Tag Archives: Sunflowers

Beauty and Bugs in the Soggy Swamp: Sunflowers, 2015

I don’t know how long the Sunflowers have staged their fall nature extravaganza along the north side of Lake Jesup near Sanford Florida. I’ve been photographing them since 2006, and my first post about them was in October 2007 – a few months after I began the blog.

I didn’t make it last year and just had to see them this time, so off I went yesterday morning (October 9) to the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation area.

Lake Jesup SunflowersLooking up

The flowers are just about in peak bloom.  If you want to hike out there, you’d better make plans quickly.  The blooms only last a couple of weeks, so by next weekend, they’ll be fading.

Lake Jesup SunflowersMonochrome flowers

The flowers are beautiful, but the bugs are swarming.  I didn’t make any photos of the insects, but I did bring home souvenir mosquito bites.  Wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt and use insect spray too.  It’s also wet.  I didn’t get far from the forest edge – but the water was already several inches deep.  Waterproof boots are a great idea.

Lake Jesup SunflowersLake Jesup Sunflowers at Marl Bed Flats

There are other things to see out there too.  It’s a good local birding spot with at least two Bald Eagle nests reported.

When you go, please be careful.  Don’t stop on the side of 417 – it’s dangerous!  It’s a bit of a hike from the parking area out to the flowers.  And it’s still hot – wear a hat and bring water with you.

The Lake Jesup Wilderness area really is wild – I’ve seen bobcats and worried about wild hogs.  I haven’t seen any snakes, but I’ll bet they’re around.  And Lake Jesup has one of the densest populations of alligators in Florida.  So enjoy, but be careful!

You can browse some of my photos of the area in this set on Flickr.  I also have more info on the area collected in these older articles:

And here are some more Florida Sunflower links you might find interesting:

For reference, here’s a Lightroom map of the area with the locations of photos I’ve made out there.  The streets leading in are also shown, so you can see how to get there (click for a larger version).

Marl Bed Flats area on the north shore of Lake Jesup
Marl Bed Flats area on the north shore of Lake Jesup

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Wild Orchids and more at Fort Christmas

I follow Florida Hikes and they tweeted about wild orchids blooming at Fort Christmas,

Fort Christmas Historical Park is east of Orlando close to Orlando Wetlands Park.  I’ve written about it before:

I hadn’t ever seen Orchids in the wild and I hadn’t been out there since 2012, so this was a big enough motivation to make me want to visit again.  I ended up exploring with Tom M. on a morning last week.

Once we knew what to look for, the orchids weren’t hard to find.  There were a lot of them higher up in the large live oak trees.  The strong back light, wind, and distance made them hard to photograph well, but with a longer lens, a flash, and some careful camera positioning I managed to isolate these blooms against a dark background.  I like the colors and background, which remind me of an oriental flower painting.

Wild Orchids
Wild Orchids – Up in the live oak trees. Two frames, with flash, different focus points, hand merged in Photoshop.  I believe these are Florida Butterfly Orchids (Encyclia tampensis).

Sunflowers were also blooming in one of the small gardens on the site.

Sunflower bloom
Sunflower bloom – In the garden. Single frame, ambient light.

We also spent some time looking around inside the buildings.  You’re free to enter most of them as long as you’re careful.  And since we were there on a mid-week morning, there weren’t many other folks around.  Until two busses of summer camp kids showed up around 10:30.

In the bedroom
In the bedroom – Single 1/2 second exposure at f/8 for depth of field. I didn’t have a tripod, so I rested the camera on the window sill

Antique fixtures and appliances fill the rooms.  These and the wood and fabric textures make for some very photogenic settings – perfect material for a bit of nostalgic, B&W processing.

In the kitchen 1
In the kitchen – I was able to hand hold this one when I opened the aperture to f/2.8. The depth of field is acceptable since there’s nothing too close to the viewpoint.

Here are some photo hints for you:

  • For the orchids, you’ll probably want a longer zoom lens, a flash, a tripod and remote release.
  • Some of the flowers and other items would make good macro subjects.
  • For photos of the building and room interiors, I found a wide-angle lens very useful.  A tripod might be handy for this too, but I was able to brace my camera and / or use the pop up flash to eliminate camera shake / blur.

I’ve posted other photos from Fort Christmas in this set on Flickr.  It’s a wonderful year round photo-op.  And the blooming orchids in the summertime are a nice bonus.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Lake Jesup Flowers – 2013

An update on the Lake Jesup Flowers – they are indeed back in full force.

Tom M. and I went over last Wednesday morning to check on them.  They seemed to me to still be a little before the peak.  I think they’ll get a bit higher and fuller before they start fading away in the next several days.  If you want to see them this year, you don’t have much time left.

