My weather app said the wind was 2 mph – about as calm as it gets. Very good for low light photography. Not so good for keeping biting insects away, but artists have to suffer, right?
Paddle wheel and yachts. I Like the juxtaposition of the aft end of the St. Johns Rivership Company’s Barbara Lee with the modern yachts. (34mm, f/11 at 15s, ISO 100)
If the wind’s smearing your subjects, you can try making an extra frame at a higher ISO value to increase your shutter speed. Then you can blend the water and sky from your long exposure frame with the faster shutter speed frame to reduce bluring. But it’s not ideal: the higher ISO may reduce image quality and blending can be tricky with moving subjects. I’m glad I didn’t have to do that for these – things were stock-still!
Peaceful Harbor (24mm, f/5.6 @ 25s, ISO 100).
By the way, I was going to call this “Minimal Motion Marina Morning” but that seemed like too much alliteration, even for me.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make a motionless photo!
Since I hadn’t gone through my photos from that morning in Sanford, Florida, I used an iPhone image I like from under the bridge at Wayside Park for last week’s blog post. I’ve processed the others now and have several more that I’m partial to.
For comparison purposes, here’s another photo I made in almost the exact same spot back in 2013. There have been a few changes in the vegetation and the bridge structure. (And the photographer too!)
The old bridge over the St. John’s River (October 2013)
And finally, when I thought I was finished at this place, I walked to the end of the bridge to look around. For some reason I didn’t do that in 2013. I’m glad I did this time, because the scene was pretty pleasant!
A quiet morning on the St. Johns river. Looking South East toward Lake Monroe
For those of you viewing this on the web, the header image is a small portion enlarged so you can see the person fishing on the dock. They didn’t catch anything while I watched, but I’m guessing they still enjoyed the morning as much as I did!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you think you’re done, walk a little farther – you might be pleasantly surprised and make a nice photo!
The entrance to Lake Monroe Wayside Park is on the right hand side of Highway 17-92 as you leave Sanford heading east. It’s just before the bridge over the St. Johns River and there’s a boat ramp and some interesting views there. I hadn’t been in a while and decided to go last Friday.
The river was like a mirror and the early morning sky was pretty too. This was what it looked like under the highway:
I suppose the point of this story is that we should occasionally revisit places. They might be worth photographing again.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, revisit a spot and make some photos – you might like them even even better than the last time.
I was getting a little exercise on a morning walk last Wednesday when I noticed some birds in the distance soaring on a thermal. As I got closer I could tell they were Swallow-tailed Kites.
I always enjoy seeing these birds. They’re very distinctive and watching them use their tails as a rudder to swoop, glide, roll, and zoom through the sky is fascinating. They migrate about 5000 miles from South America and arrive in Florida in the spring, spending several months here to breed and then returning south in the late summer.
It’s not uncommon to see them in my neighborhood, and even over my house. But they always appear when I’m not ready to photograph them. This time was no different. The only camera I had with me was my phone and I was sure they’d be gone by the time I could get home and get my big lens out. As I got closer, the birds circled lower in the sky and I decided to try making some photos anyway.
Swallow-tailed Kites circling overhead in our neighborhood (click on the photo to see a larger version on Flickr)
I used the built in camera app with the 3x lens (50mm equivalent) and the output set to RAW mode. I made about 30 frames, hoping some would turn out.
I went through them when I got home and picked the best ones to process. Most of the rejects were due to framing, exposure, or chromatic aberrations / fringing. Their colors make them hard to expose correctly and the white feathers were blown out in many of the frames. There was very distracting blue / purple fringing along wing edges in the ones that were made at f/1.8. The f/2.8 ones didn’t have that issue. This left me with just a handful of images to process.
I ran them through Adobe’s “Enhance / Super Resolution” and used masks and subject and sky selections to make local adjustments. I also set the sharpening to zero in Lightroom and used Topaz Sharpen AI as a last step.
A couple turned out OK, but I really wish I’d had my big lens with me!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – make some photos, even if all you have is your phone camera!
The sun was nicely positioned behind this rock formation but it made the light extremely harsh. I used a four frame exposure bracket to try to capture the dynamic range in the scene. When I got home I worked on the image but could never get a color version I liked. I ended up converting it to monochrome for this blog post.
Anyway, I saw it while browsing through my Lightroom catalog and decided to try again. I started from the RAW source files and used the experience I’ve gained since then along with the capability we now have available in recent software. This was the result:
A red rock spire in front of the sun and cloudless sky
Lightroom’s enhanced detail RAW conversion, merge to HDR, and sky selection masks were especially handy along with the better adjustments available with Adobe’s latest process version software. I also ran it through Topaz AI sharpen as a final step.
I like this 2022 version better than the 2009 one. Once again, I’m glad I save my RAW source files. Back then, it would have been hard to imagine the software we have today. Do you have any older images that you’re not completely happy with? Maybe it’s a good time to dig them out and try again with new software.
Also: Happy Fathers Day to every dad out there! There’s nothing as precious as your love, as important as your advice and support, and as educational as the examples you set.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – when you make photos, save your RAW files!
This is the best photo I’ve been able to make of a Northern Flicker.
Northern Flicker (Click to see a larger version where you can zoom in a couple of levels.)
This one is yellow shafted and based on the black “mustache” a male. There’s also a western / red shafted variety but I haven’t seen one of those.
I don’t spot them very often although they have been in the blog before (https://edrosack.com/tag/northern-flicker/). The first photo I made of one was back in May of 2013. It’s a blurry image of the bird in flight, fleeing my camera. They seem to be very wary and for me nearly always leave as soon as I see one – which explains why it’s hard to get a good photo.
This bird acted like that too, but only flew short distances and I was able to watch him for a while. Finally he landed on top of a mangrove tree and I made this photo. The pose could be better but I like the warm early morning glow, the catch light in his eye, and the feather detail. Lest you think I was crowding him, that’s not the case. I’m not sure of the exact distance but the focal length I used was equivalent to 1260mm so he was pretty far away.
“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”
John Quincy Adams
So persevere – it may take years and several tries on a lucky day to get a good photo.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can — keep making some photos!
I stopped by the St. Johns river at the SR 50 boat ramp before sunrise recently. The sky was a bit plain, but there were a few clouds low on the horizon with some pre-sunrise color showing. And Venus was visible below and to the left of a waning crescent moon, which added some interest. I made a few photos hoping to capture what I was seeing.
Venus and the Moon over the Marsh
This image is a four frame panorama that I stitched together in Photoshop. Separate exposures of the sky and foreground helped me record a wider field of view and control the enormous dynamic range of the light. I like the way it turned out. If you click on it, you’ll go to Flickr.com where you can see a larger version as well as zoom in.
Thanks for stopping by and reading 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!
It’s probably way too late in the year to see the Owls nesting, but there’s a chance that the family could be near so I drove by hoping to spot something. When I slowed down and saw a bird on the nest, I was a bit disappointed that it was “just” an Osprey and almost didn’t stop. They’re common and seeing one isn’t as exciting as finding owls.
Momma* Osprey guarding two chicks
But I stopped anyway and waited a bit to see if the chicks would pop up a little so I could get a better photo of them. It was hard to see the chicks and I was thinking about leaving when I saw another bird off in the distance that turned out to be:
Dad bringing home the groceries
One of the chicks did show itself then, but neither one made a fuss and they weren’t calling out for food, so I think they must be pretty well cared for. I watched a little longer hoping to see them feeding and when that didn’t happen, I thought about leaving again. But then this:
Since Dad’s back, Momma leaves on an errand
I din’t have clue why she left. It turns out she must’ve discovered a weak spot in the nest, because it wasn’t long before she came back:
Momma returns with a stick to repair the nest
And landed in the nest with the stick, very careful not to poke one of the chicks.
Momma carefully lands back at the nest with her stick
Which she moved into place to repair the flaw she’d found.
Momma patching the nest
I was there for about a half hour and these six photos cover a total time span of only 5 1/2 minutes. I was very lucky and excited that this family shared all this activity with me. Maybe Nature was trying to teach me a lesson: Slow down, stay a while, observe. You might see something wonderful. And it doesn’t have to be an owl!
Winter Park Osprey nest: On a related note, Jean Thomas commented (in this post: https://edrosack.com/2022/04/24/busy-birds/) that she went by that nest on April 25th and there was one chick that seemed about two weeks old. She’d heard that there were two seen there earlier. I went by on May 3rd and the nest was abandoned. Sad to know, but not all nests are successful every year.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day in the US: It’s our opportunity to remember those that have sacrificed so much to defend our country. Please honor them with a moment of silence, a reverent act or a thoughtful gesture of thanks.
Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. Honor the fallen. And whenever you can, stay for a while and make some photos. Nature might reward you!
We use the expression to mean that even in a bad situation, there is always some good that can come out of it.
We’ve also had Swallow Tailed Kites circling around over our house. The last time I saw one, I rushed to grab a camera and hurried outside. By the time I was ready, the bird was gone. But there were some awesome clouds out that day.
The future’s a bit cloudy
So out of all those potential photo ops, I only made one photo that I like. I guess you could say the cloud itself is the silver lining.
Thanks for stopping by and reading 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 there’s a silver lining, make a photo of it!
NOTE: This post is a bit of a downer. If that’s not your thing today, feel free to look at the photos and move on. But if you’re interested in nature, wildlife, and conservation – please read.
Back in March, I wrote this post about using eBird.org to try to figure out whether there are fewer American Avocets at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge now than there used to be.
I enjoyed doing the research and learning more about how to use eBird. But my conclusion at the time was:
“Is there a way to determine the accurate numbers? Sorry – I couldn’t find one. But I’ll keep looking and let you know.”
Well I kept looking and I’ve found some things to share. A while back, MK told me about a report she heard on NPR’s Fresh Air – Dave Davies interviewing Scott Weidensaul about his new book A World On the Wing. It sounded interesting and I was excited when MK got me a copy of the book for my birthday. I’m about a third of the way through it now. I like the book and the writing, although much of the data it presents is disturbing.
“Using multiple and independent monitoring networks, we report population losses across much of the North American avi- fauna over 48 years, including once-common species and from most biomes. Integration of range-wide population trajectories and size estimates indicates a net loss approaching 3 billion birds, or 29% of 1970 abundance.”
Abstract, Decline of the North American avifauna, Science, Vol. 366, No. 6461, 19 Sep 2019, pages 120 – 124
The article doesn’t speak specifically of Avocets, but does say that shorebirds “are experiencing consistent, steep population loss.” So I think that probably answers my original question.
Clouds over Gator Creek*
And it raises many more questions. These losses are massive and the causes are varied and complex. They range from climate change impacts along migration routes, to land development. What can we do about it? I hope we’ll figure that out and make sure all of our decisions account for future impacts. Then maybe someday our grandchildren will see at least as many Avocets as we do.
*These two photos don’t have much to do with the subject. But since this is a photo blog I try to always have some in each post. I guess you could say they do illustrate the idea though – there are no birds in them.
Thanks for stopping by and reading 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 support conservation efforts, so we can still make some bird photos in the future.