Hurricane Ian was a slow moving, high wind storm when it came ashore last Wednesday. The news and photos from the Fort Meyers area are horrific. By the time it passed through Winter Springs Wednesday and Thursday it had weakened, but we still had ~40 MPH sustained winds and gusts much stronger than that.
There are tree limbs and some whole trees down in our neighborhood, and we have what looks like minor damage to one place on our roof. We lost power, water, and internet on Thursday but power and internet came back after a little over 24 hours. Water pressure is back too, but we’re under a boil water notice due to water main breaks.
Winter Springs recorded more than 15 inched of rain and there’s widespread flooding in the Orlando area. Fortunately, our home is up on a slight ridge, so the flooding is not too close. We do have a couple of the major roads through our neighborhood blocked due to flood damage. The city has said some areas will need to be rebuilt so it may take a while to reopen them.
Flooding along Winter Springs Blvd.
Lynn and I have ben very lucky. I hope all of you are doing well. And if you’ve been impacted by this storm I hope your recovery efforts are well underway. Stay positive, be kind, and take care of yourselves and each other.
It’s been a little over a month since my last post. I enjoyed writing this one after such a long break.
I went over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge toward the end of August. I wasn’t expecting to see much, but I wanted to get out and photograph something. I’m glad I did, because the sunrise was one of the best I’ve ever watched.
That photo’s from Veterans Memorial Park on the west side of the Indian River looking east toward MINWR and Kennedy Space Center. I was concentrating on the sunrise when I noticed several other folks had shown up. One was Pat H., who I’ve known for a while. I’m glad I ran into her since she was there to photograph the Artemis 1 SLS rocket on the pad at launch complex 39B. At the time, the planned launch was a couple days later. After we talked, I went and got my long lens to make a close up photo of it (the header image). You can see a higher res version on Flickr at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/52311586034/in/dateposted-public/. I’d hoped to include a photo of the launch in today’s post too, but it’s been postponed. Hydrogen is tricky stuff!
After that I went through Gator Creek Road, Black Point Wildlife Drive, and also stopped by the Bairs Cove boat ramp. This kayaker had gotten up very early to go fishing. I didn’t see him catch anything while I was there though.
A fine morning for fishing
I was happy to find this pretty, young Roseate Spoonbill and its reflection at one of the first corners on Gator Creek.
Other birds were a bit scarce, but this Loggerhead Shrike flew right in front of my car and landed in a mangrove. I quickly rolled down the passenger window and pointed my lens at it. Auto focus is amazing now days. My camera locked on the bird in the middle of all those branches at the first shutter press (no – that doesn’t happen all the time!)
A Bird in the Bush (is worth two in the hand?)
I also saw some gators and a raccoon on Black Point, and 5 or more manatees at Bairs Cove – but didn’t get good photos of any of them.
Changing the subject, I was browsing my archives one day and found this image I’d never processed. It’s from one of my previous cameras (an IR converted Olympus E-PL5). I ran it through Lightroom’s enhance detail and the Topaz Sharpen AI plug in and it came out with an amazing amount of detail. I like the subject rendering and the background separation too.
In other news, we’d planned some travel but that got postponed while we dealt with a broken central air conditioner here in hot, humid Florida. Supply chain issues mean it takes a very long time to get a replacement compressor (and other parts). Hopefully that’s behind us now (I hope Murphy doesn’t read this). As a side note, I didn’t realize Portable ACs work as well as they do!
Sorry to ramble on for so long. I suspect that my posts will be longer since they’re less frequent now. I hope all of you are doing well. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!
I’ve been thinking about this blog and what it should be like going forward. I haven’t reached any conclusions about revising the purpose or content, but I am going to revise the schedule.
What’s around the bend?
Over 15+ years, I’ve written 758 posts: an average of over fifty a year. In recent years, I’ve been publishing every Sunday and I’m finding that pace harder to sustain. Coming up with something worthwhile each week is a challenge, especially since I’ve been photographing less than I used to. I guess I’m suffering a bit from writer’s / photographer’s block.
So I’m going to shift to an irregular schedule and publish when inspired. Instead of searching for something every week that I hope will interest all of you and me too, I’m going to update the blog when I have something to share. My goal will be once per month, but I’m not going to force it.
I’m very grateful for all of you that subscribe and for everyone’s visits, views, comments, and likes – thanks! Remember to stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if / when you can, make some photos!
I have a lot of (too many?) images in my Lightroom Catalog. I like to look through them sometimes. It brings back memories of people and places I haven’t seen for a while. It’s easy to lose track of time doing this. And if I run across a promising image that I’ve never processed or published before, I can end up spending even more time “stuck in the archives”.
There’s a bit of water / mud in the riverbed, left over from a rain storm several days earlier. And there’s a group of hikers on a ridge on the right hand side. If you’re viewing this on the web, you’ll be able to see the header image, which is a small crop showing the hikers.
Late afternoon at Zabriskie Point (75mm, f/8 @ 1/80s, ISO 100).
When I went through my photos after the trip, I passed over this one. The sun’s position just out of the frame on the top made the light very harsh. The RAW image was washed out, the riverbed was over exposed, and the terrain was a bit underexposed. There were also a few ugly lens flare spots through the middle of the frame. I can see why I didn’t bother with it back then.
Anyway, I decided to try and process it and spent some time applying various quantities of modern software magic to it. I like the result and I think it was worth getting stuck in the archives for this photo. I’m really glad I saved the file!
My weather app said the wind was 2 mph – about as calm as it gets. Very good for low light photography. Not so good for keeping biting insects away, but artists have to suffer, right?
Paddle wheel and yachts. I Like the juxtaposition of the aft end of the St. Johns Rivership Company’s Barbara Lee with the modern yachts. (34mm, f/11 at 15s, ISO 100)
If the wind’s smearing your subjects, you can try making an extra frame at a higher ISO value to increase your shutter speed. Then you can blend the water and sky from your long exposure frame with the faster shutter speed frame to reduce bluring. But it’s not ideal: the higher ISO may reduce image quality and blending can be tricky with moving subjects. I’m glad I didn’t have to do that for these – things were stock-still!
Peaceful Harbor (24mm, f/5.6 @ 25s, ISO 100).
By the way, I was going to call this “Minimal Motion Marina Morning” but that seemed like too much alliteration, even for me.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make a motionless photo!
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.
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 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 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!
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:
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.
I was getting a little exercise on a morning walk last Wednesday when I noticed some birds in the distance soaring on a thermal. As I got closer I could tell they were Swallow-tailed Kites.
I always enjoy seeing these birds. They’re very distinctive and watching them use their tails as a rudder to swoop, glide, roll, and zoom through the sky is fascinating. They migrate about 5000 miles from South America and arrive in Florida in the spring, spending several months here to breed and then returning south in the late summer.
It’s not uncommon to see them in my neighborhood, and even over my house. But they always appear when I’m not ready to photograph them. This time was no different. The only camera I had with me was my phone and I was sure they’d be gone by the time I could get home and get my big lens out. As I got closer, the birds circled lower in the sky and I decided to try making some photos anyway.
Swallow-tailed Kites circling overhead in our neighborhood (click on the photo to see a larger version on Flickr)
I used the built in camera app with the 3x lens (50mm equivalent) and the output set to RAW mode. I made about 30 frames, hoping some would turn out.
I went through them when I got home and picked the best ones to process. Most of the rejects were due to framing, exposure, or chromatic aberrations / fringing. Their colors make them hard to expose correctly and the white feathers were blown out in many of the frames. There was very distracting blue / purple fringing along wing edges in the ones that were made at f/1.8. The f/2.8 ones didn’t have that issue. This left me with just a handful of images to process.
I ran them through Adobe’s “Enhance / Super Resolution” and used masks and subject and sky selections to make local adjustments. I also set the sharpening to zero in Lightroom and used Topaz Sharpen AI as a last step.
A couple turned out OK, but I really wish I’d had my big lens with me!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – make some photos, even if all you have is your phone camera!
The sun was nicely positioned behind this rock formation but it made the light extremely harsh. I used a four frame exposure bracket to try to capture the dynamic range in the scene. When I got home I worked on the image but could never get a color version I liked. I ended up converting it to monochrome for this blog post.
Anyway, I saw it while browsing through my Lightroom catalog and decided to try again. I started from the RAW source files and used the experience I’ve gained since then along with the capability we now have available in recent software. This was the result:
A red rock spire in front of the sun and cloudless sky
Lightroom’s enhanced detail RAW conversion, merge to HDR, and sky selection masks were especially handy along with the better adjustments available with Adobe’s latest process version software. I also ran it through Topaz AI sharpen as a final step.
I like this 2022 version better than the 2009 one. Once again, I’m glad I save my RAW source files. Back then, it would have been hard to imagine the software we have today. Do you have any older images that you’re not completely happy with? Maybe it’s a good time to dig them out and try again with new software.
Also: Happy Fathers Day to every dad out there! There’s nothing as precious as your love, as important as your advice and support, and as educational as the examples you set.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – when you make photos, save your RAW files!
This is the best photo I’ve been able to make of a Northern Flicker.
Northern Flicker (Click to see a larger version where you can zoom in a couple of levels.)
This one is yellow shafted and based on the black “mustache” a male. There’s also a western / red shafted variety but I haven’t seen one of those.
I don’t spot them very often although they have been in the blog before (https://edrosack.com/tag/northern-flicker/). The first photo I made of one was back in May of 2013. It’s a blurry image of the bird in flight, fleeing my camera. They seem to be very wary and for me nearly always leave as soon as I see one – which explains why it’s hard to get a good photo.
This bird acted like that too, but only flew short distances and I was able to watch him for a while. Finally he landed on top of a mangrove tree and I made this photo. The pose could be better but I like the warm early morning glow, the catch light in his eye, and the feather detail. Lest you think I was crowding him, that’s not the case. I’m not sure of the exact distance but the focal length I used was equivalent to 1260mm so he was pretty far away.
“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”
John Quincy Adams
So persevere – it may take years and several tries on a lucky day to get a good photo.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can — keep making some photos!