Category Archives: Osceola County

Isolation

Anyone can snap a photo.  As photographers, we choose subjects and then compose frames around them so a viewer’s eyes are drawn to what we want them to see.  One thing to think about when we’re out with our cameras is how to isolate the subjects in our images.

Scan the scene when shooting – look for distracting elements and get rid of them.  How?  Sometimes you can’t, but here are some suggestions.

Viewpoint:  Shift a few feet one way or another to hide things.  There’s a much less attractive mailbox just out of the frame below on the left.

A Mailbox on Joe Overstreet RoadA Mailbox on Joe Overstreet Road

Magnification:  We never have enough zoom, do we?  Use what you do have to get close and separate subjects from clutter.  You can also crop later on the computer, but you’ll risk losing some image quality / resolution.

A good morning for a songA good morning for a song – singing Eastern Meadowlark. Joe Overstreet Road

Light:  Sometimes the light is just right to make your subject stand out from the background – take advantage of it!  This can be modified a bit in post processing too.

Shy birdShy bird – A Roseate Spoonbill in the light. Black Point Wildlife Drive

Depth of Field (DOF):  In addition to getting as close as you can and using a long focal length, shooting with a wide open aperture creates a shallower DOF and blurs the background behind your subject.  You may need to shift your position a bit to insure that the entire subject (e.g. both the insect and the bird) are in the plane of focus.

Butcher BirdButcher Bird – Loggerhead Shrikes often kill prey by impaling them on a thorn or barbed wire.  Joe Overstreet Road

Color:  Catching your subject against a contrasting color can help it stand out.  These American White Pelicans with their yellow beaks were very nice to pose for me in the blue water.

American White PelicansAmerican White Pelicans. Black Point Wildlife Drive

So that’s a few ideas. If you think about this when you’re out, your photos will improve. Do you have any other suggestions?  Feel free to add them in the comments.

And speaking of isolation, Lynn and I are both generally in good health (thankfully!).  But the CDC says we’re at higher risk from the COVID-19 virus due to our ages.  We’re going to follow their recommendations and stay up to date on developments.

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

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Chizzywinks!

Kevin M. asked me on Friday if I wanted to go photographing Saturday.  I’d just been to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge that morning, but Lynn and I didn’t have anything planned so it sounded like a good idea to me!  I told him to pick a spot and he wanted to go  down to Osceola County / Joe Overstreet Road.

We’d already had a very nice trip – trying to find Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers at Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area, checking the Bald Eagle nest and finding the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers again on Joe Overstreet – among other things.  As we got close to the lake, we started to notice a lot of Tree Swallows.

Tree Swallow TrioTree Swallow Trio

These birds are winter migrants in our area and breed as far north as Alaska.  We’re used to seeing them here but as we got closer to the lake, we’d never seen them like this.

Tree SwallowsTree Swallow Swarm

There were thousands – maybe tens of thousands (?) of the birds in the fields and areas close to the lake.  They were madly flying around chasing something.  Eventually we got close enough to notice the hoards of blind mosquitoes they were after.  Here’s one of those that got inside the car.

Chizzywink

These aren’t really mosquitoes and they don’t bite, although they were thick enough to be bothersome (for us, not the Swallows).  Actually, I don’t think they’re blind either!  We stopped by the store at the landing and I asked the young lady running it about all the birds.   She told us that when the chizzywinks show up, it’s not uncommon for large groups of birds to go after them.  I’ll say!  I’d never heard them called that and had to ask her to repeat it so I could make a note and look up the word.

If you’ve ever seen or tried to photograph Tree Swallows, you know how energetic / erratic their flight is.  Going after the flies was definitely a high energy task and we also saw them congregating on some nearby wires to rest between servings of their chizzywinks happy meals.

Resting Tree SwallowsResting Tree Swallows

Photographing Tree Swallows is usually hard because it’s difficult to keep them in the frame.  Photographing this spectacle was hard too,  but it wasn’t because we couldn’t keep them in the frame – they were literally wherever we pointed our cameras.  It was just that it was so chaotic that I was never sure what I was capturing. and I was worried about depth of field and motion blur.  There was plenty of light, so I ended up stopping down and making sure my ISO was high enough to get a fast shutter speed.  This frame is my favorite:

Chizzywinks and swallowsChizzywinks and swallows

Something like this is why I really like photography.  It gets me up and out of the house and every once in a while, I see something amazing that I’ve never seen before.  And if I can figure out how to photograph it, I can share it with people too.  Fun!

Also, I occasionally learn a new word!

My video skills are not the best and this is a bit jumpy with a lot of wind noise, but here’s a ~20 second recording of this:

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go out and explore nature.  You may see something amazing – and make some interesting photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Joe Overstreet – Part 2

I thought I’d post a few more photos from last Saturday’s trip to Osceola County.  I hope you enjoy them.

Florida cow countryFlorida cow country:  Joe Overstreet Road goes right through several cattle pastures.  I imagine they look the same as they did a hundred years ago.

Snail Kite launchSnail Kite launch.  We usually see one at the landing and it may be the same bird each time.

Killdeer in flightKilldeer in flight.  I normally find these on the ground.  This is the first time I’ve managed a flight photo of one.

Bird on a wire 4Bird on a wire 4 – American Kestrel.  I rarely catch sight of these and was excited to spot several on this trip.

Sandhill Cranes on final approachSandhill Cranes on final approach. There were more Sandhill Cranes (~50+) in the pastures along Joe Overstreet that morning than I’ve ever seen in one place before.  I’m guessing the extras were winter migrants in from Wisconsin.  Several of the cranes were banded.

Sissor-tailed FlycatcherScissor-tailed Flycatcher. Not a great photo, but this is a life bird (first sighting) for me – so I’ll include it.  There were two and they stayed quite far away from us.

Osceola County / Joe Overstreet Road is a wonderful place!  In addition to the eagles and these birds, we also spotted Purple Gallinules, Ospreys, Eastern Meadowlarks, Loggerhead Shrikes, Palm Warblers, Eastern Phoebes, Savanah Sparrows, our normal wading birds and others.  We looked for Bobwhites and Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (at Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area), but didn’t find any.

You can view more of my photos from there in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157670869688025

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

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Nesting Eagles

I returned late last Thursday from a quick trip to Wisconsin (more about that another time).  So when Kevin M. asked me if I wanted to go down to Osceola County with him on Saturday morning I almost said no.  I was a little tired and the weather forecast wasn’t good.

Saturday morning weather forecast

But I enjoy photography (you do know that, don’t you?) and hadn’t seen Kevin for a bit or Joe Overstreet Road for even longer, so I decided to go.  When I got ready to leave, the sky was completely overcast.  But this is the “Sunshine State” – there’s always a chance the sun will break through for a little bit, isn’t there?

Kevin called while I was on the way and asked if we should cancel.  I voted to press on – we could always come home early if it was too bad.  It was still a little dark when we got there, but we could see some promising thin spots in the clouds.  We’d driven most of the way to the lake when a Bald Eagle swooped by at the same time the clouds were parting.

Eagle in flight with nesting material 3Eagle in flight with nesting material 3

It was gathering and carrying nesting material.  As it flew back to its mate, the sun lit it just perfectly.  I’m pretty sure this is the same pair of birds that our friend JT posted on Flickr last week.

Eagle pair and nestEagle pair and nest

My photo problems quickly changed from no sun to shooting into the sun when it landed next to its mate.  You can’t believe I’m complaining about that, can you?

Nesting birds are a wonderful way to practice birds in flight photo skills because you know where the bird is going and you can position yourself in the right spot and anticipate its flight path.  I wrote about this once before and I think these tips are still good: https://edrosack.com/2010/04/18/birds-on-the-wing-flight-photo-tips/.

Eagle in flight with nesting material 2Eagle in flight with nesting material 2

I have other photos from this trip that I’ll share in the future, but I wanted to show these now in case you were considering a trip down to Joe Overstreet Road.  Go.  Even if the forecast is iffy!

You can look through my Osceola County blog posts at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/osceola-county/.  I’ve collected images from there in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157670869688025, and birds in flight images in this one: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157626306397920.  Also, I think these eagle photos are worth a closer look – please click on them to view them in higher resolution on Flickr.

Lynn and I had a busy (and wonderful!)  holiday season.  I hope that all of you enjoyed spending time with your friends and family as much as we did.  And I hope that you have a wonderful new year and new decade!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos -even when the weather forecast is dreary!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Overdue in Osceola

Kevin M. wanted to go down to Osceola county and Joe Overstreet road last Friday.  I don’t seem to get down there very often (the last time I wrote about it was in March of 2017).  Since a visit was so overdue, I readily agreed to join him.

We stopped first along a side road for a sunrise pasture photo.  It’ll be hard to see at web resolution, but there’s a large herd of cattle on the right in the distance.

Cow country sunriseCow country sunrise

Next, we drove down Joe Overstreet road.  This is a great place to see birds that aren’t too common elsewhere in Central Florida.  Here are some examples:

Bob WhiteBobwhite

Snail KiteSnail Kite

Loggerhead ShrikeLoggerhead Shrike

We also saw many of our common wading birds including some Sandhill Cranes, Anhingas, Cattle Egrets, Great and Snowy Egrets, and Wood Storks.  There were a couple of Bald Eagles, a family of Red-headed Woodpeckers, an Upland Sandpiper, several Solitary Sandpipers (several? solitary? I know, right?), many molting Meadowlarks, lots of Killdeer, and lots of swallows ( I think these were Cave Swallows, although there could have been others mixed in).

And dragonflies were very plentiful.

Dragonfly Dragonfly – Not sure of ID on this. Maybe a Red Saddlebags?

After Joe Overstreet, we stopped by Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area to see if we could spot any Red-cockaded Woodpeckers but they weren’t cooperating.

If you haven’t been to these areas, check them out.  They seem to attract a diverse group of species.  Click on any of these for larger versions, and you can see a few more of my photos from there in this album on Flickr.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A lovely day for a drive

I’ve haven’t been out photographing for a while, so when Kevin M. invited me to ride along with him yesterday I was eager to go.  It was one of those beautiful Florida winter mornings – clear, bright, a little windy, and perfect shirtsleeve temperatures.

We went by the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area in Osceola County, then down Joe Overstreet road, and finally by the lakefront in Kissimmee.

Three Lakes WMA is a quiet area with dirt roads through varied habitats including pine forests, grass fields, and some hardwood stands with streams and lakes.  There were several RVs and campers parked near the entrance, but they were sleeping in and we had the place mostly to ourselves at first.

A road less traveledA road less traveled – Infrared, black and white, panorama

Whenever we stopped the car to scout for wildlife, it was so quiet, all we heard were birds and the breeze blowing through pine needles.  What a peaceful, non-urban setting!

I’ve been by the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area three or four times looking for the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers that nest there (read about previous trips here and here). And yesterday, I finally saw one.  Kevin knew exactly what to look for and spotted this one (that I missed) on my side of the car – thanks Kevin!

Red-cockaded WoodpeckerRed-cockaded Woodpecker

It really helps to go out with someone familiar with the place and the species you’re looking for.  Kevin mentioned that he’d been through with our local Audubon group and they pointed out many areas and what to watch for in each.

I have seen Bobwhites before, but this one running across the road was cute!

Bobwhite crossingBobwhite crossing

And I’ve seen Eastern Bluebirds before, but didn’t have a good a photo of one.

Eastern BluebirdEastern Bluebird

We also saw a raccoon, a couple of deer, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Meadowlarks, Eagles, Swallow-tailed Kites, Snail Kites, Hawks, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and many other birds.  It was quite a trip!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

July's for the birds…

Kevin M. and I knowingly and by chance violated many photography thumb rules yesterday morning.  My first example:

Sunrise over the pastureSunrise over the pasture

As landscape photos go, it breaks rules:   It’s not all in focus;  I didn’t use a low ISO to minimize noise;  I used a long lens (so I could keep power lines out of the frame), not a wide-angle ; And I didn’t use a tripod.  But I like how it turned out.  I’m pleased by the composition and colors.  It also has a bit of mystery with the fog, and the cows that are a bit hidden.  Florida does look like this.

Next up are some bird photos.  In Florida, July is one of the hottest months.  Most photographers know this and many choose to stay inside – because the birds know this too and many of them also seem to disappear when it’s this hot.  So what did we do?  We went  out looking for birds.

When we were photographing sunrise, we heard Bobwhites calling and spotted this one on the fence by the pasture.  It was very patient and waited with us for better light.  But I still had to violate one of my thumb rules and shoot at ISO 3200 to get a decent photo.  By the way, let me just say again that technology today is wonderful.  This image was at a focal length of 600mm, with a shutter speed of 1/50 second, hand-held!

Northern BobwhiteNorthern Bobwhite

The Burrowing Owl was a little way down on the same fence line.  By this time the light was somewhat better and I could shoot at ISO 1600 and 1/100 sec.  Still pretty impressive stabilization and sensor performance.

Burrowing OwlBurrowing Owl

Those three photos were at our first stop!  Kevin wanted to show me some  Red-cockaded Woodpeckers he’d spotted at the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area.  I’ve been there before looking for them and this time we think we heard some, but didn’t manage to see or photograph any.

We did spot some other not so common birds including Brown-headed Nuthatches, Common Ground Doves, and Eastern Meadowlarks.

On the way back, we went by a farm where one of Florida’s Whooping Cranes hangs out.  I’ve been there several times looking for it without success.  Until this time:

Whooping Crane and two Sandhill CranesWhooping Crane and two Sandhill Cranes

This is more of a record shot than a great photo.   The light is harsh and the birds are beyond the range limit for this lens so it’s cropped in.  And the July heat was making waves too, harming the image quality.   But I still like it.  Thumb rules?  Who needs stinking’ thumb rules!

Until the 1930s, Whooping Cranes occurred naturally in Florida (see this article on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation site).  There have been efforts to re-introduce them by leading them with ultra-light planes on migration routes  (see this site).  In January 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced they’d “stop supporting the use of ultralight aircraft to help young whooping cranes migrate from Wisconsin to Florida each fall”.  Studies show that interacting with humans has a negative effect on the birds.  I’m pretty sure this particular Whooping Crane is a survivor of the program.  It’s banded yellow over green on its left leg, but a short google search didn’t turn up any info.

So rules of thumb are good – especially if you understand them and know when to break them.  Breaking the rules led me to a sunrise photo I like and four life-birds yesterday (thanks Kevin!).  By the way, you can click on any of these for larger versions on Flickr.

And thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

P.S.  Stay tuned for some photo stories from Utah.  MK and I had an epic weekend out there and I’ll share it when I finish processing the images.

Osceola Wander

Kevin M. organized a Photography Interest Group expedition yesterday.   I went along with  Kevin K., and Frank B.  The four of us were up extremely early to beat the sun to this pasture in Osceola County along Canoe Creek Road.

The sky was kind of plain when we arrived, except for the very thin moon rising ahead of the sun, and the ground fog over the grass in the distance.

Sliver moon and mistSliver moon and mist

After photographing there we moved on to Joe Overstreet Road and then Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area to see what we could see.

There’s a photography joke:

Q: Why did the bird cross the road?

A: To get to the bad light.

I don’t know about you, but this often happens to me when I’m trying to make photos of birds.  And if they don’t hurry into the bad light, then they usually turn away from the camera.  The backs of birds are not as photogenic as the front.  Yesterday the birds were a little slow and we managed to catch some of them in very good light and not facing away!

Into the lightInto the light

I wish I hadn’t been framed so close on this Bald Eagle.  I would have loved to catch it in full flight.  They’re seen down there often, so I’ll have to try again.

The meadows along the roads were full of Eastern Meadowlarks.  And when we couldn’t see them we could definitely hear them.

Morning songMorning song

There were signs posted at the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area with results from recent hunts. And the deer we saw were definitely very wary. These two stared at us for a while before running off into the trees.

Two wary deerTwo wary deer

All in all, it was a good day for photography.  And the banter in the car was quite entertaining too.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.