Category Archives: Outside Florida

Photo-ops outside Florida

Followed by Rain Clouds

The weather was poor at times on our eastern Caribbean cruise late last year.  We had strong winds and high seas on two days that kept us from doing things we wanted.  And it seemed like clouds and rain followed us everywhere.

I didn’t mind.  I’ve written before about the benefits of clouds in landscape photography – clear blue skies can be boring!  And so I looked for interesting clouds and lighting:

Saba IslandSaba Island – Near the British Virgin Islands. 9 frame stitched panorama.

And started noticing rainbows too.  You can’t have rainbows without rain clouds!

Double Rainbow at Saba IslandDouble Rainbow at Saba Island – 4 frame, iPhone, RAW, stitched panorama.

We were in Road Town Harbor as squalls moved through, and saw this  rainbow develop across from the ship.  I looked for but didn’t see a pot of gold (or leprechaun) in the water at either end!

Rainbow in Road Town HarborRainbow in Road Town Harbor – 3 frame, iPhone, RAW, stitched panorama.

On another day in San Juan harbor we saw this:

Rainbows over the cruise shipRainbows over the cruise ship, San Juan, Puerto Rico – single frame, iPhone, RAW

Cloudy skies add interest, and chasing rainbows is fun photography.  I really didn’t mind being followed by rain clouds.  You shouldn’t either – look for all the opportunities it creates.

You can see more photos from the trip in this album on Flickr.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some cloudy sky photos!

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Whale of a Trip!

I was lucky to have some downtime in Seattle before a recent business trip to Vancouver, so one of my best friends – Jessica – popped up from San Francisco to join me for some National Park adventures and whale watching!  I love exploring our National Park system and its jewels – and we packed a lot of them into one weekend.

Our first stop was Mt. Rainier National Park – America’s fifth oldest national park.  Blessed with amazingly perfect sunny weather, we spent Saturday driving through the park and stopping along the way to appreciate its beauty.  The Nisqually Entrance is open year round, and with an SUV its an easy drive through the park with lots of scenic overlooks.  But winter at Mt. Rainier means renting chains to carry in your car – even if you’re not required to put them on – or you’ll have to turn around and drive to the nearest rental place (like we did!).  Plan time to stop at the Longmire and Paradise Visitors Centers to learn more about the park’s history, ask a ranger questions, or get a souvenir!

Mt. RainierMt. Rainier

On Sunday, we took a 4-5 hour whale watching trip with Island Adventures out of downtown Seattle – I’d highly recommend this company, and Tyson our naturalist was very knowledgeable!  While January isn’t peak whale watching season, they still run a trip everyday and have luck spotting resident orcas or a humpback here and there.  While the first few hours of our trip were pretty quiet and peaceful, we were excited to find Speckles the Humpback Whale – a juvenile humpback that has been spending a lot of time in the area.  Named Speckles for his distinguishing marks on his back and tail, this little guy gave us a show for about an hour fishing, surfacing, and even blowing his whale stench in our direction (quite a smell if you’ve never experienced it!).

"Speckles" the Humpback WhaleSpeckles and his Speckles

Speckles really gave the two guys on this boat a close encounter!

Humpback Whale and BoatSpeckles the Humpback Whale 

We finished the weekend with a scenic drive through the Western part of North Cascades National Park.  While there were many breathtaking views, it was mostly closed for the season (or for Martin Luther King Day) – so we’ll have to come another time when its warmer.  It was still worth taking the longer loop back to the airport (vs. the interstate) for views like this:

North CascadesNorth Cascades National Park

More photos from my trip can be found in my album here, or check out Ed’s previous post with additional whale photos.

Thanks for reading about my whale of a trip.  Now go make some photos!

©2017, MK Rosack. All rights reserved

Reprocessing reminder

Do you have a favorite photo that you made a while ago?  Perhaps with an older camera?  If so, you may want to see what new versions of software and your revised tastes and improved skills can do differently.

I had a request for a print of this image.  It’s from way back in 2007, made with my first DSLR – a Nikon D80:

Littleton, Colo. cabinLittleton, Colo. cabin

I like this photo.  A lot, and not just because of the subject.  It reminds me of driving along the road between where my Mom used to live and my Sister’s house, and visiting them both.  It’s been on the blog before:  here and here.  If you’re interested, please take a look at these two posts to see earlier versions.

Fortunately, I was saving my digital files in RAW format even back then, so I can take full advantage of any improvements in photo software.  I decided to run this through my current imaging workflow before printing.  Using DxO Optics Pro, Photoshop, and Lightroom, I was able to reduce noise, improve shadow and highlight detail, and tweak color, contrast, and brightness.  I feel the new version is better.

Using current software on an image made with 10-year-old technology can be amazing.  I even see a spider web hanging from the near door that I never noticed before.

What do you think?  Do you ever reprocess your older images?

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

The Great Wall of Photography

If there’s one person who loves travel as much as me (or more), it’s my cousin Phil. That’s why I was so excited for our whirlwind adventure to China! Our journey was just five days, so I had to pack lightly, but I wish I could have brought my Dad and more camera equipment with me: the photography conditions were tricky! Since he couldn’t be there with me, he processed my photos after, and has joined me in this post with photo hints.  So here it is: Central Florida Photo Ops official furthest-away post ever!

Great Wall - MutianyuMK and Phil on the Great Wall – Mutianyu

First, we visited Shanghai – If you have the chance to go, I highly recommend the Shanghai Museum, and then a meal at the Living Room restaurant on the 87th floor of the Park Hyatt Shanghai. From there, you’ll find sweeping views of the Bund and the Huangpu River, and on a clear day like we were lucky to have, you’ll gain an amazing appreciation for just how large the city is.

My Dad lent me his polarizing filter, but I enjoyed the meal so much I didn’t think to use it on this shot while we were indoors.

Shanghai SkylineView from the 87th: Shanghai

Editor:  A polarizer can be useful to darken skies, reduce the fog / haze in a photo, and eliminate reflections when shooting through glass.  It doesn't always work - success depends on the conditions (amount and direction of the light).  I always try to carry one with me and use it if I remember.   I processed this image through DxO Optics Pro for sharpening / noise reduction.  Then in Lightroom, I adjusted the exposure, and contrast, straitened buildings, and used clarity and dehaze adjustments along the horizon with a radial filter to lessen the haze.  Here is a "before version":

The highlight of Beijing was, of course, the Great Wall of China. There are several places along the wall you can easily visit from Beijing.  We chose Mutianyu for its sweeping views (and it’s reputation of being less crowded than nearby spots). While we had perfect weather in Shanghai, fog almost completely enveloped us at Mutianyu. But every once in a while the fog would shift and we’d get a quick but miraculous glimpse of just how Great the Great Wall is.

Mutianyu is about an hour from Beijing.  I recommend hiring a private driver – we used John Yellowcar – for about $150 USD, we had our own private driver/translator/tour guide for the entire day.  We thought this was a great value for a 10-hour day trip.  While there are restaurants and souvenirs at the wall, bring water/snacks and wear comfortable hiking shoes!  Also remember that haggling with vendors is accepted and expected at the Wall.

Great Wall - MutianyuMisty Mutianyu Watchtower

The fog was too thick for the polarizing lens, so I tried to take as many photos as I could and hoped my Dad could help when I got home! Here are some pointers from him on how he was able to save these photos, and in hindsight, things I could have done differently to make the photos even better.

Great Wall - MutianyuWinding Wall and Watchtowers – Mutianyu

Editor:  MK faced some tough photo conditions.  Fog greatly reduces contrast and the amount of light.  It also diffuses the light so that the polarizing filter won't be much help  (sorry MK!) and the filter itself also reduces the amount of light getting to the sensor by 1 or 2 stops.  About the only thing I could recommend is to be careful with exposure (sometimes fog can cause underexposure). I processed this photo like the previous one.  DxO Optics Pro and Lightroom.  In these conditions, clarity and dehaze adjustments are again very helpful.  I used quite a bit of dehaze in this image.  It's easy to go too far - be careful.  Here's the "before version" of this one:

More photos from my trip (with my Dad’s amazing edits) can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/marykate/sets/72157676855966605/

Thanks to our roving correspondent MK for our first ever opposite side of the globe post! And thanks to all for stopping by and reading the blog.  Now, go make some photos!

©2016, MK and Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Regarding image selection

Editors note:  Although I’m feeling much better, I’m still going to take a sick day.  I’ll repeat this post from September 2014.  If you haven’t read it before, I think it’s still very relevant and worth a look.  If you have – then I apologize for the repeat.


If you use raw format in your photography, they look different from jpg photos.  Raw format is just the data read directly off of the sensor with no processing by the camera.  Depending on how you configure your camera and software, raw image contrast and sharpening can be very low, white balance may not be optimized, and exposure is often set for capture / low noise instead of display / print.. This can make it tough to judge raw photos and decide which ones merit further processing.

When I returned from Maine and reviewed my photos, I bypassed some.  When I finished working on the ones I’d identified as “selects”, I went back and re-looked at those I’d set aside.  Some of them deserved attention.

A calm morning on Bubble Pond
A calm morning on Bubble Pond

It’s not just raw images that can be difficult to evaluate.  Infrared photos usually need processing to optimize too.

Bass Harbor Light
Bass Harbor Light

And multi image panoramas make seeing composition and field of view a challenge before the individual frames are stitched together.

Behind Sand Beach
Behind Sand Beach

I can’t tell you how to rate your images and select your best.  But what I can tell you is to be very careful not to discard something before you’re very sure that it’s not worth pursuing.  Give your photos a second chance.  Learn your software so you know how far you can go with adjustments.  And as with any thing worth pursuing, practice will make you better.

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

Close Call

It’s been a while since we’ve had such a strong hurricane pass so close to us here in Central Florida.  Matthew was a category 4 storm last Wednesday as it approached our east coast and had just roared through Haiti with devastating effects.  Luckily, it veered a little further away and winds were lower than forecast when it hit here.  We had strong rain and winds, power flickers, trees down, and some damage in our area on the North East side of Orlando.  But we were spared most of the dire effects that we worried about.  Friends from New Smyrna Beach stayed with us and they too reported very few problems from the storm, although they lost power for a day.

Anyway, I wasn’t able or even motivated to do any photography last week.  So instead I’ll show you an image that has nothing to do with storms, from our recent trip Shenandoah.

Bearfence Mountain PanoramaBear Fence Mountain Panorama – This is part of the vista from the top of Bearfence Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. It’s one of the few places there where you get a true 360 degree view. This image is a mutli-frame panorama stitched together in Lightroom.

Scrambling up this rock pile on the top of the mountain, I had to acknowledge  that my 64-year-old knees aren’t as good as I thought.  But I did make to the top and the view was awesome.

I hope all of you also came through hurricane Matthew ok.  If not, our thoughts and prayers are with you.  And thank you for stopping by and reading my blog.  If possible – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

 

Channeling the Beauty of our National Parks

Editors note:  Today we have another post from our roving correspondent,  MaryKate.  This time she travelled to the Channel Islands off the coast of California.   I hope you enjoy her report!


I’ve recently become even more enthralled with our country’s amazing National Park system. So when I headed to Los Angeles for an event with my friend Molly a few weekends ago, I jumped on the opportunity to visit two of our country’s jewels: Santa Monica National Recreation Area and Channel Islands National Park.

Just 35 miles from Los Angeles, the Santa Monica National Recreation Area is an escape from the bustle of the city. We headed to the Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center for some orientation (and souvenir shopping), and did the short but steep hike up to Inspiration Point. We saw lizards and birds along the way, and the dry landscape made for dramatic views against the Santa Monica Mountains:

Plant at the PinnaclePlant at the Pinnacle

That Saturday, we took a morning boat trip out to Anacapa Island – the smallest of the Channel Islands – with a company I’d highly recommend: Island Packers. For just $29 each way, the beautiful boat ride alone was worth the trip. On our way to Anacapa, we enjoyed stunning views of Oxnard Harbor, a few Harbor Seals “sunning”, and even an illusive Minke Whale (he was too quick to photograph and never came back up).

Seal ReflectionsSeal Reflections

The Channel Islands are truly a magical place, sometimes called the United States’ Galapagos Islands because there are 145 species of plants and animals only found there. We stayed 3 hours on the island exploring, seeing as much as we could, and eating the picnic we brought, but there are many arrival/departure options so you can stay as long as you’d like (or even camp over – although the smell of pigeon poop was rather strong!).

Anacapa LighthouseAnacapa Lighthouse

I also enjoyed playing with the fish eye lens I borrowed from my Dad – I thought it brought an interesting perspective to the Island.

Channel Islands National Park SignChannel Islands National park Sign

On our way back to land, we had the treat of a humpback whale doing acrobatics for us: for about 10 minutes we watched him partake in “pectoral slapping” – spinning back and forth and slapping his fin on the water – quite the site juxtaposed against a giant oil rig in the background.

Whale vs. ManMan vs. Whale

If you ever find yourself on the West Coast, it’s definitely worth the trip out to the Channel Islands (and a hike over in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area).  It’s amazing to find so much nature near such a large metropolitan area.  Check out the other photos from my trip in this flickr album (including a life bird: the Rock Wren!).


Thanks for stopping by and reading MaryKate’s blog post.  Now, go make some photos!

©2016, MaryKate. All rights reserved.