I’ve been thinking about this blog and what it should be like going forward. I haven’t reached any conclusions about revising the purpose or content, but I am going to revise the schedule.
What’s around the bend?
Over 15+ years, I’ve written 758 posts: an average of over fifty a year. In recent years, I’ve been publishing every Sunday and I’m finding that pace harder to sustain. Coming up with something worthwhile each week is a challenge, especially since I’ve been photographing less than I used to. I guess I’m suffering a bit from writer’s / photographer’s block.
So I’m going to shift to an irregular schedule and publish when inspired. Instead of searching for something every week that I hope will interest all of you and me too, I’m going to update the blog when I have something to share. My goal will be once per month, but I’m not going to force it.
I’m very grateful for all of you that subscribe and for everyone’s visits, views, comments, and likes – thanks! Remember to stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if / when you can, make some photos!
I made this image a couple weeks ago during our stay at Lake Louisa State park. I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got my camera and went outside. It was a long time before dawn and “flashlight so you don’t trip” dark. Of course, normally you should use your base ISO for landscape photos. And you should stop your lens down to increase depth of field and get everything in focus (and for image quality). But there was so little light I had to use ISO 1600 and expose with my lens wide open for 25 seconds to get anything to show up.
73 seconds, before dawn
Anyway, once I had a workable exposure, I lined up my composition as best I could, manually focussed on the dim things I could see, and made four frames – hoping I’d have what I needed to stitch a panorama.
I used my normal workflow, careful to control noise in the RAW file processing. And there were some stitching anomalies in the water that I had to remove, but I really like the finished image. I hope you do too. You can see a larger version on Flickr if you click on it.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you wake up too early – make some landscape photos in the dark!
And Happy Mothers Day to every Mom out there! The world owes you so much!
Reverse Image Search is a tool that tries to find images that match a sample you provide. It searches based on image content, not based on a description in words. It has a lot of applications, but I mostly use it to help identify things in photos.
Busy Wildflower: Bee, fly, and ant on Lantana Camara
Lynn and I spent a few days at Lake Louisa State Park recently. There were many wildflowers in bloom and I wanted to share some with you. I’m not at all knowledgable about plants and flowers so I used Google’s image search capability to help me ID them (https://images.google.com).
You can find a huge number of phone apps, guide books and websites about wildflowers. But there are so many different wildflower species that it’s just about impossible for any one reference to be complete. The ones I’ve tried have been frustrating, which is why I use reverse image search when I want to ID a plant or flower.
I upload a small version of the photo, and browse the returned images and captions for clues to a preliminary ID. When I think I have a match, I try to confirm it with something like the University of South Florida plant atlas: https://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Default.aspx
Sometimes I’m pretty confident I’ve got it right, sometimes I’m completely lost (like the header image – no clue), and most times (like the last photo) I’m at least a little uncertain. But it’s fun to try!
Edit: The header image is a Rosary Pea (Abrus precatorius L.). Thank you Wally Jones!
Purple Prairie Clover(?)
I enjoy photographing wildflowers and I’d like to identify them when I do. But it’s not easy and I’m definitely not an expert. If you are, please forgive my beginner level advice. Do you have any better tips?
We spent a few days last week at Lake Louisa State Park. We stayed in one of their very nice 2 bedroom cabins with our friends Nancy and Howard T. The cabins are up high with a fabulous views of Dixie Lake, one of the three main lakes in the park. The photos in this blog post are all of this lake.
We were eating dinner on Tuesday evening when this started to develop. I quickly grabbed my camera, excused myself, and rushed to photograph this superb sunset.
View from the shore of Dixie Lake at dusk
We also enjoyed riding our bicycles – the hills are a change from the flatlands where we live. Returning from a ride on Monday, Howard noticed this Sundog – one of the most colorful I’ve seen.
The cabins are just a short walk from the lake shore. The reflections and reeds made a pretty scene even in the middle of the day.
View from the shore of Dixie Lake
Across the lake from the cabins, the park has kayaks for rent. Wednesday morning we started there and paddled all the way ’round. It was windy and got stronger as we went, but we planned well and travelled clockwise which helped a bunch. The eastern shore sheltered us from the strongest winds and on the last bit along the western shore, the wind moved us along at a good clip. I like the many interesting trees and stumps we saw on the way.
Wildlife was scarce on this visit. We did see a gopher tortoise on the way in and a few birds including (what I think was) a Common Nighthawk, a hawk or two, ducks going after fish and some others. I didn’t spot any deer, turkey, or even alligators but I’m sure they’re there.
Lake Louisa is close to Orlando and a wonderful place to relax and get away from it all. I highly recommend going if you get the chance! You can see other posts I’ve written about it here on the blog. And I’ve collected an album of Lake Louisa photos here on Flickr.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Lynn and I went back to Lake Louisa State Park last weekend and spent a very relaxing couple of days. It was a little chilly – our first Florida “cold” front rolled through while we were there and made us both appreciate the gas fireplace in the cabin. We didn’t see as much wildlife this time, but I did enjoy making some photos. Here’s one at sunset from just behind the cabin, looking out over Lake Dixie. I like the way the field glows in the light coming through the trees.
Grass, trees, lake, and sun
The sky was very clear after the cold front, so there were no dramatic clouds to work with. I think the low morning sun on the trees and the mist on the water look nice in black and white.
There weren’t as many flowers blooming as there were last May. But the few we did see were lovely. These were along a path just off the road.
It’s a dirt road, and although a bit narrow it’s well maintained. I didn’t have any problems with my car. There are some interesting landscape views:
Views from 5 Mile Road #2
And some interesting wildlife views too:
Guarding the burrow
I made these photos on May 21st. One of my Flickr friends told me he visited the Burrowing Owl nest on the 26th and it looked abandoned. That’s sad. I’m not sure what happened. Maybe the chicks fledged and flew off. That’s what I want to believe anyway.
Lynn, Mary, and I spent the first weekend in May at Lake Louisa State Park (LLSP). It’s located just southwest of Orlando in Clermont, Florida. LLSP is 4500 acres of rolling hills including six lakes with 105 acres of shoreline. There’s a range of camping options and 20 very nice, two bedroom, furnished cabins that you can stay in. Activities include fishing, canoeing and kayaking, biking, swimming, hiking, and horseback riding.
This is another case of me wondering why it took so long to visit somewhere. My friend Kevin M has mentioned it several times, but I never seemed to get over there – until now. It’s truly scenic and I’ve included more images than normal in this post – I apologize if it loads slowly.
Info for Photographers
There’s a lot to photograph there and the variety of landscapes is greater than many places in the area. Hills are rare around here, but this park has them, some over 100 feet high. I made this photo on the hillside above the road by the cabin where we stayed.
Wildflowers and dewey grass at dawn
May 5-11 is national wildflower week and LLSP was doing its part. Several wildflowers were blooming, including Prickly-pear Cactus, Passion Flowers, Lantana, and others. I think we were lucky to see such a variety in bloom. The Passion Flower blooms are supposed to last for only one day.
All of the lakes in the park are great habitats for Cypress Trees and Spanish Moss – very scenic and a classic Florida landscape look.
Lake Dixie shore – From the fishing dock in the campground on the south side of the lake
The Cypress tree trunks can also be very interesting.
Nature’s sculpture – The older, weathered cypress tree shapes can be very unusual
There’s a variety of wildlife at LLSP, although not as much as some other locations in Central Florida. For instance, eBird lists 112 species at LLSP vs 293 in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. We spotted nesting Ospreys (with chicks / juveniles), Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Black Vultures, Wild Turkeys, Nighthawks, a Swallow-tailed Kite, wading birds, vultures, Gopher Tortoises, Alligators, Deer, Crayfish, grackles and a few other species.
An Osprey returning to her nest to check on her chick
Most state parks in Florida seem to open at 8am, which makes early morning photography a challenge. Since we were staying there, we could photograph whenever we wanted. This one is on the western shore of Lake Louisa.
Cypress dawn – by Lake Louisa.
Tripod/Monopod: Yes – take yours and use it when needed.
Lenses: There are so many photo ops here that you could probably make use of every one of your lenses. Macro for flowers, wide-angle for landscapes, long telephoto for wildlife, etc. You’ll have to decide how much to carry and what to concentrate on.
Best time to visit: Any time, but of course winter months will be cooler. Late April and early May will be better for wildflowers and nesting Ospreys too. We often heard Ospreys calling. It was fun to watch the parents bringing food back to their very demanding offspring!
There’s a nice beach and picnic area on Lake Louisa. If you swim there be careful though, there’s no life guard and there are alligators.
The park also is a popular place to bicycle, so bring yours if you have room.
The kayak launch at Lake Dixie across from the cabins is an easy put in. The one at Lake Louisa requires a long carry, so bring a friend or a kayak trolley if you plan to paddle there. You can also put in at the Crooked River Preserve just to the north of Lake Louisa and paddle down to the lake.
I didn’t get a chance (yet) to hike the many trails in the park. There are 9 main ones ranging from 1/2 to 5.5 miles and some of these lead to smaller lakes which might be very scenic.
The Citrus Tower is close to the park. It was built as a tribute to the citrus industry in the area. There’s a great view from 226 feet up, but a lot fewer orange trees visible now than there were in 1956 when it opened.
Cloudy in Clermont – View from the top of the Citrus Tower, looking south along HW27.
There are also many restaurants within a short drive from the park if you don’t want to cook in your cabin.
Lake Louisa State Park is a relaxing and scenic destination. It seems a world away from busy downtown Orlando. It’s perfect for a weekend get away. If you haven’t been there yet, you should go. I’m very glad we did.