Category Archives: VARIOUS

Veterans Day 2018

Lynn and I were able to visit Gettysburg for a short time on our way home from  Pennsylvania last July.  It was a bright and sunny day, but you can’t help but feel somber  thinking about what occurred there.  Over a brutal three-day battle, the two sides suffered more than 46,000 casualties and it’s said Gettysburg marked the turning point of the Civil War.

Field of battleThis field of battle is quiet now.  Near the site of Lincoln’s address, Gettysburg National Military Park

Shortly after the battle, Abraham Lincoln delivered the  Gettysburg Address.  His closing words are especially appropriate on Veterans Day and every day:

"... that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Every year in the United States, we pause on the 11th of November to honor the service and sacrifice of all men and women who answer the call. To our veterans and to those serving today – you have our deepest gratitude. We honor you for your service and sacrifices.

Gettysburg“Army of the Potomac, Second Corps, Artillery Brigade, Battery I First U.S. Artillery”

Especially in today’s world, those who choose to volunteer for the military endure long periods far from home and loved ones.  They live in conditions without the comforts that we take for granted.  They face danger and conquer fear to protect our freedom and way of life.  In far too many cases, they give their all – sacrificing life and limb.  We owe them.

Some previous Veterans Day related posts:

Thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go out and thank a veteran!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lessons from a photogenic place (repost)

Good morning!  We were traveling last weekend and I started coming down with a cold on the flight back.  So I haven’t been out much since and I don’t have any new material for you.  Instead, I’ll repost this write-up from back in April, 2014 – it’s one of my favorites.  And it reminds me I need to go back over there and see what’s changed!  You can also look at this post for more info on the location:  https://edrosack.com/2014/01/04/marineland-beach/


There were a few lights in the parking lot way back behind the sand dunes and the clouds were thick and low, making it so very dark on Marineland Beach south of St. Augustine, Florida that my first few exposures didn’t even register on the sensor. I kept raising exposure times and ISO until I was able to capture this:

99 seconds in the dark
99 seconds in the dark – ISO 400, 99 seconds @ f/8; Marineland Beach, about 45 minutes before sunrise.

It sure didn’t look this way to my eyes.  I couldn’t see much at all and had to use my head lamp to compose and focus.

When I got home and processed the photos, they reminded me of some things that might be useful to others.

Pre-visualize before, during, and after you press the shutter

You should always try to pre-visualize the photo you’re making before you compose and shoot – and it’s a delightful feeling when the image turns out just like you imagined.  But this is often harder than it sounds.  Especially if you can’t see what you’re photographing.  There’s nothing wrong with adjusting your vision as you go.  This is a wonderful advantage of digital cameras that we’d be foolish to ignore.  Check your results on the LCD during the shoot and adapt as necessary.  In this case, I knew exactly what I needed to change when I first looked at my (black) LCD.  I needed more exposure!

Pre visualization is great, but there’s also nothing wrong with post visualization.  What I mean is to try as many things as you can think of while you’re there and sort it out later when you get home.  Try HDR, panoramas, high tripod, low tripod, and focus stacking.  Use different  focal lengths, shutter / aperture combinations, and positions / directions.  Exploit changing weather / light as time goes on.  Capture them all and give yourself a better chance to come out with something you like.

Shutter speed

Shutter speed is a critical variable when photographing moving water.  The 99 second exposure above gave me very smooth and milky looking water, nicely outlining the rocks.  A 1/1000th second (or faster) exposure can freeze drops of water.  In between, you can find other speeds that look very different from the extremes.  Capture the scene with different shutter speeds when possible.  In this 1 second exposure, I like the added interest from the flow patterns in the water.

Marineland Beach and cochina rocks
Marineland Beach and coquina rocks – ISO 100, 1 second @ f/4 with 8 2/3 stop neutral density filter, ~30 minutes after sunrise.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing and ghost removal

There are so many controls and sliders in HDR software that it’s hard to know which ones to change.  Most HDR software has an option for removing “ghosts” (differences between multiple frames for anything moving in the image) and I think it’s a critical setting.  HDR Efex allows me to select the baseline frame I want to use as well as the amount of ghost removal to apply.  I like to experiment with these and select the combination that looks best.  In the image below, there was only one  setting that showed the breaking wave. And I think the wave definitely adds to the image.

Golden rocks and sand
Golden rocks and sand – 5 image bracket (-4 to +4 stops), almost an hour after sunrise.

Don’t leave too soon

I made these three images (and more!) over a period of 90 minutes.  The changing light provided different looks and opportunities to photograph this place.  It’s worth getting there early and staying for a while.

Don’t get overwhelmed

When you visit a beautiful place, especially for the first time – it’s easy to be overwhelmed and forget about everything except pressing the shutter button.  It helps to visit multiple times. The first time, it’s hard to see all the possible compositions until you get over the novelty and excitement. When you can relax and enjoy the experience you can open your mind and get in the zone.  Then you’ll make images you’ll be happy to share with others.

You can see more of my photos from Marineland in this set on Flickr.

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

©2014 and 2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Lake Apopka Postcard

Hello faithful readers!  This is my first post in a new category I’ve created on the blog that I’m calling “Postcards”.  I’m going to occasionally post photos here that are typical Central Florida scenes – like a postcard.

You’re welcome to download them at full resolution for your personal use.  I’m going to use the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license for these instead of “All rights reserved”.  Please visit this page to see details and restrictions that apply:  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.

In the future, they should be easy to find using the “Places / Categories” pulldown menu over on the right side of the blog and selecting “Postcards”.  If you’re viewing the site on a phone, you might not see that menu – if so, just type “postcards” into the search box.

Anyway, the first photo in the new series is this one:

Bird on a bush – Great Blue Heron at Lake Apopka

To download, just click on the image to go to the source and then right-click to download it.  I hope you like it!

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license

 

My new, old camera

Whoops – I did it again!  I bought another old camera.  I’d never noticed one like this before.  When I looked it over, it seemed to be in good shape – too good to pass up.

Auto Graflex Single Lens Reflex camera

It’s an Auto Graflex Single Lens Reflex made by the Folmer & Schwing Division of Eastman Kodak around 1920.  The company was in operation from 1898 to 1973 and was owned part of that time by Kodak.  They built a variety of models, but by the 1920s this basic design type was typical.  It came in several sizes and some models used roll fill while others used sheet film. This one has a non-revolving 3 1/4″ x 4 1/4″ roll film back.

Auto Graflex Single Lens Reflex camera roll film back

The controls work surprisingly well for a wood and metal device that’s about 100 years old. The aperture functions and the exposure times are slow, but could maybe be adjusted back into spec.  Pretty amazing for a mechanical device this old!

Auto Graflex Single Lens Reflex camera - controls

You set exposure by changing the size of the vertical focal plane shutter opening (using the crank and window marked “F”), and how fast the shutter moves over the film (with a tension setting using knob “B” and window “G”).  There’s a handy cheat sheet riveted to the viewfinder hood that translates these settings to equivalent exposure times.  The range from 1/10 to 1/1000 second seems large for a camera of this era.

Auto Graflex Single Lens Reflex camera - settings plaque

The lens is a Kodak Anastigmat f/4.5, with a focal length of 5 1/5 inches (just about equivalent to a 50mm lens on a 35mm full frame camera).  According to the web, it was highly rated at the time.

Auto Graflex Single Lens Reflex camera

The viewfinder is usable but dirty.  I think running film through this would be difficult, since that type of roll film isn’t made anymore.  But I took it out in the back yard so I could look through the viewfinder in bright light.

Here’s a close-up of an image through the camera’s lens on the focusing screen inside the viewfinder.

I enjoyed researching this and playing around with it.  It’s an interesting collectible and looks good in my camera cabinet next to a couple other old Kodaks. You can find out much more about Graflex cameras on-line.  Start with these links:

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Grand vista or Up-close and Intimate?

Last week I mentioned that we spent time photographing Amicalola Falls during the Focus on Atlanta Workshop.  I was also there in 2014  and when I got home, I was curious to compare images from the two visits.  That led to some observations and questions.

This first photo is from 2014.  I reprocessed it, mainly to correct some blown highlights in the water.  First observation:  Blown highlights bother me a lot more today than they did back then.

I made this from the foot bridge near the top of the falls.  Second observation:  It’s quite a hike, especially with a load of heavy camera gear.  But it’s well worth it for the wonderful view!  With a wide enough lens, you can try to show the grand scale and sweeping power of the falls.

Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls – The grand view from the footbridge near the top.  Nikon D800, ISO 50, 16mm, f/22 @ 1/3 sec.

I really like this photo, and I’m glad I made it.  Third observation:  Four years later, I think that it was a bit too easy.  Probably everyone that visits these falls will try for an image that looks like this.

The next three images are from 2018.  I must have been anxious to get the grand view photo in 2014 and hiked right by these locations – I don’t recall noticing them.  On this  recent visit, Mike Boening pointed out several spots along the trail and I stopped at a few and set up for more intimate photos.

Light in the creekLight in the creek. Olympus OM-D M II, Hi-res mode, ISO 200, 28mm eq., f/8 @ 1 sec.

On the way back down, the last spot I stopped at was only a few yards from the parking area!

FlowFlow. Olympus OM-D M II, Hi-res mode, ISO 200, 40mm eq., f/8 @ 1.2 sec.

I like the grand view image I made in 2014, but I think I like these 2018 images even more.  There are probably quite a few photos of Amicalola similar to my first one.  I suspect that images like the second and third are much less common since the number of possible viewpoints and compositions is so much greater.

Sometimes, only one approach will work for a subject or your style of photography.  On the drive up to the falls, we stopped at an overlook and I was fascinated by the fog / mist and low clouds moving through the valley.  I was able to poke the small lens on my iPhone through the chain link fence to grab this frame.  At the time, I didn’t think about an intimate detail type of composition there.

Foggy mountain viewFoggy mountain view

But that’s just me.  I saw a photo later that showed Mike making an image of some graffiti on the road.  Last observation: Graffiti isn’t something I normally photograph and I didn’t even pay attention to it at the time. Our usual photo styles can limit the potential images we see.

So what’s the moral of this story?  Should we make grand scenic view images or intimate, up-close photos of the details?  You know what I’m going to say , don’t you?  “It depends”.

Actually, I’m going to say:  It depends, but try hard to get both.  You’ll grow as a photographer if you can teach your brain to see both ends of this spectrum.  Shoot whichever you prefer first, but force yourself to look for the other compositions before you leave a spot.

As always, click on these images to see a larger version on Flickr.  And you can see other photos from the workshop in this album and other photos from Georgia in this one.

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

©2014 and 2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Infrared evolutions

This is a long article about Infrared (IR) image processing.  If you don’t process IR photos, feel free to just look at the photos!  And please take a look at the new Infrared Gallery I added under the Galleries / Portfolio menu at the top.

You probably know I like IR photography. I’ve written about it before (click here to review my posts) and I often include IR photos in this blog. Here’s a recent example:

Circle B Bar Infrared 1Circle B Bar Infrared 1 (four frame vertical panorama)

Infrared’s an interesting medium.

  • IR captures invisible light:  a portion of the spectrum that’s different from what your eyes can see.
  • The spectral response makes blue sky look dark and foliage bright.  This reverses a normal daylight scene’s brightness values.  It helps tame contrast and allows you to shoot even when the sun is high in the sky.
  • Since your eyes can’t see infrared, your interpretation of the alternate reality is up to you.   You can process IR in Monochrome or as a false color image.
  • IR can sometimes capture details that aren’t seen with visible light.
  • If you use a modified digital camera, you may see improved detail in your photos. The conversion process removes the IR blocking / anti-aliasing filter.  In many digital cameras this slightly blurs the image during capture to lessen Moire and other aliasing artifacts.
  • I’m not really qualified to discuss shooting IR film – I’ve only done it a few times.  But I will say that modifying a mirrorless digital camera is a great way to approach infrared.  The mirrorless design eliminates any issues with IR focus.  The camera’s built-in exposure meter works well and values are close to the normal visible light ones, so you can hand hold in daylight conditions.

Another example:

Circle B Bar Infrared 3Circle B Bar Infrared 3 (three frame vertical panorama)

By the way, all the images in this post are from from an early March trip to the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I’m really glad I carried my IR camera on our hike!  Here’s another:

Eight Cedar Waxwings

Eight Cedar Waxwings – I forgot to bring the spare battery for my main camera and ran out of charge. So I switched my long lens to my IR modified body and kept shooting.

So what’s the point of this post?  I’ve struggled lately with how I process my IR images.  The work flow I’ve used seems to result in too much contrast / clarity.  I just felt that the results looked a bit “digital”.  So I’ve searched for new methods and I’ve found one that I like.  I’ve used it on all these photos and I feel that they look much more “organic” and much less “digital”.  What do you think?

Five nest Cypress

Five nest Cypress (five frame vertical panorama)

Here is my updated workflow:

  • Capture the RAW images with a modified micro 4/3 mirrorless camera.  Aperture priority, mostly handheld (although I do occasionally use a tripod).
  • Import into Lightroom to save the master files.  Then decide which ones are worth processing and discard the seconds / rejects.
  • Batch process the “selects” through DxO Optics Pro to take advantage of its noise and camera / lens module processing.  This step returns copies back to Lightroom in Adobe DNG RAW format.
  • In Lightroom, apply a custom camera profile to optimize the white balance (see this article for how to create one).  And if it’s a multi-frame image, stitch it together with Lightroom’s merge to panorama function.
  • Sometimes, you can use Lightroom’s B&W conversion and finish an image.  But I’ll open ones I really like in Photoshop.
  • There, straighten and crop, use the content aware fill, and clone if needed.
  • And here’s the new step in my workflow:  I’ve been using Skylum Software’s Luminar for IR B&W conversions. I found a very nice starting point for IR processing here: Laurie Klein’s Infrared Mastery presets.
  • Finally, it’s back to Lightroom for any final adjustments (tone curve, sharpening, vignette, grain, etc.).

Circle B Bar Infrared 6Circle B Bar Infrared 6 (five frame horizontal panorama)

Could I achieve this look some other way?  Maybe even with a lot fewer steps?  Yes, I’m sure it could be done.

Circle B Bar Infrared 2Circle B Bar Infrared 2 (three frame horizontal panorama)

Just a few years ago, we only had Adobe Photoshop and then Lightroom to process RAW images.  One of the great things about photography and image processing today is that there are so many ways to do things.  That’s also bad, because it takes a lot of effort to study all the options and find out which ones work best.   It seems like each program has strengths and weaknesses.

Software is changing every day, but I don’t know if there will ever be a single image processing program that does every thing I want.  For now, I’m happy with the results I’m getting using this somewhat complex workflow.  That doesn’t mean I’ll stop looking for new or simpler ways to do things.

If you have time, please take a minute to look through the new IR gallery.  I think it represents some of my best IR images.  I also have a Flickr album with many more IR photos at this link:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157628062119778.

If you’ve read this far, thank you!  That probably means you’re very interested in IR.  If you have any questions about this, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to answer.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

 

Dancing Hawk

Lynn and I were away, visiting our first grandchild – what a wonderful experience that is!!!

Anyway, this blog is about nature photography and I haven’t been able to do much of that recently.  So when we got home, I was eager to go back out and ended up at Orlando Wetlands Park last Thursday.  I made several photos I like.  This one is my favorite from the trip:

Dancing HawkRed-shouldered Hawk

At first, the bird was sitting on top of a dead tree facing into the sun – very harsh light:

Back-lit bird (unprocessed jpg file)

I have many better images of these hawks on my computer. I’m not even sure what made me raise my camera.  Maybe my subconscious was getting ahead of me.

Luckily I did and when the hawk decided to turn around I was ready.  I made a continuous series as it used its wings to balance and I really like the one at the top. The wings are nicely spread and one foot is raised as if it’s dancing.

I’m glad I was shooting in RAW mode – it allowed me to compensate for the harsh light in post processing.  For reference, here is an unprocessed jpg version:

Dancing Hawk (unprocessed jpg)

Processing included using DxO Photo Lab for basic exposure tuning and noise reduction and then tweaking tones, colors, and cropping in Lightroom.

A little luck, a few seconds, and some post-processing can make a huge difference, don’t you think?  It helps to practice and know what’s possible in a situation like this.  Try it  – you might be surprised at the end result.  And maybe your subconscious will start helping you too!

This is a very good time of year to visit Orlando Wetlands.  I saw lots of Spoonbills, a couple of hawks, herons, egrets, ducks, Osprey, Belted Kingfishers, Ibis, a deer, etc.  And it’s cool and pleasant – great for a lovely walk.  You can look at more images from there in this album on Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157639616792296

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Some Recent Photos

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 WetlandsOrlando 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 ParkSpace 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 BlackbirdRed-winged Blackbird, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, December 2017.  Common around here, but those epaulettes are attractive!

A gull and the ocean, 1A 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!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Feathered Feeding Frenzy Photo Fun

Once in a while, conditions are just right.  Low water levels force fish into small pools and birds flock to the spot to feed.  When you can get close to a scene like this early in the morning, with soft golden light from the rising sun behind you –  count your blessings!

Great Egret in flightGreat Egret in flight

This happened to me at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge a week ago (2/9/18).  I  lucked into seeing a bird feeding frenzy along Black Point Wildlife Drive.  It’s always a treat to watch and photograph these.  I’ve written about them before  (see this post from December of 2012).  Here are some observations. / hints that may help you in a similar situation:

  • The birds all compete for food.  Watch for interactions and squabbles – they can lead to great poses and action shots.
  • Since the birds are very focused on the fish they’re more tolerant of close photographers.  Be quiet and move slowly so you don’t stress them.
  • They’ll be constantly coming and going and moving in the pond.  Watch for good compositions as they shift around.
  • When they fly in, you can often track them as they get closer and land in the pools for some great images.  After a while you’ll be able to anticipate their paths.
  • As the birds land, they’ll be low and close to you – great for eye level BIF photos (BIF = Birds in Flight)!
  • You’ll need to balance zoom level, composition, background, exposure, focus, etc.  And conditions change rapidly.  Set up your camera in advance and be nimble.  I have a BIF preset programmed so I can quickly shift to it when needed.  It shoots at 10 frames / second with continuous focus, large focus area, and higher ISO settings to keep my shutter speed high.  You’ll need  1/1000 sec. exposures (or shorter!) to freeze wing motion.
  • A white bird against a dark background vs. a dark bird against the sky will require exposure compensation adjustments.  I have EC mapped to the rear wheel control so I can easily vary it when needed.
  • Your  “keeper” percentage may be lower than you’re used to.  But there are so many photo opportunities at a feeding frenzy that you’ll likely come home with images you like.  Practice when you can and you’ll get better.

Landing IbisLanding Ibis – I like the composition / background on this one.  But my shutter was too slow to freeze the wings and I didn’t get the exposure compensation right either.  I’m still practicing!

It’s not all about birds in flight.  Interesting groups or poses on the shore or perched on nearby branches are also photogenic.

On the banks of the pondOn the banks of the pond.  I like compositions with multiple species in the frame.

That was a wonderful morning.  I’m glad I was able to see all the action.  Oh, and before the bird activity, I also made a couple of landscape photos:

Dawn at the dock on the Indian RiverDawn at the dock on the Indian River.  Olympus Hi-Res mode.

Florida cloudsFlorida clouds along Black Point Wildlife Drive.  Monochrome infrared.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Blog subscribers restored!

Good afternoon everyone!

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.

Thanks so much for following my blog.

Ed