Monthly Archives: May 2013

Central Florida Zoo (Sanford)

I hadn’t been to the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford, Florida since early 2007 and Tom M. had some new gear he wanted to try – so we decided to visit  this week.    Here’s a few photos I made along with some photo hints.

River Otter

The River Otter exhibit was fun.  If you’re patient and the otter’s in the mood, you can make a nice image of it swimming.  Up your ISO to get a fast shutter speed and get close to the glass to block reflections.  Then press the button right  before “the moment”.

One of our Photography Interest Group members, Jeff S. has a write-up about the zoo on his blog:   http://www.firefallphotography.com/central-florida-zoo/.  There’s some good info and photos there – well worth a read.

Macaw
Macaw – Many zoos have these very photogenic birds around.  They’re good posers!

Photography at this zoo can be challenging.  Many of the animals are behind glass or wire mesh fences, and far away or in bad light.   You’ll need to look for situations where you have a clear view of the animals and if you’re patient they’ll often come closer.  You can also try the standard techniques i.e. Use wide open apertures to blur the fencing;  Hold your lens close to the glass or use your hands to block reflections; etc.

Snake eyes
Snake eyes – Albino Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake.  The “herpetarium” is dark.  I didn’t bring a flash, but If I had, I might have tried using it (held out to the side to avoid reflections).  The snakes don’t normally move fast – in this case I braced my camera so I could use a slow shutter speed (I also didn’t bring a tripod).

Busy Bee
Busy Bee – There are a lot of pretty plantings and flowers at the zoo. I made this photo in the Butterfly Garden area.

And one last photo – we went by the marina in Sanford before going to breakfast and then the zoo.  It’s a nice place for sunrise.

I'm glad I got up early
I’m glad we got up early

As usual, you can click on these photos to go to Flickr, where you can see larger versions.  You can also see a few more photos from the Central Florida Zoo in this set on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Viera Wetlands update, 5/18/13

I went over to the coast yesterday with Kevin M.Kevin K.Lutfi E.

Sunrise sure is happening really early again!  We started out on the 520 Causeway near Port Canaveral – Kevin M. wanted to make a sunrise photo with a lit up cruise ship in the scene.  Here’s how my version turned out:

Disney cruise ship at dawn

Disney cruise ship at dawn – Port Canaveral, Florida

We also moved around looking for other compositions and I think each of us also made an image of this:

Beneath the Bridge
Beneath the Bridge – 520 Causeway looking east

After sunrise we moved down A1A to explore Lori Wilson Park and the boardwalk there.  It’s very nice and located right on the beach.  Migratory birds have been reported there, but we didn’t find any on Saturday.

Our last stop was Viera Wetlands.  We wanted to check on it because we hadn’t been by since February.  We saw a few of the common wading birds, some juvenile Anhingas, Ospreys, Coots, Glossy Ibis (that we hoped were White Faced Ibis – but weren’t), lots of Grackles, and a few other species.  We also took a turn around the Click Ponds where we found a relatively uncommon Black Crowned Night Heron.  Kevin M. managed a good photo when it came out of the reeds for a few seconds.

Black Crowned Night Heron

Black Crowned Night Heron (Photo by Kevin McKinney, used with permission)

This wasn’t our most productive or exciting trip ever, but we did have a good time.  The activity was slow – I think we’re starting to get into the summer birding slow down here in Central Florida.  We may need to look for a few different photo ops for the next few months.

You can read other Central Florida Photo Ops blog posts about Viera Wetlands from this link.  And I’ve collected other photos from there in this set on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Gatorland update, 5/11/13

Keith H. and I took advantage of our annual photo passes and stopped by Gatorland yesterday morning. If you’ve planned to see the wild bird rookery there, don’t wait too long. There’s a lot going on now and it won’t last forever.

Cattle Egrets and Cormorants are still incubating eggs and should start hatching soon.  Great Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, Anhingas, and Woodstorks have hatched and you can get great photos of parenting activity including feeding, nest maintenance, displays, and flight to / from nests.  All of the birds are in peak  breeding colors.

Tri-colored Heron in flight
Tri-colored Heron in flight

Gatorland is a great place to practice flight photography.  Observe the bird behavior for a while, pick a likely place with a good background (hopefully in the shade) and wait.  Opportunities will occur!

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret

Most of the Cattle Egrets were back in the bushes, in bad light and obscured by twigs.  Be observant and patient you’ll find one out in the open and maybe even in front of a dark background.

Here’s a couple more photos from yesterday:

Anhinga in flight
Anhinga in flight – they’re very different (and attractive) in breeding season. 

Double Crested Cormorant
Double Crested Cormorant – very pretty eyes if you can catch them in the right light

We also saw several other birds types including a Swallow-tailed Kite.

If you go during the week, take advantage of the early entry option.  We got there at 7:30 and there were only a few other photographers there.  As we were leaving about 10:15, there was a huge line waiting to get in.  I don’t know about you, but I prefer to photograph in the early morning light and when it’s peaceful.

Another reason to visit Gatorland is to see the new Panther Springs exhibit.  These animals are very impressive – I didn’t realize how large they are.  These two are a brother and sister pair that were raised in captivity and so can’t be released back to the wild.  The Florida Panther population is estimated at only 100 – 160 in south-west Florida.  Well worth seeing.

Hello kitty

Hello kitty!

You can read other Central Florida Photo Ops blog posts about Gatorland from this link.  And this set on Flickr has many other photos I’ve made there

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

South Florida, the Everglades and the Florida Keys

First, an apology:  It appears that a couple of the species names for birds we observed in the Dry Tortugas triggered some people’s spam filters.  So if you’re an email subscriber and didn’t get the email with the Dry Tortugas post, please check your spam folder or click here to open it in your browser.  Sorry about that.  Although there’s not much I can do about it.  And it is funny.

Second:  Happy anniversary, blog!  The first Central Florida Photo Ops post went up on May 7th, 2007 – 6 years and 270 posts ago.  Thanks once again for  all your encouragement.  I enjoy writing the blog, but I don’t think it would have lasted this long if not for the occasional comments and questions from readers.  Please keep them coming!

Third: Here’s some info on the rest of our South Florida trip.  The Dry Tortugas were the focus of our expedition, but we also visited Blowing Rocks Preserve, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Largo, Everglades National ParkJohn Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and Brian Piccolo Park.  Since these were such short visits, I can’t really provide detailed reviews of each.  Instead, I’ll show sample images to give you some background and an idea of  what you can see in each place.

I’ve heard that Blowing Rocks Preserve in Jupiter Florida is an awesome landscape place under the right conditions.  The morning we were there, the light was harsh and the  weather wasn’t ideal to show off the rocks.  I think studying the tides and winds (and some luck) are required to make the most of a visit to this place.  Here’s one photo I came up with.

Blowing Rocks Preserve
Blowing Rocks Preserve – Sand steps, Three sets, Two close, No return? 

We stopped at Bill Baggs to look for a couple of birds that had been spotted there.  We didn’t have much luck with the rare birds, although I enjoyed seeing the light house and this awesome lizard.

Cuban Knight Anole
This Cuban Knight Anole was over a foot long, much larger than the anoles we see in Central Florida

We spent a day driving through the Everglades, stopping at each area along the main park road and side roads.  It was very overcast, and I found it tough to compose landscapes.  I’m sure there are some great spots that people more familiar with the area know about.  I guess I need to go back and find them.

Brewing storm
Brewing storm, Everglades National Park  – A pine tree and grass reflect on the inches deep Everglades “river of grass”

We made it all the way to the end of the road in Flamingo.  I was very excited to see a couple of American Crocodiles in the marina there.  Only about 2000 of these remain in the wild.  They look different and somehow even more menacing than the alligators we’re used to seeing in Central Florida.

American Crocodile
American Crocodile

We had tentative plans to find some night-time / star trail photography dark sites in the Everglades, but with the long days and cloudy weather, we never got to it (another reason to go back).  While in the Everglades we saw Purple Martins (rooming with House Sparrows), Shinny cowbirds, Brown Cowbirds, Spotted Sandpipers, Red Headed Woodpeckers, Swallow Tail Kites, Red Shouldered Hawks, an Anhinga rookery, Black Vultures (that were eating rubber off of cars!), the American crocodiles, and of course Alligators, Turtles and many other common birds.

The place we were staying in Key Largo had a private beach and boat ramp, and we spent one sunset there.  It was pretty – the rocks in the foreground look like a Japanese garden.  So much so that I wonder if someone arranged them.

Gulf view from Key Largo at sunset
Gulf view from Key Largo at sunset

On our way home, we stopped at Brian Piccolo Park to see the Burrowing Owls.  They were easy to find in their marked nests and fun to watch.  We also saw a few Monk Parakeets there.

Burrowing Owl guarding nest
Brian Piccolo Park:  Burrowing Owl guarding nest

Other wildlife seen on the trip included Loggerhead Shrikes, Ground Doves, Eurasian Collard Doves, White Headed Pigeons, a Great White Heron, Cardinals, a Northern Curly Tailed Lizard, and Iguanas.

It was a fun but exhausting trip!  For more photos, please look at this set on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – take a long weekend and go make some photos!

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.