Tag Archives: birds

Sunrise movement

The best colors at dawn are often before sunrise – sometimes well before.  But a couple of minutes after sunrise last Wednesday, I was getting ready to move on when I noticed how colorful the horizon had become. So I decided to make one more photo. I was lucky I had my 24 – 200mm equivalent lens on and I zoomed all the way in. As the image flashed in my viewfinder, I saw a large bird close to the sun. When I recognized how many there were – all flying north (right to left), I made several more exposures.

Morning birdsMorning Movement

By the way, this would have been a great time to switch to video, but I’m never able to think of that when I should.

Anyway, I ended up with 7 frames spread over 9 seconds. I brought them all into layers in  Photoshop, aligned them, used curves to manually adjust each one so the exposures are the same and then blended birds from each frame into one composite image. I guess that’s cheating – but I think it’s a better representation of what I saw than any single frame I made.

I like images that reveal more the longer / closer you look at them. and this one does.  Please click on it to see it larger.

Here are a few more photos from that morning.  All were made at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

OspreyOsprey

Itchy birdItchy bird

YellowlegsYellowlegs

Birds usually don’t sleep in.  I’ve often seen them take off right at sunrise and head out to start their day.  It’s fun to watch.  Next time I’m going to try to remember to make a video!

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black Point Reconnaissance

Kevin M. invited me to go out photographing with him last weekend, but I begged off since Lynn and I had just returned from Pennsylvania and I was tired.  Instead we went out on Friday to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  Kevin K. was in town and he tagged along too.  It’s been over six months since the three of us have been on a photo excursion together.  Much too long!

We met way too early and car-pooled over, stopping at Titusville Marina Park for sunrise.  Riding together is great for catching up with friends!

Dawn on the Indian RiverDawn on the Indian River

Dawn was subdued until the sun actually rose, when the color finally popped.   Photoshop and the Topaz Clarity plug-in might’ve helped nature out a little too.

We saw several other photographers (and non-photographers) also out too early.

Early startEarly start on a calm, lovely morning

In general, summer isn’t the best time of year to bird in Central Florida – but there are exceptions to every rule-of-thumb.  For instance, Kathy B. found a Clapper Rail on Black Point at the end of June, and D. Cunningham enjoyed seeing the Swallow Tail Kites that visit us before heading to South America for the winter.

We didn’t spot any unusual birds on Friday, but we did enjoy photographing a few of the common ones.  This “Swamp Chicken” was posing with its reflection in good light;

Swamp ChickenCommon Gallinule

And so was this Tri-colored Heron:

Tri-color HeronTri-colored Heron

… and this Green Heron too (although it wasn’t kind enough to include a reflection):

Green HeronGreen Heron

We’ve been having torrential rains nearly every afternoon. and the water is very high around Black Point.   The St. Johns river is also high – the area around where it crosses SR 46 is flooded although it doesn’t come all the way up to the road.  I hope we don’t get a hurricane any time soon – adding even more water could be dangerous.

And the rain has created a great environment for mosquitos – expect to get bit unless you wear some repellent.

One more  (small, kind of sad) story.  We saw two pigs at Black Point.  The second was along the canal near the exit.  I snapped a few photos of it and when I got home and looked at them the poor thing was obviously deformed.  I don’t want to post my images, but if you’re curious, look at Kevin K’s photo.   It doesn’t look like a recent injury – this little pig is a tough survivor.  I wonder if it’s a birth defect or from an encounter with an alligator or other predator?

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Bird shots

When I go on a photo expedition I come home with many more images than I process, and I post even less.  So every once in a while I go through the photos in my Lightroom catalog and look for ones that I passed over, to see if my current self thinks they’re good enough to show or include in a blog post.

Caught in a sunbeamCaught in a sunbeam, Gatorland, May 2017

Anyway, I was doing this last week and ended up with the group of images in this post.  They made me  realize once again how wonderful Central Florida is for bird watching and bird photography.

Handsome Anhinga

Handsome Anhinga, Gatorland, May 2016

We have an enormous variety of avian wildlife here (iBird says 366 species in the state of Florida, Wikipedia says 524!).

SpoonbillSpoonbill, Black Point Wildlife Drive, January 2018

At some locations the larger birds are tolerant of people – especially if you stay in your car and / or take care not to stress them.  And nesting season provides opportunities that aren’t common elsewhere.

Hungry HeronsHungry Herons, Viera Wetlands, March 2018

I’ve added info to the captions on when and where I made these images so you can get an idea of what you’ll see.  The best time of year is probably January through May, but you can find  opportunities year round –  if you’re lucky and do your research.

Belted KingfisherBelted Kingfisher, Viera Wetlands, March 2018

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Trouble in post-process land

I found this scene while driving down Biolab Road along the Indian River in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge a few weeks ago.  The composition with three posts and a full complement of Cormorants caught my attention.  I really liked the graphical layout. But…

Three CormorantsThree Cormorants

I was shooting into the sun and the light was incredibly bright and harsh.  I struggled with the image and processed it two or three times without coming up with anything that I was happy with.

Then I vaguely recalled this photo that I made 10 years ago.

FishingFishing

I dug it out of my Lightroom archives and remembered how much I liked the image. It’s from about the same location and in very similar conditions. I used it to guide my post processing decisions and the result is the the image at the top.

I guess the moral of this story is that you can find inspiration from many places – even from your younger self.  Which seems like a very good thing.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Florida Photo Parable?

SandhIll Crane Family 1Sandhill Crane Family 1

A couple of weeks ago, I was on my morning walk with a friend when we spotted an adult Sandhill Crane and two colts. As we drew near, the adult started leading the colts around a corner and away from danger (us).  We kept walking and when they came back in sight,  there was only one young one with the parent.

SandhIll Crane Family 2Sandhill Crane Family 2

The adult obviously knew that one baby was missing.  It turned around and headed back toward us to find the second one – which had wandered in the opposite direction and was lost in the bushes on our right.

SandhIll Crane Family 3Sandhill Crane Family 3

The adult found the missing colt and led it back out to reunite the family.

Sand HIll Crane Family 4Sandhill Crane Family 4

And they went on their way. The adult looks like it’s going to give the wayward colt a stern talking to!

Watching something like this makes me think about how strong parenting instincts are in animals. We tried not to threaten these birds, but the adult crane was going to get the baby back even if it meant facing off against two large people.

Much like people should face off against a government that takes human children away from their families.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Looking for Landscapes at Loughman Lake

The sky wasn’t very promising on our way over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last week.  There were no clouds and we didn’t think the morning color would be any good.  Since it didn’t seem like we had a lot to lose, we decided to try a new sunrise spot:  Loughman Lake, on the south side of SR 46 just west of Mims.

Misty PalmsMisty Palms.  Olympus High Res mode, converted to B&W. ISO 200, 3.2 sec. @ f/6.3, 200 mm eq. (cropped to ~250mm eq.).  6:16 am.

We were right – at first.  There was hardly any color and I ended up converting this first image to black and white.  But there was some photogenic fog and around 15 minutes later, the color arrived along with a few clouds on the horizon.

Misty DawnMisty Dawn.  Olympus High Res mode, two frame stitched panorama.  ISO 200, 1/6 sec. @ f/6.3, 150 mm eq. 6:28 am

The images in this post are in time order and I’ve added exposure, focal length, and timing  info for you.  It turns out that I made all of these with a relatively long lens – unusual for my landscape photography.  I’m sure that there are some great wide-angle compositions there, but the shorter focal length photos I made that day aren’t as interesting to me as these.   I’m glad I brought the very versatile Olympus 12-100 f/4 zoom.

Morning Glory.  Olympus High Res mode, two frame stitched panorama. ISO 200, 1/80 sec. @ f/8, 200mm eq. 6:37 am

Here’s one more image.  I like the Great Blue Heron “statue” out in the water.

Misty morning marshMisty morning marsh. Olympus High Res mode.  ISO 200, 3.2 sec. @ f/6.3, 200mm eq. 6:45 am

 Loughman Lake turns out to be a good place to stop on the way over to MINWR.  But make sure you bring a longer lens!

As always, you can click on these photos to see larger versions.  And I have many sunrise and sunset landscape photos collected in this album on Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157624939669770.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black Point Wildlife Drive – May 8, 2018

Kevin K. and I went over to Black Point Wildlife Drive last Tuesday.  The water levels were low and although we saw quite a few birds, many of them were far from the road and hard to photograph.  Here are some images from the trip that I like.

Hunter's DanceHunter’s Dance – A Reddish Egret stalks fish in the marsh

These Egrets have a distinctive dance they use to scare up fish.  It seems to work for them!

Morning minnow mealMorning minnow meal

Green Herons use a different technique.  This one was wading carefully through the mangrove roots on the side of a canal looking for a snack.

Stalking in the MangrovesStalking in the Mangroves

And finally, here’s a photo of a Great Egret taking off from a tree beside the trail.

Great Egret LaunchGreat Egret Launch

This one was a little slow – normally birds are gone by the time I get my camera ready!

You can click on these photos to see larger versions on Flickr.  My Black Point photos are collected in this album on Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157622920465437.  And you can read more blog posts about Black Point at this link:  https://edrosack.com/tag/bpwd/.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Urban Ospreys

Sometimes you can get amazing photos of wild birds inside Florida cities.  Winter Park (and other places too)  put up  nest boxes around town to attract birds.  Ospreys typically  use them in the spring to raise their young.

Urban Ospreys 3Urban Ospreys 3

I met Kathy B. (www.flickr.com/photos/kbargar/) through the Orlando Camera Club and we’ve run across each other on photo shoots.  I saw her photos of this nest on Flickr and when I commented on how nice they were she was kind enough to share the location with me.

Urban Ospreys 1Urban Ospreys 1 – The young one’s stretching it’s wings. Mom looks a little wary – like she’s making sure she doesn’t get knocked out of the nest!

If you’re close enough to zoom in and fill the frame, and you can pick a vantage point that has foliage in the background – you can get some swell, natural looking photos of wild birds.  There’s no way to tell from these first two that the nest is located downtown.  Here’s a wider shot: The nest is on top of a utility pole and 40 – 50 feet away from the upper floor of a very convenient parking garage.

Osprey nest box in downtown Winter Park

I wrote about this once before back in 2011 (https://edrosack.com/2011/06/12/ballpark-ospreys/) but I think it’s worth pointing out again.  Be on the lookout!

When I first arrived, the chick was asleep and hidden, so I went to the other side of the garage and made this photo while I waited for it to wake up.

The track through Winter ParkThe track through Winter Park

And this crow was checking me out while I waited too.  I think it was expecting a handout.

Close CrowClose Crow

Anyway, I’m glad this didn’t turn into another “empty nest syndrome” like our expedition a couple of weeks ago.  And by the way, Tom M. checked and the eagles were back in that nest the week after we went, so they must have just been away while we were there.

I really like my close up photos.  I think they’re the best ones I’ve gotten of nesting Ospreys.

Thanks for stopping by the blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Walking the Wetlands

Orlando Wetlands Park is beautiful and a wonderful place to amble through nature.   Here are a few things I noticed there last week.

DawnDawn in a calm, peaceful, and pretty place

I used the Olympus Hi-Res mode for this next photo.  I’m glad since it let me crop in on the knees, tangled roots, and reflections at the base of this stand of Cypress.

Far shore CypressFar shore Cypress

I end up photographing thistle plants a lot.  In this case I liked the way the morning light was just highlighting it from the left.

Early light on a ThistleEarly light on a Thistle

Do you remember “planking”?  If not, see: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/planking.  This turtle was illustrating the concept.

Turtle "planking"Turtle “planking”?

I spotted this large fish (~2 1/2 feet long) resting near the shore.  My long lens was stowed in my backpack and I knew it wouldn’t stay there long, so I quickly made a photo with my IR camera.  If you click through to the larger version on Flickr, you can better see the small minnows swimming nearby.

FishLarge Fish

Dragonflies are out and about.  This is the first time I’ve noticed them this year.

Four-spotted Pennant(?)Four-spotted Pennant(?)

And finally, here’s a photo of my walking companion.  This bird joined me for a bit on my stroll around the park.

Strolling LimpkinStrolling Limpkin

The park offers free Tram Tours on weekends – check their site for details.  I much prefer to walk so  I can pause and photograph any time I want and get a little exercise too.

Thanks for stopping by the blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Dancing Hawk

Lynn and I were away, visiting our first grandchild – what a wonderful experience that is!!!

Anyway, this blog is about nature photography and I haven’t been able to do much of that recently.  So when we got home, I was eager to go back out and ended up at Orlando Wetlands Park last Thursday.  I made several photos I like.  This one is my favorite from the trip:

Dancing HawkRed-shouldered Hawk

At first, the bird was sitting on top of a dead tree facing into the sun – very harsh light:

Back-lit bird (unprocessed jpg file)

I have many better images of these hawks on my computer. I’m not even sure what made me raise my camera.  Maybe my subconscious was getting ahead of me.

Luckily I did and when the hawk decided to turn around I was ready.  I made a continuous series as it used its wings to balance and I really like the one at the top. The wings are nicely spread and one foot is raised as if it’s dancing.

I’m glad I was shooting in RAW mode – it allowed me to compensate for the harsh light in post processing.  For reference, here is an unprocessed jpg version:

Dancing Hawk (unprocessed jpg)

Processing included using DxO Photo Lab for basic exposure tuning and noise reduction and then tweaking tones, colors, and cropping in Lightroom.

A little luck, a few seconds, and some post-processing can make a huge difference, don’t you think?  It helps to practice and know what’s possible in a situation like this.  Try it  – you might be surprised at the end result.  And maybe your subconscious will start helping you too!

This is a very good time of year to visit Orlando Wetlands.  I saw lots of Spoonbills, a couple of hawks, herons, egrets, ducks, Osprey, Belted Kingfishers, Ibis, a deer, etc.  And it’s cool and pleasant – great for a lovely walk.  You can look at more images from there in this album on Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157639616792296

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved