Monthly Archives: September 2013

Hillsborough River State Park

For some reason, I’d never noticed Hillsborough River State Park until fellow Photography Interest Group member JT Smith asked me about it – thanks JT!  There are a lot of photos of the park on Flickr, many of them quite nice.  So I decided to go over on a scouting trip.  Flickr’s a great place to research new locations and I spent a while going through their search results as well as Google maps before my trip.

Dark river in the deep woods
Dark river in the deep woods.  A Hoya 8 2/3 stop neutral density filter let me stretch my exposure time to 25 seconds at f/8 and ISO 100 to smooth the water surface.

The park is about 20 miles north-east of Tampa and an hour and 40 minutes west of where I live.  Not too long a trip.  With all the rain we’ve had recently,  added water’s made the current look pretty fast through the rapids.  My kayak would get a few scrapes paddling through this.

Hillsborough River rapids
Hillsborough River rapids.  I’m a sucker for Cypress Knees and it was a treat to find some by the rapids to use as foreground.  Since the wind was blowing a bit, I made two exposures.  A slow one (30 seconds with the ND filter), and another not so slow one (no filter, 1/13th second).  To eliminate the blurred leaves, I combined them in Photoshop using layers and masking the first for the water and second for the foliage.

I want to see what this looks like when we haven’t had so much rain.  I think a few more exposed rocks would be nice.  Here’s one last image from the trip:

Hillsborough River

Hillsborough River.  This is an Infrared, false color, three exposure panorama.  This place is near the kayak put-in.

I’m going to make a return trip and bring my kayak.  I think I’ll paddle the parts in the first and third photos and not the second.

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

And if you know of a good photo photo-op in Central Florida – please let me know.  I love to explore new places.

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

The flowers are coming! The flowers are coming!

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius, also called Narrow Leaf Sunflowers) start blooming at the end of September in our area.  One of the largest concentrations is in the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation Area where the blooms stretch as far as you can see.

Lake Jesup Wildflowers
Swamp Sunflowers at the Lake Jesup Wilderness Area

This is a truly unique photo-op and worth checking out.  See these links for more info:

You can browse some of my photos of the area in this set on Flickr.  And here’s an article about the flowers in this month’s Orlando Magazine – featuring my photo!

When you go, please be careful.  Stopping on the side of 417 can be dangerous.  And the Lake Jessup Wilderness area is wild.  It’s also a bit of a hike from the parking area out to the flowers.  Bring water and use sun screen and bug spray.  Long pants and waterproof hiking boots are a good idea too.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some flower photos – maybe I’ll see you out there!

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Two Merritt Island Moments

I got up early Thursday morning and checked the weather.  The maps (both Radar and IR clouds) were clear. This isn’t a strong sign for a good sunrise, but I was itching to photograph something and I was already packed, so I went on over to MINWR to check activity there. My first stop was East Gator Creek Road – one of my favorite sunrise locations.  The sky was mostly clear about 45 minutes before dawn and with plenty of stars out, it was beautiful.

The stars above
The stars above: Gator Creek Road in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, before dawn.

The bugs were bad and it was hot and humid too but I stayed for over an hour and enjoyed watching the sky change over time.  I only saw two other people:  Someone in a pickup truck looking for a spot to fish and a jogger.  Neither slowed down – I hope they appreciated the sky too.  In spite of the earlier weather map, clouds developed on the horizon and with no wind, the reflections were lovely.

Clouds and reflections at dawn
Clouds and reflections at dawn: Along on Gator Creek Road

After Gator Creek, I headed to Blackpoint Wildlife Drive but found it closed due to heavy rain.  I didn’t think to check this web page listing closures before I went.

Since I couldn’t explore Blackpoint, I stopped briefly at Bio Lab Road, Scrub Ridge Trail, and Haulover canal.  The Haulover canal bridge was still closed, although it was supposed to re-open on 9/13.  I watched two Manatees near the Bairs Cove Boat Ramp for a few minutes.  They seem to like this place – I think I’ve seen them every time I’ve been by.

eBird has a handy new Hotspot Explorer site that shows birding hotspots all over the world.  It lists species seen and how many were reported at each spot by month.  Here’s the specific page for MINWR. September is normally the slowest month and I didn’t see anything to contradict this when I was there.  Activity should ramp up beginning in October.

So … a pleasant trip.  I came back with two captured moments.  I wouldn’t have seen them if I hadn’t gone, and I couldn’t have shared them either.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack.  All rights reserved

Review and Reprocess

Sometimes after a photo shoot, I’ll skip over images if I’m short on time or something looks too hard to deal with.  Other times, I may play with a photo for a while and then set it aside when I just can’t seem to get it right.  When I learn a new technique or get a new software package or upgrade I try to go through my image library and pick out existing photos that could benefit from the new capability.  And yes, I also notice images that no longer look as good to me as they did at first.  Something I did a few years ago may have seemed great then – but tastes change.

I use Lightroom to catalog my photos and I have a keyword called “Process” with three sub-keywords “Color”, “pano”, and “other”.  Using these, I mark photos I want to revisit and I’ve built up a collection of them for future processing.  I had a little time this week to go through and pick three to work on:

Reflections at Kelly Park
Kelly Park Reflections:  Merritt Island, Florida, February 19, 2013. The water was amazingly calm that morning and I like the reflections as well as the detail / lights on the horizon.  I  bypassed this image at first because of trouble with the white balance.  This time through the result is much closer to the look I wanted.

Main Sanctuary of the Cathedral Basilica
The Main Sanctuary of the Cathedral Basilica, Saint Augustine, Florida, February 28, 2013.  Black and white infrared.  I don’t remember why I didn’t finish this photo back in February.  I like the light, detail, and tonality.

Three more cypress trees
Three more cypress trees:  Blue Cypress Lake, near Fellsmere, Florida, June 2, 2012. False color infrared.  Since IR doesn’t capture color as your eye sees it, color conversions are very subjective.  As I gain experience, my tastes are changing.  This version is very different from how I processed other IR photos at the time.

So, some recommendations:

  • If you’re struggling with an image, don’t delete it.  Mark it and move on.  Come back and revisit it later.
  • Organize, document, and keyword your images so you can find hidden gems to re-process.
  • Review your photo library occasionally.  Your photography skills and tools aren’t static.  So your portfolio shouldn’t be static either.  Revise older images and make them better.  You might be surprised what comes out of your archives.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved