Monthly Archives: June 2011

Grandfather's Pocket Watch

Not all of your photo ops need to be outdoors and wildlife or nature related.  In fact, there’s some wildlife that probably shouldn’t  be photographed.  And what if you can’t get out because the weather’s bad, or you stubbed or broke a toe?  Well, you can look for a photo-op closer to or even inside your home.  Here’s a set of photos I made to document a watch passed down to me from my Uncle.

This is my Granddad’s Elgin pocket watch.  The model number (marked inside the front cover) is “Wadsworth Referee 20 year 5069868”.  Based on the movement serial number, it was made in 1921. We don’t really know the history on this watch, but we do have some documents from my Grandparents’ wedding and think that my Grandmother gave this to him on their 10th wedding anniversary.

1921 Elgin ” Wadsworth Referee 20 year” 5069868, Serial number 25010969

We’re also not completely sure about the spelling used to engrave his name.  It could be that this was an accepted alternate before Rosack was standardized with the “ck” ending.  It’s more likely a mistake, in which case I bet my Grandmother wasn’t too happy about it.

Inside back case, with engraving

Here’s what the movement looks like.  When thinking about how to show this, I wanted to do something more than a straight on standard macro photo.  So I positioned the watch movement at an angle to catch its reflection in the back case and made the final image using Helicon Focus software and the techniques I described here.

My Grandfather's Pocket WatchMovement macro-photograph (click on this image to get to a larger version on Flickr)

We wanted a nice case to display the watch and found this one.  One issue with making this photograph was dealing with reflections in the glass.  I was able to reduce them by using a polarizing filter, making multiple exposures and moving the lighting between some of them.  Then I combined the results in Photoshop to get this final image.  I like the way the lighting places the emphasis on the watch, but lets you see what the case is like.

You can buy pocket watch glass display cases

We did take the watch into a local watch repair place (not this one, the place we took it didn’t have such a nice sign).  They cleaned and repaired it and it now works fine.  The only problem seems to be a weak spring – it keeps great time, but not for a whole day.  The repair cost was about equal to the watch’s resale value, but to us of course the watch is worth much more.

Elgin watch jeweler sign – it’s fun to watch for related photos while you’re out and about

It was fun learning about this watch, getting it working and making these images.  Do you have something similar you could document?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A summertime visit to MINWR – Black Point and Scrub Ridge Trail

A few of us visited Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge yesterday for the first time in a while. We wanted to see what’s going on at Blackpoint Wildlife Drive and Scrub Ridge Trail. Since it’s now officially summer time here in Florida, the temperature and humidity is soaring and it’s hard to get motivated for a long hike to see / photograph nature and wildlife.  So it’s nice to go out to a place like Blackpoint where you can drive through instead of having to walk.

The water levels were quite low, which I think is typical this time of year. There weren’t a great many birds, but there were enough to make it interesting. We saw a few of the usual Egrets and Herons, as well as a couple of adult and three or four juvenile Reddish Egrets. There were also some Black Neck Stilts, a Willet or two and a wild and very muddy pig.

We decided to go by Scrub Ridge trail on the way home to check out how the Scrub Jays are doing. They’re fine, although somewhat feisty. Several of us were “dive bombed” and one came so close to Kevin M. that he felt the wind from its wings on his head.  While at Scrub Ridge trail we also saw a very young Gopher Tortoise and a rabbit.

I’ve included several photos from the trip below, and you can click on these to see larger versions on Flickr.

Florida Scrub Jay watches us
Florida Scrub Jay watches us – There was a family of Florida Scrub Jays out yesterday. One or two were real posers. And one of those was a “dive bomber”. It flew at our heads a few times trying to discourage us.

Juvenile Reddish Egret
Juvenile Reddish Egret

Rabbit – This little guy froze and looked the other way hoping we wouldn’t see him.

Wild, muddy pig
Wild, muddy pig


Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Ballpark Ospreys

Lynn and I went to a function in Bartow, Florida this weekend and didn’t have much time for nature or wildlife photography. But we were cruising around her old neighborhood on Saturday morning and happened to notice an Osprey and nest near the Bartow Civic Center, so we stopped for a bit to investigate.

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

We pulled into the parking lot and got out to the sound of many calling Ospreys. They were all around the ball field at the Civic Center with many nests on the light poles and one or two Ospreys in each nest (most likely juveniles). Between the ones on the nest and the ones flying around, there must have been 20 to 30 visible. We saw this one both carrying a fish and perched with it.

Osprey in flight with fishOsprey in flight with breakfast

Osprey on perch with perch (?)Osprey on perch with Perch(?) –  This bird wasn’t too happy with me getting near its breakfast

I grew up when raptors / birds of prey were very uncommon and when I was young I certainly never saw any in the wild.  In 1963, there were less than 500 pairs of nesting bald eagles in the lower 48 states. I can remember when the U.S. banned DDT in 1972 (on June 13th, actually – 39 years tomorrow). Living in Florida now, I see bald eagles quite often and Ospreys all the time. Every time I do, I’m glad Rachel Carson wrote her book.

Some interesting Osprey facts [1][2][3]:

  • It’s a single living species that occurs nearly worldwide
  • Thankfully, it’s now evaluated as a species of Least Concern
  • Other names for Osprey: Pandion Haliaeetus, Fish hawk, Sea Hawk, Sea Eagle, White Eagle
  • They can completely submerge when diving for prey
  • They have an opposable talon
  • They generally pair for life, but if mating is unsuccessful, will sometimes “divorce”
  • A female will choose her partner based on the quality and location of the male’s nest
  • Parents will hold back food to encourage fledglings to leave the nest
  • Fledglings will sometimes move to nearby nests where they are fed by other parents

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Be ready to make the photo

I was at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm yesterday morning. There’s still a lot of activity going on with everything from eggs in nests to young birds flying around.  It’s definitely worth a visit if you haven’t been this year.

Tri-colored Heron with raised crest
Tri-colored Heron with raised crest

When you’re out photographing, you have look for conditions that will enhance your images.  You also need to think ahead and have your camera set-up and ready to go.  Otherwise, you’ll miss shots like the one above.

I saw this Tri-colored Heron and the first thing that struck me was the background.  A great deal of the time (especially at the Alligator Farm), birds are in among the bushes and there are usually  distracting twigs, trees, and other birds behind your subject.  A busy background will detract from your image quality.  I like to look for situations where there’s  space behind the bird and this one  had some.  I also thought that having my Sigma 150 – 500 OS lens set wide open would be enough to blur out the background.  I was a bit worried about the low light level, but I had a flash mounted to help so I made sure I had the right compensation dialed in.  I got into place, pre-zoomed, pre-framed,  and waited for the bird to strike a good pose.  When it raised its crest, I was able to make  two quick photos before it moved again.  I like the way this one turned out.  In the other, the beak is down and it’s not nearly as good a pose.

If I hadn’t seen the opportunity and been ready, I would have missed this photo.  Keep your eyes open and be ready!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.