Category Archives: Orlando Wetlands

Return to Orlando Wetlands Park

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.

Pink in greenPink in green –  Roseate Spoonbill in flight.

The  pink bird in sharp focus against the blurry green Cypress Tree / vegetation says “Florida” to me. I’ve made similar images there before but I think this one is better (see this post:   https://edrosack.com/2018/04/01/orlando-wetlands-park-the-rest-of-the-story/).

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?"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 huntOn 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 HeronA young Night Heron

And watching (and listening) to Whistling Ducks never gets old.

Formation flightFormation 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.

You can browse other blog posts about Orlando Wetlands at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/orlando-wetlands/.  And my photos from there are collected in this album on Flickr:   https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157639616792296

It’s good that pandemic restrictions are easing and we can get out a little bit again. Hopefully things will keep improving.  Please make sure you stay safe when you venture out.

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!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Another baby bird update

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

Lake Cherokee Mute SwansAs 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

Lake Davis Mute SwansThere 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 exerciseWing 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 chickBlack-necked Stilts: Mom and chick

A young Night HeronA 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 cruiseFamily cruise – Mottled Duck Mom and ducklings

Okay – that’s all of the baby bird news I have. Now for a more serious subject.

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Memorial Day

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.

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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!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black and White Backlog

I make a lot of photographs – you may not have been able to tell  ;-).  And I have many that I like that never get into the blog.  So this week I’m going to post a handful of B&W images from around Central Florida that I think are worth seeing.  I hope you like them too.  Not many words this morning.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Lake Apopka PumphousePump house, Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

St. Augustine Cathedral InteriorCathedral Interior, St. Augustine

Cypress standCypress stand, Orlando Wetlands

Quiet morningQuiet morning, Merritt Island NWR

Along Bobcat TrailSunrise Along Bobcat Trail, Orlando Wetlands

Tranquil mornTranquil morn, Orlando Wetlands

As always, click to view larger on Flickr, and you can see many more of my monochrome photos in this folder.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Orlando Wetlands 10-25-19

There’s a lot going on at this city run park out in Christmas, Florida.  I needed steps last Friday, so I got up early and took a walk. Hours are “Sunrise to Sunset”, but generally the gate is open about a half hour before sunrise.  Plenty of time to catch some good light.

Marsh, moon, and sun raysMarsh, moon, and sun rays

The quantity and variety of wildlife is remarkable.  I’ve seen occasional deer, bobcat, raccoons, and otters in the past – and alligators and our common wading birds are plentiful.  Winter migrants are also arriving.

Eastern PhoebeEastern Phoebe (winter visitor)

Savannah SparrowSavannah Sparrow (winter visitor)

Other migrants I came across included Belted Kingfishers, Black-necked Stilts, and Palm Warblers.

Spoonbills have been numerous there in recent years, but I only saw one this time.  Maybe more will show as we get closer to springtime.

Spoonbill Spoonbill

There were other unusual things too:

Pie Billed Grebe and crayfishPie Billed Grebe and crayfish

I noticed this Grebe surface with what I thought was a fish. But when I got a better look I could tell it was a large crayfish.  It had a precarious hold at first.  As I watched for about a minute, it adjusted its grip and eventually swallowed the whole thing. The crayfish looked bigger than the bird’s head!

Other birds I spotted:  Black Bellied Whistling ducks, Mottled Ducks, Coots, Common Gallinules, Red-shouldered Hawks, Sand Hill Cranes, Limpkins, Wood Storks, juvenile and adult Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, Snowy and Great Egrets, Common Yellowthroats, Red-winged Blackbirds, Glossy and White Ibis, Anhingas, Black Vultures, and I’m sure others I missed.

There are on-going or planned projects that’ll make this park even better.  They’re currently “demucking” cell 13 (far corner from the entrance).  And they’ve prepared a site for a new visitor center at the first corner as you hike north from the entrance.  I’m also looking forward to new vantage points a future boardwalk over lake Searcy should provide.

If you take a look at all the posts I’ve written about it, you’ll probably be able to tell that Orlando Wetlands is one of my favorite places . If you haven’t been, go.  It’s a Central Florida Photo Ops “must do”!  You can see more of my photos from there in this album on Flickr.   And this Flickr group will show you other folks photos.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Walking the Wetlands

Orlando Wetlands Park is beautiful and a wonderful place to amble through nature.   Here are a few things I noticed there last week.

DawnDawn in a calm, peaceful, and pretty place

I used the Olympus Hi-Res mode for this next photo.  I’m glad since it let me crop in on the knees, tangled roots, and reflections at the base of this stand of Cypress.

Far shore CypressFar shore Cypress

I end up photographing thistle plants a lot.  In this case I liked the way the morning light was just highlighting it from the left.

Early light on a ThistleEarly light on a Thistle

Do you remember “planking”?  If not, see: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/planking.  This turtle was illustrating the concept.

Turtle "planking"Turtle “planking”?

I spotted this large fish (~2 1/2 feet long) resting near the shore.  My long lens was stowed in my backpack and I knew it wouldn’t stay there long, so I quickly made a photo with my IR camera.  If you click through to the larger version on Flickr, you can better see the small minnows swimming nearby.

FishLarge Fish

Dragonflies are out and about.  This is the first time I’ve noticed them this year.

Four-spotted Pennant(?)Four-spotted Pennant(?)

And finally, here’s a photo of my walking companion.  This bird joined me for a bit on my stroll around the park.

Strolling LimpkinStrolling Limpkin

The park offers free Tram Tours on weekends – check their site for details.  I much prefer to walk so  I can pause and photograph any time I want and get a little exercise too.

Thanks for stopping by the blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Orlando Wetlands Park – the rest of the story

Well, Happy Easter, happy April Fools Day, and happy Chinese Space Station Crashing to Earth Day!  Instead of writing about any of that, I have some photos from an early March visit to Orlando Wetlands Park that I want to share.

I had the place to myself when I arrived that morning.  It was fun to wander around and look for compositions even though the sunrise colors weren’t that good. I made this dawn landscape looking North over Lake Searcy.  It was dead calm and the water was a perfect mirror.

Very calmVery calm

Spoonbill numbers seem to be increasing around Central Florida.  I’ve spotted them recently at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Circle B Bar Reserve, and they’ve been very plentiful at Orlando Wetlands too.  They’re a bit rare in ordinary life so I always enjoy seeing them.

Low passLow pass

This back-lit flock landing in the early light was lovely.

Landing SpoonbillsLanding Spoonbills

I don’t feature Coots in the blog very often, but I enjoyed watching this group.  They often race across the surface of the water and squabble over who gets the best spots.  These two seemed to be competing.

Front row seats at the coot raceFront row seats at the Coot race

Spring is a great time of year to get out and explore nature in Central Florida. There’s a lot going on and the variety of birds is especially good.  You can see all my posts about Orlando Wetlands at this link:  https://edrosack.com/category/orlando-wetlands/

And you can view more images from there in this album on Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157639616792296

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Dancing Hawk

Lynn and I were away, visiting our first grandchild – what a wonderful experience that is!!!

Anyway, this blog is about nature photography and I haven’t been able to do much of that recently.  So when we got home, I was eager to go back out and ended up at Orlando Wetlands Park last Thursday.  I made several photos I like.  This one is my favorite from the trip:

Dancing HawkRed-shouldered Hawk

At first, the bird was sitting on top of a dead tree facing into the sun – very harsh light:

Back-lit bird (unprocessed jpg file)

I have many better images of these hawks on my computer. I’m not even sure what made me raise my camera.  Maybe my subconscious was getting ahead of me.

Luckily I did and when the hawk decided to turn around I was ready.  I made a continuous series as it used its wings to balance and I really like the one at the top. The wings are nicely spread and one foot is raised as if it’s dancing.

I’m glad I was shooting in RAW mode – it allowed me to compensate for the harsh light in post processing.  For reference, here is an unprocessed jpg version:

Dancing Hawk (unprocessed jpg)

Processing included using DxO Photo Lab for basic exposure tuning and noise reduction and then tweaking tones, colors, and cropping in Lightroom.

A little luck, a few seconds, and some post-processing can make a huge difference, don’t you think?  It helps to practice and know what’s possible in a situation like this.  Try it  – you might be surprised at the end result.  And maybe your subconscious will start helping you too!

This is a very good time of year to visit Orlando Wetlands.  I saw lots of Spoonbills, a couple of hawks, herons, egrets, ducks, Osprey, Belted Kingfishers, Ibis, a deer, etc.  And it’s cool and pleasant – great for a lovely walk.  You can look at more images from there in this album on Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157639616792296

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Orlando Wetlands Park – 14 Oct 17

Kevin M. and I met at Orlando Wetlands Park Yesterday before sunrise.  It was gloomy and raining, but not for long.  I liked the way the low sunlight lit up this scene as the clouds were clearing.

Marsh Morning IIMarsh Morning II – This is a two frame, Olympus Hi Res, panorama using the technique described in this post:  https://edrosack.com/2011/01/21/two-image-pano-hdr-focus-stacking/

We had a hard time deciding where to go – storm damage and other circumstances are limiting our choices.  Many places that we like in Central Florida are closed (Viera Wetlands, Lake Apopka, Mead Gardens, many parts of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Jetty Park, etc.).  We ended up deciding between Circle B Bar in Lakeland and Orlando Wetlands (both are open).  I hadn’t been to either for a while and Orlando Wetlands is closer, so…

With the sun up and the clouds gone, we walked for a while before it got too hot.  This colorful bird caught my eye.  I didn’t realize it was a new life bird until I got home.

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat – A life bird!

There were lots of these flowers blooming.  I see them all the time although I’d never looked them up.  They’re native to Florida and the Americas.

Pickerelweed flowersPickerelweed flowers

Some other things we saw:  a Raccoon, a Peregrine Falcon, Red Shoulder Hawks, Black Belllied Whistling Ducks, a Juvenile Blue Heron and other wading birds, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Painted Bunting, Red Eyed and White Eyed Vireos, House and Carolina wrens, Palm Warblers, and a Chicken (the Ranger said its name is Chuck).

It was very nice to visit a place with no sign of the recent hurricanes.  Lots of other folks thought so too and were out there enjoying the day.  It’s a large place – I’ve ridden around it on my bike, but it’s too far for me to walk the whole thing.  They have a guided tram ride at 9am (confirm on their website) and it’s worth trying if you’re there at the right time and want to see more of the place with expert commentary.  Remember too that the park is open year round now – it no longer closes during the winter.  You can see some other Orlando Wetlands Park photos in this Flickr Album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157639616792296, and you can read other posts mentioning the park at this link.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Couple Composites

I went for another walk last week at Orlando Wetlands Park with Tom M.  It was a pretty morning and in addition to the normal bird suspects, we also saw Soras, Purple Gallinules, and heard reports of Bald Eagles and many Black Crowned Night Herons.

In this post though, I want to discuss compositing.  Wikipedia says:

Compositing is the combining of visual elements from separate sources into single images, often to create the illusion that all those elements are parts of the same scene.”

Multiple exposures are a subset of compositing, and are much easier to produce in today’s world of digital photography.  In addition to creating an illusion, they can be used to show things that are difficult for a camera to capture in a single frame and better show reality.  Examples are panoramas, focus stacking, HDR, etc.

There’s a lovely Pink Trumpet tree on the west side of the main path into the park.  It’s in bloom and that morning the moon was setting behind the tree.  This snap from my iPhone shows how the tree looked against the sky and moon.

Moon behind Pink Trumpet tree
Moon behind Pink Trumpet tree

I wanted to isolate one bloom with the moon and clouds behind it, but the depth of field with my telephoto lens was too shallow to show both in the same frame.  So I made two,  with one focused on the flower and the second on the clouds / moon.  Then in Photoshop it was relatively easy to combine the two frames to show what I wanted.

Moon, clouds, and flowerMoon, clouds, and flower

Here’s a second example:

Ibis flight sequenceIbis flight sequence

This one is from a sequence of a single White Ibis flying by in a little under 2 seconds.  I brought all 25 frames into Photoshop on separate  layers and aligned them.  Then I used the focus select function to mask the birds from each layer into a single composite.  I ended up having to omit every other frame to avoid overlapping birds.

If you’re willing to dive into Photoshop or any other image editing software that offers layers and masking, you can do the same sort of work.  Think about techniques like these when you’re out photographing.  If you capture the source frames you need when you’re out, then when you get back to your computer you can use them to solve problems and enhance your creativity.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some multiple exposure photos!

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

 

A walk in the park

I usually walk in my neighborhood several times a week.  It’s a good way to get some exercise and say hello to folks.  I did something different last Friday and drove over to Orlando Wetlands Park for my morning hike.

It was still dark when I arrived and I could hear owls and whistling ducks calling on the way out to Lake Searcy – one of my favorite landscape places.  I didn’t like the view this time since the water was low and the appealing  mirror like reflections were missing.  I ended up moving to a new location for this:

Middle marsh mystery island
Middle marsh mystery island

Morning color was disappointing, but I do like the image.  After sunrise, I wandered around and made some bird photos.  There were many Little Blue Herons:

Pretty little bluePretty little blue

And the Palm Warblers are here in force, bobbing their tails as they pose in the reeds:

Palm WarblerPalm Warbler

And here’s one of the whistling ducks.  I caught it mid-preen:

Black Bellied Whistling DuckBlack Bellied Whistling Duck

The last time I was at Orlando Wetlands was in February.  It was good to get back and a lovely walk.  And carrying weights (photo equipment) made it better exercise.  Plus, I made some photos!

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.