Category Archives: VARIOUS

Ian update

Hurricane Ian was a slow moving, high wind storm when it came ashore last Wednesday. The news and photos from the Fort Meyers area are horrific. By the time it passed through Winter Springs Wednesday and Thursday it had weakened, but we still had ~40 MPH sustained winds and gusts much stronger than that.

There are tree limbs and some whole trees down in our neighborhood, and we have what looks like minor damage to one place on our roof. We lost power, water, and internet on Thursday but power and internet came back after a little over 24 hours. Water pressure is back too, but we’re under a boil water notice due to water main breaks.

Winter Springs recorded more than 15 inched of rain and there’s widespread flooding in the Orlando area. Fortunately, our home is up on a slight ridge, so the flooding is not too close. We do have a couple of the major roads through our neighborhood blocked due to flood damage. The city has said some areas will need to be rebuilt so it may take a while to reopen them.

Flooding along Winter Springs Blvd.Flooding along Winter Springs Blvd.

Lynn and I have ben very lucky. I hope all of you are doing well. And if you’ve been impacted by this storm I hope your recovery efforts are well underway. Stay positive, be kind, and take care of yourselves and each other.

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved


Header image: Flooding along Mitchell Hammock Road in Oviedo, Florida has completely covered this sod field. Photo by Lynn Rosack, used with permission.

Blog Update

I’ve been thinking about this blog and what it should be like going forward. I haven’t reached any conclusions about revising the purpose or content, but I am going to revise the schedule.

What's around the bend?What’s around the bend?

Over 15+ years, I’ve written 758 posts: an average of over fifty a year. In recent years, I’ve been publishing every Sunday and I’m finding that pace harder to sustain. Coming up with something worthwhile each week is a challenge, especially since I’ve been photographing less than I used to. I guess I’m suffering a bit from writer’s / photographer’s block.

So I’m going to shift to an irregular schedule and publish when inspired. Instead of searching for something every week that I hope will interest all of you and me too, I’m going to update the blog when I have something to share. My goal will be once per month, but I’m not going to force it.

I’m very grateful for all of you that subscribe and for everyone’s visits, views, comments, and likes – thanks! Remember to stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if / when you can, make some photos!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Motionless Marina Morning

The wind’s often calm before dawn (maybe this is why: https://www.chicagotribune.com/weather/ct-wea-1220-asktom-20151218-column.html). When you’re photographing around boats, even calm winds can move the mast tips (or the hulls) enough to blur them in a long exposure. But that wasn’t happening that morning at the Sanford Marina.

Glassy HarborGlassy Harbor (24mm, f/5.6 @ 25s, ISO 100).

My weather app said the wind was 2 mph – about as calm as it gets. Very good for low light photography. Not so good for keeping biting insects away, but artists have to suffer, right?

Paddle wheel and yachtsPaddle wheel and yachts. I Like the juxtaposition of the aft end of the St. Johns Rivership Company’s Barbara Lee with the modern yachts. (34mm, f/11 at 15s, ISO 100)

If the wind’s smearing your subjects, you can try making an extra frame at a higher ISO value to increase your shutter speed. Then you can blend the water and sky from your long exposure frame with the faster shutter speed frame to reduce bluring. But it’s not ideal: the higher ISO may reduce image quality and blending can be tricky with moving subjects. I’m glad I didn’t have to do that for these – things were stock-still!

Peaceful HarborPeaceful Harbor (24mm, f/5.6 @ 25s, ISO 100).

By the way, I was going to call this “Minimal Motion Marina Morning” but that seemed like too much alliteration, even for me.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make a motionless photo!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

2009 Photo with 2022 Software

The D90 camera was announced by Nikon in August 2008. I had one with me on a trip to Colorado in 2009 when we stopped by the Garden of the Gods city park in Colorado Springs. It’s a stunning place , especially for someone used to Florida Landscapes.

The sun was nicely positioned behind this rock formation but it made the light extremely harsh. I used a four frame exposure bracket to try to capture the dynamic range in the scene. When I got home I worked on the image but could never get a color version I liked. I ended up converting it to monochrome for this blog post.

Anyway, I saw it while browsing through my Lightroom catalog and decided to try again. I started from the RAW source files and used the experience I’ve gained since then along with the capability we now have available in recent software. This was the result:

A red rock spire in front of the sun and cloudless skyA red rock spire in front of the sun and cloudless sky

Lightroom’s enhanced detail RAW conversion, merge to HDR, and sky selection masks were especially handy along with the better adjustments available with Adobe’s latest process version software. I also ran it through Topaz AI sharpen as a final step.

I like this 2022 version better than the 2009 one. Once again, I’m glad I save my RAW source files. Back then, it would have been hard to imagine the software we have today. Do you have any older images that you’re not completely happy with? Maybe it’s a good time to dig them out and try again with new software.


Also: Happy Fathers Day to every dad out there! There’s nothing as precious as your love, as important as your advice and support, and as educational as the examples you set.


Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – when you make photos, save your RAW files!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Perseverance

This is the best photo I’ve been able to make of a Northern Flicker.

Flickr FlickerNorthern Flicker (Click to see a larger version where you can zoom in a couple of levels.)

This one is yellow shafted and based on the black “mustache” a male. There’s also a western / red shafted variety but I haven’t seen one of those.

I don’t spot them very often although they have been in the blog before (https://edrosack.com/tag/northern-flicker/). The first photo I made of one was back in May of 2013. It’s a blurry image of the bird in flight, fleeing my camera. They seem to be very wary and for me nearly always leave as soon as I see one – which explains why it’s hard to get a good photo.

This bird acted like that too, but only flew short distances and I was able to watch him for a while. Finally he landed on top of a mangrove tree and I made this photo. The pose could be better but I like the warm early morning glow, the catch light in his eye, and the feather detail. Lest you think I was crowding him, that’s not the case. I’m not sure of the exact distance but the focal length I used was equivalent to 1260mm so he was pretty far away.

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”

John Quincy Adams

So persevere – it may take years and several tries on a lucky day to get a good photo.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can — keep making some photos!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Silver Lining?

There was a total lunar eclipse visible in Central Florida recently and several space launches too. Unfortunately, clouds hid all of those events here at our place so I couldn’t photograph them.

John Milton is thought to have coined the phrase “silver lining” in his 1634 poem Comus: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle:

“Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud

Turn forth her silver lining on the night?”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_lining_(idiom)

We use the expression to mean that even in a bad situation, there is always some good that can come out of it.

We’ve also had Swallow Tailed Kites circling around over our house. The last time I saw one, I rushed to grab a camera and hurried outside. By the time I was ready, the bird was gone. But there were some awesome clouds out that day.

The future's a bit cloudyThe future’s a bit cloudy

So out of all those potential photo ops, I only made one photo that I like. I guess you could say the cloud itself is the silver lining.

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 if there’s a silver lining, make a photo of it!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

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.

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

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