Photography Surprises

sur·prise:
noun: an unexpected or astonishing event, fact, or thing
verb: cause (someone) to feel mild astonishment or shock
synonyms: astonishment, amazement, incredulity, wonder

One reason I like photography is because it often pleasantly surprises me. If you do a search on this blog (https://edrosack.com/?s=surprise). you’ll find I’ve used the word many times. Today I have a couple more examples, so lets discuss photo surprises again.

Jumping fish sunriseJumping fish sunrise

The title of this one gives away the surprise. Of course, it’s not unusual for fish to jump out of the water. I was set up for landscape photography, not wildlife or action and I didn’t notice the fish that morning so I hadn’t tried to time my shutter to include it. When I started processing the photo on my computer I was amazed that my camera recorded the fish (a mullet?) mid jump. I think it adds interest to the photo. A small wonder, but a good one. Here’s a closer look.

Mid-jump Mullet

This second image is a different kind of surprise.

First Light on Wetland WildflowersFirst Light on Wetland Wildflowers

I was on Black Point Wildlife Drive and saw that beautiful light on the clouds. When I got out of the car to make a photo, I noticed those nearby wildflowers and wanted to include them – it was a difficult task. The exposure for the flowers would be very different from the sky. And getting everything in focus in one frame would also be hard. I decided to make three vertical frames (adjusting focus and exposure in each one) and then try blending them together into a single panorama image when I got home.

I wasn’t hopeful.  On top of capture issues, I knew the blending would be hard too. The flowers were very close and would change perspective against the open marsh when the camera moved. And any motion from wind would cause ghosting or other issues. I made the frames anyway – it was worth a try. I didn’t think it would turn out this well – an unexpected success!

You can click on the first and last photos to view larger versions on Flickr.

Changing the subject, Tropical Storm Isaias is heading toward Central Florida. Our skies are blue and cloud free right now. Later today it’s expected to be a lot closer and we might get some strong weather beginning this afternoon. Lynn and I have done our hurricane prep and are hoping it stays out to sea and doesn’t get too bad.  We also hope all of you anywhere near the projected path are prepared too.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there and take care of each other. And if you can – make some surprising photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Comet Stacking

I’ve seen some awesome images of Comet Neowise C/2020 F3. I’m sure you have too. Did you make any photos of it? Then you might have a better image than you think, just waiting to be processed. Let me explain.

Neowise.Central Winds Park. 7/16/20. Single exposure at 85mm, f/2.8, 8s, ISO 400

Lynn and I went up to Central Winds Park in Winter Springs to see if we could spot Neowise. This park is on the south shore of Lake Jesup and has less light pollution to the north than we do in our neighborhood. Once it was dark enough, we could easily find it in binoculars, but it was very hard to pick up with just our eyes.

I went back a few days later with my long lens to try for a close up.

Comet Neowise C/2020 F3

Neowise. Central Winds Park. 7/19/20. 3 exposure stack, 600mm, f/6.3, 2s, ISO 3200 – 6400

I made a lot of frames of the comet on that trip, trying to find optimal settings for a single exposure. Almost all of the really spectacular images that you’ve seen are probably from a tracking mount, with multiple frames that are aligned, stacked, and processed together to reduce noise and bring out faint detail. I wasn’t trying to do any of that.

But after several attempts to get the best image I could out of what I’d captured, I realized I might have multiple frames I could stack too. So going back through my RAW captures I found three photos to try. They weren’t ideal since they were at different ISOs but I thought it was worth a shot. Here’s a before / after of a single RAW image compared to a stacked composite from three frames.

Comparison of a single RAW frame to the stacked, 3 frame final image

If you’re an astrophotographer, you already know all this. And you probably have some task specific software to align / stack / process images. If you’re not an astronomy buff, then do a web search for “photoshop manual align astro layers” and you’ll find a lot of info on how to do this without any extra programs – which is how I processed mine.

This is only the 3rd or 4th comet I’ve seen and the very first that I’ve tried to photograph. The first one I saw was Halley’s Comet back in 1986. I remember how exciting it was to show it to Lynn and Mike. I had a camera (and a telescope) then, but photos like these with that equipment would have been next to impossible. Photography has come such a long way!

So, if you made any Neowise photos, sort through them for frames you can try to stack. You may be surprised at the improvement you can get.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there and take care of each other. And if you can – stack some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black Point Wildlife Drive – 7/16/20

Here are a few photos from a short trip over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last week.  I spent most of my time on Black Point Wildlife Drive.  This first one is a six frame, handheld, infrared,  black & white panorama looking along the road near the entrance just after dawn.

What's around the bend?What’s around the bend?

I heard these Common Nighthawks before I spotted them. Several were calling and flying  near the road about half way around the drive. They’re very fast flyers, erratic and hard to track.  They spend summers in Florida but this is the first time I’ve been able to photograph them – although I’ve heard them and seen them briefly before (over at Lake Louisa).

A nice surpriseA nice surprise

Gators are frequent down here and I don’t often stop to photograph them anymore.  I thought it was worth a snap this time since it was posing nicely and looking at me like I’d make a tasty meal.

Ominous Ominous

Speaking of tasty meals, just up the road from the Alligator, I spotted two of these rabbits foraging in the grass.  I stayed in my car and this one was very cooperative.  But they should really be cautious around that gator!

Enjoying a snackEnjoying a snack – A Marsh Rabbit chowing down on some greens

I had this Osprey perfectly framed – before it took off.  Turns out I was a little too close, which doesn’t happen very often in wildlife photography (at least for me).  Even though I clipped the wings, I still like the image, so I’m including it.

Launch!Launch!

This time of year is very hot and things to see and photograph can be a little sparse.  It’s probably not a popular time to visit BPWD.  I only saw two other people on the drive while I was there.  But I’m glad I I decided to go over.  Even if I hadn’t see anything, a little time out there in nature is a welcome distraction from ‘doomscrolling’ the pandemic.

A few updates – if you go, make sure to check on things before you leave:

  • They’re collecting fees again on BPWD.  
  • Traffic was single lane and slow around some construction on the A. Max Brewer Memorial Parkway leading into the refuge.
  • Haulover Bridge on Kennedy Parkway was closed.

Black Point is a marvelous place.  I’ve had many wonderful visits there since I first discovered it (~2007).  It’s just the thing to cure a case of Slow Photography. You can read some other posts about it at this link: https://edrosack.com/?s=bpwd.  And you can look at other photos from there in this Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157622920465437

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there and take care of each other. And if you can – make some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Slow Photography

No, not slow shutter speeds. Photography itself is slow.

It usually is this time of year. Our heat, humidity, and bugs have all become bothersome. And at least for me, wildlife seems harder to spot. This year we also have a pandemic to deal with – especially here in Florida. So my photo motivation has been sluggish. I did end up taking my camera out three times last week and came home with a couple images that may be worth sharing.

I saw a mention (On Flickr? Can’t remember. ) of a place called Lemon Bluff. It’s a small Volusia County park / boat ramp on the St. Johns river. I’m not sure how many photos you could find there, but it would be a great place to launch a kayak.

St. Johns RiverSt. Johns River from the Lemon Bluff boat ramp

I also brought my camera on two short trips into Orlando. I wanted to see how the swans are doing. Our first visit was cancelled by a rain storm, however the second one went a little better.

Almost grownAlmost grown – These Lake Davis cygnets are just about as big as Mom and Dad.

Both families are doing well. There are still two cygnets at Lake Davis. Lake Cherokee has three – they’re a little smaller. I’m not posting photos of them because they were napping in the grass right in front of an ugly irrigation pump. I should file a complaint with the swan modeling agency!

You can see my other St. Johns River photos in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157624991879878.

And this search will bring up other posts about Lake Cherokee and Lake Davis: https://edrosack.com/?s=Lake+Davis+cherokee.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there and take care of each other. And if you can – stay motivated and make some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Independence Day

This photo I made in Greenwood Cemetery near downtown Orlando has been in my archives since April of 2011.  I haven’t posted it before, but it seems appropriate for this USA Independence Day weekend.

Young Bald EagleYoung Bald Eagle – You can’t see it very well from this angle, but It’s actually two eagles – the extra feathers on the left belong to a second one.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The Bald Eagle is one of the symbols of our country.  And to me this young eagle watching us is symbolic of what’s going on in the United States now.

In one sense our country is old – 1776 was 244 years ago.  But in another sense, we’re still immature like this young eagle.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The USA is a country founded on ideas and ideals.  But it’s still growing and imperfect.  We have a lot left to do before all people are equal and able enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We may never be a perfect union.  But I believe in the ideals our country is founded on.  And I believe each one of us must work hard to make every independence day more perfect than the last one.

Love your family.

Treat others as you would like others to treat you.

Hang in there and take care of each other.

Happy birthday, America. Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog.

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

 

Black and White

Ages ago when I was young and starting out with photography, I used black and white almost exclusively. It was an economic choice, not esthetic. I could buy black and white film cheaply in bulk and do my own processing, which reduced cost substantially.

In today’s digital world I still photograph in black and white, but not exclusively and it’s not an economic choice anymore. Almost every modern digital camera has a black and white mode. And since I shoot in RAW format, I can experiment and choose what my final output will look like long after I press the shutter. There are many reasons to shoot black and white, but here are a couple you may want to think about:

1. Emphasize / reveal different things about a subject
Black (and white) Bird
Black (and white) Bird

The Lightroom B&W panel has sliders for 8 different colors. Converting from RAW can provide a lot more control than choosing the default B&W mode in your camera. When processing this photo, I used this to bring out detail and texture in the Osprey’s feathers, brighten its eye, and darken the sky background.

Osprey B&W mix

Here’s a before and after that compares the color and black and white versions. Which do you like?

Osprey before and after
2. Control harsh light and colors

I like both wildlife and landscape photography. Light is best for landscapes during the golden hours around sunrise and sunset and can be very harsh in the middle of the day. Black and white can help you control this and make a good photo even when the light is harsh. I mostly use my infrared converted camera in black and white mode for this, but a regular camera can also work. Here’s an example of some harsh mid-morning light that I think works well in IR/B&W:

A lonely place
A lonely place

You can see more of my B&W photos in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157625316775091

If you’re looking for an interesting pandemic project, take a look at your image catalog and try converting some to B&W. You might discover many reasons for black and white photography!

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there and take care of each other. And if you can – make some (B&W) photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

MINWR – 17 June 2020

I wish I knew how to predict what sunrise will be like. But I don’t, so I just show up and see how it’ll turn out. Here’s the first photo I made last Wednesday:

The water is wideThe water is wide

And this next photo is from nearly an hour later. The color and clouds were going strong the whole time!

Rays and reflectionRays and reflection

That daybreak was remarkable. I’ve been out photographing some mornings where the colors only pop for a few moments. And I’ve been out other times where they don’t really pop at all. If any of you know how to predict this kind of thing, I really want to hear from you. If you too want to know, don’t ask me!

Well, our summer season has already arrived here in Central Florida. It’s hot and I was chased by many mosquitoes (and chewed on by a few) as I photographed the sun coming up. I think our recent afternoon thunderstorms have made the bugs worse.

And the birds seem to have moved on, or at least they’re hiding in the places I normally visit. There weren’t many to see along Gator Creek Road or Black Point Wildlife Drive. I did stop by the Green Heron nests that I bypassed on my last visit (https://edrosack.com/2020/05/17/minwr-11-may-2020/). I didn’t see any nesting activity, but this cooperative young one was still hanging around.

YoungsterYoungster – This juvenile Green Heron has fledged and is out in the world fending for itself

And here’s one final image – a panorama of some trees that I thought were interesting in infrared.

Pines and palmettosPines and palmettos

Changing the subject again – I hope all Dads out there are having a wonderful Fathers Day! Thank you for all you do – you make the world a much better place!

“Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father.” Lydia M. Child

I miss you Dad. I hope we made you as proud as our families make us.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there and take care of each other. And if you can – make some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Camera Konstruction

Yes, this is an unusual post for Central Florida Photo Ops – but it is camera and photography related so I’m going with it.

A while back I received this kit as a gift (thanks kids!).  It sat in my camera cabinet for a long time waiting for me to ‘get round to it’.  The forced stay at home time during the pandemic lockdown provided an opportunity to pull it out and get started.

The Konstruktor is a complete, ready to assemble, plastic kit.  It’s a 35 mm, Single Lens Reflex, film camera. You can find out more about it at the Lomography site here: https://microsites.lomography.com/konstruktor/

When you first open the box, it might be intimidating. There are a lot of small parts and they aren’t well marked.

And to be honest, the instructions are a little sparse, although after getting through to the end of this I think all the necessary info is in there. Before I started, I did some research on line and found this helpful YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxLMpNfRUeI&list=WL&index=18&t=0s.

The camera ends up looking very usable. It has a fixed F-stop (f/10) and shutter speed (1/80s) so you’ll control exposure by choosing and loading it with an appropriate film speed (ASA / ISO).  The detachable 50mm lens can focus from .5 meters to infinity.  The viewfinder is okay but as you might expect with an f/10 lens, works best in bright light.

I probably won’t run any film through this for a while, but if you’re interested, you can see  photos people have made with them as well as other examples of the camera on Flickr at this search link: https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=Konstruktor

The kit’s supplied with decorations you can use to customize your camera.  I chose the black ‘leather’ wraps and the ‘Leica’ like red dot for mine. This is an afternoon project and teaches a bit about how a camera goes together and works.  if you want to get back to the basics with some film photography, give it a look.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Stay safe out there and take care of yourselves, your families, and your friends.  And if you can,  make some photos – or even a camera!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Incredible skies?

in·cred·i·ble, adjective: Very difficult or impossible to believe; extraordinary

There’s been a lot of buzz on the web recently about sky replacement – a genre of compositing. You take the sky from one photo and substitute it into a second photo.  I first tried this way back in April of 2007.  I wanted to make the Great Egret family in this nest at the St. Augustine Alligator farm stand out against the sky. You can compare the before and after in this slider:

Before on the left, after on the right – Use the slider to compare

You can view a higher res version on Flickr here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/4101177267/in/album-72157622798164562/. It turned out pretty well, but it was a lot of work (at the time) and I haven’t tried it again – until recently.

The latest version of Skylum’s Luminar photo editor comes with a capability called “AI Sky Replacement. This “automagically” replaces the sky in your photos with a single click and will even adjust the rest of the lighting in the scene to better match the new sky. You can read more about it on their site: https://skylum.com/luminar.

Here’s another before / after slider showing my recent effort with their software. The original photo was made on Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. It was a very pretty morning, but the sky was a bit plain.

Before on the left, after on the right – Use the slider to compare

Here’s the whole completed image (click to see it in much higher resolution on Flickr).

Good Morning
Good Morning

I like how this one turned out too – the sun in the new sky is in the right place and the light direction, intensity, and color match the foreground nicely. It adds interest to the image. And it was easy – Luminar worked well in this case.

But it makes me a little uncomfortable. I guess because in this blog I want to tell you about what, where, and how to photograph. So I think you should expect to see things here that you can also see when you go to these places. This image is a composite, not a photo – you wouldn’t have seen this on that morning. I won’t say that I’ll never do compositing, but I do promise that I’ll disclose it if I do.

Now, am I going to criticize you if you replace skies in your photos? No, you can do whatever you want with your images. They’re your art. But in general, I do see folks on Flickr doing this a little too much. And if you do it you should disclose or tag it. And you should do it right – the results should look natural, not artificial. The light direction and color should match. The lens used in both photos should also match so scene elements are at the proper relative distance from each other. Go for the second definition of incredible (extraordinary), not the first (Very difficult or impossible to believe).

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog.  And if you can – make some photos!

As for everything that’s going on in the USA and the world right now … I’ll try to keep politics and non-photo opinions out of this blog. But if you’re interested in what I think about things, feel free to take a look at my Twitter feed (link on the right). Peace out.

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Return to Orlando Wetlands Park

Orlando Wetlands Park re-opened a few weeks ago and I met Kevin M. there for a socially distanced walk around.  It was good to see him and good to go photographing.  I posted a few images from that trip at the end of last week’s blog (the bonus baby birds).  And here are some more.

This first one is a 600 mm combination wildlife / landscape image.

Pink in greenPink in green –  Roseate Spoonbill in flight.

The  pink bird in sharp focus against the blurry green Cypress Tree / vegetation says “Florida” to me. I’ve made similar images there before but I think this one is better (see this post:   https://edrosack.com/2018/04/01/orlando-wetlands-park-the-rest-of-the-story/).

Kevin is pretty handy to have along! I hear Barred Owls calling all the time, even in our back yard – except I hardly ever get good photos of them. We both heard this one.  I searched in vain and was happy when he found it so we could get some photos.

"Who cooks for you?"Who cooks for you? – Perched Barred Owl.

There are always interesting things to see at Orlando Wetlands.  This Least Bitterns is a good example.  It was flying back and forth between clumps of reeds fishing for its breakfast.

On the huntOn the hunt – Fishing Least Bittern

I like this photo of a young Night Heron that’s just landed in a cypress tree.

A young Night HeronA young Night Heron

And watching (and listening) to Whistling Ducks never gets old.

Formation flightFormation flight – A pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Many people were enjoying the park on the Saturday we went. It was tough at times to give everyone six feet of clearance, but we managed.  If you plan to visit, check their web page for the latest information on access, services, etc.

You can browse other blog posts about Orlando Wetlands at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/orlando-wetlands/.  And my photos from there are collected in this album on Flickr:   https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157639616792296

It’s good that pandemic restrictions are easing and we can get out a little bit again. Hopefully things will keep improving.  Please make sure you stay safe when you venture out.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog.  Hang in there and take care of each other.  And if you can – make some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved