When I go on a photo expedition I come home with many more images than I process, and I post even less. So every once in a while I go through the photos in my Lightroom catalog and look for ones that I passed over, to see if my current self thinks they’re good enough to show or include in a blog post.
Caught in a sunbeam, Gatorland, May 2017
Anyway, I was doing this last week and ended up with the group of images in this post. They made me realize once again how wonderful Central Florida is for bird watching and bird photography.
Handsome Anhinga, Gatorland, May 2016
We have an enormous variety of avian wildlife here (iBird says 366 species in the state of Florida, Wikipedia says 524!).
Spoonbill, Black Point Wildlife Drive, January 2018
At some locations the larger birds are tolerant of people – especially if you stay in your car and / or take care not to stress them. And nesting season provides opportunities that aren’t common elsewhere.
Hungry Herons, Viera Wetlands, March 2018
I’ve added info to the captions on when and where I made these images so you can get an idea of what you’ll see. The best time of year is probably January through May, but you can find opportunities year round – if you’re lucky and do your research.
Belted Kingfisher, Viera Wetlands, March 2018
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
I found this scene while driving down Biolab Road along the Indian River in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge a few weeks ago. The composition with three posts and a full complement of Cormorants caught my attention. I really liked the graphical layout. But…
I was shooting into the sun and the light was incredibly bright and harsh. I struggled with the image and processed it two or three times without coming up with anything that I was happy with.
Then I vaguely recalled this photo that I made 10 years ago.
I dug it out of my Lightroom archives and remembered how much I liked the image. It’s from about the same location and in very similar conditions. I used it to guide my post processing decisions and the result is the the image at the top.
I guess the moral of this story is that you can find inspiration from many places – even from your younger self. Which seems like a very good thing.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Whoops – I did it again! I bought another old camera. I’d never noticed one like this before. When I looked it over, it seemed to be in good shape – too good to pass up.
It’s an Auto Graflex Single Lens Reflex made by the Folmer & Schwing Division of Eastman Kodak around 1920. The company was in operation from 1898 to 1973 and was owned part of that time by Kodak. They built a variety of models, but by the 1920s this basic design type was typical. It came in several sizes and some models used roll fill while others used sheet film. This one has a non-revolving 3 1/4″ x 4 1/4″ roll film back.
The controls work surprisingly well for a wood and metal device that’s about 100 years old. The aperture functions and the exposure times are slow, but could maybe be adjusted back into spec. Pretty amazing for a mechanical device this old!
You set exposure by changing the size of the vertical focal plane shutter opening (using the crank and window marked “F”), and how fast the shutter moves over the film (with a tension setting using knob “B” and window “G”). There’s a handy cheat sheet riveted to the viewfinder hood that translates these settings to equivalent exposure times. The range from 1/10 to 1/1000 second seems large for a camera of this era.
The lens is a Kodak Anastigmat f/4.5, with a focal length of 5 1/5 inches (just about equivalent to a 50mm lens on a 35mm full frame camera). According to the web, it was highly rated at the time.
The viewfinder is usable but dirty. I think running film through this would be difficult, since that type of roll film isn’t made anymore. But I took it out in the back yard so I could look through the viewfinder in bright light.
Here’s a close-up of an image through the camera’s lens on the focusing screen inside the viewfinder.
I enjoyed researching this and playing around with it. It’s an interesting collectible and looks good in my camera cabinet next to a couple other old Kodaks. You can find out much more about Graflex cameras on-line. Start with these links:
A couple of weeks ago, I was on my morning walk with a friend when we spotted an adult Sandhill Crane and two colts. As we drew near, the adult started leading the colts around a corner and away from danger (us). We kept walking and when they came back in sight, there was only one young one with the parent.
Sandhill Crane Family 2
The adult obviously knew that one baby was missing. It turned around and headed back toward us to find the second one – which had wandered in the opposite direction and was lost in the bushes on our right.
Sandhill Crane Family 3
The adult found the missing colt and led it back out to reunite the family.
Sandhill Crane Family 4
And they went on their way. The adult looks like it’s going to give the wayward colt a stern talking to!
Watching something like this makes me think about how strong parenting instincts are in animals. We tried not to threaten these birds, but the adult crane was going to get the baby back even if it meant facing off against two large people.
Much like people should face off against a government that takes human children away from their families.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Okay, I know the name of the blog is “Central Florida Photo Ops” and I usually write about landscape and wildlife photography. But Old Car City (http://oldcarcityusa.com/) is a very cool place and I have a scouting report and some photos to show you!
Old Car City calls itself a “Photographer’s Paradise”, and the “worlds largest known classic car junkyard”. It’s hard to disagree. It began as a general store in 1931 in White, Georgia. Over the years it evolved into a forested refuge for 4000+ cars, most more than 35 years old. Located about an hour from downtown Atlanta, it covers 34 acres with 6 1/2 miles of trails to explore.
The cars stay where they were originally placed. Some are piled high. Others rest alone or lined up. Many are overgrown with vines and some even have trees growing right through them. Admission is $25 (only $15 if you don’t photograph). We spent 3 – 4 hours there and I was exhausted before the photo ops were.
Impala convertible – and tree
Walking through can be surreal – especially in infra-red.
Old Car City IR Pano
Photography here can be challenging in several ways. I carried my tripod all around the place and the local cat kept showing up and rubbing up against it – not helpful!
Junkyard cat and matching VW van. It followed us around and liked to rub up against tripods. Not good, cat!
This isn’t a traditional salvage yard – no parts are sold. It’s more of a museum, although there’s no effort to preserve exhibits. The cars were saved from the crushing machine, but not from nature.
You can find much more than just old cars and car parts. There are school buses, and tractors, antique toys, wagons, bicycles, and more. I even read there’s a Cartersville Grand Theater marquis, but I didn’t see it on my visit.
Doll and chair – You can find more than old cars at Old Car City. This was right next to the path – yet it looks like no one’s disturbed it in years.
Safety: You’ll have to sign in when you pay admission, but there’s no lengthy rights waiver and a lawyer doesn’t follow you around. The place could be dangerous though – there’s broken glass, rusty metal and some sharp edges. Just be careful, not stupid. Heed the warning signs, stay on cleared paths and off / out of the cars and you should be fine. Oh, and some insect repellent might come in handy.
Don’t open hoods doors
My tripod was helpful mostly for Olympus hi-res images – but if you’re not making those I think you can get by without one. I used focal lengths from fish eye up to about 200mm equivalent and I’d say your wider lenses would be the most useful.
The number of photo ops in this place is huge. If you go, my best advice is to do a little research before hand and plan out a strategy or two. Get some larger framed intro shots, but think about concentrating on one or a few categories: hood ornaments, door handles, dashboards, interiors, decay, rust, textures, vegetation on vehicles, etc., etc. The possibilities are huge.
I decided to wander over towards Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge early last Friday. My shutter finger was itching and I had to get a camera out and scratch it. I was running a little late and wouldn’t have made it to the coast for sunrise, so I stopped at C S Lee Park on the St. Johns River on my way. Nature provided quite a show.
Another Central Florida Morning
I don’t know what this effect is called – when the sun just kisses the cloud bottoms and leaves higher clouds darker and less colorful. I don’t see it often enough. Maybe that’s because it only lasts for such a short time. According to my EXIF data, I made this image in the middle of a 2-3 minute window and the colorful streaks were much less prominent just before and after. Whenever I do see this, I’m happy to make a photo!
The Jolly Gator Fish Camp Bar & Grill is next to the park, right across a shallow water filled area from where I made the sunrise photo. I liked the reflection and symmetry and made this image before I moved on. I’ve never actually been inside this place. Maybe I’ll talk Lynn into going there for lunch with me.
Jolly Gator Fish Camp & Grill
MINWR has a web page you can check for road closures. Currently, it won’t do you much good – info on Gator Creek, Biolab, and Black Point is all out of date. Last Friday, Gator Creek and Biolab Roads were open. They’ve been re-surfaced and are in good shape. And Black Point Wildlife Drive was closed due to the amount of rain we’ve had recently. I hope they keep the road closures page more current. I sent them a note.
I didn’t have much luck with birds or wildlife on this trip. So I’ll leave you with two more scenic photos.
Lone Pine and Clouds at Dawn (color version)
This tree is along the left side of the road leading into the Bairs Cove boat ramp. The combination of early morning light, a lone pine tree, and the clouds in the background stopped me in my tracks. I made this image and the last one out my car window. Fortunately there wasn’t a lot of traffic. With these two photos, you can see how the infra-red sensor renders light compared to an unmodified camera.
This first photo is from 2014. I reprocessed it, mainly to correct some blown highlights in the water. First observation: Blown highlights bother me a lot more today than they did back then.
I made this from the foot bridge near the top of the falls. Second observation: It’s quite a hike, especially with a load of heavy camera gear. But it’s well worth it for the wonderful view! With a wide enough lens, you can try to show the grand scale and sweeping power of the falls.
Amicalola Falls – The grand view from the footbridge near the top. Nikon D800, ISO 50, 16mm, f/22 @ 1/3 sec.
I really like this photo, and I’m glad I made it. Third observation: Four years later, I think that it was a bit too easy. Probably everyone that visits these falls will try for an image that looks like this.
The next three images are from 2018. I must have been anxious to get the grand view photo in 2014 and hiked right by these locations – I don’t recall noticing them. On this recent visit, Mike Boening pointed out several spots along the trail and I stopped at a few and set up for more intimate photos.
Light in the creek. Olympus OM-D M II, Hi-res mode, ISO 200, 28mm eq., f/8 @ 1 sec.
On the way back down, the last spot I stopped at was only a few yards from the parking area!
Flow. Olympus OM-D M II, Hi-res mode, ISO 200, 40mm eq., f/8 @ 1.2 sec.
I like the grand view image I made in 2014, but I think I like these 2018 images even more. There are probably quite a few photos of Amicalola similar to my first one. I suspect that images like the second and third are much less common since the number of possible viewpoints and compositions is so much greater.
Sometimes, only one approach will work for a subject or your style of photography. On the drive up to the falls, we stopped at an overlook and I was fascinated by the fog / mist and low clouds moving through the valley. I was able to poke the small lens on my iPhone through the chain link fence to grab this frame. At the time, I didn’t think about an intimate detail type of composition there.
Foggy mountain view
But that’s just me. I saw a photo later that showed Mike making an image of some graffiti on the road. Last observation: Graffiti isn’t something I normally photograph and I didn’t even pay attention to it at the time. Our usual photo styles can limit the potential images we see.
So what’s the moral of this story? Should we make grand scenic view images or intimate, up-close photos of the details? You know what I’m going to say , don’t you? “It depends”.
Actually, I’m going to say: It depends, but try hard to get both. You’ll grow as a photographer if you can teach your brain to see both ends of this spectrum. Shoot whichever you prefer first, but force yourself to look for the other compositions before you leave a spot.
So when I heard their announcement about a photo workshop in Atlanta I was eager to go – and It wasn’t too hard to talk Lynn into getting this for my birthday! They coordinate using the Mirrorless Adventures page on Meetup.com so sign up was an easy process. If my post gets you interested, you can find out about their future workshops there.
Atlanta Marriott Marquis Interior 2
Our HQ was the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta and it’s an awesome photo-op itself – lots of interesting architecture, angles, and patterns to fill your memory card. And if you get tired of the photo ops there, you can take a break at one of their restaurants or bars!
We met on Friday evening and then left for the Jackson Street bridge for some sunset and light trail photography. It’s a popular spot. There were lots of folks making photos and it’s easy to see why – the skyline view is awesome! Here’s one of mine:
A little after sunset.
I made this image with the Olympus “Live Composite” mode. I’ve used this once before, but it was great to get in some guided practice and I’ll be using it more in the future.
Other stops on the workshop were at Old Car City (http://oldcarcityusa.com/), Amicalola Falls (http://www.amicalolafallslodge.com), and Oakland Cemetery (https://www.oaklandcemetery.com). The workshop was last weekend and I came home with hundreds of photos. I’ve been going through them every day since then – but I’m not finished processing yet. So today I’ll just include a few from Atlanta and maybe do another post later about the other locations.
Watching sunrise. We stopped near this park while we waited for the cemetery gates to open
Oakland cemetery was founded in 1850 and many of Atlanta’s prominent citizens are buried there. It has a great deal of sculpture, architecture, and gardens to draw your eye. And an interesting sign across the street!
Six Feet Under BarAtlanta Skyline from Oakland Cemetery
I’ve always liked Atlanta. My mother’s family lived in the area (in Cedartown) so we visited often when I was growing up. I also went to college there (Go Tech!) and that’s where I met Lynn. It was great to visit for a long weekend, and the drive from Central Florida isn’t too bad.
A photo workshop can be a big boost to your image making. You might;
Learn or improve your skills: I refreshed and practiced “Live Composite” mode and will likely use it more often now.
Go places you wouldn’t normally see. I’ve been to Atlanta many times, but the only place from this workshop that I’d seen before was Amicalola Falls (mentioned in this post). Trying new things is good for your soul!
Meet new people. Hanging around with other folks passionate about photography is fun! They don’t even get bored when you talk about lenses, cameras, technique, processing, etc.!
See different approaches / techniques. On the last day, we spent a few hours processing images and each of us picked out several images to show the group and talk about. I was floored by the variety and ideas that everyone shared. It’s amazing how people can go to the same place and come back with such different photographs.
I really enjoyed this workshop – it was a pleasure to meet so many new photo friends! I thought the locations we went to were terrific and Mike and Jamie were extremely knowledgable, friendly, and always willing to help anyone with questions. They created a wonderful atmosphere for us to learn and make beautiful photographs. And I liked the van they used for transport – it was a real pleasure to just climb in and have someone else drive us around to all these spots. Well done Mike and Jamie!!!
The sky wasn’t very promising on our way over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last week. There were no clouds and we didn’t think the morning color would be any good. Since it didn’t seem like we had a lot to lose, we decided to try a new sunrise spot: Loughman Lake, on the south side of SR 46 just west of Mims.
Misty Palms. Olympus High Res mode, converted to B&W. ISO 200, 3.2 sec. @ f/6.3, 200 mm eq. (cropped to ~250mm eq.). 6:16 am.
We were right – at first. There was hardly any color and I ended up converting this first image to black and white. But there was some photogenic fog and around 15 minutes later, the color arrived along with a few clouds on the horizon.
Misty Dawn. Olympus High Res mode, two frame stitched panorama. ISO 200, 1/6 sec. @ f/6.3, 150 mm eq. 6:28 am
The images in this post are in time order and I’ve added exposure, focal length, and timing info for you. It turns out that I made all of these with a relatively long lens – unusual for my landscape photography. I’m sure that there are some great wide-angle compositions there, but the shorter focal length photos I made that day aren’t as interesting to me as these. I’m glad I brought the very versatile Olympus 12-100 f/4 zoom.
Morning Glory. Olympus High Res mode, two frame stitched panorama. ISO 200, 1/80 sec. @ f/8, 200mm eq. 6:37 am
Here’s one more image. I like the Great Blue Heron “statue” out in the water.
Misty morning marsh. Olympus High Res mode. ISO 200, 3.2 sec. @ f/6.3, 200mm eq. 6:45 am
Loughman Lake turns out to be a good place to stop on the way over to MINWR. But make sure you bring a longer lens!
Kevin K. and I went over to Black Point Wildlife Drive last Tuesday. The water levels were low and although we saw quite a few birds, many of them were far from the road and hard to photograph. Here are some images from the trip that I like.
Hunter’s Dance – A Reddish Egret stalks fish in the marsh
These Egrets have a distinctive dance they use to scare up fish. It seems to work for them!
Morning minnow meal
Green Herons use a different technique. This one was wading carefully through the mangrove roots on the side of a canal looking for a snack.
Stalking in the Mangroves
And finally, here’s a photo of a Great Egret taking off from a tree beside the trail.
Great Egret Launch
This one was a little slow – normally birds are gone by the time I get my camera ready!