After my Stroll in the Dark through downtown Winter Park, I stopped at the close by Mead Botanical Gardens for a second leisurely walk. It’s a 47 acre natural habitat preserve that’s popular with local birders and a relaxing place to wander. This Marsh Rabbit helped me out with an image to post on Easter:
An Easter Bunny
And this pond always makes for a nice photo:
Pretty light on a placid pond
Mead Gardens is popular birding spot especially during migration. As I walked, I was trying in vain to let my nascent birding skills expose themselves. But then I heard an unfamiliar call…
When I took out my phone and tried sound ID on the Merlin Bird ID app, it said it was a Great Crested Flycatcher. I’d only seen one once before when Kevin M. pointed it out to me at Lake Apopka. The call was very distinctive and loud, so I used it to look for the bird. This one partially hidden and way up in a tree top seemed to be the one making the call:
Certainly not my best photo ever, but an exciting find! And a great demo of how the awesome Merlin app amplifies even my birding knowledge. If you haven’t tried it yet, do so – it’s a free app.
Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! Your visits, comments, and likes are always welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, wander a bit out in nature – and make some photos!
I wanted to check on the Osprey nest in downtown Winter Park, Florida. I decided to leave (very) early so I could also make some night time / low light photos in the area. I’ve done that before (see: /https://edrosack.com/2015/10/03/winter-park-at-night/). Here are a few of the results from this time.
Colony Theater Building
The Colony Theater on Park Avenue in Winter Park Florida first opened in 1940. Matinees during WW II cost 39 cents. The theater closed in 1975 and was converted to retail space (see winterparkmag.com/history/). It’s still photogenic. This is a single frame (ISO 100, 26mm, f/8 @ 3.2 sec.)
Bright blooms at night
When I saw that planter in full bloom in front of an interesting building across the street, I knew I had to make a photo. But I wanted everything in focus and both the flowers and the building / lights well exposed. I made three frames: one focused and exposed for the flowers (ISO 100, 35mm, f/8 @ 20 sec.) and two more focused on the building (ISO 100, 35mm, f/8 @ 10 sec. and 4 sec). I did an HDR blend of the building exposures in Lightroom, and loaded the result along with the flower exposure into separate Photoshop layers. There, I aligned and masked the sharp flowers into the building layer. It took a few minutes, but I like the result.
This one is a three frame exposure bracket (ISO 100, 24mm, f/8 @ 4, 10, and 20 sec.). I first called it “Empty street”, but then noticed the three ghostly figures and changed the title. The header image in this web post is an enlargement of the center.
Very early train
I set up and made a test shot while I waited for a train to come through (ISO 100, 53mm, f/7.1 @ 25 sec.). I wanted a long exposure to show a lengthy train streak. When I looked at the image later on my computer, I didn’t like the way the train headlight changed the lighting on the trees, so I ended up using the test frame as the base image and blending in the train streak from the other frame. I’m glad I had that test shot to use!
Anyway, I like how these turned out and I thought maybe you’d be interested in a brief overview of how I made them. And by the way, Momma Osprey was on the nest but I don’t think any chicks have hatched yet. I’ll try to go back and get some photos of them.
Thank you very much for stopping by my blog! Your visits, comments, and likes are always welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!
Kevin M. and I have been going out photographing together since 2008 or 2009. But we hadn’t done so for a while. When he invited me to go with him to Lake Apopka yesterday, I eagerly agreed.
The morning didn’t start well. The weather forecast was poor and the fog on the drive up was discouraging too. But we’d agreed to go “rain or shine” and sometimes things work out.
Kevin is a much better birder than I am, and it was a treat to ride along with him, catch up, and look for birds together. Two heads (and two sets of eyes / ears) are better than one and we ended up sighting 34 species (see the list below). Here are photos of some of the things we saw:
Finding bitterns is fun. They’re usually well hidden, but this one was right out in the open and in good light too!
I don’t see Perigrines very often. It was way off in the distance but I managed to get an image ‘for the record’.
I first thought this next one was a Northern Harrier. Kevin had seen one just before. But thanks to a comment from Wally and a closer look, I think I was wrong about that.
Red-shouldered HawkNorthern Harrier
Kevin pointed out this Common Gallinule (Moorhen) balancing on a reed and busily feeding on the seed head. It kept at it while we made some photos and looked like it was enjoying the snack.
Purple Gallinules seem to like Lake Apopka.
I’d heard about Gray-headed Swamphens and seen some images on Flickr. But I hadn’t ever encountered one myself. They’re non-native birds that first started appearing in south Florida in the 1990s and are spreading north. They’re very distinctive and this one knew how to pose.
Black-crowned Night-Herons were along the trail in a few spots. They were all in shadows back in the vegetation. This was the best photo I managed to make of one.
And finally, here’s a landscape photo of the pump house. I think the clouds we’d worried about add a lot of interest.
It was a great trip – catching up with a good friend and letting nature show us her wonders. The weather improved for most of the morning and it didn’t start raining until after lunch. Here are 34 species we took note of:
American Coots, Anhingas, Barn Swallows, Belted Kingfisher, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Black-crowned Night-Herons, Black-necked Stilts, Blue-winged Teals, Boat-tailed Grackle, Cattle Egrets, Common Gallinules, Common Ground-Doves, Double Crested Cormorants, Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, Glossy Ibis, Gray-headed Swamphens, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Least Bitterns, Limpkins, Little Blue Heron, Mourning Doves, Northern Cardinals, Northern Flicker, Northern Harrier, Ospreys, Painted Bunting, Peregrine Falcon, Purple Gallinules, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-winged Blackbirds, Snowy Egrets, Swamp Sparrow, Tricolored Heron
And we also saw a lot of Alligators, several Marsh Rabbits, and a turtle.
Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my blog! Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, go out photographing – with a friend!
I was browsing through my photo archives last week and came across an unprocessed RAW image of an American Avocet and its reflection. I thought it had potential so I went ahead and worked on it.
I made this in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on March 3, 2015. It got me thinking – I know, proceed with caution, right?
The last time I was over there, I spent a few minutes talking to someone and he mentioned that there are fewer birds there now than there used to be. I hear comments like that a lot when when I’m out photographing. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d seen an Avocet but I knew it’d been a while. Maybe there are fewer of them around. When I went back into my archives in Lightroom, it turned out my most recent photo of one is from January of 2021.
I don’t see too many of them, and they’re distinctive enough that I’m sure I’d notice them if they were there. But my data is sparse and can’t really say if these birds are getting less frequent around here. So how can I tell?
I’ve mentioned eBird.org before. It’s managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and collects data on bird sightings from all over the world to “document distribution, abundance, habitat use, and trends”. Maybe if we look there we can see if there are fewer Avocets now at MINWR.
Then you can select different metrics and date ranges. I chose to look at the “Totals” tab, which is the “sum total of all counts from all observations for a species within a specified date range and region”. I picked two date ranges: 2007 – 2014, and 2015 – 2022 to compare and see if I could tell if there are fewer avocets now than when I first started going over to MINWR.
This seems to say there are about twice as many American Avocets seen at MINWR recently than there used to be. But… it isn’t normalized to account for the increased reporting by more birders as time goes on. So I don’t think these numbers are an accurate representation of the number of Avocets actually there. Is there a way to determine the accurate numbers? Sorry – I couldn’t find one. But I’ll keep looking and let you know.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some bird photos now – in case their are fewer opportunities in the future.
I complained a bit about our weather last week, and I do think we’ve been getting more than our normal share of clouds and rain. It doesn’t seem right though to grumble about a few gloomy days here in Central Florida when conditions in some other parts of the country and world are bad or worse.
Anyway, it isn’t quite “Nothing but blue skies do I see” around here, but we have had some very nice days recently. This week I’ll just show you a few photos of “Blue skies smiling at me” to prove it.
Trumpet Trees (Tabebuia) are plain most of the year. In the spring, they burst with blooms for a couple of weeks. The trees in the next two photos are already blending back into the landscape.
Pink Trumpet Tree
Yellow Trumpet Tree
Ball Moss and Ferns
Here’s one last image. It’s not “Blue birds singing a song” but I feel like this blackbird was enjoying the blue skies as much as I was.
Thanks for stopping by and looking at my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, enjoy some blue skies photography.
Our weather’s been interesting – lots of rain and warmer than expected. Between that and other obligations, I’ve had a hard time practicing photography. Checking the forecast late on Thursday night, Friday looked like it would be halfway decent so I jumped at the chance to head out.
There were a few rain drops falling at first and it was overcast. But that made for some dramatic clouds when I stopped by the marina.
Impressive clouds over the marina
Later on it turned into a pretty nice day. I spent some time around Parrish Park watching all the shorebirds.
I like photos like this next one. Getting a flock of birds close by with a fast enough shutter speed and in focus isn’t easy though. This time most of the birds listened to me when I asked them to all fly by at the same distance!
A “grain” of Sanderlings
I drove slowly along the shore and stayed in the car trying not spook the birds. I spotted several different ones and worked to isolate each one in the frame:
MINWR was quieter than last time I was there. But shore birds were out over there too.
I was sitting at this next spot when MaryKate called. The Killdeer were so loud she heard them through the phone and asked about them.
Thistles are blooming on Black Point. They’re attractive photo subjects if you catch a colorful one in good light. A bee or butterfly helps too.
There were other birds and wildlife around: the regular wading birds (herons and egrets), Alligators, Belted Kingfishers, Northern Shovelers, Blue-winged Teals, Caspian Terns, Black Skimmers, and I’m sure others that I missed. I also spotted a different looking hawk that the Merlin Bird ID app thinks is a Swainson’s Hawk (I’m not convinced).
Anyway, it was a wonderful visit and a very nice distraction from current events.
You can click on these photos to view larger versions on Flickr.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, practice some photography.
Anyway, today’s secret is that wild lighting can look a lot better in B&W. The Lightroom B&W conversion tool has sliders to adjust the intensity of eight different colors in an image. Wide color differences in the photo combined with all that control gives you a lot of variability and choice when converting to B&W. To me, the B&W lighting in the finished version is much more attractive than the original colors.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if the light is wild, make some B&W photos.
The light was unusual about 15 minutes before sunrise . I don’t think I’ve encountered anything like it before.
Strange light at dawn by the dock (3)
There were only a few clouds near the horizon. The sky was much brighter than the river and things on it. So bright that I knew it would be hard to capture the dynamic range in the scene. I went ahead and started photographing anyway.
Strange light at dawn by the dock (1)
That light lasted about fifteen minutes. I tried single frames, bracketing, and hi / low panoramas to capture it. When I got home and looked at the files, nothing had recorded the whole dynamic range. In hindsight, maybe I could have done a little better by bracketing with a wider set of exposures, or using exposure compensation to lower the overall brightness of the brackets. But I didn’t think of doing that then. I hope I remember next time.
It seems that my frames wanted to be high key, so I processed them for detail in the foreground and let the sky blow out. In the end, I like how they look.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And make some photos – even in strange light.
I’ve been interested in infrared photography for a long time. I first attempted it sometime in the 1980s using black and white IR film. The results weren’t very good. Focus and exposure using IR film was a challenge back in ancient times.
One of my first digital cameras was a Minolta DiMage 7Hi and in 2003 I tried again with an IR filter on the lens of the unmodified camera. The dense filter required long exposures on a tripod even in daylight. I hadn’t mastered RAW file processing and was using jpg format which didn’t help. But results were better than 1980s film!
In 2011 I started researching IR modified cameras and ended up sending my Olympus E-PL1 off to have its IR blocking filter replaced with one that passed IR light and blocked normal visible light. That was a big step forward. Focusing just worked and exposures were similar to those on an unmodified camera. I made the image below from a small boat and it would’ve been very difficult with a dense filter and 4 second exposure!
2012: Blue Cypress Lake, Fellsmere FL – IR modified Olympus E-PL1, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6 ISO 100
In 2013, I traded up to an IR modified Olympus E-PL5 to take advantage of the lower noise and additional resolution.
2014: A calm day on Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine – IR modified Olympus E-PL5, 1/200 sec @ f/5.6 ISO 200
Then in 2017 I bought a second hand IR modified Olympus E-M5 MII and sold the E-PL5. The E-M5 MII was a bit better and had a hi-res mode which I used frequently.
2019: Wetlands view, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – IR modified Olympus E-M5 MII, 1/1600 sec @ f/3.5 ISO 200
In late 2021, I decided to sell the E-M5 MII. I hadn’t been using it much. Packing the extra camera, lenses, batteries, chargers, etc. was a hassle. And remembering how to use another camera system isn’t easy when you don’t use it very often. Now, if I want to do any B&W photography I have to use one of my non-IR cameras.
2022: Along the shore, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – unmodified Fuji X100V, 1/140 sec @ f/8 ISO 160
It has been a long journey with infrared. Am I done with it? It seems so, but who knows? Not me!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos – you’ll cherish the memories!
Classic / traditional landscape photography is often about pre-planning, travel to iconic grand vistas, waiting for gorgeous light, and making a carefully exposed image with a wide angle lens on a high end camera mounted on a tripod.
And that’s all great – I enjoy doing that. But that’s not something we can do all the time (especially during the last couple of years!). As photographers, we learn to see and understand light. When we notice attractive or different light, we should photograph it. No matter how mundane or common the subject is, it can be lovely if the light is lovely.
Just a clump of grass
When I noticed the sun shining on this area, I’d already put away my tripod and taken off my wide angle landscape lens. I made it at ISO 100, 70mm @ f/2.8 for 1/640s, hand held. I like the way it came out.
Always watch for interesting conditions: golden hour, blue hour, or in bad, cloudy or severe weather too. The subject is of course important – but there’s no photography without illumination, and no good photography without good light.
There’s beauty everywhere at all times of day. You just have to look a little harder sometimes and capture the light where you find it.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos – wherever you find them!