator Farm in St. Augustine has issued an announcement in response on their mailing list saying that they will continue their Photo Pass / early entry program.

I’ve updated my post comparing Gatorland to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm as I think having a photo pass gives the  Alligator Farm a strong advantage for photography.

There’s some discussion of this on Flickr in the Gatorland Group (this discussion has since been deleted).