Category Archives: St. Johns River

More from Wayside Park

Since I hadn’t gone through my photos from that morning in Sanford, Florida, I used an iPhone image I like from under the bridge at Wayside Park for last week’s blog post. I’ve processed the others now and have several more that I’m partial to.

This is on the old bridge that you could see on the right hand side in the previous blog (https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/52187355071/in/dateposted-public/). I like the low viewpoint, composition, and tones.

Old BridgeOld Bridge (July 2022)

For comparison purposes, here’s another photo I made in almost the exact same spot back in 2013. There have been a few changes in the vegetation and the bridge structure. (And the photographer too!)

The old bridge over the St. John's RiverThe old bridge over the St. John’s River (October 2013)

And finally, when I thought I was finished at this place, I walked to the end of the bridge to look around. For some reason I didn’t do that in 2013. I’m glad I did this time, because the scene was pretty pleasant!

A quiet morning on the St. Johns riverA quiet morning on the St. Johns river. Looking South East toward Lake Monroe

For those of you viewing this on the web, the header image is a small portion enlarged so you can see the person fishing on the dock. They didn’t catch anything while I watched, but I’m guessing they still enjoyed the morning as much as I did!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you think you’re done, walk a little farther – you might be pleasantly surprised and make a nice photo!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Below the Bridge

The entrance to Lake Monroe Wayside Park is on the right hand side of Highway 17-92 as you leave Sanford heading east. It’s just before the bridge over the St. Johns River and there’s a boat ramp and some interesting views there. I hadn’t been in a while and decided to go last Friday.

The river was like a mirror and the early morning sky was pretty too. This was what it looked like under the highway:

Below the RoadwayBelow the Bridge (iPhone, panorama mode)

I published a black and white photo from the same spot back in 2013. You can see it in this post: https://edrosack.com/2013/11/17/panoramic-alternatives-iphones-and-more/.

I suppose the point of this story is that we should occasionally revisit places. They might be worth photographing again.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, revisit a spot and make some photos – you might like them even even better than the last time.

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Venus and the Moon Over the Marsh

I stopped by the St. Johns river at the SR 50 boat ramp before sunrise recently. The sky was a bit plain, but there were a few clouds low on the horizon with some pre-sunrise color showing. And Venus was visible below and to the left of a waning crescent moon, which added some interest. I made a few photos hoping to capture what I was seeing.

Venus and the Moon over the MarshVenus and the Moon over the Marsh

This image is a four frame panorama that I stitched together in Photoshop. Separate exposures of the sky and foreground helped me record a wider field of view and control the enormous dynamic range of the light. I like the way it turned out. If you click on it, you’ll go to Flickr.com where you can see a larger version as well as zoom in.

The St. Johns is the longest river in Florida and there are a huge number of scenic photo ops along its 310 mile length. I’ve collected a few of my photos of it in various spots. You can view them in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157624991879878. And you can see some associated blog posts at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/st-johns-river/.

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

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Working a scene

Sometimes when I’m out photographing at dawn, I’ll see someone stop, hop out of their car, make a single photo, then get back in and leave. Will they get a good image? Maybe. But they’d have a better chance if they could invest some time trying different compositions and settings to see what works best.

Brewing storm Brewing Storm: 6:24 am, 20 mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, Blended exposures (2.5 and 0.8s)

On a recent morning at dawn, I photographed a photogenic thunderstorm from the St. Johns River boat ramp on SR 50 for about an hour. As the light changed, I tried different lenses and techniques and I’m pretty happy with the images I came home with.

Sunrise through a thunderhead Sunrise through a thunderhead: 6:52 am, 39 mm, ISO 100, f/11, Blended exposures (1/125 – 1/30s)

I thought you’d like to see these examples from that morning. In each caption, I’ve listed the time I made the photo and the settings I used. Maybe you can take away some ideas for your next dawn photo excursion. If you have any questions or want more details about what I did, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer.

A storm across the river A storm across the river: 7:24 am, 160mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/320s exposure, 5 frame panorama

Header image: Thunderhead and mist over the marsh: 6:39 am, 105 mm, ISO 100, f/8, Blended exposures (1/4 – 1/60s). Full image at https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/51378599007/in/dateposted-public/

The light and colors varied tremendously while I was there. I enjoyed watching them evolve and using different settings / focal lengths to capture the changes and include or isolate parts of the scene.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Be careful out there and please take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, work a scene!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

(Blue) Spring Into the New Year!

Editors note: Here’s a post from our visiting correspondent MaryKate – this time from right here in Central Florida.  Enjoy!

Manatee Couple at Blue Spring State Park
Manatee Couple at Blue Spring State Park

I recently met a friend at Blue Spring State Park, the “Winter Home of Manatees,” for a nature walk and manatee viewing. With many offshoots and observation decks, the wide wooden boardwalk makes for a safe place to enjoy nature and view wildlife during COVID – – – IF you get there early.

Boardwalk at Blue Spring State Park
Boardwalk at Blue Spring State Park

The manatee viewing was amazing, even with “just” ~150 manatees on the day that we went. The weather was cooler the week before, and manatee counts were ~ 400! Regardless, we saw plenty of manatees, fish, birds, beautiful scenery, and even this upsidedown-atee!

Upside-down-atee
Upsidedown-atee

The park opens at 8 am, and I arrived around 7:55 am, but I was stuck in a line of cars waiting to get in. I’d suggest arriving by 7:40 or 7:45 am to skip the traffic. You can purchase a park vehicle admission pass in advance here, but you can only purchase same day. I recommend buying in the morning right before you head over.

Blue Spring State Park
St. Johns River at Blue Spring State Park Entrance

It was relatively empty at the beginning of our morning, and all park visitors were wearing masks and keeping socially distanced. However, by about 9:30 am, it started to get crowded, and many of the late arrivers weren’t as well behaved.

Blue Spring State Park
Coming Up for Air

Florida Manatees are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. While this status was officially downgraded in 2017 from endangered, the population is still at risk: in 2020, over 600 Florida Manatees died, with 114 of those deaths being caused by humans (i.e. boat strikes). Want to help? Consider donating to Save The Manatee Club, a nonprofit founded by Jimmy Buffet and Bob Graham, and the world’s leading manatee conservation organization.

Blue Spring State Park
Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints.

You can read a couple of previous posts on Mantees and Blue Spring State Park here: https://edrosack.com/2014/01/24/blue-spring-state-park/ and here: https://edrosack.com/2017/01/28/manatees/.

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

©2020, MK Rosack and Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Slow Photography

No, not slow shutter speeds. Photography itself is slow.

It usually is this time of year. Our heat, humidity, and bugs have all become bothersome. And at least for me, wildlife seems harder to spot. This year we also have a pandemic to deal with – especially here in Florida. So my photo motivation has been sluggish. I did end up taking my camera out three times last week and came home with a couple images that may be worth sharing.

I saw a mention (On Flickr? Can’t remember. ) of a place called Lemon Bluff. It’s a small Volusia County park / boat ramp on the St. Johns river. I’m not sure how many photos you could find there, but it would be a great place to launch a kayak.

St. Johns RiverSt. Johns River from the Lemon Bluff boat ramp

I also brought my camera on two short trips into Orlando. I wanted to see how the swans are doing. Our first visit was cancelled by a rain storm, however the second one went a little better.

Almost grownAlmost grown – These Lake Davis cygnets are just about as big as Mom and Dad.

Both families are doing well. There are still two cygnets at Lake Davis. Lake Cherokee has three – they’re a little smaller. I’m not posting photos of them because they were napping in the grass right in front of an ugly irrigation pump. I should file a complaint with the swan modeling agency!

You can see my other St. Johns River photos in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157624991879878.

And this search will bring up other posts about Lake Cherokee and Lake Davis: https://edrosack.com/?s=Lake+Davis+cherokee.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there and take care of each other. And if you can – stay motivated and make some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Mother Nature’s rewards

I headed out toward Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge with KM and KK last Friday.

We stopped by the boat ramp at the St. Johns River on US 50 for sunrise.  There weren’t many clouds, so my hopes for color weren’t too high.  But there was a nice pop as the sun came over the horizon and I zoomed in to capture this moment:

St. Johns SunriseSt. Johns Sunrise – a peaceful pasture

I had my infrared modified camera in the car.   When I saw these fishermen leaving, I pulled it out and hurried over to make an image.  Despite rushing, I like the way it turned out.  The clarity that IR brings to this image is nice, and the wake and boat reflection are pretty too. I’m glad I had the camera all setup to go before I grabbed it!

Early departureEarly departure – Monochrome, infrared

KM is an ace at spotting birds and he called out this Merganser.  When I got home, I thought at first it might be a Common Merganser – which I’ve never seen before.  But it turns out their range doesn’t include Florida.  So this was a Red-breasted – which I have seen, although infrequently.

Red-breasted MerganseRed-breasted Merganser

There are a large number of Northern Shovelers around Black Point Wildlife drive.  Of course they were mostly far away and when they were close, they seemed to always face in the wrong direction.  But patience paid off when this male eventually swam slowly in front of us in good light and dragged his very handsome reflection with him.

Male Northern ShovelerMale Northern Shoveler

Thistle plants are also all over on Black Point – this one came with a Bee on it.  I made a four image panorama to record the whole subject with higher magnification and resolution.  Sometimes I run into issues stitching these together.  But this one turned out well:

Thistle and beeThistle and Bee

KK called out this Snipe in the mangroves along the canal and we of course stopped to photograph it.  The light was poor, with the sun behind it.  When I first looked at my photo on the computer, it was very washed out.  I added some dehaze in Lightroom and was pleased with the result.

Wilsons SnipeWilson’s Snipe

Smaller birds were flitting around near the rest stop on Black Point.  I usually find these hard to photograph.  The light is bad way back in the reeds and they move quickly.  It’s tough to focus on them through all the obstructions.  I was shooting toward the sun for this image too and it didn’t look good at first on my computer.  Thankfully it’s in focus and  there’s a lot of latitude for processing with a RAW format file.  I used local adjustments with the radial filter in Lightroom to boost the exposure and visible detail on the bird.

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat

When we left on this trip, I had no idea what we’d see and photograph.  There are no guarantees.  I’ve learned though, that Mother Nature usually rewards us when we pay attention to her – in this case with a nice sunrise and several birds that I rarely see.  And a little post processing rewarded me with improved photos.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Another Central Florida Morning

I decided to wander over towards Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge early last Friday.  My shutter finger was itching and I had to get a camera out and scratch it.  I was running a little late and wouldn’t have made it to the coast for sunrise, so I stopped at C S Lee Park on the St. Johns River on my way.  Nature provided quite a show.

Another Central Florida MorningAnother Central Florida Morning

I don’t know what this effect is called –  when the sun just kisses the cloud bottoms and leaves  higher clouds darker and less colorful.  I don’t see it often enough.  Maybe that’s because it only lasts for such a short time.  According to my EXIF data, I made this image in the middle of a 2-3 minute window and the colorful streaks were much less prominent just before and after.  Whenever I do see this, I’m happy to make a photo!

The Jolly Gator Fish Camp Bar & Grill is next to the park, right across a shallow water filled area from where I made the sunrise photo.  I liked the reflection and symmetry and made this image before I moved on.  I’ve never actually been inside this place.  Maybe I’ll talk Lynn into going there for lunch with me.

Jolly Gator Fish Camp & GrillJolly Gator Fish Camp & Grill

MINWR has a web page you can check for road closures.  Currently, it won’t do you much good –  info on Gator Creek, Biolab, and Black Point is all out of date.  Last Friday, Gator Creek and Biolab Roads were open.  They’ve been re-surfaced and are in good shape.  And Black Point Wildlife Drive was closed due to the amount of rain we’ve had recently.  I hope they keep the road closures page more current.  I sent them a note.

I didn’t have much luck with birds or wildlife on this trip.  So I’ll leave you with two more scenic photos.

Lone Pine and Clouds at DawnLone Pine and Clouds at Dawn (color version)

This tree is along the left side of the road leading into the Bairs Cove boat ramp.  The combination of early morning light, a lone pine tree, and the clouds in the background stopped me in my tracks.  I made this image and the last one out my car window.  Fortunately there wasn’t a lot of traffic.  With these two photos, you can see how the infra-red sensor renders light compared to an unmodified camera.

Lone Pine and Clouds at DawnLone Pine and Clouds at Dawn (IR, B&W version)

I’ve collected other photos from the St. Johns River in this album on Flickr and from Merritt Island in this one.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Monroe Wayside Park

Some mornings, sunrise isn’t very special. Maybe nature’s tired and saves up energy for one of those truly spectacular dawns we get occasionally.  What do I do when that happens?   Just go ahead and make photos anyway – rehearsing is a good thing too.

Sunrise at the old bridgeSunrise at the old bridge

This park is on the river side of 17-92, just past I-4, heading toward Debary.  They’ve left part of the old bridge there and I thought there might be interesting compositions to work with at sunrise.  I was hoping for clouds and color too, but it wasn’t meant to be.  This is one frame I like, but  I don’t love the sky.

Oh well – next time.  Photography Philosophy:  Practice and persistence will prevail!

Other St. Johns River images:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157624991879878

Other Lake Monroe & Sanford images:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157656060285125

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A bad day for fish…

Photography Interest Group members haven’t been doing much photography together lately.  I was happy that Kevin M. arranged a trip to Viera Wetlands last Friday.  Kevin K. also went along.

Early morning calmEarly morning calm – Along the St. Johns River where it crosses HW 50

On the way, we stopped at a favorite sunrise spot and even though it’s been well photographed, managed to get images we liked.

At Viera, we drove around the main cells a couple of times and saw some interesting things.  This Tricolored Heron had speared a large fish and was trying to swallow it.   It couldn’t hold on and dropped it just after I made this photo.

Tri-colored HeronTri-Colored Heron, this one with breakfast.

We saw a few of the regular birds there, but the ducks and other winter migrants don’t seem to have arrived yet.  On the way out, Kevin M. talked us into taking a quick spin around the Click Ponds and I’m glad he did.  The water’s been low there for a while and the birds are having a feast.  The shallow water concentrates the fish and makes them easy prey.  Birds lined up and grabbed fish out of this small stream that flowed toward the low point in the pond.

Chow lineChow line – The water level in the Click Ponds at Viera Wetlands was very low yesterday. 

Over in the corner was a very large mixed flock also enjoying the banquet.  I spotted Wood Storks, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Glossy and White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills, Black Vultures, and a White Pelican in this one photo.

A large flock of birdsA large flock of feeding birds

So, it wasn’t a good day for fish, but the birds enjoyed it.

I have many posts about Viera Wetlands here on the blog  that you can scroll through at this link, and many photos you can look through in this album on Flick.

You might also be interested in this quite literal “behind the scenes” look at a very handsome gentleman photographing the sunrise on Friday morning:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/34024553@N08/29844690526/in/dateposted/

Oh, and I might be joking about the handsome gentleman part    😉

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.