Florida cow country: Joe Overstreet Road goes right through several cattle pastures. I imagine they look the same as they did a hundred years ago.
Snail Kite launch. We usually see one at the landing and it may be the same bird each time.
Killdeer in flight. I normally find these on the ground. This is the first time I’ve managed a flight photo of one.
Bird on a wire 4 – American Kestrel. I rarely catch sight of these and was excited to spot several on this trip.
Sandhill Cranes on final approach. There were more Sandhill Cranes (~50+) in the pastures along Joe Overstreet that morning than I’ve ever seen in one place before. I’m guessing the extras were winter migrants in from Wisconsin. Several of the cranes were banded.
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Not a great photo, but this is a life bird (first sighting) for me – so I’ll include it. There were two and they stayed quite far away from us.
Osceola County / Joe Overstreet Road is a wonderful place! In addition to the eagles and these birds, we also spotted Purple Gallinules, Ospreys, Eastern Meadowlarks, Loggerhead Shrikes, Palm Warblers, Eastern Phoebes, Savanah Sparrows, our normal wading birds and others. We looked for Bobwhites and Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (at Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area), but didn’t find any.
I returned late last Thursday from a quick trip to Wisconsin (more about that another time). So when Kevin M. asked me if I wanted to go down to Osceola County with him on Saturday morning I almost said no. I was a little tired and the weather forecast wasn’t good.
Saturday morning weather forecast
But I enjoy photography (you do know that, don’t you?) and hadn’t seen Kevin for a bit or Joe Overstreet Road for even longer, so I decided to go. When I got ready to leave, the sky was completely overcast. But this is the “Sunshine State” – there’s always a chance the sun will break through for a little bit, isn’t there?
Kevin called while I was on the way and asked if we should cancel. I voted to press on – we could always come home early if it was too bad. It was still a little dark when we got there, but we could see some promising thin spots in the clouds. We’d driven most of the way to the lake when a Bald Eagle swooped by at the same time the clouds were parting.
Eagle in flight with nesting material 3
It was gathering and carrying nesting material. As it flew back to its mate, the sun lit it just perfectly. I’m pretty sure this is the same pair of birds that our friend JT posted on Flickr last week.
Eagle pair and nest
My photo problems quickly changed from no sun to shooting into the sun when it landed next to its mate. You can’t believe I’m complaining about that, can you?
Lynn and I had a busy (and wonderful!) holiday season. I hope that all of you enjoyed spending time with your friends and family as much as we did. And I hope that you have a wonderful new year and new decade!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos -even when the weather forecast is dreary!
Twas the morning after Christmas, as I left the house – I tried to be quiet and not wake my spouse.
I drove to the refuge through the long winter’s night. To get there and catch the first morning light.
On the pier by the causeway, it was all blue and gold. Lovely start to the day with colors so bold.
Dawn by the causeway and the pier
To Black Point next – a wonderful place. Drive slow or you’ll miss things with too fast a pace.
Dawn on Black Point Wildlife Drive
Kingfishers dodged my camera with ease, not stopping for long even when I said please!
Male Belted Kingfisher
A lady Merganser was flapping her wings. Shaking off water and other things.
Female Hooded Merganser wing flap
An unblinking gator watched me draw nigh. I almost saw myself in his eye.
Eye of the gator
And what to my wondering eyes should appear? A pretty pink spoonbill wading quite near.
Other birds to the refuge, they also came. It’s wonderful to see them and call them by name.
Now Ospreys, Shovelers, Pelicans and all,
White Pelican Pod
Now egrets and herons, with all of your calls.
Great Egret in flight
Great Blue Heron portrait
Now Terns, teals, willets, eagles and more, so many birds along the shore.
Large birds, small birds, short birds and tall – stay for a while, don’t fly away all!
As I left the refuge and it left my sight, I thought “HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!”
Merritt Island morning
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I hope each and every one of you are having a wonderful holiday season. Cherish your time with friends and family and don’t forget to make some photos with them!
I hope you had a chance to attend the annual Cracker Christmas at Fort Christmas Historical Park a couple weeks ago. It’s a fun activity with a lot to see and a lot of vendors selling unique items. If you couldn’t make it this year, keep it in mind for 2020. And don’t forget that you can visit Fort Christmas throughout the year.
Christmas Post Office
This park in east Orange County includes a reproduction of the 1837 Fort built near this spot. It also has 7 restored historical homes that preserve the ‘Cracker’ architecture of the area. The park gives us a glimpse into Florida pioneer life. It’s a little like traveling back in time and photo ops abound.
NO Chickens Allowed
Volunteers often dress up in period costumes and demonstrate what life was like back then.
During the festival, there are even more folks showing us aspects of other times.
Civil War Re-enactors
Here’s a photo hint that helped me when I was there: Scan your frame to check the composition for distracting or out of place items that might spoil your image. In this photo of the two soldiers, I noticed Airstream trailers behind their tent so I shifted my viewpoint so they weren’t visible in the final image.
In the kitchen
And in this photo of the kitchen, there was initially a modern Yeti cup on the stove. I was glad I was able to re-make my photo when it was removed. Much easier than removing it in Photoshop!
Many of the homes are decorated for the season and you can photograph things in December that don’t exist the rest of the year. A fabulous time to go!
Merry Christmas to all!
Anyway, a fun short photowalk. You can read more of my Fort Christmas posts here. And you can see more photos from there in this album on Flickr.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Merry Christmas to everyone and enjoy spending time with family and friends. And don’t forget to make some photos with them!
If you’ve been a photographer for any length of time, you might be familiar with “new gear jinx”. It seems whenever we get new photo equipment, the weather turns bad for a while so we can’t use it.
The day was dreary and the light was dim. Lots of clouds, some fog and haze, and rain later in the morning.
Kevin M. and I both wanted to try out some new gear and in spite of the poor weather we’ve had lately, decided to defy the jinx and venture out to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive on Friday morning. I’m very glad we did. Here’s some of what we saw.
Fulvous Whistling-duck. There were quite a few. I’d never seen one before, so this was a great addition to my life-list. Thanks Kevin!
Common Yellowthroat. I posted a photo of one a few weeks ago, but this bird is much more colorful.
American Bittern – in their classic frozen statue pose. It eventually realized we could see it anyway and left. By then, I wasn’t paying attention and missed the flight shot.
Eastern Phoebe. This must be a young one – it hasn’t learned to hide from photographers behind twigs and branches yet.
Black-crowned Night-Heron in flight. We saw 4 or 5 of these on Friday. They’ve been on Black Point Wildlife Drive too and seem more common than usual this year.
There were hundreds (maybe thousands) of birds on the water – I haven’t seen that many in a long while. Lots of coots, but also Redheads, Northern Shovelers, Blue-wing Teals, and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks too – among others. We also saw a few alligators, all the other usual wading / water birds along with an occasional Belted Kingfisher, one young Bald Eagle, Red-winged Blackbirds, many Red-shoulder Hawks, and even one fast flying snipe.
Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive undoubtedly lives up to its name. If you’re planning to go, it’s usually open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays between sunrise and sunset. That poor light on Friday was a good test of our new gear but I ended up with a lot of photos I like. I think we broke the jinx!
Generally (and especially in Florida) clouds are good for landscape photos. And when water is part of your composition (like it often is here), wind can add interesting motion effects to longer exposures. If you can’t use those two elements in your images, can you still make landscapes? Of course, but you may need to use mirrors!
Mangrove Mirror 1. Infrared, Olympus HiRes mode.
Our winter weather fronts bring cooler temperatures and often very clear skies to Central Florida. And winds can be especially calm in the early morning. When I run into situations like this, I don’t put my camera away. Instead I watch for mangrove trees and other reflections.
Mangrove Mirror 2. Infrared, Olympus HiRes mode.
Compositions that minimize the sky and maximize the patterns their branches and roots make in the glassy water appeal to me.
Mangrove Mirror 3
How do you approach landscape photography at daybreak, when the wind is dead calm and the clouds are few and far away?
I’ve been wanting to go back to Viera Wetlands. When I called their hotline Friday night, it said the roads are closed to vehicles. I think this is old info, but I didn’t want to drive all the way there to check. So I went to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge instead on Saturday morning. Here are a few photos from the trip.
Hooded Mergansers were there on our last visit. This time they were close enough for a photo.
There was a large group of birds feeding on minnows in one small pond by Black Point Wildlife Drive (yes – the Drive is open again – yay!). It was very close to the road with an unobstructed view – an excellent photo op!
Snowy Egret with a minnow
Since I sold a portion of my Olympus gear early this year and bought the Sony A7R3, I’ve been using it for landscapes and portraits – I don’t have a birding lens for it but I’ve wondered how it would do. Yesterday’s close-up feeding frenzy was a perfect opportunity to try it. After I made some images with the Olympus, I pulled out the Sony with the 24 -105mm lens mounted and made several more photos. I really liked how well it worked – especially the autofocus. Here’s a sample.
Little Blue Heron in flight
On the way out, I saw this winter visitor walking toward a notch in the sand along the river. I crouched down low and waited for it to frame itself. I’m pretty sure it’s a Sanderling, although I’d welcome other opinions.
“The Sanderling is one of the world’s most widespread shorebirds. Though they nest only in the High Arctic, in fall and winter you can find them on nearly all temperate and tropical sandy beaches throughout the world. The Ruddy Turnstone and the Whimbrel are the only other shorebirds that rival its worldwide distribution.” – Cornell Lab, All About Birds
Sanderling through the sand
I visit MINWR a lot. But it never disappoints me. What a treasure!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Photography and image processing software innovation continues at a staggering pace. It’s hard to keep up! Companies are coming out with new versions and even completely new programs to compete with the Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom standards. And Adobe is fighting back with new updates to keep their customers happy.
Bubble Pond, Acadia National Park (2). 16×9 crop from a 7 frame IR panorama, processed in Lightroom, Photoshop, and Topaz Sharpen AI
This is almost all good for photographers. Competition results in new innovations that genuinely help us with our images. If you save your RAW source files, you can reprocess a photo and often get improved results. What’s not to like?
A small, quiet spot in the forest. Along Great Head Trail, returning from Sand Beach. Single frame, processed in Lightroom, Photoshop, Luminar, and Topaz Sharpen AI
There are a couple of downsides I can think of. First, we usually have to pay for the changes. If you use Adobe’s products, their subscription model makes sure you have the latest. Some other companies are moving to subscriptions too, but many are still charging by the upgrade. Either way, it takes money to keep up. You also have to invest your time. Just knowing what software is coming out takes effort. And having the software doesn’t do a lot of good unless you understand the new features and when / how to use them. You have to spend time learning the new software. Time that you could use making photos with your camera ends up being spent in front of your computer.
Bubble Pond, Acadia National Park (1). A second 16×9 crop from the same 7 frame IR panorama, processed in Lightroom, Photoshop, and Topaz Sharpen AI.
So is it worth it? I think so. If you want to make the best images you possibly can, then you can’t afford to ignore progress. But of course, it depends on you, your needs, and your available resources. And it depends on what’s changing in the software too.
Anyway, a large number of recent product releases made me think about this again. I decided to update one that I often use (Luminar) and skip a version of another (DxO Optics Pro). After downloading the software, I dug out some photos from the archive so I could play around and learn about the new things. A friend’s recent visit to Acadia made me re-look at my images from there. These three photos haven’t been on the blog before and result from processing old images in new software. Better? Probably. Revolutionary? Probably not. Worth the time and money? I think so. Your mileage may vary.
And don’t get me started about camera upgrades. That’s a completely different story!
By the way, Happy Thanksgiving – enjoy spending time with friends and family next week!
When I wrote last Sunday’s blog post, I wasn’t aware that Black Point Wildlife Drive would be closed from Monday, Nov. 18 through Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Also – BioLab remains closed until damage from hurricane Dorian is repaired.
I went over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last Sunday with Kevin M. If you’ve been waiting for our winter visitor bird friends to show up – they’re here!
We first stopped by the Titusville marina for a few blue hour / sunrise photos. In the original color version of this one, the orange reflections in the water from the streetlights along the shore didn’t mix well with the blue water and sky in the distance. A B&W conversion eliminated that problem and I like the result.
Marina at dawn
Kingfishers were abundant and even a bit cooperative. This one rested on a dead tree for me.
Other winter birds we saw: American Avocets, Blue-winged Teals, Northern Flickers, Northern Shovelers, a Northern Harrier, Tree Swallows, Common Yellowthroats, and Palm Warblers. The ducks weren’t plentiful yet, but I’m sure more are on the way!
Our year round birds competed for attention by posing in very nice light.
Reddish Egret in warm morning light
Egret and reflection
Heron in flight
And we also managed to find a Florida Scrub Jay along the entrance road to Canaveral National Seashore for Kevin’s list this year. So once again a wonderful visit to MINWR. You should go!