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 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 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!
This photo I made in Greenwood Cemetery near downtown Orlando has been in my archives since April of 2011. I haven’t posted it before, but it seems appropriate for this USA Independence Day weekend.
Young Bald Eagle – You can’t see it very well from this angle, but It’s actually two eagles – the extra feathers on the left belong to a second one.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The Bald Eagle is one of the symbols of our country. And to me this young eagle watching us is symbolic of what’s going on in the United States now.
In one sense our country is old – 1776 was 244 years ago. But in another sense, we’re still immature like this young eagle.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The USA is a country founded on ideas and ideals. But it’s still growing and imperfect. We have a lot left to do before all people are equal and able enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We may never be a perfect union. But I believe in the ideals our country is founded on. And I believe each one of us must work hard to make every independence day more perfect than the last one.
Love your family.
Treat others as you would like others to treat you.
Hang in there and take care of each other.
Happy birthday, America. Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog.
Ages ago when I was young and starting out with photography, I used black and white almost exclusively. It was an economic choice, not esthetic. I could buy black and white film cheaply in bulk and do my own processing, which reduced cost substantially.
In today’s digital world I still photograph in black and white, but not exclusively and it’s not an economic choice anymore. Almost every modern digital camera has a black and white mode. And since I shoot in RAW format, I can experiment and choose what my final output will look like long after I press the shutter. There are many reasons to shoot black and white, but here are a couple you may want to think about:
1. Emphasize / reveal different things about a subject
The Lightroom B&W panel has sliders for 8 different colors. Converting from RAW can provide a lot more control than choosing the default B&W mode in your camera. When processing this photo, I used this to bring out detail and texture in the Osprey’s feathers, brighten its eye, and darken the sky background.
Here’s a before and after that compares the color and black and white versions. Which do you like?
2. Control harsh light and colors
I like both wildlife and landscape photography. Light is best for landscapes during the golden hours around sunrise and sunset and can be very harsh in the middle of the day. Black and white can help you control this and make a good photo even when the light is harsh. I mostly use my infrared converted camera in black and white mode for this, but a regular camera can also work. Here’s an example of some harsh mid-morning light that I think works well in IR/B&W:
I wish I knew how to predict what sunrise will be like. But I don’t, so I just show up and see how it’ll turn out. Here’s the first photo I made last Wednesday:
The water is wide
And this next photo is from nearly an hour later. The color and clouds were going strong the whole time!
Rays and reflection
That daybreak was remarkable. I’ve been out photographing some mornings where the colors only pop for a few moments. And I’ve been out other times where they don’t really pop at all. If any of you know how to predict this kind of thing, I really want to hear from you. If you too want to know, don’t ask me!
Well, our summer season has already arrived here in Central Florida. It’s hot and I was chased by many mosquitoes (and chewed on by a few) as I photographed the sun coming up. I think our recent afternoon thunderstorms have made the bugs worse.
And the birds seem to have moved on, or at least they’re hiding in the places I normally visit. There weren’t many to see along Gator Creek Road or Black Point Wildlife Drive. I did stop by the Green Heron nests that I bypassed on my last visit (https://edrosack.com/2020/05/17/minwr-11-may-2020/). I didn’t see any nesting activity, but this cooperative young one was still hanging around.
Youngster – This juvenile Green Heron has fledged and is out in the world fending for itself
And here’s one final image – a panorama of some trees that I thought were interesting in infrared.
Pines and palmettos
Changing the subject again – I hope all Dads out there are having a wonderful Fathers Day! Thank you for all you do – you make the world a much better place!
“Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father.” Lydia M. Child
I miss you Dad. I hope we made you as proud as our families make us.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there and take care of each other. And if you can – make some photos!
Yes, this is an unusual post for Central Florida Photo Ops – but it is camera and photography related so I’m going with it.
A while back I received this kit as a gift (thanks kids!). It sat in my camera cabinet for a long time waiting for me to ‘get round to it’. The forced stay at home time during the pandemic lockdown provided an opportunity to pull it out and get started.
The camera ends up looking very usable. It has a fixed F-stop (f/10) and shutter speed (1/80s) so you’ll control exposure by choosing and loading it with an appropriate film speed (ASA / ISO). The detachable 50mm lens can focus from .5 meters to infinity. The viewfinder is okay but as you might expect with an f/10 lens, works best in bright light.
