Tag Archives: Eagle

Eagles, Owls, and more at Orlando’s Greenwood Park and Greenwood Cemetery

Intro / Description

Greenwood Urban Wetlands is a 19 acre park in downtown Orlando and was created in 1991 to help handle the sometimes massive rainwater runoff in the area.  The park is right next to Greenwood municipal cemetery, where many of Orlando’s notables have been buried since 1880.

Pre-dawn pond at Greenwood ParkVenus Rising: Pre-dawn pond at Greenwood Park – This is a two image composite that I hand merged in Photoshop.

I arrived before dawn a couple of Saturday’s ago.  I’d heard about it on Flickr and seen photos others had made there, although I still wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was hoping for a sunrise photo, but the sky was very clear and I didn’t know the area.  So, I picked a spot near the parking area and set up for the image above.  For this one, I made two exposures (one for the sky and one for the ground) and merged them as described in this post.  I like the way it turned out, especially with the morning star Venus rising, and the leaves and flowers on the left.

Kevin M. joined me a bit later and we walked around exploring.  There were a few birds (coots, wood ducks, egrets, Great Blue Heron) in the small lakes, but nothing too unusual.  We’d heard about an eagle nest nearby, so we decided to look for it in Greenwood Cemetery.

The nest was easy to find, since there were two juvenile eagles perched right next to it calling quite often.  We made several photos while we waited for better light and were eventually able to get the birds facing us with the sun at our backs.  These two young birds were flying between trees in the area, but didn’t act like they knew  much at all about feeding themselves.  They seemed to be waiting for the parents to bring back food – but that didn’t happen while we were there.

Juvenile Bald EagleJuvenile Eagle

We also saw a very pretty Wood Duck pair in nice light, a couple of Barred owls, and some very aggressive Blue Jays (harassing the owls) on the way out.  You can see the other photos I made in this Flickr set.

Barred Owl 2
Barred Owl

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:

There’s not much to work with for landscapes.  But there’s a surprising variety of birds for such an urban setting.  Make sure you walk through both the park and cemetery if you go.  You could also drive through the cemetery if you don’t have time to walk.

Tripod/Monopod:

Of course.

Lenses:

Take appropriate lenses for your subjects.  Mostly long lenses for the birds.  A flash might help control the contrast for the subjects back in the leaves (owls).

Best time to visit:

February – March might allow eagle nesting activity to be observed.

Other:

This close by park may be an opportunity to snag a few keeper shots for your bird portfolio, and won’t take too long to check out.

Halloween 2012 update:  Don Price, the Greenwood Cemetery Sexton, offers guided moonlight walking tours once a month where you can learn about Orlando and the people who have contributed to the history of the city.  The tour is usually crowded and reservations are required.  Go to the cemetery website and click on “Moonlight Walking Tours” for more info.

Summary

My Gallery / Flickr photo set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157626518075606/
Website: http://www.cityoforlando.net/fpr/html/Parks/Greenwood.htm
Address / Phone: 1411 Greenwood Street, Orlando, Florida
407.246.2283
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: A surprising urban opportunity for a few bird photos.

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

Sunrise, Otter, Eagle, Cormorants, Raccoon – a nice morning at Viera Wetlands

I’m coming down with another cold and wasn’t very enthusiastic about going to Viera Wetlands yesterday. Actually, “not very enthusiastic” is a big understatement. I almost didn’t get out of bed – but now I’m glad I did.

We had to leave at “O dark thirty” to get to the west side of the wetlands just before sunrise. I wanted to try the D7000 out on landscapes and it performed very well. The image below is a single exposure of the sunrise. I don’t care too much for silhouettes – I like to have some detail and color in the shadows. For this one, I exposed at -2 EV to prevent blowing out the sky and then brought up the shadows in post processing. The D7000 recorded a very broad dynamic range and has remarkably little noise in the shadows at base ISO, even when under exposed. This real world example, along with the the results from the recent DxOMark test of the D7000 indicate it’s going to be a very fine landscape camera. The only problem is that I don’t have a very wide lens for it.

Sunrise at Viera WetlandsSunrise at Viera Wetlands, D7000, ISO 100, 1/100 sec. @ f/11, 16 mm

As we were photographing the sunrise, an otter swam by right in front of us just past those reeds (about 8 – 10 feet away). That’s the closest one’s ever come to me in the wild. Of course, I didn’t have the right camera set up so I didn’t get a photo. I think the otter knew that, and swam by just to tease us. We saw it a couple more times but could never get a shot off. Those things are quick. And black. And hard to photograph.

After the sun was up, we drove around the wetlands and came up on this:

Bald EagleBald Eagle on dead tree, D7000, ISO 320, 1/500sec. @ f/8, 500 mm

This eagle was just surveying the area. I did get a few images when it flew off, but none blog worthy. I need more Birds in Flight practice, especially at 500mm!

The sun was up, but still low in the sky as we saw some cormorants sitting on a viewing platform. The light was hitting this one just right to show off the detail in his dark feathers.

CormorantCormorant, D7000, ISO 220, 1/500 sec. @ f/8, 500 mm

Here’s one more photo I want to show you. This little fellow was digging around in the reeds along with several birds. I’m not sure what they were after, but it might have been snails – we saw a lot of them yesterday. This image is a good example of the D7000 at ISO 1600. Very usable with minimal noise.

Rocky RacoonRocky Raccoon, D7000, ISO 1600, 1/500sec. @ f/9, 500 mm

Today I feel a bit worse, so I’m glad I went out yesterday. Hopefully I’ll start feeling better tomorrow.

Note: you can click on any of these to go to Flickr where you can see a larger version. You can see more of my Viera Wetlands photos in this set, and I’ve collected some Nikon D7000 photos in this set.

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Description

If you are at all interested in technology and space exploration, then you should really visit the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) when you come to Central Florida. Living in the area and having a life long interest in space, I’ve been several times. Most recently last Thursday. This visit was with (among others) a fellow member of the Photography Interest Group: Kevin Krause. In a first for this blog, he’s agreed to help me write this entry describing KSC for photographers.

KSC is located on the east coast of Florida about an hour from Orlando. Here’s a link to a Google Map of the area, and here is KSC’s directions page.

Exhibits: The entrance fee to KSC is currently $38 ($28 for children). There are many museum exhibits at KSC as well as the relatively new Shuttle Launch Experience simulator, Two IMAX theaters, an Astronaut Training Experience, and several bus tours that will take you to places that are otherwise restricted. Several things at KSC, including the bus tours will cost extra. The “NASA up close” tour that we took was an extra $21, and the bus and tour guide showed us the Vehicle Assembly building, the shuttle landing strip and control tower, an observation platform close to the launch complexes, and a theater re-enactment of an Apollo launch. We also toured the Apollo-Saturn V Center where there is a restored Saturn V launch vehicle and other space vehicles.  You can also take a bus from the Saturn V center to the Space Station exhibit.

(NOTE:  clicking on the photos below will take you to their Flickr page, where you can see a larger version – select all sizes at the top)

IMG_0811-4_pano
Panorama image of the Rocket Garden at the main visitor complex, Canon G9, 4 vertical images (full res is 11215×4123), ISO 80, 7.4 mm, f/2.8, 1/50 sec.

IMG_827-9_tonemapped
A space capsule gang way in the KSC Rocket Garden, Canon G9, 2971×3978, 3 shot HDR, ISO 80, 7.4mm, f/6.3, 1/160 sec, 1/320 sec, 1/640 sec.

IMG_0920
The Apollo 14 moon capsule, Canon G9, 4000×3000, ISO 80, 7.4mm, f/2.8, 1/60 sec, built in flash.

Landscapes: KSC is situated on typical Florida coastal landscape. There is some opportunity for landscape photographs, so be prepared. You might luck out with some interesting clouds during one of your tour bus stops as a background to the launch pads.

Launch pads
(Photo by Kevin Krause) Launch complex, clouds, water, Nikon D90, 3666×2445, ISO 200, Nikon 18-200 lens at 24mm, f/10, 1/400 sec.

Wildlife: KSC is right next door to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  As such, wildlife should be abundant at KSC, although it will be tough to photograph in the middle of the day with so many people around. On our tour, we did get a glimpse of a solitary alligator in the canal on the side of the road as well as  egrets, herons, and other birds. There is also a 42 year old eagle nest on the property, but the eagles were not in sight.

Eagles' nest
(Photo by Kevin Krause) This eagles’ nest has been in use for 42 years at KSC, Nikon D90, 2344×1645, ISO 3200, Nikon 18-200 lens at 200mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec.

IMG_0839
A stuffed possum in the wildlife exhibit at the KSC main visitor center, Canon G9, ISO 80, 44.4mm, f/4.8, 1/60 sec, built in flash.

Photo hints

Tripod/Monopod: There is no posted policy on tripods. It might be a problem to use them, if only because of the short time available at most tour bus stops.

Lenses: Bring what you have. Longer lenses will come in handy, except when you’re trying to show several launch pads in a single image.  Have a wide lens for that situation, or you can experiment with multiple images stitched into a panorama.

Other: Check out the NASA Images web page where you can search their archives for down-loadable photographs of almost any NASA subject.  Many of these are available in high-resolution. Let’s face facts – you will have a very hard time making better images than these in the static exhibits or on the tour bus at KSC. Browsing through NASA’s image archives may discourage you from trying too hard to make any images yourself, other than the requisite, documentary “We were here” photos.  But hey – we’re photographers and we live for the challenge, right?

Summary

If you’re interested in aeronautical engineering, space exploration, or Apollo program history this is a very good place to visit. Since the shuttle program is winding down, you won’t have many more chances to see a space shuttle on the launch pad.  If you’re interested, check the KSC launch schedule before you go and try to show up when a shuttle is out. Photo opportunities abound, although they’re of the “museum exhibit with people around” variety.

If you want to see more of the photos that Kevin (131 images) and I (30 images) made, the links below will take you to our respective KSC Flickr photo stream sets.

Our Galleries: Ed: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8231395@N04/sets/72157622475589561/

Kevin: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34024553@N08/sets/72157622599372346/

Website: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/home/index.html
Address: John F. Kennedy Space Center
SR 405, Kennedy Space Center, FL, 32899(866) 737-5235
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: Space buff bonanza, photographic clichés

©2009, Ed Rosack and Kevin Krause. All rights reserved.

Audubon Birds of Prey Center

Description

The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey is located at 1101 Audubon Way  – just off of highway 17 / 92 in Maitland, Florida.  They treat injured or orphaned birds of prey (raptors), and release a great many of their former patients back into the wild. The Center also provides environmental education to local students, teachers, and visitors. Many birds that are too injured to be released are given permanent homes at the center.

The educational displays and permanent residents present an outstanding opportunity for the photo enthusiast.  A visit here will take an hour or two depending on how thorough you are.  Below is a photograph of one of the permanent eagle residents at the Center, which I made during a visit in 2007:

eagle

Photo hints

Lenses :  Bring a long zoom lens.  My 70 – 300 mm  on my 1.5 crop body D90 DSLR, gave me frame filling head shots of the bald eagles in the court-yard just inside the main entrance.  On the smaller birds (hawks and owls) in this courtyard, you can still get frame filling body shots. Below is a photo of a hawk: hawk

You should also bring a macro lens or attachment if you have one, since there are some very pretty flowers on the grounds of the center. flower

Tripod / Monopod :  I believe that tripods are allowed, although I didn’t use mine and didn’t ask.  There aren’t usually any big crowds here and there’s no narrow passages where a tripod would cause a problem.  I did bring my monopod and it came in handy, although you can probably get by with an ISO boost or by strategic use of gates and other structures to prop your camera on.

Other :  A flash would be handy for photos on the porch where there are smaller birds (kestrels, falcons, and small owls).  I didn’t have mine with me and opted to raise the ISO on my D90 to 1600, which worked pretty well.  Below is a kestrel photo, made on the porch. kestrel

Note that one of the attendants told me that photography “is permitted here as long as you don’t sell the photos.”  If you do plan on a commercial use, please talk to someone at the Center about it.

Summary

The Audubon Birds of Prey Center is a wonderful place to spend an hour or two with a camera.  You can learn a bit about raptors and your $5 entrance fee supports the center’s work.  You can also make some very nice photos of Birds of Prey.

My Gallery (22 total photos): http://edrosack.com/090524_Birds-of-Prey/
Website: http://fl.audubon.org/who_centers_CBOP.html
Address: 1101 Audubon Way Maitland, FL 32751 (407) 644-0190
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: Hidden Gem!

©2009, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.