No, not slow shutter speeds. Photography itself is slow.
It usually is this time of year. Our heat, humidity, and bugs have all become bothersome. And at least for me, wildlife seems harder to spot. This year we also have a pandemic to deal with – especially here in Florida. So my photo motivation has been sluggish. I did end up taking my camera out three times last week and came home with a couple images that may be worth sharing.
I saw a mention (On Flickr? Can’t remember. ) of a place called Lemon Bluff. It’s a small Volusia County park / boat ramp on the St. Johns river. I’m not sure how many photos you could find there, but it would be a great place to launch a kayak.
St. Johns River from the Lemon Bluff boat ramp
I also brought my camera on two short trips into Orlando. I wanted to see how the swans are doing. Our first visit was cancelled by a rain storm, however the second one went a little better.
Almost grown – These Lake Davis cygnets are just about as big as Mom and Dad.
Both families are doing well. There are still two cygnets at Lake Davis. Lake Cherokee has three – they’re a little smaller. I’m not posting photos of them because they were napping in the grass right in front of an ugly irrigation pump. I should file a complaint with the swan modeling agency!
Ages ago when I was young and starting out with photography, I used black and white almost exclusively. It was an economic choice, not esthetic. I could buy black and white film cheaply in bulk and do my own processing, which reduced cost substantially.
In today’s digital world I still photograph in black and white, but not exclusively and it’s not an economic choice anymore. Almost every modern digital camera has a black and white mode. And since I shoot in RAW format, I can experiment and choose what my final output will look like long after I press the shutter. There are many reasons to shoot black and white, but here are a couple you may want to think about:
1. Emphasize / reveal different things about a subject
The Lightroom B&W panel has sliders for 8 different colors. Converting from RAW can provide a lot more control than choosing the default B&W mode in your camera. When processing this photo, I used this to bring out detail and texture in the Osprey’s feathers, brighten its eye, and darken the sky background.
Here’s a before and after that compares the color and black and white versions. Which do you like?
2. Control harsh light and colors
I like both wildlife and landscape photography. Light is best for landscapes during the golden hours around sunrise and sunset and can be very harsh in the middle of the day. Black and white can help you control this and make a good photo even when the light is harsh. I mostly use my infrared converted camera in black and white mode for this, but a regular camera can also work. Here’s an example of some harsh mid-morning light that I think works well in IR/B&W:
I wish I knew how to predict what sunrise will be like. But I don’t, so I just show up and see how it’ll turn out. Here’s the first photo I made last Wednesday:
The water is wide
And this next photo is from nearly an hour later. The color and clouds were going strong the whole time!
Rays and reflection
That daybreak was remarkable. I’ve been out photographing some mornings where the colors only pop for a few moments. And I’ve been out other times where they don’t really pop at all. If any of you know how to predict this kind of thing, I really want to hear from you. If you too want to know, don’t ask me!
Well, our summer season has already arrived here in Central Florida. It’s hot and I was chased by many mosquitoes (and chewed on by a few) as I photographed the sun coming up. I think our recent afternoon thunderstorms have made the bugs worse.
And the birds seem to have moved on, or at least they’re hiding in the places I normally visit. There weren’t many to see along Gator Creek Road or Black Point Wildlife Drive. I did stop by the Green Heron nests that I bypassed on my last visit (https://edrosack.com/2020/05/17/minwr-11-may-2020/). I didn’t see any nesting activity, but this cooperative young one was still hanging around.
Youngster – This juvenile Green Heron has fledged and is out in the world fending for itself
And here’s one final image – a panorama of some trees that I thought were interesting in infrared.
Pines and palmettos
Changing the subject again – I hope all Dads out there are having a wonderful Fathers Day! Thank you for all you do – you make the world a much better place!
“Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father.” Lydia M. Child
I miss you Dad. I hope we made you as proud as our families make us.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there and take care of each other. And if you can – make some photos!
Orlando Wetlands Park re-opened a few weeks ago and I met Kevin M. there for a socially distanced walk around. It was good to see him and good to go photographing. I posted a few images from that trip at the end of last week’s blog (the bonus baby birds). And here are some more.
This first one is a 600 mm combination wildlife / landscape image.
Kevin is pretty handy to have along! I hear Barred Owls calling all the time, even in our back yard – except I hardly ever get good photos of them. We both heard this one. I searched in vain and was happy when he found it so we could get some photos.
Who cooks for you? – Perched Barred Owl.
There are always interesting things to see at Orlando Wetlands. This Least Bitterns is a good example. It was flying back and forth between clumps of reeds fishing for its breakfast.
On the hunt – Fishing Least Bittern
I like this photo of a young Night Heron that’s just landed in a cypress tree.
A young Night Heron
And watching (and listening) to Whistling Ducks never gets old.
Formation flight – A pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks
Many people were enjoying the park on the Saturday we went. It was tough at times to give everyone six feet of clearance, but we managed. If you plan to visit, check their web page for the latest information on access, services, etc.
It’s still baby bird season here in Central Florida. I thought I’d update you on several I’ve been following.
Lake Cherokee Mute Swans
As of May 23rd, there are three surviving cygnets at Lake Cherokee (this photo is from May 17th). On April 25th, I counted 6.
Lake Davis Mute Swans
There are only two cygnets left at Lake Davis (this photo is from May 17th too). On April 25th, there were 5. They seem a little bit larger / older to me than the ones at Lake Cherokee.
There’s a lot of wildlife in and around Lake Davis and Lake Cherokee. One neighbor’s seen owls, hawks, eagles and otters there and it wouldn’t be surprising if there are alligators too. Life for these young swans is dangerous.
All of the remaining ones seem to be healthy and growing. Hopefully they’re big enough now to avoid any more predation.
Winter Park Ospreys
Wing exercise – These two chicks are still in this nest. In this photo (also from May 17th) Mom and sibling duck out of the way as the other one exercises its wings.
They’re growing fast and getting stronger. I don’t think it’ll be too long before they fledge.
Bonus baby birds
Here are a few other young birds I’ve seen in the last week. These are from a stroll at Orlando Wetlands Park.
Black-necked Stilts: Mom and chick
A young Night Heron in flight. I think this one is a Black-crowned Night Heron. They’re much more common around here than the Yellow-crowned ones.
Family cruise – Mottled Duck Mom and ducklings
Okay – that’s all of the baby bird news I have. Now for a more serious subject.
Here In the US, we celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May (the 25th). It’s a day to honor those who died defending our freedom and democracy. Every one of us owes them a debt we can never repay.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there, stay safe, and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. And if you can – make some photos!
Like most of you, it’s been two months since I’ve been any distance from home. I’ve kept making photos on walks in our neighborhood, in our yard, or along the way on necessary trips around town. But I’ve been itching to go out on a photo specific excursion and now our stay at home orders have been relaxed here in Florida. So last Monday I drove over on a solo trip to check out Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, one of my favorite nature locations.
I made two circuits around Black Point Wildlife Drive. I looked for sunrise spots and landscapes on the first pass. I might’ve seen a more colorful dawn than this one, but not recently. And the calm winds made for a lovely reflection.
Tranquil bay – Along Black Point Wildlife Drive, about 15 minutes before sunrise.
On the second pass I scouted for wildlife / birds. I didn’t see a tremendous number, but there were enough to make it interesting.
A little spotty: Spotted Sandpiper and reflection. I was happy to find this one since I seldom see them.
There was a feeding frenzy in one of the canals along Black Point. Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons and Ibis were feeding on plentiful minnows. The location was really nice since it was next to a path where I could walk out to get a better angle on the action. Often when I find these, they’re far away or hidden behind mangroves and hard to photograph.
Got one! A Snowy Egret catches a minnow.
If you click on any of these photos, you’ll be able to see a larger image on Flickr. You can then click again to enlarge it even more. Look at the Snowy Egret’s beak to see the minnow it caught in that splash.
Green Heron fly by
Speaking of Green Herons, there were three cars pulled over when I went around the corner at the rest stop on BPWD. People were out and gathered by the canal photographing something I couldn’t see back in the mangroves. In “olden” times, you could find a lot of interesting things by stopping next to other photographers. You still can I suppose, but now days I’m a little pandemic paranoid and getting too close to people can make me nervous. I passed up this stop and kept going – I learned later that they were looking at Green Heron nests. I have to say though that MINWR seems about as safe as you can get. It’s not hard to maintain social distancing by staying in your car and choosing where to get out.
The next image is from a little later on Gator Creek Road. At the time, I just liked the scene / composition with two birds on one rock. I didn’t realize what I had until I got home and looked at it on the computer.
Sharin’ Stone – Hopefully, I identified these correctly: A Semipalmated Plover on the left and a Semipalmated Sandpiper on the right. If so, it’s my first photo of both species. Two life birds in one image!
Which reminds me that I’ve wanted to mention an app. It’s called Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Labs and it’s very good at identifying birds using photos. It seems to be very accurate and complete. And it’s free! It called out the species in this photo for me (but I did ask my friend Kevin M’s. opinion too).
I saw other things on this trip too. Alligators (of course), an opposum, Black Neck Stilts, Roseate Spoonbills and more. One thing I didn’t see: the rock stacks on Gator Creek Road are gone – yay!
MINWR was a very good choice for my first post lockdown photo trip. I was tired when I got back, but I felt rejuvenated. I’m very lucky that I can find many of my favorite photo subjects so close to home. And last Monday at least, they weren’t collecting fees on BPWD.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there, stay safe, and take care of each other. And if you can – make some photos!
The first post on this blog went up on May 4th, 2007. Who would’ve thought it’d still be going 13 years, 672 posts, and 2000+ photos later?
It seems like I should have something profound to say in an anniversary post, but I’m not feeling any deep, heartfelt photography thoughts today to share. Instead, I’ll just remind you: We all carry our cell phones around. Make sure you take yours out and use its probably very good camera whenever something attracts your eye.
Here are a few sights I thought were interesting over the last several months when the only camera I had with me was my phone.
Light on leaves on a limb – From a neighborhood walk on May 2nd.
New palm fronds – From a neighborhood walk on April 29th.
Red Bottlebrush – From a neighborhood walk on March 14th.
Fire in the sky – Just before dinner at Cracker Barrel on February 7th.
Lynn and I are doing OK here. We’ve been sticking close to home and social distancing for what seems like forever. Florida has started to lift our pandemic lockdown a bit and I’m thinking about venturing out for a some careful exploration / exercise with my camera next week at one of the parks around Orlando that are beginning to open up again. It’d be nice to get out for a bit.
Changing the subject: I hope all Moms out there are having a wonderful Mothers Day! – Thank you for all you do – you make the world a much better place!
“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”
I miss you Mom.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there, stay safe, and take care of each other. And if you can – make some photos!
Lynn has a Lily of the Nile plant outside our front door. It looked stressed over the winter, but at the beginning of April it perked up and started blooming. I kept an eye on it and made these five photos over three weeks to show the sequence.
Cameras, lenses, and settings varied over time and some are single frames while others are multiple frame focus stacks. I tried to make the look consistent across all the photos when I processed them and converted to B&W. How’d I do?
Why did I choose to post these? I put up things I like and hope that you’ll enjoy them too. It’s not a good idea to post things I don’t like and hope you’ll like them. Is it?
Changing subjects, here in Florida we’ll begin a Phase One reopening next week in most of the state. Social distancing and other pandemic restrictions will still be in place. And we should all use our common sense and be cautious. But I did hear that state parks are reopening. We’ll have to see exactly what the rules allow.
Many have died, many more are sick, and even more are out of work. Our hearts go out to all of you. I hope that we get through this as soon as possible.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of each other.
Lynn and I dropped off some things today at MK’s place. On the way home we checked on the Lake Cherokee and Lake Davis swans and then went by Winter Park to see how the Ospreys are doing.
Lake Cherokee Mute Swan and cygnets
The swans at Lake Cherokee seem to be fine. But last time I counted 6 cygnets and today I only saw 5. I hope one was hidden in the grass or behind the tree on the right.
Lake Davis Mute Swan and Cygnets
The Lake Davis swans seem fine too and I counted 5 cygnets there, same as our last visit. If you’d like to see a few more photos of these birds, one of my Flickr friends (Kathy B.) posted a few in her Flickr photo stream.
We only saw one very small chick in the Winter Park Osprey nest two weeks ago. It turns out it was the only one poking its head up at the time – there were two more hidden in the nest. This visit we saw all three and they’re much larger already. All the hungry babies were loudly begging for food and Momma was busy feeding them pieces of very fresh fish.
Momma Osprey feeding her three chicks
As we were getting ready to leave, Lynn asked if I’d made a video. And of course I hadn’t remembered to, so I went back and recorded a little bit. Thanks Lynn! The chicks in this remind me of mini dinosaurs.
Mary D. posted a comment on the last Osprey post. She saw a worker up there and hoped he was placing a wildlife camera. I looked and couldn’t see any sign of one.
When we posted about the Lake Davis ducks a couple of weeks ago, I got a question in the comments about the swan on Lake Cherokee.
Lake Cherokee Cob
lbphoto23 had only seen one swan there and asked if we’d seen two. I answered at the time that “Yes, there are two on Lake Cherokee. If you don’t see them together, you can usually spot the second one somewhere on a different area of the lake.”
Well it turns out that there are actually eight swans on Lake Cherokee! MK spotted her new neighbors this week paddling around with mom and dad.
Lynn and I had to drop some things off for MK, so I brought my camera and made some photos as we drove around both lakes on the way home. The Lake Davis Swan family is also doing well – there are ‘seven swans a swimming’ there.
Lake Davis Mute Swan Family
I’m happy that both families are starting out so well. Last year, the Lake Cherokee family ended up losing all of their cygnets one by one. Hopefully this year they’ll do much better.
Lake Cherokee Mute Swan Family
MK has notice quite a few people swan watching. If you do go see them, make sure you don’t get too close – give them some space!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. We’re doing OK here and socially isolating as much as possible. I hope all of you are staying safe too – take care of yourselves, your friends, and your families. And if you can, make some photos!