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.
Sorry about the glitch last Thursday – I didn’t mean for this post to go out then. Hitting the wrong button in WordPress is embarrassing, but at least my email subscribers got to see an example of how my posts usually begin – as just a few words jotted down to expand on later. Here’s the rest of it.
In the grand scheme of life, photography isn’t required. We managed for most of our history without photos. And even today, with cameras in every cell phone, many people never make a photo. So is photography important?
Barred Owl Pair
The world is awash in geo-political problems. World leaders with nuclear weapons call each other names and threaten annihilation. Scientists say global warming is going to drown our coast lines. Storms and earthquakes cause massive destruction and loss of life. Watching the evening news is overwhelming and sometimes even depressing. In this world, how important is an activity like photography?
Images and video play an increasing role in documenting problems and news in our society. Ubiquitous cell phone cameras give us a look into life as it happens, views that were less likely to be seen in the past. Is that a good thing? In general I think so, even though what we now see all the time is often uncomfortable.
What about photos like the ones in this post? Are they important? Maybe not to you, but to me they are. When I’m out photographing I can forget all about many worrisome things and concentrate on an activity I enjoy. If I’m lucky I become completely absorbed in the process – “in the zone”. Worries drop away – at least for a time. And sharing the results may not be crucial, but I do think it’s worthwhile. Allowing others to see what I can and they can’t is an activity worth doing. The photos don’t have to worthy of the Louvre. But’s it’s nice to get one every once in a while that goes up on my wall.
These photos were all made at the Audubon Birds of Prey Center in Maitland Florida. They take in injured raptors, treat them, and (if they’re well enough) return them back to the wild. They’re able to release just over 40% of their raptor patients. Some birds (like the ones pictured here are too severely injured, so they become permanent residents that we can photograph when we visit.
The images don’t have a lot to do with the ideas in the post. But they’re good examples. The act of making them got me out of the house to meet a friend. We enjoyed seeing the birds, and our donations will help the Audubon society to continue to help injured raptors.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos – it’s important!
Again in 2011, I’ve been blessed with a huge amount of photo opportunities. The 2011 folder on my hard drive takes up about 178 GB of space. Wow – good thing storage is so cheap now days! I’m still using the following system to rate my photos. The numbers in parentheses are the counts for 2011 .
1 star – The photo is interesting (262)
2 stars – The photo is worth showing to others (400)
3 stars – The photo is the best of (or one of the best of ) any given photo shoot (81)
4 stars – My favorite photo of a year (1)
5 stars – My favorite photo ever (none, I’m not done making photos yet!)
Photos without stars are seconds or not so good versions of other photos. I usually keep them, but they probably won’t get any more attention. I’ve been using this system consistently, and it seems to work for me. I’ve reviewed my 2011 photos and selected what I think are my best. Of course, this is all subjective and my opinion only. Feel free to disagree, but I hope you’ll enjoy looking at the ones I’ve picked.
Here we go. I have 3 mammals, 3 birds, 2 landscapes, and 3 miscellaneous subjects …
November: Bobcat in Tree, Circle B Bar Reserve. I’ve seen Bobcats in the wild before, but I’ve never been able to take a good photo of one. We saw this one resting up on a branch and it posed for a while. In this image, I think it was trying to figure out how to get through the crowd of humans at the base of the tree. More info: https://edrosack.com/2011/11/24/landscapes-and-bobcat-at-the-circle-b-bar-reserve/
July: Baby mountain goat, Mt. Evans summit, Colorado. There were several families of mountain goats on the way up and at the summit. This little one posed for me so I could frame him against the out of focus mountains in the background. It’s amazing to watch them scramble from rock to rock and never slip. More info: https://edrosack.com/2011/07/10/mount-evans-redux/
March: Tomb of the unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery. I’d never been to Arlington before this trip. As a US Navy Veteran and a patriot, I have to admit it made a huge impression on me. More info: https://edrosack.com/2011/03/19/washington-dc/
Greenwood Urban Wetlands is a 19 acre park in downtown Orlando and was created in 1991 to help handle the sometimes massive rainwater runoff in the area. The park is right next to Greenwood municipal cemetery, where many of Orlando’s notables have been buried since 1880.
Venus Rising: Pre-dawn pond at Greenwood Park – This is a two image composite that I hand merged in Photoshop.
I arrived before dawn a couple of Saturday’s ago. I’d heard about it on Flickr and seen photos others had made there, although I still wasn’t sure what to expect. I was hoping for a sunrise photo, but the sky was very clear and I didn’t know the area. So, I picked a spot near the parking area and set up for the image above. For this one, I made two exposures (one for the sky and one for the ground) and merged them as described in this post. I like the way it turned out, especially with the morning star Venus rising, and the leaves and flowers on the left.
Kevin M. joined me a bit later and we walked around exploring. There were a few birds (coots, wood ducks, egrets, Great Blue Heron) in the small lakes, but nothing too unusual. We’d heard about an eagle nest nearby, so we decided to look for it in Greenwood Cemetery.
The nest was easy to find, since there were two juvenile eagles perched right next to it calling quite often. We made several photos while we waited for better light and were eventually able to get the birds facing us with the sun at our backs. These two young birds were flying between trees in the area, but didn’t act like they knew much at all about feeding themselves. They seemed to be waiting for the parents to bring back food – but that didn’t happen while we were there.
We also saw a very pretty Wood Duck pair in nice light, a couple of Barred owls, and some very aggressive Blue Jays (harassing the owls) on the way out. You can see the other photos I made in this Flickr set.
Info for Photographers
There’s not much to work with for landscapes. But there’s a surprising variety of birds for such an urban setting. Make sure you walk through both the park and cemetery if you go. You could also drive through the cemetery if you don’t have time to walk.
Take appropriate lenses for your subjects. Mostly long lenses for the birds. A flash might help control the contrast for the subjects back in the leaves (owls).
Best time to visit:
February – March might allow eagle nesting activity to be observed.
This close by park may be an opportunity to snag a few keeper shots for your bird portfolio, and won’t take too long to check out.
Halloween 2012 update: Don Price, the Greenwood Cemetery Sexton, offers guided moonlight walking tours once a month where you can learn about Orlando and the people who have contributed to the history of the city. The tour is usually crowded and reservations are required. Go to the cemetery website and click on “Moonlight Walking Tours” for more info.
Hello again, readers! I apologize for a somewhat lengthy post, but today I wanted to catch you up on photo related happenings over the last couple of weeks – so there are several topics worth mentioning.
Circle B Bar Reserve
A week ago (Saturday, 22 Jan), I returned to the Circle B Bar over in Lakeland Florida with the Photography Interest Group. The first time I wrote about this place, I said: “I’ve only been to the Circle B once, and need to go several more times to get an idea of how consistent the photo ops there are.” Well, the second visit lived up to the first, starting with a quite pretty dawn:
Dawn at the Circle B Bar Reserve
One of the highlights of this trip was seeing a Barred Owl and getting a relatively good photo of it. The owl was high in a tree and ended up attracting quite a crowd before it got tired of us and flew off. The lighting was a bit tough – I’m glad I had my flash and Better Beamer ready.
Barred Owl watches photographers
We also sighted Ospreys, Red Shouldered Hawks, a Red Bellied Woodpecker, Whistling Ducks, and many other birds. Unfortunately, the beautiful yellow sunflowers that were all over the place last time are no longer there. They are seasonal and to see them you’ll have to return around mid to late November next year. All in all, a very nice trip and the Circle B definitely lived up to its reputation once again. You can look at more of my photos from the Circle B in this set on Flickr.
Black Point Wildlife Drive
Yesterday, I visited Black Point again. I’m not sure why, but this place seems to be really great for photos with reflections. Quite often the water is extremely calm and you can see scenes like these:
Clear day, calm water
Spoonbill and reflection
There was a lot of activity at Black Point. We spotted an otter, Hooded Mergansers, Belted Kingfishers, Hawks, and many other species. We also paused for a while to watch a pair of Ospreys fishing. They were too far away for good photos, and never came closer even though we had fish jumping out of the water right in front of us! You can look at more of my photos from Black Point in this set on Flickr.
Scrub Ridge Trail
A couple of weeks ago on Flickr, I saw some very nice photos of Florida Scrub Jays, made by “moonfloweryoli“. I commented on them and she mentioned a trail in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge where she saw them. This led us to an add a second expedition to yesterday’s Black Point visit. We wanted to try to observe this unique species that only lives here in Florida. To make a long story short, we tried hard, but we never saw any. We’ll have to go back and try again. Kevin K. did make this image to document our search:
“Wilbur” and “Donuts” looking for the hard to find Florida Scrub Jay (image courtesy of Kevin Krause); Your humble author is the one on the left.
Alligator Farm and Gatorland blogs
A quick update for those of you looking for info on the St. Augustine Alligator Farm or Gatorland. I reported back in November that Gatorland was canceling its photographer early entry program. The Gatorland Blog hasn’t been updated since then, so it’s a bit hard to find out what’s going on at that park.
Meanwhile, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm announced they would continue their photographer early entry program. They’ve been running a mailing list on Yahoo where you could find information, and last week they announced that they’ll be discontinuing this and starting a blog of their own. It’s now up and running, check it out.
Sigma 150 – 500
Finally, here’s an equipment update. I’ve been doing much of my bird photography since early last year with a Sigma 150 – 500 OS lens. I’ve been very happy with it and one of my few complaints was that the Optical Stabilization was a bit noisy. Lately, it’s developed a “chatter” where it sounds like the OS motor is vibrating back and forth. While it does this, you can see the image vibrating through the viewfinder. I called Sigma and they said to send it back. So I’ll be without it for a while. I’ll let you know how it turns out.