Hello faithful readers! This is the next entry in the blog category called “Postcards” where I occasionally post photos of Central Florida scenes – similar to a postcard.
I’m using the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license for these instead of “All rights reserved”, so you’re welcome to download these at full resolution for your personal use. Please visit this page to see details and restrictions that apply: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.
It’s easy to find these 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.
I made this image at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. There was a slight drizzle where I was standing, and rain drops ruined several of my frames. This one must have been right after I cleaned the lens. For more info, please see this post: https://edrosack.com/2015/10/17/photographing-florida-weather/
To download, just click 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!
Lynn and I went over to Kennedy Space Center a few weeks ago with MaryKate and our nephew Ted. I thought I’d try out the new iPhone XS and use some of the resulting photos as examples to discuss updated capabilities. So this post isn’t really about KSC – if you’re not interested in computational photography, feel free to just look at the photos or go on to something else. Or if you’d like to see some other posts about KSC, please look at the links on this search page: https://edrosack.com/?s=Kennedy+space+center.
Mercury-Atlas rocket: John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962 when he launched in his Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft on an Atlas rocket. Smart HDR mode, ISO 25, f/1.8, 1/22000 sec
In this first photo, I deliberately shot into the sun. I wanted to see how it handles very high contrast situations. I have the camera’s “Smart HDR” mode enabled in settings and I used the Lightroom CC iPhone app to shoot in RAW mode. The file it generates is a .dng file that includes the Smart HDR processing. I waited for the photos to sync to my desktop computer and processed them there. I think the colors and exposure in both the sky and shadows look excellent. I’m amazed that even the writing on the capsule in the shadows looks good.
Here’s another example that shows the amount of flexibility and recoverable detail that’s present in these RAW files. This next image is the default capture with no editing. You can see that with even with Smart HDR on, the extreme contrast causes loss of detail in the highlights and shadows.
This next one is the same image after editing the RAW file – there’s much more of the scene visible in this version. In situations such as this, the secret is to shoot and process RAW files!
Here’s what Apple says about Smart HDR:
Leveraging multiple technologies — like faster sensors, an enhanced ISP, and advanced algorithms — Smart HDR brings more highlight and shadow detail to your photos.” Apple
Shuttle robot arm close up. iPhone XS rear camera, Portrait mode, ISO 640, f/2.4, 1/30 sec
In these images, I adjusted the simulated aperture after the images were taken to focus viewers’ eyes on the subjects. It’s very easy to vary the amount of blur in the background to get the effect I wanted. I’ve also used the “portrait mode” for actual portraits, and while it’s improved from earlier versions, you can still see issues if you look for them. For example, the depth map and processing has occasional (but fewer?) problems with stray hair around faces (blurs them when they should be sharp).
Should you give away your non-phone cameras? No, not yet. Phones are still at a disadvantage in some ways: Lens selection and sensor size are two important ones. And the interfaces on dedicated cameras are better and allow quicker control. But in some (many?) cases, your phone is an excellent photo (and video!) tool. And they’re going to get better. Just make sure you’re up to date on how to use the latest functions.
Editors note: Today we have an update from our roving correspondent MaryKate. This post features some new friends she made on her Alaska visit back in September – enjoy!
I wrote a post awhile back about my Labor Day trip to Alaska and the majestic Orcas we observed in Seward with Seward Ocean Excursions. But there was so much amazing wildlife on the other stops of our trip that it deserves another post.
After Seward, we drove three hours down to Homer. I was excited to visit Homer since I’ve only been there once, and it was so foggy that I didn’t really get to “see” Homer. This time though, our weather was simply beautiful!
iPhone Panoramic View from our Rental (Homer Spit is in the distance to the left)
While in Homer, we ferried from Homer down to Seldovia on a 7 hour Seldovia Wildlife Tour aboard Rainbow Tours. While it was towards the end of the tourist season in Seldovia, it was worth the trip just for the wildlife and views from the ferry, and there were plenty of photography opportunities.
Sea Otter in Kelp
My favorite photo from the trip was this Sea Otter in Kelp. Sea otters sometimes wrap themselves in kelp like this to anchor themselves and relax a little. While sea otters are very common in Alaska, and friendly enough that they make great photography subjects, I thought that the composition of this shot made for an especially interesting photo. If you click-through to the Flickr album, you can see the progression of the sea otter unwinding himself from the kelp to swim away.
Sea Otter Floating Away
When we were almost back to Homer, we saw a raft of otters. I’d seen several of these on our trip, but all were too far away to photograph, so I was glad to catch these guys.
Raft of Otters
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog post. Now – go be amazed by wildlife and you otter make some photos!
The Orlando Balloon Glow was last weekend in Baldwin Park. Thanks Kevin M. for telling me about it! Lynn and I had never been to anything like this. It was fascinating to see the process – especially at dusk, and it made for a compelling photo op.
The action took place in a large field in Blue Jacket Park, which can accommodate a big crowd with good viewing for everyone. It started around sundown when air blowers began inflating the balloons. Scout the layout so you can catch some of the activity in good light or against the sunset.
Dusk inflation. iPhone XS back camera, 4.25mm, 1/200 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 32
Once they’re partially inflated, propane burners light up and provide heat needed to make the balloons float in the air.
Hot Air. Olympus E-M1 MII, 40mm, 1/10 sec @ f/2.8, ISO 500
The light is challenging. There’s very high contrast with bright flames against dark surroundings. You’ll need to balance aperture and shutter speed with ISO and image stabilization to eliminate motion blur and get sharp, well exposed images. I’ve added my setting info to these photos to give you an idea of how I shot them. These were all made hand-held. If you don’t have image stabilization, you’ll probably need a tripod.
The balloons strain against their tie downs and then rise into a blue hour sky.
Blue hour balloons. Olympus Pen F, 17mm, 1/3 sec @f/1.8, ISO 500
Once they’re ready, you can purchase tethered rides on some of the balloons. The event also features Orlando area food trucks, a retail village and activities for kids. We splurged for paid parking and were glad we did, since space was tight for all the cars.
And one warning: There were a lot of ant hills in the field, so be careful where you step – especially after dark. You may want to wear closed shoes instead of our typical Florida flip-flops. Just sayin’.
Pacific Whale Foundation is a 501(c)(3) IRS tax-exempt charitable organization dedicated to protecting our oceans through science and advocacy. MK and I both strongly believe it deserves our support. If you get a chance, please check out the auctions and consider bidding on these two prints to help out this worthy cause!
Lynn and I were able to visit Gettysburg for a short time on our way home from Pennsylvania last July. It was a bright and sunny day, but you can’t help but feel somber thinking about what occurred there. Over a brutal three-day battle, the two sides suffered more than 46,000 casualties and it’s said Gettysburg marked the turning point of the Civil War.
This field of battle is quiet now. Near the site of Lincoln’s address, Gettysburg National Military Park
Shortly after the battle, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. His closing words are especially appropriate on Veterans Day and every day:
"... that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Every year in the United States, we pause on the 11th of November to honor the service and sacrifice of all men and women who answer the call. To our veterans and to those serving today – you have our deepest gratitude. We honor you for your service and sacrifices.
“Army of the Potomac, Second Corps, Artillery Brigade, Battery I First U.S. Artillery”
Especially in today’s world, those who choose to volunteer for the military endure long periods far from home and loved ones. They live in conditions without the comforts that we take for granted. They face danger and conquer fear to protect our freedom and way of life. In far too many cases, they give their all – sacrificing life and limb. We owe them.
He used a digital camera for this project instead of his normal large format film approach, and I thought it was interesting that the results are so similar. If he hadn’t explained this in the video, I wouldn’t have suspected he didn’t use film.
The artwork itself is exquisite with amazing form and color. Seeing it in this setting, where it’s been professionally arranged and lighted was amazing!
Ivory Basket with Oxblood Spots, 1977
Glasswork can be very difficult to photograph. The illumination has to show the form without reflecting hotspots and obscuring details with shadows. In all cases, this lighting was perfect and the shadows enhanced the view and revealed even more details. I think photographers can learn quite a bit studying these displays.
Morean White Seaform Set, 2010
I really enjoyed seeing this. If you get a chance, go.
I managed to get up for sunrise one morning while we were there. I debated driving down to Fort Desoto, but ended up taking the easy way out and explored the nearby waterfront instead.
St. Petersburg North Yacht Basin
There’s construction in the area, so I picked viewpoints to hide that. I liked the view above of the north basin at dawn. And the mid-day reflections and clouds in this next one caught my eye too.
Next, we grabbed some breakfast and then headed up to MINWR for a quick pass through Black Point Wildlife Drive. Conditions in the refuge have been pretty quiet this summer and we wanted to see how the bird population is doing. There still aren’t a lot of birds around, but the variety is improving. We saw the usual wading birds, Redish Egrets, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, a few Blue Wing Teals, Osprey, Belted Kingfishers, a Sora, and a Merlin.
Jim Boland is also seeing quite a bit of bird activity in MINWR. He’s photographed a Peregrine Falcon, Merlins, Ospreys, Northern Harriers, Bald Eagles, and even Snail Kites along Playalinda Beach Road in recent weeks.
The cooler weather that’s finally arrived in Central Florida makes being outside and photographing more pleasant. And it should bring even more bird species to our area to enjoy.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
I was sitting in the family room on Friday afternoon when Lynn came in, saw these birds behind our house, and asked me what they were. If she hadn’t asked, I never would have noticed them. Maybe my chair should face the window instead of the TV?
I quickly grabbed my camera and took a few shots through the window and screen and then went out on the other side of the house to get this unobstructed view. I’m glad my birding lens was still mounted!
Black-bellied whistling duck family. There’s another adult and one more juvenile out of the frame to the right.
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are common here in Central Florida year round, although I’ve never seen them in our neighborhood before. They were previously known as the “Black-bellied Tree Duck” since they’re often found roosting and nesting in trees. They’re monogamous, which is unusual in ducks. Also unusual is their high-pitched whistling call which you’ll remember the first time you hear it.
After adding a few minutes of excitement to our afternoon, this family strolled on down the street and disappeared. I was glad they stopped by – maybe we’ll spot them again.
Thanks Lynn for asking about them and thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!