All posts by Ed Rosack

Panos and Otters on Bear Creek

Bear Creek Nature Trail is a small park in Winter Springs, Florida. There’s a path that winds along next to the water and it has some very pleasant scenery for such an urban location. Lynn and I have been visiting for many years – I think I first mentioned it on the blog in 2008. I decided to go by last week and try to improve my panorama techniques.

In the quiet forest 3 In the quiet forest 3: Nine frame panorama, 14011×7881

I’ve written about stitched panoramas many times so you might know that I like to make them. They’re a great way to get a wider field of view and to capture more detail too. See this post for an example of my workflow up to this point.

I knew I’d been taking a few shortcuts and ignoring some things. I’ve had wonderful results, but at times the post processing was more difficult than it needed to be. Two specific problem areas were sloppy leveling and parallax.

If your camera isn’t level you’ll have to level the image in post, which can require cropping in and wasting pixels. It can also introduce stitching errors at the seams between frames. A panoramic head is one solution for this. It’s mounted on top of your ball head and lets you level your camera using its built in level indicator and the ball head controls instead of using the tripod legs. This works well, and it can be left on your main tripod all the time.

Parallax results when close and distant objects in your scene don’t align the same across multiple frames. A nodal slide can remove / reduce parallax errors.

In the quiet forest 2 In the quiet forest 2: Six frame panorama, 12502×6251

I think my first attempt with these worked out well. It’s a bit more effort to set up before your capture, but it can eliminate fixing some problems later in software. I realize this may be more than you wanted to know about panoramas, but if you’ve tried them and have issues stitching, then here are a couple of links that go into more detail. I think they’ll help – they helped me.

In the quiet forest 1 In the quiet forest 1: Six frame panorama, 7743×6104

Oh, about the otters: Lynn and I saw a couple of them at this park way back in 2009. Since then I’ve looked for them every time I go, but haven’t seen them again. I managed to get a photo of one of them swimming away from us as soon as we saw it. I’ll post it now even though it’s not the best image.

Otter in Bear Creek, May 2009

As I was leaving the park this time, I said hi to a Winter Springs Park Ranger. They said they’re there often and I asked if they ever see any river otters. They haven’t but have seen tracks. I guess I’ll have to keep watching for them.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some panoramas and watch out for otters!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Nature

Here are several photos I made recently. To me they don’t strictly fit into the Landscape or wildlife categories, although they do include those as elements in the compositions. I like them though, so I’ll post them here and call them “Nature photos“.

When I first saw the dolphin, it was a little too far away for a good wildlife photo, so I waited for it to swim even farther into the colors reflecting in the water. I’m pretty sure it was only thinking about catching fish for breakfast, but the scene made me wonder if it thinks about other things sometimes.

Do Dolphins watch the sun rise?Do Dolphins watch the sun rise?

This still water made a perfect mirror on that morning. But I probably wouldn’t have made a photo if I hadn’t seen the bird off to the right. It was moving left, so again I waited and clicked the shutter as it crossed the line of clouds.

Ibis in the cloudsIbis in the clouds

I’d think that as much rain as we have sometimes here in Florida, I’d see scenes like this more often – but I don’t. I like how well defined the footprints are in the dried mud. I wish I was knowledgable enough to read the story these tracks are telling us.

Making tracks Making tracks

And in this last one, I was photographing the clouds and water with a neutral density filter and small aperture to get a 10 second exposure. When I finally noticed the birds in the surf, I quickly removed the ND filter and opened the aperture to get to a 1/10 sec. shutter speed and capture the birds reasonably sharp. When I got home I blended the two frames together to get what you see here. I guess this one is a landscape photo, but I think the birds add to the scene.

Below the angry cloudsBelow the angry clouds

The header image is the wake left behind by a running Coot. I cropped most of the bird out, to fit the theme of the post. If you’re interested, you can view the whole image at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/51097712962/in/photostream/lightbox/

So, are these wildlife photos, landscape photos, or nature photos? What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some nature photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Cocoa Beach Pier

Kevin M. suggested photographing sunrise yesterday and said he was thinking about going to the Cocoa Beach pier. That sounded good to me, so that’s where we were about an hour before the sun arrived on Saturday morning.

It was dark at first, and I was using higher ISO settings and longer exposures which smoothed the water appearance nicely for me. Since I like that look, I used a variable neutral density filter to force my shutter to slower speeds when it got a little brighter.

Empty Beach Empty Beach (70mm, f/4, ISO 800, 15 seconds. ~65 minutes before sunrise.)

The wind was blowing at 20 mph or more and it was a little chilly too. The weather kept most of the crowds away, though. There were only one or two other folks on the beach at first and not too many more when we left over an hour later. And there were no signs of the surfers that we often see there.

A bit blowy A bit blowy. (95mm, f/4, ISO 400, 25 seconds. ~50 minutes before sunrise.)

I tried standing so I blocked my camera from the wind as much as possible and I made several exposures with tripod legs collapsed to reduce its cross section. But I still had a few shots ruined from vibrations. Fortunately, I was checking the images and remade some that looked blurry. I could have also tried hanging my backpack from the tripod hook, but I didn’t think to try that at the time.

The pier is a fine place for a sunrise shoot. If you want to make a longer day of it, it’s also not too far north from there to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge or south to Viera Wetlands. Looking back through the blog, it seems I haven’t been there since late in 2019. And yesterday’s trip was also the farthest I’ve ventured from home since the pandemic started. A little photo op variety is exciting!

Below the boards Below the boards (35mm, f/5.6, ISO 160, 28 seconds. ~15 minutes before sunrise.)

The header image is from ~15 minutes after sunrise. (70mm, f/11, ISO 200, 13 sec). It was worth waiting for that crack in the clouds – it finally let some color through.

If you’re interested, use this category link to see other posts about the Cocoa Beach Pier. And this album on Flickr has many images from the Cocoa area.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some long exposure photos – but watch out for the wind!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Three Birds

A post about three different birds I encountered last week.

1. Least Sandpiper

The first one is a new life bird for me. They’re not uncommon in Central Florida, so I’ve probably seen them before, but I’d never noticed / photographed / identified one. It was along Gator Creek Road in Merritt Island NWR.

Least Sandpiper Least Sandpiper

2. Bird Band: High, Green =53

Ruddy Turnstones get their name from feeding behaviors: turning over rocks, pebbles, and seaweed along shorelines in search of food. They nest in northern latitudes and migrate to warmer places for the winter. We often spot them visiting here in Central Florida. I saw this one last Thursday on the boat ramp at Parish Park in Titusville and noticed it was tagged.

When I see a tagged bird, I like to search the web and see if I can find any info on it. So I searched for “Ruddy Turnstone green tag =53”, and was reminded that I already knew this one! The second hit returned was a Central Florida Photo Ops blog post from 2019 : https://edrosack.com/2019/10/20/daybreak-bobcat-boar-and-more/. Cool, huh? I’m glad I have the blog to remind me about all these photos I make!

Ruddy Turnstone =53Ruddy Turnstone, Green Tag =53, Parrish Park, March 24, 2021

MK helped me do some more research. She found a U.S. Geological Survey web page where you can report seeing a band. We reported this one and received an automated email promising to forward available info about this particular bird and band. I’ll update this post if / when I learn more. Here’s the photo from 2019:

#53Ruddy Turnstone, Green Tag =53, Parrish Park, October 17, 2019

3. Genuine Snow Bird

Bird three is also a new life bird for me.

I was a little excited about re-sighting a specific bird and texted Kevin M. about it. He said he though it was cool too. Then he told me about reports of a Snow Goose sighting in Oviedo – only a few minutes away from Central Florida Photo Ops HQ.

Like Turnstones, Snow Geese breed in the Arctic and migrate south in the winter. They aren’t often seen in Central Florida, especially inland so this one seems a little bit lost. It was hanging out with several Muscovy Ducks at a retention pond.

Genuine Snow bird Snow Goose

Genuine Snow bird Snow Goose

That’s all for this week. I’m glad =53 is doing well and I’m glad I saw the other two birds too. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some photos and report some bands!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

One Year Later

Last March at the beginning of the pandemic, I wrote a post called “In the Neighborhood“. It was just a few photos I made as Lynn and I walked cautiously around near home while we tried to figure out the whole lockdown thing.

I don’t really have any profound thoughts I want to share about what we’ve been through since then. I’ll just say I’m extremely grateful we have smart scientists that created safe and effective vaccines in so short a time, and that they’re becoming available to more of us each day. Things seem to be veering back toward normal now.

Anyway, I thought this week I’d follow up with more neighborhood wandering, and post photos of things I noticed on the way. I’ll try to include tips and hints that you can use in your photograpy. This first image looks like an infrared photo, but it’s not. The bright white leaves are from the low morning sun lighting the tops of the trees.

All to myself All to myself

We have several varieties of flowering trees here in Central Florida. They only bloom for a short while in the spring so don’t wait too long if you want to photograph them. These lovely blooms are on what I think are Hong Kong Orchid trees, I find it hard to show the beauty with an image of the whole tree, so I moved in close. I like this frame with a single flower isolated against the sky.

Flower and sky Flower and sky

Slow shutter speeds are commonly used for images of moving water. But forcing your shutter as fast as possible is also worth trying. The details it can reveal make the water look like ice.

Splash Frozen Splash

The early morning sun helps in this photo too. Its warm color on the Spanish Moss is a subtle contrast with the sky.

Branches and moss Branches and moss

Okay, a little fun here. I might have made a few small creative enhancements in Lightroom to bring out the hidden scarecrow face.

Knot Knot a Scarecrow

New growth leaves are sometimes called fiddlehead ferns since they resemble the scroll on a fiddle. They’re hard to spot as you walk by.

Fern Fern

More tiny, close wildflower blooms.

Blossom Blossom

The woods are very thick around this pool. It’s only a few feet from the sidewalk and looks like it’s been there for many years. I need to be more observant – I only just noticed it even though I’ve passed by it for years. It’s a three frame vertical stitched panorama.

Forest Pool Forest Pool

I crouched down and used the camera’s tilting LCD to frame these cypress knees against the lake in the background. This is a 7 frame focus stack. If you haven’t tried focus stacking, a web search will return lots of info.

Cypress Knees Cypress Knees

This last one is also a focus stacked image of some blooms along a trail in Central Winds Park. (Edit: They’re Carolina Yellow-eyed Grass – thanks Dorothy C.)

Wildflowers Wildflowers.

So that’s some of what I saw on photo walks over the last week or so. I hope you enjoyed looking at them and I hope they give you some ideas to try. Thanks again for coming back and and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some photos around your neighborhood!

Header image: Down low and close to Howell Creek in Winter Springs.

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Dinosaur Invasion at Leu Gardens!

Dear Grandson,

I know how interested you are in dinosaurs and when I found out that they were invading Orlando, I was disappointed that you couldn’t go see them with us. So I thought I should at least make some photos you can look at.

The gate into the Dinosaur Invasion

I went on a week day so it wasn’t very crowded, but it was a little bit scary being all by myself sometimes with a few of the dinos. This next photo is my favorite from the exhibit. It’s a close up of an Allosaurus mom and I think she’s looking right at me!

Allosaurus Allosaurus close-up

As you probably know, an Allosaurus looks a lot like a T-Rex, but they aren’t closely related. The next picture shows the mom with her babies. I wonder where the Allosaurus grandad is?

Allosaurus family (Jurassic– 155 to 150 million years ago)

The Appatosaurus was a massive dinosaur – about 75 feet long and 30 feet tall. It was a herbivore and could eat hundreds of pounds of plants each day. It’s too big for an exhibit like this one, so they show two of its fossilized bones.

Apatosaurus Bones (Jurassic– 155 to 150 million years ago)

Because they’re small, Bambiraptors are named after the Disney character. Have you ever seen the Bambi movie? These may be small but they don’t look much like a baby deer to me! They walked on two legs, might have been able to climb trees and were possibly covered in feathers.

Bamiraptors (Cretacious– 75 million years ago)

Citipati fossils were discovered in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, and the fossil find included an entire nest and four adults.

Citipati Nest (Cretacious– 84 to 72 million years ago)

Allosaurs aren’t related to T-Rex, but Daspletosaurs are. Its name means “Frightful Lizard”. They stood about 12 feet tall and had very long razor sharp teeth. This one looks like it’s running after me through the bamboo forest!

Daspletosaur (Cretacious– 77 to 74 million years ago)

Heterodontosaurus was a smaller dinosaur – it only weighed about 13 lbs. It had five fingers and opposable thumbs for picking up things.

Heterodontosaurus (Triasic / Jurassic– 200 to 195 million years ago)

Hypsibema is the official state dinosaur of Missouri. Florida doesn’t have an official dino. I don’t think your state has one either, but it needs one!

Hypsibema & Nest (Cretacious– 75 million years ago)

Experts think that the Parasaurolophus used its head crest to make loud bellows.

ROAR!!!

Parasaurolophus (Cretacious– 75 million years ago)

Placerias looks fierce but it was a herbivore. It could use those tusks for defense but also to slice through thick branches and roots.

Placerias (Triassic– 220 to 215 million years ago)

Modern day Crocodiles are related to the Postosuchus. I guess it does look a little bit like the crocodiles and alligators we have today in Florida.

Postosuchus (Triassic– 237 to 201 million years ago)

Quetzalcoatlus was one of the biggest flying animals of all time with an estimated wingspan of 36 – 39 feet! They could probably move fast on the ground too.

Quetzalcoatlus (Cretacious– 70 to 65 million years ago)

Sordes was another flying reptile that could walk on the ground and climb trees. Its wingspan was only about 2 feet – much smaller than Quetzalcoatlus.

Sordes Pair (Jurassic– 155 million years ago)

And here’s our last Dino -the Velociraptor. It’s name means “Speedy Thief” or “Swift Robber”. These carnivores are pretty scary in the movies, aren’t they?!

Velociraptor (Cretacious – 85 to 75 million years ago)

Grandson, I’d never heard of some of these. Did you know about all of them? I hope you enjoyed looking through this. I had fun making the photos and imagining how much you would have liked going with us to see the dinos. Next time you’re here in Florida on vacation, we’ll find some exciting things to do together. We know about a museum we can visit over in Daytona that has a Giant Glyptodont!

Love you!

Grandmom and Granddad

—————————————————————

Here’s a bit more info for those of you that might want to take your kids or grandkids to see this.

Cypress and dark water Cypress and dark water along the shore from the Lake Rowena Overlook at Leu Gardens

Harry P. Leu Gardens (see this previous blog post and this album on Flickr for more photos) is a botanical showcase for plants that grow well in our Central Florida climate. There’s also a restored 19th century home that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and you can tour a portion of the downstairs. It makes for a great photo walk, and the lush vegetation also makes a great backdrop for a Dino Invasion!

These dinosaurs were created by Guy Darrough’s Lost World Studios. They make them life size and as realistic as possible. They looked very authentic to me! If you want to see this exhibit, make your plans quickly. The last day is April 18th.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by and reading my blog. And as always, take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – visit with your grandkids and make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Good Morning

I hope you don’t mind a short post today. I’ve just recovered from a sore throat and laryngitis that I somehow caught in spite of all our pandemic precautions. It wasn’t serious and I’m feeling fine now, but I didn’t get a chance to go on any photo excursions last week.

Anyway, I made this image about a month ago in a favorite spot along the Indian River in Titusville.

It was a good morning It was a good morning

It’s on the western shore, just south of Veterans Memorial Park. The light was changing that morning and I managed to make several photos that I like. For this one, I exposed one frame for the foreground and bracketed three more for the sky. I adjusted them in Lightroom and merged all four manually in Photoshop.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Walking Lake Davis

I’d heard some reports of American White Pelicans visiting Lake Davis in downtown Orlando. When MK confirmed they were there, we agreed to meet last Tuesday morning for a walk and a look-see.

White Pelicans at Sunset

They’re winter visitors in Florida and I often spot them at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge over on the coast. I didn’t realize their stops at our in-shore lakes are as common as they seem to be now. In addition to Lake Davis, Wally Jones writes in his blog about a pod of them in downtown Lakeland on Lake Morton.

White Pelicans are interesting. According to this article, they can have wingspans up to nine and a half feet, making them some of the largest birds in North America. And they often feed together in small groups, herding fish in front of them. Here’s a video MK made of this behavior:

White Pelicans on Lake Davis.

The Pelicans were somewhere else during our walk, but MK has seen them since – so if you don’t catch them the first time, it might be worth another visit. Since I missed them that day, I’ll have to cheat a bit and use a photo of one that I made over in Merritt Island last December:

American White Pelican American White Pelican in flight (MINWR)

We did see many other birds that morning including some Mallards:

Drowsy Ducks Drowsy Ducks

Many Wood Ducks:

Dandy Drake Dandy Drake

A few Ring-necked Ducks:

Ring-necked Duck Ring-necked Duck

And even a family of these strange looking (to me at least) Egyptian Geese.

Egyptian Goose Family

The Egyptian Goose is native to the Middle East but humans have helped them spread around the world. They’ve been in Florida since the 1960s and as recently as 2009, Florida Fish and Wildlife didn’t think they bred outside of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. See this article for more info : http://wildsouthflorida.com/egyptian.goose.html.

Lake Davis is a lovely surprise hiding in downtown Orlando and a wonderful place for a walk! This search will bring up other posts on the blog about the area: https://edrosack.com/?s=lake+davis.

Lake Davis Morning Lake Davis Morning

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you (peli)can – make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack and MK Rosack. All rights reserved

T-Mount Try Out

The T-Mount system was devised by Tamron in the 1950s to allow their lenses to be used on many different cameras. It’s also the system used to attach a camera to the prime focus of a telescope. I’d never tried it, so I ordered a T-Ring and Sony adapter and gave it a go.

All of these images were made with a Sony A6600 APSC camera mounted on a NexStar 6SE telescope at prime focus using the T-Mount adapter. I captured multiple frames for each and processed them with astro photo capabilities added recently to Affinity Photo.

In prime focus astrophotography, you’re using the telescope as a lens, mounted directly to your camera. There’s no eyepiece involved, although you can insert additional optics into the light path. I used three different configurations.

1. Prime focus, with a Celestron f/6.3 Reducer Corrector. Equivalent focal length = 1.5 x 1500 x 0.63 = 1418mm

In the first image I used a Reducer / Corrector. This both widens the field of view / lowers the focal length, and flattens the field to enhance sharpness at the edges. This worked OK, but did have some obvious vignetting that was hard to deal with in post processing.

Luna 2.Prime focus. Equivalent focal length = 1.5 x 1500 = 2259mm.

Image 2 is the same setup, but straight from the telescope to the camera. There was no vignetting and I think the image quality is very high. The featured image at the top of this post is a crop from this photo. (Note: This one is posted on Flickr and is worth a click to see in greater detail. Click it twice when you get there to enlarge it.)

3. Prime focus with a Meade 2x Barlow lens. Equivalent focal length = 1.5 x 1500 x 2 = 4500mm

And finally, image 3 uses a Barlow lens, which is like a 2x extender. The image quality in this one is not as good. That could be due to degradation from the Barlow, a slight mis-focus, or vibrations / motion (or all three!).


Conclusions:

  • Check and double check all settings and adjustments.
  • These are longer focal lengths than anything I’ve ever tried before. Technique is super important and it’s hard to know if you’ve messed up until you get things on the computer later.
  • The straight prime focus method works very well. The image quality is the best I’ve gotten through the telescope, It’s better than the afocal approach (camera lens through an eyepiece) I used for this post.
  • The reducer / corrector works OK, but I’ll probably shy away from it unless I need a wider field of view. And if that’s the case I think I’d try using piggy-back photography first.
  • The 2x Barlow approach is challenging. The magnification makes any focus or motion issues much worse. This should probably be reserved for planets, and used as a second option to straight prime focus or piggy-back with a long telephoto lens.
  • There is a lot to learn about astro photography!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – make some (astro) photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Happy Valentine’s Day

Years ago, Lynn brought a few ferns back from her mother’s home over in Bartow, Florida and transplanted them into our back garden. Since then, they’ve thrived, and a few usually even grow on our brick fence. We noticed last weekend that they’d arranged themselves into a very nice message appropriate for today’s holiday.

Happy Valentine's Day Ferns in a Valentine’s Day arrangement on our backyard fence.

I’m a bit unsure if they didn’t get the “E” done in time, or if maybe they were going for the colloquial “LUV”. Anyway, this isn’t photoshopped and unless there’s a stealth gardener we didn’t notice sneaking into our back yard, these ferns grew this way naturally. The odds of something like this happening spontaneously have to be vanishingly small. Maybe it’s more likely nature is trying to send us a message?

Peace and ‘Lov’ to all of you gentle readers. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And today, cherish your valentine!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved