All posts by Ed Rosack

Banishing Broken Links

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 SurferSunrise 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!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black Bear Wilderness Area

I’ve seen interesting photos recently that some of my local Flickr friends made in the Black Bear Wilderness Area. So last Wednesday, I drove over to Sanford, Florida and took a hike to explore part of it.  Here are a few photos I made.

Black Bear Wilderness Area 3A fern near the start of the trail – these were everywhere and very green.

BBWA is a 7.1 mile nature trail through a 1,650 acre preserve along historic levees through the St. Johns River floodplain.  I thought the entire route would be a bit much for me, so I only hiked about 4 miles total, out and then back – starting counter-clockwise to reach the river.   I used my IR camera on the way out, and my ‘normal’ camera coming back.

Black Bear Wilderness Area 1Along the St. Johns River, near boardwalk 3.  IR monochrome

There are signs posted warning you to be prepared.  The route runs through remote areas with some challenging terrain (slopes, tree roots, fallen trees, etc).  I didn’t think the part I explored was that rough, but be careful if you go – carry water, bug spray, etc.  And check the weather – a rain storm while you’re out there could make the trail very slippery.

Black Bear Wilderness Area 2From a bridge overlooking a canal around mile mark 1

Bald Cypress trees and swamps around them are some of my favorite subjects. You’ll find them in large numbers at BBWA.

Black Bear Wilderness Area 4: Many kneesAmong the knees –  near mile marker 1.5. IR monochrome

Black Bear Wilderness Area %: Inside the cypress SwampInside the cypress Swamp – Near mile marker 0.5

In addition to these landscapes, I also saw a gator or two, and quite a few birds including herons, egrets, limpkins, osprey, and some unidentified smaller birds back in the bushes.  And no, I didn’t spot any black bears.  Shucks.

There were about 15 other people on the trail that morning, which seems like a lot to me for the middle of the week.  I guess the word is getting out about beautiful views along this amazing trail through wild Florida.  I wish I’d heard about it sooner!

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Mother Nature’s rewards

I headed out toward Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge with KM and KK last Friday.

We stopped by the boat ramp at the St. Johns River on US 50 for sunrise.  There weren’t many clouds, so my hopes for color weren’t too high.  But there was a nice pop as the sun came over the horizon and I zoomed in to capture this moment:

St. Johns SunriseSt. Johns Sunrise – a peaceful pasture

I had my infrared modified camera in the car.   When I saw these fishermen leaving, I pulled it out and hurried over to make an image.  Despite rushing, I like the way it turned out.  The clarity that IR brings to this image is nice, and the wake and boat reflection are pretty too. I’m glad I had the camera all setup to go before I grabbed it!

Early departureEarly departure – Monochrome, infrared

KM is an ace at spotting birds and he called out this Merganser.  When I got home, I thought at first it might be a Common Merganser – which I’ve never seen before.  But it turns out their range doesn’t include Florida.  So this was a Red-breasted – which I have seen, although infrequently.

Red-breasted MerganseRed-breasted Merganser

There are a large number of Northern Shovelers around Black Point Wildlife drive.  Of course they were mostly far away and when they were close, they seemed to always face in the wrong direction.  But patience paid off when this male eventually swam slowly in front of us in good light and dragged his very handsome reflection with him.

Male Northern ShovelerMale Northern Shoveler

Thistle plants are also all over on Black Point – this one came with a Bee on it.  I made a four image panorama to record the whole subject with higher magnification and resolution.  Sometimes I run into issues stitching these together.  But this one turned out well:

Thistle and beeThistle and Bee

KK called out this Snipe in the mangroves along the canal and we of course stopped to photograph it.  The light was poor, with the sun behind it.  When I first looked at my photo on the computer, it was very washed out.  I added some dehaze in Lightroom and was pleased with the result.

Wilsons SnipeWilson’s Snipe

Smaller birds were flitting around near the rest stop on Black Point.  I usually find these hard to photograph.  The light is bad way back in the reeds and they move quickly.  It’s tough to focus on them through all the obstructions.  I was shooting toward the sun for this image too and it didn’t look good at first on my computer.  Thankfully it’s in focus and  there’s a lot of latitude for processing with a RAW format file.  I used local adjustments with the radial filter in Lightroom to boost the exposure and visible detail on the bird.

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat

When we left on this trip, I had no idea what we’d see and photograph.  There are no guarantees.  I’ve learned though, that Mother Nature usually rewards us when we pay attention to her – in this case with a nice sunrise and several birds that I rarely see.  And a little post processing rewarded me with improved photos.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Tosahatchee and Viera

While I was sitting around watching the morning news yesterday, I decided I wanted to go check on the Sandhill Crane nests at Viera Wetlands and see whether any chicks have hatched.

It was long after sunrise when I left, but I went in search of landscape photos on the way at Tosahatchee Wildlife Management Area.

Tosahatchee wetlandsTosahatchee wetlands – we’ve had a bit of rain recently

Wild Iris plants are blooming along the roadside there and I stopped to photograph one.  As I was framing my image, a Swallowtail Butterfly swooped in and paused for about a second.  I was startled, but had time for a single shutter press before it moved on.  Thank you, Mother Nature for completing my composition!

Wild Iris and SwallowtailWild Iris (Blue Flag, Iris Virginia) and Palamedes Swallowtail

There were a lot of folks at Viera when I arrived around noon. I found one of the Sandhill Crane nests from last week’s post.  I didn’t see any chicks, but all looked well.  Both adults were there and standing at first so I could see one of the eggs.

I also went by the Great Blue Heron nest from last week’s post.  There was one adult at that nest. Looking very closely at the images on my computer at home, I can make out a newly hatched chick.

Great Blue Heron and chick, Viera Wetlands (click for a larger view)

Spring has sprung. At least in Central Florida.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Love is in the air…

At least it is at Viera Wetlands – a wonderful place to witness bird courtship and nesting behaviors.

This Great Blue Heron was lazy.  He was raiding an abandoned nest close to his and scavenging sticks to bring back to his mate.  A situation like this can be a great setup for photographers.  Watch for a cycle or two and you’ll get a good idea of what’s going to happen next.  It’ll allow you to anticipate and get good action / flight shots.

Nesting Great blue HeronsNesting Great blue Herons

I was back at Viera Wetlands to check on the Sandhill Crane nest that I told you about a couple of weeks ago.  Unfortunately, that nest has disappeared.  The water in that spot is much higher and the birds abandoned it when it flooded.

Sandhill Cranes seem to be a very successful species, but I wonder about their nesting habits.  Building in low-lying, marshy areas seems risky.  How often do they lose eggs or chicks to flooding or predators like alligators, raccoons, etc?

We did spot two other Crane nests, although we almost drove right by the one below.  We heard a bird calling as it flew by and stopped to watch it land.  That was when we noticed its mate and nest.  A few moments later the mate rose, revealing two eggs it had been tending. It stepped away and after a quick inspection to make sure all was well, the other one carefully took its place.  I hope this nest and the second one we saw will survive.

Nesting Sandhill CranesNesting Sandhill Cranes

I didn’t think our sunrise stop along the St. Johns river was that good, but I enjoyed making this photo of fishermen leaving the boat ramp before dawn.

Let's get an early start...Let’s get an early start

The light was dim.  I made a second exposure at a higher ISO to keep the shutter speed fast and the boat sharp.  Then I merged the two frames in Photoshop.

You can click on the photos in this post to see larger versions.  And you can read my previous posts about Viera Wetlands at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/viera-wetlands/, and view many more photos from Viera Wetlands in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157623223995224

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Enhanced details?

Have you heard about Adobe’s recent update to Lightroom?  It has a new feature called “Enhance Details”.  Adobe says it:

“approaches demosaicing in a new way to better resolve fine details and fix issues like false colors and zippering. Enhance Details uses machine learning—an extensively trained convolutional neural network (CNN)—to provide state-of-the-art quality for the images that really matter.”

You can read an explanation of what they’ve done on their blog at this link:  https://theblog.adobe.com/enhance-details/.  It sounds like a another fascinating advance in computational photography.  It’s also a great example of why you should shoot in Raw mode and save your original files – so you can take advantage of future software updates.  Of course I had to try this out!

Flower & bugWildflower and bug – processed in Lightroom with Enhanced Details (click for a larger view)

I chose this flower growing in Central Winds Park, near Lake Jesup as my subject.  By the way, this is the same spot and subject as this 2015 blog post.  There’s a lot of detail in the flower and insect and I was curious about how it would look using the new processing.

I ran Enhance Details on the Raw file.  At first, I couldn’t really see any improvement.  So I opened the original and enhanced images in layers in Photoshop.  I set the layer mode to Difference and then used a levels adjustment to highlight changes.

Difference map showing pixels changed by the Enhance Details algorithm

Using this method at 300% magnification to guide me to where the changes were, I could then see them clearly.  The enhanced image was indeed more detailed than the original.  But (for this example anyway) they’re extremely subtle!  Too subtle to show up in a blog resolution image without a difference map.

I did a little more research on-line and found this blog post:  https://elialocardi.com/adobe-lightroom-camera-raw-enhance-details-review/.  It’s got several samples where the differences are more obvious.  Well worth a read.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Adobe claims a 30% increase in image quality.  I’m not sure how they derived this number, but from the examples I’ve seen the results are much more subtle than that.
  • It works better on some subject than others, e.g. night photos of cities with lights, or images with artifacts.  Improvements are much harder to see on other subjects such as my flower.
  • I didn’t see (and haven’t heard of) anyplace where it made an image worse.
  • You pay a penalty in workflow, time, and disk storage when using this.  It shouldn’t be your default processing.
  • Consider it for portfolio images, or photos that you’re printing in a large format. Don’t bother with it for images shared to the web or ones that you’re printing small.  Keep your Raw files and you can always go back later and run them through.
  • If you use Fuji cameras, try it on their X-Trans Raw files.
  • We’ll hear more soon as the photo community explores this and we see results.
  • In the future this or something like it will probably become the default demosaicing approach.  Adobe should be commended and I hope they keep developing it

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Viera Wetlands 2-6-19

Here are some photos from a trip to Viera Wetlands last week.  There’s a lot to see there!

Dawn in the harborDawn in the harbor – A sunrise stop at the Cocoa Riverfront Park on the way to Viera

Sandhill Crane with egg in nestSandhill Crane and egg in nest – it’s fairly close to the berm.  I think I’ll go back in a week or so and see if it’s hatched.

Deer Deer – I’ve seen them several times hanging out at the east end of the park

Web Web – The spiders were busy and some of their work was catching the early morning sunlight

RobinAmerican Robin – Winter visitors / migrants are showing up in force

Ash-throated Flycatcher (?) Eastern Phoebe. Ash-throated Flycatcher(?) I didn’t recognize this bird when I made the photo.  and I’m still not totally sure what it is.  A Great crested Flycatcher was seen at Viera Wetlands in January, but this one seems too small for that. An Ash-throated Flycatcher was seen there in previous years. Many thanks to Wally Jones for the ID help!

So I had a very nice visit to a wonderful place – if you’ve never been, now is a good time to go!

You can see all my posts about Viera Wetlands at this link:  https://edrosack.com/category/viera-wetlands/

And I have many more photos from Viera Wetlands in this album on Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157623223995224

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

First, check the web page!

I missed out last week on a trip with Kevin K. and Kevin M. to the Circle B Bar Reserve due to some dental work (ouch!).  So I was eager to photograph something this week.  My schedule was finally clear on Friday, and when I woke up early, I decided to go walk around Orlando Wetlands Park – one of my favorite spots in this area.

Whoops.  I suspected something was wrong when I got out of the car and heard engines running.   I walked out toward Lake Searcy in the dark and when I saw construction gear and  no water in the corner cell, I turned around.   Fortunately I’d gotten up way too early, so I still had time to change my “plans” and almost make sunrise over on the coast.

Early morning on the river shore 2Early morning on the river shore 2. Rotary Riverfront Park, Titusville. That’s the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building in the distance.

After that, I headed to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  There are a lot of winter migrants here now.  The birds must’ve known beforehand about this week’s Polar Vortex.  In addition to our year round species, I saw American Avocets, Lesser Scaups, Northern Shovelers, Hooded Mergansers, and fast warblers I couldn’t ID.  I also stopped and talked to some folks on Black Point Wildlife Drive who were trying to find a Cinnamon Teal that’s been seen there.  I heard later they found it again on Saturday.

Hooded MergansersHooded Mergansers. Two males taking turns displaying for the females in the area

Pair of porkersPair of porkers.  Part of larger family just inside BPWD.

Spoonbill and reflectionSpoonbill and reflection.  This bird was so still, I had time to zoom in and make a three frame panorama.  That really helps with details!

Weathered Red CedarWeathered Red Cedar.  I was glad to see that my infrared camera still works after so much neglect!

So my photo adventure started out badly, but turned out well.  Those engines I heard were pumps.  I checked the OWP web page when I got home – they’re “demucking” Cell 14.  And there’s also construction going on in Cell 16.  I’ll go back in a while when the ruckus dies down.  Don’t be like me – check the web page before you go.  Even if you’ve been there many times!

Orlando Wetlands photos here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157639616792296

More Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157627776386723

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

iPhone Event Photography

MK won two extremely good tickets in a drawing at work for a recent Orlando Magic game and invited me to go with her (Thanks MK!).  I was excited and looked up the camera policy for the Amway Center.  The relevant sentence was:

“Cameras with detachable lenses longer than six (6) inches when extended are prohibited from all Amway Center sporting events.”

I put my Olympus 12 – 100 lens on my E-M1 2 camera, stuck an extra battery in my pocket, and was ready to make some super photos.  When we arrived I was stopped by the first security guard I saw at the start of the entrance line and told that no interchangeable lens cameras were allowed.  I didn’t think it was worth arguing, so I begrudgingly took my camera back to the car.  After going through the line to get in, we asked about the policy and were told that yes, interchangeable lens cameras are allowed!

Amway – you need to make sure your security people understand your policies!  Anyhow, I was tired of walking back and forth to the car and decided to just make photos with my phone.

Nikola Vucevic grabs a reboundNikola Vucevic grabs a rebound. Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets. The Magic led for most of the game, but lost by two in the final seconds.

Which ended up working well, since the seats were in the first row!  I used the 2x lens and shot in RAW mode using burst to capture the peak action.

I think a main disadvantage of phones vs. dedicated cameras is the lens selection, especially at the telephoto end.  Phones right now usually have two or three lenses at most.  Standalone cameras have a virtually unlimited lens selection available.  At events, you need to be close to the action or you need to use a long lens.

Last week, Lynn and I went to a concert at the Plaza.  Their camera policies are more restrictive (and  vague).  They can also change, depending on the performer, so I left my camera gear at home.   Our seats this time were about eight rows back, which was close enough to get a few iPhone photos of one of my favorite guitar players.

Hot Tuna at the Plaza, Downtown Orlando, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy Jan. 24, 2019Hot Tuna at the Plaza, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy, Jan. 24, 2019, Downtown Orlando.

I would’ve liked to get closer.  And the resolution isn’t as good as I’d want for prints on the wall.  But phones can work surprisingly well – if your seats are good enough.

I have more Orlando Magic photos in this album on Flickr.  And a few more Jorma Kaukonen photos in this one.

Sometimes my photo plans don’t work out.  But I make photos anyway.  It’s what I do.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some photos!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Flagler Beach Whale Quest

MK and I decided to drive over to Flagler Beach last Sunday.   Several whales have been seen recently – one the week before from the pier. We knew the chance we’d spot one was very small, but it’s a pretty place for sunrise and the restaurant on the pier serves a decent breakfast!

Quilted surf sunriseQuilted surf sunrise

We set off at “o-dark-thirty” and arrived before dawn.  I spent some time making photos on the beach and when it was light enough, we went up on the pier to scout.

Under the pierUnder the pier

North Atlantic Right Whales are among the most endangered whales in the world.  There are only about 450 left.  In addition to deaths from ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement, their birth rate seems to be declining.  They migrate south from New England to the warm waters off Florida to mate and give birth.  Unfortunately, there were no new calves spotted last year during the whole 2017 – 2018 season.

Fishing trawler "Miss Hope" at daybreak near the pierFishing trawler “Miss Hope” at daybreak near the pier

So it was pretty exciting when the first calf was spotted this year:  https://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20181228/right-whale-watchers-rejoice-as-calf-spotted-off-jacksonville-coast!

Flying close to the sunFlying close to the sun

Humpback Whales are also seen off our coast.  They’re usually further out than the Right Whales, which seem to stick closer to shore.

We ate breakfast and then drove to a couple more spots on the beach.  We knew before we left that day that our chances of seeing whales were slim.  But we all know our chances are zero if we never look.  And although we came up empty, it sure was a nice morning and worth the drive.

Here’s more info on Florida whales:

I’ve collected more photos from Flagler Beach in this album on Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157675598379207

You can view whale photos I’ve made here:  https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_id=8231395%40N04&sort=date-taken-desc&text=whale&view_all=1

And MK has many whale images in her Flickr stream.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved