I follow many blogs and websites. It occurred to me that if you’re interested in Florida Photo Ops, you might be interested in some of the same sites I look at. Here’s a list of some of my Florida related favorites:
I’ve also updated my links page to point to these, so you can always get back to this list by clicking on the “Links” button at the top on the right side of the header. Enjoy, and tell them I sent you.
Greenwood Urban Wetlands is a 19 acre park in downtown Orlando and was created in 1991 to help handle the sometimes massive rainwater runoff in the area. The park is right next to Greenwood municipal cemetery, where many of Orlando’s notables have been buried since 1880.
Venus Rising: Pre-dawn pond at Greenwood Park – This is a two image composite that I hand merged in Photoshop.
I arrived before dawn a couple of Saturday’s ago. I’d heard about it on Flickr and seen photos others had made there, although I still wasn’t sure what to expect. I was hoping for a sunrise photo, but the sky was very clear and I didn’t know the area. So, I picked a spot near the parking area and set up for the image above. For this one, I made two exposures (one for the sky and one for the ground) and merged them as described in this post. I like the way it turned out, especially with the morning star Venus rising, and the leaves and flowers on the left.
Kevin M. joined me a bit later and we walked around exploring. There were a few birds (coots, wood ducks, egrets, Great Blue Heron) in the small lakes, but nothing too unusual. We’d heard about an eagle nest nearby, so we decided to look for it in Greenwood Cemetery.
The nest was easy to find, since there were two juvenile eagles perched right next to it calling quite often. We made several photos while we waited for better light and were eventually able to get the birds facing us with the sun at our backs. These two young birds were flying between trees in the area, but didn’t act like they knew much at all about feeding themselves. They seemed to be waiting for the parents to bring back food – but that didn’t happen while we were there.
We also saw a very pretty Wood Duck pair in nice light, a couple of Barred owls, and some very aggressive Blue Jays (harassing the owls) on the way out. You can see the other photos I made in this Flickr set.
Info for Photographers
There’s not much to work with for landscapes. But there’s a surprising variety of birds for such an urban setting. Make sure you walk through both the park and cemetery if you go. You could also drive through the cemetery if you don’t have time to walk.
Take appropriate lenses for your subjects. Mostly long lenses for the birds. A flash might help control the contrast for the subjects back in the leaves (owls).
Best time to visit:
February – March might allow eagle nesting activity to be observed.
This close by park may be an opportunity to snag a few keeper shots for your bird portfolio, and won’t take too long to check out.
Halloween 2012 update: Don Price, the Greenwood Cemetery Sexton, offers guided moonlight walking tours once a month where you can learn about Orlando and the people who have contributed to the history of the city. The tour is usually crowded and reservations are required. Go to the cemetery website and click on “Moonlight Walking Tours” for more info.
Ansel Adams said that the “negative is the score, and the print is the performance”. In modern terms, the RAW file is the negative and the processed jpg / print is the performance. Ansel was famous for re-printing his photos to try to get the best possible image from his negatives. Some of his later prints are thought to be better than earlier ones as he experimented and gained knowledge about how to “perform” the print.
All photographers should take this to heart and not be satisfied with previous processed versions of their photos. I like to look through my Lightroom catalog sometimes for images that may merit some re-work.
This morning I reprocessed a photo that I made last October at Viera Wetlands. Below is a series of images that show you a progression from the original images to the final result. Look in the captions for details on what I did, and scroll to the bottom of the post to see the most recent version. You can also click on these to see larger versions.
This is the first image I made (RAW, unprocessed). It’s focused on the tree and the two birds are also in sharp focus. Because of depth of field, the moon is out of focus. The color balance could be better.
This is the second image I made to solve the problem with the moon focus.
Step 3: And this was the processed version I posted to Flickr last October. I masked in the in-focus moon, did some sharpening and noise reduction, but didn’t spend too much time on it. It’s since gotten a lot of views, but re-looking at it now, I’m not happy with several things in the photo (e.g. color balance, noise reduction, masking) and this morning I decided to go back and reprocess it from the original RAW files.
And this is the new version that I posted to Flickr this morning. In Photoshop, I was much more careful masking in the in-focus moon. I then created a meticulous selection of the blue sky so I could use it in the follow on steps. Then I applied noise reduction just to the blue sky and sharpening just to the birds, moon, and tree. I also used the Topaz Adjust filter just on the birds, moon and tree. Finally, back in Lightroom I adjusted the white balance off of a sample on the Ibis. I like the vertical crop better as well as the color balance, sharpness, etc.
I visited the Rookery in St. Augustine for the first time this year with two other members of the Photography Interest Group. Things are really hopping!!!
Cattle Egret pair in breeding colors: These go from plain white to very colorful during breeding season. This pair was hiding back in the bushes and it was difficult to get a clean image, but they eventually moved a bit right before I made this photo.
We saw Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Woodstorks, Spoonbills, Little Blue Herons, Tri-Color Herons, and of course – alligators. Some are just starting to build nests and breed. Others (the Great Egrets) already have good size chicks in the nest.
Great Egret and chicks
There are very few places that you can get this close to tolerant, wild birds. It’s wonderful for both experienced and beginner bird photographers. If you haven’t been by yet, now is the time.
Emeralda Marsh is called the “Jewel of Lake County Bird Watching”. When we first visited in May of 2010, the Interpretive drive had just been closed to vehicles – which was a big disappointment and prevented me from doing a review of the site. Fast forward to late March of this year and the drive is again open, so Kevin M. and I headed over to see if this place lives up to its reputation.
It’s huge (7089 acres), with a 4.3 mile long drive that’s accessible by car for part of the year. We arrived a little after sunrise but before the gate opened at 8am, and so we spent a little time around this very picturesque canal just up the road from the entrance.
Canal, mist, and Sun Dog: A Sun Dog appears over this misty Florida canal near Emeralda Marsh just after sunrise.
Info for Photographers
Photo hints: The Interpretive drive is open from the 3rd week in February through May on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Call before you go to make sure. The drive had already been closed when we went last May and the place is too big to walk (at least for me). The hours are 8 – 5. We didn’t see much of interest on about the first half of the drive. Things picked up a bit when we turned north at the south-west corner (see link to Google Maps, below). Then we ended up seeing a good variety of birds including a Belted Kingfisher, coots and moorhens, gators, American Bitterns, a Northern Harrier, Ospreys, Egrets and Herons, and various ducks.
Northern Harrier in flight: This bird was quite active on the morning we were there
There’s a dirt road that’s closed to cars leading west from the north-west corner of the drive. It goes to a rookery on a small island just off the Lake Griffin shore. We walked out there and saw some displaying and nest-building going on, but it was grown up and hard to get a clear view.
Tripod/Monopod: Allowed of course.
Lenses: Bring your standard bird set up – the longer your lens, the better.
Best time to visit: When the drive is open (late February to May), which is also the best time for nesting, breeding, etc. Winter time is reportedly good for migrating species, but the drive will be closed to vehicles and you’ll have to hike in to the area.
Landscapes and sunrise / sunset photos will be hard due to the hours that the drive is open to cars, although you may be able to find a few scenic locations close by for golden hour photos.
There was a Bass fishing tournament going on the morning we were there, which made for a few loud moments as the fast boats all roared off. We also heard several gun shots, so there was some hunting going on in the area.
“Jewel of Lake County Bird Watching”? I certainly can’t argue with that. This is a huge place with a diversity of habitats and we did end up seeing a lot. I think that if you could visit several times over the course of a year, you’d see a variety of Florida and migratory birds.
I was out with Lynn last weekend and she saw an antique store that she wanted to browse through. I went in with her, and we noticed this wooden 8×10 view camera from around 1910. Well … I’ve always wanted one and couldn’t resist.
Having some fun with my new toy – a Rochester View Camera, circa 1910.
Although it doesn’t have a name plate, because of markings on the film holders I think this one was made by the Rochester Camera Company. I’m not entirely sure what model it is although it strongly resembles this one. It did come with a tripod, case, and several backs including the ground glass and film holders. The Goerz Dacor f/6.8 Series III No. 4 lens appears in Rochester catalogs from the time and so is probably original with this camera. The lens is clear and the shutter seems to work fine too, although the rubber pneumatic shutter release has hardened over the years. All in all, the whole kit looks to be in very good shape given its age, and I might experiment a bit more with it.
Looking it over, it’s hard to imagine carting something like this all over and even climbing mountains to make photographs with it. It’s huge, heavy and very primitive compared to what we’re used to today. And once you exposed the image you still had to deal with developing and printing it. Given all this, it’s amazing how good the results are from back then. Or is it maybe that only the best photographs survived all this time?
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog – now go make some photos!