The Marl Bed Flats are a little soggy.  There were places that were dry, but a large part of the area away from the woods had an inch or two of standing water.  The sky was incredibly clear and there was a soft wind blowing too – not ideal conditions for flower photography, but we looked for interesting compositions anyway.

Swamp Sunflower fields pano

With the sun so low, it was hard to keep myself out of this shot – hence the photographer shaped shadow in the middle bottom

Swamp Sunflowers

Finding flowers that reach above their neighbors is one way to isolate subjects

Swamp Sunflower

The light was very pretty in spots. This blossom was sheltered in a pocket of calm along the path out to the fields.  With a nice dark background, it called out for a close up.

For a different perspective and an example of how diverse the view here can be, look at this blog post from Jeff Stamer.  Jeff timed his visit better than we did and hiked out before sunrise on Thursday when the sky was beautiful.

Here are links to previous articles with more info:

And you can browse some of my photos of the area in this set on Flickr.  There’s also an article about the flowers in this month’s Orlando Magazine.

When you go, please be careful.  Stopping on the side of 417 is dangerous.  And the Lake Jessup Wilderness area is wild.  It’s also a bit of a hike from the parking area out to the flowers.  Bring water and use sun screen and bug spray.  Long pants and waterproof hiking boots are a good idea too.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

The flowers are coming! The flowers are coming!

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius, also called Narrow Leaf Sunflowers) start blooming at the end of September in our area.  One of the largest concentrations is in the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation Area where the blooms stretch as far as you can see.

Lake Jesup Wildflowers
Swamp Sunflowers at the Lake Jesup Wilderness Area

This is a truly unique photo-op and worth checking out.  See these links for more info:

You can browse some of my photos of the area in this set on Flickr.  And here’s an article about the flowers in this month’s Orlando Magazine – featuring my photo!

When you go, please be careful.  Stopping on the side of 417 can be dangerous.  And the Lake Jessup Wilderness area is wild.  It’s also a bit of a hike from the parking area out to the flowers.  Bring water and use sun screen and bug spray.  Long pants and waterproof hiking boots are a good idea too.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some flower photos – maybe I’ll see you out there!

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Wow – it was really crowded over there!

Crowded with both flowers and people…

I’ve photographed the wildflowers (swamp sunflowers) that bloom near Lake Jessup at this time of year since about 2006.  I’ve never seen as many people out there as I did tonight.  When I drove by on 417, there were 8 or 10 cars along the shoulder and people with cameras and tripods were clambering down into the flowers to get photos.  When I arrived at the Lake Jessup Conservation Area just before sunset, the gate was closed and the two parking spaces outside the gate were already taken – so I had to park on the road.  On my walk in, I met up with two people with cameras and on my way out another person stopped me to ask what I’d seen.  On most previous trips, I haven’t seen anyone.  I guess the word has gotten around.

Lake Jessup Conservation Area - Swamp Sunflowers
Lake Jessup Conservation Area – Fisheye fun with the Swamp Sunflowers.

The flowers are at their peak.  If you want to see or photograph them, you should go in the next few days.

Lake Jessup Conservation Area - Swamp Sunflowers

Lake Jessup Conservation Area Wildflowers

Check out these links for info and please  be careful.  Stopping along 417 could be dangerous.

You can see more photos of the area in this set on Flickr.

 Add a comment to the blog or drop me an email if you go.  I’d love to see your photos.

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Get ready for the Lake Jesup flowers

If you live in the Central Florida area and want to photograph an endless field of flowers, get ready to head over to the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation Area where Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius, also called Narrow Leaf Sunflowers) bloom from horizon to horizon during the last week in September and the first week of October.

Mr. McKinney in the flowers
Kevin M. in the flowers at the Lake Jessup Wilderness Area

I drove by on highway 417 this afternoon to see what’s going on, and there are already a few flowers out.  My guess is that they’ll start peaking next weekend.  Check out these links for info and maybe I’ll see you out there!

You can see more photos of the area in this set on Flickr.

If you do go out there and make some images, please add a comment to this post or drop me an email.  I’d love to see how your photos come out.

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

The Lake Jesup Flowers are back!

We may not get much Autumn color on our trees in Central Florida, but we do have one wonderful sign that fall is here – the sudden appearance of  huge fields of Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius, also called Narrow Leaf Sunflowers) covering the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation Area.

If you haven’t driven over Lake Jesup on the 417 toll road to see this year’s flower extravaganza on the north shore, now’s the time .  They started blooming last weekend and the peak will probably last through this coming weekend.  You can see my earlier posts for more info:

Here’s a photo I made last Sunday evening near sunset:

Marl Bed Flats Flowers
Marl Bed Flats Sunflowers: They bloom in late September / early October and cover a large part of the Lake Jesup Conservation area.

You can look at other photos I’ve made here in this set on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157622430520287/

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