I probably won’t run any film through this for a while, but if you’re interested, you can see photos people have made with them as well as other examples of the camera on Flickr at this search link: https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=Konstruktor
The kit’s supplied with decorations you can use to customize your camera. I chose the black ‘leather’ wraps and the ‘Leica’ like red dot for mine. This is an afternoon project and teaches a bit about how a camera goes together and works. if you want to get back to the basics with some film photography, give it a look.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay safe out there and take care of yourselves, your families, and your friends. And if you can, make some photos – or even a camera!
in·cred·i·ble, adjective: Very difficult or impossible to believe; extraordinary
There’s been a lot of buzz on the web recently about sky replacement – a genre of compositing. You take the sky from one photo and substitute it into a second photo. I first tried this way back in April of 2007. I wanted to make the Great Egret family in this nest at the St. Augustine Alligator farm stand out against the sky. You can compare the before and after in this slider:
The latest version of Skylum’s Luminar photo editor comes with a capability called “AI Sky Replacement. This “automagically” replaces the sky in your photos with a single click and will even adjust the rest of the lighting in the scene to better match the new sky. You can read more about it on their site: https://skylum.com/luminar.
Here’s another before / after slider showing my recent effort with their software. The original photo was made on Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. It was a very pretty morning, but the sky was a bit plain.
Here’s the whole completed image (click to see it in much higher resolution on Flickr).
I like how this one turned out too – the sun in the new sky is in the right place and the light direction, intensity, and color match the foreground nicely. It adds interest to the image. And it was easy – Luminar worked well in this case.
But it makes me a little uncomfortable. I guess because in this blog I want to tell you about what, where, and how to photograph. So I think you should expect to see things here that you can also see when you go to these places. This image is a composite, not a photo – you wouldn’t have seen this on that morning. I won’t say that I’ll never do compositing, but I do promise that I’ll disclose it if I do.
Now, am I going to criticize you if you replace skies in your photos? No, you can do whatever you want with your images. They’re your art. But in general, I do see folks on Flickr doing this a little too much. And if you do it you should disclose or tag it. And you should do it right – the results should look natural, not artificial. The light direction and color should match. The lens used in both photos should also match so scene elements are at the proper relative distance from each other. Go for the second definition of incredible (extraordinary), not the first (Very difficult or impossible to believe).
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. And if you can – make some photos!
As for everything that’s going on in the USA and the world right now … I’ll try to keep politics and non-photo opinions out of this blog. But if you’re interested in what I think about things, feel free to take a look at my Twitter feed (link on the right). Peace out.
Orlando Wetlands Park re-opened a few weeks ago and I met Kevin M. there for a socially distanced walk around. It was good to see him and good to go photographing. I posted a few images from that trip at the end of last week’s blog (the bonus baby birds). And here are some more.
This first one is a 600 mm combination wildlife / landscape image.
Kevin is pretty handy to have along! I hear Barred Owls calling all the time, even in our back yard – except I hardly ever get good photos of them. We both heard this one. I searched in vain and was happy when he found it so we could get some photos.
Who cooks for you? – Perched Barred Owl.
There are always interesting things to see at Orlando Wetlands. This Least Bitterns is a good example. It was flying back and forth between clumps of reeds fishing for its breakfast.
On the hunt – Fishing Least Bittern
I like this photo of a young Night Heron that’s just landed in a cypress tree.
A young Night Heron
And watching (and listening) to Whistling Ducks never gets old.
Formation flight – A pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks
Many people were enjoying the park on the Saturday we went. It was tough at times to give everyone six feet of clearance, but we managed. If you plan to visit, check their web page for the latest information on access, services, etc.
It’s still baby bird season here in Central Florida. I thought I’d update you on several I’ve been following.
Lake Cherokee Mute Swans
As of May 23rd, there are three surviving cygnets at Lake Cherokee (this photo is from May 17th). On April 25th, I counted 6.
Lake Davis Mute Swans
There are only two cygnets left at Lake Davis (this photo is from May 17th too). On April 25th, there were 5. They seem a little bit larger / older to me than the ones at Lake Cherokee.
There’s a lot of wildlife in and around Lake Davis and Lake Cherokee. One neighbor’s seen owls, hawks, eagles and otters there and it wouldn’t be surprising if there are alligators too. Life for these young swans is dangerous.
All of the remaining ones seem to be healthy and growing. Hopefully they’re big enough now to avoid any more predation.
Winter Park Ospreys
Wing exercise – These two chicks are still in this nest. In this photo (also from May 17th) Mom and sibling duck out of the way as the other one exercises its wings.
They’re growing fast and getting stronger. I don’t think it’ll be too long before they fledge.
Bonus baby birds
Here are a few other young birds I’ve seen in the last week. These are from a stroll at Orlando Wetlands Park.
Black-necked Stilts: Mom and chick
A young Night Heron in flight. I think this one is a Black-crowned Night Heron. They’re much more common around here than the Yellow-crowned ones.
Family cruise – Mottled Duck Mom and ducklings
Okay – that’s all of the baby bird news I have. Now for a more serious subject.
Here In the US, we celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May (the 25th). It’s a day to honor those who died defending our freedom and democracy. Every one of us owes them a debt we can never repay.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there, stay safe, and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. And if you can – make some photos!
Like most of you, it’s been two months since I’ve been any distance from home. I’ve kept making photos on walks in our neighborhood, in our yard, or along the way on necessary trips around town. But I’ve been itching to go out on a photo specific excursion and now our stay at home orders have been relaxed here in Florida. So last Monday I drove over on a solo trip to check out Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, one of my favorite nature locations.
I made two circuits around Black Point Wildlife Drive. I looked for sunrise spots and landscapes on the first pass. I might’ve seen a more colorful dawn than this one, but not recently. And the calm winds made for a lovely reflection.
Tranquil bay – Along Black Point Wildlife Drive, about 15 minutes before sunrise.
On the second pass I scouted for wildlife / birds. I didn’t see a tremendous number, but there were enough to make it interesting.
A little spotty: Spotted Sandpiper and reflection. I was happy to find this one since I seldom see them.
There was a feeding frenzy in one of the canals along Black Point. Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons and Ibis were feeding on plentiful minnows. The location was really nice since it was next to a path where I could walk out to get a better angle on the action. Often when I find these, they’re far away or hidden behind mangroves and hard to photograph.
Got one! A Snowy Egret catches a minnow.
If you click on any of these photos, you’ll be able to see a larger image on Flickr. You can then click again to enlarge it even more. Look at the Snowy Egret’s beak to see the minnow it caught in that splash.
Green Heron fly by
Speaking of Green Herons, there were three cars pulled over when I went around the corner at the rest stop on BPWD. People were out and gathered by the canal photographing something I couldn’t see back in the mangroves. In “olden” times, you could find a lot of interesting things by stopping next to other photographers. You still can I suppose, but now days I’m a little pandemic paranoid and getting too close to people can make me nervous. I passed up this stop and kept going – I learned later that they were looking at Green Heron nests. I have to say though that MINWR seems about as safe as you can get. It’s not hard to maintain social distancing by staying in your car and choosing where to get out.
The next image is from a little later on Gator Creek Road. At the time, I just liked the scene / composition with two birds on one rock. I didn’t realize what I had until I got home and looked at it on the computer.
Sharin’ Stone – Hopefully, I identified these correctly: A Semipalmated Plover on the left and a Semipalmated Sandpiper on the right. If so, it’s my first photo of both species. Two life birds in one image!
Which reminds me that I’ve wanted to mention an app. It’s called Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Labs and it’s very good at identifying birds using photos. It seems to be very accurate and complete. And it’s free! It called out the species in this photo for me (but I did ask my friend Kevin M’s. opinion too).
I saw other things on this trip too. Alligators (of course), an opposum, Black Neck Stilts, Roseate Spoonbills and more. One thing I didn’t see: the rock stacks on Gator Creek Road are gone – yay!
MINWR was a very good choice for my first post lockdown photo trip. I was tired when I got back, but I felt rejuvenated. I’m very lucky that I can find many of my favorite photo subjects so close to home. And last Monday at least, they weren’t collecting fees on BPWD.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there, stay safe, and take care of each other. And if you can – make some photos!
The first post on this blog went up on May 4th, 2007. Who would’ve thought it’d still be going 13 years, 672 posts, and 2000+ photos later?
It seems like I should have something profound to say in an anniversary post, but I’m not feeling any deep, heartfelt photography thoughts today to share. Instead, I’ll just remind you: We all carry our cell phones around. Make sure you take yours out and use its probably very good camera whenever something attracts your eye.
Here are a few sights I thought were interesting over the last several months when the only camera I had with me was my phone.
Light on leaves on a limb – From a neighborhood walk on May 2nd.
New palm fronds – From a neighborhood walk on April 29th.
Red Bottlebrush – From a neighborhood walk on March 14th.
Fire in the sky – Just before dinner at Cracker Barrel on February 7th.
Lynn and I are doing OK here. We’ve been sticking close to home and social distancing for what seems like forever. Florida has started to lift our pandemic lockdown a bit and I’m thinking about venturing out for a some careful exploration / exercise with my camera next week at one of the parks around Orlando that are beginning to open up again. It’d be nice to get out for a bit.
Changing the subject: I hope all Moms out there are having a wonderful Mothers Day! – Thank you for all you do – you make the world a much better place!
“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”
I miss you Mom.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there, stay safe, and take care of each other. And if you can – make some photos!