I’ve photographed the wildflowers (swamp sunflowers) that bloom near Lake Jesup at this time of year since about 2006. I’ve never seen as many people out there as I did tonight. When I drove by on 417, there were 8 or 10 cars along the shoulder and people with cameras and tripods were clambering down into the flowers to get photos. When I arrived at the Lake Jesup Conservation Area just before sunset, the gate was closed and the two parking spaces outside the gate were already taken – so I had to park on the road. On my walk in, I met up with two people with cameras and on my way out another person stopped me to ask what I’d seen. On most previous trips, I haven’t seen anyone. I guess the word has gotten around.
Lake Jesup Conservation Area – Fisheye fun with the Swamp Sunflowers.
The flowers are at their peak. If you want to see or photograph them, you should go in the next few days.
Lake Jesup Conservation Area Wildflowers
Check out these links for info and please be careful. Stopping along 417 could be dangerous.
If you live in the Central Florida area and want to photograph an endless field of flowers, get ready to head over to the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation Area where Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius, also called Narrow Leaf Sunflowers) bloom from horizon to horizon during the last week in September and the first week of October.
Kevin M. in the flowers at the Lake Jesup Wilderness Area
I drove by on highway 417 this afternoon to see what’s going on, and there are already a few flowers out. My guess is that they’ll start peaking next weekend. Check out these links for info and maybe I’ll see you out there!
If you’ve read through my blog or looked at my photostream on Flickr, you’ll already know that I enjoy black and white photography and occasionally post B&W images. Removing color from a scene abstracts reality – and emphasizes shapes, composition, and texture. The image becomes a bit unreal, but since we’re used to B&W – not too unreal. This makes B&W a great way to make your images stand out.
Another way to make your images stand out is by using infrared (IR) film or an IR modified camera:
IR captures a portion of the spectrum of light that’s different from what your eyes can see.
The spectral response makes blue sky look dark and foliage bright. This reverses a normal daylight scene’s brightness values, helps tame contrast, and allows you to shoot even when the sun is high in the sky.
You can interpret this alternate version of reality by processing your IR photo as B&W or various types of false color images.
IR can sometimes also capture details that aren’t seen with visible light.
If you use a modified digital camera, you may see improved detail in your photos, since the conversion process removes the anti-aliasing filter that most digital cameras use to slightly blur the image during capture (and remove Moire patterns and other aliasing artifacts).
I’ve gotten some questions about my infra-red images. And I haven’t written anything about technique recently, so in this post, I’ll go into detail about a recent IR image I made. I’m relatively inexperienced at this, but as a IR n00b I’ve learned a few things that may come in handy if you want to try it.
Messy knees: Cypress trees on the south shore of Lake Jesup. Cypress trees and their roots are good subjects, especially along the water where they’re usually found. The light hitting these tree trunks and the Spanish Moss also caught my eye. I’m still playing around with infra-red. There’s a range of post processing options available. I was hoping that this false color version looks just alien enough to make people take a second look. Click here to view a larger version of this photo on Flickr.
Older models like the E-PL1 are relatively inexpensive;
They have a large sensor (compared with compact cameras) which helps image quality;
They use the sensor for contrast type focusing so there are no focus calibration issues that can occur in a DSLR
Most have RAW format capture available
I shoot in RAW, not jpeg. For IR, it would be tough to get all the settings perfect in camera. Plus, there are a lot of post processing options which you’d give up if you only capture jpeg.
White balance is one thing that you should set. If you shoot in RAW, white balance can be adjusted in post processing. But setting a white balance in camera is important since it lets you judge your shots on the LCD screen as you take them. Unless you set a custom (preset) white balance all IR images would look very red. On my E-PL1 I use a temperature setting of 2000K which is as low as it will go. This camera has no tint adjustment, so photos still look blue, but it’s good enough for judging exposure.
Here are 7 versions of this photo that show the processing steps I went through along the way. Don’t be alarmed – this is quicker and easier than it sounds.
You can find out more about Infrared photography at these places:
The Khromagery website has several good articles on IR cameras and processing. They also offer an IR Photoshop action as a free download.
So, is IR an infatuation? Will I use it for a while and then let it fade away? Will I only bring it out for special photo ops as inspiration? Will it take over my photo life to the exclusion of all other approaches? Who can say? You’ll just have to keep reading my blog and see what happens. Along with me.
You can visit my IR set on Flickr to see more examples of what I’ve done. What do you think? Is IR photography something you’d like to explore?
We may not get much Autumn color on our trees in Central Florida, but we do have one wonderful sign that fall is here – the sudden appearance of huge fields of Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius, also called Narrow Leaf Sunflowers) covering the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation Area.
If you haven’t driven over Lake Jesup on the 417 toll road to see this year’s flower extravaganza on the north shore, now’s the time . They started blooming last weekend and the peak will probably last through this coming weekend. You can see my earlier posts for more info:
July in Central Florida is a tough time for photo-ops, especially nature and wildlife photo-ops. The bird breeding season is over, and the heat makes both human and animal activity brief and difficult.
A few of us did scout Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge last weekend. It’s supposed to have the largest summer gathering of Swallowtail Kites in the Southeast US. They spend July and August there while they prepare to migrate to Brazil. We didn’t see any. We’ll try again and I’ll put together a better scouting report.
Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge: Birdless, misty morning
I did manage to make a couple of photos around my neighborhood last week. This one is from Tuesday. I noticed these awesome rain clouds on my way home from work and stopped by a small park on the south shore of Lake Jesup to photograph them.
Might Rain: Looking north from the south shore of Lake Jesup
And this is a photo of one of our neighborhood eagles. We’ve seen it sitting in this tree on many mornings this year.
Neighborhood Bald Eagle: It always amazes me when I see one of these in the wild. What a remarkable comeback they’ve had from near extinction.
I enjoy both nature/landscape photography and wildlife photography. I was thinking about this recently and it occurred to me that these can be quite different from an equipment, skills, and approach perspective.
Landscape: Lake Jesup flood waters after Tropical Storm Fay
Birding: Great Blue Heron profile
Here are some of the things I think are different about the two:
Birding / Wildlife
The quality of light is important (e.g. “Golden hour”). The amount of light isn’t too important: You can make long exposures from your tripod.
The amount of light is important. You need lots of light to get your shutter speed up.
You need to know the location, and figure out sun timing and position. May still be hit or miss depending on the weather.
You need to know about the animal and its habits, and where you might find them. May still be hit or miss depending on the animals (and maybe the weather).
1. Composition, 2. Exposure, 3. Focus
1. Focus, 2. Exposure, 3. Composition
Probably better by yourself: Your location, your vision.
Can be better in groups. Many eyes can help spot things one person will miss.
Good tripod with good ball head. Wide angle lens, small aperture for greater depth of field, long exposure. Frame rate not too important.
Very long lens, large aperture for a fast shutter speed. High frame rate body. Maybe a tripod with a gimbal head.
Not as expensive
Can be very expensive
Have I missed anything? What else is different about these two types of photography?
This next one was made at Lake Marie in Trotwood Park. There are almost always at least a few birds in this small lake and last night was no exception.
The geese aren’t watching the sunset
And finally, here’s one from this morning at Sam Smith Park. It was very quiet – almost no wind, which helps wonderfully with reflections in water. The cyprus trees here in Florida do change colors for the winter – the one on the left is starting to turn.
Last year during wildflower season, I hesitated to venture out into the Lake Jesup Wilderness Area in the dark. I’ve seen several types of animals and birds out there and never any snakes, but it sure does seem like prime snake country to me. And I don’t relish stepping on something dangerous in the tall growth and dim light. This year, I was a little braver (and very careful) and got out into the wildflower fields just as the sun came up.
1. I updated the blog’s table of contents again. If you haven’t looked at it, please do. In the TOC, I list the places I’ve blogged about along with links to the blog entry and the image gallery. It also has a collection of links to other resources on the web where you can find photo-op info. If you’re doing research on photogenic locations in Central Florida (and some other places too) this is a good start.
2. The Lake Jesup wildflower season is almost here. This photo-op is seasonal and usually starts in late September and is over by early October. If you want to photograph it, get ready. You can find info in two of my blog posts: