I don’t have a new photo of our banded bird to share with you, but I will include this one from 2012.
Ruddy Turnstones and reflections
Last week, the North American Bird Banding Program run by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service sent me an email. They included a very nice certificate of appreciation with information about the bird we reported:
Some other interesting facts from their email:
Birds have been banded in North America since 1904
About 60 million birds in hundreds of species have been banded
About 4 million bands have been recovered / reported
Data from the bands is used to monitor populations, set hunting regulations, restore endangered species, study effects of environmental contaminants, and address issues such as Avian Influenza, bird hazards at airports, and crop depredations.
Members of the public reporting band sighting and recovery is critical for all of these uses.
Some photographers might be disappointed with an image that includes an “unnatural” band. But I was excited to sight and photograph a band (twice!), report it, and get back some information on that specific bird. The people running these programs are doing important work. We should all help them out.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And please report bird bands you see at www.reportband.gov!
I made this image a couple weeks ago during our stay at Lake Louisa State park. I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got my camera and went outside. It was a long time before dawn and “flashlight so you don’t trip” dark. Of course, normally you should use your base ISO for landscape photos. And you should stop your lens down to increase depth of field and get everything in focus (and for image quality). But there was so little light I had to use ISO 1600 and expose with my lens wide open for 25 seconds to get anything to show up.
73 seconds, before dawn
Anyway, once I had a workable exposure, I lined up my composition as best I could, manually focussed on the dim things I could see, and made four frames – hoping I’d have what I needed to stitch a panorama.
I used my normal workflow, careful to control noise in the RAW file processing. And there were some stitching anomalies in the water that I had to remove, but I really like the finished image. I hope you do too. You can see a larger version on Flickr if you click on it.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you wake up too early – make some landscape photos in the dark!
And Happy Mothers Day to every Mom out there! The world owes you so much!
Reverse Image Search is a tool that tries to find images that match a sample you provide. It searches based on image content, not based on a description in words. It has a lot of applications, but I mostly use it to help identify things in photos.
Busy Wildflower: Bee, fly, and ant on Lantana Camara
Lynn and I spent a few days at Lake Louisa State Park recently. There were many wildflowers in bloom and I wanted to share some with you. I’m not at all knowledgable about plants and flowers so I used Google’s image search capability to help me ID them (https://images.google.com).
You can find a huge number of phone apps, guide books and websites about wildflowers. But there are so many different wildflower species that it’s just about impossible for any one reference to be complete. The ones I’ve tried have been frustrating, which is why I use reverse image search when I want to ID a plant or flower.
I upload a small version of the photo, and browse the returned images and captions for clues to a preliminary ID. When I think I have a match, I try to confirm it with something like the University of South Florida plant atlas: https://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Default.aspx
Sometimes I’m pretty confident I’ve got it right, sometimes I’m completely lost (like the header image – no clue), and most times (like the last photo) I’m at least a little uncertain. But it’s fun to try!
Purple Prairie Clover(?)
I enjoy photographing wildflowers and I’d like to identify them when I do. But it’s not easy and I’m definitely not an expert. If you are, please forgive my beginner level advice. Do you have any better tips?
Launches from the Kennedy Space Center have ramped up in the last few years, and here in the Central Florida area, we’re blessed with a good view of them. Lynn and I often go out and watch from our driveway. At times, we’ll be disappointed when clouds block our view, or if a low trajectory keeps the the vehicle down behind our neighbor’s trees. But last Friday’s launch didn’t disappoint!
SpaceX Crew Dragon Launch, from Winter Springs, Florida. About 2 1/2 minutes after lift off.
Photographing one like this is an interesting challenge. There are several approaches to try. I usually concentrate on the rocket itself. In the daytime, you might be able to use aperture priority and automatic focus. In the dark, shooting in full manual mode will likely give you better results. I preset my aperture to wide open and my shutter speed as slow as I think I can hand hold with image stabilization turned on. If your camera doesn’t have IS, use a tripod to stabilize it. I also pre-focus to infinity, since the small size of the rocket in the frame might make auto focus unreliable. While shooting, I adjust my ISO setting to get a good exposure. With mirrorless cameras I can see the effect of ISO changes in the viewfinder. If you’re using a DSLR, you’ll have to chimp to make sure your ISO is correct.
The photos above were made with a focal length equivalent of 525mm and exposure of f/6.3, 1/80 sec, ISO 2000. The one below was at 164mm eq., f/6.3, 1/80 sec, ISO 6400.
Bear Creek Nature Trail is a small park in Winter Springs, Florida. There’s a path that winds along next to the water and it has some very pleasant scenery for such an urban location. Lynn and I have been visiting for many years – I think I first mentioned it on the blog in 2008. I decided to go by last week and try to improve my panorama techniques.
In the quiet forest 3: Nine frame panorama, 14011×7881
I’ve written about stitched panoramas many times so you might know that I like to make them. They’re a great way to get a wider field of view and to capture more detail too. See this post for an example of my workflow up to this point.
I knew I’d been taking a few shortcuts and ignoring some things. I’ve had wonderful results, but at times the post processing was more difficult than it needed to be. Two specific problem areas were sloppy leveling and parallax.
If your camera isn’t level you’ll have to level the image in post, which can require cropping in and wasting pixels. It can also introduce stitching errors at the seams between frames. A panoramic head is one solution for this. It’s mounted on top of your ball head and lets you level your camera using its built in level indicator and the ball head controls instead of using the tripod legs. This works well, and it can be left on your main tripod all the time.
Parallax results when close and distant objects in your scene don’t align the same across multiple frames. A nodal slide can remove / reduce parallax errors.
In the quiet forest 2: Six frame panorama, 12502×6251
I think my first attempt with these worked out well. It’s a bit more effort to set up before your capture, but it can eliminate fixing some problems later in software. I realize this may be more than you wanted to know about panoramas, but if you’ve tried them and have issues stitching, then here are a couple of links that go into more detail. I think they’ll help – they helped me.
In the quiet forest 1: Six frame panorama, 7743×6104
Oh, about the otters: Lynn and I saw a couple of them at this park way back in 2009. Since then I’ve looked for them every time I go, but haven’t seen them again. I managed to get a photo of one of them swimming away from us as soon as we saw it. I’ll post it now even though it’s not the best image.
As I was leaving the park this time, I said hi to a Winter Springs Park Ranger. They said they’re there often and I asked if they ever see any river otters. They haven’t but have seen tracks. I guess I’ll have to keep watching for them.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some panoramas and watch out for otters!
Here are several photos I made recently. To me they don’t strictly fit into the Landscape or wildlife categories, although they do include those as elements in the compositions. I like them though, so I’ll post them here and call them “Nature photos“.
When I first saw the dolphin, it was a little too far away for a good wildlife photo, so I waited for it to swim even farther into the colors reflecting in the water. I’m pretty sure it was only thinking about catching fish for breakfast, but the scene made me wonder if it thinks about other things sometimes.
Do Dolphins watch the sun rise?
This still water made a perfect mirror on that morning. But I probably wouldn’t have made a photo if I hadn’t seen the bird off to the right. It was moving left, so again I waited and clicked the shutter as it crossed the line of clouds.
Ibis in the clouds
I’d think that as much rain as we have sometimes here in Florida, I’d see scenes like this more often – but I don’t. I like how well defined the footprints are in the dried mud. I wish I was knowledgable enough to read the story these tracks are telling us.
And in this last one, I was photographing the clouds and water with a neutral density filter and small aperture to get a 10 second exposure. When I finally noticed the birds in the surf, I quickly removed the ND filter and opened the aperture to get to a 1/10 sec. shutter speed and capture the birds reasonably sharp. When I got home I blended the two frames together to get what you see here. I guess this one is a landscape photo, but I think the birds add to the scene.
Kevin M. suggested photographing sunrise yesterday and said he was thinking about going to the Cocoa Beach pier. That sounded good to me, so that’s where we were about an hour before the sun arrived on Saturday morning.
It was dark at first, and I was using higher ISO settings and longer exposures which smoothed the water appearance nicely for me. Since I like that look, I used a variable neutral density filter to force my shutter to slower speeds when it got a little brighter.
Empty Beach (70mm, f/4, ISO 800, 15 seconds. ~65 minutes before sunrise.)
The wind was blowing at 20 mph or more and it was a little chilly too. The weather kept most of the crowds away, though. There were only one or two other folks on the beach at first and not too many more when we left over an hour later. And there were no signs of the surfers that we often see there.
A bit blowy. (95mm, f/4, ISO 400, 25 seconds. ~50 minutes before sunrise.)
I tried standing so I blocked my camera from the wind as much as possible and I made several exposures with tripod legs collapsed to reduce its cross section. But I still had a few shots ruined from vibrations. Fortunately, I was checking the images and remade some that looked blurry. I could have also tried hanging my backpack from the tripod hook, but I didn’t think to try that at the time.
The pier is a fine place for a sunrise shoot. If you want to make a longer day of it, it’s also not too far north from there to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge or south to Viera Wetlands. Looking back through the blog, it seems I haven’t been there since late in 2019. And yesterday’s trip was also the farthest I’ve ventured from home since the pandemic started. A little photo op variety is exciting!
Below the boards (35mm, f/5.6, ISO 160, 28 seconds. ~15 minutes before sunrise.)
The header image is from ~15 minutes after sunrise. (70mm, f/11, ISO 200, 13 sec). It was worth waiting for that crack in the clouds – it finally let some color through.
A post about three different birds I encountered last week.
1. Least Sandpiper
The first one is a new life bird for me. They’re not uncommon in Central Florida, so I’ve probably seen them before, but I’d never noticed / photographed / identified one. It was along Gator Creek Road in Merritt Island NWR.
2. Bird Band: High, Green =53
Ruddy Turnstones get their name from feeding behaviors: turning over rocks, pebbles, and seaweed along shorelines in search of food. They nest in northern latitudes and migrate to warmer places for the winter. We often spot them visiting here in Central Florida. I saw this one last Thursday on the boat ramp at Parish Park in Titusville and noticed it was tagged.
When I see a tagged bird, I like to search the web and see if I can find any info on it. So I searched for “Ruddy Turnstone green tag =53”, and was reminded that I already knew this one! The second hit returned was a Central Florida Photo Ops blog post from 2019 : https://edrosack.com/2019/10/20/daybreak-bobcat-boar-and-more/. Cool, huh? I’m glad I have the blog to remind me about all these photos I make!
Ruddy Turnstone, Green Tag =53, Parrish Park, March 24, 2021
MK helped me do some more research. She found a U.S. Geological Survey web page where you can report seeing a band. We reported this one and received an automated email promising to forward available info about this particular bird and band. I’ll update this post if / when I learn more. Here’s the photo from 2019:
Ruddy Turnstone, Green Tag =53, Parrish Park, October 17, 2019
3. Genuine Snow Bird
Bird three is also a new life bird for me.
I was a little excited about re-sighting a specific bird and texted Kevin M. about it. He said he though it was cool too. Then he told me about reports of a Snow Goose sighting in Oviedo – only a few minutes away from Central Florida Photo Ops HQ.
Like Turnstones, Snow Geese breed in the Arctic and migrate south in the winter. They aren’t often seen in Central Florida, especially inland so this one seems a little bit lost. It was hanging out with several Muscovy Ducks at a retention pond.
That’s all for this week. I’m glad =53 is doing well and I’m glad I saw the other two birds too. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some photos and report some bands!
Last March at the beginning of the pandemic, I wrote a post called “In the Neighborhood“. It was just a few photos I made as Lynn and I walked cautiously around near home while we tried to figure out the whole lockdown thing.
I don’t really have any profound thoughts I want to share about what we’ve been through since then. I’ll just say I’m extremely grateful we have smart scientists that created safe and effective vaccines in so short a time, and that they’re becoming available to more of us each day. Things seem to be veering back toward normal now.
Anyway, I thought this week I’d follow up with more neighborhood wandering, and post photos of things I noticed on the way. I’ll try to include tips and hints that you can use in your photograpy. This first image looks like an infrared photo, but it’s not. The bright white leaves are from the low morning sun lighting the tops of the trees.
All to myself
We have several varieties of flowering trees here in Central Florida. They only bloom for a short while in the spring so don’t wait too long if you want to photograph them. These lovely blooms are on what I think are Hong Kong Orchid trees, I find it hard to show the beauty with an image of the whole tree, so I moved in close. I like this frame with a single flower isolated against the sky.
Flower and sky
Slow shutter speeds are commonly used for images of moving water. But forcing your shutter as fast as possible is also worth trying. The details it can reveal make the water look like ice.
The early morning sun helps in this photo too. Its warm color on the Spanish Moss is a subtle contrast with the sky.
Branches and moss
Okay, a little fun here. I might have made a few small creative enhancements in Lightroom to bring out the hidden scarecrow face.
Knot a Scarecrow
New growth leaves are sometimes called fiddlehead ferns since they resemble the scroll on a fiddle. They’re hard to spot as you walk by.
More tiny, close wildflower blooms.
The woods are very thick around this pool. It’s only a few feet from the sidewalk and looks like it’s been there for many years. I need to be more observant – I only just noticed it even though I’ve passed by it for years. It’s a three frame vertical stitched panorama.
I crouched down and used the camera’s tilting LCD to frame these cypress knees against the lake in the background. This is a 7 frame focus stack. If you haven’t tried focus stacking, a web search will return lots of info.
So that’s some of what I saw on photo walks over the last week or so. I hope you enjoyed looking at them and I hope they give you some ideas to try. Thanks again for coming back and and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some photos around your neighborhood!
Header image: Down low and close to Howell Creek in Winter Springs.
I know how interested you are in dinosaurs and when I found out that they were invading Orlando, I was disappointed that you couldn’t go see them with us. So I thought I should at least make some photos you can look at.
I went on a week day so it wasn’t very crowded, but it was a little bit scary being all by myself sometimes with a few of the dinos. This next photo is my favorite from the exhibit. It’s a close up of an Allosaurus mom and I think she’s looking right at me!
As you probably know, an Allosaurus looks a lot like a T-Rex, but they aren’t closely related. The next picture shows the mom with her babies. I wonder where the Allosaurus grandad is?
The Appatosaurus was a massive dinosaur – about 75 feet long and 30 feet tall. It was a herbivore and could eat hundreds of pounds of plants each day. It’s too big for an exhibit like this one, so they show two of its fossilized bones.
Because they’re small, Bambiraptors are named after the Disney character. Have you ever seen the Bambi movie? These may be small but they don’t look much like a baby deer to me! They walked on two legs, might have been able to climb trees and were possibly covered in feathers.
Citipati fossils were discovered in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, and the fossil find included an entire nest and four adults.
Allosaurs aren’t related to T-Rex, but Daspletosaurs are. Its name means “Frightful Lizard”. They stood about 12 feet tall and had very long razor sharp teeth. This one looks like it’s running after me through the bamboo forest!
Heterodontosaurus was a smaller dinosaur – it only weighed about 13 lbs. It had five fingers and opposable thumbs for picking up things.
Hypsibema is the official state dinosaur of Missouri. Florida doesn’t have an official dino. I don’t think your state has one either, but it needs one!
Experts think that the Parasaurolophus used its head crest to make loud bellows.
Placerias looks fierce but it was a herbivore. It could use those tusks for defense but also to slice through thick branches and roots.
Modern day Crocodiles are related to the Postosuchus. I guess it does look a little bit like the crocodiles and alligators we have today in Florida.
Quetzalcoatlus was one of the biggest flying animals of all time with an estimated wingspan of 36 – 39 feet! They could probably move fast on the ground too.
Sordes was another flying reptile that could walk on the ground and climb trees. Its wingspan was only about 2 feet – much smaller than Quetzalcoatlus.
And here’s our last Dino -the Velociraptor. It’s name means “Speedy Thief” or “Swift Robber”. These carnivores are pretty scary in the movies, aren’t they?!
Grandson, I’d never heard of some of these. Did you know about all of them? I hope you enjoyed looking through this. I had fun making the photos and imagining how much you would have liked going with us to see the dinos. Next time you’re here in Florida on vacation, we’ll find some exciting things to do together. We know about a museum we can visit over in Daytona that has a Giant Glyptodont!
Grandmom and Granddad
Here’s a bit more info for those of you that might want to take your kids or grandkids to see this.
Cypress and dark water along the shore from the Lake Rowena Overlook at Leu Gardens
Harry P. Leu Gardens (see this previous blog post and this album on Flickr for more photos) is a botanical showcase for plants that grow well in our Central Florida climate. There’s also a restored 19th century home that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and you can tour a portion of the downstairs. It makes for a great photo walk, and the lush vegetation also makes a great backdrop for a Dino Invasion!
These dinosaurs were created by Guy Darrough’s Lost World Studios. They make them life size and as realistic as possible. They looked very authentic to me! If you want to see this exhibit, make your plans quickly. The last day is April 18th.
Thanks to everyone for stopping by and reading my blog. And as always, take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – visit with your grandkids and make some photos!