Monthly Archives: May 2009

Audubon Birds of Prey Center

Description

The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey is located at 1101 Audubon Way  – just off of highway 17 / 92 in Maitland, Florida.  They treat injured or orphaned birds of prey (raptors), and release a great many of their former patients back into the wild. The Center also provides environmental education to local students, teachers, and visitors. Many birds that are too injured to be released are given permanent homes at the center.

The educational displays and permanent residents present an outstanding opportunity for the photo enthusiast.  A visit here will take an hour or two depending on how thorough you are.  Below is a photograph of one of the permanent eagle residents at the Center, which I made during a visit in 2007:

eagle

Photo hints

Lenses :  Bring a long zoom lens.  My 70 – 300 mm  on my 1.5 crop body D90 DSLR, gave me frame filling head shots of the bald eagles in the court-yard just inside the main entrance.  On the smaller birds (hawks and owls) in this courtyard, you can still get frame filling body shots. Below is a photo of a hawk: hawk

You should also bring a macro lens or attachment if you have one, since there are some very pretty flowers on the grounds of the center. flower

Tripod / Monopod :  I believe that tripods are allowed, although I didn’t use mine and didn’t ask.  There aren’t usually any big crowds here and there’s no narrow passages where a tripod would cause a problem.  I did bring my monopod and it came in handy, although you can probably get by with an ISO boost or by strategic use of gates and other structures to prop your camera on.

Other :  A flash would be handy for photos on the porch where there are smaller birds (kestrels, falcons, and small owls).  I didn’t have mine with me and opted to raise the ISO on my D90 to 1600, which worked pretty well.  Below is a kestrel photo, made on the porch. kestrel

Note that one of the attendants told me that photography “is permitted here as long as you don’t sell the photos.”  If you do plan on a commercial use, please talk to someone at the Center about it.

Summary

The Audubon Birds of Prey Center is a wonderful place to spend an hour or two with a camera.  You can learn a bit about raptors and your $5 entrance fee supports the center’s work.  You can also make some very nice photos of Birds of Prey.

My Gallery (22 total photos): http://edrosack.com/090524_Birds-of-Prey/
Website: http://fl.audubon.org/who_centers_CBOP.html
Address: 1101 Audubon Way Maitland, FL 32751 (407) 644-0190
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: Hidden Gem!

©2009, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney has a “get in free on your birthday” promotion and Lynn and I used it when we went to Animal Kingdom theme park for my birthday earlier this month. When we checked in, Lynn made me wear the “Happy Birthday, Edward” button they gave me.  Then, everywhere we went – all the Disney employees and characters were telling me happy birthday all day long.  That’s probably more “happy birthdays” in one day than I’ve gotten in my whole life!

Animal Kingdom combines a “zoo without bars” with theme park rides and this results in a very well done attraction that has something to offer everyone.  Lynn and I really enjoyed it and for me it definitely makes the Central Florida Photos must do list .

Animal Kingdom is located west of Orlando off of I-4.  For more information, Wikipedia has a large entry, with articles on the various areas in the park and the animals you can see as well as the rides.

You might want to bring a variety of photo equipment.  My 70-300VR zoom lens on a Nikon D90 crop sensor body (1.5 crop factor) was about right for the long shots of wildlife (but we never have enough glass, do we?).  I also had my 16-85 zoom for scenic shots, and there are a lot of scenic shots.  I saw one or two people with tripods, but I didn’t bring mine in to the park.  I couldn’t have used it on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride, and it would have been in the way in many of the other places in the park.  One other thing, even in early May, Orlando is already very hot and humid.  Check the weather forecast and dress appropriately.  Cool clothing and sun block are a must.

This close-up photo of a giraffe was taken from the Kilimanjaro Safari vehicle.  Lynn and I went straight here when we got to the park, since it was at the top of our priority list and we didn’t want to wait in a long line.  Even so, it took about 20 minutes before we could board.  It’s a very nice experience, but  photographically challenging.  The vehicle almost never stops and the ride is designed to be bumpy and fun for younger folks, so you’ll have to make sure your shutter speed is high enough to freeze the vehicle’s motion.  This giraffe crossed the road in front of us and they do have the right of way, so I made a nice calm portrait of it while the vehicle paused to let it pass.  You’ll want to try to avoid the middle seats.  I sat on the far left, but I think both sides probably have as good a view at different times.

Giraffe

This next photo is of a mother and juvenile elephant coming toward us along the elephant trail, also on the safari ride.  I like the way the young one is kicking up dust out in front of Mom.
Elephants - dusty steps

The next area we visited was the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, where there are gorillas, meerkats, and a number of other animals.  There’s a photo of one of the gorillas in an earlier post .  Here’s a meerkat.

Meerkat

Another thing I liked about this park is the displays that are set up throughout the areas to give them some  cultural ambiance.  Here are two photos from the Maharajah Jungle Trek that I especially liked. This first one is a “water station.

Here is located safe water for Travellers.  Please know it is unwise to drink local water, standing water, water from unidentified sources.

This one is of a cart in the village area.

Cart

Finally, here is a photo of the center piece of the park, the Tree of Life.

Tree of Life

I’ve posted a gallery of my Animal Kingdom photos at this location .  Please visit and browse to get an idea of some of the animals and things you can expect to see.  I haven’t been to Africa or India, but it seems like Disney has done a credible job re-creating pieces of those far away places here in Central Florida for us to visit and dream about.

2/9/2010 Update:  I have some additional photos posted in this set on Flickr .

©2009 and 2010, Ed Rosack.  All rights reserved.

Birds scarce at Black Point Wildlife Drive – Water levels down

I visited Black Point Wildlife Drive at Meritt Island National Wildlife Refuge near Titusville, Florida this morning with my local Photography Interest Group.  Central Florida’s recent lack of rainfall has dramatically affected the region.  We saw small puddles in areas that are normally covered in water, birds and photographers.  If you’re planning to visit this normally very photographer friendly place, be advised that it may take a while for the birds to return once the rains do. Low water levels at Black Point Wildlife Drive

I did make a nice sunrise photograph (with a little help from the computer),  and a few other “keepers”.
Mandelbrot Sunrise at Black Point

The rest of my photographs are posted here .

©2009, Ed Rosack.  All rights reserved.

To Do

So, gentle reader. In this post, I will describe some of the upcoming events that will be happening in this blog.

First, Lynn took me to Disney’s Animal Kingdom for my birthday at the beginning of May. I have a little over a hundred “selects” to go through and finish so that I can post a gallery and write a blog post about our visit. Stay tuned on this one. Animal Kingdom is a photography must see in Central Florida!

Next, there are several ideas I have for future photo expeditions / galleries / blog posts around Central Florida. Here are a few I’ll try to write about: Leu Gardens, Gatorland in Kissimee (and a comparison to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm), Butterfly exhibits (Lucas Nursery and UF), Orlando photowalks, and several more.

Lynn and I are also planning an Alaska Cruise with some very good friends. I’m going to be keeping notes on this and plan to turn it into one or more entries after we return.

Finally, I have an idea for a series of philosophical entries on how to be successful in general and I think these can also be applied to photography in particular. I’m going to try to intermix these entries with my photo gallery / blog entries.

Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, here’s a teaser from Animal Kingdom:A photograph of a gorilla at Disney's Animal Kingdom

©2009, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Wetland Wildflowers

I drove over to Orlando Wetlands Park last Friday morning and walked around the 2.5 mile ‘Birding Route’ foot path. I arrived around 9 am and didn’t expect to see much wildlife. But once again this urban oasis didn’t disappoint me. I saw the usual alligators, including one that posed with some flowers, as well as many herons, egrets, ducks, etc. (Note: you can go to my gallery to see larger versions of these photos).

Alligator and white flowers

New for me this visit were some Sandhill Cranes, and a raccoon. I was walking quietly down the middle of the path taking pictures when the raccoon came around the corner. It had it’s head down and I took several photos before it looked up.

Oblivious Raccoon

It did a double take, decided it didn’t like what it saw, and took off pretty quickly.

Not so oblivious raccoon

There were also a tremendous number of dragonflies out there. I’m worried that this means the lovebug season will be especially bad for us here in Florida this year.

The highlight of this trip was the many varieties of flowers in bloom. It made for a very colorful stroll.

The biggest problem this time of year is that our weather is turning very hot. By the time I left the park to head home around 11 am the temperature was approaching 90 degrees. Get out early and get back inside while it’s still cool!

The rest of my photos for this post are here.

©2009, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Roadside Flowers

There are many opportunities around Central Florida, especially at this time of year, to photograph flowers. Lynn and I drove out to Mount Dora last Saturday to visit the antique mall there. Along the way we noticed quite a few wild flowers along the road. On the way back, she pulled over to let me make this photo.

Roadside Wildflowers

©2009, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.