Monthly Archives: May 2010

Memorial Day, 2010

Once again we pause to reflect and thank all those that serve or have served our country and helped keep us free.  Please know that we appreciate your service and can never thank you enough.

The Flag of the United States of America
The Flag of the United States of America, flying at the Fort Matanzas National Monument, near St. Augustine, Florida.

Many in our family have served in the military.

Lynn’s Grandfather, Harold Christensen was a Navy pilot in the second World War.   As an electrical engineer I enjoyed hearing him talk about working on the top secret team that developed radar for use on aircraft. Lynn’s father, Doug was also in the Navy.  He was stationed in Pensacola after WW II.  Both Lynn’s Grandfather and father been gone for some time.  We miss them.

My Mother’s brother, uncle Jack was in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.  He never said much about his time in the service and passed away a year or two ago.  We miss him too.

My Dad and his brother were both young men during World War II and both were in the Army.  My Dad started high school just as WW II broke out and he enlisted as soon as he could.  After basic training in Florida and some additional training as an intelligence recon scout, he shipped out to Europe.  By that time, the war had ended and he was stationed in Furth, Germany – just outside Nuremberg as part of the occupation.  He was there during the time of the Nuremberg trials.   Dad had several stories he used to tell about his time in the Army.  Most were quite fun, although I never heard him talk about the trials.  I’m not sure if all his experience was happy, but those were the only ones he shared with us.  He passed away quite a while ago, and of course we’ll always remember him.

I didn’t know much about my uncle’s service until we visited him just after Christmas last year and I asked about it.  Msgr. Edward V. Rosack (we called him Fr. Ed) also joined the Army Signal Corps after he graduated from high school during WW II.  He was older than my father and served in the Pacific Theater of Operations for about two years. His tour of duty took him to the Hawaiian Islands, Marshall Islands, (Einewetok, Kwajalein, the Palau Island (Angaur), Mariana Island (Saipan),  Ryukyu Island (Okinawa), Korea (In chon) and Yokohama, Japan. As a member of the 3922nd Signal Service Company of the 3117th Signal Service Battalion, his outfit was awarded the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon with one bronze star (Angaur, Palau Islands). Watching Ken Burns “Pacific” mini-series recently brought home what a great sacrifice and profound experience it must have been for him and everyone else in those battles. I can only imagine the hardships and horror that he and others endured.  I wonder if that is at least partly what drove him to become a man of peace for the rest of his life.  Sadly, Fr. Ed passed away in March of this year, not long after we visited him. We’ll always remember him too.

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Sunrise and Wading Egret – Persistance Pays

A few of us from the Photography Interest Group drove over to Blackpoint Wildlife Drive yesterday morning.  We had one new member with us and for the first half of the loop we were all a bit worried about the lack of good photo opportunities — although I had made one sunrise photo that I like.

Swampy sunriseSwampy sunrise

We didn’t see many birds at first and the water level was down a bit.   I’m not sure why since I think we’ve had a good amount of rain lately. Perhaps it was due to tides.

We were more than half way around the loop when we came up on two pools on the left hand side with a lot of bird activity. It turns out there were large numbers of small minnows in the pools and a variety of herons, ibis and egrets were flying back and forth between the pools feeding on the fish. Situations like this provide a wonderful  opportunity for photographers. Just as in the nest building scenario I wrote about a few weeks ago, the birds act in a somewhat predictable, repeatable way. You can study them and place yourself in good light and to show the birds’ activity in their environment. I was looking for something a little different and spotted this break in the reeds with the sun coming over my shoulder. I only had to wait a little while for an obliging Snowy Egret to pose between the reeds for me.  Now, if it had only raised its crest!

Little Egret

Snowy Egret Posing

Remember when you’re making photos of very white birds like this to check your histogram. Make sure your exposure isn’t blowing out the white highlights so that you preserve detail in the feathers.  If you do have pixels up against the right side of the histogram, use a little negative exposure compensation to move them back toward the left.

Once again patience and persistence paid off for us and everyone in the group had a chance at some very good photos.  I’ve also written here before about not putting your camera away until you’re back in the car.  Yesterday was another example of this very important rule!

Click on either of the photos above to go to Flickr, where you can view them larger.  You can also see other photos I’ve made at Blackpoint in this set on Flickr.

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Under the weather

I got almost nothing for you.

I started coming down with a cold yesterday and today it’s worse.  I don’t have much energy for photography or anything else.  Lynn did manage to drag me out to lunch with my sister and brother in law who were visiting this weekend.

We stopped by Central Winds Park on the way home and wandered down to the Lake Jessup shoreline.  I was happy that there was a good variety of Florida things to see.  In the ten minutes we spent down there, we saw two wild alligators and several kinds of birds, including a Great Blue Heron, Little Egret, Ibis, and an Osprey flying away with a fish in his claw.

Here’s one photo I made with my Canon S90.

Lake Jessup Cyprus Tree and cloudsAlso under the weather:  Lake Jessup Cyprus Tree and clouds

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Where's EdRo?

So we’re going to try something a little different.  This will be a variation on the game “Where’s Waldo”, except you have to guess where I was last Saturday, based on the photos below.  And you have to find me in at least one photo.  We’ll use my Twitter handle and call it “Where’s EdRo?”.  All of these photos were made in the same general area.  To play fair, you aren’t allowed to scroll down too far before you guess. Forensic investigation of EXIF data is possible, but also against the rules.  There’s no prize, but if enough people demand it, I can see about having something for the next time we play.

The point of the game is to remind you that you need to look around and find the non-obvious photos wherever you are.  Go ahead and get the “trophy shots” (photos that everyone takes at a popular spot), but don’t forget to share your unique vision, perspective, and outlook with others.

Want to play? Here goes…

1. Interesting wall
Clue #1: An interesting wall.

2. Nice light on an Ibis
Clue #2: Nice light on an Ibis.

3. Flowers, leaves, sky
Clue #3: Flowers, leaves, sky.

Have you guessed where I was yet? If not, here’s some more clues:

4. Blue wall, red windows
Clue #4: Blue wall, red windows.

5. River landing and flowers
Clue #5: River landing and flowers.

Do you have it yet? If not, here’s a couple more.

10. Surprise!
Clue 6: Surprise and delight.

One last clue:

18. Rhino profile
Clue 7: Rhino profile

If you haven’t guessed yet, then go to this set of mine on Flickr for additional clues.  I’ve added a total of 21 photos there. Some are obvious and some are not. Hopefully they all let you see this place through my eyes.

Thanks for playing my little game.  Now, go out there and look past the obvious shots.

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Three Topic Post

I’m going to depart from my usual practice of one subject per post and include three different ones in today’s entry.

  1. Photos and information on a visit to Gatorland, yesterday.
  2. An update on this blog after three years of publication
  3. A political comment

Feel free to read the portion you’re interested in, or indulge me and look at all three.

1. Gatorland May Day Update

If you haven’t yet visited Gatorland this year, now is still a great time.  Yesterday morning, I decided to drive down there to see how the rookery is progressing through nesting season.  We’ve  had a cold winter in Florida and as a result, the birds are about a month behind the normal schedule. The last time I visited (in March), it was mostly the great egrets building nests, courting, and sitting on eggs. Yesterday the Great Egrets were still very active (many with large chicks), but there are also Cattle Egrets, Tri-Colored Herons, Anhingas, and Cormorants all very actively fulfilling the purpose of life.

By the way, have you looked lately at the Gatorland blog that Mike Godwin writes ?  He’s posted a report on the current nesting activity, with a lot of detail and photos.  There’s also an active Gatorland Flickr group and looking at the photos posted there on any given day can give you a real good idea of what’s going on.

Here’s some of what I saw yesterday:

Pair of Great Egret chicks in nest
Pair of Great Egret chicks in nest: You can get an idea of how far along the Great Egrets are by the size of this cute pair.

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret: This one was hiding in the brush, but still posing.  The Cattle Egrets seem to be just getting started with a lot of nest building going on.

Mother Cormorant with just hatched chicks

Mother Cormorant with just hatched chicks:  Not a great photo, but you can see the chicks beside the very protective mother.  Their eyes were not yet open and there was another un-hatched egg in the nest, so they had to be only hours old.

Common Moorhen Chick
Common Moorhen Chick: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a moorhen chick before, but I have to admit I haven’t been paying that much attention to this species.  They’re very common in the area.

Wood Storks and chicks on nests
Wood Storks and chicks on nests: Mike Godwin is a great host at Gatorland.  He made sure we knew where these nests were so we could photograph them.  There were two right next to each other and they were very crowded and active.

You can click on any of the photos above to view them on Flickr.  You can also take a look at my Gatorland set on Flickr for some other photos from yesterday (the last nine in the set) as well as from previous visits.

2. Happy Birthday, Blog!

My first post was on the 4th of May, 2007, so it will be three years old on Tuesday.  Not a long time in absolute terms, but more than a lifetime for some in “internet years”.

The blog has morphed a little bit since then.  Originally it was just a place to share my photos, photo experiences, and talk about photo related ideas. I still do that, but I’ve added a theme around all of this:  I try to find interesting places around here to make photographs and then post blog entries including links to information about the places as well as some hints on what’s there and how to photograph it.  My hope is that this will be interesting to photo enthusiasts visiting the area as well as people who live here.  I know I’ve looked for similar blogs when I travel.

With this one, there are a total of 89 posts so far which is an average of about two per month, although lately I’ve been doing pretty well keeping up with my goal of one post each week.  Of these, 45 are tagged “CFL Photo ops”, about photo opportunities in the area.

As near as I can tell from my server logs (and disregarding spam and robots), I seem to modestly successful – at least some people are reading what I write. If I’m interpreting the CyStats log correctly, I have over 100 RSS subscribers, and about 10 – 30 visitors on average each day. They are from multiple countries, which is really nice.  The most visitors I’ve had in a single day was close to 200 early this year after Jim Goldstein posted his “best photos of 2009” entry on his blog.  Thanks, Jim!  The most viewed page is the main page, with the My Favorite Photos of 2009 post coming in second.

The most used browser, by a slim margin is Internet Explorer (~51%), followed by Mozilla, Firefox, Safari, etc.  Many people still use IE version 6.0.  If that’s you – update!  Modern browsers are much more capable and secure.

Recent, frequent external search terms include things like: “focus bracketing”, “gatorland photographers”, “central florida photos”, “orlando bird photography”, “alligator farm orlando”, “orlando photo ops”, “photographing birds in central flordia”, “good area to photograph fl”, “central florida places to photo”, “wildflower photography in florida”, “photographing birds in central florida”, “photographing wildlife in central florida”, and “ed rosack”.  I’m pleased that people are finding my blog with those search terms.

Of course, I’m my most loyal reader. I’ve enjoy writing it, but I also really enjoy going back and reading it and looking at the photos. I guess it really is a blog in the sense of a personal journal.

And what’s up with all the weird spam comments?  Do they really think I’ll let those through?  Would anybody?  Why do they keep sending them?

I don’t really have any plans to change the blog going forward.  However, I’d really like to figure out how to encourage more genuine comment and interaction.  And, I’m always open to your ideas and suggestions.  Especially for places around here to visit!

3. Warning – Politics Ahead

Caution – I apologize, but this paragraph is political.  It does relate to photography and nature in general.  Read at your own risk.

As I wrote down the words in topic one above about witnessing nature in all its glory, I couldn’t help but think a great deal about the gulf coast shoreline and what is beginning to happen there to countless birds, their chicks, and other wildlife from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.  The impact on people who are continuing to recover from hurricane Katrina will be an additional nightmare still to come.  And the news this morning reports that it will eventually reach the east coast of Florida too as the Gulf Stream current spreads the spill.

The scope of this disaster is unprecedented – and it was a remote possibility.  We can’t jump to conclusions yet, but complacency and the bottom line during the design of this oil drilling rig sure do seem to be causing great damage.  I wonder how many of the decisions that were made in the design were probably financial in nature and not based on the worst case outcome, which by the way is occurring?  The platform was either not designed or not built to preclude or handle it.

I also wonder if there are engineering memos or PowerPoint slides somewhere warning of this type of consequence if the design went forward as planned?  I wonder how many fail safes in the well shut off valve didn’t fail safe and instead just failed due to shoddy workmanship or poor design?  I wonder how the engineers that designed, built, and tested the equipment on that well feel today?  I wonder how their management can sleep at night?  I wonder how long British Petroleum will take to bring the well leak under control?  And I wonder how they will ever undo the damage they’ve done.

So far there are no answers, only questions.  And thousands of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico every hour of every day.

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.