Category Archives: Cocoa

Cocoa – March 20, 2014

Keith H. mentioned that he’d like to visit the Cocoa Pier.  I hadn’t been in a while and when I checked The Photographer’s Ephemeris, it looked like the sun would rise lined up pretty well with the Pier this week, so we decided to go over.  We arrived early hoping for some star photo ops, but thick clouds and lights on the beach limited star visibility.  I did manage to capture a planet in this frame:

Venus rising past the pier
Venus rising past the pier – The clouds parted for a few moments before dawn

It’s pretty crowded underneath this pier, so the sun alignment wasn’t as big a deal as I hoped.  I caught a glimpse of it through the pilings and clouds just after dawn – here’s what it looked like:

Sunrise under the pier
Sunrise under the pier – The ship visible in the upper left was a bonus.

On the drive back, we stopped to photograph the new Port Canaveral Exploration Tower:

Port Canaveral Exploratio Center
Port Canaveral Exploration Tower – The new building is quite eye-catching! It wasn’t there the last time I drove by.

 A quick, but fun photo excursion.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Viera Wetlands: 2/2/2014

Kevin M. and I went to Viera Wetlands (Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands) last weekend.

On the way, we stopped by Riverfront Park in Cocoa for a sunrise photo.  Unfortunately, the sun didn’t cooperate – we didn’t even see it until about a half hour after sunrise!  But I thought the fog, boats, and lights were photogenic.  The water was very calm – leading to great reflections and very little motion blur even though this is a 13 second exposure due to the dim light.

Foggy morning harbor
Foggy morning harbor, Cocoa, Florida, Infrared

After sunrise, we met up with Kevin’s brother Keith.  He’s getting into birding and had never been to Viera, so he wanted to join us.  When we arrived, we found the road closed to cars because of all the rain we’ve had.  We almost always drive and the slower pace and closer view was enjoyable for a change. Walking helped us see many of the warblers hiding in the bushes.  I was able to isolate this pretty “butter butt” against a nice non-distracting background:

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler

There were many warblers (mostly Palm Warblers) and Tree Swallows.  And just so you know, I think Tree Swallows are one of the hardest birds to photograph.  I hardly ever see them sitting still.  And they’re so small and fast that photographing them in flight is a very low percentage shot – at least with my equipment.  I’ll get a good photo of one someday.

Of course, we also saw many of the usual wading birds and the gators seemed more numerous than normal.  I also got to meet one of my Flickr friends (New NewEnglander) who was visiting from up north.

We also drove through the Click Ponds and saw huge numbers of ducks (mostly Green and Blue Winged Teals) and shorebirds, and then headed down the dirt road toward Moccasin Island tract.  I’ve been down there a few times before without seeing much.  But this time was very interesting and proves that you need to visit someplace over and over to fully appreciate it.  We saw what we think was a Merlin fly by, but weren’t quick enough to photograph it.  We also spotted several American Kestrels – the first time I’ve seen them in the wild and a real highlight of the trip.

American Kestrel on post
American Kestrel

We saw one of the Kestrels engaged with another similar sized bird, but were too far away to make out what going on. It looked like they were actually grappling with each other.  Both birds flew away before we got close.  Other birds on the road included Sand Hill Cranes and Eastern Phoebes.

A wonderful morning out in natural Florida.  You can read much more about Viera Wetlands in this blog category and Cocoa posts are in this one.  I have more Viera photos in this set on Flickr and more Cocoa photos in this set.  

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Partial Solar Eclipse at Sunrise

I hadn’t been paying enough attention to astronomy news. Luckily my loyal Sherpa was (thank you Lynn!), and she mentioned that a partial solar eclipse would  be visible along the US east coast at sunrise on November 3rd.  So I took off for Cocoa Beach where I knew I could get a clear view of the horizon.  This was the scene a little before sunrise.

Mai Tiki Bar
Mai Tiki – before sunrise

Normally clouds are a great thing for sunrise photos.  In this case, though, the eclipse would last only a few minutes, so I worried that the band of clouds low on the horizon would block the view.  But the sun and moon finally did break through so we could watch the last part of the event.

Partial eclipse of the sun

Partial Eclipse of the Sun – As seen from the base of the Cocoa Beach Pier

I wanted to clearly show the sun’s disc so I used my “bird” lens for this photo zoomed in to 400mm.  I was happy that these three people were watching from the end of the pier so I could place  them in the frame.  The sun was extremely bright and I was careful not to burn anything in my camera (or my eyes!).  It was tough to compose since I kept my lens pointed away from the sun most of the time and only glanced briefly through the viewfinder to make images.

I like the way this one turned out.  It was definitely a unique sunrise and well worth the drive over.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Review and Reprocess

Sometimes after a photo shoot, I’ll skip over images if I’m short on time or something looks too hard to deal with.  Other times, I may play with a photo for a while and then set it aside when I just can’t seem to get it right.  When I learn a new technique or get a new software package or upgrade I try to go through my image library and pick out existing photos that could benefit from the new capability.  And yes, I also notice images that no longer look as good to me as they did at first.  Something I did a few years ago may have seemed great then – but tastes change.

I use Lightroom to catalog my photos and I have a keyword called “Process” with three sub-keywords “Color”, “pano”, and “other”.  Using these, I mark photos I want to revisit and I’ve built up a collection of them for future processing.  I had a little time this week to go through and pick three to work on:

Reflections at Kelly Park
Kelly Park Reflections:  Merritt Island, Florida, February 19, 2013. The water was amazingly calm that morning and I like the reflections as well as the detail / lights on the horizon.  I  bypassed this image at first because of trouble with the white balance.  This time through the result is much closer to the look I wanted.

Main Sanctuary of the Cathedral Basilica
The Main Sanctuary of the Cathedral Basilica, Saint Augustine, Florida, February 28, 2013.  Black and white infrared.  I don’t remember why I didn’t finish this photo back in February.  I like the light, detail, and tonality.

Three more cypress trees
Three more cypress trees:  Blue Cypress Lake, near Fellsmere, Florida, June 2, 2012. False color infrared.  Since IR doesn’t capture color as your eye sees it, color conversions are very subjective.  As I gain experience, my tastes are changing.  This version is very different from how I processed other IR photos at the time.

So, some recommendations:

  • If you’re struggling with an image, don’t delete it.  Mark it and move on.  Come back and revisit it later.
  • Organize, document, and keyword your images so you can find hidden gems to re-process.
  • Review your photo library occasionally.  Your photography skills and tools aren’t static.  So your portfolio shouldn’t be static either.  Revise older images and make them better.  You might be surprised what comes out of your archives.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Viera Wetlands update, 5/18/13

I went over to the coast yesterday with Kevin M.Kevin K.Lutfi E.

Sunrise sure is happening really early again!  We started out on the 520 Causeway near Port Canaveral – Kevin M. wanted to make a sunrise photo with a lit up cruise ship in the scene.  Here’s how my version turned out:

Disney cruise ship at dawn

Disney cruise ship at dawn – Port Canaveral, Florida

We also moved around looking for other compositions and I think each of us also made an image of this:

Beneath the Bridge
Beneath the Bridge – 520 Causeway looking east

After sunrise we moved down A1A to explore Lori Wilson Park and the boardwalk there.  It’s very nice and located right on the beach.  Migratory birds have been reported there, but we didn’t find any on Saturday.

Our last stop was Viera Wetlands.  We wanted to check on it because we hadn’t been by since February.  We saw a few of the common wading birds, some juvenile Anhingas, Ospreys, Coots, Glossy Ibis (that we hoped were White Faced Ibis – but weren’t), lots of Grackles, and a few other species.  We also took a turn around the Click Ponds where we found a relatively uncommon Black Crowned Night Heron.  Kevin M. managed a good photo when it came out of the reeds for a few seconds.

Black Crowned Night Heron

Black Crowned Night Heron (Photo by Kevin McKinney, used with permission)

This wasn’t our most productive or exciting trip ever, but we did have a good time.  The activity was slow – I think we’re starting to get into the summer birding slow down here in Central Florida.  We may need to look for a few different photo ops for the next few months.

You can read other Central Florida Photo Ops blog posts about Viera Wetlands from this link.  And I’ve collected other photos from there in this set on Flickr.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Jetty Park – Cocoa Beach, Florida – 10/20/12

I took a quick sunrise trip to Jetty Park yesterday morning with fellow Photography Interest Group member Keith H.

The sky was pretty cloudy when I first went out, but by the time we arrived it was starting to clear up.  There was still enough color left to get a few good photos.  In this one, I like the way the light on the walk draws my eye to the bottom left and then the rail and the jetty lead to the sun rays coming up from below the horizon.

Pre-dawn Jetty
Pre-dawn Jetty

A little later, I noticed this boat speeding around the inlet, sometimes with flashing lights and a siren and wondered what was going on.

The Coast Guard patrols
The Coast Guard patrols: This small Coast Guard patrol boat was very active.

I should have realized what was happening before I saw this next boat coming out of the inlet:

On the way out
On the way out:  Close up of a ballistic missile submarine leaving Port Canaveral, Florida.  The presence of bow planes instead of sail planes show that this is a British boat, the HMS Vigilant.

This was pretty exciting for me.  Many years ago, after college, I was in the Navy and served aboard a sub like this one.  Just before I got out, I was stationed at the Naval Ordinance Test Unit at Cape Canaveral.  After submarines go through refit, the Navy sends them down to NOTU for a missile test. They load a special dummy warhead missile and then test fire it down range from the Atlantic off the Cape.  The tall mast behind the sail is added to transmit instrumentation data during launch while the sub is submerged.

We watched the boat turn south after leaving the inlet, and rushed to set up our cameras for a photo as it sailed under the sun.

Submarine sunrise

 Submarine sunrise: This is a unique Florida sunrise scene: The British Trident ballistic missile submarine HMS Vigilant leaves Port Canaveral, Florida just after dawn. 

We hung around for a while after this to photograph shorebirds including Brown Pelicans, Gulls, Black Skimmers, Terns, and others. But the highlight of the trip for me was the sub.  As a former submariner, it brought back a lot of memories and I really enjoyed the show.  Quite a bonus for getting up early!

10/31/12 update:  The HMS Vigilant successfully launched a Trident II D5 missile on 23 October.  Read more here (sorry, no longer available).

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Cocoa Sunrise

Keith H. wanted to try out his 10 stop neutral density filter, so we rode over to Cocoa Beach to make some sunrise photos. It was very clear when we left around 5:30 am, but by the time we parked next to the pier, a few clouds had appeared to make the sunrise more interesting.

Atlantic sunrise
Atlantic sunrise.

A neutral density (ND) filter reduces the amount of light entering your camera.  This gives you greater flexibility to adjust aperture and exposure.  They’re often used to show motion blur with a slow shutter speed, or reduce the depth of field with a wide aperture.  Ideally, ND filters are color neutral – although both Keith and I noticed some color shifts with ours.  I was using two stacked 3 stop NDs and this set up worked pretty well to slow the shutter speed and blur the water, especially before sunrise.  Keith’s 10 stop was a bit too much before dawn, but would be great after sun rise.  Overall, we spent an hour or so working the scene and both came away with photos we like.

That's pretty, lets make a photo
A bird flies above a couple making a photograph by a woman walking through the sun.

You can see more photos of Cocoa Beach in this set on Flickr.

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Cocoa and Viera Wetlands – August 4, 2012

I realized I hadn’t been to Viera Wetlands since last year, so I went over yesterday morning with Kevin K.

We spent a few minutes with The Photographer’s Ephemeris and found a promising sunrise stop along the way.  It’s just north of the first bridge into Cocoa on SR 520.  If you don’t have a copy of this software, you should get it.  It’s available (for free!) for the Mac, PC, and Linux as well as (paid versions) for Android and iOS.  The iPad version is especially helpful.  If you have a cell phone signal, you can use it wherever you are to visualize the natural lighting.  It shows the sun and moon overlaid on a Google Map for the place and time you enter.  Highly recommended.

The sunrise was pretty and there was even a nice bird posing at the end of an old dock for us.

Old pier at sunrise
Old pier at sunrise: North of the Hubert Humphrey Causeway in Cocoa, Florida.

When we got to Viera Wetlands, there was more going on  than I thought there would be.  We saw Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, both White and Glossy Ibis, Moorhens, Coots, Limpkins, and Black Bellied Whistling Ducks, among others.  There were even some Roseate Spoonbills there – the first time I’ve ever seen them at Viera Wetlands.  A few Moorhen chicks, surprised me too – I didn’t realize they hatched this time of year.

Moorhen and chick near Ibis
Moorhen and chick near Ibis: “Kid – I told you not to hang out with those Ibis birds. They’re nothing but trouble”.

You can click on the images above to get to larger versions on Flickr. You can also see more of my Viera Wetlands photos here on Flickr.  For a slightly different perspective, you can also look at Kevin’s photos in his set on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Using aperture brackets to overcome blur and diffraction

I finally made it over to Cocoa Beach in time for sunrise yesterday morning:

Sunrise by the Cocoa Beach Pier

Sunrise by the Cocoa Beach Pier

In this photo, I wanted to use a long shutter speed to blur the water and show wave motion.  I set the slowest ISO my camera supports (50), added a 3 stop neutral density filter, and used an aperture of f/22 which gave me a shutter speed of 2 seconds.  I would have liked even longer, but this was as slow as I could get it under these conditions.  I think the water came out pretty well.

As I made the exposure, I worried about two things:  1) Such a tiny aperture would lead to diffraction and blurring of small details and 2) Such a long shutter speed would add motion blur where I didn’t want any (boats and people).  So how could I overcome this?

I was shooting in aperture priority mode and my camera was locked down on a tripod.  So I made a second exposure at f/4 and let the camera set a shutter speed of 1/15 second.  Normally when you bracket, you’re trying to change the exposure (or sometimes white balance or focus).  This time, I was trying to bracket the aperture / shutter speed I was using, but keep the exposure constant. Having a second exposure let me load both images as layers in Photoshop.  Then I used a layer mask to show the first exposure for the water in the lower part, and the second exposure for the upper area including the boat and pier.  This let me have motion blur where I wanted it and still keep sharpness in areas where I wanted that.  I think the technique worked pretty well.  What do you think?  Have you ever tried this?

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.