Monthly Archives: August 2016

Flowers and Flyers

I hope you don’t mind a few more photos from Virginia.  The wildflowers and butterflies were beautiful, and the birds varied from what we normally see in Central Florida.

Wildflower Chicory bud wildflower. Thanks Charlotte Norton for identifying this for me!

There were butterflies everywhere, probably because wildflowers were everywhere.  We had a marvelous little meadow under the balcony behind our room.  It was fun and relaxing to sit there and watch all the activity.

SwallowtailSwallowtail

Bees and birds were busy too.

Wildflower and BeeWildflower and Bee B&W

We stood in line for the dining room at the lodge one night and the woman in front of us was carrying a large DSLR camera and lens.  She lived close by and had come up to photograph butterflies in Big Meadows.  I said we were enjoying them too, and then we started talking about birds.  I was all excited about the Indigo Buntings and American Goldfinches we’d sighted, since we don’t often see them in Florida.  She didn’t seem to care about such common birds – and was much more interested in getting to Florida to see some Spoonbills.  To each their own!

Eastern TowheeEastern Towhee (life bird!) – Thanks Kevin McKinney for the bird ID help!

And one more image to wrap up.  I made all the photos in this post with a micro four-thirds camera and 100 – 400 mm lens (200 – 800 mm equivalent).  I found it very useful for close up photography and even though I had a macro lens with me, I never used it.

Wildflower 3Wildflower 3

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and more photos from Shenandoah in this album on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Shenandoah – Starscapes, Sunsets, Storms, and Falls

Our visit to Shenandoah National Park this year  was extremely enjoyable (mentally not physically!)  relaxing, and cooler than back here in Central Florida (highs there in the 70s).   It was also interesting from a photography perspective and different from last year’s trip.  I did a lot of sunset / night photography and didn’t try very hard to get up early every morning for sunrise.

We were fortunate with seeing conditions on the night we arrived. There were no clouds, and the Milky Way center was above the horizon for about two hours after moon set.  Shenandoah has dark skies and the large cleared meadow near the lodge provides wonderful views all around the compass.  Lynn hadn’t ever really seen the Milky Way before and I’ve never seen it this well.  We were both amazed, and I was also impressed with how much detail my Nikon D800 was able to capture.

Big Meadows Milky Way Big Meadows Milky Way.  Three frame panorama, 24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 2500, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

Lynn is a big fan of meteor showers, and due to a gravity assist from Jupiter, the Perseid was predicted to be spectacular this year.  We set the alarm for 1am the night it was forecast to peak and went out to watch.  The area around Big Meadows was crowded with over a hundred people watching the show, and each overlook had cars parked with more people observing.  It was a good show.  Here’s one of my photos from that morning.

A Persied Meteor and a cloud in front of a portion of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy A Perseid Meteor and a cloud in front of part of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy – From Old Rag View Overlook on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.  24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 3200, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

I tried sunset photos on most nights.  The sky wasn’t as dramatic as I’ve seen it in the past, but there were many wildflowers in bloom helping to make up for that.

The end of the dayThe end of the day – Looking out over Shenandoah Valley from Skyline Drive. The wildflowers were beautiful when we were there.  Two frame composite, manual masking in Photoshop.

And storms also added interest.  We watched this one develop from the balcony outside our room at the lodge.

Shenandoah Storm #1Shenandoah Storm – A storm built up to the west at sunset. As seen from our balcony at Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah National Park.  Multi-frame panorama.

Dark Hollow Falls is one of the most popular places in Shenandoah.  When we drove by on Sunday, the parking area was overflowing with cars.  We waited until the next morning to hike down.  Last year, I didn’t make it to these falls and used one of my  20-year-old photos  to illustrate it.  For some reason, the hike (especially the return up from the falls) is more difficult than it was when I was 20 years younger.  Hmm – I wonder why?  This is from very near the same place, and a horizontal, wider view.  I like this one too.

Dark Hollow Falls Dark Hollow Falls.  14mm equivalent FOV, ISO 100, f/8.0, 1/13 seconds, Olympus hires mode.

We did a bit more hiking this year than last and went on trails we hadn’t tried before.   Rose River Falls and Black Rock Mountain were two new favorites.  Another one we hiked was Pocosin Trail.  It was interesting, although I didn’t like it as much as the others.  Maybe it was because of one sentence in the trail guide:  “Soon the trail flattens.”  It never did!

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and more photos from Shenandoah in this album on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Shenandoah wildlife

I wrote this on board the Amtrak Auto Train between Lorton, Virgina and Sanford, Florida. Lynn and I were returning from Ohio where we attended the annual  PITCA convention and Virgina where we spent a week in Shenandoah National Park.  We both enjoy riding this train and we’re grateful for the 900 miles of driving that it spares us.

I made a great many photographs on the trip and haven’t gotten through them yet, so I thought I’d post a few wildlife photos now as a teaser for one or more posts to come.

Stop and smell the flowersStop and smell the flowers – The wild deer in Shenandoah are protected and the ones around Big Meadows are very tolerant of people. We saw this faun feeding with its mother in the field outside our room.

It’s exciting to spot and photograph animals in the wild, some more so than others!  I was farther away from this next one than it looks (I used an 800mm equivalent lens).

Shenandoah RattlesnakeShenandoah Rattlesnake – Lynn spotted this and came and got me so I could photograph it.  It was a surprise to see it moving through the grass outside the Big Meadows Lodge. Some folks called the ranger and he “escorted” it away from the cabins.

Lynn is a really excellent bear spotter too.  She saw three and was always the first to notice them.  This one caused a small “bear jam” along Skyline Drive.

Shenandoah Black BearShenandoah Black Bear – This young bear was wandering near the road. It kept foraging while I made a photo from inside the car. Sorry for the motion blur – it was pretty dark back in the trees.

I’ll definitely post more about this trip.  You  can read one earlier post about Shenandoah here:  http://edrosack.com/2015/09/20/vacation-part-2-shenandoah-national-park/

And you can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them.  I’ll also be adding more from our trip in this album on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

iPhone vs. "big" cameras?

When I’m traveling, I try to take an iPhone photo when I get to a new place.  Sometimes I forget but when I can remember, the iPhone’s GPS capability records the location for me.  Then when I’m back home, it makes it easier to map out exactly where I’ve been.

This is one of the first photo’s I made on our trip out to Utah a few weeks ago:

Cedar Breaks National Monument amphitheaterCedar Breaks National Monument amphitheater iPhone panorama

 When I posted it on Flickr, I commented “Straight out of the iPhone’s panorama mode. I’m not sure why I have all these other cameras.”  And I do like the photo.  Phone cameras do pretty well, especially in good light.  So I wondered …

When I got home and processed the rest of my photos, I took a look at some of the other iPhone images compared with similar images from my “big” cameras (interchangeable lens cameras with larger sensors).  Here’s another example:

Sunrise at Point Supreme, iPhone PanoramaSunrise at Point Supreme, iPhone version – Panorama mode

Although the light was very pretty that morning, it was also very challenging for the iPhone sensor and lens.    I’ve tried to adjust the photo to be as similar as possible to the one below.  But I can still see major differences.  I made the next photo a minute or so later and very near the same spot with an Olympus E-M5 II micro four-thirds camera and the 12 – 40 mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens.

Sunrise at Point Supreme
Sunrise at Point Supreme – Olympus version – multi image panorama

After looking at several cases where I had similar photos, I think this example shows why we need to keep our big cameras.

  • The exposure latitude and dynamic range capability of sensors that are larger than the one in the iPhone means that the dark areas have more detail and less noise, and the bright areas are less likely to blow out.  For high contrast light (sunrise / sunset) this helps a lot.
  • The lens in the iPhone didn’t handle the flare / glare very well.
  • The resolution capabilities of phone cameras are growing.  But with careful capture, I can create much larger images with the big cameras.  For instance the last photo above is 58 megapixel. The amount of detail in a file that large is enormous compared to a phone photo.
  • Control:  For me, the big cameras beat phone cameras in flexibility / control and ergonomics.  I can easily control everything from lens choice to aperture, ISO, shutter speed, etc.  You can get apps for your phone that add better controls, but I find them inconvenient and don’t often use the ones I have.
  • Color / white balance:  The default color and white balance on the phone are very good.  But when I use the big cameras, I can shoot in RAW format, which makes adjusting white balance and color much easier in post processing.  RAW format also allows more adjustment latitude, since I’m working with a 14 bit file in RAW, instead of an 8 bit jpg file.  RAW is coming to the iPhone soon, which should help.

So there are some reasons why I think big cameras are worth the extra weight / trouble of bringing them along.  I use my phone camera to supplement them.  How about you?

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.