Lynn and I flew up to Wisconsin for a wonderful visit with Mike, Sara, and Calvin last weekend. Just before landing back in Orlando, the sky lit up. Lynn had the window seat and was making many photos, and she made a few for me too.
Almost home – a lovely sunset on our way in to Orlando from Wisconsin
Before I gave her my iPhone, I opened the Lightroom Mobile App and set the file format to RAW DNG. When I got home I processed it in Lightroom and Photoshop. I think it’s very nice for a grab shot through a thick window!
If you have a recent generation phone, you should look into using RAW format, especially for scenes like this. It records much more information and gives you adjustment room in your post processing, especially when changing white balance and recovering highlights and shadows. It’s well worth it!
We’re both a little under the weather after our trip, so that’s all I have for you this week.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some RAW photos!
MaryKate had the day off last Thursday for Independence Day and invited me to walk around Lake Dixie and Lake Cherokee with her. I was glad to go – I’d been by before, but only inside a car and unable to take a close look. We also wanted to check on how the cygnets she wrote about on Fathers Day are doing.
Lake Cherokee is the smaller of the two and both are lovely. For a location in downtown Orlando they have a lot of wildlife. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised by this since they’re very close to Greenwood Park and Cemetery, where there’s also a lot of wildlife.
One of the first things we encountered was this Heron. I thought at first it was a Green Heron, but got some help with the ID on Flickr. It was small and still – and I glanced right past it without any recognition. I’m glad MaryKate commented on it so I could make a photo! Least Bitterns are supposed to be common in this type of environment, but I don’t see them much. I think because they’re so good at hiding!
Hunting Heron (Least Bittern)
Next we came up to this Mallard posing for me in the grass in front of some yellow flowers.
And there were several Wood Ducks. I’ve seen them before at Greenwood and Mead Gardens, but hadn’t paid attention to their non breeding colors. This young one is interesting and I’m looking forward to spring time when their plumage starts changing.
Juvenile Wood Duck
Here’s a bird that I’d never seen before or even heard of.
Swan Geese are native to the Far East and have also been domesticated. There were two, this one and another that was all white. It’s likely they escaped or were released from captivity since they don’t occur naturally in the US.
This Mottled Duck was resting in a notch about seven feet above ground. It watched us as I made the photo, but didn’t seem nervous. The tree was right next to the sidewalk and it must be used to people nearby.
Unfortunately, there’s some bad news about the Lake Cherokee Mute Swan family. There were initially three babies, but only one’s been seen lately.
From across the lake, MaryKate and I spotted two adults but no babies. We worried they’d lost the last cygnet too. But when we got closer, we saw what was going on – Mom was riding the baby on her back!
Mute Swan Mom carrying baby
We also saw Limpkins, Common Gallinules, Great Egrets, a second Mute Swan family (with four large juveniles!), Anhingas, and several turtles. What a wonderful walk and what an unexpected abundance of things to experience and photograph! Thanks for inviting me, MaryKate!
You can click on each of these images to view a larger version on Flickr. And if you’re interested, I’ve started collecting my photos from here in this album on Flickr.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Editors note: Here’s another post from our roving correspondent MaryKate – this time from right here in Central Florida. She was kind enough to write this for us which let me have Father’s Day off from the blog. Enjoy her post!
Happy Father’s Day to all Dads far and wide!
To celebrate, I thought I’d share some recent photos of a new swan family at Lake Cherokee in downtown Orlando. I noticed a single swan in Lake Cherokee, and locals tell me (s)he has been alone for quite some time. We were worried that something might have happened to its mate.
Lake Cherokee Mute Swan
However, last weekend, the mystery was solved. Turns out the swan couple was fine after all and had been up to some FOWL play. They showed up together with their swan babies!
Lake Cherokee Mute Swan Family
Mom and Dad are proud parents to three baby swans, two white ones and one grey. Apparently Mute Swans can be grey or white when they’re young, and then their feathers all turn white as they grow. My favorite is the grey one.
Mute Swan Cygnets Close-Up
Especially today, it’s touching to see this swan Dad (and Mom!) taking such good care of their family. I’m glad they found their cygnet-ficant others before Father’s Day!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Hope all fathers out there (especially my Dad and brother) have a very Happy Father’s Day! Now go make some photos!
“Cameras with detachable lenses longer than six (6) inches when extended are prohibited from all Amway Center sporting events.”
I put my Olympus 12 – 100 lens on my E-M1 2 camera, stuck an extra battery in my pocket, and was ready to make some super photos. When we arrived I was stopped by the first security guard I saw at the start of the entrance line and told that no interchangeable lens cameras were allowed. I didn’t think it was worth arguing, so I begrudgingly took my camera back to the car. After going through the line to get in, we asked about the policy and were told that yes, interchangeable lens cameras are allowed!
Amway – you need to make sure your security people understand your policies! Anyhow, I was tired of walking back and forth to the car and decided to just make photos with my phone.
Nikola Vucevic grabs a rebound. Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets. The Magic led for most of the game, but lost by two in the final seconds.
Which ended up working well, since the seats were in the first row! I used the 2x lens and shot in RAW mode using burst to capture the peak action.
I think a main disadvantage of phones vs. dedicated cameras is the lens selection, especially at the telephoto end. Phones right now usually have two or three lenses at most. Standalone cameras have a virtually unlimited lens selection available. At events, you need to be close to the action or you need to use a long lens.
Last week, Lynn and I went to a concert at the Plaza. Their camera policies are more restrictive (and vague). They can also change, depending on the performer, so I left my camera gear at home. Our seats this time were about eight rows back, which was close enough to get a few iPhone photos of one of my favorite guitar players.
Hot Tuna at the Plaza, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy, Jan. 24, 2019, Downtown Orlando.
I would’ve liked to get closer. And the resolution isn’t as good as I’d want for prints on the wall. But phones can work surprisingly well – if your seats are good enough.
The Orlando Balloon Glow was last weekend in Baldwin Park. Thanks Kevin M. for telling me about it! Lynn and I had never been to anything like this. It was fascinating to see the process – especially at dusk, and it made for a compelling photo op.
The action took place in a large field in Blue Jacket Park, which can accommodate a big crowd with good viewing for everyone. It started around sundown when air blowers began inflating the balloons. Scout the layout so you can catch some of the activity in good light or against the sunset.
Dusk inflation. iPhone XS back camera, 4.25mm, 1/200 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 32
Once they’re partially inflated, propane burners light up and provide heat needed to make the balloons float in the air.
Hot Air. Olympus E-M1 MII, 40mm, 1/10 sec @ f/2.8, ISO 500
The light is challenging. There’s very high contrast with bright flames against dark surroundings. You’ll need to balance aperture and shutter speed with ISO and image stabilization to eliminate motion blur and get sharp, well exposed images. I’ve added my setting info to these photos to give you an idea of how I shot them. These were all made hand-held. If you don’t have image stabilization, you’ll probably need a tripod.
The balloons strain against their tie downs and then rise into a blue hour sky.
Blue hour balloons. Olympus Pen F, 17mm, 1/3 sec @f/1.8, ISO 500
Once they’re ready, you can purchase tethered rides on some of the balloons. The event also features Orlando area food trucks, a retail village and activities for kids. We splurged for paid parking and were glad we did, since space was tight for all the cars.
And one warning: There were a lot of ant hills in the field, so be careful where you step – especially after dark. You may want to wear closed shoes instead of our typical Florida flip-flops. Just sayin’.
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.
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).
I didn’t go to Gatorland last Thursday with Kevin K. intending to make images for a Mother’s Day blog post. It happened anyway – it’s pretty hard to avoid this time of year.
The nesting season has moved along and there are more species active now and raising their young. This tricolored Heron is hoping her mate gets back soon with some food for the kids!
Bawling, big mouth babies
Even with the chicks making all that noise, the Mom is sitting quietly, protecting them in case they’ve attracted any predators with their squawking.
In the next photo, an adult Great Egret is feeding an almost mature young one. I watched one nest where there were three juveniles this size, all competing for food from one adult. They were squawking and wildly grabbing for the adult’s beak. The adults are very careful and fortunately seem to avoid eye injuries.
Cattle Egrets are on the nest too and although I think some have already hatched, I couldn’t see them – they’re way back in the bushes.
Cattle Egret checking on her eggs
There are also some Dads around. This guy was preening – trying to look good for his mate. He impressed me!
And the alligators were getting in on the act too. Here’s a video of a bull gator bellowing a mating call. I like the sound track, the standing wave ripples over his back, and the steam (mist) coming out of his nose!
All of these animal behaviors are fascinating to watch. They’re exciting to photograph too!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Here in Central Florida, birds are starting to nest and raise the next generation. Their colors get brighter, feathers get fancy and they show off to attract a mate (and photographers!).
Great Egret display
One place to see this is at Gatorland. Wild birds nest above the alligator ponds there because gators keep predators such at raccoons and snakes away from the nests. You can take advantage of the early entry program to photograph when the light is good and get close to tolerant birds that don’t mind people on the boardwalk.
It’s early in the season now and Great Egrets are the most active. Later in the Spring, you can see Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Cormorants, Anhingas, Wood Storks, Cattle Egrets and maybe a few others nesting too. Here’s a Great Egret on her nest with 3 young chicks. I’d guess these three are less than a week old. And it looks like they’ve just been fed, since none are squawking for more to eat.
Moe, Larry, Curly, and Mom. This is a two frame composite with one focused on the chicks and the other on Mom.
There are other things to photograph there, too.
Happy Gator. Just what a photographer wants: a smiling model in good light!
Gatorland is one of my favorite places to photograph. You can read through the articles I’ve written about it at this link. I think you should go – you’ll have fun and get a some good photos.
The Airstream Ranch that was along I-4 in Central Florida is gone now. It was demolished on February 9th, 2017 to make way for a new RV dealership.
I’ll miss seeing our own “trailer henge” when I drive down I-4. This is a good reminder to always have your camera with you and make the photo when you see it. You might not get a second chance!
If you’re interested, here’s a Tampa Bay Times article about the demolition: http://www.tbo.com/news/iconic-airstream-ranch-display-demolished-to-make-room-for-new-airstream-dealership-20170209/(sorry, no longer available)