Viera Wetlands 2-6-19

Here are some photos from a trip to Viera Wetlands last week.  There’s a lot to see there!

Dawn in the harborDawn in the harbor – A sunrise stop at the Cocoa Riverfront Park on the way to Viera

Sandhill Crane with egg in nestSandhill Crane and egg in nest – it’s fairly close to the berm.  I think I’ll go back in a week or so and see if it’s hatched.

Deer Deer – I’ve seen them several times hanging out at the east end of the park

Web Web – The spiders were busy and some of their work was catching the early morning sunlight

RobinAmerican Robin – Winter visitors / migrants are showing up in force

Ash-throated Flycatcher (?)Ash-throated Flycatcher(?) – I didn’t recognize this bird when I made the photo and I’m still not totally sure what it is.  A Great crested Flycatcher was seen at Viera Wetlands in January, but this one seems too small for that. An Ash-throated Flycatcher was seen there in previous years.

So I had a very nice visit to a wonderful place – if you’ve never been, now is a good time to go!

You can see all my posts about Viera Wetlands at this link:  https://edrosack.com/category/viera-wetlands/

And I have many more photos from Viera Wetlands in this album on Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157623223995224

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

First, check the web page!

I missed out last week on a trip with Kevin K. and Kevin M. to the Circle B Bar Reserve due to some dental work (ouch!).  So I was eager to photograph something this week.  My schedule was finally clear on Friday, and when I woke up early, I decided to go walk around Orlando Wetlands Park – one of my favorite spots in this area.

Whoops.  I suspected something was wrong when I got out of the car and heard engines running.   I walked out toward Lake Searcy in the dark and when I saw construction gear and  no water in the corner cell, I turned around.   Fortunately I’d gotten up way too early, so I still had time to change my “plans” and almost make sunrise over on the coast.

Early morning on the river shore 2Early morning on the river shore 2. Rotary Riverfront Park, Titusville. That’s the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building in the distance.

After that, I headed to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  There are a lot of winter migrants here now.  The birds must’ve known beforehand about this week’s Polar Vortex.  In addition to our year round species, I saw American Avocets, Lesser Scaups, Northern Shovelers, Hooded Mergansers, and fast warblers I couldn’t ID.  I also stopped and talked to some folks on Black Point Wildlife Drive who were trying to find a Cinnamon Teal that’s been seen there.  I heard later they found it again on Saturday.

Hooded MergansersHooded Mergansers. Two males taking turns displaying for the females in the area

Pair of porkersPair of porkers.  Part of larger family just inside BPWD.

Spoonbill and reflectionSpoonbill and reflection.  This bird was so still, I had time to zoom in and make a three frame panorama.  That really helps with details!

Weathered Red CedarWeathered Red Cedar.  I was glad to see that my infrared camera still works after so much neglect!

So my photo adventure started out badly, but turned out well.  Those engines I heard were pumps.  I checked the OWP web page when I got home – they’re “demucking” Cell 14.  And there’s also construction going on in Cell 16.  I’ll go back in a while when the ruckus dies down.  Don’t be like me – check the web page before you go.  Even if you’ve been there many times!

Orlando Wetlands photos here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157639616792296

More Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157627776386723

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

iPhone Event Photography

MK won two extremely good tickets in a drawing at work for a recent Orlando Magic game and invited me to go with her (Thanks MK!).  I was excited and looked up the camera policy for the Amway Center.  The relevant sentence was:

“Cameras with detachable lenses longer than six (6) inches when extended are prohibited from all Amway Center sporting events.”

I put my Olympus 12 – 100 lens on my E-M1 2 camera, stuck an extra battery in my pocket, and was ready to make some super photos.  When we arrived I was stopped by the first security guard I saw at the start of the entrance line and told that no interchangeable lens cameras were allowed.  I didn’t think it was worth arguing, so I begrudgingly took my camera back to the car.  After going through the line to get in, we asked about the policy and were told that yes, interchangeable lens cameras are allowed!

Amway – you need to make sure your security people understand your policies!  Anyhow, I was tired of walking back and forth to the car and decided to just make photos with my phone.

Nikola Vucevic grabs a reboundNikola Vucevic grabs a rebound. Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets. The Magic led for most of the game, but lost by two in the final seconds.

Which ended up working well, since the seats were in the first row!  I used the 2x lens and shot in RAW mode using burst to capture the peak action.

I think a main disadvantage of phones vs. dedicated cameras is the lens selection, especially at the telephoto end.  Phones right now usually have two or three lenses at most.  Standalone cameras have a virtually unlimited lens selection available.  At events, you need to be close to the action or you need to use a long lens.

Last week, Lynn and I went to a concert at the Plaza.  Their camera policies are more restrictive (and  vague).  They can also change, depending on the performer, so I left my camera gear at home.   Our seats this time were about eight rows back, which was close enough to get a few iPhone photos of one of my favorite guitar players.

Hot Tuna at the Plaza, Downtown Orlando, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy Jan. 24, 2019Hot Tuna at the Plaza, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy, Jan. 24, 2019, Downtown Orlando.

I would’ve liked to get closer.  And the resolution isn’t as good as I’d want for prints on the wall.  But phones can work surprisingly well – if your seats are good enough.

I have more Orlando Magic photos in this album on Flickr.  And a few more Jorma Kaukonen photos in this one.

Sometimes my photo plans don’t work out.  But I make photos anyway.  It’s what I do.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some photos!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Flagler Beach Whale Quest

MK and I decided to drive over to Flagler Beach last Sunday.   Several whales have been seen recently – one the week before from the pier. We knew the chance we’d spot one was very small, but it’s a pretty place for sunrise and the restaurant on the pier serves a decent breakfast!

Quilted surf sunriseQuilted surf sunrise

We set off at “o-dark-thirty” and arrived before dawn.  I spent some time making photos on the beach and when it was light enough, we went up on the pier to scout.

Under the pierUnder the pier

North Atlantic Right Whales are among the most endangered whales in the world.  There are only about 450 left.  In addition to deaths from ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement, their birth rate seems to be declining.  They migrate south from New England to the warm waters off Florida to mate and give birth.  Unfortunately, there were no new calves spotted last year during the whole 2017 – 2018 season.

Fishing trawler "Miss Hope" at daybreak near the pierFishing trawler “Miss Hope” at daybreak near the pier

So it was pretty exciting when the first calf was spotted this year:  https://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20181228/right-whale-watchers-rejoice-as-calf-spotted-off-jacksonville-coast!

Flying close to the sunFlying close to the sun

Humpback Whales are also seen off our coast.  They’re usually further out than the Right Whales, which seem to stick closer to shore.

We ate breakfast and then drove to a couple more spots on the beach.  We knew before we left that day that our chances of seeing whales were slim.  But we all know our chances are zero if we never look.  And although we came up empty, it sure was a nice morning and worth the drive.

Here’s more info on Florida whales:

I’ve collected more photos from Flagler Beach in this album on Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157675598379207

You can view whale photos I’ve made here:  https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_id=8231395%40N04&sort=date-taken-desc&text=whale&view_all=1

And MK has many whale images in her Flickr stream.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

In a Garden

Lynn added some Birds of Paradise plants to our front and back gardens a few years ago.  They’ve done well – we often have multiple flowers open at the same time.

I featured a portion of one blossom in this post from the summer of 2017.  It turns out that they bloom in the winter too!  Here are some more photos, this time  of the whole flower.

Bird of ParadiseBird of Paradise – side view, on black

The Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is also known at the Crane Flower because it resembles the head and beak of a colorful exotic bird.

Bird of ParadiseBird of Paradise – from above

They’re indigenous to South Africa and enjoy full sun and warm temperatures like we have here in Central Florida.

Bird of ParadiseBird of Paradise – side view, on white

In their natural habitat, they’re pollinated by Sunbirds, not insects.  The weight of the bird standing on the flower releases pollen onto the bird’s chest or feet, which is deposited on the next flower it visits.

They make lovely additions to our Florida garden, and lovely photography subjects too.  I made these images in the early morning before the light got harsh.  Lynn held black or white material behind them for me.  I like the one on black the best.  How about you?

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Is Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge Shutdown?

Kevin M. asked if I wanted to go photographing on Saturday and we decided to go over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  I hadn’t been in a while and I wanted to see how it’s doing during the Government shutdown.  We also invited Kevin K. to go along.

Sunrise by the causewaySunrise by the causeway

We stopped at the Titusville Marina for a few sunrise snaps.  A cold front was passing through and it was still overcast and a little dreary.  But there was a small break in the clouds right at daybreak.

As far as the shutdown goes, this is what the MINWR website says:

“Where public access to refuge lands does not require the presence of a federal employee or contractor, activities on refuge lands will be allowed to continue on the same terms as before the appropriations lapse.”

So facilities at MINWR are closed and locked, but the trails we tried were open (Gator Creek road and Black Point).  We didn’t see any rangers, but the wildlife is still showing up.

Note:  Jim Boland reports that Cape Canaveral National Seashore (Playalinda) and Biolab Road are closed.

Some of what we saw:  a Bald Eagle, Ospreys, a Northern Harrier, Belted Kingfishers, a Reddish Egret, Coots, Common Gallinules, Northern Shovelers, Blue-Wing Teals, Hooded Mergansers, Pie Billed Grebes, White Pelicans, Roseate Spoonbills, Great and Snowy Egrets, Great and Little Blue Herons, Tri-colored Herons, White Ibis, and Alligators.

Tricolored HeronTricolored Heron

The birds were fairly abundant, but I struggled to get good images.  The light was  dim under the clouds and the birds were a little too far away.  We even came up on a feeding frenzy.  But it was in a small pond behind some thick mangroves that were just about impossible to photograph through.  Here’s my best shot of that – this Ibis was diving back in to get another snack:

Launching IbisLaunching Ibis

The sun broke through one other time before we left:

Sunbeams in the swampSunbeams in the swamp

All in all, a pretty nice photo expedition.  So don’t use the government shutdown as an excuse. – you can still go out and enjoy our natural resources.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Long(er) cruise exposures

I thought you might be interested in a photo technique that I used on our recent cruise. Here’s an example image:

Journey's End

Journey’s End. (eq. FOV: 26mm, f/4.5, .8 sec @ ISO 1250)

In low light situations, I wanted the ship sharp in the foreground, and nearby water showing motion blur. I also wanted features on the horizon to be sharp (with no motion blur).

You can see the settings I used in the captions. The secret is to use a wide-angle lens, and keep your shutter speed fast enough so that the ship’s motion doesn’t result in blurred features on the horizon, but long enough so that the close by water shows some motion blur. For this image, a little less than a second worked out. Here’s another example (that was in last week’s blog too):

Approaching the Cayman Islands

Approaching the Cayman Islands. (eq. FOV: 26mm, f/4, 2 sec @ ISO 200)

Here are the steps to try this yourself:

  • Go on a cruise!
  • Choose an aperture that gives you the depth of field you want (e.g. sharp focus from foreground to horizon).  My Olympus 12-100 f/4 lens is sharp and has sufficient depth of field used wide open.
  • Choose an ISO value that results in the shutter speed you want (between 1/2 and 2 seconds).  With my micro 4/3 cameras, I’m conservative with ISO, but I’ll use up to 3200 if pressed – even for landscape shots.
  • Use your camera’s built-in image stabilization (or mount your camera on a tripod) to stabilize it on the ship.  Since my setup has the Olympus dual-IS capability, I didn’t use a tripod.  Instead, I braced myself against the ship and  hand-held these.
  • Make several exposures and check for sharpness. Since the ship is moving relative to the horizon, this setup is different from a normal dry-land photo.  To keep the horizon sharp, you’ll have to either time the ship’s motion and expose when it’s minimized (difficult), or make multiple frames and pick ones where the horizon features are sharp (easier).  I was able to get sharp images with exposures as long as 2 seconds, but I made multiple frames for insurance.

Here’s one more photo.  The light was brighter in this one, so I couldn’t get much blur in the water:

Dusk at seaDusk at sea. (eq. FOV: 24mm, f/4, 1/40sec @ ISO 200)

So that’s it.  A fun technique that will give you some nice “cruisey” images.  If you try this, let me know how it works for you.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Caribbean Voyage

Lynn and I returned a week ago from a Caribbean cruise on the Holland America MS Oosterdam where we met up with her brother Art and his wife Michele.  Since we’ve been back we’ve had Mike, Sara, Calvin, and Avon in town for the holidays (and MaryKate – yay family!!!).  Anyway, I don’t have a lot of spare time for writing this week, so  I think you’ll just have to make do with some photos and captions from our cruise.  I hope you enjoy them!

Inviting!Inviting!  – This scene is from the beach on Half Moon Cay (Holland America’s private island).  Lynn and I both enjoyed the sun, some swimming and conversations with Art and Michelle.

Make it a double...Make it a double.  – There were other things to do on the island too!

Clouds over CubaClouds over Cuba – We haven’t ever been to Cuba and this is as close as we got on this cruise.  This photo is from six miles east of the Punta Maisi Lighthouse.  I wish it had been clearer and closer!

Clouds in the valleyClouds in the valley – I spotted this low cloud bank as we arrived in Montego Bay Jamaica and rushed to make several images.

Masked Booby in flightMasked Booby in flight – Different people on (and off) the ship saw a variety of wildlife.  I enjoyed photographing the Masked and Brown Boobies that followed us for a while.

Approachig the Cayman IslandsApproaching the Cayman Islands – We were scheduled to stop in Grand Cayman, but the seas were too rough for the tenders to operate.  The captain ended up skipping that port call and moving on early to the next one.

Cozumel at nightCozumel at night. – I had hoped to get many more images in Cozumel, but the photography tour we’d signed up for was canceled (due to lack of interest!).   I like this photo of the city after dark.

It was an enjoyable, relaxing trip.  You can see a few more photos in this album on Flikr.  And you can read other cruising blog posts at this link.

We’re having a wonderful time with family visits for the holidays – I hope you are too!.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.  Remember to make some family portraits while you have a chance!  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Merritt Island Postcard

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/

Weather over the Water
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

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!

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

 

Computational Photography at KSC

You may know that I’m very interested in computational photography (image capture and processing techniques that use computer processing instead of / or in addition to optical processes). My last post on this was about a year ago (https://edrosack.com/2017/11/26/more-computational-photography/), and things are still changing very fast!

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 rocketMercury-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

I’d say it does that!

I’d also like to comment on the enhanced bokeh effects (blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image) and adjustable depth of field.  DPReview has a good article comparing iPhone bokeh to a high end portrait lens.  You can read the article yourself, but the bottom line is it compares very favorably.  And these capabilities aren’t just for people portraits.  Some examples:

Atlantis shuttle rear viewAtlantis shuttle rear view.  iPhone XS rear camera, Portrait mode, ISO 640, f/2.4, 1/30 sec

Shuttle robot arm close upShuttle 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).

I use an iPhone, but Android users also benefit from developments in computational photography.   For instance the Pixel 3 phone has a “Night Sight” feature that is reportedly amazing.  See this article for details:  https://www.engadget.com/2018/11/14/google-pixel-night-sight-launch-sample-photos-comparison/

I hope Apple can add a similar algorithm!

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.

You can read more about this at the Apple iPhone XS Camera specifications web page.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved