Tag Archives: waterfall

A few more DC photos

Last week’s post went over my usual three photo budget.  So here are even more images that I didn’t include (and again I’m over budget!).

The Air Force MemorialThe Air Force Memorial.  (ISO 200, f/5.6, 14mm equivalent FL, 1/640 sec.).  I was glad I had an ultra-wide lens.  It all fits into the 14mm field of view from a close distance.

The Potomac River at Great FallsThe Potomac River at Great Falls.  (4 frame panorama, ISO 200, f/4.5, 28mm equivalent FL, 1/1600 sec., color image converted to B&W in Lightroom).   Although I grew up near Washington DC, I don’t remember ever hearing about the park until Lynn mentioned it on this trip.

Ceiling in the Library of CongressCeiling in the Library of Congress.  (4 frame panorama, ISO 200, f/4, 30mm equivalent FL).  Our tour of the US Capitol included a stop inside the Library of Congress.  I had to shoot from an awkward angle and stitch multiple frames together for this view. 

The Burghers of CalaisThe Burghers of Calais – Sculpture by Auguste Rodin, one of twelve original Bronze casts, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Mall. (Infrared, B&W, ISO 200, 34mm equivalent FL, f/4.5, 1/320 sec.).   I really like the way the IR  camera rendered this, especially  the bronze contrasting with the foliage.  There are some very impressive sculptures in the National Mall in DC.  You can read the fascinating background on this one at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burghers_of_Calais.

Washington Monument at duskWashington Monument at dusk. (Olympus High Res mode, ISO 200, 62mm equivalent FL, f/5.6, 1/8 sec).  There were hundreds (thousands?) of people just behind me at the Lincoln Memorial.  I moved to the water’s edge to avoid most of the tourists and frame this view.  I like the way this square composition shows off the symmetry.  I also like the light and reflections – the last time I was in DC (2008?) the pool was a mess!  After we left this time, we heard reports  that the pool had been drained due to duckling deaths (www.washingtonpost.com/local/malls-reflecting-pool-to-be-…). 

More DC photos in this album on Flickr, – check ’em out!

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


PS:

Happy Father’s Day!

My dad’s been gone for many years. It would be so wonderful to visit with him again, give him a big hug, wish him a happy day and enjoy his company.  And make a photo of us too.


©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Shenandoah – Starscapes, Sunsets, Storms, and Falls

Our visit to Shenandoah National Park this year  was extremely enjoyable (mentally not physically!)  relaxing, and cooler than back here in Central Florida (highs there in the 70s).   It was also interesting from a photography perspective and different from last year’s trip.  I did a lot of sunset / night photography and didn’t try very hard to get up early every morning for sunrise.

We were fortunate with seeing conditions on the night we arrived. There were no clouds, and the Milky Way center was above the horizon for about two hours after moon set.  Shenandoah has dark skies and the large cleared meadow near the lodge provides wonderful views all around the compass.  Lynn hadn’t ever really seen the Milky Way before and I’ve never seen it this well.  We were both amazed, and I was also impressed with how much detail my Nikon D800 was able to capture.

Big Meadows Milky Way Big Meadows Milky Way.  Three frame panorama, 24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 2500, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

Lynn is a big fan of meteor showers, and due to a gravity assist from Jupiter, the Perseid was predicted to be spectacular this year.  We set the alarm for 1am the night it was forecast to peak and went out to watch.  The area around Big Meadows was crowded with over a hundred people watching the show, and each overlook had cars parked with more people observing.  It was a good show.  Here’s one of my photos from that morning.

A Persied Meteor and a cloud in front of a portion of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy A Perseid Meteor and a cloud in front of part of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy – From Old Rag View Overlook on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.  24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 3200, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

I tried sunset photos on most nights.  The sky wasn’t as dramatic as I’ve seen it in the past, but there were many wildflowers in bloom helping to make up for that.

The end of the dayThe end of the day – Looking out over Shenandoah Valley from Skyline Drive. The wildflowers were beautiful when we were there.  Two frame composite, manual masking in Photoshop.

And storms also added interest.  We watched this one develop from the balcony outside our room at the lodge.

Shenandoah Storm #1Shenandoah Storm – A storm built up to the west at sunset. As seen from our balcony at Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah National Park.  Multi-frame panorama.

Dark Hollow Falls is one of the most popular places in Shenandoah.  When we drove by on Sunday, the parking area was overflowing with cars.  We waited until the next morning to hike down.  Last year, I didn’t make it to these falls and used one of my  20-year-old photos  to illustrate it.  For some reason, the hike (especially the return up from the falls) is more difficult than it was when I was 20 years younger.  Hmm – I wonder why?  This is from very near the same place, and a horizontal, wider view.  I like this one too.

Dark Hollow Falls Dark Hollow Falls.  14mm equivalent FOV, ISO 100, f/8.0, 1/13 seconds, Olympus hires mode.

We did a bit more hiking this year than last and went on trails we hadn’t tried before.   Rose River Falls and Black Rock Mountain were two new favorites.  Another one we hiked was Pocosin Trail.  It was interesting, although I didn’t like it as much as the others.  Maybe it was because of one sentence in the trail guide:  “Soon the trail flattens.”  It never did!

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and more photos from Shenandoah in this album on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Death Valley National Park, California

As you may have gathered from last week’s post, I got home on October 24th from a trip to Death Valley National Park.  Four of us from the Photography Interest Group (me, Tom M., Kevin M., and Kevin K.) were out there together, exploring this waterless wonderland on our longest, farthest group photo expedition yet.

When you think of the desert in the western US, you might imagine extreme heat and monochromatic scenes of empty barren land.  If so you probably haven’t been to Death Valley.  There is some empty barren land:

Badlands sunriseBadlands sunrise – This was my first visit to Death Valley and what I thought it would look like. 

And there are sand dunes and wind-blown textures:

Photographing Mesquite Flat DunesPhotographing Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes – A distant photographer lines up his shot.

But there are so many more things to experience there.

It’s the largest national park in the contiguous US at over 3.4 million acres.  The habitats are varied and the elevation ranges from 282 feet below sea level in Badwater Basin (the lowest point in North America) to more than 11,000 feet at the top of Telescope Peak.

Badwater panorama from Dantes ViewPanorama of Badwater from Dantes View, looking west toward Telescope Peak

Wait – did I say “waterless wonderland”?  When we arrived on October 18th, there was an epic rain storm in progress that caused flash flooding, road closures, downed power lines and other damage inside the park.  If you’re interested, I’ve posted a short video on YouTube that we made on our drive into Death Valley, showing the rain storms and some of the flooding we ran into.  And you can read this article on the National Parks Traveler webpage about the floods and damage.

Many of the places we wanted to see weren’t accessible while we were there.  The good news is that there were more than enough locations we could still get to, and the water created some rare views of the area.

Death Valley FloodsDeath Valley Reflections – Some locations had 5 inches of rain.  The following morning, we saw large pools of water west of route 190 and north of Furnace Creek.  It was a long walk (~1.5 miles from the road) to get close, and at times I wondered whether it was a mirage.  I’m guessing it’s rare to see the mountains and clouds reflected in standing water at this spot.

And are there any waterfalls in the desert?  You wouldn’t think so, right?  We decided to find out one day and after a long drive, hike, and rock scramble through a gorgeous canyon, we arrived at Darwin Falls, which seems like a miracle in the middle of such arid country.

Darwin FallsDarwin Falls – This desert waterfall in Death Valley had about a 40 foot drop. It’s spring fed and  flows year round, although the rains may have added some water while we were there.

There’s a lot of history in Death Valley too.  The Native American Timbisha tribe have lived in the valley for at least 1000 years.  Gold and silver mining started in the 1850s and Borax was discovered in the 1880s.  There are also several ghost towns to explore in the park and the surrounding areas.

20 Mule Team Wagon Train20 Mule Team Wagon Train – Used in 1885 to haul Borax From Death Valley to Mojave.
Borax Museum, Furnace Creek, California

Landscapes and scenery aren’t the only things to see.  There’s very little light pollution in the area.  The milky way is easily seen and we viewed an active Orionid Meteor shower on the morning of 21 October.

There’s also a surprising amount of wildlife.  While hiking back from the Mesquite Flat Dunes we spotted some motion ahead that turned out to be my first sighting ever of a fox in the wild.

Fox at Mesquite DunesKit Fox at Mesquite Dunes – We saw it from a distance. At first I thought it was a coyote, but Eric Vanbergen on Flickr suggested it might be a Kit Fox. Judging by the info on Wikipedia, he’s right.  I made the photo handheld (with my tripod still attached!) using a 24-120mm lens that I was using for landscapes. This is a small crop from the frame. It was nice of the Fox to stop, stand in the light, and look at the camera for me – but it should have come closer!

We also saw several of these, curiously along or as they crossed the road.  They’re large enough (~3 inches across) to spot as you drive by.

Classic Death ValleyClassic Death Valley (Photo by Kevin McKinney – used with permission) – We saw several Tarantulas while we were there.

And birds:  The National Park Service official bird list has hundreds of species that frequent Death Valley.  On this page they have some info on where to look and migration patterns.  Kevin M. also had a good time birding in places around and on the way to the park.

Here’s one last photo.  We’d been searching for a Road Runner all week but hadn’t seen any.  On the last afternoon we finally sighted this one as we drove by the visitor’s center. Of course, none of us had our camera gear – thank goodness for iPhones!

Greater Roadrunner, running“Beep Beep” – A Roadrunner outside the Visitor Center at Furnace Creek. I think this is the one the rangers have nick-named “Robbie”. It’s very tolerant of humans and went about catching and eating bugs while we watched.  

You can view many more photos from our trip at these links:

This is really more of trip report than a review or guide.  With so little time on site, I’m not qualified to give you much specific advice on photographing Death Valley.  But here is some info I found very useful:

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. We are really blessed in the US with all our national parks.  Now – visit one and make some photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Vacation, part 2: Shenandoah National Park

On July 4th, 1936, in the Virginia Blue Ridge mountains along Skyline Drive at Big Meadows, President Roosevelt dedicated Shenandoah National Park.  Since that time, people have greatly enjoyed wonderful vistas, beautiful waterfalls, quiet wooded hollows, hiking, wildlife and the night sky.

Shenandoah sunrise at Spitler KnollSunrise at Spitler Knoll

I’ve been to Shenandoah many times.  It’s the first national park I ever visited – too long  ago to admit.  I hiked there with our Boy Scout troop from Bowie, Maryland when I was a very young man .  Hiking’s a major activity at the park – the Appalachian Trail runs along and crosses Skyline Drive in many places.

Appalachian trail viewAppalachian trail view

Lynn and I also took Mike and Mary there when they were younger and we have fond (and scary!) memories of hikes with those two scrambling over rocks and along ridges to be first to see a view.  On one of our visits, we also picnicked with our good friends the Sullivans, and hiked with the kids down to Dark Hollow Falls.

Dark Hollow FallsDark Hollow Falls – A gorgeous waterfall, although crowded at times since it’s one of the closest ones to Skyline Drive.  (Photo from 1996).

To get the most out of your visit, you need an up to date guide-book.  We had one from our previous visits (printed in 1988!), but unfortunately we didn’t realize how out of date it was.  Fires and other events have changed places in the park, sometimes quite dramatically.  Fortunately, we found updated books at the park.  One example of the changes:

Dead eastern hemlock treesDead eastern hemlock trees – Hemlock Springs, Shenandoah National Park. We really enjoyed hiking through large stands of hemlock trees the last time we were there, 20+ years ago.  Now, 95% of the Hemlock trees in Shenandoah have been killed by the hemlock woolly adeligid, an invasive species introduced by humans. 

Weather can vary in the park.  All of our visit was beautiful, but we spent one day completely socked in with heavy rain and visibility of 50 to 100 feet.  I had fun walking around in the fog looking for photos, while Lynn wove a White Oak basket from scratch.

Rain drops in the mistRain drops in the mist

We saw lots of wildlife while we were there.  The deer are all over and not very skittish, since animals are protected in the park.  We also saw 2 black bears – exciting!  I didn’t look too hard for birds, but managed to spot at least one life bird (Dark-eyed Junco).

If you search the web you’ll see things to do in the surrounding area too.   We’ve been to Luray Caverns in the past, although we didn’t have time to explore outside the park this time.

In summary, Shenandoah National Park deserves to be on your bucket list.  If you haven’t been there yet, just go.  If you have been there, you know what I mean.

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and some other photos from our trip in this album on Flickr.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

 

Georgia vacation report

Lynn and I spent a week in Georgia this month.  She had a school reunion and we wanted to visit the north Georgia mountains for a few days beforehand.  We have fond memories of weekend hikes along the Appalachian Trail when we were in college.  I can report that the area is just as pretty as I remember, but the trails seem a lot steeper now.

We stayed in a cabin at the Enota Mountain Retreat, between Helen and Hiawassee.  This was only a few miles from Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia.  The Cherokee people called this mountain Enotah.

Brasstown Bald is in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest and there’s a small entrance fee at the parking area, but if you have a National Park Service Senior Pass, you can use that.  The 0.6 mile paved trail from the parking area to the top is very steep, although a bus runs between 10am and 5pm.  We arrived after 5 on our first day – it was well worth the hike to the top.  The spectacular 360 degree view was the best one we saw.

The view from Brasstown Bald
The view from Brasstown Bald – This is the highest point in the state of Georgia (4,784 feet). 5 frame infrared panorama, B&W.

Compare that to a very similar view from an un-modified camera to see how the infrared sensor helps cuts through the haze.

The view from Brasstown Bald
Color view from Brasstown Bald – Looking a bit to the right of the IR version. Also a 5 frame panorama, 

Good vistas don’t seem as common here as they are for instance in the Rockies.  The small roads have places to pull over, but the view is often blocked by trees.  Which makes the outlook from Brasstown Bald exceptional.

North Georgia also has a huge number of waterfalls – but some are more difficult to find, get to, and see clearly than others.  There are four on the Enota Resort grounds.  The trail to this one was steep and muddy in spots and led up along the side of a ravine to this spot  across from the falls.  We couldn’t find a viewpoint with a clear view through the trees, although there were other paths that we didn’t have time (or energy) to try.

Hidden falls
Hidden falls – Along a trail inside the Enota campground.  ISO 200, f/8, 0.6 sec.

We did visit other waterfalls that are easier to get to and see.  There’s even a pull off just outside Vogel State Park where we could view a large waterfall from the road (no hike!).  Anna Ruby Falls is on federal land inside Unicoi State park near Helen.  The paved path to the falls is about 1/2 mile long and not too difficult with resting places along the way.  We also visited Amicolola Falls near Dahlonaga after our wonderful lunch at the Smith House Restaurant.  This falls also has a relatively short and easier paved path to a wonderful open view.  But the hike might be even easier when your stomach isn’t so full!

Amicolola Falls
Amicolola Falls – Near Dahlonega, Georgia.  ISO 100, f/16, 0.1 second.

I used a variety of shutter speeds on the waterfalls and I think 1/10 to 1/2 is the range to play in to make the water look best. Unless you find a pool of swirling water – where a longer exposure might be better.  Try different shutter speeds while you’re there so you can pick the best result when you get home.  Most of the time I could get my shutter speed in range by adjusting ISO and aperture.  I did have a variable neutral density filter with me that I used a couple of times – it was handy when the sun was out.  Most of the time it was cloudy enough so that I didn’t have to worry about using the filter or fight the extreme contrast of sun shining on white water.

As far as wildlife goes, we didn’t spend a lot of effort looking and we didn’t see many animals.  I was able to photograph one new life bird:  a Louisiana Waterthrush.  Lynn found it foraging on the ground outside (while we did the laundry!).

After our time in North Georgia, we headed to Atlanta for the reunion.  For various reasons, my photo ops there were limited, but we did have a nice vantage point from our hotel room.

Incoming storm
Incoming Storm – Atlanta.  During a long exposure needed to capture this ominous cloud rolling in, I also caught a flash of lightning.

One place I’ve heard great things about but didn’t get to visit is the Georgia aquarium.  I’ll have to save it for next time.

All in all, an exceptional, relaxing, and photogenic trip which we both thoroughly enjoyed.  These and other Georgia photos are in this  album  on Flickr, where you can view larger versions. Also, if you haven’t seen last week’s post about the Narcosee Indian Mound, please take a look at that.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Florida Waterfalls?

So you’re in Florida and you want to make some waterfall photos.  I hope you’ve got other plans too – because waterfalls are a tough assignment in the sunshine state.  We have plenty of water (well, most of the time), but we’re one of the flattest states in the US – so we tend to come up short on the “falls” part.  You can photograph waterfalls here – not the grand vista kind you’d see in other places like Yosemite or Alaska – but still scenic and worthwhile.

Bridalveil Falls and DogwoodYosemite National Park, California: Bridalveil Falls through blooming Pacific dogwood tree.  Sorry, not in Florida.

Where in Florida can you photograph waterfalls?  If you look at the Wikipedia article on waterfalls of the world, you’ll see that the Florida section lists just one:  Falling Waters State Park is in Chipley just south of I-10 in the Florida panhandle.

Falling Waters State Park sinkhole

Falling Waters State Park sinkhole – When it’s a waterfall, this is Florida’s tallest one. If the stream at the top is flowing, it falls 73 feet down into this 100 foot deep, 20 foot wide sinkhole and disappears into the Florida aquifer.

This park has some unique geology.  Sinkholes line the boardwalk and you can descend part way into the main one pictured above.  When the small creek that feeds the falls is flowing during the wet season, the waterfall can be quite impressive.  It wasn’t on the day I visited :-(.  Check with the park before you go – you can reach them at 850-638-6130.

If you do some Googling, you’ll find a couple other Florida waterfalls mentioned.  Falling Creek falls is a small (~5 foot) waterfall in north Florida near the intersection of US 41 and I-75.  Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park is near Gainesville.  Similar to Falling Waters, it’s a bowl-shaped sinkhole over 120 feet deep and 500 foot across.  You can follow a trail and see streams falling into the sink and the resulting small waterfalls. You can also descend into this sinkhole to view the inside. The tiny waterfalls here trickle down the embankment before they too disappear into the Florida Aquifer.

Rainbow Springs State Park is the home of Florida’s 4th largest spring.   It was a privately owned commercial attraction up until the 1970s.  It’s now a state park and in addition to the spring, has some very pretty gardens and several man-made waterfalls fed by water pumped from the spring.

Rainbow Springs waterfall
Waterfall at Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnellon, Florida

Rainbow Springs is a very pretty place.  The Rainbow River is one of the clearest waters anywhere.  The falls too are pretty.  The morning I was there, only one had any water flow at first.  Before I left, they’d turned on the others and I was able to photograph them too.

There are also other man-made waterfalls you can photograph.  These are too many to list, but here’s one example from the Gaylord Palms hotel in Orlando:

A waterfall in the Everglades portion of the Atrium.
Gaylord Palms Resort, Orlando, Florida – A waterfall in the Everglades portion of the Atrium

To close out this post, here are a few hints on waterfall photography:

  • If you want to show the water motion as a silky smooth stream, you’ll need to use a slow shutter speed.  This depends to some extent on how fast the water is moving, but a good starting point might be 1/2 second or so.  Experiment with different shutter speed settings to see which ones you like best.
  • You’ll need a tripod for slow shutter speeds, so bring yours.
  • If you have too much light to get the slow shutter speed you want, try using a polarizing filter or a neutral density filter.
  • The polarizing filter will also help reduce reflections on vegetation and the water’s surface
  • Be careful with your exposure.  It’s easy to over expose the water since there’s often a large contrast range between it and the surrounding area.  Make sure to check your histogram and think about bracketing your exposure.

Do you have any other waterfall photography hints to share?  Do you know of any other Florida waterfall locations?  If so, please let me and others know in the comments.

I have a couple more photos from Falling Waters in this set on Flickr.  You can see photos of the other Rainbow Springs waterfalls in this set.  And finally, this one has some of my other waterfall photos.

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

Gaylord Palms, Orlando

Intro / Description

Lynn and I spent a couple of nights at the Gaylord Palms Resort last weekend.  This very nice hotel is located in the Kissimmee area, near the Disney parks.  It has several great restaurants and a huge atrium divided into four sections modeled after different areas of Florida.  There are also two outdoor swimming pools, one for kids and one that’s adults only.  It made for a nice weekend and also provided quite a bit of photographic interest.

One Second KoiOne of my favorite photos from the trip. It’s called “One second Koi” or “One second, Koi”, or “One second Koi?”

Info for Photographers

You’ll find photo opportunities just about everywhere you point your camera – so make sure you do bring one!

A waterfall in the Everglades portion of the Atrium.A small waterfall in the Everglades portion of the Atrium, just outside of the Old Hickory Steakhouse

Photo hints:  Light can be a bit on the low side, so be prepared:  Higher ISOs, wide apertures, image stabilization and camera supports will all help.  I used some pretty slow shutter speeds.  If you look at any of these images on Flickr (just click on the photos) and then click on the “More properties” link, you can see the exposures I used for each and use that as a guide for the conditions you can expect.

Tripod/Monopod: Would come in handy, and shouldn’t be a problem.  I didn’t see anyone with a tripod, although I didn’t see any signs saying they weren’t allowed.  In most areas there should be room for one – just be courteous and don’t block the pathways.  I didn’t bring my tripod and ended up sometimes bracing my camera on various objects.

Lenses: The wider the aperture the more flexibility you’ll have, and image stabilization will be a plus.  You might especially enjoy using a wide angle zoom and a macro.

Best time to visit:  Anytime.

Other:  Check Priceline.com for potentially lower room rates.  Be prepared to pay for parking.  And bring plenty of money for the restaurants.

Interior of the resort's version of Castillo de San MarcoInterior of the resort’s version of Castillo de San Marco

Summary

My Gallery / Flickr photo set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157624473721270/
Website: http://www.gaylordhotels.com/gaylord-palms/
Address / Phone: 6000 W Osceola Parkway
Kissimmee, FL 34746
Hotel Operator: 407-586-0000

View in Google Maps

Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: Make some nice photos while you relax

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.