Category Archives: INSIDE FLORIDA

Common Birds

We’re blessed here with a wide variety of birds. The eBird list for Central Florida (Orange, Seminole, Lake, Osceola, Volusia, and Polk counties) shows 443 species (https://ebird.org/barchart?byr=1900&eyr=2022&bmo=1&emo=12&r=US-FL-069,US-FL-095,US-FL-097,US-FL-105,US-FL-117,US-FL-127). The bars in the chart reveal which birds are here year-round and how often they’re seen / reported. Snowy Egrets are one of the most common.

Pretty PerchPretty Perch

I’ve seen a lot of them and you probably have too. Much of the time now, I glance their way and don’t make a photo. But every once in a while I’ll I come across a common bird in an uncommon situation or setting. It reminds me that I do need to pay attention – and make occasional photos of these very pretty, common birds.

This egret was calmly perched on a branch in still water. I was attracted to its pose, the light, and the mirror-like reflection. I made two frames for a vertical panorama so I could zoom in and capture as much detail as possible. Later on my computer I stitched them together into the image you see here. The header image is a crop from a B&W version of the same image.

Common birds can make splendid photo subjects. Don’t pass up the opportunities.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are very welcome and a big motivator for me. Be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Few More Photos

I really enjoyed my first visit of the year to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge a few weeks ago. Here are some more of those photos that haven’t been on the blog before.

The view that morning looking south east from under the Max Brewer Memorial Causeway bridge was lovely. I made several frames – the one below is my favorite. The header image is part of a similar one from five minutes later .

Three boats on the riverThree boats on the river

The low, warm, side light on this group of American White Pelicans made them even more attractive when I found them moments after sunrise.

A small pod of pelicansA small pod of pelicans

It’s always nice to encounter Roseate Spoonbills and they were in several spots along Black Point Wildlife Drive. This one flew almost directly over me.

Flight of the SpoonbillFlight of the Spoonbill

Cinnamon Teals are a rarity in Central Florida. This one seems to winter every year in MINWR. I found it again in the same spot along the Wild Birds Unlimited Trail that begins at stop 4 on the BPWD. It likes to hang out there with the other ducks. The birds were so harshly back lit that I had trouble seeing colors to ID it. I’m pretty amazed at how well this photo turned out.

Cinnamon TealCinnamon Teal

I got a fairly good view of this Kingfisher and he stayed still for a moment while I made a photo:

Belted KingfisherMale Belted Kingfisher

The ranger says the duck population is down this year, and it does look like they’re less numerous. But I did see a good variety including Blue-winged Teals, Northern Shovelers, Mottled Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, and maybe a few Lesser Scaups. And all of our common birds were around too. Definately well worth a visit.

LIke always, you can click on these photos to see larger versions on Flickr. And you can view (too) many of my MINWR photos in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157627776386723

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are very welcome and a big motivator for me. Be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

The Egret and the Shrimp

Reddish Egrets are favorites of mine. They’re handsome and fun to watch. They aren’t normally found inland, but you can spot them year round here in Central Florida along the coast in shallow bays, lagoons, and marshes.

1 - Scouting1 – Scouting

When feeding, they wade rapidly and erratically through shallow water, scaring prey and using their wings to cast shadows and cut down on glare. Small fish may also mistakenly think there’s safety in the shadows and be drawn in closer. Here’s an older post I did with a video of one: https://edrosack.com/2015/03/29/a-few-minutes-with-a-reddish-egret/.

2 - Dancing2 – Dancing

Photographing this behavior isn’t easy – at least for me. Their movements are unpredictable and fast (all 5 of the photos in this post happened within 28 seconds!).

3 - Stalking3 – Stalking

I like to have my shutter speed as high as possible to reduce blur. And I try not to zoom in too far so I don’t cut off parts of the bird. Even though in general I know what’s going to happen, following the action is tough. I was lucky to have any part of the egret in the frame when it pounced suddenly.

4 - Striking4 – Striking

I often see them catching minnows, but this one came up with a crustacean temptation.

5 - The prize5 – The prize

I made these photos on Black Point Wildlife Drive in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I usually see one or two Reddish Egrets there. I like to stop and spend a few minutes with them and they almost always are hunting like this. Keep an eye out for them when you go. They’re very effective predators. I don’t think that poor shrimp ever had a chance.

Their populations have recovered over the last century, but only about 1500 – 2000 nesting pairs remain in the US and destruction of their preferred coastal habitats place them in the Near Threatened conservation status. You can read more about them on their Audubon Field Guide page. It’s good that MINWR is saving some of their habitat.

Click on any of these photos to see larger versions on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Please be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Gatorland

We were able to visit Gatorland for a few hours over the holiday break. The last time I was there was in May of 2017 to photograph birds during breeding season. It’s not breeding season now, but there were a few wild birds around that posed for me.

Great EgretGreat Egret

This next egret had a unique ‘ride’:

Uber Gator‘Uber’ Gator: It’s a good thing the Egret didn’t seem to be in a hurry – It looked like the gator ‘driver’ was asleep.

I think all the alligators are well fed but I imagine it’s still risky for birds to be so close. Standing on the gator probably protects it from other ones. It’d be easy for the gator to swish it’s tail and get rid of the bird, but maybe not worth the energy. Apparently it’s a habit. One of my Flickr friends says she sees this pair all the time.

Gators are the main attraction there and photo ops are everywhere. Here’s a huge friendly one enjoying the sunshine (thanks for pointing this out Sara!):

At restAt rest

And here’s a small cuddly one watching me:

Baby AlligatorBaby gator

The light in the flamingo pond was lovely when we wandered by. I liked this view of the feathers on the back of a close one.

Flamingo feathersFlamingo feathers

And the vivid colors on this Iguana were impressive, even through glass.

Through the glassThrough the glass

In some areas, Gatorland was a little more crowded than I’d prefer, but it was all outdoors and I enjoyed my first visit after such a long time. Definitely enjoyable!

Header image: Brave Wood Stork. See a larger version here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/51810388530/in/dateposted-public/.

You can browse posts I’ve written about Gatorland at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/gatorland/.

And you can view an album of my photos from there on Flickr at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157623039154783

I hope you’re having a great start to the new year. Please be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And have a safe and prosperous 2022. And if you can, make some photos!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Merry Christmas!

Just a short post this week to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all our Flickr friends!Santa passing through Ponce Inlet

I’m not planning to publish next weekend, so I’ll go ahead and wish you a prosperous and healthy new year now too!

Thank you so much for following my blog again this year. Please be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you’re lucky enough to be be with family – enjoy your precious time together! See you soon in 2022!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Flowering and Finished

I first posted this photo about a month ago:

Goldenrod in bloomGoldenrod in bloom

The Goldenrod was flowering then all around Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. But when I drove back near the same spots recently, it looked like this:

Dried Goldenrod (?)Dried Goldenrod

Although still pretty, that’s a drastic change in the span of a month. And soon even the dried blossoms will be gone.

If you see something interesting, make a photo. There’s no telling if it’ll look the same when you come by again (and make another photo).

Header Image: A small crop from a black & white version of the second photo.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please be kind, take care of yourselves and each other – and if you can, make some photos – before things change! 

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Favorite Place

I was in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last Thursday morning and made a number of photos I really like. Today I’ll share 10 that show some of what you can see there at this time of year.

Handsome HoodieHandsome Hoodie: I spent several minutes watching this Hooded Merganser before he finally turned toward the light. It was worth the wait.

Posing Palm WarblerPosing Palm Warbler: iBird says these forage on the ground for insects, but I don’t think I’ve seen them do it before – especially close by, out in the open, and in nice light.

A Common Yellowthroat hunting breakfast in the Magrove rootsIn the Magrove roots: I like this environmental portrait. I haven’t seen a Common Yellowthroat scrambling around like this before either.

SpooniePreening Roseate Spoonbill: They were in several spots around Black Point Wildlife Drive. This was the closest and the best photo I made of one. I like the coy over-the-shoulder look.

Reddish and reflectionReddish Egret and reflection: I spotted 3 or 4 of these always pretty birds too.

Green HeronGreen Heron: It was hiding in the bushes when I first walked by. When I came back it was sitting still, out in the open.

Killdeer and reflectionKilldeer and reflection

Osprey with catchOsprey and catch: The birds were enjoying a fishing feast alongside Catfish Creek Road.

Kestrel American Kestrel: I almost drove by this tiny falcon, but saw something out of the corner of my eye to the left on the paved exit road at Black Point Wildlife Drive. The light was harsh and it didn’t turn around while I was there. I like the photo anyway.

Wading WilletWading Willet: I’m glad to see them back in Central Florida.

Others I spotted: Belted Kingfishers, Greater Yellowlegs, Brown Pelicans, Anhigas, Double-crested Cormorants, a Northern Harrier, many Northern Shovelers, Blue-winged Teals, Alligators, Sanderlings, Caspian Terns, Savanah Sparrows, Wood Storks, the regular herons and egrets and more.

By the way #1: Jim Boland has seen and photographed the Cinnamon Teal again this year – so if you go, look for it along the Wildbirds Unlimited Trail south of the parking area on the south west corner of BPWD. I looked on Thursday, but didn’t spot it. I guess it’s my “nemesis bird” once again.

By the way #2: It was nice to run into Pat H. out there. I haven’t seen her for quite a while. She’s a wonderful photographer – check out her Flickr stream if you get a chance.

In spite of that darn Cinnamon Teal, MINWR is still a wonderful area. So many photos from a single trip! No wonder it’s is one of my favorite places, especially at this time of year. It’s beautiful and the variety of birds and wildlife you can see is amazing.

Header image: “Across the water”. You can view the full photo here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/51759864252/in/dateposted-public/

Sorry for posting so many photos. If it’s any consolation – I could have posted even more!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please be kind, take care of yourselves and each other – and if you can, visit one of your favorite nature spots and make some photos! 

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lightroom Masking Changes

Back in October, Adobe changed the way masking works in Lightroom and Camera RAW. I was a little irritated at first. The new interface was unfamiliar and I didn’t know how to do things I was used to doing with the old version (the radial and gradient tools). How dare they “move my cheese“?

Anyway – I’ve been using it since, have figured it out, and now like it much better than the older approach. The AI based capabilities (select sky and subject) are awesome and work pretty well. And the re-organized interface combines all of the masking capability into one place with very helpful ways to combine selections.

I won’t try to explain how to use the new tools. There’s a lot of info on the web about it. Here’s one tutorial that’ll get you started: https://digital-photography-school.com/lightroom-masking-tool/.

Instead, I’ll show you an example of how I processed an image using the tools. This one is from Merritt Island and it’s been sitting un-processed in my archives since 2016. Once I started working on it, I wondered why I’d left it sitting there for so long! This is the finished version:

Another morning in the marshAnother morning in the marsh

And now, here are the four different masks I used in the final stage of processing:

Mask 1: Some areas in the clouds were too bright. I reduced highlights and bumped up texture and clarity.
Mask 2: I also lowered highlights in the corresponding reflection so they better match the sky.
Mask 3: The trees on the right were very dark, so I increased shadows there to bring out more detail.
Mask 4: And finally, the clouds on the left were a bit dark. I increased the exposure there by about 1/3 stop. This one is a radial filter intersected with a dark luminous range.

Here’s a before / after slider that shows the effects of the mask adjustments.

Comparison slider: Before (left) and after (right) masking. The changes aren’t all that dramatic, but I think they help.

So that’s my example. If (like me) you were a little put off by these changes, I’d encourage you to have another look. It’s worth the effort to master them. The control we have with digital capture and processing is just amazing when you think about how hard this would be to dodge and burn using film in an actual darkroom.

You can see a higher resolution version of this photo on Flickr at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/51720541937/in/dateposted-public/lightbox/

And you can see many more of my black and white photos in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157625316775091

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please be kind, take care of yourselves and each other – and if you can, get out and make (and mask) some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Get there early (or stay late)

I’ve been an early riser for a long time. I used to be at work before others and got a lot done before they showed up. I thought that would change when I retired, but the habit stuck with me.

I’m still up way before sunrise almost every morning. It’s an asset for landscape photography. I get to places when it’s still dark and things (and photos) look different.

Too early at the boat rampToo early at the boat ramp

When I start early, I can go to more places. I’ll continue making landscape photos in different spots as I look for wildlife and the light changes. So I usually come home with a number of landscape images. These two very different photos are from the same trip.

Catfish Creek Trail Catfish Creek Trail

Getting there early gives me extra opportunities. It doesn’t work all the time or for everyone. It’s not the best approach for sunset and late night photography – but staying up late is. If you like to sleep in, you’ll need to apply my “too early” strategy in reverse and stay a little later after sunset. And if If you’re lucky enough to be at one of your “bucket list” locations, you’ll probably want to get set up and wait for the best light before you start moving around like I do.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please be kind, take care of yourselves and each other – and if you can, get out early (or stay late) and make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Just for me?

I enjoy mornings like this one. Out in nature, seeing the sun rise in a pretty spot, or handsome birds posing in lovely light – with my camera along to hopefully capture an impression of a gorgeous moment in front of me.

A new sun kisses the  morning marsh A new sun kisses the morning marsh

Before the pandemic, most of my photography excursions were with other people along to share the sights and experience. Now, it’s rare to go out with anyone else. Sometimes there are other folks around, but I’m mostly by myself seeing beautiful things that no one else sees (even if there’s someone else there!).

Little Blue Heron Family(?) Little Blue Heron Family(?)

Going out alone is good for concentration and getting into a “photography flow“. But going out with others is also good.

Redish and reflection Reddish and reflection

When I made all of the images in this post (and many of the photos in recent posts), I was the only one there to witness what I photographed. I’m grateful that the universe arranges these scenes for me, but it seems like a lot of trouble for an audience of one.

Basking heron Basking heron

I suppose that’s not the right way to think about it. It’s not about me / us. The universe goes about its business regardless of whether any one or thing is there to observe (let’s set aside metaphysics and quantum mechanics for now).

It’s not creating things just for us. Although it seems like it if we’re the only one there.

Fly by Fly by

Isn’t it incredible that even in an urban area like Central Florida we can still at times enjoy nature in uncrowded or even empty places.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please be kind, take care of yourselves and each other – and if you can, get out and make some photos! Maybe I’ll see you out there!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved