All posts by Ed Rosack

What’s that in the back yard?

I was sitting in the family room on Friday afternoon when Lynn came in, saw these  birds behind our house, and asked me what they were.  If she hadn’t asked, I never would have noticed them.  Maybe my chair should face the window instead of the TV?

I quickly grabbed my camera and took a few shots through the window and screen and then went out on the other side of the house to get this unobstructed view.  I’m glad my birding lens was still mounted!

What're those birds in the back yard?Black-bellied whistling duck family.  There’s another adult and one more juvenile out of the frame to the right.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are common here in Central Florida year round, although I’ve never seen them in our neighborhood before.  They were previously known as the “Black-bellied Tree Duck”  since they’re often found roosting and nesting in trees.  They’re monogamous, which is unusual in ducks.  Also unusual is their high-pitched whistling call which you’ll remember the first time you hear it.

After adding a few minutes of excitement to our afternoon, this family strolled on down the street and disappeared.  I was glad they stopped by – maybe we’ll spot them again.

Thanks Lynn for asking about them and thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

It’s about time

How much time did it take to make the image you see here?  That’s an interesting  question – I’m glad you asked!

Short answer: 1.3 seconds.  Medium answer:  5 months.  Long answer:  13.8 billion years.

Rocks, water, light - and time - in black and whiteRocks, water, light and time – in black and white

To begin with:

  • Preparing for a photo trip and gathering what you need before you leave takes time.
  • Traveling to a location and back can be minutes or days – you have to decide whether the potential photos at a location are worth the time to go.  Or just go anyway and explore!
  • Once there, you sometimes see a spot off the path or a little further on and you have to decide if that image is worth the time and effort to get to.
  • Then for each photo, it takes time to set up for an image (tripod, lens selection, etc.) and you often have to wait for conditions or subjects to cooperate.

Only after all that do you get to decide on a shutter speed to control how long your exposure is  – in this example, 1.3 seconds.

Then, when you get home:

  • It takes time to go through all your photos, decide which ones are worthy of attention and process them.
  • You also have to spend time posting images and writing about them.

I made this image 5 months ago at Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia and you’re just now seeing it.  And even before all that could happen:

And even before all that can happen:

  • The universe (starting ~13.8 billion years ago) and solar system (~4.6 billion years ago) had to form.
  • Life (3.5 billion years?) and humans (~2.5 million years) had to evolve.
  • Geology had to happen: Mountains had to rise up and erosion had to form rivers, and forests had to grow.
  • And civilization and culture had to progress to the point where leisure time is available to make photos for the fun of it and people have time to read blogs about them.

“Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.”  – Wikipedia

Each of us only has so much time and we have to decide how to spend it.  Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Viera Wetlands – 10/3/2018

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Viera Wetlands.  I had time last Wednesday, so I packed my camera gear and set out at “o-dark-thirty” to give my shutter finger some exercise.

My first stop was Rotary Park, on the Indian River in Melbourne.  It’s small, but I like it because it’s open before dawn and the cochina rock formations near the shore by the pavilion can add interest in the foreground.  Nature cooperated and painted in a superb sky.

Good morningGood morning

Next, I headed over to Viera Wetlands.  There were quite a few things to see and photograph.

Green Heron still lifeGreen Heron still life

Sora and snail snackSora with a snail snack

GrackleGrackle in good light

Dragonfly in flightDragonfly in flight

The roads through the wetlands have been closed for a while because of all the rain we’ve had here in Central Florida.  They’re open now, but in rough shape – lots of potholes to dodge as you drive through.

Speaking of all the rain we’ve had, I checked on the Lake Jesop Wilderness Area sunflowers again yesterday, and they’re very, very sparse this year.  There are a few clumps of flowers on higher ground, but the grand fields of blooms are missing.  The water’s still high and large areas are  still flooded.   Maybe next year.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lessons from a photogenic place (repost)

Good morning!  We were traveling last weekend and I started coming down with a cold on the flight back.  So I haven’t been out much since and I don’t have any new material for you.  Instead, I’ll repost this write-up from back in April, 2014 – it’s one of my favorites.  And it reminds me I need to go back over there and see what’s changed!  You can also look at this post for more info on the location:  https://edrosack.com/2014/01/04/marineland-beach/


There were a few lights in the parking lot way back behind the sand dunes and the clouds were thick and low, making it so very dark on Marineland Beach south of St. Augustine, Florida that my first few exposures didn’t even register on the sensor. I kept raising exposure times and ISO until I was able to capture this:

99 seconds in the dark
99 seconds in the dark – ISO 400, 99 seconds @ f/8; Marineland Beach, about 45 minutes before sunrise.

It sure didn’t look this way to my eyes.  I couldn’t see much at all and had to use my head lamp to compose and focus.

When I got home and processed the photos, they reminded me of some things that might be useful to others.

Pre-visualize before, during, and after you press the shutter

You should always try to pre-visualize the photo you’re making before you compose and shoot – and it’s a delightful feeling when the image turns out just like you imagined.  But this is often harder than it sounds.  Especially if you can’t see what you’re photographing.  There’s nothing wrong with adjusting your vision as you go.  This is a wonderful advantage of digital cameras that we’d be foolish to ignore.  Check your results on the LCD during the shoot and adapt as necessary.  In this case, I knew exactly what I needed to change when I first looked at my (black) LCD.  I needed more exposure!

Pre visualization is great, but there’s also nothing wrong with post visualization.  What I mean is to try as many things as you can think of while you’re there and sort it out later when you get home.  Try HDR, panoramas, high tripod, low tripod, and focus stacking.  Use different  focal lengths, shutter / aperture combinations, and positions / directions.  Exploit changing weather / light as time goes on.  Capture them all and give yourself a better chance to come out with something you like.

Shutter speed

Shutter speed is a critical variable when photographing moving water.  The 99 second exposure above gave me very smooth and milky looking water, nicely outlining the rocks.  A 1/1000th second (or faster) exposure can freeze drops of water.  In between, you can find other speeds that look very different from the extremes.  Capture the scene with different shutter speeds when possible.  In this 1 second exposure, I like the added interest from the flow patterns in the water.

Marineland Beach and cochina rocks
Marineland Beach and coquina rocks – ISO 100, 1 second @ f/4 with 8 2/3 stop neutral density filter, ~30 minutes after sunrise.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing and ghost removal

There are so many controls and sliders in HDR software that it’s hard to know which ones to change.  Most HDR software has an option for removing “ghosts” (differences between multiple frames for anything moving in the image) and I think it’s a critical setting.  HDR Efex allows me to select the baseline frame I want to use as well as the amount of ghost removal to apply.  I like to experiment with these and select the combination that looks best.  In the image below, there was only one  setting that showed the breaking wave. And I think the wave definitely adds to the image.

Golden rocks and sand
Golden rocks and sand – 5 image bracket (-4 to +4 stops), almost an hour after sunrise.

Don’t leave too soon

I made these three images (and more!) over a period of 90 minutes.  The changing light provided different looks and opportunities to photograph this place.  It’s worth getting there early and staying for a while.

Don’t get overwhelmed

When you visit a beautiful place, especially for the first time – it’s easy to be overwhelmed and forget about everything except pressing the shutter button.  It helps to visit multiple times. The first time, it’s hard to see all the possible compositions until you get over the novelty and excitement. When you can relax and enjoy the experience you can open your mind and get in the zone.  Then you’ll make images you’ll be happy to share with others.

You can see more of my photos from Marineland in this set on Flickr.

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

©2014 and 2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Lake Apopka Postcard

Hello faithful readers!  This is my first post in a new category I’ve created on the blog that I’m calling “Postcards”.  I’m going to occasionally post photos here that are typical Central Florida scenes – like a postcard.

You’re welcome to download them at full resolution for your personal use.  I’m going to use the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license for these instead of “All rights reserved”.  Please visit this page to see details and restrictions that apply:  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.

In the future, they should be easy to find using the “Places / Categories” pulldown menu over on the right side of the blog and selecting “Postcards”.  If you’re viewing the site on a phone, you might not see that menu – if so, just type “postcards” into the search box.

Anyway, the first photo in the new series is this one:

Bird on a bush – Great Blue Heron at Lake Apopka

To download, just click on the image to go to the source and then right-click to download it.  I hope you like it!

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license

 

Flight 93 National Memorial

Some stories and emotions are too large to capture in photos.  Words too, can fail – so we’re left with thoughts. The Flight 93 National Memorial in Stoystown, Pennsylvania is such a place.

This Tuesday marks the seventeenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack. On that day, United Flight 93 had left Newark, New Jersey en route to San Francisco.  Hijackers seized control and were likely going to crash into the U.S. Capitol.  The memorial  commemorates the extraordinary courage and heroism of the 40 passengers and crew, who fought with the terrorists and saved many other lives.

“A common field one day, a field of honor forever. We honor the passengers and crew of Flight 93 who perished in a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001. Their courageous action will be remembered forever.” —Congressional Gold Medal

A Field of HonorA Field of Honor

Final restFinal rest – The Wall of Names, flight path, and large boulder that marks the impact.

The Memorial opened in September 2015, and today (9/9/18) they’re holding a dedication ceremony for the Tower of Voices – the final phase of the park.  It’s a 93-foot tower with wind chimes for each of the 40 heroes.

We went there to pay our respects back in July on our way from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.  Thinking about the courage and actions of those 40 souls is somber, moving and inspiring.  It’s an experience every US citizen should have.

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

 

Sunflowers this year?

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

― Yogi Berra

Sunflower SunsetSunflower Sunset – Reprocessed image from a trip in 2012

I’m a long time fan of the sunflowers that usually cover the Lake Jesup Wilderness Area near Sanford, Florida in the fall.  They normally start blooming at the end of September and last for a couple of weeks.  You can review my posts about them at this link:  https://edrosack.com/category/sunflowers/.

Lynn and I drove past the area yesterday.  There’s a lot of standing water visible from 417.  We saw a few flowers along the road, but none out in the fields.

When I got home, I checked their website.  It says:  “LAKE JESUP WILDERNESS AREA IS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE DUE TO HIGH WATER LEVELS. THE PROPERTY WILL RE-OPEN ONCE WATER LEVELS ALLOW.”

In previous years with this much standing water, the sunflowers didn’t bloom.  So for now, I’m predicting a poor sunflower season.   Yogi’s right, though – I’ll check again and if anything changes, I’ll update you.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

I joined Kevin M. and Kevin K. on a trip around Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive last Friday. We got a late start and didn’t make sunrise, so you’ll have to be satisfied with a monochrome landscape this week.

Lake Apopka ShoreLake Apopka Shore.  Monochrome, IR

Black Point Wildlife Drive seemed quiet when I was there a week ago, but Lake Apopka is active.  We saw lots of people and lots of birds.  I don’t catch Black-crowned Night Herons that often, but we spotted several including this young one fishing in a canal.

Lake Apopka ShoreBlack-crowned Night Heron

A little later we spotted another that’d just caught a catfish.

Black-crowned Night Heron and CatfishBlack-crowned Night Heron and Catfish

This looks like a Sailfin Catfish.  I hadn’t heard about these, but Kevin M. filled me in.  They’re a type of suckermouth (or armored) catfish and a non-native, invasive species in Florida.  Originally from Venezuela and Colombia, they’re popular in aquariums.  Most  likely they escaped from tropical fish farms and / or were released here by people.

Now they’re abundant and widespread throughout Florida and bad for our ecosystem.  They dig burrows that cause erosion.  Because of their tough, armored skin and sharp spines, they can choke birds that eat them.  There were a lot of them in the canals next to the roads.  The St. John’s River Water Management District has an undesirable fish harvest each year that gets some of them out of the water.

In addition to the Night Heron, we also saw a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret with one.  I hope they didn’t choke.

I don’t see many Purple Gallinules either, and I didn’t realize this was a young one until Kevin M. ID’d it for us.  Thanks, Kevin!

Purple Gallinule juvenilePurple Gallinule juvenile

We saw several other types of birds, dragonflies, butterflies, flowers, and the usual alligators too.  Lake Apopka is well worth a visit, even in the hot summer.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Sunrise movement

The best colors at dawn are often before sunrise – sometimes well before.  But a couple of minutes after sunrise last Wednesday, I was getting ready to move on when I noticed how colorful the horizon had become. So I decided to make one more photo. I was lucky I had my 24 – 200mm equivalent lens on and I zoomed all the way in. As the image flashed in my viewfinder, I saw a large bird close to the sun. When I recognized how many there were – all flying north (right to left), I made several more exposures.

Morning birdsMorning Movement

By the way, this would have been a great time to switch to video, but I’m never able to think of that when I should.

Anyway, I ended up with 7 frames spread over 9 seconds. I brought them all into layers in  Photoshop, aligned them, used curves to manually adjust each one so the exposures are the same and then blended birds from each frame into one composite image. I guess that’s cheating – but I think it’s a better representation of what I saw than any single frame I made.

I like images that reveal more the longer / closer you look at them. and this one does.  Please click on it to see it larger.

Here are a few more photos from that morning.  All were made at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

OspreyOsprey

Itchy birdItchy bird

YellowlegsYellowlegs

Birds usually don’t sleep in.  I’ve often seen them take off right at sunrise and head out to start their day.  It’s fun to watch.  Next time I’m going to try to remember to make a video!

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Covered Bridges

The last time I wrote about covered bridges was way back in August of 2007 when we visited Indiana (The Covered Bridge Capital of the World).  I find them interesting, so maybe it’s time for another article!

When we were in Bethlehem, PA, we had some extra time and Lynn found a web page describing a tour of covered bridges in the area (Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour). We printed out their PDF brochure (from this link) and set off one morning to explore.

Bogert"s BridgeBogert”s Bridge – Allentown, PA. Length: 145 ft; Built: 1841

We ran into trouble right away trying to navigate to Bogert’s Bridge using a street address.   We ended up pulling over while Lynn figured out the lat/long location for each one.  Using those proved much easier and we didn’t have any further nav issues.  If you go, here are the numbers we used.

Covered Bridges of Lehigh Valley Pensylvania

BridgeLocation
Bogert's40.56916667N, 75.49861111W
Manasses Guth40.62833333N, 75.55361111W
Wehr's40.62867N, 75.56972W
Rex's40.6348N, 75.6127W
Geiger's40.64645N, 75.62351W
Schlicker's40.66166667N, 75.62722222W
Kreidersville40.72361111N, 75.49305556W

The early morning weather was nice with blue skies and some puffy clouds.  But the sky got grayer the farther we went.

Wehr's Covered BridgeWehr’s Covered Bridge – Allentown, PA. Length: 128 ft; Built: 1841.

Geiger's Covered BridgeGeiger’s Covered Bridge – Allentown, PA. Length: 112 ft; Built: 1860.

By the end of our tour at the Kreidersville Covered Bridge, it was raining.  In the larger version of this (click on the photo to see) there are streaks of rain visible in front of the bridge opening.

Kreidersville Covered BridgeKreidersville Covered Bridge – Northamption, PA. Length: 100 ft; Built: 1839

Covered Bridges in Florida?  I got curious about covered bridges in our state and did some web research.  www.dalejtravis.com  has a huge amount of info on covered bridges (and round barns too) including state by state listings.  His page for Florida lists many covered bridges.  Unfortunately, the structures here in Florida are decorative and / or modern – there aren’t any  “authentic” / historical covered bridges listed in our state.  You’ll just have to travel elsewhere if you want to see some. Pennsylvania and Indiana would be good places to start!

For more information on covered bridges, you can explore the links on this National society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges page.

I have more photos from Pennsylvania in this album on Flickr.  And you can look at my Indiana covered bridge photos here.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved