Category Archives: Orlando

Maitland, Florida

Intro / Description

Maitland is a particularly photogenic city in the greater Orlando metro area.  I’ve found several locations there with good photo ops – my most recent visit was to the Maitland Art Center with Keith H.

Way out
Way out: A gate in the wall at the Maitland Art Center (Infrared, Black and White)

The Maitland Art Center used to be known as The Research Studio and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.  It’s one of the few examples in our area of Mayan Revival architecture, which can make for some intriguing  details to photograph.  The grounds are a popular place for weddings.  You may run into one on weekends that will keep you out of one or more of the venues.

Mayan Revival carved door
Mayan Revival carved door – I wonder if this is where Indiana Jones keeps his stuff?

Other museums in this location in addition to the Art Center are: the Telephone Museum; the William H. Waterhouse House Museum; and the Carpentry Shop Museum.  If you’re visiting, check the websites linked here – the hours and fees vary.

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:

My approach was to wander and photograph whatever caught my eye.  I found the Art and History Museum  productive for IR / B&W photography.

Tripod/Monopod:  Allowed and helpful.

Lenses:  You’ll probably use wide and normal lenses the most.  I didn’t feel any need for a telephoto lens.  A polarizing filter might be helpful to block reflections in glass.

They're all in the garden at the party
They’re all in the garden at the party

Best time to visit:  Year round, early or late in the day for the best light.  Avoid weekends if possible so you don’t run into any weddings.

Other:

There are some other photo ops close by.  I’ve written before about the Audubon Birds of Prey center – a great place to get close portraits of some very impressive birds.

Recovering eagle, Audubon Birds of Prey center, Maitland, Fl
Recovering eagle, Audubon Birds of Prey center

And the park at Lake Lilly is also photogenic.  Try some sunrise or sunset photos there, or walk through the farmers market on Saturdays for some local interest / people photos.  Be careful the ducks don’t peck on your lens!

Wide angle, backlit, ducklings
Wide angle, backlit, ducklings at Lake Lilly – looking for a handout

And the Fort Maitland boat ramp at 900 South Orlando Ave. would be a great place to launch your kayak!

Summary

My Gallery /  Flickr photo set:  Maitland on Flickr
Website:  http://artandhistory.org
Address / Phone: 231 West Packwood Avenue, Maitland, Florida
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating:  A great place to explore; Lots of photo ops

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

The Senator Saga – another update

The Senator” is the nickname of what was a 3500 year old Cypress Tree in Big Tree Park in Longwood Florida.  Sadly, it burned down in January of 2012 when a drug addict lit a fire in the hollow at the base of the tree because “it was dark and she wanted light to see the drugs she was using.”.  The culprit confessed and is expected to be sentenced shortly to either probation or a few months in prison.
I’ve written several blog articles about this and I hope you’ll forgive me for writing one more:
The latest chapter in this story is even more personal and began in December of last year when someone posted a comment on this  photo of the Senator on Flickr asking if I’d be willing to sell a copy of the image.  Tony Seifred and I exchanged a few emails, and to make a long story short we also ended up exchanging gifts.  I gave Tony copies of two photographs of the Senator and he gave me a piece of the tree itself!  I’ll let Tony tell his side of the story:
“Back when the tree burned, NPR covered the story the following morning.  Within an hour I was cold calling county personnel and getting passed from one person to another.  I was trying to encourage them to make offerings to school systems for educational purposes.
After many months I received an email that the decision had been made to take applications for remains.  I contacted my local schools and museum trying to get them to apply.  I even provided the applications.  No one applied.
So I decided to try on my own.  Eventually I did receive a piece of the outer part of the tree, but pick-up had to be in person.  The story after that is long and convoluted but eventually did find someone there to accept payment to collect and ship the piece. Upon arrival the box was open and the piece had clearly been out.
Despite the rather expensive UPS store packing.  Some pieces were broken off and still inside the wrapping. I am gifting you the largest of those pieces.”
Kudos to Tony for pursuing this and making it happen.  I had the piece mounted together with the photo I made before it burned.  Here’s how it looks:
A shadowbox display of a photo of the 3500 year old Cypress tree in September of 2011 before it burned along with a small piece of the remains from after it burned down in January of 2012.
A shadow box display of a photo of the 3500 year old Senator Cypress tree in September of 2011 along with a small piece of the remains from after it burned down in January of 2012.
This means a great deal to me and I’ll treasure it as a reminder of visits to the Senator before the tragedy.  I’m exceptionally grateful to Tony for his generosity in sharing with me.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Sunset Sports Shot

Short post this week:  my son Mike is visiting and I didn’t have time for a photo expedition.

He wanted to go to the University of Central Florida football game last night.  Since it was a 7pm kick-off, I checked the open seats on the east side and there were still some available up in the nosebleed section.  We enjoyed the first quarter while I waited to see if the Florida sky would do it’s thing.   It cooperated – here’s my version of a sports photograph:

UCF Knights defeat the Akron Zips 38 - 7
Football foreground:  The sun set early on the visiting Akron Zips in the UCF football opening home game.

The Akron team was overmatched.  We had a good time watching UCF win – the final score was 38 – 7.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go sneak in a sunset photo!

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Central Florida Summer Sights

One of the great things about photography is that it gets you up and out there. You may not see anything if you go – but if you don’t go you definitely won’t ever see anything.  Here are a few photos of what I saw around Central Florida this week.

I made this first one about a half hour before dawn along Gator Creek Road in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  The low tide had uncovered these rocks, so I used my ultra wide-angle, rectilinear lens and lowered my tripod to emphasize them.  This is a single exposure, processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.  I also tried out the new Topaz Clarity filter.  It seems to do a good job enhancing contrast without introducing halos.

Quiet morning
Quiet morning

The word “parhelion” comes from the Greek for “beside the sun”.  They’re also called sundogs and are always 22 degrees away from and at the same elevation as the sun.  They’re most visible when the sun is low and the sky is darker – dawn or dusk.  I like to watch for them and I thought it was nice of this kayaker to pose with one for me.  I was lucky that I’d already shifted to my long lens to make bird photos.  I needed the reach for this composition.

Early start
Early start – Kayak fisherman paddling underneath a sundog.

There were several dolphins also fishing in this area.  I could see the fish jumping and the dolphins seemed to catch a lot of them.

Fishing Dolphin
Fishing Dolphin

I stopped by Orlando Wetlands Park briefly and it was very scenic despite the cloud cover.  I liked the pathways the birds made through the vegetation in this scene.

Morning marsh
Morning marsh – A cloudy morning in Orlando Wetlands, just after dawn

This time of year, there’s not as much bird activity as in the spring.  Orlando Wetlands was pretty quiet and so was MINWR.  But there are still some regulars around and it’s nice to watch their antics.

Killdeer nest on the ground.  When a predator gets close, they pretend to have a broken wing and try to draw the predator away from the nest.  I watched this one perform and when it finished it turned around to peek back at me and check if it was working.  It did – I didn’t bother its nest.

Killdeer checks me out
Killdeer checks me out

I don’t know how many times I’ve driven by the remains of this dock on the right side of the causeway leading into MINWR – but I never noticed it before.  When I was leaving the other day, I finally saw it.  It was a quick thing, almost subconscious.  I actually drove on by before I processed what I saw and turned around.  I’m very glad I stopped – it doesn’t look like it will last much longer.  By the  time I made this photo, the light was pretty bright.  I used a neutral density filter to slow down my shutter speed and tried several focal lengths / compositions.  I like this one the best.  A B&W conversion using Nik Silver Effects seemed to fit the scene.  In the future, I need to be more observant.  What else is out there I’ve missed?

Old dock
Old dock

You can click on these photos to see larger versions on Flickr.  And you can see more from Merritt Island in this set on Flickr, and from Orlando Wetlands in this set.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – get up, get out there, be observant, and make some photos!
©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Gatorland update, 5/11/13

Keith H. and I took advantage of our annual photo passes and stopped by Gatorland yesterday morning. If you’ve planned to see the wild bird rookery there, don’t wait too long. There’s a lot going on now and it won’t last forever.

Cattle Egrets and Cormorants are still incubating eggs and should start hatching soon.  Great Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, Anhingas, and Woodstorks have hatched and you can get great photos of parenting activity including feeding, nest maintenance, displays, and flight to / from nests.  All of the birds are in peak  breeding colors.

Tri-colored Heron in flight
Tri-colored Heron in flight

Gatorland is a great place to practice flight photography.  Observe the bird behavior for a while, pick a likely place with a good background (hopefully in the shade) and wait.  Opportunities will occur!

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret

Most of the Cattle Egrets were back in the bushes, in bad light and obscured by twigs.  Be observant and patient you’ll find one out in the open and maybe even in front of a dark background.

Here’s a couple more photos from yesterday:

Anhinga in flight
Anhinga in flight – they’re very different (and attractive) in breeding season. 

Double Crested Cormorant
Double Crested Cormorant – very pretty eyes if you can catch them in the right light

We also saw several other birds types including a Swallow-tailed Kite.

If you go during the week, take advantage of the early entry option.  We got there at 7:30 and there were only a few other photographers there.  As we were leaving about 10:15, there was a huge line waiting to get in.  I don’t know about you, but I prefer to photograph in the early morning light and when it’s peaceful.

Another reason to visit Gatorland is to see the new Panther Springs exhibit.  These animals are very impressive – I didn’t realize how large they are.  These two are a brother and sister pair that were raised in captivity and so can’t be released back to the wild.  The Florida Panther population is estimated at only 100 – 160 in south-west Florida.  Well worth seeing.

Hello kitty

Hello kitty!

You can read other Central Florida Photo Ops blog posts about Gatorland from this link.  And this set on Flickr has many other photos I’ve made there

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Return to Big Tree Park

You may remember my posts about “The Senator”, a 3500 year old Cypress tree in Big Tree Park in Longwood, Florida (Big Tree Park – Home of the Senator, and “The Senator” is destroyed by fire).  The destruction of the tree in January of last year was an awful event.  The park closed after the fire but it’s open again now and the story has taken a fascinating twist – so I went by to check it out.

The Senator
The Senator in September of 2011 – just a few months before the fire

The Senator remains

The Senator in March of 2013 – the charred base of the original tree is all that’s left.

The Seminole Voice newspaper website has a good article with details on this very unlikely story, but here’s a summary:

  • In 1997 a branch fell from the Senator after a storm.
  • A Miami science teacher happened to be there and happened to know about a North Florida tree farmer who was creating a cypress grove cloned from trees from all over the country.
  • The science teacher gave the branch to the farmer who used it to create ten cloned trees.
  • Seven of them survived (an unusually high percentage).
  • Fifteen years later, in January of 2012, the Senator burned.
  • A forestry specialist at the University of Florida heard about the fire and recalled the cloning project.
  • Seminole County officials then worked to move one of the clones to Big Tree Park.
  • The identical clone (appropriately named “The Phoenix”) was transplanted to Big Tree Park and dedicated on March 2nd, 2013.  It’s doing well and is already more than 50 feet tall!

The Phoenix rises
The Phoenix rises:  An identical clone of the 3500 year old “Senator” cypress tree was started in 1997.  Already 50+ feet tall, it was transplanted into Big Tree Park in 2012

There are some other changes, including a refurbished boardwalk, new signs with information about the park and trees, and new fencing (to keep drug addled arsonists out).

It’s horrible that this ancient tree burned, but it’s amazing that a clone existed.  I wonder if people will visit “The Phoenix” far in the future and think about the 21st century, just like I sometimes think about the time 3500 years ago when The Senator first grew.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos.
©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Keb Mo at the Plaza, February 28, 2013

Keb Mo (Kevin Moore) made a return visit to the Plaza Theatre in downtown Orlando last night.  This time he left the band home and performed solo.

Keb Mo at the Plaza Theatre, Februaey 28, 2013
Keb Mo

The man has a lot of talent.  I enjoyed this show every bit as much as his last one here.  He sang and played four different instruments – including three guitars and a harmonica.  The place was full of his fans and they obviously enjoyed the show too.  He interacted quite a bit with the audience and most of the songs he played were based on requests.  There was even one funny part where he played a montage of several cover tunes while waiting for an audience member to return – since she had requested the next song.

Once again Lynn and I had excellent seats (this time on the left) and I was able to get a couple nice photos of him.

Keb Mo at the Plaza Theatre, Februaey 28, 2013
Keb Mo

I highly recommend both Keb Mo’s music and the Plaza. If you get a chance, check ’em out.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos (and listen to some music)!
©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Orlando Wetlands Park – February 7, 2013

Orlando Wetlands Park is closed from November 15th through January 31st each year.  Now that it’s open again, Keith H., Tom M. and I went by this week to see how things are at one of our favorite locations.

Sunrise was nice, although I was late getting there and missed some pre-dawn color.  Note to self:  Always arrive at least a half hour before sunrise.

Lake Searcy Sunrise
Lake Searcy Sunrise 1 – Lake Searcy is on the right as you walk in from the parking area.  It’s scenic and usually very calm, with lots of cypress and palms.   I liked the way the sun glow came around the palm trees.

Since I had my IR camera with me and the clouds were so awesome, I made this panorama to get as wide a capture as possible.

Lake Searcy Sunrise
Lake Searcy Sunrise 2 – This is a Black and White, Infrared, Panorama.  Sometimes IR can really bring out the detail in clouds.

We saw many of the normal birds including Coots, Snowy and Great Egrets, Little Blue and Great Blue Herons, Blue-winged Teals, Anhingas, Red-shouldered Hawks, and others.  I also saw what I’m pretty sure were several Common or Wilson’s Snipes, although these birds are extremely wary and fly off at the first sign you’re looking at them (worse even than Belted Kingfishers!) so I didn’t get a positive ID.  There’s been two Vermillion Flycatchers reported again this year on the far end of the park and one seems to come closer than usual.  If you haven’t seen this bird, it’s worth a visit all by itself.

We also saw either a small bobcat or large house cat on the walk in, but it was too dim to be sure.

You can also see more photos from OWP in this set on Flickr.  And I have many older posts about this place  – you can look through them from this link.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Gatorland – 1 Feb. 2013

The annual photographer pass program at Gatorland in Kissimmee, Florida started again on Friday, and Keith H. and I were the first ones there.  We saw Great Egrets, a Red-shouldered Hawk, a Black-crowned Night-Herron, Wood Storks, Anhingas, Boat-tailed Grackles, and a few other species.

Female Boat-tailed Grackle
Female Boat-tailed Grackle – a common bird in uncommon light

Great Egret in breeding colors
Great Egret and reflection – all dressed up in formal wear for the start of breeding season

Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron – a nice bonus, since I don’t see these very often

And of course you can also see Alligators in the park. They’re starting to breed too – we heard quite a few bellows.

Very still gator and tree reflection
Very still gator and tree reflection

With the photographer pass you can get into the park at 7:30am Thursday – Sunday and stay until dusk on Saturday.  This lets you photograph the nesting birds with nicer light and no tourists.  It greatly improves your chances of getting good photos of the birds and their breeding behavior in the rookery.  These are wild birds that choose to nest in the area because of the protection offered by alligators from other predators such as snakes and raccoons.  They’re acclimated to people so you can get quite close to many of them.  The Great Egrets are already courting and building nests – they seem to be the earliest breeders.  The Wood Storks are getting started too.  Later in the year you’ll also see Snowy and Cattle Egrets, cormorants, and if you’re lucky maybe some other species breeding.

Gatorland is a great place to visit at this time of year.  If you’re in town for a short while, you can also buy a one day photo pass to get in early.  Check it out!  Click on the photos above to go to Flickr where you can see larger versions. You can also see more photos from Gatorland in this set on Flickr.  And you can read my previous posts about Gatorland at this link.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Long exposure at Lake Eola

Deborah Sandidge and Jason Odell led a sunset photo walk around Lake Eola in downtown Orland on Friday evening.  I’ve followed their work online and wanted to meet them, so I signed up.  Conditions weren’t the best for sunset photography, but I still had a good time.  I used a neutral density filter to make several long exposure photos and I thought I’d walk you through my process.  First of all, here’s the final version:

Lake Eola - Orlando, Florida
Lake Eola – Orlando, Florida.  Long exposure, cloudy, sunset. You can click on this image to see a larger version on Flickr.

And here’s the initial version of this photo:

-_D8C7377- Ed Rosack

f/8, 25 seconds; after initial adjustments in Lightroom.

Here are the steps I went through to get to the final version:  First, I corrected the distortion to make the buildings vertical in Lightroom.  Then I edited it in Photoshop.  I used content aware fill to finish the vertical distortion fix, then added a layer and masked out noise from darker areas.  Finally, I ran the single image through Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 to enhance color, contrast and details.  Back in Light room again, I finalized exposure, contrast and white balance and applied sharpening and a small amount of vignette.  I like how it came out.
For comparison purposes, here’s a 1/20 second exposure of the same scene.

-_D8C7376- Ed Rosack

f/8, 1/20th second; Same initial adjustments as the version above.

Looking at the long exposure version, the main differences I see are:  the smooth sheen on the water surface, the much more prominent tree shadow in the lower right, and the radial motion blurring in the clouds.  The tree shadow surprised me the most.  In the short exposure version, the water ripples break up the shadow.  They don’t in the long exposure version, which makes the shadow much more interesting.

There are lot of upsides to long exposure photography and a few downsides.  For instance, since the wind was blowing so hard on Friday, some of the smaller tree branches are a little blurry.  Also, when you use very dense neutral density filters, your camera probably won’t auto expose or auto focus correctly, so you’ll have to take care of those things on your own.  And some of these filters can also add a color cast to your photos, so you may need to be careful with your color balance.  But all in all, it’s a great technique to have in your bag of tricks.  Have you tried it yet?  Why not?

You can see more photos from Lake Eola in this set on Flickr.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.