Tag Archives: boat

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 most interesting images (according to Flickr, anyway).  Of the first 20, 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

St. Augustine, Florida and vicinity – photo hints

Lynn was out-of-town last week at the Pressing Iron & Trivet Collectors of America Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. I talked her into letting me out of my spousal support services subcontract, so I had a chance to sneak in a few days of photography while she was away. I spent the time in St. Augustine, Florida, which is “the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States”. I’ve written about it many times (see this link) and it’s one of my favorite places to photograph. Photo ops abound and include landscapes, architecture, street scenes, beaches, historic landmarks, wildlife, and much more. It’s hard to go anywhere in the area and not come back with a photo! Here are some of mine along with hints on how I made them.
There are some wonderful sunrise and sunset spots. Friends told me about Marineland Beach (thanks Kevin M. and JT) which is just a little south of St. Augustine. It’s now one of my new favorites. The coquina rocks there worked really well as foreground objects in my photos.

Long exposure sunrise

Long exposure sunrise – Marineland Beach, Florida

This is a single exposure, made through a Hoya ND400 filter right after sunrise. The waves were coming in around me, but I stood my tripod on one of the rocks to keep us dry. I used my lowest ISO setting (50) and even with the sun in the frame, the 8 2/3 stop ND filter gave me a 14 second exposure at f/8 . The long shutter speed makes the water surface contrast nicely with the rock texture.

One thing you’ll run into in Florida on summer mornings is condensation. It’s so humid that if you take your camera gear directly from your air-conditioned room or car out into the moist air, you can expect 15 to 30 minutes of fog before they clear. You can decrease this by not running your car’s AC on the way. You can also seal your camera and lens in a plastic bag with as much air removed as possible until it warms up. And it’s a good idea to bring along a micro-fiber cloth to remove condensation if needed. The larger your camera / lens is, the longer it will take to warm up. This is one time that good glass works against you – at least until the temperature equalizes. One more point: try not to change lenses under these conditions. If water condenses on your sensor, it can be hard to remove and may cause dust to adhere to the surface.

The harbor and fort (Castillo de San Marcos) also provide interesting detail for sunrise or sunset and landscapes in general.

A calm morning in the St. Augustine harbor.
A calm morning in the St. Augustine harbor: Clouds to the north over the Castillo de San Marcos and the quarter Moon above the Bridge of Lions add interesting detail to this image.

This photo and the next were both multi-shot panoramas made with the techniques I described last week. Images like the harbor scene can be tough to blend due to smooth gradients in the sky and water. Be sure you check carefully and correct any glitches.

Another thing about summer in Florida: We have awesome afternoon thunderstorms. Clouds add a lot of drama to photos, but the storms were so bad on two of the days I was there that I couldn’t go out for sunset. Plan accordingly.

St. Augustine Sunset
St. Augustine Sunset behind the Castillo de San Marcos

On this evening at the fort, there was a large thunder-storm to the west. The sky wasn’t colorful at all until the sun moved down below the thunder head, resulting in these shadows and rays. One big advantage of sunset photography vs. sunrise is that you can wait to see what develops. At sunrise, you need to be in place extremely early to see all the variations happen.

I had a great time walking around the fort at sunset with my large tripod and big DSLR camera. Most people were oblivious and walked right through my photos (I don’t blame them – I don’t own the place).  I’d wait for a clear spot in the traffic and make another exposure. Other folks stood next to me since they thought wherever someone with a big camera is has to be a good spot. At one point, a tour guide in a pirate costume leading a group of 20 or so people saw me and stopped his group from walking in front of me until I finished my exposure. It turned out he’s a photographer too.

I wanted to try a night photo of the lighthouse. I also wanted to capture the look of the beam coming out of the light. This turned out to be a tough assignment. The contrast range is huge and there’s a lot of glare from the lights in the scene.

St. Augustine Light Station
St. Augustine Light Station

I ended up merging two exposures. The first one was long (f/4 @ 3 seconds) at a low ISO (400) to decrease noise. The slow shutter blurred the light beam, so I made a second exposure (ISO 3200, f/4 @ 0.4 seconds) and this stopped the beam enough to highlight it. The second exposure had some noise, but was fine with a bit of post processing before I blended the two manually in Photoshop.  I made this photo about an hour before sunrise. It was dark and there was no one around. One of my contacts on Flickr commented that spooky things happen in this area. I’m glad I didn’t notice any when I was there.

Tom M. met me up there on one of the days and we spent several hours just walking around. There were many interesting scenes, and I never saw any two doors  alike.

Red door #33
Red door #33

We were walking down one street and saw someone in the distance photographing this house with his iPhone. He was really working it, making multiple photos / compositions and was still there when we arrived several minutes later. We waited for him to finish and when he looked up and noticed us he asked what kind of cameras we had. It turned out he’s a photographer too and was there on vacation, but forgot his Nikon D3S DSLR. He said using the iPhone was “very liberating”. Photo hint 101: If someone’s taking a picture, look at what he’s photographing – it might be interesting. Photo hint 102: Don’t forget your camera.

A little later, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this waiter zipping through traffic on the way to work.  On a skate board.  I managed to make a quick photo.

Morning commute
Morning commute – very eco-friendly

We also noticed this person reading on the bench.  I really liked the symmetry of the columns and how they led my eye towards the subject. Tom posted a different composition (sorry – no longer available) that I think is really good too.

Reading
Reading.

By the way, if you have Lightroom 5, try out the “Upright” settings in the Lens Corrections panel on photos like the one above. It does a great job squaring things up.

Like I said, there’s a tremendous amount of photo-ops in the area. I didn’t make it by the St. Augustine Alligator Farm on this visit, but from March to June, it’s one of the best places in Florida to photograph a variety of wild birds nesting in the rookery there.  I also didn’t get to Fort Matanzas.  It’s a little south of the city and makes a nice side excursion. The Nombre de Dios Mission in the northern part of the city has a beautiful chapel and grounds as well as a view into the harbor.  And I’m sure that there are a great many more photo ops that I still have to discover in this beautiful place.

You can see these photos larger if you click on them and I have many others from St. Augustine in this set on Flickr.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Crystal River, Weeki Wachee, Micanopy, and Cross Creek

We’ve kayaked at Crystal River before but wanted to explore the area a little more.  So Lynn and I decided to take advantage of our long weekend and went back last Saturday.  It was a very beautiful trip – relaxing, great scenery, and good weather too.  We reserved two kayaks for 8:30am from the Crystal River Kayak Company and were on the water before most of the crowd got there.

Lynn gets pretty far ahead
The canals in the area can be pretty. Sometimes it takes a while to position my kayak for a photo and Lynn gets pretty far ahead.

In the winter months, manatees are all over this area although we didn’t see any on this trip.  It’s warmed up so much they’ve moved on.  If you’re planning to kayak here, it’s best to go early in the day.  We drove by later and the water was very crowded – not at all like what we experienced the first thing in the morning.

The hotel where we stayed was right on the water, so I was hoping for a good sunrise or sunset view, but was disappointed.  There weren’t any good sight lines east or west and even though we drove around a bit looking, we couldn’t find a spot close by.  I’ll have to do more research before our next trip.

So … on to Plan B.  The deck next to hotel pool was right on the river, next to dive shop and restaurant / bar.  For some reason, the evenings were crowded and noisy, but before dawn there was no one around!  So I got up early on both mornings and wandered down to the water.  It was extremely calm both days with a full moon.  Perfect conditions for some pre-dawn, long exposures.  I made several images and I like this one best:

Calm harbor

One view from the water by our hotel.  I wanted to show the sailboats and reflections against the sky.  It was about 30 minutes before dawn, and so dark that it took me a few tries to frame the image the way I wanted.  The sky colors were a bonus – I couldn’t see them at the time.  I was lucky the water was calm and the boats didn’t move during the 6 second exposure.

In addition to the kayaking and relaxing, we also had several good meals and especially liked Charlie’s Fish House.  There’s lots to do in the area too.  We enjoyed stops at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park on the way over, and Micanopy and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park on the way back.

the Weeki Wachee live Mermaid show

Weeki Wachee mermaid.  

Weeki Wachee State Park has a live mermaid show, a glass bottom boat ride, a water park and canoe / kayak rentals.  It was crowded when we stopped.  We saw the mermaid show, but the line for the boat ride was over an hour long.

At the corner of Cholakka Blvd. and Seminary Avenue
At the corner of Cholakka Blvd. and Seminary Avenue, Micanopy, Florida.

Micanopy is a good place to look for antiques and photograph historic buildings in an “old Florida” setting.

The farmhouse at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park in
The farmhouse at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park in Cross Creek, Florida. She wrote her books on the screened porch.

We had a great trip, but it was too short.  There’s way more to see and do in this area and it won’t all fit into a single weekend.  We might have to schedule another visit soon.  You can see a few more photos from Crystal River in this set on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Merritt Island – April 10, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I met photographer Larry Jordan at Gatorland and he mentioned wanting to visit Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. He hadn’t been in long while, so I offered to go with him. It was a great excuse to get out and show off one of my favorite places and it didn’t disappoint. We met before dawn at Space View park for what turned into a pretty sunrise.

Dock at dawn

Dock at dawn

After sunup, we entered MINWR in search of wildlife, first to Gator Creek Road where we saw a few birds including black necked stilts. These unusual looking, pink legged birds are only in Florida for the summer breeding season and I’m glad they’re back already. Next we went to Black Point Wildlife Drive to see what was going on there. The initial portion was very quiet, but then the action ramped way up!

Four more black necked stilts were flying all around the first pond on the right. They were very active and noisy in what I think was courtship inspired chasing and calling to each other. We enjoyed watching and photographing them, but decided we’d better move on – we didn’t want to miss out on whatever else was going on. It turns out that was a very good idea.

At the next pond, the first thing I noticed was a flock of White Pelicans. They were pretty, but a bit far off for photos – and just swimming around out there feeding. Then we noticed the Black Skimmers.

I often see these birds along the north shore of the Bennet Causeway leading into MINWR. There, they usually huddle with the gulls and this makes for static looking photos. We didn’t see any there yesterday morning and we found out why at this place. It seems they were all over there and very active. I’ve never seen so much skimming. Long graceful glides over flat water with an uncluttered background, sometimes fairly close to shore. They use their longer, lower bills to slice through the surface searching for fish and write a sharp wake behind them. Wonderful to watch and with such good light, a near perfect opportunity for photographs.

Black Skimmer skimming
Black Skimmer skimming

There were other birds in the pond feeding and flying around close to shore – great conditions for BIF (Birds-in-Flight) photography practice! Several Roseate Spoonbills flew in (toward the camera for a change!) and posed beautifully at nearly perfect angles. We also enjoyed watching a Redish Egret, a very pretty Tri-colored Heron in breeding colors, and many other birds feeding.

Roseate Spoonbill, landing
Roseate Spoonbill, landing

After the excitement at BPWD, I didn’t think it could get any better, but I was hoping to show Larry a Florida Scrub Jay since he hadn’t photographed one before. We drove to Scrub Ridge Trail, parked and walked north along the path where I’ve seen them, but they weren’t there. Feeling a little let down, we walked back to the parking area and a very pretty Scrub Jay was waiting there to welcome us. We each got several photos in different poses / locations.

Our last stop was the Visitor Center. I was hoping that the Painted Buntings would still be around, but they seem to have moved on.

By the way, the 50th anniversary of MINWR is coming up on August 28th. If someone ever asks you about benefits from the US space program, you can mention the establishment of this extraordinary refuge. See this article in Wikipedia for more details.

I’ve rambled on for too long so here’s one more landscape from the morning to close this out:

Dock and pier at dawn
Dock and pier at dawn, IR B&W

I had a great time showing Larry around the area and he brought a lot of photo-luck with him! You can click on any of the photos above to see larger versions. You can also see more photos from MINWR in this set on Flickr, Black Point in this set, Birds in this set, and Florida Landscapes in this set. And I have many older posts on the site about MINWR – you can browse through them from this link. Larry posts to Smugmug and you can see his bird photos (including ones from this trip) at this link.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Merritt Island – February 9, 2013

I went over to Merritt Island this morning with Kevin K. and Kevin M.  It was crisp and clear, so there weren’t many clouds to enhance the sunrise, but we enjoyed watching it and making some photos anyway.  This one is from the Titusville Municipal Marina located just north of the Causeway.

Many morning masts at the Municipal Marina
Many morning masts at the Municipal Marina

After dawn, we drove through East Gator Creek Road but there wasn’t much to see, so then we headed to Black Point Wildlife Drive.  There were a lot of people there and a few unusual birds including a couple of Wilson’s (common) snipes, Lesser Scaups, and a Sora.  We also saw a Reddish Egret or two, lots of Coots, Pintails, Norther Shovelers, Osprey, White Pelicans, Hooded Mergansers, Roseate Spoonbills feeding in the distance, some Great Egrets (in breeding colors) and snowy egrets feeding at small pool on back side of the drive and a few other assorted ducks, shorebirds, and gulls.  One of the highlights was coming up on a pod of photographers going all paparazzi on this scene:

Great Blue Heron with breakfast
Great Blue Heron with Banded Water Snake – Fresh snake was on the menu this morning for breakfast (thanks to Karlie Carmen for helping with the snake ID).

Near the end of BPWD we saw a wild hog off in the reeds, but it ambled out of view before I could get my camera up.  I really need to practice my quick draw technique.

Kevin M. talked us into stopping by the Visitors Center and it’s good he did.  On the way there we sighted a Florida Scrub Jay, a Kestrel, a Red-tailed Hawk – and there were Brown-headed Cowbirds, male and female Painted Buntings, Cardinals, and other birds behind the  center.  It really did turn into an interesting morning.

Click on these two photos to go to Flickr, where you can see larger versions.  You can also see more photos from MINWR in this set on Flickr, and Black Point in this set.  And I have many older posts about MINWR  – you can look through them from this link.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

The year in review – My favorite photos from 2012

Happy Holidays!  Once again the season has snuck up on us.  I hope that all of you, your families, and your friends have a joyful and happy season!

Photographer Jim Goldstein has an annual tradition of organizing a “best photos of the year” listing.   I’m very glad he started this, since it’s a good reminder for each of us to take time to review results and contemplate how to improve our photography.  And also to put together an annual “Favorite photos of the year” post.

2012 was another good year for me photographically.  The 2012 folder on my hard drive takes up about 284 GB of space – almost double 2011.  There are 80 folders, and each one represents a separate “photo-op”, with a total of  over 6200 photos, so it does look like I’m trying!  I had a lot of opportunity to make good images this year, and I’m pleased with the results I achieved.  But it doesn’t seem like my ability and skills have grown as much this year as in the past.  Perhaps I’ve plateaued.  Maybe I don’t know what I don’t know about getting better.  Maybe I’m just getting more picky and critical.  Regardless, I think I need to make a stronger effort in 2013.

I’m still using the following system to rate my photos.  The numbers in parentheses are the counts for 2012.

  • 1 star   – The photo is interesting (174)
  • 2 stars – The photo is worth showing to others (396)
  • 3 stars – The photo is the best of (or one of the best of ) any given photo shoot (68)
  • 4 stars – My favorite photo of a year (1)
  • 5 stars – My favorite photo ever (still none, I’m not finished making photos yet!)

The rest of the photos don’t have stars and are seconds or not so good versions. I usually keep them, but they probably won’t get any more attention. This system seems to work for me and I’ve reviewed my 2012 photos and selected my favorites.  This is a hard process for any photographer.  It’s difficult to separate my opinion about a photograph from any emotional connections that I might have with the scene or situation.  But making this effort is important and part of the learning process.  Still, at the end of the day, I don’t claim to be objective about my photography.  These photos are the ones that I like best, so 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 go to the complete set on Flickr.

I have 1 miscellaneous subject, 1 mammal, 1 bird, 3 people photos, 7 landscapes, 3 sunrises, 0 sunsets, 6 color, 4 Black and White, and 4 Infra-Red photos.  Definitely a trend away from wildlife and toward landscapes and infra-red.  Here we go…

My number 1 favorite photo of 2012:

Many cypress trees
 Many cypress trees, Blue Cypress Lake, near Vero Beach, Florida, June.  

I have a thing for Cypress trees anyway and when I made my first and only visit to Blue Cypress Lake this year, the natural beauty of this place overwhelmed me.  I’m planning to return early next year when I can also see many nesting Ospreys and other birds.  See this post for more info.

My number 2 favorite photo of 2012:

Pre-dawn Jetty
 Pre-dawn Jetty, Jetty Park, Cocoa, Florida, October.  

When I saw this scene, I really liked the way the light on the walk drew my eye to the bottom left and then the rail and the jetty lead to the sun rays coming up from below the horizon.  So I straddled the rail with my tripod and made this photo.  See this post for more info.

My number 3 favorite photo of 2012:

Keb' Mo'
 Keb’ Mo’ in concert, Plaza Theatre, Orlando, Florida, February.

I like The Plaza and they often bring in acts that I like too.  We were lucky to get seats up front and when the spotlights lit up the smoke, I made this photo.  See this post for more info.

My number 4 favorite photo of 2012:

Water Dragon Sunrise
Water Dragon Sunrise, on board the Carnival Paridise in the Gulf of Mexico, April.  

I stalked this sunrise for about 45 minutes before this scene developed.  I’m happy I waited for it – sometimes patience pays off!  See this post for more info.

My number 5 favorite photo of 2012:

Submarine sunrise
 Submarine sunrise: The British Trident ballistic missile submarine HMS Vigilant leaving Port Canaveral, Florida just after dawn, October.

This was a bonus photo when the sub turned south after leaving the inlet and posed for us under the rising sun.  See this post for more info.

My number 6 favorite photo of 2012:

Cocoa Sunrise
 Cocoa Sunrise, North of the Hubert Humphrey Causeway in Cocoa, Florida, August.

This is an infra-red, fish-eye photo (an “IRFE”).  It’s a really good combination to shake up your photography and inspire some creativity.

My number 7 favorite photo of 2012:

Play time at Union Station
Play time at Union Station, Cincinnati, Ohio, December 2011

This photo missed the deadline for last year’s favorites – so I included it here.  I usually wait for people to clear out when I’m trying to make a photo. This time I went ahead and made it while these two girls played around the fountain. Since this is a stitched panorama, they show up multiple times, which I think adds to the image.  See this post for more info.

My number 8 favorite photo of 2012:

Cruising White Pelican
 Cruising White Pelican, Black Point Wildlife Drive, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Titusville, Florida, December.

White Pelicans are winter migrants to our area, so we don’t get to see them very often.  This one cruised right in and posed in the middle of my viewfinder.  I couldn’t have arranged it better!  See this post for more info.

My number 9 favorite photo of 2012:

On the beach
 On the beach, Venice Beach, Florida, September.

We were wandering around exploring the area near the Venice Pier. Since it was close to mid-day, I didn’t expect the light to be good, but I took my IR camera in case something came up. I think the IR characteristics add a lot of interest to the photo. And it makes a great example of how “playing around” can lead to good things.  See this post for more info.

My number 10 favorite photo of 2012:

Late night?
Late night?, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Orlando, Florida, May.

This photo was difficult to make since the lighting was challenging and I had to photograph the Gorilla through glass.  But it’s a great pose and expression and I was able to clean the image up considerably in post processing.  He looks like I’ve felt a few times.  See this post for more info.

And here is one last photo that I care a lot about:

The Senator
The “Senator” – a 3500 year old Bald Cypress tree, Big Tree Park, Longwood, Florida.

I made this image in September of 2011, so it doesn’t officially qualify for a 2012 favorite.  The reason I put it in this post is because in January of 2012, the tree caught fire, burned and collapsed. The fire was at first thought to have been caused by lightning, but later was determined to have been started by a woman inside the hollow tree so she could see the illegal drugs she was using. Now no one else will ever make a photo of this, so it became a lot more important to me in 2012.  What a crazy, sad event.  For more info see this post and this post.

If you’d like to see my favorite photos from earlier years, you can click on these links: 20092010, and 2011.

I hope you’ve had a great photo 2012 too.  Thanks for stopping by and looking at my 2012 favorites.  Now – go make some favorites of your own!
©2011 – 2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Happy Labor Day!

Like many people in the US, Lynn and I headed to the beach for Labor Day.  We really like Casey Key on the Gulf Coast of Florida just north of Venice.  Like always, it was very relaxing.  We swam, shelled, ate, walked the beach, and got plenty of sun.  I also had a little time for some photography.

Jetty Sunset
The north jetty at the inlet in Casey Key Florida is full of people fishing and watching the sunset. I watched from the south jetty in Venice. The sail boat was a nice bonus.

Willet on the beach
Willet on the beach – This bird was very cooperative.  When not fishing in the surf, it would occasionally come close.

On the beach
On the beach – We were wandering around exploring the area near the Venice Pier. Since it was close to mid-day, I didn’t expect any good light but I took my IR camera in case something came up. I think the IR characteristics add a lot of interest to the photo.

You can see some other photos from Casey Key in this set on Flickr.

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved