We’ve been busy with projects lately and I haven’t been able to go out on any photo expeditions for a few weeks. So I thought I’d show you three recent images I’ve made close to home.
Back in the film days, one way to increase saturation was to slightly under expose. That still works with digital and it’s what I did when I saw how the late afternoon light was hitting one of Lynn’s red Caladiums in our garden.
Back light in the back garden – Late afternoon view of a Caladium leaf
We were getting out of the car on the way in to a restaurant one day for lunch when I saw this lizard. It was very calm and let me get close with my phone camera. It didn’t need any under exposure to saturate its green color.
Very green – Anole Lizard
I shot from below the flowers and up toward the sky for this last image. I stopped down to get as much in focus as I could and bracketed the exposure since the light was tricky. But the camera’s dynamic range was large enough that I ended up using just the nominal exposure.
Backlight Blue – Blue Plumbago against a cloudy sky
Our schedule frees up some next week, so I might try to sneak out with a camera one day. We’ll see!
You can click on these images to view a larger version on Flickr. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
A friend wants to make long exposure photos on an upcoming trip. I recommended using a Variable Neutral Density Filter (VND) and offered to let them try mine. So we headed over to the Cocoa Beach Pier last Friday to test them out on some ocean waves.
Cruising home. VND, ƒ/11, 35 mm, 0.3sec, ISO 100
VNDs are made from two polarizing filters – one’s fixed and the other rotates. You use the rotating one to vary the amount of light that’s blocked (typically between 1 or 2 and 6 or 8 stops). I like them because they give you precise and easy control over how much light hits your sensor. If you reduce light on the sensor, you can use a slower shutter speed or a wider aperture for a given scene. They’re good to have when you photograph waterfalls (slow shutter to blur / smooth water) or in bright light (to shoot with a wider aperture and blur backgrounds).
Here’s my approach for smoothing water:
Mount the camera on a tripod and trigger it with a remote or the self timer.
Set ISO (usually for best quality). Don’t use auto ISO. We want the camera to vary shutter speed instead of changing ISO when the VND rotates.
I use Aperture Priority mode and select the F-stop (for depth of field, image quality etc.).
Compose with the VND filter at its minimum value (brightest setting).
In bright light, you can use auto focus. In dim light, you may need to manual focus so the camera’s auto focus doesn’t hunt when you darken the VND.
Now, slowly turn / darken the VND until your shutter speed reaches the value you want. You’ll need to experiment to find what looks best to you, but for water try between .25 and 1 second.
If you can’t get a slow enough shutter, you can close down your aperture, or lower your ISO.
Some things to watch out for:
Like much in photography (and life!), you can find very expensive VNDs and very cheap ones. I’ve had good luck with name brand ones in the middle price range. Don’t buy the cheap ones! They may not be optically flat or coated, and might introduce color shift problems. You’ll probably pay more for thinner ones too, which will reduce chances of vignetting.
Definitely look for VNDs with coatings to help prevent reflections / flare. You’re adding four more air/glass interfaces to the front of your lens and you can’t use a lens hood, so coatings will improve performance.
Since these filters can be expensive, I recommend buying only one, sized to fit the biggest diameter lens you’ll use it with. I have a 77mm VND and step down rings to mount it on my smaller lenses.
Some VNDs can be rotated too far and will show an ugly cross-shaped anomaly. If yours does this, watch for it and back off until it disappears. Some are made with a stop so you can’t rotate them too far.
Check your results as you go. It’s easy to over expose highlights in moving water, so you may need to dial in some negative exposure composition. Also, if the light getting through is too dim, your camera’s meter may not work well. In that case you’ll have to change to manual exposure and adjust accordingly.
Make several exposures at different shutter speeds so you’ll have distinct looks to choose from when you get home.
Golden beach. VND, ƒ/8.0, 26 mm eq., 0.8sec, ISO 200
That’s it – simple, right? Do you use VNDs? If so, let me know where I can view your long exposure photos. And if you have any hints of your own, please share in a comment for everyone.
You can click on these images to see a larger version on Flickr. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
To help celebrate, I thought I’d share some photos I’ve made of Florida Mothers and their babies. These are all wild animals / birds and they’re from several places over several years, so I’ll include where and when in the captions.
Momma gator guarding her nest and 4 (blurry) babies. Along La Chua Trail, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Gainesville, FL, December 2006
Momma Sandhill Crane and chick foraging at Viera Wetlands, March 2017
Spoonbill Mom returns, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, May 2010
Great Horned Owl Mom and chick in the nest, Circle B Bar, March 2018
Momma Limpkin and baby, Circle B Bar Reserve, October 2013
Great Egret Mom and chicks, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, April 2011
It’s amazing how devoted Moms are, and it’s fascinating to watch them raise their babies.
You can click on these images to see larger versions on Flickr. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go spend time with your Mom!
Lynn’s gardening is paying off again this spring with lots of blooming flowers. And once more, they’ve attracted some lovely visitors. I glanced out our back window last week, saw some motion and quickly grabbed a camera.
Swallowtail; 105mm, f/6.3, 1/2000 sec @ ISO 1600
I made about 30 frames in the short time I followed it around. I think this one’s the best. I set my aperture pretty wide – to get a fast shutter speed and freeze motion in flight, and also to blur the background. I do like the background, but the depth of field is just a bit too shallow – causing the tips of the wings to blur.
I tried using a new piece of software called Topaz Sharpen AI to reduce the wingtip blur. You’ll find lots of info about it on the web, so I won’t get into details here. I’m pleased with how it works – it did a good job sharpening this, especially around the flower and the butterfly’s head and body. And it actually sharpened the wingtips some, although it couldn’t completely remove the blur. It’s very CPU intensive, so I won’t use it all the time, but I’ll keep it around just in case.
The real fix for the wingtip blur is to make another photo. I’ll keep watching for more back yard visitors.
You can click on the image to see a larger version on Flickr. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
I decided to revisit this week and I’m glad I did. It’s a wonderful place to observe this family from 40 – 50 feet away. Since the birds are used to traffic and people, you can watch them without stressing them at all. An ambulance even went by with its siren going and Mom just calmly watched it.
As a bonus, I met another photographer there. Turns out we have a lot in common: While we shot, we talked about birds, locations, cameras, lenses, and grandkids! A marvelous, mini photo excursion!
Hello faithful readers! This is the next entry in the occasional blog category called “Postcards” where I upload photos of Central Florida scenes – similar to a postcard.
It’s easy to find all of these. Just use the “Places / Categories” pulldown menu over on the right side of the blog and select “Postcards”. If you’re viewing the site on a phone, you may not see that menu – in that case, just type “postcards” into the search box.
I made this image a week or so ago inside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. Established in 1565, it is the oldest Christian congregation in the contiguous United States. Portions of the structure date from 1797, in part due to the durability of the cochina rock used for exterior walls.
I shot this handheld with a 35mm lens at f/2.8, and used ISO 800 to make sure my shutter speed was high enough to avoid camera shake (1/50 sec). I processed the photo and converted it to Black and White using Lightroom. You should be able to right click and download. I hope you like it!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Note: Any items in my blog that are marked with a Creative Commons license are available in high resolution for you to download for your personal use. Please visit this page to see details and restrictions that apply: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.
Lynn and I spent a couple of days in St. Augustine, Florida last week. It’s been two years since I last wrote about it (in this post), but it’s still a photo rich environment. Here’s a sample of the images I made there this time.
Columbia Restaurant interior. We usually stop by this place for the food, but the inside is lovely too!
Memorial Presbyterian Church Dome. We rode the Old Town Trolley around again and got off at this stop to see this beautiful church. Henry Flagler built it in the 1890s as a memorial to his wife.
>Santa Maria Restaurant Ruins. Our trolley guide told us it has too much hurricane damage to repair. It’s going to be demolished soon and replaced with a new restaurant
Flower Box. I like to watch for interesting doors and windows when I walk through town. This is one example.
Golden mooring morning. Lynn used some points to help us splurge on a waterfront room. I made this from our balcony.
Refreshments – Make the photo, then drink the subject. It’s important to get the sequence correct!
I hadn’t been to Gator Creek Rd. for sunrise in a while. This spot is at one of the curves where there’s a break in the mangroves so you can get down to water level. There weren’t many clouds. I used a low camera position for this photo to emphasize the foreground and made a 4 image panorama to get a wider field of view.
Gator Creek Morning.
Next, I drove up to the Bairs Cove Boat ramp. Manatees seem to like the area – I think I’ve seen them there every time I’ve been. Sure enough, I spotted several and debated whether to park and make a photo. I’ve made so many photos of their noses that more of that kind of shot isn’t very exciting . But since I was there, I got out of the car. I counted over a dozen as I walked quietly down to the dock. It wasn’t until I was right at the water that I saw three of them next to the wall. I’d only brought my long lens with me from the car, so after making several “Manatee Head Shots”, I pulled out my phone to get a photo of the group (https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/40566342263/in/dateposted/). When I left they were still there – calmly resting and taking occasional breaths.
Manatee head shot
I was heading back toward Black Point Wildlife Drive along Shiloh Rd. when I caught a glimpse of some water through a break in the trees. I stopped and walked over to make this infrared image in a spot I’d never noticed before.
By the Indian River
Things were fairly busy on Black Point – lots of birds and people too. I stayed at one small feeding frenzy for a while making images of the birds hunting for fish. This heron had just launched from the left.
Tricolored Heron in flight
I stopped next to another photographer who’d found this Killdeer close to the road in very nice light. I was careful not to disturb her bird as I quietly got out of my car to get this image.
I spotted our usual Herons and Egrets, Brown and White Pelicans, a few ducks (mostly Blue Wing Teals, Northern Shovelers, Coots, etc.), Ibis, Willets, Sandpipers, Cormorants, Anhingas, Roseate Spoonbills, Belted Kingfishers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Turkey Vultures, Mocking Birds, Ground Doves, Black-necked Stilts, a few Killdeer, and one new life bird for me: a Whimbrel.
Another pleasant and interesting morning at MINWR!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
This post is about blogging, not photography. So feel free to move on if this doesn’t interest you. But before you do, here’s an unrelated photo to try to make your visit here worthwhile:
Sunrise Surfer – An early morning image, from October 2018, near the Cocoa Beach Pier (click for a larger version).
My blog has been up since May of 2007 and I’ve written almost 600 posts through the years. A few weeks ago, I read an article about broken links and how Google crawls the web and downgrades a site’s search ranking if it finds broken / dead links on web pages.
I knew this, but hadn’t been actively addressing issues. I’m not a commercial site, and search ranking doesn’t affect any bottom line for me, but – well, we don’t want to be left out of Google do we?
Anyway, I’ve had a plugin loaded on my site called “Broken Link Checker” for a long time. I was having some server performance issues a while back and deactivated it. I decided to turn it back on and see what it found. It was disturbing!
> 5100 links total
186 broken or dead links
> 900 redirects
And a few warnings
I’ve been going through and fixing these. Here’s what I’ve done:
If the site I referenced changed and I can find the new page, I updated it.
If I can’t find a new page, in some cases I substituted a different source such as Wikipedia. (By the way, Wikipedia is amazingly good at keeping their links up – none of my broken links were to them.) If I couldn’t find a new page to link to (seems to be a common issue for newspaper articles) I removed the link and marked it as “no longer available”.
On some problems, I just removed the link if it didn’t really need to be there.
How embarrassing! Some of the broken links were to my own pages! These had to do with re-organizing categories and tags. So I went through and fixed these too.
I looked at redirects and they don’t seem to be real issues, so I left them alone.
As of this morning (finally!) all of my broken links are gone.
In the future, I’m going to modify my link philosophy:
I’m not going to be as eager to insert links. Web search is pretty good these days and you can highlight and right-click to get info on anything I write about. And It’ll be current too!
I’ll favor using Wikipedia when it makes sense. There’s less chance those links will break.
I haven’t noticed any performance issues with the Broken Links Checker this time. So I’ll leave it on
Broken Links Checker will email me when it finds problems and I’ll fix them as they come up, instead of ignoring them for too long.
Onward to search results dominance!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!