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.
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.
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 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!
Just a short post this week to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.
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!
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Arthur C. Clarke
The wizards at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have cast some potent spells with the latest update to their free Merlin Bird ID app.
I’ve had it on my iPhone for ages (it’s also available for Android). But I got used to the iBird app (http://ibird.com) and I normally open it for help with bird identification – so Merlin’s been sitting around idle. It wasn’t until last week that I heard about the new sound ID feature they added in June.
Sound ID records bird songs around you, analyzes them, and suggests IDs for what’s singing. You can compare the recording to other songs and calls for confirmation. It’s also a great way to learn bird calls. Hearing some, and then having the app tell you what they are in real time is great re-enforcement and helps you remember what you’ve heard. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
I updated the app and tried it out yesterday on a trip over to MINWR. I simply held it out, watched the waveforms record and the results as they came up magically on my screen. Here’s a screenshot:
I used it several times and it found Black-necked Stilts, Red-winged Blackbirds, Least Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, Eastern Kingbirds, Ospreys, and Mourning Doves. Most of them before I ever saw the birds. When the Eastern Kingbird ID popped up, I started looking for them and spotted this one perched briefly on a distant branch:
Since it told me Stilts and Yellowlegs were around, I could keep an eye out for them too.
I was surprised by how sensitive the recordings are. It heard most all the calls that I did, and it seems accurate, at least in this short test.
There are 458 birds in the Sound ID list and more are promised. Cornell Labs has done some fine work with this. I think it’ll be very helpful to me in the future. If you’re at all interested in birds or birding, it belongs on your phone too! Did I mention that it’s free?
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Covid cases in Florida are still at an all time high. Be careful out there and please take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, photograph (and ID) some birds!
Last March at the beginning of the pandemic, I wrote a post called “In the Neighborhood“. It was just a few photos I made as Lynn and I walked cautiously around near home while we tried to figure out the whole lockdown thing.
I don’t really have any profound thoughts I want to share about what we’ve been through since then. I’ll just say I’m extremely grateful we have smart scientists that created safe and effective vaccines in so short a time, and that they’re becoming available to more of us each day. Things seem to be veering back toward normal now.
Anyway, I thought this week I’d follow up with more neighborhood wandering, and post photos of things I noticed on the way. I’ll try to include tips and hints that you can use in your photograpy. This first image looks like an infrared photo, but it’s not. The bright white leaves are from the low morning sun lighting the tops of the trees.
All to myself
We have several varieties of flowering trees here in Central Florida. They only bloom for a short while in the spring so don’t wait too long if you want to photograph them. These lovely blooms are on what I think are Hong Kong Orchid trees, I find it hard to show the beauty with an image of the whole tree, so I moved in close. I like this frame with a single flower isolated against the sky.
Flower and sky
Slow shutter speeds are commonly used for images of moving water. But forcing your shutter as fast as possible is also worth trying. The details it can reveal make the water look like ice.
The early morning sun helps in this photo too. Its warm color on the Spanish Moss is a subtle contrast with the sky.
Branches and moss
Okay, a little fun here. I might have made a few small creative enhancements in Lightroom to bring out the hidden scarecrow face.
Knot a Scarecrow
New growth leaves are sometimes called fiddlehead ferns since they resemble the scroll on a fiddle. They’re hard to spot as you walk by.
More tiny, close wildflower blooms.
The woods are very thick around this pool. It’s only a few feet from the sidewalk and looks like it’s been there for many years. I need to be more observant – I only just noticed it even though I’ve passed by it for years. It’s a three frame vertical stitched panorama.
I crouched down and used the camera’s tilting LCD to frame these cypress knees against the lake in the background. This is a 7 frame focus stack. If you haven’t tried focus stacking, a web search will return lots of info.
So that’s some of what I saw on photo walks over the last week or so. I hope you enjoyed looking at them and I hope they give you some ideas to try. Thanks again for coming back and and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some photos around your neighborhood!
Header image: Down low and close to Howell Creek in Winter Springs.
I hope you don’t mind a short post today. I’ve just recovered from a sore throat and laryngitis that I somehow caught in spite of all our pandemic precautions. It wasn’t serious and I’m feeling fine now, but I didn’t get a chance to go on any photo excursions last week.
Anyway, I made this image about a month ago in a favorite spot along the Indian River in Titusville.
It was a good morning
It’s on the western shore, just south of Veterans Memorial Park. The light was changing that morning and I managed to make several photos that I like. For this one, I exposed one frame for the foreground and bracketed three more for the sky. I adjusted them in Lightroom and merged all four manually in Photoshop.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some photos!
Years ago, Lynn brought a few ferns back from her mother’s home over in Bartow, Florida and transplanted them into our back garden. Since then, they’ve thrived, and a few usually even grow on our brick fence. We noticed last weekend that they’d arranged themselves into a very nice message appropriate for today’s holiday.
Ferns in a Valentine’s Day arrangement on our backyard fence.
I’m a bit unsure if they didn’t get the “E” done in time, or if maybe they were going for the colloquial “LUV”. Anyway, this isn’t photoshopped and unless there’s a stealth gardener we didn’t notice sneaking into our back yard, these ferns grew this way naturally. The odds of something like this happening spontaneously have to be vanishingly small. Maybe it’s more likely nature is trying to send us a message?
Peace and ‘Lov’ to all of you gentle readers. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And today, cherish your valentine!