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Lake Apopka, 26 June 2021

Kevin M. asked if I wanted to go on a photo excursion yesterday and of course I agreed. Since I hadn’t been to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive since before the pandemic, we ventured out there. It was a really good choice.

Two birds I don’t see very often were quite common: Black-necked Stilts and Least Bitterns. The Stilts were all along the drive. At first, they were way out in the water or flying in the distance. Eventually we found some much closer – and even had to wait for them to get out of the road!

Black-necked Stilt Black-necked Stilt

There were some cute young ones toddling around too.

Black-necked Stilt Babies Black-necked Stilt Babies

The Least Bitterns were taking cover in the reeds and occasionally flying from one hiding spot to another.

In the reeds A Least Bittern in the reeds

There were lots of other birds too. These nesting Anhingas were a treat. I don’t think I’ve seen them nesting since I visited the Everglades.

When is lunch, Mom? Nesting Anhingas: When is lunch, Mom?

Kevin pointed out this next bird for me – one I’d never photographed before.

Great Crested Flycatcher Great Crested Flycatcher

The LAWD Gate doesn’t open until 7am so we usually can’t get any blue hour or sunrise photos. But I always like to make a photo of the pump house. I hadn’t tried this perspective yet and I think it looks good in B&W with those clouds in the background.

Lake Apopka Pumphouse Exterior Lake Apopka Pumphouse

We also saw Turtles, Alligators, a Marsh Rabbit, lots of dragonflies, a Blue Grosbeak (way, way far away!), a Downy Woodpecker, a Black-crowned Night Heron, Bank Swallows, Common Gallinules, Purple Gallinules (and babies), Ospreys, Red-winged Blackbirds, Green Herons, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, Little Blue Herons, and many lovely flowers too. And I’m sure there were other things I’ve forgotten to mention or overlooked.

Every time I visit LAWD, I’m reminded what a wonderful nature spot it is and how I need to go there more often. I’ll try! You can see more of my photos from there in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157656060310175

Header image: A Black-necked Stilt in flight

Way back in 2009, a group of friends at work were all interested in photography and getting out into nature here in Central Florida. We started a “club” we called the Photography Interest Group. We’d go out together, make photos, and share info on cameras, techniques, locations, etc. Over the years, people drifted away: lost interest, moved, etc. Kevin and I are the last two active members. He’s going to move away soon. We’ll keep in touch of course and may even be able to go out photographing together at times. But it seems like the Photography Interest Group has faded away. It was good while it lasted! I’ll miss you Kevin!

The Photography Interest Group on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/groups/1304505@N22/

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Cherish your family and friends. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you still can, make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Tennessee – May 2021

Here’s one more post to finish up with photos from our road trip. These are all from time we spent at and near the new Central Florida Photo Ops field office in Nashville, Tennessee.

I’d never heard of the Parthenon in Nashville’s Centennial Park before MK took us there. It was originally built for Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition in 1897 to celebrate Nashville’s nickname: “Athens of the South”.

Nashville Parthenon 1 Nashville Parthenon (iPhone)

The original structure was meant to be temporary. Nashvillians liked it so much that they didn’t want to tear it down – so they kept patching and repairing it until 1920 when the city decided to rebuild it with permanent materials. In 1982, work started on the statue of Athena which was completed in 1990, making this an exact size and detail replica of the original temple in Athens, Greece – both inside and out.

The surrounding Centennial Park grounds are beautiful too with many things in bloom while we were there.

Centennial Park flowers, by the Nashville Parthenon Centennial Park flowers, by the Nashville Parthenon (Thanks for this idea MK!)

The next photo is a multi-frame, stitched panorama I made of Nickajack Reservoir on the Tennesee River. It was another one of the very pleasant scenic surprises we encountered at highway rest stops on our journey. This one was along I-24 near Jasper Tennessee.

A peaceful pause A peaceful pause

Natchez Trace is a historic forest trail extending about 440 miles from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi. It was created and used by Native Americans for centuries. European and American explorers, traders, and emigrants also used it in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a scenic highway running along the route of the original trail. It was built starting in the 1930s and the final sections were completed in 2005.

Natchez Trace Parkway bridge, as seen from a nearby overlook on the north side. Natchez Trace Parkway bridge, as seen from a nearby overlook on the north side.

There are many historic sites along the parkway and sections of the original foot trail are still visible. I’m hoping to explore some of these next time.

The header image is also of the Natchez Trace Parkway, from the base of the bridge by the National Park Service sign.

The Stones River photos in my Memorial Day post from a few weeks ago are from Tennessee too.

I’m collecting all my photos from Tennessee in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157719274946967

We enjoyed our first visit to the area and are looking forward visiting again. Next week though, I’ll try to get back to some Central Florida Photo Ops! Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can, make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Pittsburgh, PA

Lynn and I attended this year’s Pressing Iron and Trivet Collectors convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  We like the Amtrak Autotrain and once again rode it from Sanford, Florida to Lorton, Virginia and then drove our car the rest of the way.

Pttsburgh pano 1Pittsburgh: Downtown along the Monongahela River

I’m still the “semi-official” PITCA photographer, so I spent a lot of time there photographing the people, activities, and displays.  I also presented a talk on “Collectible Photography” that seemed to go well.  But I did manage to fit in a bit of exploration time.

The first photo above is from a morning I spent up on Mount Washington  – what a spectacular view of the city!  Highly recommended if you’re ever nearby.

On another day, we went on a riverboat cruise that PITCA arranged for the group  and that’s highly recommended too.  Three different rivers converge in Pittsburgh, so there’s a lot of water and many bridges that add to the scenery.

Downtown PittsburghPittsburgh: From the junction of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny Rivers

I didn’t get a chance to ride Duquesne Incline, but it looks like fun too.

Duquesne Incline

Duquesne Incline – from the river up to Mount Washington

When I was a kid, we used to visit my grandparents every year.  We’d usually travel to Cedartown, Georgia in the summertime where my Mom’s folks lived.   At Christmas, we’d go to Cannonsburgh, Pennsylvania  to be with my Dad’s family.  I remember Pittsburgh only as an “almost there” waypoint on the route to Cannonsburgh – I don’t think we ever stopped.  As an adult, I visited Pittsburgh on business once or twice and went to see my Dad’s brother (also named Ed) who lived in Ambridge (just north-west of Pittsburgh).  But this is the first time I’ve ever actually had a little time to go into the city and look around.  I wish I’d done it sooner – Pittsburgh is very picturesque!

Pittsburgh pano 2Pittsburgh: West End Bridge and the Ohio River

After the convention, Lynn and I spent a few more days traveling around other parts of Pennsylvania and I have some photos from that I hope to share with you in a future post.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Florida Polytechnic University IST building

Florida Polytechnic is the state’s newest public university (classes opened in August of 2014).  It’s in Lakeland along the south side of I-4 where it intersects the Florida Parkway (570).  If you’ve driven by recently, you’ve almost certainly noticed their Innovation, Science and Technology building.

East side view 2IST building at dusk, from the east side

For anyone interested in architectural photography, this place is a special treat.  It’s beautiful during the golden hours, but there are also many interesting viewpoints, perspectives, angles, and details you can find at other times of day.

Outside, 2nd floor, west sideSecond floor exterior, on the west side

After sunset, the interior and exterior lighting and colors add even more drama to the scenes.

Polytech University 1Polytech University 1 (Photo by Tom Matthews, used with permission)

The building and campus layout were designed by Dr. Santiago Calatrava Valls, A Spanish architect, structural engineer, sculptor, and painter.  Besides being beautiful, it’s also very innovative – there are automatic louvers on the roof that adjust to changes in sunlight.

Parking is not difficult as there are paid parking lots available near the building.  You probably won’t be allowed inside the building unless you make prior arrangements.  But for exterior shots, the campus seems very photographer friendly.  You can view their photography guidelines at this link(sorry, no longer available).  If you do go, you might consider combining this photo-op with another one that’s close by – the Airstream Ranch. (Sorry, the Airstream Ranch is no longer there!)

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Lake Apopka wildlife Drive

My friend Tom M. wanted to go out shooting last week and hadn’t ever been to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. The drive itself is only open to cars from Friday through Sunday, so we met on Friday morning and went over.  It was raining when I got up and still cloudy on the way over, which made for interesting skies in my infrared photos.

Lake Apopka Pump HouseLake Apopka Pump House – 2 frame panorama, infrared, black and white.

We did have a bit of good light while we were there.  We saw this bird struggling to swallow a fish and stopped to watch for a few minutes.  It was on the side of a canal with the clouds reflecting in the water behind it and flowers blooming in front.  I stayed in the car so I wouldn’t bother it and shot a series of single frames while we watched.  This one was the best one of the series.

Nice catch! Nice catch! – an Anhiga tosses a fish it caught along a canal on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.

On this trip, I brought my micro four thirds cameras.  I’ve used the system for about four years and they’ve worked very well.  The dynamic range and noise performance are not as good as larger sensor cameras, but it’s “good enough”.  And the noise is not an issue for me.  DxO Optics Pro does an outstanding job processing the RAW files.  The focusing capabilities have been fast for static subjects – but I’ve never been able to do very well with continuous focus.  Well, I recently traded up to a used Olympus E-M1, which has phase detect sensors built into the image sensor and it’s been doing a great job with continuous focus. So much so that even for birds in flight it’s working “good enough” too.  Here’s an example from Friday:

Checking me outChecking me out – A hawk in flight looking at the camera

You can view other photos I’ve made with the micro four thirds system in this album on Flickr.

Lake Apopka is an awesome place, I’ll definitely go back.  I’m collecting photos from there in this folder on Flickr, and you can also read an earlier article I wrote about it here on the blog.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Cocoa – March 20, 2014

Keith H. mentioned that he’d like to visit the Cocoa Pier.  I hadn’t been in a while and when I checked The Photographer’s Ephemeris, it looked like the sun would rise lined up pretty well with the Pier this week, so we decided to go over.  We arrived early hoping for some star photo ops, but thick clouds and lights on the beach limited star visibility.  I did manage to capture a planet in this frame:

Venus rising past the pier
Venus rising past the pier – The clouds parted for a few moments before dawn

It’s pretty crowded underneath this pier, so the sun alignment wasn’t as big a deal as I hoped.  I caught a glimpse of it through the pilings and clouds just after dawn – here’s what it looked like:

Sunrise under the pier
Sunrise under the pier – The ship visible in the upper left was a bonus.

On the drive back, we stopped to photograph the new Port Canaveral Exploration Tower:

Port Canaveral Exploratio Center
Port Canaveral Exploration Tower – The new building is quite eye-catching! It wasn’t there the last time I drove by.

 A quick, but fun photo excursion.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Long exposure at Lake Eola

Deborah Sandidge and Jason Odell led a sunset photo walk around Lake Eola in downtown Orland on Friday evening.  I’ve followed their work online and wanted to meet them, so I signed up.  Conditions weren’t the best for sunset photography, but I still had a good time.  I used a neutral density filter to make several long exposure photos and I thought I’d walk you through my process.  First of all, here’s the final version:

Lake Eola - Orlando, Florida
Lake Eola – Orlando, Florida.  Long exposure, cloudy, sunset. You can click on this image to see a larger version on Flickr.

And here’s the initial version of this photo:

-_D8C7377- Ed Rosack

f/8, 25 seconds; after initial adjustments in Lightroom.

Here are the steps I went through to get to the final version:  First, I corrected the distortion to make the buildings vertical in Lightroom.  Then I edited it in Photoshop.  I used content aware fill to finish the vertical distortion fix, then added a layer and masked out noise from darker areas.  Finally, I ran the single image through Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 to enhance color, contrast and details.  Back in Light room again, I finalized exposure, contrast and white balance and applied sharpening and a small amount of vignette.  I like how it came out.
For comparison purposes, here’s a 1/20 second exposure of the same scene.

-_D8C7376- Ed Rosack

f/8, 1/20th second; Same initial adjustments as the version above.

Looking at the long exposure version, the main differences I see are:  the smooth sheen on the water surface, the much more prominent tree shadow in the lower right, and the radial motion blurring in the clouds.  The tree shadow surprised me the most.  In the short exposure version, the water ripples break up the shadow.  They don’t in the long exposure version, which makes the shadow much more interesting.

There are lot of upsides to long exposure photography and a few downsides.  For instance, since the wind was blowing so hard on Friday, some of the smaller tree branches are a little blurry.  Also, when you use very dense neutral density filters, your camera probably won’t auto expose or auto focus correctly, so you’ll have to take care of those things on your own.  And some of these filters can also add a color cast to your photos, so you may need to be careful with your color balance.  But all in all, it’s a great technique to have in your bag of tricks.  Have you tried it yet?  Why not?

You can see more photos from Lake Eola in this set on Flickr.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Photographic Perseverance, Providence, and Perspicacity

The scene below is not the one I thought I would photograph when we returned to Space View Park in Titusville, Florida last week.

Looking north at the Max Brewer Causeway before dawn
Looking north at the Max Brewer Causeway before dawn – This condo is right at the entrance to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I’d love to wake up there every morning!

You may remember this post from a few weeks ago.  That was a very foggy day and there were no real sunrise photo opportunities.  I wasn’t too happy with the landscape photos I made on that trip and wanted to try again.  This time, when we arrived before dawn, the first thing I noticed was the lighting on the Max Brewer Causeway leading to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  When I walked over to get a better look and perhaps make a photo, the reflection of the building in the water caught my eye.  I like how this turned out.

This photo illustrates why paying attention to the photographic application of three words could result in more photo ops for you:

  • Perseverance: Continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition; Keep trying until you can fulfill your vision;  Circumstances change and you may not get the photo you want on your first try (or your second …).  This was our second visit to Space View Park recently.  I still haven’t gotten a sunrise photo I’m truly happy with at this place.  I guess I’ll have to go back again!
  • Providence: Having foresight; care or preparation in advance; Try to anticipate conditions so you’re ready to take advantage of them.  Have the right equipment with you and know how to use it.  I had my tripod, cable release, and wide-angle lens ready for this shot.
  • Perspicacity:   The capacity to assess situations or circumstances shrewdly and to draw sound conclusions; Be able to react when the situation you anticipated isn’t what happens.  Have an open mind and look for images that you didn’t consider in your planning.  I didn’t just concentrate on the sunrise to the east.  I also looked around for other photogenic scenes.

After sunrise we also saw a common loon fishing very close to the docks.

Common Loon
Common Loon

Later on, we came across a couple of Belted Kingfishers that were more cooperative than usual.

Belted Kingfisher lady poses
Belted Kingfisher lady poses – These usually fly away from me as soon as I point a lens at them. This one was lazy or tired and sat still for a portrait.

Another fine day with a camera on Merritt Island!

If you think about the three words above, maybe they’ll help you come away with some photos you wouldn’t other wise get. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Merritt Island – January 2012

Four of us from the Photography Interest Group visited the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge yesterday for the first time this year.  It was a beautiful Florida morning and this place is rockin’!!

As usual, we looked for a sunrise photo first.  We found this old house behind the Brevard Community College and the sky cooperated.

Old house and sunrise
Old house and sunrise

It was really hard to decide on the highlight of this trip.  Before I left yesterday morning, I Googled MINWR, and saw a report of “a Great Horned Owl on a nest on the left near 402 and SR 3”.  Sure enough, we drove right up to it and it was there waiting there for us!  The internet is really handy, isn’t it?

Great Horned Owl on nest
Great Horned Owl on nest

The second contender for highlight of the day was a Clapper Rail.  I’d seen reports of these too, but I’d never seen one before and didn’t know what to look for.  We parked at the first parking area on Black Point Wildlife Drive and were exploring when we met a tourist from Brazil.  He pointed out the bird for us, but it was back in the shadows and with the glare from the sun it took me a while to see it even with him pointing right at it!  Fortunately, it moved a bit and I was able to get a photo.  We eventually saw three in this area and one more at the second parking area.

These Clapper Rails are hard to see...
These Clapper Rails are hard to see…

There were more people / cars on BPWLD yesterday than I’ve ever seen before.  A couple of times there were real traffic jams!  There were also more birds than I’ve seen there in a long time – maybe ever.  We saw Ospreys, Clapper Rails, Pintail Ducks, Coots, Moorhens, White Pelicans, Mottled Ducks, Green Wing Teals, Belted Kingfishers, Anhingas, Cormorants, Green Herons, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Reddish Egrets, Little Blue Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Savannah Sparrows, Tree Sparrows, Tricolored Herons, Woodstorks, Roseate Spoonbills, a Great Horned Owl, Painted Buntings, various gulls, Red-winged Blackbirds, and others.

After BPWLD, we drove by the owl again and it was still there.  Then we went by the visitor center to check on the Painted Buntings.  There were at least two of them at the feeder.  After that we had to return home – a couple of us had things to do in the normal world. 🙁

If you’ve meant to visit MINWR and haven’t made it yet – get out there now.  I’ve never seen it better!  You can click on the photos above to go to Flickr, where you can see a larger version as well as any comments and discussion about them.  Click here to visit my Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge set, and click here to visit my Black Point Wildlife Drive set on Flickr.

By the way, I started an “Ed’s Life List” page to record the bird species I’ve seen in the wild.  I’ll keep my list there and try to keep up to date as I go.  Please visit if you get a chance.

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.