Category Archives: INSIDE FLORIDA

Merritt Island 6-9-19

It’s getting to be that time of year down here in Central Florida:  Hot, muggy, and buggy, with many of the birds hiding or gone.

None the less, Kevin K. and I went over to Merritt Island last week to see what’s going on. Our first stop was along the Indian River at the Titusville Marina.  Clouds on the horizon helped the sun add some color to the morning.

Dawn, down on the riverDawn, down on the river

On Black Point Wildlife Drive, our most interesting find was this Stilt wading through calm water and good light.  I like this close up, but I wish I’d also made a frame including the whole reflection.

Black-necked StiltBlack-necked Stilt

As we left, this healthy looking animal was calmly marching across the black top.  There were no cars coming from either direction, so we could stop and give him the right of way.  And make a photo too!

Why did the gator cross the road?Why did the gator cross the road? It didn’t say, but the grass is green on the other side!

There are still some interesting birds at MINWR.  For instance, Pat H. found a Clapper Rail on BPWD a couple weeks ago.  But it seems like most of our winter visitors have moved on.  Maybe we need to move on too and look for photo ops in other spots until it starts cooling off again.

You can click on these images to view a larger version on Flickr. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Red, Green, and Blue

We’ve been busy with projects lately and I haven’t been able to go out on any  photo expeditions for a few weeks.  So I thought I’d show you three recent images I’ve made close to home.

Back in the film days, one way to increase saturation was to slightly under expose.  That still works with digital and it’s what I did when I saw how the late afternoon light was hitting one of Lynn’s red Caladiums in our garden.

Back light in the back gardenBack light in the back garden – Late afternoon view of a Caladium leaf

We were getting out of the car on the way in to a restaurant one day for lunch when I saw this lizard.  It was very calm and let me get close with my phone camera.  It didn’t need any under exposure to saturate its green color.

Very greenVery green – Anole Lizard

I shot from below the flowers and up toward the sky for this last image.  I stopped down to get as much in focus as I could and bracketed the exposure since the light was tricky.  But the camera’s dynamic range was large enough that I ended up using just the nominal exposure.

Backlight BlueBacklight Blue – Blue Plumbago against a cloudy sky

Our schedule frees up some next week, so I might try to sneak out with a camera one day.  We’ll see!

You can click on these images to view a larger version on Flickr. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Memorial Day 2019

In the United States, we celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May to honor and thank men and women who’ve died serving in the U.S. military.

"Uncommon Valor was a common Virtue"“Uncommon Valor was a common Virtue”- Sunset at the US Marine Corps War Memorial, Arlington, VA

Please take a moment tomorrow and remember everyone that’s served. They deserve your unending gratitude.

Flags mark the headstones of US Veterans for Memorial Day 2019Flags mark the headstones of US Veterans for Memorial Day 2019. Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida

There are other posts tagged “Memorial Day” at this link.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go thank a veteran!

©2014-2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Long Exposure with Variable Neutral Density Filters

A friend wants to make long exposure photos on an upcoming trip. I recommended using a Variable Neutral Density Filter (VND) and offered to let them try mine.  So  we headed over to the Cocoa Beach Pier last Friday to test them out on some ocean waves.

Cruising homeCruising home. VND, ƒ/11, 35 mm, 0.3sec, ISO 100

VNDs are made from two polarizing filters – one’s fixed and the other rotates. You use the rotating one to vary the amount of light that’s blocked (typically between 1 or 2 and 6 or 8 stops).  I like them because they give you precise and easy control over how much light hits your sensor.  If you reduce light on the sensor, you can use a slower shutter speed or a wider aperture for a given scene.  They’re good to have when you photograph waterfalls (slow shutter to blur / smooth water) or in bright light (to shoot with a wider aperture and blur backgrounds).

Here’s my approach for smoothing water:

  1. Mount the camera on a tripod and trigger it with a remote or the self timer.
  2. Set ISO (usually for best quality). Don’t use auto ISO.  We want the  camera to vary shutter speed instead of changing ISO when the VND rotates.
  3. I use Aperture Priority mode and select the F-stop (for depth of field, image quality etc.).
  4. Compose with the VND filter at its minimum value (brightest setting).
  5. In bright light, you can use auto focus.  In dim light, you may need to  manual focus so the camera’s auto focus doesn’t hunt when you  darken the VND.
  6. Now, slowly turn / darken the VND until your shutter speed reaches the value you want.  You’ll need to experiment to find what looks best to you, but for water try between .25 and 1 second.
  7. If you can’t get a slow enough shutter, you can close down your aperture, or lower your ISO.

Some things to watch out for:

  • Like much in photography (and life!), you can find very expensive VNDs and very cheap ones. I’ve had good luck with name brand ones in the middle price range.  Don’t buy the cheap ones!  They may not be optically flat or coated, and might introduce color shift problems.  You’ll probably pay more for thinner ones too, which will reduce chances of vignetting.
  • Definitely look for VNDs with coatings to help prevent reflections / flare.  You’re adding four more air/glass interfaces to the front of your lens and you can’t use a lens hood, so coatings will improve performance.
  • Since these filters can be expensive, I recommend buying only one, sized to fit the biggest diameter lens you’ll use it with.  I have a 77mm VND and step down rings to mount it on my smaller lenses.
  • Some VNDs can be rotated too far and will show an ugly cross-shaped anomaly.  If yours does this, watch for it and back off until it disappears.  Some are made with a stop so you can’t rotate them too far.
  • Check your results as you go.  It’s easy to over expose highlights in moving water, so you may need to dial in some negative exposure composition.  Also, if the light getting through is too dim, your camera’s meter may not work well.  In that case you’ll have to change to manual exposure and adjust accordingly.
  • Make several exposures at different shutter speeds so you’ll have distinct looks to choose from when you get home.

Golden beachGolden beach. VND, ƒ/8.0, 26 mm eq., 0.8sec, ISO 200

That’s it – simple, right?  Do you use VNDs?  If so, let me know where I can view your long exposure photos.  And if you have any hints of your own, please share in a comment for everyone.

You can click on these images to see a larger version on Flickr. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Mother’s Day 2019

Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms far and wide!

To help celebrate, I thought I’d share some photos I’ve made of Florida Mothers and their babies.  These are all wild animals / birds and they’re from several places over several years, so I’ll include where and when in the captions.

Momma gator guarding nest and 3 babiesMomma gator guarding her nest and 4 (blurry) babies. Along La Chua Trail, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Gainesville, FL, December 2006

What's Momma doing?Momma Sandhill Crane and chick foraging at Viera Wetlands, March 2017

Spoonbill Mom returnsSpoonbill Mom returns, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, May 2010

Great Horned Owl parent and chickGreat Horned Owl Mom and chick in the nest, Circle B Bar, March 2018

Momma Limpkin and babyMomma Limpkin and baby, Circle B Bar Reserve, October 2013

Great Egret Mom and chicksGreat Egret Mom and chicks, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, April 2011

It’s amazing how devoted Moms are, and it’s fascinating to watch them raise their babies.

You can click on these images to see larger versions on Flickr.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go spend time with your Mom!

©2006 – 2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Several minutes in the back yard

Lynn’s gardening is paying off again this spring with lots of blooming flowers.  And once more, they’ve attracted some lovely visitors. I glanced out our back window last week, saw some motion and quickly grabbed a camera.

Backyard ButterflySwallowtail; 105mm, f/6.3, 1/2000 sec @ ISO 1600

I made about 30 frames in the short time I followed it around. I think this one’s the best.  I set my aperture pretty wide – to get a fast shutter speed and freeze motion in flight,  and also to blur the background. I do like the background, but the depth of field is just a bit too shallow – causing the tips of the wings to blur.

I tried using a new piece of software called Topaz Sharpen AI to reduce the wingtip blur.  You’ll find lots of info about it on the web, so I won’t get into details here.  I’m pleased with how it works – it did a good job sharpening this, especially around the flower and the butterfly’s head and body.  And it actually sharpened the wingtips some, although it couldn’t completely remove the blur.  It’s very CPU intensive, so I won’t use it all the time, but I’ll keep it around just in case.

The real fix for the wingtip blur is to make another photo.  I’ll keep watching for more back yard visitors.

You can click on the image to see a larger version on Flickr.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Winter Park Ospreys

This Osprey family is doing well in tony downtown Winter Park – living in their very own, rent free high-rise.  Dad is an awesome fisherman – he brought back 3 during the short time I watched.

Urban, wild Osprey nestDad, landing with a fresh meal for Mom and chick

Mom seems experienced and devoted to the chick, shading it from the hot sun and feeding it small bites of Dad’s catch.

Urban, wild Osprey nestMom feeding chick

I first wrote about this same nest about a year ago.  Please click below to read the older post.

Urban Ospreys

I decided to revisit this week and I’m glad I did.  It’s a wonderful place to observe this family from 40 – 50 feet away.  Since the birds are used to traffic and people, you can watch them without stressing them at all.  An ambulance even went by with its siren going and Mom just calmly watched it.

As a bonus, I met another photographer there.  Turns out we have a lot in common:  While we shot, we talked about birds, locations, cameras, lenses, and grandkids!  A marvelous, mini photo excursion!

Click on each photo to see a larger version on Flickr.  And follow this link to see more images I made in Winter Park: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157636838442164

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

St. Augustine Postcard

Hello faithful readers!  This is the next entry in the occasional blog category called “Postcards” where  I upload photos of Central Florida scenes – similar to a postcard.

I’m using a Creative Commons license (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International) for these instead of “All rights reserved”, so you’re welcome to download them in high resolution for your personal use.   Please visit this page to see details and restrictions that apply:  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.

It’s easy to find all of these.  Just use the “Places / Categories” pulldown menu over on the right side of the blog and select “Postcards”.  If you’re viewing the site on a phone, you may not see that menu – in that case, just type “postcards” into the search box.

St. Augustine Basilica

I made this image a week or so ago inside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. Established in 1565, it is the oldest Christian congregation in the contiguous United States.  Portions of the structure date from 1797, in part due to the durability of the cochina rock used for exterior walls.

I shot this handheld with a 35mm lens at f/2.8, and used ISO 800 to make sure my shutter speed was high enough to avoid camera shake (1/50 sec).  I processed the photo and converted it to Black and White using Lightroom.  You should be able to right click and  download.  I hope you like it!

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license

 

Seen in St. Augustine

Lynn and I spent a couple of days in St. Augustine, Florida last week.  It’s been two years since I last wrote about it (in this post), but it’s still a photo rich environment.  Here’s a sample of the images I made there this time.

Columbia Restaurant interiorColumbia Restaurant interior.  We usually stop by this place for the food, but the inside is lovely too!

Memorial Presbyterian Church DomeMemorial Presbyterian Church Dome.  We rode the Old Town Trolley around again and got off at this stop to see this beautiful church.  Henry Flagler built it in the 1890s as a memorial to his wife.

Santa Maria Restaurant>Santa Maria Restaurant Ruins. Our trolley guide told us it has too much hurricane damage to repair. It’s going to be demolished soon and replaced with a new restaurant

Flower BoxFlower Box.  I like to watch for interesting doors and windows when I walk through town.  This is one example.

Golden mooring morningGolden mooring morning.  Lynn used some points to help us splurge on a waterfront room.  I made this from our balcony.

RefreshmentsRefreshments – Make the photo, then drink the subject. It’s important to get the sequence correct!

What a photogenic place!  They’ve done a wonderful job recovering from Hurricane Irma.  It’s hard to see any remaining damage other than the Santa Maria Restaurant.  You can browse all my St. Augustine blog posts at this link.  And you can view my other St. Augustine images in this album on Flickr.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Merritt Island – 4/3/19

When I  visit Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, I’m never sure what I’ll see.  But almost every time there’s something new and interesting.

I hadn’t been to Gator Creek Rd. for sunrise in a while.  This spot is at one of the curves where there’s a break in the mangroves so you can get down to water level.  There weren’t many clouds.  I used a low camera position for this photo  to emphasize the foreground and made a 4 image panorama to get a wider field of view.

Gator Creek MorningGator Creek Morning.

Next, I drove up to the Bairs Cove Boat ramp.  Manatees seem to like the area – I think I’ve seen them there every time I’ve been.  Sure enough, I spotted several and debated whether to park and make a photo.  I’ve made so many photos of their noses that more of that kind of shot isn’t very exciting .  But since I was there, I got out of the car.  I  counted over a dozen as I walked quietly down to the dock.  It wasn’t until I was right at the water that I saw three of them next to the wall.  I’d only brought my long lens with me from the car, so after making several “Manatee Head Shots”, I pulled out my phone to get a photo of the group (https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/40566342263/in/dateposted/).  When I left they were still there – calmly resting and taking occasional breaths.

Manatee head shotManatee head shot

I was heading back toward Black Point Wildlife Drive along Shiloh Rd. when I caught a glimpse of some water through a break in the trees.  I stopped and walked over to make this infrared image in a spot I’d never noticed before.

By the Indian RiverBy the Indian River

Things were fairly busy on Black Point – lots of birds and people too.  I stayed at one small feeding frenzy for a while making images of the birds hunting for fish.  This heron had just launched from the left.

Tricolored Heron in flightTricolored Heron in flight

I stopped next to another photographer who’d found this Killdeer close to the road in very nice light.  I was careful not to disturb her bird as I quietly got out of my car to get this image.

Killdeer Killdeer

I spotted our usual Herons and Egrets, Brown and White Pelicans, a few ducks (mostly Blue Wing Teals, Northern Shovelers, Coots, etc.), Ibis, Willets, Sandpipers, Cormorants, Anhingas, Roseate Spoonbills, Belted Kingfishers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Turkey Vultures, Mocking Birds, Ground Doves, Black-necked Stilts, a few Killdeer, and one new life bird for me:  a Whimbrel.

Another pleasant and interesting morning at MINWR!

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved