Let’s go fishing – how I made the image

Here’s another photo from my last trip to Viera Wetlands.

Let's go fishing!
Let’s go fishing! Two fishermen head out before dawn.

I’ve made this kind of photo before – you can see some examples in this set on Flickr.  I think this one turned out better than my earlier tries.  I used a different approach and because it’s been a while since I’ve written a “behind the scenes / how-to post”, I thought I’d fill you in on how I made this.

The boat ramp at this little park where SR 520 crosses the St. Johns River is pretty busy around dawn.  It seems to be a popular place for fishermen to put in.  I  waited several times while they cleared my frame and the water calmed down before I could make my next exposure.  So I decided to make an image that included a boat.

It’s a challenging shot.  I wanted the capture the intense sunrise colors so I had to be careful not to over expose and blow out the sky.  I also wanted some detail in the boat, so I needed to over expose there a bit, but still minimize motion blur.  At sunrise, I normally use a low ISO for the best quality image, and a small aperture for good depth of field.  This results in a long shutter speed, which is bad for photographing moving boats.  And if I want to bracket and use multiple frame HDR to capture the huge contrast range in the scene – that’s even worse for moving boat photography.  So how did I make this image?  Glad you asked!

The secret is to carefully capture two frames and blend them together by hand.  The first frame is exposed for the boat:  I used a high ISO and a wide open  aperture to get my shutter speed as fast as possible, and I overexposed slightly to capture a little shadow detail in the boat and in the vegetation on the shore.  With my camera set and on a tripod, I composed and waited for the next boat to get to the right point in the frame.  Here’s that RAW file:

1-the boat Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.49.58 PM

First frame, exposed for the boat, ISO 1000, f/4, 1/20 second

The second frame was my main exposure and I wanted it to be the best quality possible.  I also wanted to slightly under expose to capture color and detail in the sky.  I waited until the boat was gone and the water was calm again and then made this exposure:

2- the sky Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.49.51 PM

Second frame, exposed for the sky, ISO 100, f/11, 0.8 sec

When I got home, I preprocessed the two raw files using identical color balance and paying careful attention to noise reduction (especially on the higher ISO frame with the boat).  I’ve been using DxO Optics Pro lately when I want the best RAW conversion.  It does a wonderful job on both lens corrections and noise reduction for supported equipment.  After a few tweaks to exposure in each file, I brought them into Photoshop on separate layers.

The next thing to deal with was the boat.  Even though I’d pushed my shutter speed as high as I thought I could, 1/20 second still left a little  motion blur visible.  The “Filters / Sharpen / Smart Sharpen” command in Photoshop has a “Remove Motion Blur” option and I’ve found that it works well in situations like this where the direction of motion is known.  I used it selectively on a duplicate layer to enhance detail in the boat.   Here are before and after crops at 200%.  I think it’s a nice improvement:

3-motion blur boat Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.45.59 PM

Motion blur (before using the filter)

4-sharper boat Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.45.43 PM

After the motion blur processing

Next I used layer masks to blend the multiple frames together.  I worked carefully around the boat and painted it into the main / second frame.  I like a little detail in my shadows instead of a straight silhouette.  Since I’d slightly overexposed the first frame (and was careful with noise reduction) I painted some of that into the vegetation.  Here’s the first merged result:

6-Initial merge Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.48.18 PM

Initial merged frames

The only filter I used on this was Topaz Clarity – I like the way it increases mid-tone contrast without adding halos.

7-Adding clarity Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.48.29 PM

After Topaz Clarity

After selective sharpening on a separate layer, I returned to Lightroom for final adjustments (black and white points, vignette, etc) to get the first image in this post.

I struggled some with the cropping. I tried a 16×9 aspect ratio, but because I wanted to keep all the sky, I thought the horizon ended up too close to the center. I decided to keep the original composition since the dark water at the bottom holds my eye in the frame. I might play with it some more.

I like how it turned out and I hope you do too.  I also hope the info helps with your photography.  If you have any questions on details or other photography related things, let me know in the comments.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Viera Wetlands on 7-19-2014

I went over to Viera Wetlands last Saturday.  It’s best not to expect too much in the middle of summer in Florida, so my expectations were a little low.

First on the agenda was a stop where SR 520 crosses the St. Johns River, near Cocoa, Florida.  There’s a park on the north side of the road with a busy boat ramp and a boardwalk reaching a short distance out into the river.  The sunrise was pretty – here’s one of the images I made:

Ultra-wide daybreak
Ultra-wide daybreak – Five frame panorama – The resulting horizontal field of view is about 130 degrees.

After sunrise I went on to Viera Wetlands to meet up with several Photography Interest Group members.  Kevin M. organized it and we had one of the largest turnouts in a long time.  Frank B., Kevin K. and his son Evan, and Tom M all showed up too.

With the heavy rains we’ve had lately they closed the berms to cars, so we took off on a stroll around the cells closest to the entrance.  There were more birds out and about than anticipated.

Red bellied Woodpecker
A very colorful Red bellied Woodpecker

In addition to woodpeckers, we saw and heard a lot of whistling ducks.

Perched Black Bellied Whistling Duck
Perched Black Bellied Whistling Duck

We also saw many of the regular Florida avians (Tri-colored Herons, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Ibis, Anhingas, Moorhens, Coots, Black Vultures, etc.). Dragonflies and Alligators were also abundant.

I started with low photographic expectations and ended up coming home with several images I really like.  I also got to spend a little time with friends.  Once again I was pleasantly surprised by another wonderful Central Florida Photo Op!

You can see more of the photos from trip by clicking the links I included above to each person’s photo stream.  You can also click here to view the Photography Interest Group photo pool.  My Viera Wetlands album on Flickr is at this link, My St. Johns River album is at this link, and my Cocoa album  is at this link.

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

©2014, 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.

Ceremonial Cherokee Indian mound

The Nacoochee Indian mound is just outside Helen, Georgia.  Lynn and I were up there on vacation last week and happened to find it on our way out-of-town.  Of course, I had to pull over for a photo.

I like the setting, the look of the mound, and the hills and clouds beyond it.  It seems very spiritual to me.

Nacoochee Cherokee Indian ceremonial mound, just outside Helen, Georgia
Nacoochee Cherokee Indian ceremonial mound, just outside Helen, Georgia – This was the center of the Cherokee town of Gauxule, visited by DeSoto in 1540 while searching for gold. The mound is 190 feet long by 150 foot wide by 20 feet high. Research beginning in 1915 showed that the Cherokee people buried their ancestors on this spot and lived on the land around it.

My grandparents on my mother’s side both lived in North Carolina and Georgia and had some Cherokee blood in their background.  I wonder if any of my distant relatives lived and died near here?

I haven’t had time to organize / process photos from this trip. Hopefully I’ll get to that this week and have a better report ready for next time.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Silver Springs State Park

Intro / Description

I spent some time at Silver Springs State Park in late May.  This is Florida’s newest park, created in October of last year when the former Silver Springs and Wild Waters commercial attractions were merged with Silver River State Park.  Lynn and I used to visit when our kids were younger and the commercial attractions were going strong.  But that was a while ago and it’s a different place now.

Silver Springs headwaters, view 2
Silver Springs headwaters – A glass bottom boat returns to the dock before a storm

Florida’s renovating Wild Waters and has already re-opened some of the water rides.  The Glass Bottom Boats still run in the Silver Springs area, although the jungle river boat tour and antique car museum that I remember from past years are gone.  It’s a little soon to say what the park will look like after the state is finished merging the areas together, but it always was and still is a fine place to visit.

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:

There are hiking and biking trails throughout the park, but I think the real attraction is the water.  You can rent canoes and kayaks or bring your own, and there are several places to put in.  I used the launch close to the headwaters.  It’s a short paddle to the main spring.  It’s also very close to the Fort King paddle trail (where the Jungle Cruise used to go) which is open to paddlers now for the first time since the 1800s!

In addition to the put in I used (off the Silver Springs parking lot) there’s also one inside the main park, but it’s about a 1/2 mile carry to the water – too far for me!  One other place you can put in is at Ray Wayside Park where you can paddle upstream to the spring.   Silver Springs also offers guided kayak tours and a shuttle service to / from Ray Wayside.

A view from my kayak
A view from my kayak – Along the Fort King paddle trail near the Silver Springs headwaters

Here are a couple of articles from other sites about paddling at Silver Springs.  Take a look – they like it as much as I do!

If you can’t go on a paddle, at least ride the glass bottom boat or take an air boat excursion.  You’ll get to see more of the scenery and wildlife than you can from the land.

Airboat ride on the Silver river

Airboat ride on the Silver river

Tripod/Monopod:  I did have mine, but didn’t use it as much as I thought I would.  It’s a very wooded area and landscape opportunities aren’t as numerous as they are in some other places.

Lenses:  Bring what you can carry.  I got the most use out of a normal range zoom (~24-70), but longer and wider would be nice to have in your bag if you need them.  If you have any waterproof equipment, bring it for paddling expeditions.

Best time to visit:  It’s starts getting very warm in May and doesn’t cool off until September or October, so plan accordingly.  If you’re going on the rides at the water park or kayaking, the heat is a bit more tolerable.  I went during the week.  Weekends will be crowded.

Other:

There’s a variety of wildlife, but not as much as some other locations in Central Florida.  For instance eBird lists 112 species at Silver Springs vs 293 in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.   I spotted Ospreys, Cardinals, Black Vultures, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a few wading birds, Alligators, Deer, Turtles, Cormorants (on the water and in nests, and one swimming underwater), Barred Owls (calls and one in flight), Hawks and a few other species.  There are recent reports of Manatees in the springs.  And although I didn’t find any, there’s a troop of feral rhesus macaque monkeys  descended from ones let loose in the 1930s.

Typical Turtle
Typical Turtle – Along the the Fort King paddle trail near the Silver Springs headwaters

The River side of the park is home to the Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center (open to the public on weekends and holidays).  Tours through the pioneer cracker village are offered once a month, except in the summer.  You’ll have to call the park for details.

Cracker cabin
Cracker cabin

Finally, 60 campsites are available along with 10 very nice, two bedroom cabins.  I’d recommend staying for one or two nights so you have some time to explore.  There are also several other great areas nearby including the Ocala National ForestRainbow Springs State ParkJuniper Springs Recreation Area, and Salt Springs Recreation Area.

Summary

Click on any of these photos to go to Flickr where you can see larger versions.  My Silver Springs album on Flickr includes these and a few other  photos.

Silver Springs State Park is a wonderful place to visit and an especially wonderful place to paddle!

My Gallery /  Flickr photo set:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157644924434114
Website: http://www.floridastateparks.org/silversprings/default.cfm/explore.html 
Address / Phone: 1425 N.E. 58th Avenue, Ocala, Florida 34470(352) 236-7148
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating:  A Central Florida Photo Op must do!

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.