I haven’t been on a photo expedition recently, so this week I’ll cheat a bit and show some images that haven’t been on the blog before.
Orlando Wetlands Park, October 2017. Olympus hi-res, two frame panorama converted to B&W. I don’t convert sunrise photos to B&W very often, but the light in this one is pretty.
Space View Park, February 2018. An alternate view to the one posted back then. Looking east at dawn. You can see the hurricane damage to the dock that hasn’t been repaired. Olympus hi-res, two frame panorama.
Red-winged Blackbird, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, December 2017. Common around here, but those epaulettes are attractive!
A gull and the ocean, Cocoa Beach, January 2018. This is also an alternate view to the one posted back then. I bracketed exposure due to extreme contrast and to get some detail on the bird. Blended in Photoshop
Please click on any of these to see a larger version on Flickr. And thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos! I will too!
You probably missed my post yesterday, where I wrote about both Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and my struggle to get the blog back up and running. That was because the connection between my blog and the Jetpack plugin that manages emailing each post to all my subscribers broke during the move.
I’m happy to report that the awesome Jetpack tech support folks (thanks James!!!) have fixed the issue and all future posts should go out normally. If you’d like to see yesterday’s, please visit the site or click the link above.
First an announcement: If you’re here because you didn’t get an email from the blog this week, please see the very last bullet at the bottom of this post.
And for those interested, you can read much more about other blog tech details / status / news following the Merritt Island photo update.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Late Thursday, Kevin K. asked if I wanted to go photographing Friday morning. I did and we decided to meet early and visit Merritt Island. We arrived way before sunrise, so we stopped first at the Titusville Municipal Marina for a quick photo in the dark.
Pre-dawn at the marina – Titusville. Olympus high res mode, two frame panorama
Next we went by the fishing pier on the North west side of the causeway. From there you can shoot through the bridge toward sunrise. I liked the viewpoint, but I wish the sunrise color had been better.
Dawn through the bridge. Olympus high res mode, two frame panorama
After this we headed to Black Point Wildlife Drive. There were a lot of birds there and we ended up going around twice. I was worried that it would be dull and overcast, but we actually had some very pretty light for most of the morning.
Roseate Spoonbil feeding in the shallows
Hooded Merganser (female)
We also saw (among others): American Robins, Great snowy and Reddish Egrets, Great Blue and Tri-Colored Herons, White and Glossy Ibis, Norther Shoveler and Pintail ducks, Belted Kingfishers, gulls, terns, Osprey, Vultures, and more. We were hoping to spot some White Pelicans, but didn’t we couldn’t find any on this trip.
Enough of the pleasant content. Now on to the agonizing stuff.
Blog status / news
It’s been a very tough week at Central Florida Photo Ops HQ. Our head of tech support (me) along with Google search, and two different hosting provider customer support lines struggled mightily to get the blog transferred and back up and running again.
There’s good and bad news. Good news: The blog is mostly back up. And the head of tech support probably won’t get fired since there’s no one to replace him. Bad news: He’s not getting a raise anytime soon.
I started looking for a new hosting provider over the Christmas break since my agreement with GoDaddy is almost up . My blog’s been responding a little slow and GoDaddy’s renewal fees and their SSL (https) offerings were expensive. And even though Bob Parsons is no longer CEO, there’s the whole GoDaddy Elephant thing.
I did some online research and discovered that inMotion hosting is highly rated and has some inexpensive plans. Since this is a non-commercial, personal blog, I don’t feel I need a high end hosting plan and decided to go with them.
It was very easy to open an account and purchase their WPS500S plan. The rest of the process wasn’t as easy. Here are some of the issues I ran into:
Since I purchased a WordPress specific hosting plan, I thought InMotion would automatically install WordPress for me. They didn’t. I could have installed it myself through their cPanel interface, but I wasn’t familiar enough with their software and what to expect. A call to their tech support took care of this right away.
Next, I requested that InMotion transfer my content from GoDaddy. I gave them my login credentials, but for some reason they couldn’t access the old account. I ended up doing this myself by FTPing into GoDaddy and copying my content files first to my computer (for backup) and then uploading them to InMotion.
Next I initiated the domain transfer to move edrosack.com from GoDaddy servers to inMotion servers. This was probably a timing mistake (see the bullet below about follower migration). The domain transfer happened relatively quickly and I could see the new edrosack.com on the web.
Next I turned on inMotion’s included SSL capability. This was easy and I now have an https connection. My blog readers don’t do any business through my site and don’t sign in, so this probably isn’t strictly necessary for them. But Google factors this into search rankings so it’s good to have.
I then went about configuring WordPress to make it match the old installation. I had lots of problems with the Jetpack plugin. It turns out that InMotion enables the Mod Security firewall by default and the WPS500 hosting plan doesn’t allow customizing this. Jetpack relies on access to the site xmlrpc file to work and Mod Security blocks this by default. I was able to resolve this with another call to InMotion tech support.
Since I was now worried about security on the new site, I spent some time installing firewall / security plugins and testing / configuring them. In the process, I managed to lock myself out of edrosack.com at least once. Fortunately, I could still get to the site file system so I could nuke the security software and then reinstall / reconfigure it. Whew! It would have been embarrassing to have to call inMotion on my second day with them to get that fixed.
Most of my content transferred ok, but I couldn’t get the NexGen gallery plugin to display my Portfolio without re-setting it and starting over. In the end, I decided to use the gallery provisions included with Jetpack and re-did my portfolio pages. I needed to update them anyway and now they reflect some of my more recent work. Please check them out if you get a chance!
And late on Saturday as I was finally getting things fixed, my cable internet here at home went down for the first time in months! This stuff is just too hard!
The final problem (that I know of) and one that I haven’t resolved yet is that since I couldn’t connect WordPress.com to both my old and new providers at the same time, I was unable to use Jetpack’s subscriber migration tool. So for now, I’m waiting on Jetpack to respond to a support request. Once I hear from them, I’ll know how to proceed. If they can’t re-instate my subscribers, I’ll have to send out an email and request that folks re-subscribe. Stay tuned on this and I’ll let you know what happens.
Well, that’s much longer than a normal blog post, so I’ll sign off now.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos! And if you’re having issues with your server, don’t call me!
While on our cruise a couple of weeks ago, we spotted Santa testing out some alternate transportation. I really like the color scheme, but I’m worried he’ll get tired pedaling this all around the world. Hopefully the elves can talk him into using his sleigh and reindeer.
I hope all of you have a joyous and happy holiday season and a wonderful new year! I really appreciate you following my blog again this year.
Thanks for stopping by. Now – go enjoy spending time with family and friends. And make some photos!
It’s getting chilly outside, presents are starting to show up, and we’re hearing carols on the radio. Family and friends are arriving soon and before we know it, It’s a Wonderful Life will be on TV around the clock. Whether you celebrate Christmas or another winter holiday, family gatherings are the greatest photo-op of the year!
Mom, me, Dad – Christmas, 1955
Gather folks up and make photos and maybe even some video. Include everyone and make sure you get yourself into a few. Don’t put it off and don’t take no for an answer. Technical perfection isn’t even required. You and people you love will cherish the photos anyway.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some family photos! And share them – someone will be very glad you did!
The Armistice ending World War 1 was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. In the United States, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919 to commemorate. President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation in 1953 renaming it Veterans Day and extending the holiday to honor all veterans. It’s a day to thank veterans for their dedication – a day to honor all those that place their country above themselves.
The World War II Memorial and Washington Monument
“It’s about how we treat our veterans every single day of the year. It’s about making sure they have the care they need and the benefits that they’ve earned when they come home. It’s about serving all of you as well as you’ve served the United States of America. Freedom is never free.” President Barack Obama
Vietnam War Display, Smithsonian American History Museum
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” President John F. Kennedy
Marine Corps Memorial, Arlington VA
“I don’t have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world.” … “We owe this freedom of choice and action to those men and women in uniform who have served this nation and its interests in time of need. In particular, we are forever indebted to those who have given their lives that we might be free.” President Ronald Regan
Thanks to all active duty service members and veterans. And thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – you go out and thank a veteran too!
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.
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 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?
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.
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!
Hurricane news has dominated this week, and it’s been hard to think much about photo ops. Irma’s path through the Caribbean and Florida left huge swaths of devastation – destroying lives, homes, livelihoods, and infrastructure. The Keys are especially hard hit. I’m sure you’ve seen reports so I won’t repeat them here.
I will let you know that our family is counting our blessings. We have some roof damage, and we’re dealing with a few other repairs (and damage from the Equifax leaks too!) but all of our utilities are working. There are many places close-by that are still without power. It seems like most businesses in Central Florida are gradually re-stocking and re-opening – so unlike some, we’re able to get groceries and gas.
Bright Double Rainbow after Hurricane Irma – Our daughter MK (and her cat Milo) stayed with us during the storm and when the Orange County Florida curfew ended on Monday night, we drove her back to her place. On the way home, we saw this incredibly bright double rainbow and stopped in the empty McDonald’s parking lot to make a photo with my iPhone. The skies were clearing and hopefully it’s a sign that everyone affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are on the way back to recovery.
There’s still a lot of flooding in Florida and more is forecast. In our area, Lake Jesup is over its banks and may go higher. I’m guessing that the flood waters will drown the late September / early October sunflower fields along the north side of the lake this year, similar to what happened in 2008 after Tropical Storm Fay. Even if they do bloom, getting out to them will be a soggy mess at best. We’ll probably have to wait for next year. Hopefully then we’ll be wondering about photo ops again instead of storms.
To everyone suffering from the effects of the recent hurricanes, our hearts go out to you. For the rest of us that haven’t suffered as much – take time to remember how lucky we are and what’s really important.
Did any of you notice the solar eclipse in the US last week? Here at Central Florida Photo Ops HQ we certainly did! And even though the full moon covered “only” ~85% of the sun, it was still an awe-inspiring show.
Our experience in Winter Springs started with heavy rain and thick cloud cover, but the sky quickly cleared and from then on we had an amazing view. I put together this time-lapse movie with ten photos I made at about ten minutes intervals :
To set up my camera, I first focused manually on a very distant tree and taped down the focus ring. Then I spent some time figuring out exposure so detail on the sun’s surface would show. The sun is really bright! I put two stacked neutral density filters in front of my lens to cut the light by about 11 stops. I ended up shooting in manual exposure mode at ISO 64, f/16, and 1/1000 sec at 800mm equivalent focal length. For insurance, I also bracketed around that base exposure. Luckily there were a few sunspots to see:
Sunspots on the surface
We had two other roving photographers on assignment to help document the eclipse. Kevin McKinney was in Orlando south of us. He noticed the sun shining through a tree and made the photo below. Small openings between the leaves were acting as pinhole lenses and focusing multiple images of the crescent sun on the ground. I’m glad he noticed this, I didn’t think to look:
Eclipses are fun to think about. They’re such a huge coincidence! The Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun, and the Sun is 400 times farther way. So they’re the same apparent size in the sky – that can’t be very common in the universe. We don’t see one very often because the Moon’s orbit tilts with respect to Earth’s orbit around the sun. And since the moon is slowly moving away from the earth, the geometry will be ruined after another billion years.
You can click on any of these photos to look at larger versions. I hope you were able to see this stunning event and get some photos of your own. If not, the next one in the US is in 2024.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go be amazed by rare natural phenomenon. And make some photos!