Category Archives: Places

A walk in the park

I usually walk in my neighborhood several times a week.  It’s a good way to get some exercise and say hello to folks.  I did something different last Friday and drove over to Orlando Wetlands Park for my morning hike.

It was still dark when I arrived and I could hear owls and whistling ducks calling on the way out to Lake Searcy – one of my favorite landscape places.  I didn’t like the view this time since the water was low and the appealing  mirror like reflections were missing.  I ended up moving to a new location for this:

Middle marsh mystery island
Middle marsh mystery island

Morning color was disappointing, but I do like the image.  After sunrise, I wandered around and made some bird photos.  There were many Little Blue Herons:

Pretty little bluePretty little blue

And the Palm Warblers are here in force, bobbing their tails as they pose in the reeds:

Palm WarblerPalm Warbler

And here’s one of the whistling ducks.  I caught it mid-preen:

Black Bellied Whistling DuckBlack Bellied Whistling Duck

The last time I was at Orlando Wetlands was in February.  It was good to get back and a lovely walk.  And carrying weights (photo equipment) made it better exercise.  Plus, I made some photos!

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Channeling the Beauty of our National Parks

Editors note:  Today we have another post from our roving correspondent,  MaryKate.  This time she travelled to the Channel Islands off the coast of California.   I hope you enjoy her report!


I’ve recently become even more enthralled with our country’s amazing National Park system. So when I headed to Los Angeles for an event with my friend Molly a few weekends ago, I jumped on the opportunity to visit two of our country’s jewels: Santa Monica National Recreation Area and Channel Islands National Park.

Just 35 miles from Los Angeles, the Santa Monica National Recreation Area is an escape from the bustle of the city. We headed to the Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center for some orientation (and souvenir shopping), and did the short but steep hike up to Inspiration Point. We saw lizards and birds along the way, and the dry landscape made for dramatic views against the Santa Monica Mountains:

Plant at the PinnaclePlant at the Pinnacle

That Saturday, we took a morning boat trip out to Anacapa Island – the smallest of the Channel Islands – with a company I’d highly recommend: Island Packers. For just $29 each way, the beautiful boat ride alone was worth the trip. On our way to Anacapa, we enjoyed stunning views of Oxnard Harbor, a few Harbor Seals “sunning”, and even an illusive Minke Whale (he was too quick to photograph and never came back up).

Seal ReflectionsSeal Reflections

The Channel Islands are truly a magical place, sometimes called the United States’ Galapagos Islands because there are 145 species of plants and animals only found there. We stayed 3 hours on the island exploring, seeing as much as we could, and eating the picnic we brought, but there are many arrival/departure options so you can stay as long as you’d like (or even camp over – although the smell of pigeon poop was rather strong!).

Anacapa LighthouseAnacapa Lighthouse

I also enjoyed playing with the fish eye lens I borrowed from my Dad – I thought it brought an interesting perspective to the Island.

Channel Islands National Park SignChannel Islands National park Sign

On our way back to land, we had the treat of a humpback whale doing acrobatics for us: for about 10 minutes we watched him partake in “pectoral slapping” – spinning back and forth and slapping his fin on the water – quite the site juxtaposed against a giant oil rig in the background.

Whale vs. ManMan vs. Whale

If you ever find yourself on the West Coast, it’s definitely worth the trip out to the Channel Islands (and a hike over in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area).  It’s amazing to find so much nature near such a large metropolitan area.  Check out the other photos from my trip in this flickr album (including a life bird: the Rock Wren!).


Thanks for stopping by and reading MaryKate’s blog post.  Now, go make some photos!

©2016, MaryKate. All rights reserved.

Florida Polytechnic University IST building

Florida Polytechnic is the state’s newest public university (classes opened in August of 2014).  It’s in Lakeland along the south side of I-4 where it intersects the Florida Parkway (570).  If you’ve driven by recently, you’ve almost certainly noticed their Innovation, Science and Technology building.

East side view 2IST building at dusk, from the east side

For anyone interested in architectural photography, this place is a special treat.  It’s beautiful during the golden hours, but there are also many interesting viewpoints, perspectives, angles, and details you can find at other times of day.

Outside, 2nd floor, west sideSecond floor exterior, on the west side

After sunset, the interior and exterior lighting and colors add even more drama to the scenes.

Polytech University 1Polytech University 1 (Photo by Tom Matthews, used with permission)

The building and campus layout were designed by Dr. Santiago Calatrava Valls, A Spanish architect, structural engineer, sculptor, and painter.  Besides being beautiful, it’s also very innovative – there are automatic louvers on the roof that adjust to changes in sunlight.

Parking is not difficult as there are paid parking lots available near the building.  You probably won’t be allowed inside the building unless you make prior arrangements.  But for exterior shots, the campus seems very photographer friendly.  You can view their photography guidelines at this link.  If you do go, you might consider combining this photo-op with another one that’s close by – the Airstream Ranch.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Beauty and Bugs in the Soggy Swamp: Sunflowers, 2015

I don’t know how long the Sunflowers have staged their fall nature extravaganza along the north side of Lake Jesup near Sanford Florida. I’ve been photographing them since 2006, and my first post about them was in October 2007 – a few months after I began the blog.

I didn’t make it last year and just had to see them this time, so off I went yesterday morning (October 9) to the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation area.

Lake Jesup SunflowersLooking up

The flowers are just about in peak bloom.  If you want to hike out there, you’d better make plans quickly.  The blooms only last a couple of weeks, so by next weekend, they’ll be fading.

Lake Jesup SunflowersMonochrome flowers

The flowers are beautiful, but the bugs are swarming.  I didn’t make any photos of the insects, but I did bring home souvenir mosquito bites.  Wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt and use insect spray too.  It’s also wet.  I didn’t get far from the forest edge – but the water was already several inches deep.  Waterproof boots are a great idea.

Lake Jesup SunflowersLake Jesup Sunflowers at Marl Bed Flats

There are other things to see out there too.  It’s a good local birding spot with at least two Bald Eagle nests reported.

When you go, please be careful.  Don’t stop on the side of 417 – it’s dangerous!  It’s a bit of a hike from the parking area out to the flowers.  And it’s still hot – wear a hat and bring water with you.

The Lake Jesup Wilderness area really is wild – I’ve seen bobcats and worried about wild hogs.  I haven’t seen any snakes, but I’ll bet they’re around.  And Lake Jesup has one of the densest populations of alligators in Florida.  So enjoy, but be careful!

You can browse some of my photos of the area in this set on Flickr.  I also have more info on the area collected in these older articles:

And here are some more Florida Sunflower links you might find interesting:

For reference, here’s a Lightroom map of the area with the locations of photos I’ve made out there.  The streets leading in are also shown, so you can see how to get there (click for a larger version).

Marl Bed Flats area on the north shore of Lake Jesup
Marl Bed Flats area on the north shore of Lake Jesup

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Winter Park at Night

Greetings, wonderful readers!  Things are a bit busy here at the Central Florida Photo Ops HQ this weekend, so I’ll leave you with a quick post and some photos from a stroll down Park Avenue through Winter Park last Wednesday evening.

A quiet night "on the avenue"A quiet night “on the avenue”

A path into darknessA path into darkness

Blue Hour MotionBlue Hour Motion – A train passing behind one of the fountains in Winter Park, Florida

I made these a little after sunset during “blue hour” – I like the look of the light.  You can see a few other photos I’ve made in Winter Park in this album on Flickr.


Sunflower update:  The flowers are in bloom and are peaking.  If you want to see them this year, you should probably do so in the next week.  Here’s a report from Jeff Stamer’s blog on his trip out there last week.

I haven’t made it yet this year, but plan to do so next week.


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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Lake Apopka Two-fer

Kevin K., Kevin M., and I went round the Wildlife Drive on the Lake Apopka North Shore yesterday.  This 11 mile long section of dirt roads opened to the public earlier this year and provides access to a large part of the restoration area near the lake.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive EntranceLake Apopka Wildlife Drive Entrance.

This was mostly a scouting trip as Kevin K. and I had never been, and since it’s the middle of the summer we didn’t expect to see a lot of wildlife.  But similar to Viera Wetlands, there was lot going on.  We saw many of the usual Florida birds and even some unusual ones like Least Bitterns.  About half way through, we stopped behind another car observing a tree full of birds that turned out to be swallows.

My experience with swallows is that they’re very erratic flyers and seldom sit still – which makes them hard to photograph or even identify.  But these were happily perched in the tree and later on power lines.  This allowed us to get some good photos and recognize several species.  Two (Bank Swallow and Barn Swallow) were lifers for me.  I even got both of them in the same frame – how cool is that?!!

Bank Swallow and Barn SwallowBank Swallow and Barn Swallow

There was a reported sighting of a Northern Rough-winged Swallow at this same place shortly before we got there, but we didn’t see it.  We did see a Purple Martin, which was also cool, although not a life bird.

Lake Apopka was polluted for many years but it seems like the restoration efforts are paying off.  This osprey for example, looks like it’s living large.

Osprey with catfishOsprey and catfish

The wildlife drive doesn’t open until sunrise, so we got there too late for a morning landscape, but we did stop by Lake Monroe in Sanford on the way.  Here’s one image I made there.

Marina at dawnMarina at dawn

Judging by this trip, I’ll be returning often, especially after it cools off and migration starts.  For more info on this place, visit Scott Simmons’ post on his blog.  You can see Kevin Ms photos in this album on Flickr, and Kevin K’s in this album.  I only have a couple in my album so far, but I’ll be adding more.

Lake Apopka North Shore Restoration Area:  another great Central Florida Photo Op!  Go!  See!  Enjoy!

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Very good, but a bit sad – revisiting The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey

I hadn’t been by the  Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida in a long time.  So when Tom M. mentioned he wanted to go, I was happy to meet him and Keith H. there one morning last week.

Irked Eagle
Irked Eagle – This is Frederick, one of the permanent residents. A staff member brought him out for us.  In this photo, he’s yelling at a different staff member that walked by. Maybe he was expecting a handout?

Birds of Prey is a wonderful place but leaves me with mixed emotions.  On the good side, there are many more Raptors now than there used to be. The estimated population of Bald Eagles in Florida has grown from 88 active nests in 1973 to  1,457 nests now.  But on the sad side, there are also many more people and automobiles.  This leads to increased encounters between people, their cars, and birds – and sadly, means that many more birds are getting injured today.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Wonderful places like Birds of Prey take in injured raptors, treat them, and (if they’re well enough) release them back into the wild.  They’re able to release just over 40% of their raptor patients.  But it’s sad that some birds are too injured to be released.

Great Horned Owl
This Great Horned Owl looks a bit sleepy.  It must be a night owl.

The injured birds are well cared for. Some are placed in zoos or other facilities that are knowledgable and able to provide for them.  Others stay at Birds of Prey.  They make exceptional  ambassadors and help teach people about these awesome creatures.  All three raptors pictured in this post are permanent residents at the center.  It’s great that they’re such good photo subjects.  But it’s sad that they’ll never make it back into the wild.

There’s another place like this in Apopka, Florida – The Avian Reconditioning Center.  I haven’t been there yet, but I’m sure they’re just as dedicated to helping injured birds.  And I’m sure there are places like this all over.  You’ll be sad if you never visit one.  In addition to the photo-op, your entrance fees help pay for care for the injured birds.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go visit a bird rehab facility.  And make some photos too!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.