Category Archives: Maitland

Photography’s not important. Yes it is!

Sorry about the glitch last Thursday – I didn’t mean for this post to go out then.  Hitting the wrong button in WordPress is embarrassing, but at least my email subscribers got to see an example of how my posts usually begin – as just a few words jotted down to expand on later.  Here’s the rest of it.

BloomingBlooming

In the grand scheme of life, photography  isn’t required.  We managed for most of our history without photos.  And even today, with cameras in every cell phone, many people never make a photo.  So is photography important?

Barred Owl PairBarred Owl Pair

The world is awash in geo-political problems.  World leaders with nuclear weapons call each other names and threaten annihilation.  Scientists say global warming is going to drown our coast lines.  Storms and earthquakes cause massive destruction and loss of life.  Watching the evening news is overwhelming and sometimes even depressing.  In this world, how important is an activity like photography?

Bald EagleBald Eagle

Images and video play an increasing role in documenting problems and news in our society.  Ubiquitous cell phone cameras give us a look into life as it happens, views that were less likely to be seen in the past.  Is that a good thing?  In general I think so, even though what we now see all the time is often uncomfortable.

Barn OwlBarn Owl

Photography is also a tool. It lets us explore and comprehend things we can’t view with our own eyes.  Just look at the incredible images that the Cassini probe has sent back from Saturn.  This is extremely important data leading to a better understanding of our universe.  Vital?  Maybe not, but it is important.

What about photos like the ones in this post?  Are they important?  Maybe not to you, but to me they are.  When I’m out photographing I can forget all about many worrisome things and concentrate on an activity I enjoy.  If I’m lucky I become completely absorbed in the process – “in the zone”.  Worries drop away – at least for a time.  And sharing the results may not be crucial, but I do think it’s worthwhile.  Allowing others to see what I can and they can’t is an activity worth doing.  The photos don’t have to worthy of the Louvre. But’s it’s nice to get one every once in a while that goes up on my wall.

These photos were all made at the Audubon Birds of Prey Center in Maitland Florida.  They take in injured raptors, treat them, and (if they’re well enough) return them back to the wild.  They’re able to release just over 40% of their raptor patients.  Some birds (like the ones pictured here are too severely injured, so they become permanent residents that we can photograph when we visit.

The images don’t have a lot to do with the ideas in the post.  But they’re good examples.  The act of making them got me out of the house to meet a friend.  We enjoyed seeing the birds, and our donations will help the Audubon society to continue to help injured raptors.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Very good, but a bit sad – revisiting The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey

I hadn’t been by the  Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida in a long time.  So when Tom M. mentioned he wanted to go, I was happy to meet him and Keith H. there one morning last week.

Irked Eagle
Irked Eagle – This is Frederick, one of the permanent residents. A staff member brought him out for us.  In this photo, he’s yelling at a different staff member that walked by. Maybe he was expecting a handout?

Birds of Prey is a wonderful place but leaves me with mixed emotions.  On the good side, there are many more Raptors now than there used to be. The estimated population of Bald Eagles in Florida has grown from 88 active nests in 1973 to  1,457 nests now.  But on the sad side, there are also many more people and automobiles.  This leads to increased encounters between people, their cars, and birds – and sadly, means that many more birds are getting injured today.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Wonderful places like Birds of Prey take in injured raptors, treat them, and (if they’re well enough) release them back into the wild.  They’re able to release just over 40% of their raptor patients.  But it’s sad that some birds are too injured to be released.

Great Horned Owl
This Great Horned Owl looks a bit sleepy.  It must be a night owl.

The injured birds are well cared for. Some are placed in zoos or other facilities that are knowledgable and able to provide for them.  Others stay at Birds of Prey.  They make exceptional  ambassadors and help teach people about these awesome creatures.  All three raptors pictured in this post are permanent residents at the center.  It’s great that they’re such good photo subjects.  But it’s sad that they’ll never make it back into the wild.

There’s another place like this in Apopka, Florida – The Avian Reconditioning Center.  I haven’t been there yet, but I’m sure they’re just as dedicated to helping injured birds.  And I’m sure there are places like this all over.  You’ll be sad if you never visit one.  In addition to the photo-op, your entrance fees help pay for care for the injured birds.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go visit a bird rehab facility.  And make some photos too!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Riding the Rails – Orlando's New SunRail Commuter Train

There are a lot of posts on here about nature / wildlife / landscape photography in our area.  But the blog isn’t only about those subjects – it’s about Central Florida Photo Ops in general.  So this week we have something a little different…

Central Florida’s new commuter rail system opened on May 1.  The first phase of SunRail is 32 miles long and connects DeBary to Sand Lake Road, with 12 intermediate stations.   The fares have been free for the first two weeks while they work the kinks out of the system.  And I had some free time – so it was a perfect chance to check it out.

Trains run every 1/2 hour during the morning and evening rush hours and every two hours in the middle of the day.  Getting there early gave me more opportunities to get on and off the train and explore nearby locations.  And sometimes the light is really pretty in the morning too!

A beautiful morning to catch the train
A beautiful morning to catch the train – at the Maitland SunRail platform

The trains are new, clean, modern, air-conditioned, and the morning I rode they were all on time.  They’ve been crowded with many folks riding for free to scope out the system.  But by the time I boarded last Wednesday the crush had thinned out – I had no problem getting seats all morning.

Northbound Sunrail
Northbound

There are plenty of scenic locations within walking distance of the SunRail stations.   Exploring them all would take longer than a morning so I only stopped at three: Orlando Health, Winter Park, and Maitland.  Finding subjects to point my camera at was easy. Here are two examples:

Seaboard Coast Line - Amtrak
Seaboard Coast Line – Amtrak Station

Lucy Bleuz and the Jazzy Dog
Lucy Bleuz and the Jazzy Dog –  they look like good places to eat

I didn’t try photographing from inside the train – motion and glare would make it tough.  But there are some interesting sights between stops.  If you want to try this, the east side of the car in the afternoon might have the best shots and light.

Initially, SunRail isn’t operating on weekends – so you’ll need to get around another way on Saturday / Sunday.  But if you have time during the week, it’s an enjoyable experience.  And did I mention there are photo ops?

You can see these and a few more photos from this trip in this set on Flickr.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Monochromatic HDR Photography

If you’ve looked through this blog or my Flickr stream, you know I like Black and White photography.

B&W with film used to be simple.  Get some Tri-X film, put it in your camera, and make exposures. Take the film to the drug store and wait to get your prints back.

OK, it’s never been all that simple. If you’re really hardcore, you get out your chemicals, develop the film yourself and print your best ones.  And if you were really, really hardcore – you could dodge and burn while printing to decrease and increase exposure in specific parts of the print.

You can still do all that.  But many people today use digital cameras for B&W photography.  And things are still as complicated as you want to make them.  You set your camera to color mode (yes color, unless you have a Leica M Monochrom camera) and RAW format and make exposures. You load the resulting files into your favorite processing software and adjust / convert the color images to B&W.  Then you print carefully to maintain and display all the tonality present in your carefully crafted image.

Along the way, you’ve got to make many decisions on what software to use and how to use it.  It’s very easy to get lost and see only trees, no forest.  And if you want the best results, you need to know what tools are available and how to use them.

Composing

Composing – A recent photo I made and converted to B&W

I purchased and read Monochromatic HDR Photography by Harold Davis.  I’ve been a fan of his for a long time and I admire his photographic expertise and creativity.  It’s a real treat to read this book and follow along as he makes some absolutely lovely B&W images.  He covers info that will help beginners as well as experienced photographers and it’s not just post-processing technique.  He also talks about the reasons behind choices and creative aspects.

I won’t give away the whole book.  It’s a good one and covers the subject well, with a tremendous amount of information that everyone could use.  If you’re interested in B&W, you should buy and read it.  Basically, Harold’s work flow consists of:

  • Capturing the image as a set of bracketed exposures to make sure you preserve all the tonality that’s present in the scene
  • Converting the bracketed sequence into the best quality, color, high dynamic range image possible
  • Making multiple passes of B&W conversion on the color HDR file and saving them.  With each pass you can vary tonality, contrast, detail, etc. to enhance parts of the image.
  • Using layers to blend the different B&W versions into a single “magical” result

I’ve been trying out his ideas and the photo in this post is a recent example.  Below are some intermediate steps so you can get an idea of how this works.

pass 1Step 1:  I like the general look, but thought the trees should be darker

pass 2Step 2: I like the tree in this version, but the fern, photographer, and parts of the canopy are too dark 

pass 3Step 3:  Fixing the exposure / contrast of the photographer

finalFinal:  All layers blended together to create the version I posted on Flickr.  I like the sky and canopy glow, the dark tree, the bright ferns and the photographer’s appearance compared to the background.

Although I have a long way to go to even get close to Harold’s level, I really like his approach.  There are a great many advantages and the only disadvantage I can think of is that it takes time.  But if you have a scene that you want to render into the best B&W image possible, this is a great way to do it.  And Monochromatic HDR Photography by Harold Davis is a wonderful guide to “Shooting and processing Black & White High Dynamic Range Photos”.

Central Florida Photo Ops Book Review Rating:  5 star, must read!

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Maitland, Florida

Intro / Description

Maitland is a particularly photogenic city in the greater Orlando metro area.  I’ve found several locations there with good photo ops – my most recent visit was to the Maitland Art Center with Keith H.

Way out
Way out: A gate in the wall at the Maitland Art Center (Infrared, Black and White)

The Maitland Art Center used to be known as The Research Studio and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.  It’s one of the few examples in our area of Mayan Revival architecture, which can make for some intriguing  details to photograph.  The grounds are a popular place for weddings.  You may run into one on weekends that will keep you out of one or more of the venues.

Mayan Revival carved door
Mayan Revival carved door – I wonder if this is where Indiana Jones keeps his stuff?

Other museums in this location in addition to the Art Center are: the Telephone Museum; the William H. Waterhouse House Museum; and the Carpentry Shop Museum.  If you’re visiting, check the websites linked here – the hours and fees vary.

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:

My approach was to wander and photograph whatever caught my eye.  I found the Art and History Museum  productive for IR / B&W photography.

Tripod/Monopod:  Allowed and helpful.

Lenses:  You’ll probably use wide and normal lenses the most.  I didn’t feel any need for a telephoto lens.  A polarizing filter might be helpful to block reflections in glass.

They're all in the garden at the party
They’re all in the garden at the party

Best time to visit:  Year round, early or late in the day for the best light.  Avoid weekends if possible so you don’t run into any weddings.

Other:

There are some other photo ops close by.  I’ve written before about the Audubon Birds of Prey center – a great place to get close portraits of some very impressive birds.

Recovering eagle, Audubon Birds of Prey center, Maitland, Fl
Recovering eagle, Audubon Birds of Prey center

And the park at Lake Lilly is also photogenic.  Try some sunrise or sunset photos there, or walk through the farmers market on Saturdays for some local interest / people photos.  Be careful the ducks don’t peck on your lens!

Wide angle, backlit, ducklings
Wide angle, backlit, ducklings at Lake Lilly – looking for a handout

And the Fort Maitland boat ramp at 900 South Orlando Ave. would be a great place to launch your kayak!

Summary

My Gallery /  Flickr photo set:  Maitland on Flickr
Website:  http://artandhistory.org
Address / Phone: 231 West Packwood Avenue, Maitland, Florida
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating:  A great place to explore; Lots of photo ops

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Wide, wide weekend

I was in Colonial Photo and Hobby and saw a Rokinon micro four thirds  7.5mm f/3.5 manual focus fish-eye lens on the shelf.  I’ve never had a fish-eye lens before although I’ve always liked wide-angle.  I couldn’t resist and ended up taking it home.

Fish-eye lenses are not rectilinear – meaning they sacrifice keeping perspective lines straight to make the field of view big.  This one has a full 180° field of view and covers the sensor without any vignetting.  180° is really, really wide – keep your fingers and toes out of the composition!   They also tend to have a huge depth of field, which is even greater on a micro four thirds camera than on a full frame 35mm equivalent.

I tried it first on my infrared modified camera – I call these IRFE (infrared, fish eye) photos.  In this one, I wanted to take advantage of the distortion introduced by the lens to make the support structure for the bridge look more interesting. So I put the beams as close to the edges of the frame as I could get them.

Suspension bridge
Suspension bridge: Carl Langford Park, Orlando

In this next one, I saw the tree branch above and wanted to try to capture the complexity against the sky.  I’ve found it hard to make photos like this with a regular  wide-angle lens.  I end up not having a wide enough view and then taking multiple photos and trying to stitch them together as a panorama.  Stitching software just doesn’t hold up too well when the angle of view is too large.

Tree branches
Tree branches: Dickson Azalea Park, Orlando

Of course, you can use a fish-eye lens in a more normal way.  If you keep things that you want to appear straight toward the center of the frame, the image will look a lot more like a regular wide-angle photo.

Curve ahead
Curve ahead: Behind Lake Lily Park, Maitland.

I’m really happy with the lens.  It seems sharp, doesn’t vignette and the manual focus aspects aren’t a big bother because of depth of field.  It seems to handle flare pretty well and I’m not noticing any pronounced chromatic aberrations or other problems.  On my camera, it exposes correctly in aperture priority mode, even though there’s no electronic coupling.  And… it’s fun!  Isn’t photography supposed to be fun?

You can click on the images above to get to larger versions on Flickr. You can also see some of my other infrared photos here on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Audubon Birds of Prey Center

Description

The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey is located at 1101 Audubon Way  – just off of highway 17 / 92 in Maitland, Florida.  They treat injured or orphaned birds of prey (raptors), and release a great many of their former patients back into the wild. The Center also provides environmental education to local students, teachers, and visitors. Many birds that are too injured to be released are given permanent homes at the center.

The educational displays and permanent residents present an outstanding opportunity for the photo enthusiast.  A visit here will take an hour or two depending on how thorough you are.  Below is a photograph of one of the permanent eagle residents at the Center, which I made during a visit in 2007:

eagle

Photo hints

Lenses :  Bring a long zoom lens.  My 70 – 300 mm  on my 1.5 crop body D90 DSLR, gave me frame filling head shots of the bald eagles in the court-yard just inside the main entrance.  On the smaller birds (hawks and owls) in this courtyard, you can still get frame filling body shots. Below is a photo of a hawk: hawk

You should also bring a macro lens or attachment if you have one, since there are some very pretty flowers on the grounds of the center. flower

Tripod / Monopod :  I believe that tripods are allowed, although I didn’t use mine and didn’t ask.  There aren’t usually any big crowds here and there’s no narrow passages where a tripod would cause a problem.  I did bring my monopod and it came in handy, although you can probably get by with an ISO boost or by strategic use of gates and other structures to prop your camera on.

Other :  A flash would be handy for photos on the porch where there are smaller birds (kestrels, falcons, and small owls).  I didn’t have mine with me and opted to raise the ISO on my D90 to 1600, which worked pretty well.  Below is a kestrel photo, made on the porch. kestrel

Note that one of the attendants told me that photography “is permitted here as long as you don’t sell the photos.”  If you do plan on a commercial use, please talk to someone at the Center about it.

Summary

The Audubon Birds of Prey Center is a wonderful place to spend an hour or two with a camera.  You can learn a bit about raptors and your $5 entrance fee supports the center’s work.  You can also make some very nice photos of Birds of Prey.

My Gallery (22 total photos): http://edrosack.com/090524_Birds-of-Prey/
Website: http://fl.audubon.org/who_centers_CBOP.html
Address: 1101 Audubon Way Maitland, FL 32751 (407) 644-0190
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: Hidden Gem!

©2009, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.