Tag Archives: boat

Explore and discover – then react

Some photographers plan their photo ops in detail.  In many cases that’s a good approach. Portrait and wedding photography are genres that need advanced planning.  And if you’re going on a once in a lifetime trip, planning is prudent.  Other genres are more reactive (e.g. photo journalism).

I try to do research and planning if I’m going somewhere I haven’t been, but I don’t plan most of my photography.  Especially if I’ve been to a place before, my approach is to explore and discover, and then react to what I find.  Often, I end up with photos that I never imagine when I start out.  Which is loads of fun!

A few weeks ago, I went over to the Sanford Marina to make sunrise photos.  I arrived early and discovered very calm conditions in the harbor.  I reacted with this photo.  It’s nothing like the sunrise I originally went looking for.

Still water, sailboats, and starsStill water, sailboats, and stars – Very early and very calm at the Sanford marina

Last week, I took a ride here in Central Florida along Maytown Road between Osteen and Oak Hill.  It goes through some very undeveloped areas and ends at Seminole Rest, a small park in the Canaveral National Seashore.  In this case, I hadn’t really planned for any photos.  I was just driving to see what’s there.  I was glad to discover this gnarled old tree, although I wish I’d found a little better light to go with it.

Weathered TreeWeathered Tree – Seminole Rest, Canaveral National Seashore in Oak Hill, Florida

This last photo is from back in 2013.  It sat in my archives until this week when I discovered it again and processed it.  It took a while for me to complete my reaction to the scene.

Sun and shadowsSun and shadows – Long exposure under the pier at Cocoa Beach

The photo and video in last week’s post also resulted from the “explore, discover, react” approach.

So what’s the moral of this story?  I suppose it’s this:  If you approach photography like I do, you’d better be ready to react to a scene when you see it.  Know your equipment so you can capture what you need when you discover something.  Even in the dark or in rapidly changing situations.  Know your software capabilities too, so you understand what you need to capture.  Be ready for the opportunities that you find, and the ones that find you.


On a different subject, I realized after I published last week’s blog that embedded video isn’t included in the email.  The Jetpack plugin software that I use doesn’t even put in a link to it.  So if you read the blog only via email and wondered what the video was about, you can click here to view it on YouTube.   And you can always click on the title of the post inside the email to view it on the web.  Sorry for any confusion.


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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Let's go fishing – how I made the image

Here’s another photo from my last trip to Viera Wetlands.

Let's go fishing!
Let’s go fishing! Two fishermen head out before dawn.

I’ve made this kind of photo before – you can see some examples in this set on Flickr.  I think this one turned out better than my earlier tries.  I used a different approach and because it’s been a while since I’ve written a “behind the scenes / how-to post”, I thought I’d fill you in on how I made this.

The boat ramp at this little park where SR 520 crosses the St. Johns River is pretty busy around dawn.  It seems to be a popular place for fishermen to put in.  I  waited several times while they cleared my frame and the water calmed down before I could make my next exposure.  So I decided to make an image that included a boat.

It’s a challenging shot.  I wanted to capture the intense sunrise colors so I had to be careful not to over expose and blow out the sky.  I also wanted some detail in the boat, so I needed to over expose there a bit, but still minimize motion blur.  At sunrise, I normally use a low ISO for the best quality image, and a small aperture for good depth of field.  This results in a long shutter speed, which is bad for photographing moving boats.  And if I want to bracket and use multiple frame HDR to capture the huge contrast range in the scene – that’s even worse for moving boat photography.  So how did I make this image?  Glad you asked!

The secret is to carefully capture two frames and blend them together by hand.  The first frame is exposed for the boat:  I used a high ISO and a wide open  aperture to get my shutter speed as fast as possible, and I overexposed slightly to capture a little shadow detail in the boat and in the vegetation on the shore.  With my camera set and on a tripod, I composed and waited for the next boat to get to the right point in the frame.  Here’s that RAW file:

1-the boat Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.49.58 PM
First frame, exposed for the boat, ISO 1000, f/4, 1/20 second

The second frame was my main exposure and I wanted it to be the best quality possible.  I also wanted to slightly under expose to capture color and detail in the sky.  I waited until the boat was gone and the water was calm again and then made this exposure:

2- the sky Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.49.51 PM
Second frame, exposed for the sky, ISO 100, f/11, 0.8 sec

When I got home, I preprocessed the two raw files using identical color balance and paying careful attention to noise reduction (especially on the higher ISO frame with the boat).  I’ve used DxO Optics Pro lately when I want the best RAW conversion.  It does a wonderful job on both lens corrections and noise reduction for supported equipment.  After a few tweaks to exposure in each file, I brought them into Photoshop on separate layers.

The next thing to deal with was the boat.  Even though I’d pushed my shutter speed as high as I thought I could, 1/20 second still left a little  motion blur visible.  The “Filters / Sharpen / Smart Sharpen” command in Photoshop has a “Remove Motion Blur” option and I’ve found that it works well in situations like this where the direction of motion is known.  I used it selectively on a duplicate layer to enhance detail in the boat.   Here are before and after crops at 200%.  I think it’s a nice improvement:

3-motion blur boat Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.45.59 PM
Motion blur (before using the filter)
4-sharper boat Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.45.43 PM
After the motion blur processing

Next I used layer masks to blend the multiple frames together.  I worked carefully around the boat and painted it into the main / second frame.  I like a little detail in my shadows instead of a straight silhouette.  Since I’d slightly overexposed the first frame (and was careful with noise reduction) I painted some of that into the vegetation.  Here’s the first merged result:

6-Initial merge Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.48.18 PM
Initial merged frames

The only filter I used on this was Topaz Clarity – I like the way it increases mid-tone contrast without adding halos.

7-Adding clarity Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.48.29 PM
After Topaz Clarity

After selective sharpening on a separate layer, I returned to Lightroom for final adjustments (black and white points, vignette, etc) to get the first image in this post.

I struggled some with the cropping. I tried a 16×9 aspect ratio, but because I wanted to keep all the sky, I thought the horizon ended up too close to the center. I decided to keep the original composition since the dark water at the bottom holds my eye in the frame. I might play with it some more.

I like how it turned out and I hope you do too.  I also hope the info helps with your photography.  If you have any questions on details or other photography related things, let me know in the comments.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Silver Springs State Park

Intro / Description

I spent some time at Silver Springs State Park in late May.  This is Florida’s newest park, created in October of last year when the former Silver Springs and Wild Waters commercial attractions were merged with Silver River State Park.  Lynn and I used to visit when our kids were younger and the commercial attractions were going strong.  But that was a while ago and it’s a different place now.

Silver Springs headwaters, view 2
Silver Springs headwaters – A glass bottom boat returns to the dock before a storm

Florida’s renovating Wild Waters and has already re-opened some of the water rides.  The Glass Bottom Boats still run in the Silver Springs area, although the jungle river boat tour and antique car museum that I remember from past years are gone.  It’s a little soon to say what the park will look like after the state is finished merging the areas together, but it always was and still is a fine place to visit.

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:

There are hiking and biking trails throughout the park, but I think the real attraction is the water.  You can rent canoes and kayaks or bring your own, and there are several places to put in.  I used the launch close to the headwaters.  It’s a short paddle to the main spring.  It’s also very close to the Fort King paddle trail (where the Jungle Cruise used to go) which is open to paddlers now for the first time since the 1800s!

In addition to the put in I used (off the Silver Springs parking lot) there’s also one inside the main park, but it’s about a 1/2 mile carry to the water – too far for me!  One other place you can put in is at Ray Wayside Park where you can paddle upstream to the spring.   Silver Springs also offers guided kayak tours and a shuttle service to / from Ray Wayside.

A view from my kayak
A view from my kayak – Along the Fort King paddle trail near the Silver Springs headwaters

Here are a couple of articles from other sites about paddling at Silver Springs.  Take a look – they like it as much as I do!

If you can’t go on a paddle, at least ride the glass bottom boat or take an air boat excursion.  You’ll get to see more of the scenery and wildlife than you can from the land.

Airboat ride on the Silver river

Airboat ride on the Silver river

Tripod/Monopod:  I did have mine, but didn’t use it as much as I thought I would.  It’s a very wooded area and landscape opportunities aren’t as numerous as they are in some other places.

Lenses:  Bring what you can carry.  I got the most use out of a normal range zoom (~24-70), but longer and wider would be nice to have in your bag if you need them.  If you have any waterproof equipment, bring it for paddling expeditions.

Best time to visit:  It’s starts getting very warm in May and doesn’t cool off until September or October, so plan accordingly.  If you’re going on the rides at the water park or kayaking, the heat is a bit more tolerable.  I went during the week.  Weekends will be crowded.

Other:

There’s a variety of wildlife, but not as much as some other locations in Central Florida.  For instance eBird lists 112 species at Silver Springs vs 293 in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.   I spotted Ospreys, Cardinals, Black Vultures, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a few wading birds, Alligators, Deer, Turtles, Cormorants (on the water and in nests, and one swimming underwater), Barred Owls (calls and one in flight), Hawks and a few other species.  There are recent reports of Manatees in the springs.  And although I didn’t find any, there’s a troop of feral rhesus macaque monkeys  descended from ones let loose in the 1930s.

Typical Turtle
Typical Turtle – Along the the Fort King paddle trail near the Silver Springs headwaters

The River side of the park is home to the Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center (open to the public on weekends and holidays).  Tours through the pioneer cracker village are offered once a month, except in the summer.  You’ll have to call the park for details.

Cracker cabin
Cracker cabin

Finally, 60 campsites are available along with 10 very nice, two bedroom cabins.  I’d recommend staying for one or two nights so you have some time to explore.  There are also several other great areas nearby including the Ocala National ForestRainbow Springs State ParkJuniper Springs Recreation Area, and Salt Springs Recreation Area.

Summary

Click on any of these photos to go to Flickr where you can see larger versions.  My Silver Springs album on Flickr includes these and a few other  photos.

Silver Springs State Park is a wonderful place to visit and an especially wonderful place to paddle!

My Gallery /  Flickr photo set:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157644924434114
Website: http://www.floridastateparks.org/silversprings/default.cfm/explore.html 
Address / Phone: 1425 N.E. 58th Avenue, Ocala, Florida 34470(352) 236-7148
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating:  A Central Florida Photo Op must do!

P.S. – In the good news department, it looks like those of you that subscribe to the blog via email are getting the updates.  If you’re having any issues, please let me know.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Merritt Island – May 31, 2014

I made a quick trip to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last weekend with Kevin M. and Lutfi S.   We stopped first at the Titusville marina for a sunrise photo.  The sky was so-so, but the calm wind gave us very nice reflections in the water

Morning at the marina
Morning at the marina

Next, along Gator Creek Road we found a group of preening Roseate Spoonbills.  I liked the contrast between their pink and the blue sky reflected in the water.

Preening Spoonbills
Preening Spoonbills

Later at the Visitor Center, we found a great many butterflies.  They seem to like these Buttonbrush plants.

Gulf Fritillary
Gulf Fritillary

And Green Herons were common too, especially at the rest area on Black Point Wildlife Drive where we saw several nests and juveniles.  This one (also at the Visitors Center) drew my eye as it posed against the silver-like water while it waited to strike an unwary fish.

Green Heron in a silver pond
Green Heron in a silver pond

With the hot weather starting to arrive, there’s not as much activity at Merritt Island as there sometimes is. But there’s still a lot to see and photograph.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Get Your National Park Service Senior Pass

I drove over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last Friday to scout for new places to launch my kayak. I’d never been to the Beacon 42, boat ramp before, so I stopped there first.

Beacon 42 boat ramp
Beacon 42 boat ramp, before dawn.  Venus in the upper right, reflecting in the lower right.

It looks like a great place to launch from, with easy access to Mosquito Lagoon in the distance to the east.

I also went by the Visitor’s Center since I needed to renew my MINWR annual pass.  The very nice man at the desk asked me how old I am.  When I told him I’d be 62 next month, he told me to come back then and get a senior pass.  I’d heard about this before but didn’t know it started at age 62.  And that it’s a lifetime (not annual) pass!  And that it gets you in to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites including national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, and areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation!  It’s quite a deal –  I’ll be back there next month to get mine.

I did make a few more photos that day.  Here’s one more:

Reflecting mangroves
Reflecting mangroves: Something about mangroves always seems photogenic to me. Especially in mirror like water.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – if you’re a US citizen age 62 or older – get your pass.  Then go make some photos!

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Whether the Weather

I usually always leave early on photo expeditions so I can get somewhere in time to catch sunrise.  I have many sunrise photos collected in this set on Flickr.  

Lately, sunrise and I haven’t been getting along.  I show up faithfully, but sunrise doesn’t.  It’ll send its friend fog instead.  Or it’ll come dressed in plain, clear sky attire instead of its fancy, colorful cloud costume.  Or I’ll get frustrated and sleep in, and sunrise puts on a show without me.  I don’t think it likes me anymore.

Marina reflections
Marina reflections – Fog at the Titusville Marina. Panorama, looking east, just before sunrise.

Rock n dawn
Rock n dawn – clear skies at daybreak.  Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Orlando Wetlands Park
Orlando Wetlands Pano – I slept in on this morning and showed up at the park after sunrise when this front was coming through.  I bet it was really nice before I got there.

Well, seriously – I am a bit frustrated that I haven’t captured a good sunrise in a while.   But I know the weather and my luck will change eventually.  And I enjoy getting out and seeing different things even when the sunrise isn’t at its prettiest.

There are a few things I do to try to maximize my chances with the weather.  Persistence is probably the best solution.  The more I go out photographing, the better my chances are of catching a good scene.  And software can help.  My main weather site is Weather Underground.  I usually look at their hourly forecast with precipitation probabilities and cloud cover predictions.  On my phone, I use Mycast and Dark Sky.  Mycast has pretty good forecasts and I can look at IR clouds on its Map tab to see cloud cover even when it’s dark.  The Dark Sky app has excellent short-term predictions – especially about rain.  I also sometimes use Clear Sky Chart.  It’s mainly an astronomy site, but does offer very good cloud cover predictions.

So yes, my relationship with sunrise photography hasn’t been the greatest lately.  But I’m working on it.  I’m sure we’ll eventually get back together.  In the meantime, I’ll enjoy being outdoors and seeing whatever develops.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Viera Wetlands: 2/2/2014

Kevin M. and I went to Viera Wetlands (Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands) last weekend.

On the way, we stopped by Riverfront Park in Cocoa for a sunrise photo.  Unfortunately, the sun didn’t cooperate – we didn’t even see it until about a half hour after sunrise!  But I thought the fog, boats, and lights were photogenic.  The water was very calm – leading to great reflections and very little motion blur even though this is a 13 second exposure due to the dim light.

Foggy morning harbor
Foggy morning harbor, Cocoa, Florida, Infrared

After sunrise, we met up with Kevin’s brother Keith.  He’s getting into birding and had never been to Viera, so he wanted to join us.  When we arrived, we found the road closed to cars because of all the rain we’ve had.  We almost always drive and the slower pace and closer view was enjoyable for a change. Walking helped us see many of the warblers hiding in the bushes.  I was able to isolate this pretty “butter butt” against a nice non-distracting background:

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler

There were many warblers (mostly Palm Warblers) and Tree Swallows.  And just so you know, I think Tree Swallows are one of the hardest birds to photograph.  I hardly ever see them sitting still.  And they’re so small and fast that photographing them in flight is a very low percentage shot – at least with my equipment.  I’ll get a good photo of one someday.

Of course, we also saw many of the usual wading birds and the gators seemed more numerous than normal.  I also got to meet one of my Flickr friends (New NewEnglander) who was visiting from up north.

We also drove through the Click Ponds and saw huge numbers of ducks (mostly Green and Blue Winged Teals) and shorebirds, and then headed down the dirt road toward Moccasin Island tract.  I’ve been down there a few times before without seeing much.  But this time was very interesting and proves that you need to visit someplace over and over to fully appreciate it.  We saw what we think was a Merlin fly by, but weren’t quick enough to photograph it.  We also spotted several American Kestrels – the first time I’ve seen them in the wild and a real highlight of the trip.

American Kestrel on post
American Kestrel

We saw one of the Kestrels engaged with another similar sized bird, but were too far away to make out what going on. It looked like they were actually grappling with each other.  Both birds flew away before we got close.  Other birds on the road included Sand Hill Cranes and Eastern Phoebes.

A wonderful morning out in natural Florida.  You can read much more about Viera Wetlands in this blog category and Cocoa posts are in this one.  I have more Viera photos in this set on Flickr and more Cocoa photos in this set.  

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Ponce Inlet and Bulow Creek – changing light

Tom M. suggested we meet at Ponce Inlet for sunrise a week ago.  I readily agreed, since the last time I was there was August 2010.  We met at the park entrance just after it opened and were set up well before sunrise.  Here’s one of my first photos.  It was very nice of them to put up red and green buoy lights for Christmas.  🙂

Sunrise at the inlet
Sunrise at the inlet – I thought the Christmas colored buoy lights added a nice holiday touch

I’m always amazed by how much light can change over a short time.  Here’s an example.

Daybreak departure
Daybreak departure – A fishing boat heads out to sea at sunrise

The physical distance between these first two photos was only a few paces, but the time change made a huge difference.  The first was at 6:32am, f/8, 30 seconds, and ISO 125.  The second was at 7:22am, f/16, 1/60 seconds, and ISO 100.  The amount and quality of light shifted dramatically over 50 minutes (and the sun rays came in for a short time too).

Moral of the story:  If you’re going to get up for a sunrise photo, you may as well get going a bit early – so you can see and photograph the entire show.  I try to arrive at least 30 minutes before sunrise.

I’d been watching large numbers of mostly resting Pelicans, Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers down on the beach.  After sunrise, I moved off the jetty and photographed them for a few minutes.  I was able to get close to this one without disturbing it, and I thought the low, warm light and the shadow behind the bird made an interesting scene.

Caspian Tern and shadow
Caspian Tern and shadow – The bird wasn’t really alone, there were many others close by

When we visited Bulow Plantation several weeks ago, Tom and I were a little disappointed in the light.  Rain and clouds that day made photography a challenge.  Since it was early when we finished at Ponce Inlet, and the weather was so much better – we decided to go back to Bulow.  The light had changed a lot here too.  But over a few weeks instead of 50 minutes.

Bulow Plantation Ruins
Bulow Plantation Ruins – I merged three images with  focus stack in Photoshop to increase depth of field.  The light this time was much better than our last visit.  And our cameras didn’t get wet!

So that was a very fine, final photo op for 2013.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some photos!

And since this is my last post of the year, Happy New Year!  See you again in 2014!

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

My Favorite Photos from 2013

Happy Holidays!  I hope that all of you, your families, and your friends have a joyful and happy holiday season!

The end of the year is a good time to review results and contemplate how to improve any endeavor, and photography is no exception.  I’ve put together these “Favorite photos of the year” posts since 2009.  This is a hard process for any photographer.  For me, it’s difficult to separate my opinion about a photograph from emotional connections that I might have with the subject, scene, or situation.  But making this effort is important and part of the learning process.  I don’t claim to be objective –  these are simply the photos that I like best.  Feel free to disagree, but I hope you’ll enjoy looking at the ones I’ve picked.

You can click on each of these to go to Flickr and see a larger version.  Or you can click on this link to view the complete set on Flickr.

My number 1 favorite photo of 2013:
A dream, gone

 A dream is gone, in the harbor, at dawn; Cocoa, Florida; October.  

I have a thing for sunken boats and when I briefly glimpsed this one while out with a group, I had to go back later and make a photo.  See this post for more info.

My number 2 favorite photo of 2013:

Cloud Gate (AKA "the bean")

 Cloud Gate (AKA “the bean”); Chicago’s Millennium Park; Chicago, Illinois; September.  

I made many photos that I like during my first visit to Chicago last September.  This one is my favorite from that trip.  See this post for more info.

My number 3 favorite photo of 2013:
Partial eclipse of the sun

 Partial eclipse of the sun; Cocoa Beach Pier, Florida; November.

I almost didn’t get to make this photo since I was late finding out about the eclipse.  It’s a bit different from most sunrise photos I make because I used a long telephoto lens to emphasize the sun instead of a wide-angle lens.  The three people watching with me from the end of the pier were a bonus.  See this post for more info.

My number 4 favorite photo of 2013:
You otter not interupt me

You otter not interrupt me; Viera Wetlands, Florida; November.  

This river otter was having a morning dust bath on the dirt road through Viera Wetlands.  It stopped and watched me for a bit when I got out of my car to make this photo, but then ignored me and finished before sliding back into the water.

My number 5 favorite photo of 2013:

Brewing storm

 Storm clouds over the Everglades; Everglades National Park, Florida; April.

We had a wonderful expedition to the Keys, Everglades, and Dry Tortugas in April.  This photo of a pine tree and grass reflecting from the inches deep water in the Everglades “river of grass” is my favorite landscape from that trip. See this post for more info.

My number 6 favorite photo of 2013:
Reading

Reading; St. Augustine, Florida; August.

St. Augustine is full of photo ops.  I really liked the symmetry of the columns in this scene and how they led my eye towards the man reading on the bench.  See this post for more info.

My number 7 favorite photo of 2013:
Sea oats

Sea oats; Howard Park, Tarpon Springs, Florida; August

I noticed this scene while wandering around not expecting to find anything to photograph.  Another lesson in “keep your eyes open”.

My number 8 favorite photo of 2013:
Resting behind mom

 Resting behind mom; Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa, Florida; March.

We spent time in “Primate World” watching the family of Orangutans.  The young one (I think this is RanDee, born in August 2008) was full of energy, swinging all around on the platforms and ropes.  The adults watched her with very human-like  ”where does she get the energy” looks.  Finally, RanDee rested for a bit behind her mom (DeeDee) and I was able to make this photo.  See this post for more info.

My number 9 favorite photo of 2013:
The Chapel on the Rock (Saint Catherine of Siena Chapel)

The Chapel on the Rock (Saint Catherine of Siena Chapel); Allenspark, Colorado; July.

This is south along Route 7 out of Estes Park on the grounds of the Saint Malo Retreat.  We had no idea it was there, but when we drove by and saw the scene, I had to stop and photograph it.  It’s a multi-photo, hand-held panorama processed in Photoshop and Lightroom.  See this post for more info.

My number 10 favorite photo of 2013:
Not sleeping

Not sleeping; Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary, Tampa, Florida; August.

To me, this photo symbolizes what we learned about the plight of captive large cats and primates while visiting two rescue organizations near Tampa.  See this post for more info.

If you’d like to see my favorite photos from earlier years, click on these links: 200920102011, and 2012.

I hope you’ve had a great photo 2013 too. If you send me a link or leave one in the comments, I’ll be sure to take a look at your favorites.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some more favorites of your own!
©2011 – 2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Is photography a group or solo activity?

Four of us from the Photography Interest Group went to Viera Wetlands last Saturday.  On the way, we stopped by Riverfront Park on the Indian River at SR 520 in Cocoa for sunrise.

Old boat by a bridge
Old boat by a bridge

There weren’t many clouds, but with a longer lens than I normally use (120mm equivalent instead of an ultra wide-angle), I managed to place this boat in the frame against a background of clouds and the causeway bridge.  The colors on the water are nice and I was happy with the result.

As we left, I saw what looked like a sunken boat out of the corner of my eye to the south of where we’d been photographing. Since the good light was fading, and everyone else was ready to leave for Viera, I didn’t get a chance to check it out at the time.

For some reason, sunken / abandoned boats really appeal to me as photographic subjects. Maybe it’s because I spent time in the Navy. They seem sad and make me wonder what happened and why. This one nagged at me, and I really wanted to explore it so I decided to drive back over on Wednesday to see what I’d missed.  Many times the boat gets salvaged – so if you don’t photograph it when you find it, you may not get a second chance.

A dream, gone
A dream, gone – in the harbor at dawn.

Luckily the boat was still right where I’d seen it.  I found a spot where I could use the sailboat mast reflections to outline the sunken hull and place it between the blue and orange colors mirrored on the water.  I like the first photo, but I think this second one is stronger.

If we’d taken the time to explore this on our first visit, would I have gotten as strong a photo?  Did I get a better photo on my second trip because I was by myself?  Is photography essentially a solo activity?

Cue the standard photography answer:  “It depends.”   I believe you need to be “in the zone” to make great photos.  Distractions and / or fellow photographers can hinder concentration – or they can point you in the right direction.  When you’re with a group you also have to compromise and go along – you can’t do everything you want and force everyone else to do it too.  If you’re mainly a landscape photographer, going photographing with someone really into bird photography may not help your landscape images.  Or it might – birds hang out in some beautiful places.

If you go with people more experienced / knowledgable than you are,  you may learn a bit and make better images as a result.  Or you may find out about new places that they know but you don’t.  Or you might even open your eyes to a different way of seeing something.  If you’ve ever been out photographing with a group, you know there will be many similar images.  But there will also be some that look completely different even though two photographers stand right next to each other.

I looked through my 20 most interesting images (according to Flickr, anyway).  10 were when I was by myself and 10 when I was with other photographers.  Conclusive numerical evidence, eh?

So to answer the question in the title of this post:  Is photography a solo or a group activity?  Yes.  You’ll be a better photographer if you go photographing both by yourself and in groups.  Mix it up and take advantage of both ways to enjoy and improve your photography.

By the way, we did make it to Viera Wetlands.  We saw many of the usual animals in the main area including Hawks, Ospreys, Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Green Herons, Snowy and Great Egrets, Grebes, Black Bellied Whistling Ducks, Alligators, Turtles, etc.  We saw a few more species in the Click Ponds:  White Pelicans, Sandpipers, Roseate Spoonbills, and Woodstorks.  A nice visit.

Sandpiper flock and reflections
Sandpiper flock and reflections

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved