Category Archives: VARIOUS

Fewer Birds – Follow-up

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.

Good MorningGood Morning*

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.

Starting on page 146, Weidensaul describes finding out about a blockbuster analysis published in the September 2019 issue of Science magazine: Decline of the North American avifauna (the article is paywalled, but if you sign up for a free account you can read it). I’ll quote here from the abstract:

“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 CreekClouds 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.

A Stroll in the Dark

I wanted to check on the Osprey nest in downtown Winter Park, Florida. I decided to leave (very) early so I could also make some night time / low light photos in the area. I’ve done that before (see: /https://edrosack.com/2015/10/03/winter-park-at-night/). Here are a few of the results from this time.

Colony Theater BuildingColony Theater Building

The Colony Theater on Park Avenue in Winter Park Florida first opened in 1940. Matinees during WW II cost 39 cents. The theater closed in 1975 and was converted to retail space (see winterparkmag.com/history/). It’s still photogenic. This is a single frame (ISO 100, 26mm, f/8 @ 3.2 sec.)

Bright blooms at nightBright blooms at night

When I saw that planter in full bloom in front of an interesting building across the street, I knew I had to make a photo. But I wanted everything in focus and both the flowers and the building / lights well exposed. I made three frames: one focused and exposed for the flowers (ISO 100, 35mm, f/8 @ 20 sec.) and two more focused on the building (ISO 100, 35mm, f/8 @ 10 sec. and 4 sec). I did an HDR blend of the building exposures in Lightroom, and loaded the result along with the flower exposure into separate Photoshop layers. There, I aligned and masked the sharp flowers into the building layer. It took a few minutes, but I like the result.

Almost emptyAlmost empty

This one is a three frame exposure bracket (ISO 100, 24mm, f/8 @ 4, 10, and 20 sec.). I first called it “Empty street”, but then noticed the three ghostly figures and changed the title. The header image in this web post is an enlargement of the center.

Very early trainVery early train

I set up and made a test shot while I waited for a train to come through (ISO 100, 53mm, f/7.1 @ 25 sec.). I wanted a long exposure to show a lengthy train streak. When I looked at the image later on my computer, I didn’t like the way the train headlight changed the lighting on the trees, so I ended up using the test frame as the base image and blending in the train streak from the other frame. I’m glad I had that test shot to use!

Anyway, I like how these turned out and I thought maybe you’d be interested in a brief overview of how I made them. And by the way, Momma Osprey was on the nest but I don’t think any chicks have hatched yet. I’ll try to go back and get some photos of them.

You can review my other posts about Winter Park here: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/winter-park/. And you can view other photos from there in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157636838442164/with/10424895284/.

Thank you very much for stopping by 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!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Fewer birds?

I was browsing through my photo archives last week and came across an unprocessed RAW image of an American Avocet and its reflection. I thought it had potential so I went ahead and worked on it.

American AvocetAmerican Avocet

I made this in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on March 3, 2015. It got me thinking – I know, proceed with caution, right?

The last time I was over there, I spent a few minutes talking to someone and he mentioned that there are fewer birds there now than there used to be. I hear comments like that a lot when when I’m out photographing. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d seen an Avocet but I knew it’d been a while. Maybe there are fewer of them around. When I went back into my archives in Lightroom, it turned out my most recent photo of one is from January of 2021.

I don’t see too many of them, and they’re distinctive enough that I’m sure I’d notice them if they were there. But my data is sparse and can’t really say if these birds are getting less frequent around here. So how can I tell?

I’ve mentioned eBird.org before. It’s managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and collects data on bird sightings from all over the world to “document distribution, abundance, habitat use, and trends”. Maybe if we look there we can see if there are fewer Avocets now at MINWR.

There’s a tremendous amount of data and science resources on eBird. But I couldn’t find specific information on year to year trends. So I looked at the specific page for MINWR bird observations: https://ebird.org/barchart?byr=1900&eyr=2022&bmo=1&emo=12&r=L123565. If you search for American Avocet on that page and click on the little graph symbol next to the name, it opens this page: https://ebird.org/barchart?r=L123565&bmo=1&emo=12&byr=1900&eyr=2022&spp=ameavo

Then you can select different metrics and date ranges. I chose to look at the “Totals” tab, which is the “sum total of all counts from all observations for a species within a specified date range and region”. I picked two date ranges: 2007 – 2014, and 2015 – 2022 to compare and see if I could tell if there are fewer avocets now than when I first started going over to MINWR.

American Avocets: Total observations by month at MINWR, 2007 – 2014. Image provided by eBird (www.ebird.org) and created 3/26/22.
American Avocets: Total observations by month at MINWR, 2015 – 2022. Image provided by eBird (www.ebird.org) and created 3/26/22

This seems to say there are about twice as many American Avocets seen at MINWR recently than there used to be. But… it isn’t normalized to account for the increased reporting by more birders as time goes on. So I don’t think these numbers are an accurate representation of the number of Avocets actually there. Is there a way to determine the accurate numbers? Sorry – I couldn’t find one. But I’ll keep looking and let you know.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some bird photos now – in case their are fewer opportunities in the future.

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Blue Skies

I complained a bit about our weather last week, and I do think we’ve been getting more than our normal share of clouds and rain. It doesn’t seem right though to grumble about a few gloomy days here in Central Florida when conditions in some other parts of the country and world are bad or worse.

Anyway, it isn’t quite “Nothing but blue skies do I see” around here, but we have had some very nice days recently. This week I’ll just show you a few photos of “Blue skies smiling at me” to prove it.

Blue Skies 1Ferns

Blue Skies 7Potted Plant

Blue Skies 6Palms

Trumpet Trees (Tabebuia) are plain most of the year. In the spring, they burst with blooms for a couple of weeks. The trees in the next two photos are already blending back into the landscape.

Blue Skies 3Pink Trumpet Tree

Blue Skies 2Yellow Trumpet Tree

Blue Skies 4Spanish Moss

Blue Skies 5Ball Moss and Ferns

Here’s one last image. It’s not “Blue birds singing a song” but I feel like this blackbird was enjoying the blue skies as much as I was.

Blue Skies 8Red-winged Blackbird

Thanks for stopping by and looking at my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, enjoy some blue skies photography.

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black and White Light

I’ve written a bit about this before (see #2 in this post: https://edrosack.com/2020/06/28/black-and-white/), but I don’t think I’ve ever explicitly revealed the secret.

Here’s the finished photo:

Under the bridgeUnder the bridge(click to view larger on Flickr)

I like it and the Flickr folks seemed to like it too. It’s a two frame composite blended from these images:

Image 1, exposed for the water: ISO 100, 16mm, f/11, 13s
Image 2 – exposed for the sky: ISO 100, 16mm, f/11, 2.5s

I think the the subject and composition are nice, but the mixed natural light and bridge lighting are too different. I could have tried to use selective white balance (see: https://edrosack.com/2011/10/30/using-selective-white-balance-to-fix-problem-photos/) to fix this, but I think it would have been hard in areas where the colors overlap.

Anyway, today’s secret is that wild lighting can look a lot better in B&W. The Lightroom B&W conversion tool has sliders to adjust the intensity of eight different colors in an image. Wide color differences in the photo combined with all that control gives you a lot of variability and choice when converting to B&W. To me, the B&W lighting in the finished version is much more attractive than the original colors.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if the light is wild, make some B&W photos.

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Strange Light

The light was unusual about 15 minutes before sunrise . I don’t think I’ve encountered anything like it before.

Strange light at dawn by the dock 3Strange light at dawn by the dock (3)

There were only a few clouds near the horizon. The sky was much brighter than the river and things on it. So bright that I knew it would be hard to capture the dynamic range in the scene. I went ahead and started photographing anyway.

Strange light at dawn by the dockStrange light at dawn by the dock (1)

That light lasted about fifteen minutes. I tried single frames, bracketing, and hi / low panoramas to capture it. When I got home and looked at the files, nothing had recorded the whole dynamic range. In hindsight, maybe I could have done a little better by bracketing with a wider set of exposures, or using exposure compensation to lower the overall brightness of the brackets. But I didn’t think of doing that then. I hope I remember next time.

It seems that my frames wanted to be high key, so I processed them for detail in the foreground and let the sky blow out. In the end, I like how they look.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And make some photos – even in strange light.

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

So long IR, and thanks for all the memories

I’ve been interested in infrared photography for a long time. I first attempted it sometime in the 1980s using black and white IR film. The results weren’t very good. Focus and exposure using IR film was a challenge back in ancient times.

One of my first digital cameras was a Minolta DiMage 7Hi and in 2003 I tried again with an IR filter on the lens of the unmodified camera. The dense filter required long exposures on a tripod even in daylight. I hadn’t mastered RAW file processing and was using jpg format which didn’t help. But results were better than 1980s film!

2003: An Oak tree, Oviedo FL – B&W 49 IR filter on an unmodified Minolta DiMage 7H camera, 4 sec @ f/8 ISO 200

In 2011 I started researching IR modified cameras and ended up sending my Olympus E-PL1 off to have its IR blocking filter replaced with one that passed IR light and blocked normal visible light. That was a big step forward. Focusing just worked and exposures were similar to those on an unmodified camera. I made the image below from a small boat and it would’ve been very difficult with a dense filter and 4 second exposure!

Blue Cypress Lake2012: Blue Cypress Lake, Fellsmere FL – IR modified Olympus E-PL1, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6 ISO 100

In 2013, I traded up to an IR modified Olympus E-PL5 to take advantage of the lower noise and additional resolution.

A calm day on Jordan Pond2014: A calm day on Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine – IR modified Olympus E-PL5, 1/200 sec @ f/5.6 ISO 200

Then in 2017 I bought a second hand IR modified Olympus E-M5 MII and sold the E-PL5. The E-M5 MII was a bit better and had a hi-res mode which I used frequently.

Wetlands view2019: Wetlands view, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – IR modified Olympus E-M5 MII, 1/1600 sec @ f/3.5 ISO 200

In late 2021, I decided to sell the E-M5 MII. I hadn’t been using it much. Packing the extra camera, lenses, batteries, chargers, etc. was a hassle. And remembering how to use another camera system isn’t easy when you don’t use it very often. Now, if I want to do any B&W photography I have to use one of my non-IR cameras.

Along the shore2022: Along the shore, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – unmodified Fuji X100V, 1/140 sec @ f/8 ISO 160

For all except the first, I started with the original RAW file and processed them with my 2022 current work flow and software. You can click on the last four to see higher res versions on Flickr. And I’ve collected many IR photos in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157628062119778

It has been a long journey with infrared. Am I done with it? It seems so, but who knows? Not me!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos – you’ll cherish the memories!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Good light

Classic / traditional landscape photography is often about pre-planning, travel to iconic grand vistas, waiting for gorgeous light, and making a carefully exposed image with a wide angle lens on a high end camera mounted on a tripod.

And that’s all great – I enjoy doing that. But that’s not something we can do all the time (especially during the last couple of years!). As photographers, we learn to see and understand light. When we notice attractive or different light, we should photograph it. No matter how mundane or common the subject is, it can be lovely if the light is lovely.

Just a clump of grassJust a clump of grass

When I noticed the sun shining on this area, I’d already put away my tripod and taken off my wide angle landscape lens. I made it at ISO 100, 70mm @ f/2.8 for 1/640s, hand held. I like the way it came out.

Always watch for interesting conditions: golden hour, blue hour, or in bad, cloudy or severe weather too. The subject is of course important – but there’s no photography without illumination, and no good photography without good light.

There’s beauty everywhere at all times of day. You just have to look a little harder sometimes and capture the light where you find it.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos – wherever you find them!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Merry Christmas!

Just a short post this week to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all our Flickr friends!Santa passing through Ponce Inlet

I’m not planning to publish next weekend, so I’ll go ahead and wish you a prosperous and healthy new year now too!

Thank you so much for following my blog again this year. Please be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you’re lucky enough to be be with family – enjoy your precious time together! See you soon in 2022!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Flowering and Finished

I first posted this photo about a month ago:

Goldenrod in bloomGoldenrod in bloom

The Goldenrod was flowering then all around Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. But when I drove back near the same spots recently, it looked like this:

Dried Goldenrod (?)Dried Goldenrod

Although still pretty, that’s a drastic change in the span of a month. And soon even the dried blossoms will be gone.

If you see something interesting, make a photo. There’s no telling if it’ll look the same when you come by again (and make another photo).

Header Image: A small crop from a black & white version of the second photo.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please be kind, take care of yourselves and each other – and if you can, make some photos – before things change! 

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved