Category Archives: Georgia

Old Car City

Okay, I know the name of the blog is “Central Florida Photo Ops” and I usually write about landscape and wildlife photography.  But Old Car City (http://oldcarcityusa.com/) is a very cool place and I have a scouting report and some photos to show you!

Photographers ParadisePhotographers Paradise

Old Car City calls itself a “Photographer’s Paradise”, and the “worlds largest known classic car junkyard”.  It’s hard to disagree.  It began as a general store in 1931 in White, Georgia.  Over the years it evolved into a forested refuge for 4000+ cars, most more than 35 years old.  Located about an hour from downtown Atlanta, it covers 34 acres with 6 1/2 miles of trails to explore.

The cars stay where they were originally placed.  Some are piled high.  Others rest alone or lined up.  Many are overgrown with vines and some even have trees growing right through them.  Admission is $25 (only $15 if you don’t photograph).  We spent 3 – 4 hours there and I was exhausted before the photo ops were.

Impala convertible - and treeImpala convertible – and tree

Walking through can be surreal – especially in infra-red.

Old Car City IROld Car City IR Pano

Photography here can be challenging in several ways.  I carried my tripod all around the place and the local cat kept showing up and rubbing up against it – not helpful!

Junkyard cat and VWJunkyard cat and matching VW van. It followed us around and liked to rub up against tripods. Not good, cat!

This isn’t a traditional salvage yard – no parts are sold.  It’s more of a museum, although there’s no effort to preserve exhibits.  The cars were saved from the crushing machine, but not from nature.

You can find much more than just old cars and car parts. There are school buses, and tractors, antique toys, wagons, bicycles, and more.  I even read there’s a Cartersville Grand Theater marquis, but I didn’t see it on my visit.

Doll and chairDoll and chair – You can find more than old cars at Old Car City. This was right next to the path – yet it looks like no one’s disturbed it in years.

Safety:  You’ll have to sign in when you pay admission, but there’s no lengthy rights waiver  and a lawyer doesn’t follow you around.  The place could be dangerous though – there’s broken glass, rusty metal and some sharp edges.  Just be careful, not stupid.  Heed the warning signs, stay on cleared paths and off / out of the cars and you should be fine.  Oh, and some insect repellent might come in handy.

Don't open hoods doorsDon’t open hoods doors

My tripod was helpful mostly for Olympus hi-res images – but if you’re not making those I think you can get by without one.  I used focal lengths from fish eye up to about 200mm equivalent and I’d say your wider lenses would be the most useful.

The number of photo ops in this place is huge.  If you go, my best advice is to do a little research before hand and plan out a strategy or two.  Get some larger framed intro shots, but think about concentrating on one or a few categories:  hood ornaments, door handles, dashboards, interiors, decay, rust, textures, vegetation on vehicles, etc., etc.  The possibilities are huge.

Click on these photos to see them larger on Flickr,  and I have more images from Old Car City collected in his album.  You can also look through many more photos from there via the Flickr “Old Car City” search page results.  And you can find out more on the Old Car City web page.  Here are a couple more links with info:

If you get a chance, go by Old Car City.

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

Atlanta at night

Focus on Atlanta

I enjoy listening to the Mirrorless Minutes podcast (audio on iTunes, video on YouTube).  It’s an interesting show on photography and since  Mike Boening and Jamie MacDonald  (the hosts) are both Olympus Visionaries, they often have good information and tips on Olympus camera gear.

So when I heard their announcement about a photo workshop in Atlanta I was eager to go – and It wasn’t too hard to talk Lynn into getting this for my birthday!  They coordinate using the Mirrorless Adventures page on Meetup.com so sign up was an easy process. If my post gets you interested, you can find out about their future workshops there.

Atlanta Marriott Marquis Interior 2Atlanta Marriott Marquis Interior 2

Our HQ was the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta and it’s an awesome photo-op itself – lots of interesting architecture, angles, and patterns to fill your memory card.  And if you get tired of the photo ops there, you can take a break at one of their restaurants or bars!

We met on Friday evening and then left for the Jackson Street bridge for some sunset and light trail photography.  It’s a popular spot.  There were lots of folks making photos and it’s easy to see why – the skyline view is awesome!  Here’s one of mine:

A little laterA little after sunset.

I made this image with the Olympus “Live Composite” mode.  I’ve used this once before, but it was great to get in some guided practice and I’ll be using it more in the future.

Other stops on the workshop were at Old Car City (http://oldcarcityusa.com/), Amicalola Falls (http://www.amicalolafallslodge.com), and Oakland Cemetery (https://www.oaklandcemetery.com).  The workshop was last weekend and I came home with hundreds of photos.  I’ve been going through them every day since then – but I’m not finished processing yet.  So today I’ll just include a few from Atlanta and maybe do another post later about the other locations.

Watching sunriseWatching sunrise.  We stopped near this park while we waited for the cemetery gates to open

Oakland cemetery was founded in 1850 and many of Atlanta’s prominent citizens are buried there.  It has a great deal of sculpture, architecture, and gardens to draw your eye.  And an interesting sign across the street!

Six Feet Under BarSix Feet Under BarAtlanta Skyline from Oakland CemeteryAtlanta Skyline from Oakland Cemetery

I’ve always liked Atlanta.  My mother’s family lived in the area (in Cedartown) so we visited often when I was growing up.  I also went to college there (Go Tech!) and that’s where I met Lynn.  It was great to visit for a long weekend, and the drive from Central Florida isn’t too bad.

A photo workshop can be a big boost to your image making.  You might;

  • Learn or improve your skills:  I refreshed and practiced “Live Composite” mode and will likely use it more often now.
  • Go places you wouldn’t normally see.  I’ve been to Atlanta many times, but the only place from this workshop that I’d seen before was Amicalola Falls (mentioned in this post).  Trying new things is good for your soul!
  • Meet new people.  Hanging around with other folks passionate about photography is fun!  They don’t even get bored when you talk about lenses, cameras, technique, processing, etc.!
  • See different approaches / techniques.  On the last day, we spent a few hours processing images and each of us picked out several images to show the group and talk about.  I was floored by the variety and ideas that everyone shared.  It’s amazing how people can go to the same place and come back with such different photographs.

I really enjoyed this workshop – it was a pleasure to meet so many new photo friends! I thought the locations we went to were terrific and Mike and Jamie were extremely knowledgable, friendly, and always willing to help anyone with questions. They created a wonderful atmosphere for us to learn and make beautiful photographs.  And I liked the van they used for transport – it was a real pleasure to just climb in and have someone else drive us around to all these spots.  Well done Mike and Jamie!!!

I’ll be adding my photos from the workshop to this album on Flickr as I finish them.  Check back later for even more.  And if you want to see some of the photos the other attendees made, watch episode 95 of the Mirrorless Minutes podcast on YouTube.

And to all my new (and old) photo friends, If you’re in the Central Florida area, look me up.  Maybe we can meet at one of my favorite spots.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

More Computational Photography

As an Electrical Engineer and a long time photographer, I’ve been interested in computational photography for a while.  You can read some of my  earlier posts on the subject at this link. Here’s Wikipedia’s definition:

…”digital image capture and processing techniques that use digital computation instead of optical processes.”

I’d change this slightly from”instead of” to “instead of or in addition to”, but that’s a small quibble.

Moore’s law keeps driving the computing capabilities in phones and cameras ever higher and it’s fascinating to see what companies do with the extra potential.

Towalga River below High FallsTowalga River below High Falls, Georgia. Composite – iPhone default live view and Long Exposure, merged in Photoshop

I made the image above on our recent trip using an iPhone 8+ and Apple’s “Live Photo” mode. After I made the photo, I edited it on the phone and enabled the “Long Exposure” effect. The Long Exposure effect of blurring the moving water is computed from ~3 seconds worth of frames that Live Photo captures.  This is Apple’s web page explaining the feature.  Here’s what it looked like before I changed the mode – it’s not nearly as photogenic:

Towalga River below High FallsDefault iPhone live view

Until iOS 11 added this feature, I wasn’t too interested in Live Photos.  Now, I’m watching for places to use it. You can get a better image with your high-end camera and traditional optical techniques, but this is easier and a lot of fun to play with.

Here are some hints:

  • Pick a suitable subject:  moving water, traffic on a road, blurring people in a crowd, etc.
  • Motion blur with a traditional optical approach requires a slow shutter speed – either low light or using filters.  Since computational methods works by processing multiple frames, you can use it in bright light without filters.
  • Apple says it works on their newer phones (6+ and later).  You’ll need to have iOS 11 (or later) installed.
  • The Long Exposure effect has to align Individual frames and then crop where there’s no overlap so you’ll lose pixels around the edges.  Ideally, use a tripod – but that sort of defeats the idea of pulling your phone out of your pocket, doesn’t it?  Just hold the phone as steady as you can to minimize cropping.
  • Make several exposures and pick the best one later.
  • Long Exposure resolution seems to be lower than default iPhone photos.  This isn’t a huge problem for the moving parts of the frame – they’re supposed to be blurry.  For the static portions, you can load both versions into layers in Photoshop and use masking to paint in higher resolution where you want it.  I did this for the first photo above.
  • You can set a Long Exposure photo as your wallpaper.  You’ll see the static Long Exposure version until you press on it from the lock screen.  Then it changes to show the three-second animation – cool!

I hope Apple enhances this in future updates.  It’d be good to have some control over the blur effect.  3 seconds is nice, but some subjects will look better with less (or more?).

iOS 11 includes other updated computation photo capabilities (e.g. portrait lighting) – but that’s a subject for another day.

Photography’s changing fast – it’s a wonderful time to be a photographer, isn’t it?  In today’s digital world, many advances are likely to be computational and not optical.  Keep up – don’t be left behind!

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Indian Springs State Park, Georgia

Indian Springs is about six hours by car from Central Florida.  It’s east of I-75 between Macon and Atlanta and well worth the drive.  Lynn discovered they have cabins and suggested that we go up for a few days to see if any leaves are changing.  They definitely are!

ColorColor

I think peak color will be in a week or so. We get very little fall color in Florida – so it was a treat to see.

The cabins are nice – some of the best we’ve stayed in.  They must have been refurbished not long ago.  They have two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, a living room, a screened porch, and are fully furnished.  And the location  on a gorgeous lake was wonderful. This was the view just a few steps from the back porch:

Good morningGood morning (three Frame vertical panorama)

There were other things to see in the park too.  This creek runs along the road by the entrance.

Big Sandy CreekBig Sandy Creek  (using the new iPhone “Live Long Exposure” mode)

And we spotted this cemetery from the 1800s along the road to the cabins.

At rest in the woodAt rest in the wood (Infrared)

We saw a few deer and although I didn’t put much effort in, several kinds of birds.  We had some fun watching (and listening) to Canada Geese on the lake.  I managed to make this video one morning around sunrise.  The flock took off just as the sun started to hit the lake.

There are several other places to see in the area.  High Falls State Park is just to the east and Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is to the west.  We’ve explored several state parks in Florida, but after this experience, we’re going to expand our target zone!  And Indian Springs is definitely on our “go back” list.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Jacksonville Jaunt

Although there’s no official definition, Wikipedia’s article about Central Florida (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Florida) says Jacksonville is outside the region. I also consider it to be outside the region – it’s such a long drive and I seldom go up there. But there are a great many photo ops around the city and it’s well worth exploring.

Which is what MK, Lynn, and I did last weekend.  And it was a great weekend for a day trip to national parks and monuments since August 25, 2016 was the 100th anniversary of the National Park System.

Our first stop (other than breakfast!) was at the Fort Caroline National Memorial, which was one of the first French settlements in America (around 1562).  The rangers were setting up to serve National Park birthday cake when we were there.  The rain started coming down pretty hard and I’m trying to control calories, so we moved on.

Fort Caroline rampart Fort Caroline rampart. Along the St. Johns river near Jacksonville, Florida.

I haven’t used my infrared camera for a while and brought it along this time.  Most of the photos I liked best from this trip were IR.  Kingsley Plantation is a well preserved / restored example of pre-Civil War Florida homesteads.  Zephaniah Kingsley moved there in 1814.  The site does a good job describing life during those times, including the use of slave labor to produce cotton, citrus, sugar cane, and corn.  Tours inside the plantation house are by reservation only and were full so we’ll have to see that next time.

Kingsley Plantation - main house Kingsley Plantation – main house. 5 frame infrared panorama

On the way up to Cumberland Island National Seashore, Lynn discovered Amelia Island Light in Fernandina Beach.  We managed to find it in the middle of a neighborhood after a wrong turn or two.  I’m glad we went by – I thought the vultures flying around the structure were photogenic.  I’m also glad I could add it to my collection of Florida lighthouse photos.

A kettle of vultures around Amelia Island Light A Kettle of vultures around Amelia Island Light. I combined birds from several infrared exposures to capture as many of the birds as possible in my image.

You get to Cumberland National Seashore via ferry from Saint Marys, Georgia.  The ferry’s also by reservation and runs only twice a day, so if you want to spend time on Cumberland Island, plan in advance.  I wandered down the street while MK and Lynn finished in the gift shop and found this interesting old building.

An old building on the street in St. Marys Georgia An old building  in St. Marys, Georgia, across from the ferry dock. Single infrared exposure.

This was a long drive from Winter Springs, but well worth it.  We have lots of ideas for where to go back and spend more time.

If you’re interested, here’s one other blog post that includes photos from near Jacksonville (Little Talbot Island State Park).  And here’s a folder where I’m collecting images from that area.  Coincidentally, they’re mostly infrared.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Georgia vacation report

Lynn and I spent a week in Georgia this month.  She had a school reunion and we wanted to visit the north Georgia mountains for a few days beforehand.  We have fond memories of weekend hikes along the Appalachian Trail when we were in college.  I can report that the area is just as pretty as I remember, but the trails seem a lot steeper now.

We stayed in a cabin at the Enota Mountain Retreat, between Helen and Hiawassee.  This was only a few miles from Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia.  The Cherokee people called this mountain Enotah.

Brasstown Bald is in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest and there’s a small entrance fee at the parking area, but if you have a National Park Service Senior Pass, you can use that.  The 0.6 mile paved trail from the parking area to the top is very steep, although a bus runs between 10am and 5pm.  We arrived after 5 on our first day – it was well worth the hike to the top.  The spectacular 360 degree view was the best one we saw.

The view from Brasstown Bald
The view from Brasstown Bald – This is the highest point in the state of Georgia (4,784 feet). 5 frame infrared panorama, B&W.

Compare that to a very similar view from an un-modified camera to see how the infrared sensor helps cuts through the haze.

The view from Brasstown Bald
Color view from Brasstown Bald – Looking a bit to the right of the IR version. Also a 5 frame panorama, 

Good vistas don’t seem as common here as they are for instance in the Rockies.  The small roads have places to pull over, but the view is often blocked by trees.  Which makes the outlook from Brasstown Bald exceptional.

North Georgia also has a huge number of waterfalls – but some are more difficult to find, get to, and see clearly than others.  There are four on the Enota Resort grounds.  The trail to this one was steep and muddy in spots and led up along the side of a ravine to this spot  across from the falls.  We couldn’t find a viewpoint with a clear view through the trees, although there were other paths that we didn’t have time (or energy) to try.

Hidden falls
Hidden falls – Along a trail inside the Enota campground.  ISO 200, f/8, 0.6 sec.

We did visit other waterfalls that are easier to get to and see.  There’s even a pull off just outside Vogel State Park where we could view a large waterfall from the road (no hike!).  Anna Ruby Falls is on federal land inside Unicoi State park near Helen.  The paved path to the falls is about 1/2 mile long and not too difficult with resting places along the way.  We also visited Amicolola Falls near Dahlonaga after our wonderful lunch at the Smith House Restaurant.  This falls also has a relatively short and easier paved path to a wonderful open view.  But the hike might be even easier when your stomach isn’t so full!

Amicolola Falls
Amicalola Falls – Near Dahlonega, Georgia.  ISO 100, f/16, 0.1 second.

I used a variety of shutter speeds on the waterfalls and I think 1/10 to 1/2 is the range to play in to make the water look best. Unless you find a pool of swirling water – where a longer exposure might be better.  Try different shutter speeds while you’re there so you can pick the best result when you get home.  Most of the time I could get my shutter speed in range by adjusting ISO and aperture.  I did have a variable neutral density filter with me that I used a couple of times – it was handy when the sun was out.  Most of the time it was cloudy enough so that I didn’t have to worry about using the filter or fight the extreme contrast of sun shining on white water.

As far as wildlife goes, we didn’t spend a lot of effort looking and we didn’t see many animals.  I was able to photograph one new life bird:  a Louisiana Waterthrush.  Lynn found it foraging on the ground outside (while we did the laundry!).

After our time in North Georgia, we headed to Atlanta for the reunion.  For various reasons, my photo ops there were limited, but we did have a nice vantage point from our hotel room.

Incoming storm
Incoming Storm – Atlanta.  During a long exposure needed to capture this ominous cloud rolling in, I also caught a flash of lightning.

One place I’ve heard great things about but didn’t get to visit is the Georgia aquarium.  I’ll have to save it for next time.

All in all, an exceptional, relaxing, and photogenic trip which we both thoroughly enjoyed.  These and other Georgia photos are in this  album  on Flickr, where you can view larger versions. Also, if you haven’t seen last week’s post about the Narcosee Indian Mound, please take a look at that.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Ceremonial Cherokee Indian mound

The Nacoochee Indian mound is just outside Helen, Georgia.  Lynn and I were up there on vacation last week and happened to find it on our way out-of-town.  Of course, I had to pull over for a photo.

I like the setting, the look of the mound, and the hills and clouds beyond it.  It seems very spiritual to me.

Nacoochee Cherokee Indian ceremonial mound, just outside Helen, Georgia
Nacoochee Cherokee Indian ceremonial mound, just outside Helen, Georgia – This was the center of the Cherokee town of Gauxule, visited by DeSoto in 1540 while searching for gold. The mound is 190 feet long by 150 foot wide by 20 feet high. Research beginning in 1915 showed that the Cherokee people buried their ancestors on this spot and lived on the land around it.

My grandparents on my mother’s side both lived in North Carolina and Georgia and had some Cherokee blood in their background.  I wonder if any of my distant relatives lived and died near here?

I haven’t had time to organize / process photos from this trip. Hopefully I’ll get to that this week and have a better report ready for next time.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.