All posts by Ed Rosack

Old Photos and New Software

Probably the best wildlife photo outing I ever had was a little over 11 years ago on a dark and dreary day in Juneau, Alaska.

I was using a Nikon D-90 camera and my telephoto lens at the time was the 70-300mm  f/4.0 – 5.6 lens.  To get the shutter speeds I needed, I had to set my ISO between 800 and 1000. The D-90 sensor was good for the time, but at those ISOs, overcast skies,  fast action and small apertures made for challenging exposures. While I like the photos I came back with, I’ve always wished the image quality was a bit better.

Fast forward to this week when DxO Photo Lab Version 4 was announced. It advertises a new RAW conversion approach that uses machine learning to combine demosaicing and denoising into one step. They say:

“The resulting photo quality is nothing short of spectacular, especially for photos taken in low light conditions that require brightening certain areas, photos with small pixels, and photos taken with early-generation cameras.”

That sounds like just what I needed for those old photos, so I decided to reprocess a couple of them. In addition to DxO Photo Lab, I also have new versions of Lightroom (with very nice texture, clarity, and dehaze controls) as well as Topaz Sharpen AI.

Would the new software improve these photos?  Let’s see. Here are the results in image compare frames so you can see the differences (newer versions on the right). You’ve seen the first one in the blog before.

Breaching Humpback 1

I think the reprocessed version has better detail / focus, less noise, and improved contrast / colors.

The next one hasn’t been in the blog before. I’ve always  liked the action / viewpoint / composition and “flight aspect” of the whale, but the noise, color and focus were disappointing.

Breaching Humpback 2

After reprocessing, I think the image quality is more than acceptable.

My workflow for these was:

  • Raw conversion using DxO Optics Pro 4 with “Deep Prime” noise reduction and export back to Lightroom in RAW / DNG format
  • Adjustments in Lightroom: exposure, highlights, shadows, texture, dehaze
  • Sharpening with Topaz Sharpen AI

If you’re interested in more detail about the steps I went through, just ask in a comment and I’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.

Here are some related links to explore:

I’m very glad that I’ve been shooting in and saving RAW format images.  It takes up more storage space and requires  more post processing work than using jpg files.  But having RAW files for my favorite photos lets me take advantage of new technology and algorithms as they become available.

Keeping up with all these new capabilities requires time, effort, and money.  But there’s no doubt in my mind that the software we have today is vastly superior to what was available 11 years ago. What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please stay safe out there and take care of each other. And if you can, make or reprocess some RAW photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Difference in Scale

The master copy of the image below is made from multiple frames that I stitched together into a panorama. It ended up being ~196 megapixels.  I used a 70mm lens, so the equivalent focal length is about 35mm.  Looking at it another way, the tree line along the horizon is probably a couple of miles in length.

A calm, cloudy mornA calm, cloudy morn

Especially at this time of year, if you can zoom in to almost any image like this you’ll see dragonflies moving around or perched on leaves.  Look closely at this crop from near the center of the first image and you can just make out two of them resting on reeds.

The next photo is a single frame I made a few minutes earlier with another camera / lens at  ~1400mm eq. focal length.

Four-Spotted Pennant (?)Four-Spotted Pennant (?)

So in terms of lens magnification, it’s about a 40x zoom.  In terms of distance shown, it’s a few inches vs. a couple of miles or ~20,000 times smaller.  Either way, quite a change in scale and two unique ways to show the environment and inhabitants.

By the way, the header image at the top of the post is this same one rendered in B&W.  It’s a little more abstract, but I  like that version too.  If  you’d like to see the un-cropped frame, I posted it on flickr at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/50499722736/in/photostream/.

Exploring an environment at a variety of scales can reveal interesting scenes and details.  Especially if a dragonfly tilts its wings just right in the light.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Please stay safe and take care of each other. And if you can, make some photos – at different scales.

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

What is that?

As I was starting home from Merritt Island National Wildlife refuge yesterday morning, I decided to make one last stop along the causeway. Looking around, I noticed something in the distance rolling around in the water. I couldn’t tell what it was and I wasn’t carrying the long lens, so I walked over to the car to get it. I thought it’d be gone by the time I got back but it wasn’t. This is the first image I made:

What it that?

I still couldn’t see it really well in the view finder. I thought it might be a manatee’s head or maybe even part of a dolphin. Then I saw this:

Cormorant vs. fishCormorant vs. fish

So now I knew what it was! The bird struggled for several minutes trying to swallow that huge fish. It would hold it under water for a while (changing its grip?) before bringing it back up in the air. It eventually got it arranged just right and managed to get it all down. This was the fish’s final view of things – Circle of Life.

Eye to eye: Cormorant vs. fishEye to eye

The weather on this trip was somewhat unusual. I almost always go over there in the mornings. One reason why is that it hardly ever rains early in the day. Most of our rain comes down in afternoon thunderstorms. But this time there was a big downpour as I drove around Black Point Wildlife Drive and even a rainbow!

Wetland rainbowWetland rainbow

Overall, birds are still a bit scarce out there. I did see some of our usual ones including Pie Billed Grebes, a Red-shouldered Hawk, Ospreys, Great and Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Tri-colored and Little Blue Herons, Mourning Doves, Common Gallinules, American Coots, a few gulls and terns, Anhingas, and (of course) Cormorants. And Jim Boland reports that there are two Bald Eagles hanging out near stop 11 on BPWD although I wasn’t looking for them and didn’t spot them. I also saw a few fast, un-identified tiny birds (UTBs?), a Belted Kingfisher, and some Blue-winged Teals – so maybe more winter visitors will arrive soon.

I’ll leave you with one more photo from the trip. I stitched this together from 21 frames  made with my IR modified camera. I’m not sure who / what left that vehicle track there – maybe rangers doing some maintenance? Seems like a great place to get stuck. Anyway I think this gives you an idea of the landscape in the area.

Black Point vistaBlack Point vista: Monochrome, IR, stitched panorama

You can view many more of my Merritt Island National Wildlife photos in this album on flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157627776386723. And you can scroll for a long time through posts on this blog about MINWR and Black Point Wildlife Drive at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/merritt-island-national-wildlife-refuge/

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. I hope you all are staying safe, and taking care of yourselves, your friends, and your families. And if you don’t recognize something, keep watching – you might get a photo out of it!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Sandford Sunrise Stroll

I haven’t mentioned the Photography Interest Group in a long time. There hasn’t been much activity, and to be honest the expeditions have always been few and a little haphazard. But anyway Kevin K. organized an early morning photo excursion last Friday and we managed to gather five of us in one place.

We met in downtown Sanford, Florida at the Monroe Harbour Marina for a socially distanced photo walk. Kevin M., Mahesh S. and Lutfi S. joined us too. Here are a few of my photos from that morning.

I arrived a bit early and made this image while waiting for the others. Once I got home, I was curious about the very bright star above the moon and discovered it was the planet Mars.

Moon, Mars, and stars: before dawn at the marinaMoon, Mars, and stars: before dawn at the marina

When everyone was there, we wandered around the area. Calm water and colorful skies made for a nice dawn image looking eastward through the moorings.

Sanford sunriseSanford sunrise.

And westward, the Harvest Moon was setting along the river.

Setting moon and reflectionSetting moon and reflection

Zooming in searching for details, I discovered a Halloween themed sailboat:

Ghost shipGhost ship

Masks, no handshakes (or even elbow bumps), and 6 foot distances made it seem a little strange. But ignoring that, it was almost like old times – seeing friends, catching up on each other’s lives, and making a few photos too. Definitely good for the soul.

On the way home, I drove by Marl Bed Flats again and the standing water there still looks pretty widespread. So no changes in this year’s sunflower forecast – sorry.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay safe, take care of yourselves, your friends, and your families. And if you can, make some photos – with your socially distanced friends!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Jesup Sunflowers?

It’s getting to be that time of year again – when the Marl Bed Flats part of the Lake Jesup Conservation Area along HW 417 north of Lake Jesup usually fills up with wild swamp sunflowers. It’s a late September / early October event and lasts for a couple of weeks. Lynn and I drove by yesterday to scout the area.

Swamp SunflowersSwamp Sunflowers (from 2012)

The good news is that we already saw a few sunflowers blooming. The bad news is that we also saw a lot of standing water, especially near the lake. Flooding or standing water in the flower fields usually means fewer flowers.

There’s more bad news. This morning while putting this post together, I checked the Lake Jesup Wilderness Area website. It says:

“The Lake Jesup Wilderness Area is currently closed due to high water levels …”

It seems we’ll have to wait until next year to photograph these flowers. Sorry about that.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay safe! Take care of yourselves, your friends, and your families! And if you can, make some photos – although probably not Lake Jesup sunflower photos this year.

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Not so punny

Sometimes, I try to be clever and people ignore me – which may be a good thing.

I noticed a Bottlenose Dolphin making a fuss hunting for fish – big splashes and noise.  I was too slow to catch that ruckus, but a few minutes later I made this photo as it swam through calm water in front of colorful early morning reflections on Gator Creek and left interesting patterns in its wake.

A wake at dawnA wake at dawn

I posted it to Flickr and expected people to moan about the pun in the title, but crickets about that.  Maybe it would have worked better as “Awake at dawn”.  Dunno. I suppose I should leave the comedy to professionals.  At least I didn’t get a bunch of nasty comments about it!

Here are two more images from that trip.  This one is nearby, about 15 minutes earlier.

Restful rays, distant clouds, and a calm creekRestful rays, distant clouds, and a calm creek

And this one is two hours later, along Black Point Wildlife Drive.

Clouds over the marshClouds over the marsh

My drive to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge was rewarding once again and well worth the time. No wonder it’s a favorite place for me!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I hope all of you are staying safe – take care of yourselves, your friends, and your families. And if you can, make some photos, and even some bad puns!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Cherokee and Lake Davis – September 2020

MK and I walked ’round the lakes on Friday and I thought you might like an update on the Lake Cherokee Mute Swan family. When I first posted about this year’s brood, the cygnets were young and very small.

Proud parent - from April 16, 2020Proud parent – from April 16, 2020

And here they are from last Friday:

Proud parentProud parent – September 2020

Although three of the six were lost, these three look very healthy. They still have a lot of their gray baby color, but they’re as big as Mom. And MK reports they’ve fledged and she’s seen them flying around the lake.

Here are a few more photos from our walk:

ShorelineShoreline. Birds really seem to like this spot along Lake Davis.

Got my ducks in a rowGot my Mottled Ducks in a row

Egyptian GooseEgyptian Goose

Red-bellied Woodpecker and a grub(?)Red-bellied Woodpecker and a grub(?)

These two lakes in downtown Orlando are a very nice place to walk. There’s a lot to see (and photograph) and you can get some steps too. Thanks MK for inviting me and thanks for helping me spot things! I think we were lucky to get our walk in on Friday. Looks like we’ve got a bunch of rain heading our way.

You can see more of my Lake Cherokee and Lake Davis photos in this folder on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157709436468286

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I hope all of you are staying safe – take care of yourselves, your friends, and your families. And if you can, make some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack and MK Rosack. All rights reserved

Lucky

Here’s a portrait of a young Wood Stork in Parrish Park, Titusville from a few weeks ago. I think these birds are interesting and I like the sharp focus and the blurred background isolating the subject.

A portrait of a stork as a young(?) birdA portrait of a stork as a young bird

You don’t often see these in urban settings and I’d never spotted one before I got more into wildlife photography here in Florida around 2006.   Adults don’t have feathers on their head and upper neck, so this one with its feathers up there mostly gone is a young adult.

Anyway, the reason I wanted to show you this is because this photo reminded me again just how lucky all of us photographers are to be able to use modern cameras and lenses.  

The detail you can see in this crop is amazing!  There are clouds reflected in its eye and you can easily see sharp individual feather barbules! I guess my point is, get out your camera gear and use it.  You might be surprised by what it reveals.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there, cherish your friends and loved ones, and take care of each other. And if you can – make some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

 

Web host issues

Editors note: The blog has been up and down all morning. My hosting provider (inmotionhosting.com) says they’re having “connection issues”. I couldn’t even get a chat window to open with their support team – frustrating!

It’s back on line right now so I’m going to take this opportunity to quickly post something. Just a photo I like – I hope you like it too. And I hope my blog stays on line so you can see it!

Ibis and EgretIbis and Egret

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there, cherish your friends and loved ones, and take care of each other. And if you can – make some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Another storm and a couple more birds

Yay -this week I did “get out and make some new photos”! However, these images I came home with are of the same subjects that I photographed in our yard and posted about last week: A storm and two birds. It’s almost like there’s something strange and metaphysical going on (– probably not).

First the storm:

Light show across the waterLight show across the water

I set out very early Thursday towards Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge with no clear idea about where I’d try to photograph sunrise. I noticed a few flashes of lightning off across the river and stopped under the causeway to watch for a minute. I ended up staying longer and making a series of 15 – 30 second exposures. Most just show a dark cloud, but I caught a few mid-strike. I was glad I had my “go-to landscape lens” on the camera. It’s a 24 -105 mm and had the reach I needed to show off these far away clouds. My second most used landscape lens is a 16 -35 mm and wouldn’t have worked as well.

Pretty in PinkPretty in Pink

There was a lot of water around Black Point Wildlife Drive and it seemed like there are a few more birds now than there have been recently. This was the only Roseate Spoonbill I saw anywhere that morning. I wish it had been a little closer (I always wish that). On the other hand, it was a very calm bird and posed nicely as I tried to make a good image. I like the fall looking colors on the vegetation around the pond. Maybe soon we’ll have some cooler weather.

Pretty light on a Reddish Egret in flightPretty light on a Reddish Egret in flight

I’ve often seen a Reddish Egret hanging out on the first half of Black Point. This time there were several of them on the second half. I think the light on this one flying by in front of me is very nice.

Anyway, although these are the same subjects as last week they are very different images. I think they’re worth posting. I hope you like them too.

You can view some of my other storm and cloud photos in this folder on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157655291985133.

And I have many Merritt Island National Wildlife images collected in this one: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157627776386723.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there, cherish your friends and loved ones, and take care of each other. And if you can – make some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved