The Mute Swans have hatched!

I’ve kept an eye on the Mute Swan family in Viera and when I went by this week, the eggs had finally hatched.

Viera Mute Swan pair and cygnets
Viera Mute Swan pair and cygnets – On Wednesday, 4/16/14

I think I could count 7 babies. They’re quite far from the nest in this photo and Mom is keeping them well away from the road.

Here’s another photo from a week earlier. Papa was patrolling and looks like he’s about to fall asleep.

Sleepy Swan
Sleepy Swan – On Thursday 4/10/16

If you’d wanted to stop and see them, it’ll be harder to find them now. They’ll be foraging and may not be anywhere near the nest.

I’m happy that they’re doing well so far.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Lessons from a photogenic place

There were a few lights in the parking lot way back behind the sand dunes and the clouds were thick and low, making it so very dark on Marineland Beach south of St. Augustine, Florida that my first few exposures didn’t even register on the sensor. I kept raising exposure times and ISO until I was able to capture this:

99 seconds in the dark
99 seconds in the dark – ISO 400, 99 seconds @ f/8; Marineland Beach, about 45 minutes before sunrise.

It sure didn’t look this way to my eyes.  I couldn’t see much at all and had to use my head lamp to compose and focus.

When I got home and processed the photos, they reminded me of some things that might be useful to others.

Pre-visualize before, during, and after you press the shutter

You should always try to pre-visualize the photo you’re making before you compose and shoot – and it’s a delightful feeling when the image turns out just like you imagined.  But this is often harder than it sounds.  Especially if you can’t see what you’re photographing.  There’s nothing wrong with adjusting your vision as you go.  This is a wonderful advantage of digital cameras that we’d be foolish to ignore.  Check your results on the LCD during the shoot and adapt as necessary.  In this case, I knew exactly what I needed to change when I first looked at my (black) LCD.  I needed more exposure!

Pre visualization is great, but there’s also nothing wrong with post visualization.  What I mean is to try as many things as you can think of while you’re there and sort it out later when you get home.  Try HDR, panoramas, high tripod, low tripod, and focus stacking.  Use different  focal lengths, shutter / aperture combinations, and positions / directions.  Exploit changing weather / light as time goes on.  Capture them all and give yourself a better chance to come out with something you like.

Shutter speed

Shutter speed is a critical variable when photographing moving water.  The 99 second exposure above gave me very smooth and milky looking water, nicely outlining the rocks.  A 1/1000th second (or faster) exposure can freeze drops of water.  In between, you can find other speeds that look very different from the extremes.  Capture the scene with different shutter speeds when possible.  In this 1 second exposure, I like the added interest from the flow patterns in the water.

Marineland Beach and cochina rocks
Marineland Beach and cochin a rocks – ISO 100, 1 second @ f/4 with 8 2/3 stop neutral density filter, ~30 minutes after sunrise.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing and ghost removal

There are so many controls and sliders in HDR software that it’s hard to know which ones to change.  Most HDR software has an option for removing “ghosts” (differences between multiple frames for anything moving in the image) and I think it’s a critical setting.  HDR Efex allows me to select the baseline frame I want to use as well as the amount of ghost removal to apply.  I like to experiment with these and select the combination that looks best.  In the image below, there was only one  setting that showed the breaking wave. And I think the wave definitely adds to the image.

Golden rocks and sand
Golden rocks and sand – 5 image bracket (-4 to +4 stops), almost an hour after sunrise.

Don’t leave too soon

I made these three images (and more!) over a period of 90 minutes.  The changing light provided different looks and opportunities to photograph this place.  It’s worth getting there early and staying for a while.

Don’t get overwhelmed

When you visit a beautiful place, especially for the first time – it’s easy to be overwhelmed and forget about everything except pressing the shutter button.  It helps to visit multiple times. The first time, it’s hard to see all the possible compositions until you get over the novelty and excitement. When you can relax and enjoy the experience you can open your mind and get in the zone.  Then you’ll make images you’ll be happy to share with others.

You can see more of my photos from Marineland in this set on Flickr.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Get Your National Park Service Senior Pass

I drove over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last Friday to scout for new places to launch my kayak. I’d never been to the Beacon 42, boat ramp before, so I stopped there first.

Beacon 42 boat ramp
Beacon 42 boat ramp, before dawn.  Venus in the upper right, reflecting in the lower right.

It looks like a great place to launch from, with easy access to Mosquito Lagoon in the distance to the east.

I also went by the Visitor’s Center since I needed to renew my MINWR annual pass.  The very nice man at the desk asked me how old I am.  When I told him I’d be 62 next month, he told me to come back then and get a senior pass.  I’d heard about this before but didn’t know it started at age 62.  And that it’s a lifetime (not annual) pass!  And that it gets you in to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites including national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, and areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation!  It’s quite a deal –  I’ll be back there next month to get mine.

I did make a few more photos that day.  Here’s one more:

Reflecting mangroves
Reflecting mangroves: Something about mangroves always seems photogenic to me. Especially in mirror like water.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – if you’re a US citizen age 62 or older – get your pass.  Then go make some photos!

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Mute Swan nest

There have been several reports online recently about a pair of Mute Swans nesting in Viera.  I first found out from my online friend Jim Boland’s recent blog post.  I had a little free time yesterday and decided to check on them.

Mute Swans (nesting pair)
Mute Swans (nesting pair)

They aren’t native to North America or common in Florida.  These two are doing well and have lots of fans.  They’re actually in a retention pond on the side of a busy road.  At least 20 people stopped by during the few minutes I was there.  Mom spent most of her time on the nest and occasionally tended the eggs.  Dad patrolled the area and kept other birds away.  They can be aggressive, but these are used to people and ignored us.

Mute Swan
Mute Swan and reflection

I didn’t see any sign of cygnets yet, but I’m guessing they’ll hatch soon.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get back over and see them.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Cocoa – March 20, 2014

Keith H. mentioned that he’d like to visit the Cocoa Pier.  I hadn’t been in a while and when I checked The Photographer’s Ephemeris, it looked like the sun would rise lined up pretty well with the Pier this week, so we decided to go over.  We arrived early hoping for some star photo ops, but thick clouds and lights on the beach limited star visibility.  I did manage to capture a planet in this frame:

Venus rising past the pier
Venus rising past the pier – The clouds parted for a few moments before dawn

It’s pretty crowded underneath this pier, so the sun alignment wasn’t as big a deal as I hoped.  I caught a glimpse of it through the pilings and clouds just after dawn – here’s what it looked like:

Sunrise under the pier
Sunrise under the pier – The ship visible in the upper left was a bonus.

On the drive back, we stopped to photograph the new Port Canaveral Exploration Tower:

Port Canaveral Exploratio Center
Port Canaveral Exploration Tower – The new building is quite eye-catching! It wasn’t there the last time I drove by.

 A quick, but fun photo excursion.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.