Category Archives: MINWR

Look, all around you!

When you’re out, don’t get too locked in on your subject.  Make sure you’re always aware of other things around you.  They might be photogenic too!

The dawn was dressed in pale pastelsThe dawn was dressed in pale pastels along the Indian River

I already had my sunrise images on my memory card and thought I was good to go –  just waiting for a friend to finish up.  But then I looked across the calm water and noticed a boat anchored near the far shore.  The sky colors were unusual and lovely.  I set my tripod up again and made this photo.  It’s a good reminder:  We have to keep looking in all directions and not put the camera away until we’re leaving a place.  Beauty is all around us.  Let’s pay attention!

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – 18 Nov 2017

Kevin M., Kevin K., and I went to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge yesterday morning. We stopped by the Titusville Marina for a few sunrise photos.

Heading outHeading out

Then we drove around Black Point Wildlife Drive.  The water there is very high and although wildlife numbers might be a bit below average, there’s great variety with both  normal residents and winter visitors present.

A ternery panoramaA ternery pano – Caspian Terns and a Sandpiper in a four frame panorama

We saw Green, Blue, Great Blue,  and Tri-colored Herons, Reddish, Snowy, and Great Egrets, a Roseate Spoonbill, Sandpipers, Caspian Terns, Belted Kingfishers, Blue Wing Teals, Coots,  Ospreys, a Bald Eagle, Savannah Sparrows,  White Pelicans, Gulls, Vultures, an Alligator, and probably others I missed.  A person we talked to at the rest stop had just seen a bittern.

Reddish EgretReddish Egret

My friend Jim Boland reported seeing a Red Headed Duck, Northern Pintails, Blue Winged Teal, American Wigeons, and Northern Shovelers on BPWD in his newsletter* last Monday.  We didn’t see that many – I suspect they were out there, just hidden.  We heard hunters making a lot of noise throughout the morning and I bet the ducks are skittish.

If you’ve held off visiting MINWR or BPWD because you were uneasy about hurricane damage and lack of wildlife – stop worrying.  The place is rapidly getting back to normal and there’s every reason to get out there and witness some of Central Florida’s beauty.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

*By the way: If you want to subscribe to Jim’s newsletter, send him an email at jasboland01@gmail.com

Black Point Wildlife Drive is open again!

Yay! Jim Boland’s newsletter let us know that they’ve reopened Black Point so when Tom M. asked if I wanted to go out photographing I suggested we head to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. We met early Friday morning and drove over on State Road 50.

St. Johns River at dawnSt. Johns River at dawn

Our first stop was at the boat ramp on the St. Johns River. It’s a pretty place at dawn and the view was different this time since the water is several feet higher than I’ve ever seen it. Lots of rain here recently.

Once at the refuge, we headed straight to Black Point. The water there is a little higher than I’ve ever seen it too. The road surface was in great shape – I didn’t see any damage remaining from the hurricane.

Spiders and webs were very common. This one had set up in some great early morning light.

Banana SpiderBanana Spider – A little early for Halloween!

Some of our winter migrants are starting to show up and our regular birds were around, but not in great numbers. Belted Kingfishers teased us, and there were a few Savannah Sparrows foraging near the road.

Savannah SparrowSavannah Sparrow

We didn’t see too many ducks. I’m not sure if they just haven’t come down yet, or if they’re somewhere else.

We thought we spotted another Kingfisher over the canal on the right by the paved section near the exit. It was about the right size and seemed to fly like a Kingfisher. But then it landed in a tree and started acting like a Woodpecker – perched on the side of the main trunk and hopping around. I was pretty far away but took several photos anyway. When I got home and looked closely I didn’t recognize the bird. Kevin M. helped me ID it as a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (another new life bird for me!). Unfortunately, the photos aren’t very good so I haven’t posted them. Maybe next time I can catch it closer in better light. It seems like I’m always saying that!

One more thing: We met a woman at the rest area on the drive who’d just seen a Bobcat. She was patiently waiting to see if she could get a better photo. We left before we found out if she was successful. I’ve seen a Bobcat out there before, but it was further along, not near the Rest Area. If you go, keep your eyes open!

I have many more Black Point photos in this folder on Flickr. I’m glad it didn’t suffer too much damage from Hurricane Irma and it’s open again.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

One and Two and One, Two, Three

Here are a few photos from a scouting trip to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last Thursday.  I wanted to see how it was doing in the wake of Hurricane Irma and my shutter finger was itchy.  Some things didn’t fare too well:

Wreck at Markers 1 and 2Wreck at Markers 1 and 2 – on the northwest side of the Max Brewer Causeway 

I drove over on SR 46 from Winter Springs and the road was clear the entire way.  Although the water’s very high in some locations (especially near the St. Johns River), it doesn’t reach the road.

I made these next three images standing in the same spot near the Bairs Cove boat ramp on Haulover Canal.  It’s amazing how reliable a place this is to see wildlife.  I almost always find at least these three species when I go there and I was glad to see them still around after the storm.

One PelicanOne Pelican

Two ManateesTwo Manatees

Three DolphinsThree Dolphins

They’ve finished the Haulover Canal Bridge repairs so it’s open now.  I need to go back there and kayak again.  It is going to cool off soon I hope!

There were a few shore birds along the causeway.  I couldn’t check out the wildlife in two of my favorite areas (Black Point and Gator Creek) since they’re closed due to hurricane damage.  I don’t know when they’ll reopen – you can find out the current status at this webpage:  https://www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=2147578811

For everyone that ended up on this page after searching for math answers or song intros, I’m sorry about the title.  I know it’s bad for Search Engine Optimization, but I couldn’t resist.  I only wish I’d found a group of four somethings to photograph too.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Three things

Three more or less unrelated things to discuss today…

1. Image Stabilization

I’ve used Olympus micro four thirds cameras for a while and I’ve watched their capabilities get better and better.  Their latest image stabilization is truly amazing – Olympus claims five to six stops.  This means that if you can normally shoot at 1/100 second handheld without inducing camera shake blur, then with IS, you may be able to shoot at 1/3 to 1/2 second.  Truly a huge difference, as long as subject motion blur is not a problem.

Rapidan RiverRapidan River – This is the view just behind President Herbert Hoover’s cabin at the Rapidan camp retreat in the Shenandoah Mountains.

The settings on this photo are: focal length equivalent of 28mm, ISO 64, f/8, at 0.5 seconds, handheld.  Using the (1/focal length) rule of thumb, I should have exposed this at 1/30 sec to prevent camera shake.  But I wanted to use a slower shutter speed to blur the moving water.  With IS turned on in camera, I could hand hold at a half second and still keep all the non-moving rocks, etc. completely sharp in the frame.  And I like the way the water looks.

It’s a nice option to have if you don’t bring your tripod.

2. Workflow Experiments

I recently bought an SSD (solid state device) disk.  The main advantage of these is that they’re faster than spinning hard drives.  I wanted to speed up my photo processing workflow.  So I moved my 2017 image file directory and my Lightroom catalog to this drive and sure enough, Lightroom does seem faster.

But then it occurred to me that when I travel, I can  take the SSD with me on the road and use it with my laptop.  All I have to do is add a folder for the images from the trip.  When I get home I can just move it back to my desktop computer and any work that I’ve done on the road will come across with the SSD.  I won’t have to export / import, etc.  This should definitely save time when I get back.

There are some things to be careful of.  I’m backing up the SSD drive using Apple’s Time Machine in case there are any glitches with the SSD.  And I’ve had to re-arrange the image folders across the different disks and tell Lightroom where everything is.  I also need to make sure that preferences and presets are all accounted for.

After a week or so, it all seems to work ok.  I’ll let you know if I discover any other gotchas.  If you have questions about this setup, leave a comment and I’ll try to answer.

3.  Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge update

You may remember this blog post from March:  http://edrosack.com/2017/03/19/morning-glory/.  I posted a photo then of cracked mud on the bottom of a dried out pool.

I haven’t been back recently, and when my friend Howard T. wanted to try out a new camera, we decided to see what’s going on over there.  I’m happy to report that the water is back to normal (or even a bit high).  I can’t really recommend it for wildlife photography yet – the birds and animals still seem to mostly be elsewhere.  Maybe they’ll read this blog and return when they find out conditions have improved.

Black Point Wildlife Drive – The drought has eased – there was a lot of water there last week.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

By the bridge at daybreak

Sunrise in B&W is a bit unusual, but I like the geometry in this one and to me it conveys some of what I was feeling.  It’s very isolated under the bridge in the dark.

By the bridge at daybreak, alone, in black and whiteBy the bridge at daybreak, alone, in black and white

This spot is on the south-east side of the A. Max Brewer Causeway that leads into MINWR.  It’s a two frame panorama, made with the Olympus E-M1 MII in high res mode, stitched together in Photoshop and converted to B&W with the Macphun Tonality plug-in. Base exposure was four seconds at f/5.6, ISO 200, 12mm eq. focal length (2 frames).

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Morning Glory

I had a strong urge to photograph, and at the last-minute decided  to drive over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge before dawn last Friday.  My first stop was at a spot Kevin M. Tom M. (3/25/17 correction – I misremembered, sorry.  Tom told me about this place, not Kevin.) had mentioned – underneath the east side of the A. Max Brewer Causeway that leads into the refuge.

We’ve had cooler weather here and very clear skies, so I wasn’t expecting much color at sunrise.  But this is what greeted me at dawn:

Morning gloryMorning glory

This image is a two frame panorama I made with the Olympus E-M1 II camera in high res mode.  Lightroom’s been updated for the camera, and I’m impressed with how it handles these files.   And the more I use the new camera the better I like it, especially how it minimizes motion artifacts in high res mode.

I next took a turn around Black Point Wildlife Drive.  The water on the first half is as low as I’ve ever seen it – gone in many places.

Cracked Cracked.  Infrared, B&W

It was exciting to spot a Bobcat.  It was stalking slowly through the grass, but I only managed a single (poor) frame before it disappeared.  I wish it had lingered for a few minutes so I could get a better shot.  I’m guessing it might be a long time before I get another chance for a Bobcat photo as good as the one in this post from 2011.

Bobcat Bobcat

On the back half of Black Point there was a lot more water and a lot more of the regular birds.

Little BlueLittle Blue

I also took a turn around Gator Creek Road and saw an Osprey close up with an awesome fish.  But it grabbed the fish and flew off with it before I could get a photo.  Seems like I need to practice my quick reaction shots!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black Point Wildlife Drive – 1/6/17

I was planning to post more photos from our recent cruise this weekend.  But after visiting Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last Friday with Kevin K. and Tom M.  from the Photography Interest Group, I changed my mind.  There’s a great deal of activity there and it’s well worth a blog post (and a visit!).

One of the first birds we watched was a Redish Egret fishing close to shore.  It’s great fun to see these birds dance and pounce.

Reddish Egret and MinnowReddish Egret and Minnow

I had the Olympus E-M1 Mark II with me and practiced with the “Pro Capture” mode (I brought the right lens this time).  This really helps you catch a decisive moment – it’s almost cheating.  You’d better have a large card in your camera and time to go through all the images, though.  I used low-speed and still had way too many frames.  Here’s one example:

Wood Stork and MinnowWood Stork and Minnow

There were a huge number of White Pelicans and they treated us to “air ballet shows” all morning.

Synchronized FlyingSynchronized Flying

We saw several huge fish in the canal along the drive.  Possibly the same kind as in this post from last year.

Several (3 or more?) large fish (carp?) swiming in the canal alongside the road. These were about two feet long.Several (3 or more?) large fish (carp?) swimming in the canal near the road. These were about two feet long.

And there were more gators visible than usual.  They look well fed – perhaps they’ve been after those large fish.  These monsters stay so still that you can take your time and make a stitched panorama of them. Unless they’re chasing you 🙂

Gator panoramaGator panorama

We also spotted Belted Kingfishers, a Bald Eagle, Osprey, several varieties of duck, a wild pig, and many other interesting things.

You can look at my other photos from MINWR in this album on Flickr.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. There’s a lot going on over there – go see for yourself!

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

The last late sunrise…

For a while anyway.  Many photographers would agree that daylight savings time and “fall back” make it harder to get up for sunrise.  Photography Interest Group members Kevin K., Kevin M., Tom M., and I met at 6am last Friday for a photo expedition over to Merritt Island.  It was the last time we’ll be able to set the alarm that late until next year.  Despite sleeping in, we arrived well before dawn.  This was the scene at the boat ramp at the Titusville Municipal Marina.

Blue hour at the marinaBlue hour at the marina

There weren’t a lot of clouds, so my expectations for color were low but we did see a bit as the sun started to rise.

Calm morningCalm morning

And as usual, after it was light we went looking for wildlife on Black Point Wildlife Drive.   There are some winter visitors showing up there now.  We saw warblers, wrens, and Kingfishers.  But the ducks, Avocets and others are still missing.  They’ll show up before long.

Marsh Wren (?)Marsh Wren (?) – At least I hope it’s a Marsh Wren – that would be a life bird!
At the rest area on Black Point Wildlife Drive, MINWR

So once again it was a good trip to one of my favorite places.

I’m going to miss sleeping later on photography mornings.  By the way: New research says turning back the clock is not just bad for photographers.  It impacts mental health too:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/05/turning-back-the-clock-1-hour-takes-a-serious-toll-on-your-mental-health/

A couple other updates:

My friend Jim B. has heard that Biolab road in the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge is closed due to hurricane damage.  No reports on when it will open again.

The Cat and Turtle blog has a report on winter birds returning to Orlando Wetlands Park.  Check it out:  http://www.blog.catandturtle.net/2016/11/04/winter-birds-returning-orlando-wetlands-park/

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Two Merritt Island Photos

Both of these images are from a short trip to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge  yesterday morning.  I thought I’d tell you a bit about how I made them.

It was a good thing that I got there well before dawn, because the place I had in mind for a sunrise photo didn’t turn out (construction and street lights).  On the way over I noticed a massive thunderhead that looked like it would add some interest to my photos.  Unfortunately, it also added a lot of rain to the area, so I spent some time wandering around looking for a new place and making a few uninspired photos during gaps in the downpour.

Almost made it...Almost made it… A sunken sailboat near the Titusville Municipal MarinaI

I ended up at the Titusville Municipal Marina. There always seems to be a sunken boat or two there.  I think this one is recent, but it’s hard to be sure.   By this time, the rain was slacking off, so I parked and hurried over to where I could get a good angle on the colors in what was left of the rain clouds.   The light was pretty and I used the boat and the rocks on shore to add foreground layers to my composition.

I made many exposures, framing the boat in different ways.  The color built and I like the last set of frames best.  For this image I made seven exposures from the tripod.  Four were for the sky / clouds, pointed up slightly and bracketing exposure to make sure I captured the entire dynamic range.  I pointed three down slightly for the boat and water, to make sure I had everything in focus.  One of these three was through a neutral density filter so I could get a long shutter speed and smooth the water surface.  At home, I ended up using six of the frames, combining some in Lightroom’s merge function, and blending the rest manually in Photoshop.  Finally, I used Nik Color Effects Pro to tune the colors and Topaz Clarity to increase mid-range contrast to get what you see above.

After sunrise, I headed over to Black Point Wildlife Drive for a look around.  It’s been closed while they worked on the road.  It’s open again, in great shape, and ready for all the fall visitors.  There’s not much bird activity yet, but I did find this nicely posing Tri-colored Heron.

ReflectionsReflections – Tri-colored Heron, Black Point Wildlife Drive

This image is less complicated.  It’s just two frames, hand-held.  One’s focused on the bird’s eye and the other on its reflection in the water.  I merged them in Lightroom via the Photo Merge – Panorama function, and finished this one too with tweaks to color, contrast, and cropping in Photoshop.

Should you try these techniques?  I can’t decide for you.   For me, it’s more work, but it gives me much more control over the final result.  If you do decide to try them and have any questions about how to do this kind of thing, please leave a comment and  I’ll do my best to answer.


Thanks again to Mary Kate for writing last week’s post.  I apologize for the lack of images in that email.  I need to figure out how to get the server to send the photos when they’re not referenced from Flickr.  If you didn’t get a chance to see her photos, please click through and visit the blog.


Reminder: The flowers are coming!  The annual Florida Sunflower bloom should start by the end of September, and only lasts for a couple of weeks – be ready!.  In Central Florida, you can see them at Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation area. See here for more info.


You can see many more of my photos from MINWR in this album on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.