Monthly Archives: May 2015

A short trip to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

Florida is blessed with a terrific State Park system.  According to Wikipedia, we have 161 locations in our state.

Lynn found a new one (to us, at least) online and mentioned how nice the cabins looked.  St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is up in the panhandle, bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on one side, and St. Joseph Bay on the other.  They only have eight cabins and are usually fully booked – but cabin #4 was available for a single day, so we decided to drive up and see what it’s like.  Although it was a brief trip, it was a wonderful opportunity to explore a part of Florida that we don’t often get to.

On the way, we stopped in Perry, Florida for some great seafood and then went by the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge where I made a few photos.  I’d love to visit there more extensively.  I wish we lived closer.

Marsh land viewMarsh land – View from the observation tower next to the St. Marks Lighthouse.  IR, B&W, panorama

It’s no wonder that the St. Joseph Peninsula State Park cabins are usually booked.  They’re fairly new, well-kept, fully furnished and ideally located – especially if you like the sun and water.  It’s one of the top rated beaches in the US and swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, boating, fishing, hiking, and even scalloping are all very close by.

Blazing CloudsBlazing Clouds – the morning, bay side view from cabin #4

We took a late afternoon walk along the bay shore.  The photographic glory was somewhat dampened by aggressive horse flies — we should have used insect repellent!  But I thought the clouds and driftwood were remarkably attractive.  This is the last of five photos I made on the walk.  You can see the complete sequence in this album on Flickr.

St. Joseph Bay stroll 5 of 5 St. Joseph Bay stroll (5 of 5).  IR, B&W, panorama

Alas, we had to leave after a single night – much too short a stay to do the area justice. Maybe another time we can get a longer reservation.

On the drive back, we stopped for coffee in Apalachicola and stumbled on this. I love old boats and this one is about as rundown as I’ve ever seen.  Another place that needs a longer look.

Welcome to the VenezellosWelcome to the Venezellos.  Panorama

If you get a chance, I highly recommend you check out the area.  Seafood, sun, sights, water – what more could you ask for?  Oh yes – perhaps a vacancy or two.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Florida Lighthouse Photography

When I wrote this post about Waterfalls in Florida, it was somewhat tongue in cheek – since we’re not really a waterfall kind of state.  Lighthouses are a different story.

Cape St. George LighthouseCape St. George Lighthouse and clouds. Infrared, Black and White, panorama, ISO 200, 28mm eq., 1/1000 @ f/5.6.

Florida has  1350 statute miles of shoreline (PDF) bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.  Currents and shoals make navigation difficult so we have many lighthouses.   This Wikipedia page has 54 entries for Florida Lighthouses.  Some are gone or in ruins, but 32 are still in operation.

Cape St. George LighthouseCape St. George Lighthouse – rebuilt from the original bricks and plans after it collapsed in 2005. ISO 125, 33mm eq., 1/500 @f/4.0

There are many ways to photograph these interesting buildings. Straight exterior shots are one way. Look for good light or cloud formations to add interest to your photos.

Jupiter Lighthouse interiorJupiter Lighthouse interior. Hand held at ISO 800, 15mm eq. fish eye lens, 1/13 sec @ f/3.5

The interiors and especially the stairs can be good photos too. You may want to have a fish eye lens handy, since it’s usually very cramped inside.  You’ll most likely have to use a high ISO, wide aperture, and some form of built-in image stabilization, since tripods may not be allowed.

Night photos can also be very nice.  In this August 2013 post I have some details on how I made a different lighthouse night photo in St. Augustine.

Ponce Inlet light, Moon, Venus, Mars, SaturnPonce Inlet light, Moon, Venus, Mars, Saturn. ISO 200, 70mm, 6 sec @ f/8.0

Many of these are open to the public and you can take a tour and climb to the top.  If you have the energy, they’re a wonderful vantage point.

View from the Jupiter LighthouseView from the Jupiter Lighthouse. ISO 200, 15 mm eq. fish eye lens, 1/2000 sec @ f/5.6

If you like to photograph lighthouses or historic buildings, our state is a great hunting ground.  This map can help you find them. Try your favorite techniques with these photogenic structures as the subject.  I like to look for appealing details, interesting viewpoints / geometry, and scenes and background that look good with my Infrared camera.

I’ve posted more Florida Lighthouse photos in this album on Flickr and a few more lighthouse photos from other places in this album.  I’m nowhere near photographing all the lighthouses in Florida, but I’m going to keep working on it and I’ll add to those albums as I go.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Osceola Wander

Kevin M. organized a Photography Interest Group expedition yesterday.   I went along with  Kevin K., and Frank B.  The four of us were up extremely early to beat the sun to this pasture in Osceola County along Canoe Creek Road.

The sky was kind of plain when we arrived, except for the very thin moon rising ahead of the sun, and the ground fog over the grass in the distance.

Sliver moon and mistSliver moon and mist

After photographing there we moved on to Joe Overstreet Road and then Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area to see what we could see.

There’s a photography joke:

Q: Why did the bird cross the road?

A: To get to the bad light.

I don’t know about you, but this often happens to me when I’m trying to make photos of birds.  And if they don’t hurry into the bad light, then they usually turn away from the camera.  The backs of birds are not as photogenic as the front.  Yesterday the birds were a little slow and we managed to catch some of them in very good light and not facing away!

Into the lightInto the light

I wish I hadn’t been framed so close on this Bald Eagle.  I would have loved to catch it in full flight.  They’re seen down there often, so I’ll have to try again.

The meadows along the roads were full of Eastern Meadowlarks.  And when we couldn’t see them we could definitely hear them.

Morning songMorning song

There were signs posted at the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area with results from recent hunts. And the deer we saw were definitely very wary. These two stared at us for a while before running off into the trees.

Two wary deerTwo wary deer

All in all, it was a good day for photography.  And the banter in the car was quite entertaining too.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Lion Country Safari

Intro / Description

I’d heard about Lion Country Safari and I’ve wanted to visit for a while.  Lynn and I finally got a chance to go last week.

“Lion Country Safari is a drive-through safari park located in Loxahatchee (near West Palm Beach), in Palm Beach County, Florida. Founded in 1967, it claims to be the first ‘cageless zoo’ in the United States.  In 2009, USA Travel Guide named Lion Country the 3rd best zoo in the nation.”  Wikipedia’s Lion Country Safari Page

Striped stareStriped stare

There are about 5 miles of paved roads running through several large areas divided by water and fences with more than 1,000 animals throughout.  I haven’t been to Africa, but it seems like a wonderful place to get a small taste of what safari might be like.

Info for Photographers

Rhino napRhino nap

Access for photographers is excellent.  It’s similar in some ways to Animal Kingdom in Orlando.  The photo ops for most of the large African animals  are better than the safari ride at Animal Kingdom.  At Lion Country Safari you go at your own pace in your own car.  At Animal Kingdom, you’re in a vehicle with others that you have no control over and most of the time you’ll have to shoot from the moving / shaking vehicle.  That said, Animal Kingdom does have some animals that Lion country Safari doesn’t have and in some cases with much better photography access.

Photo hints:

WildebeestWildebeest

You’re cautioned to drive slowly and not stop too close to the animals.  You’re also supposed to keep your doors locked and windows shut at all times.  I did cheat and one of the rangers yelled at me on a loudspeaker – “Close your window right now!”.  I did, of course and felt a little embarrassed.  The ranger probably would have been embarrassed too if she knew she yelled at the Central Florida Photo Ops lead writer!

When we drove through the zebra herd, I was a little leery of stopping behind any of them – I believe they have a very powerful kick.  But in general we felt very safe and I didn’t have any problems positioning the car for the shots I wanted.

Tripod/Monopod:  Nope.  You’ll be in your vehicle – so they aren’t useful.

Lenses:  Long lenses are good, although the animals are very close at times.  You’ll do fine if you have at least a 200mm equivalent lens.  Zooms are also very helpful to frame your composition from inside your car.  Unless it’s very overcast you should have plenty of light, but you’ll want to use a wide open aperture to blur out distracting detail (e.g. fences, etc.) and to keep your shutter speed high.

Best time to visit:  The animals are most active early in the morning.  Plan to drive through at least twice (no extra charge):  the light and the animals activities / positions will change.

Other:

The entrance fee is $31, although you can find discount coupons on-line.  This includes both the drive through safari park as well as the walk through safari and amusement park areas.  Lynn and I didn’t really explore the amusement park side, for more info on this, please see the Lion Country Safari web page.

We stayed at Jonathan Dickenson State Park in Jupiter, Florida in one of their small cabins and it made a great base of operations for exploring the area.

Our cabin at Johnathan Dickenson State Park

Our base of operations at Jonathan Dickenson State Park

Summary

We both liked Lion Country Safari.  The animals all seemed well fed, healthy, and even interested in the visitors.  They do animal rehabilitation, sanctuary, and research and seem to take very good care of the residents.  It’s one of the best zoos I’ve been to and I wish I’d gone sooner.  You can see more Lion Country Safari photos in this set on Flickr.

My Gallery /  Flickr photo set:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157650144549843
Website:  http://www.lioncountrysafari.com
Address / Phone: 2003 Lion Country Safari Rd
Loxahatchee, FL 33470
(561) 793-1084
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating:  A Central Florida Photo Op must do!

 


On a different subject, this blog celebrated its 8th birthday last week – the first post was published on May 4th, 2007.  That’s a long time ago in web years!  I hope that my photography and writing has improved at least a little since then.  Many thanks to everyone stopping by to read the articles and comment on them. It really helps to motivate me!

Now – go make some photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

We’ve had fantastic weather here in Central Florida this week – perfect for a photo outing.  When Kevin K. invited me to go back to Viera Wetlands yesterday with Frank B., I readily agreed. There’s a lot to see with many baby birds about and even reports of a King Rail family.  There are also a great many Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.

Black Bellied Whistling DuckBlack-bellied Whistling Duck

These are common around here this time of year.  I’ve also seen them at the Circle B-BarOrlando Wetlands, and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

They’re unusual ducks.  Their appearance is distinctive and instead of quacking, they do have a whistle like call.  I usually see most ducks paddling around in the water.  Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are sometimes in the water, but you’re much more likely to see these perched in trees.

I managed to catch this sequence yesterday.  One bird was minding its own business on a dead palm tree and another wanted to join or replace it.  These four photos capture what happened.  The bird on the tree was not interested in sharing!

Black Bellied Whistling Duck disputes -1 of 4Duck dispute – 1 of 4.  “Hey what do you think you’re doing?”

Black Bellied Whistling Duck disputes - 2 of 4Duck dispute – 2 of 4.  “You can’t land here!”

Black Bellied Whistling Duck disputes - 3 of 4Duck dispute – 3 of 4.  “I said back off, buddy!”

Black Bellied Whistling Duck disputes - 4 of 4Duck dispute – 4 of 4.  “OK, that does it – GET LOST!”

This same kind of thing happened more than once on different trees, with different ducks.  Fun to watch!

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.