Category Archives: Lake Jesup

Lake Jesup Flowers – 2013

An update on the Lake Jesup Flowers – they are indeed back in full force.

Tom M. and I went over last Wednesday morning to check on them.  They seemed to me to still be a little before the peak.  I think they’ll get a bit higher and fuller before they start fading away in the next several days.  If you want to see them this year, you don’t have much time left.

The Marl Bed Flats are a little soggy.  There were places that were dry, but a large part of the area away from the woods had an inch or two of standing water.  The sky was incredibly clear and there was a soft wind blowing too – not ideal conditions for flower photography, but we looked for interesting compositions anyway.

Swamp Sunflower fields pano

With the sun so low, it was hard to keep myself out of this shot – hence the photographer shaped shadow in the middle bottom

Swamp Sunflowers

Finding flowers that reach above their neighbors is one way to isolate subjects

Swamp Sunflower

The light was very pretty in spots. This blossom was sheltered in a pocket of calm along the path out to the fields.  With a nice dark background, it called out for a close up.

For a different perspective and an example of how diverse the view here can be, look at this blog post from Jeff Stamer.  Jeff timed his visit better than we did and hiked out before sunrise on Thursday when the sky was beautiful.

Here are links to previous articles with more info:

And you can browse some of my photos of the area in this set on Flickr.  There’s also an article about the flowers in this month’s Orlando Magazine.

When you go, please be careful.  Stopping on the side of 417 is dangerous.  And the Lake Jesup Wilderness area is wild.  It’s also a bit of a hike from the parking area out to the flowers.  Bring water and use sun screen and bug spray.  Long pants and waterproof hiking boots are a good idea too.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

The flowers are coming! The flowers are coming!

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius, also called Narrow Leaf Sunflowers) start blooming at the end of September in our area.  One of the largest concentrations is in the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation Area where the blooms stretch as far as you can see.

Lake Jesup Wildflowers
Swamp Sunflowers at the Lake Jesup Wilderness Area

This is a truly unique photo-op and worth checking out.  See these links for more info:

You can browse some of my photos of the area in this set on Flickr.  And here’s an article about the flowers in this month’s Orlando Magazine – featuring my photo!

When you go, please be careful.  Stopping on the side of 417 can be dangerous.  And the Lake Jesup Wilderness area is wild.  It’s also a bit of a hike from the parking area out to the flowers.  Bring water and use sun screen and bug spray.  Long pants and waterproof hiking boots are a good idea too.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some flower photos – maybe I’ll see you out there!

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Wow – it was really crowded over there!

Crowded with both flowers and people…

I’ve photographed the wildflowers (swamp sunflowers) that bloom near Lake Jesup at this time of year since about 2006.  I’ve never seen as many people out there as I did tonight.  When I drove by on 417, there were 8 or 10 cars along the shoulder and people with cameras and tripods were clambering down into the flowers to get photos.  When I arrived at the Lake Jesup Conservation Area just before sunset, the gate was closed and the two parking spaces outside the gate were already taken – so I had to park on the road.  On my walk in, I met up with two people with cameras and on my way out another person stopped me to ask what I’d seen.  On most previous trips, I haven’t seen anyone.  I guess the word has gotten around.

Lake Jessup Conservation Area - Swamp Sunflowers
Lake Jesup Conservation Area – Fisheye fun with the Swamp Sunflowers.

The flowers are at their peak.  If you want to see or photograph them, you should go in the next few days.

Lake Jessup Conservation Area - Swamp Sunflowers

Lake Jesup Conservation Area Wildflowers

Check out these links for info and please  be careful.  Stopping along 417 could be dangerous.

You can see more photos of the area in this set on Flickr.

 Add a comment to the blog or drop me an email if you go.  I’d love to see your photos.

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Get ready for the Lake Jesup flowers

If you live in the Central Florida area and want to photograph an endless field of flowers, get ready to head over to the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation Area where Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius, also called Narrow Leaf Sunflowers) bloom from horizon to horizon during the last week in September and the first week of October.

Mr. McKinney in the flowers
Kevin M. in the flowers at the Lake Jesup Wilderness Area

I drove by on highway 417 this afternoon to see what’s going on, and there are already a few flowers out.  My guess is that they’ll start peaking next weekend.  Check out these links for info and maybe I’ll see you out there!

You can see more photos of the area in this set on Flickr.

If you do go out there and make some images, please add a comment to this post or drop me an email.  I’d love to see how your photos come out.

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Digital Infrared Photography – a post processing example

Introduction

If you’ve read through my blog or looked at my photostream on Flickr, you’ll already know that I enjoy black and white photography and occasionally post B&W images. Removing color from a scene abstracts reality – and emphasizes shapes, composition, and texture. The image becomes a bit unreal, but since we’re used to B&W  – not too unreal.  This makes B&W a great way to make your images stand out.

Another way to make your images stand out is by using infrared (IR) film or an IR modified camera:

  • IR captures a portion of the spectrum of light that’s different from what your eyes can see.
  • The spectral response makes blue sky look dark and foliage bright.  This reverses a normal daylight scene’s brightness values, helps tame contrast, and allows you to shoot even when the sun is high in the sky.
  • You can interpret this alternate version of reality by processing your IR photo as B&W or various types of false color images.
  • IR can sometimes also capture details that aren’t seen with visible light.
  • If you use a modified digital camera, you may see improved detail in your photos, since the conversion process removes the anti-aliasing filter that most digital cameras use to slightly blur the image during capture (and remove Moire patterns and other aliasing artifacts).

I’ve gotten some questions about my infra-red images.  And I haven’t written anything about technique recently, so in this post, I’ll go into detail about a recent IR image I made.  I’m relatively inexperienced at this, but as a IR n00b I’ve learned a few things that may come in handy if you want to try it.

Messy knees

Messy knees:  Cypress trees on the south shore of Lake Jesup.  Cypress trees and their roots are good subjects, especially along the water where they’re usually found. The light hitting these tree trunks and the Spanish Moss also caught my eye.  I’m still playing around with infra-red. There’s a range of post processing options available. I was hoping that this false color version looks just alien enough to make people take a second look.  Click here to view a larger version of this photo on Flickr.

Camera

I use an Olympus E-PL1 modified for IR by http://www.lifepixel.com/ and I’m very pleased with the result.

Using a micro 4/3 camera has advantages for IR:

  • Older models like the E-PL1 are relatively inexpensive;
  • They have a large sensor (compared with compact cameras) which helps image quality;
  • They use the sensor for contrast type focusing so there are no focus calibration issues that can occur in a DSLR
  • Most have RAW format capture available

Settings

I shoot in RAW, not jpeg.  For IR, it would be tough to get all the settings perfect in camera.  Plus, there are a lot of post processing options which you’d give up if you only capture jpeg.

White balance is one thing that you should set.  If you shoot in RAW, white balance can be adjusted in post processing.  But setting a white balance in camera is important since it lets you judge your shots on the LCD screen as you take them.  Unless you set a custom (preset) white balance all IR images would look very red. On my E-PL1 I use a temperature setting of 2000K which is as low as it will go.  This camera has no tint adjustment, so photos still look blue, but it’s good enough for judging exposure.

Workflow

Here are 7 versions of this photo that show the processing steps I went through along the way.  Don’t be alarmed – this is quicker and easier than it sounds.

This is the RAW photo straight out of the camera. My custom white balance adjustment isn’t able to completely correct the IR spectrum so there’s a pronounced bluish tint.
This is the image after white balance and levels adjustment in Photoshop. Other initial adjustments in LR or Photoshop may include a bit of noise reduction, lens corrections (if available), cropping / straightening, and spot removal.
In this version, I’ve used several copies of the same scene (shot from a tripod) to smooth the water’s surface and make the trees / knees stand out more.
This version has a Channel Mixer preset adjustment layer (red and blue colors swapped).  Debra Sandige’s IR page (listed in the references below) has  detailed steps on how to do this in Photoshop.
A Hue / Saturation / Brightness adjustment layer was used to modify the Hue in the cyan and blue channels so it looks a bit more natural.
This is after final adjustments in Lightroom: clarity(+47), vibrance (+24), medium contrast tone curve, sharpening with edge mask.  (note: this is the same image as at top of post).
For comparison, a black and white conversion of the final false color image.  I like the false color version better.

References

You can find out more about Infrared photography at these places:

  1. This Wikipedia article has some background information on infrared photography – especially film techniques.
  2. I had my camera converted by LifePixel and was extremely pleased with the result.  They have a huge amount of IR information including tutorials, FAQs, and a blog on their website.
  3. I read and enjoyed Debra Sandige’s recent book about IR photography. She’s very creative and presents a lot of good information.  She has a page on her website with IR information.
  4. Lloyd Chambers also has an intro to infra-red on his site and offers a paid site with more info.
  5. The Khromagery website has several good articles on IR cameras and processing.  They also offer an IR Photoshop action as a free download.

Conclusions?

So, is IR an infatuation? Will I use it for a while and then let it fade away? Will I only bring it out for special photo ops as inspiration? Will it take over my photo life to the exclusion of all other approaches? Who can say? You’ll just have to keep reading my blog and see what happens. Along with me.

You can visit my IR set on Flickr to see more examples of what I’ve done.  What do you think?  Is IR photography something you’d like to explore?

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

[Additional info, added 1/24/2014]:

The Lake Jesup Flowers are back!

We may not get much Autumn color on our trees in Central Florida, but we do have one wonderful sign that fall is here – the sudden appearance of  huge fields of Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius, also called Narrow Leaf Sunflowers) covering the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation Area.

If you haven’t driven over Lake Jesup on the 417 toll road to see this year’s flower extravaganza on the north shore, now’s the time .  They started blooming last weekend and the peak will probably last through this coming weekend.  You can see my earlier posts for more info:

Here’s a photo I made last Sunday evening near sunset:

Marl Bed Flats Flowers
Marl Bed Flats Sunflowers: They bloom in late September / early October and cover a large part of the Lake Jesup Conservation area.

You can look at other photos I’ve made here in this set on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157622430520287/

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Summer Blahs

July in Central Florida is a tough time for photo-ops, especially nature and wildlife photo-ops. The bird breeding season is over, and the heat makes both human and animal activity brief and difficult.

A few of us did scout Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge last weekend.  It’s supposed to have the largest summer gathering of Swallowtail Kites in the Southeast US.  They spend July and August there while they prepare to  migrate to Brazil.  We didn’t see any.  We’ll try again and I’ll put together a better scouting report.

Birdless, misty morning
Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge: Birdless, misty morning

I did manage to make a couple of photos around my neighborhood last week.  This one is from Tuesday.  I noticed these awesome rain clouds on my way home from work and stopped by a small park on the south shore of Lake Jesup to photograph them.

Might Rain
Might Rain: Looking north from the south shore of Lake Jesup

And this is a photo of one of our neighborhood eagles.  We’ve seen it sitting in this tree on many mornings this year.

Neighborhood Bald Eagle
Neighborhood Bald Eagle:  It always amazes me when I see one of these in the wild.  What a remarkable comeback they’ve had from near extinction.

So there you have it.  My photo life this week.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Comparing landscape and wildlife photography

I enjoy both nature/landscape photography and wildlife photography. I was thinking about this recently and it occurred to me that these can be quite different from an equipment, skills, and approach perspective.

Lake Jesup flood waters after Tropical Storm Fay
Landscape: Lake Jesup flood waters after Tropical Storm Fay

Great Blue Heron profileBirding: Great Blue Heron profile

Here are some of the things I think are different about the two:

Landscapes Birding / Wildlife
The quality of light is important (e.g. “Golden hour”). The amount of light isn’t too important: You can make long exposures from your tripod. The amount of light is important. You need lots of light to get your shutter speed up.
You need to know the location, and figure out sun timing and position.  May still be hit or miss depending on the weather. You need to know about the animal and its habits, and where you might find them.  May still be hit or miss depending on the animals (and maybe the weather).
1. Composition, 2. Exposure, 3. Focus 1. Focus, 2. Exposure, 3. Composition
Probably better by yourself:   Your location, your vision. Can be better in groups.  Many eyes can help spot things one person will miss.
Good tripod with good ball head.  Wide angle lens, small aperture for greater depth of field, long exposure.  Frame rate not too important. Very long lens, large aperture for a fast shutter speed. High frame rate body.  Maybe a tripod with a gimbal head.
Not as expensive Can be very expensive
HDR no HDR

Have I missed anything?  What else is different about these two types of photography?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

 

Local Park Landscapes

Just a short post today with an idea for local photo-ops:  How about the parks in your own neighborhood?

I wanted to try out the D7000 on some landscape photos, but didn’t really have time to go anywhere special.  Instead, I went out to three local parks and made the photos below.

You’ve seen this tree before – it’s along the shore of Lake Jesup in Central Winds Park.    I like this more complete composition, since it includes the cyprus knees.

Cyprus tree and knees

Cyprus tree and knees

This next one was made at Lake Marie in Trotwood Park.  There are almost always at least a few birds in this small lake and last night was no exception.

The geese aren't watching the sunset

The geese aren’t watching the sunset

And finally, here’s one from this morning at Sam Smith Park.  It was very quiet – almost no wind, which helps wonderfully with reflections in water. The cyprus trees here in Florida do change colors for the winter – the one on the left is starting to turn.

Sunrise and Cyprus

Sunrise and Cyprus

Visit your local parks and make some photos.

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

A full bloom riot of flowers

Last year during wildflower season, I hesitated to venture out into the Lake Jesup Wilderness Area in the dark.  I’ve seen several types of animals and birds out there and never any snakes, but it sure does seem like prime snake country to me.  And I don’t relish stepping on something dangerous in the tall growth and dim light.   This year, I was a little braver (and very careful) and got out into the wildflower fields just as the sun came up.

Watching the sun riseWatching the sun rise

I really wish last weekend’s spectacular sunrises had repeated this weekend. But even though there were no clouds and very  little sky color, the fields of wildflowers made up for it with a full bloom riot of Helianthus angustifolius var. canadense.

Lake Jessup WildflowersLake Jesup Wildflowers – Narrow leaf Sunflowers, also called “Swamp Sunflowers

It’s not too late for you to go out and see this wonderful explosion of nature, but it will be too late soon.  This morning, the blooms seemed to be just about at their peak, and they fade quickly.

You can see other photos I’ve made out there in this Flickr set.  For more information, here are two other posts about  this area:

http://edrosack.com/2009/10/10/lake-jessup-conservation-area-wildflowers/

http://edrosack.com/2007/10/07/storm-and-flowers/

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.