Monthly Archives: December 2011

Cincinnati Christmas

Lynn and I had a wonderful visit with our daughter Mary at her place in Cincinnati over Christmas. Once again, she was the perfect hostess and kept us busy with all sorts of activities. We spent a lot of time eating, both at restaurants (Nada, Melt, Christmas brunch at the Hilton, Tom+Chee, Papa Johns pizza, Cracker Barrel) and cooking (crab cakes, Quiche, salmon, gingerbread, etc.) and too much time shopping (antique mall, after Christmas sales, outlet mall). In between we went to the Nutcracker, bought hats at Batsakes, visited the local wine shop and gave her new Nespresso machine a real work out. It was primo family time, but I did sneak in a little photography:

Roebling Bridge and Ohio River at night from Kentucky
Roebling Bridge and Ohio River at night from Kentucky

Play time at Union Station
Play time at Union Station – Cincinnati, Ohio. I usually wait for people to clear out when I’m trying to make a photo. This time I went ahead and made it while these two girls played around the fountain. Since this is a stitched panorama, they show up multiple times, which I think adds to the image.

Cappuccino: We enjoyed using Mary’s new machine and overdosed on caffeine while we were there.

What a great visit! You can see more photos from our trip to Cincinnati in this set on Flickr. You can re-read my other posts mentioning Cincinnati here and here.

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

St. Johns sunrise, and a ride 'round Viera

Happy Holidays!

I had a rare mid-week day off last Wednesday and decided to spend the morning making photographs.

First up was a site I’ve driven by many times and always said “That looks like a great place for a photo”.  It’s the boat ramp off of Highway 50 where it crosses the St. Johns river. I was there before dawn and had a good time watching the sun come up and the clouds evolve.  And yes, it is a good place for a photo.

Dawn on the St. Johns River
Dawn on the St. Johns River at the Highway 50 boat ramp

Next, I drove over to Viera Wetlands. I haven’t been there recently and wanted to see what’s going on.

Palm, clouds, marsh
Palms, clouds, and marsh at Viera Wetlands

There are a lot of the usual birds around:  Herons, Egrets, Ibis, Anhingas, Coots, Grebes, Limpkins, Ospreys, Cormorants, a Caracarra, a Hawk, Gulls, etc.  I also saw a lot of winter visitors there, including Kingfishers, Mergansers, Caspian Terns, Tree Swallows, and Northern Shovelers.  By the way, another good place to find out what’s going on is the Viera Wetlands group on Flickr.  I usually check it before I go so I’ll know what to watch for when I get there.  Other folks are seeing Northern Harriers, Loggerhead Shrikes, Horned Grebes, American Kestrels, and many more.

Caracarra with prey
Caracara with prey

The Great Blue Herons are all busy courting and building nests.  This is a wonderful time to get some action shots, especially of these birds in flight.  If you watch one of the couples for a while, you’ll likely see the male leave repeatedly to gather nesting material.  They tend to leave and return from the same direction and this gives you a big advantage when setting up to take flight photos.

Great Blue Heron pair
Great Blue Heron pair

You can see other photos I’ve made at Viera Wetlands in this set on Flickr.  If you get some spare time over the holiday break, this would a good place to spend it.

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

The year in review: My favorite 2011 Photos

I hope that all of you, your families, and your friends have a joyful and happy holiday season!

Photographer Jim Goldstein has an annual tradition of organizing a “best photos of the year” listing.   So it’s a good time to put together my own third annual “Favorite photos of the year” post.  You can revisit 2009 here, and 2010 here.

Again in 2011, I’ve been blessed with a huge amount of photo opportunities. The 2011 folder on my hard drive takes up about 178 GB of space. Wow – good thing storage is so cheap now days!  I’m still using the following system to rate my photos.  The numbers in parentheses are the counts for 2011 .

  • 1 star   – The photo is interesting (262)
  • 2 stars – The photo is worth showing to others (400)
  • 3 stars – The photo is the best of (or one of the best of ) any given photo shoot (81)
  • 4 stars – My favorite photo of a year (1)
  • 5 stars – My favorite photo ever (none, I’m not done making photos yet!)

Photos without stars are seconds or not so good versions of other photos. I usually keep them, but they probably won’t get any more attention. I’ve been using this system consistently, and it seems to work for me. I’ve reviewed my 2011 photos and selected what I think are my best.  Of course, this is all subjective and my opinion only. Feel free to disagree, but I hope you’ll enjoy looking at the ones I’ve picked.

You can click on each of these to go to Flickr and see a larger version.  Or you can click this link to go to the set on Flickr.

Here we go.  I have 3 mammals, 3 birds, 2 landscapes, and 3 miscellaneous subjects …

Bobcat in Tree, Circle B Bar Reserve
November:  Bobcat in Tree, Circle B Bar Reserve. I’ve seen Bobcats in the wild before, but I’ve never been able to take a good photo of one. We saw this one resting up on a branch and it posed for a while. In this image, I think it was trying to figure out how to get through the crowd of humans at the base of the tree. More info:

Baby mountain goat
July: Baby mountain goat, Mt. Evans summit, Colorado. There were several families of mountain goats on the way up and at the summit. This little one posed for me so I could frame him against the out of focus mountains in the background. It’s amazing to watch them scramble from rock to rock and never slip. More info:

Young deer at Viera Wetlands
September: Young deer at Viera Wetlands. View large and check out the eyebrows and whiskers! More info:

Barred Owl watches photographers
January: Barred Owl watches photographers. More info:

Eastern Meadowlark
December: Eastern Meadowlark, Blackpoint Wild Life Drive. More info:

Florida Scrub Jay watches us
June: Florida Scrub Jay watches us.  One or two birds in this Scrub Jay family were real posers. And one of those was a “dive bomber”. It flew at our heads a few times trying to discourage us. More info:

Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve
November: Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve. More info:

It was a little cloudy this morning
December: It was a little cloudy this morning. Blackpoint Wild Life Drive. I’ve enjoyed playing with an Infrared modified Olympus EPL-1 camera.  More info:

Tomb of the unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery
March: Tomb of the unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery. I’d never been to Arlington before this trip. As a US Navy Veteran and a patriot, I have to admit it made a huge impression on me. More info:

Flavia, in color
December: Flavia, in color. American Photo Model Shoot, Orlando, 12/3/11.  My first time photographing models was a real learning experience.  More info:

My Grandfather's Pocket Watch
June: My Grandfather’s Pocket-watch. After the Orlando Watch Company repaired it, it’s working fine.  This is a 1921 Elgin pocket-watch, marked Wadsworth Referee 20 year 5069868.  More info:


I hope you’ve had a great photo 2011 too.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some more photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Merritt Island Scouting Report – Saturday, December 10

Lutfi, Kevn M., and I set off for Viera Wetlands last Saturday, but on the way we kept passing through light rain showers.  Since it’d rained off and on for the past week, we worried they’d close the area to cars, so we switched destinations and decided to visit Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge instead of Viera.

We got to East Gator Creek Road in time for sunrise, but the cloud cover was too dense for any blog worthy photos.  After sunrise, the gloomy light made bird photography difficult too – it was a good thing I brought my flash along to help.  We’d seen some reports of Horned Grebes at MINWR on Flickr, and sure enough one showed up almost right away.  She wasn’t shy and swam right up to us.

Horned Grebe Female
Horned Grebe Female – My first photo of one.  MINWR has been very productive for me as a source of “life birds”.  These are winter visitors.  Hopefully I can sight a male in breeding colors later this season.

Next we went over to Blackpoint Wildlife Drive.

It was a little cloudy this morning
It was a little cloudy that morning: Infra-red capture can really bring out the details and contrast in a somewhat gloomy scene.

Unlike some previous trips to BPWD, there are huge numbers of birds there now.  It’s a great time to visit – The water levels are high and the winter visitors have started to arrive!

Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Meadowlark – another life bird for me.  These are year round residents in Florida, but I hadn’t photographed one before.

We saw large flocks of Coots, Pintails, and many Grebes.  There were a variety of shorebirds too.  We saw Reddish Egrets, Belted Kinfishers, Great Blue Herons, Tri-Colored Herons, Little Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Anhingas, Savanah Sparrows, Lesser Yellowlegs, Green Wing Teals, Eastern Meadowlarks, American Avocets and others.  There were also many spoonbills flying around (but none seemed to want to land near us).

Follow the leader:  American Avocets, winter plumage
Follow the leader: American Avocets, winter plumage – not my first sighting of these, but one of my best photos of them.  These are also winter visitors to Florida.

Before heading home, we went by the MINWR Visitor’s Center to check on the Painted Buntings. Unfortunately, there weren’t any around this time – although the rangers told us they’d seen them that morning.

If you’ve wanted to visit MINWR, now’s a great time.  For a preview of some of the things you might see, take a look at  my MINWR set on Flickr.

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

Orlando American Photo Model Shoot Workshop, December 2011

Intro / Description

Well this is a bit different from what I normally photograph and post about.  But to keep learning, it’s good to occasionally stretch your skills, move outside your comfort zone, and try something you haven’t done before.  And as your intrepid Central Florida Photo Ops reporter, I have an obligation to report on more than just the landscape and wildlife opportunities in the Central Florida Area.  Right?

Flavia, in color

So last Saturday, I found myself at the American Photo Magazine Model Shoot Workshop at the Marriott World Resort in Orlando, Florida.  The magazine organizes the event, hires models, brings lighting equipment and sets everything up for you.  You just need to show up with your camera and plenty of memory cards.

They also bring in an instructor for the day.  For this session it was New York Photographer Lindsay Adler.  She provided some very good information on lens choice, lighting, posing, and creativity in two different sessions during the day.  She and the other instructors also circulated and offered advice and help while we were shooting.  It’s a great opportunity to learn, especially if you’re not familiar with this kind of photography.

There were 15 different models there.  I’ve included four photos of three of them in this post.  You can see more photos I made (including the other models) in this gallery.  You can also look at other photographers’ images at this link.

Tiffany, in fur

Since I’m normally a Nature & Wildlife photographer, I found it quite fascinating to think about the differences between those genres and Fashion and Model photography:

Nature and Wildlife Photography Fashion and Model Photography
The light is what it is.  You may be able to change it a bit with flash for fill and catch lights. You control the light.  Indoors, you control it completely.
High Dynamic Range is common for landscape photos to control large contrast levels. Since you control the lights, you control the contrast.  HDR isn’t required.
You rarely interact with the subject.  And if you do, you usually scare it off. You must interact with the subject.  Building a rapport and directing the pose is critical.
Very wide (landscape) or very long (wildlife) lenses are favored. Large aperture lenses are favored:  50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4, 70 – 200mm f/2.8
It’s all on you – a one person show. You’ll require a team: models, make up artist, costumes, sets, etc.
Knowledge / experience and persistence are necessary to find good subjects. Portfolio, reputation, and relationships are necessary to find good subjects.
You go to where the subject is. The subject comes to you in a set or studio.
Post processing: Color adjustments, HDR (landscapes), Selective sharpening Post processing:  Color adjustments, Retouching, Selective sharpening

I’m sure I must have missed something.  What else is different about these two types of photography?

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:

At this type of event, everything except you and your camera are provided:  backdrops, lighting (hot lights and soft boxes), sets, models, costumes, makeup, etc.  The instructors will help with light adjustments and offer advice if you’re having any problems.  Flash isn’t recommended, since the lighting is provided and flash will interfere.  It will also be a lot harsher than the large soft box hot lights that are used.

You do need to use a higher ISO setting.  I used ISO 800 almost all day.  I shot with my lens wide open and my exposures ranged around f/2.8 between 1/60 of a second and ~1/320.  A capable high ISO camera will come in very handy as well as a large aperture lens with VR.  The Nikon D700 and 70 – 200 f/2.8 VRII combination worked well for me.  I did have some issues with overexposure.  I don’t know why these scenes were fooling my meter (maybe the dark backgrounds?), but I sometimes had to dial in some negative exposure compensation.  Make sure to check your histogram often.

Flavia, in black and white

White balance was tungsten on some sets and daylight on others.  I shot in RAW mode, so I didn’t worry too much about it.  I just set my camera in auto white balance and then corrected it (if needed) in post.  If you shoot in JPG mode, pay attention to the changing white balance.  I overheard a lot of discussion that day from different people about “degrees Kelvin”.

The overall experience sometimes resembled a paparazzi shoot out on a red carpet.  Popular models would attract a crowd of photographers.  Courtesy is very important.  Take your turn and let others have theirs – there was plenty of time for everyone.  It was also fascinating to be one of  the photographers in the crowd and hear shutter clicks sync up when a model changed position or where they were looking.

Tripod/Monopod:  Not recommended – it’s too crowded and would definitely be in everyone’s way – including yours.  It would also slow you down.  The models do move around, so you need to  react quickly to get the compositions you want.


One of the event sponsors was Sigma.  They brought a couple crates of lenses and would let you borrow one for a session.  This is a great chance to try glass that you haven’t used before.  I checked out an 85mm f/1.4 for the first session, but ended up not using it very much.  I wasn’t getting many sharp images even when I stopped it down.  I didn’t have time to diagnose the issue but I think my problem was a combination of very shallow depth of field and blur caused by slower shutter speeds with no VR.   I switched to my 70 – 200 f/2.8 and used it the rest of the day.  It was occasionally a bit long at the 70mm length, but I compensated when needed by taking multiple shots.

Jennifer, in close

Best time to visit:

You’ve missed your chance for this year.  To see when they’re coming back to Orlando, you’ll have to check the American Photo Website.  They told us they’d be posting the 2012 schedule soon.

Other:  I had a great time, but it was a long day.  You’ll be on your feet a great deal of the time, and you’ll be shifting positions often to get a good vantage point.  I was quite tired at the end of the day.


You can view a higher resolution gallery of other photos I made at the link in the table below.

My Gallery:
Their Website:
Their Contact Info:
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating:  A different kind of CFL Photo Op must do!

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

Fotobug Podcast Interviews Ed

Jim Caldwell and Fred Rodgers posted episode 40 of their Fotobug podcast today.  It’s located here:, and you can also subscribe via iTunes.

One of the things they talk about this time is the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Florida and they interview me for the show.  I got to tell them about my Bobcat encounter from a couple of weeks ago.

It’s a good show – you should add them to your regular listen list.