Lake Apopka Postcard

Hello faithful readers!  This is my first post in a new category I’ve created on the blog that I’m calling “Postcards”.  I’m going to occasionally post photos here that are typical Central Florida scenes – like a postcard.

You’re welcome to download them at full resolution for your personal use.  I’m going to use the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license for these instead of “All rights reserved”.  Please visit this page to see details and restrictions that apply:  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.

In the future, they should be easy to find using the “Places / Categories” pulldown menu over on the right side of the blog and selecting “Postcards”.  If you’re viewing the site on a phone, you might not see that menu – if so, just type “postcards” into the search box.

Anyway, the first photo in the new series is this one:

Bird on a bush – Great Blue Heron at Lake Apopka

To download, just click on the image to go to the source and then right-click to download it.  I hope you like it!

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license

 

Flight 93 National Memorial

Some stories and emotions are too large to capture in photos.  Words too, can fail – so we’re left with thoughts. The Flight 93 National Memorial in Stoystown, Pennsylvania is such a place.

This Tuesday marks the seventeenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack. On that day, United Flight 93 had left Newark, New Jersey en route to San Francisco.  Hijackers seized control and were likely going to crash into the U.S. Capitol.  The memorial  commemorates the extraordinary courage and heroism of the 40 passengers and crew, who fought with the terrorists and saved many other lives.

“A common field one day, a field of honor forever. We honor the passengers and crew of Flight 93 who perished in a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001. Their courageous action will be remembered forever.” —Congressional Gold Medal

A Field of HonorA Field of Honor

Final restFinal rest – The Wall of Names, flight path, and large boulder that marks the impact.

The Memorial opened in September 2015, and today (9/9/18) they’re holding a dedication ceremony for the Tower of Voices – the final phase of the park.  It’s a 93-foot tower with wind chimes for each of the 40 heroes.

We went there to pay our respects back in July on our way from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.  Thinking about the courage and actions of those 40 souls is somber, moving and inspiring.  It’s an experience every US citizen should have.

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

 

Sunflowers this year?

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

― Yogi Berra

Sunflower SunsetSunflower Sunset – Reprocessed image from a trip in 2012

I’m a long time fan of the sunflowers that usually cover the Lake Jesup Wilderness Area near Sanford, Florida in the fall.  They normally start blooming at the end of September and last for a couple of weeks.  You can review my posts about them at this link:  https://edrosack.com/category/sunflowers/.

Lynn and I drove past the area yesterday.  There’s a lot of standing water visible from 417.  We saw a few flowers along the road, but none out in the fields.

When I got home, I checked their website.  It says:  “LAKE JESUP WILDERNESS AREA IS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE DUE TO HIGH WATER LEVELS. THE PROPERTY WILL RE-OPEN ONCE WATER LEVELS ALLOW.”

In previous years with this much standing water, the sunflowers didn’t bloom.  So for now, I’m predicting a poor sunflower season.   Yogi’s right, though – I’ll check again and if anything changes, I’ll update you.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

I joined Kevin M. and Kevin K. on a trip around Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive last Friday. We got a late start and didn’t make sunrise, so you’ll have to be satisfied with a monochrome landscape this week.

Lake Apopka ShoreLake Apopka Shore.  Monochrome, IR

Black Point Wildlife Drive seemed quiet when I was there a week ago, but Lake Apopka is active.  We saw lots of people and lots of birds.  I don’t catch Black-crowned Night Herons that often, but we spotted several including this young one fishing in a canal.

Lake Apopka ShoreBlack-crowned Night Heron

A little later we spotted another that’d just caught a catfish.

Black-crowned Night Heron and CatfishBlack-crowned Night Heron and Catfish

This looks like a Sailfin Catfish.  I hadn’t heard about these, but Kevin M. filled me in.  They’re a type of suckermouth (or armored) catfish and a non-native, invasive species in Florida.  Originally from Venezuela and Colombia, they’re popular in aquariums.  Most  likely they escaped from tropical fish farms and / or were released here by people.

Now they’re abundant and widespread throughout Florida and bad for our ecosystem.  They dig burrows that cause erosion.  Because of their tough, armored skin and sharp spines, they can choke birds that eat them.  There were a lot of them in the canals next to the roads.  The St. John’s River Water Management District has an undesirable fish harvest each year that gets some of them out of the water.

In addition to the Night Heron, we also saw a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret with one.  I hope they didn’t choke.

I don’t see many Purple Gallinules either, and I didn’t realize this was a young one until Kevin M. ID’d it for us.  Thanks, Kevin!

Purple Gallinule juvenilePurple Gallinule juvenile

We saw several other types of birds, dragonflies, butterflies, flowers, and the usual alligators too.  Lake Apopka is well worth a visit, even in the hot summer.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Sunrise movement

The best colors at dawn are often before sunrise – sometimes well before.  But a couple of minutes after sunrise last Wednesday, I was getting ready to move on when I noticed how colorful the horizon had become. So I decided to make one more photo. I was lucky I had my 24 – 200mm equivalent lens on and I zoomed all the way in. As the image flashed in my viewfinder, I saw a large bird close to the sun. When I recognized how many there were – all flying north (right to left), I made several more exposures.

Morning birdsMorning Movement

By the way, this would have been a great time to switch to video, but I’m never able to think of that when I should.

Anyway, I ended up with 7 frames spread over 9 seconds. I brought them all into layers in  Photoshop, aligned them, used curves to manually adjust each one so the exposures are the same and then blended birds from each frame into one composite image. I guess that’s cheating – but I think it’s a better representation of what I saw than any single frame I made.

I like images that reveal more the longer / closer you look at them. and this one does.  Please click on it to see it larger.

Here are a few more photos from that morning.  All were made at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

OspreyOsprey

Itchy birdItchy bird

YellowlegsYellowlegs

Birds usually don’t sleep in.  I’ve often seen them take off right at sunrise and head out to start their day.  It’s fun to watch.  Next time I’m going to try to remember to make a video!

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Covered Bridges

The last time I wrote about covered bridges was way back in August of 2007 when we visited Indiana (The Covered Bridge Capital of the World).  I find them interesting, so maybe it’s time for another article!

When we were in Bethlehem, PA, we had some extra time and Lynn found a web page describing a tour of covered bridges in the area (Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour). We printed out their PDF brochure (from this link) and set off one morning to explore.

Bogert"s BridgeBogert”s Bridge – Allentown, PA. Length: 145 ft; Built: 1841

We ran into trouble right away trying to navigate to Bogert’s Bridge using a street address.   We ended up pulling over while Lynn figured out the lat/long location for each one.  Using those proved much easier and we didn’t have any further nav issues.  If you go, here are the numbers we used.

Covered Bridges of Lehigh Valley Pensylvania

BridgeLocation
Bogert's40.56916667N, 75.49861111W
Manasses Guth40.62833333N, 75.55361111W
Wehr's40.62867N, 75.56972W
Rex's40.6348N, 75.6127W
Geiger's40.64645N, 75.62351W
Schlicker's40.66166667N, 75.62722222W
Kreidersville40.72361111N, 75.49305556W

The early morning weather was nice with blue skies and some puffy clouds.  But the sky got grayer the farther we went.

Wehr's Covered BridgeWehr’s Covered Bridge – Allentown, PA. Length: 128 ft; Built: 1841.

Geiger's Covered BridgeGeiger’s Covered Bridge – Allentown, PA. Length: 112 ft; Built: 1860.

By the end of our tour at the Kreidersville Covered Bridge, it was raining.  In the larger version of this (click on the photo to see) there are streaks of rain visible in front of the bridge opening.

Kreidersville Covered BridgeKreidersville Covered Bridge – Northamption, PA. Length: 100 ft; Built: 1839

Covered Bridges in Florida?  I got curious about covered bridges in our state and did some web research.  www.dalejtravis.com  has a huge amount of info on covered bridges (and round barns too) including state by state listings.  His page for Florida lists many covered bridges.  Unfortunately, the structures here in Florida are decorative and / or modern – there aren’t any  “authentic” / historical covered bridges listed in our state.  You’ll just have to travel elsewhere if you want to see some. Pennsylvania and Indiana would be good places to start!

For more information on covered bridges, you can explore the links on this National society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges page.

I have more photos from Pennsylvania in this album on Flickr.  And you can look at my Indiana covered bridge photos here.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Visiting Martin Guitar in Nazareth, PA

Guitars are another long-time fascination of mine.  It began when my folks got a piano and my sister started lessons.  I must have been jealous because Mom and Dad bought me a Harmony Guitar (but no lessons!).  I learned a lot with it and kept it for over 30 years.  I finally sold it at a garage sale sometime in the late 90s – wish I hadn’t.

When people ask, I usually say that I “play at” guitar.  I think the small amount of natural talent I have comes to me from my Mom’s side of the family.  Her father played in a band on the radio in the 1930s.

Granddad Harrison’s Band, about 1939. He’s the one in the middle with the fiddle.

Anyway, Martins are a sort of ‘holy grail’ for guitar players and I wanted to visit.  Since we were already in Pennsylvania, I talked Lynn into stopping by the C. F. Martin & Co. Factory in Nazareth.  They have a wonderful behind the scenes tour and I signed us both up.

Ed, outside the Martin Guitar FactoryEd, outside the Martin Guitar Factory. Lynn said I looked like a kid in a candy store!

We got there a little early and spent some time in their museum.  It’s interesting to see guitars that many of my favorite musicians played.  Martin started in 1833 and their  collection of memorabilia and more than 200 instruments show off the history and timeline of the company.

Martin Museum panoramaMuseum panorama

The factory tour itself was wonderful and lasted about two hours.  Our tour guide (Ben) was the retired plant manager.  He certainly knew a great deal about how they’re built.

Factory panoramaPanorama from a walkway overlooking the factory

The first thing I noticed walking in to the factory was the delightful aroma.  I won’t soon forget the smells of all the wood being worked.

I built a guitar (from a kit) once, so I’m familiar with how they go together.  But seeing the factory in action, with its blend of hands-on craftsmanship and modern machinery /  robots  was spellbinding.

Carving necksRobot Neck Carving

Using machines on some pieces (e.g. necks) increases the accuracy and precision of the parts and fit.  And they can apply finish and polish without exposing humans to the fumes and dust.

Robot PolishingRobot Body Polishing

There’s still a lot of hands on work, especially in their custom and Retro Series guitars.

Shaping bracingHand carving top braces

Custom back and fretboardsCustom back and fretboards

Almost doneAlmost done – these are waiting to be strung up and tested

They’re very photo friendly on the tour.  They don’t want you making any video, but photography is fine, except for a couple of locations (they’ll let you know).  The light is pretty good inside.  I used ISO 400, f/1.8 – f/2.8, and my shutter speeds varied from 1/13 sec. to 1/200 sec.  You’ll need to be careful if something’s in motion, but otherwise image stabilization should take care of the slower shutter speeds in dimmer light.

The 1833 shop is next to the museum and sells Martin branded items.  And their “Guitar Maker’s Connection” is located in the old Martin Factor a little bit away from the main site.  The behind the scenes tour is $25, requires a reservation and begins at 9:30.  Highly recommended if you’re anywhere nearby.  Check Martin’s site for more details.

I have more photos from our tour in this album on Flickr and more from Pennsylvania in this album.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black Point Reconnaissance

Kevin M. invited me to go out photographing with him last weekend, but I begged off since Lynn and I had just returned from Pennsylvania and I was tired.  Instead we went out on Friday to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  Kevin K. was in town and he tagged along too.  It’s been over six months since the three of us have been on a photo excursion together.  Much too long!

We met way too early and car-pooled over, stopping at Titusville Marina Park for sunrise.  Riding together is great for catching up with friends!

Dawn on the Indian RiverDawn on the Indian River

Dawn was subdued until the sun actually rose, when the color finally popped.   Photoshop and the Topaz Clarity plug-in might’ve helped nature out a little too.

We saw several other photographers (and non-photographers) also out too early.

Early startEarly start on a calm, lovely morning

In general, summer isn’t the best time of year to bird in Central Florida – but there are exceptions to every rule-of-thumb.  For instance, Kathy B. found a Clapper Rail on Black Point at the end of June, and D. Cunningham enjoyed seeing the Swallow Tail Kites that visit us before heading to South America for the winter.

We didn’t spot any unusual birds on Friday, but we did enjoy photographing a few of the common ones.  This “Swamp Chicken” was posing with its reflection in good light;

Swamp ChickenCommon Gallinule

And so was this Tri-colored Heron:

Tri-color HeronTri-colored Heron

… and this Green Heron too (although it wasn’t kind enough to include a reflection):

Green HeronGreen Heron

We’ve been having torrential rains nearly every afternoon. and the water is very high around Black Point.   The St. Johns river is also high – the area around where it crosses SR 46 is flooded although it doesn’t come all the way up to the road.  I hope we don’t get a hurricane any time soon – adding even more water could be dangerous.

And the rain has created a great environment for mosquitos – expect to get bit unless you wear some repellent.

One more  (small, kind of sad) story.  We saw two pigs at Black Point.  The second was along the canal near the exit.  I snapped a few photos of it and when I got home and looked at them the poor thing was obviously deformed.  I don’t want to post my images, but if you’re curious, look at Kevin K’s photo.   It doesn’t look like a recent injury – this little pig is a tough survivor.  I wonder if it’s a birth defect or from an encounter with an alligator or other predator?

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Pittsburgh, PA

Lynn and I attended this year’s Pressing Iron and Trivet Collectors convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  We like the Amtrak Autotrain and once again rode it from Sanford, Florida to Lorton, Virginia and then drove our car the rest of the way.

Pttsburgh pano 1Pittsburgh: Downtown along the Monongahela River

I’m still the “semi-official” PITCA photographer, so I spent a lot of time there photographing the people, activities, and displays.  I also presented a talk on “Collectible Photography” that seemed to go well.  But I did manage to fit in a bit of exploration time.

The first photo above is from a morning I spent up on Mount Washington  – what a spectacular view of the city!  Highly recommended if you’re ever nearby.

On another day, we went on a riverboat cruise that PITCA arranged for the group  and that’s highly recommended too.  Three different rivers converge in Pittsburgh, so there’s a lot of water and many bridges that add to the scenery.

Downtown PittsburghPittsburgh: From the junction of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny Rivers

I didn’t get a chance to ride Duquesne Incline, but it looks like fun too.

Duquesne Incline

Duquesne Incline – from the river up to Mount Washington

When I was a kid, we used to visit my grandparents every year.  We’d usually travel to Cedartown, Georgia in the summertime where my Mom’s folks lived.   At Christmas, we’d go to Cannonsburgh, Pennsylvania  to be with my Dad’s family.  I remember Pittsburgh only as an “almost there” waypoint on the route to Cannonsburgh – I don’t think we ever stopped.  As an adult, I visited Pittsburgh on business once or twice and went to see my Dad’s brother (also named Ed) who lived in Ambridge (just north-west of Pittsburgh).  But this is the first time I’ve ever actually had a little time to go into the city and look around.  I wish I’d done it sooner – Pittsburgh is very picturesque!

Pittsburgh pano 2Pittsburgh: West End Bridge and the Ohio River

After the convention, Lynn and I spent a few more days traveling around other parts of Pennsylvania and I have some photos from that I hope to share with you in a future post.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Bird shots

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 sunbeamCaught 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

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!).

SpoonbillSpoonbill, 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 HeronsHungry 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 KingfisherBelted Kingfisher, Viera Wetlands, March 2018

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved