Greetings, wonderful readers! Things are a bit busy here at the Central Florida Photo Ops HQ this weekend, so I’ll leave you with a quick post and some photos from a stroll down Park Avenue through Winter Park last Wednesday evening.
A quiet night “on the avenue”
A path into darkness
Blue Hour Motion – A train passing behind one of the fountains in Winter Park, Florida
I made these a little after sunset during “blue hour” – I like the look of the light. You can see a few other photos I’ve made in Winter Park in this album on Flickr.
This gorgeous park is about 14 miles south of Tallahassee and surrounds a first magnitude spring. Water from the Floridan Aquifer flows into the Wakulla and through the St. Marks Rivers to the Gulf of Mexico. The flow comes out of an extensive cave system and divers have explored about 12 miles of the network. It’s been a popular place with film crews and several movies were filmed here, including Creature from the Black Lagoon.
You can see how clear the water is in the photo above. It was even clearer: When Lynn and I were last there (~ 15 years ago) we could see the mouth of the spring from the surface. But now:
“Sadly, Glass-Bottom Boat Tours over the spring basin have become the exception rather than the rule in recent years. Tea-stained or green water impedes the penetration of light needed to view the impressive features of the deep chasm of Wakulla Spring. Heavy rains combined with other factors still to be fully understood are thought to be the cause of decreased visibility.” https://www.floridastateparks.org/park-activities/wakulla-springs#Boat-Tours
Even though the glass bottom boat tours are rare, they run guided riverboat tours every day – make sure you take one. The Wakulla River is protected in the park and they’re the only boats allowed. It’s an isolated and very pretty ride, and in addition to the scenery we saw lots of wildlife including Manatees, Turtles, and birds. The ranger even pointed out a Yellow-crowned Night Heron on the nest with chicks – a life bird for me. Unfortunately, it was far back in the leaves and my photo isn’t good at all. 🙁
Alligators were up on the banks and swimming in the river although we didn’t see any close to the roped off swimming area. When I asked the ranger about that he said “We have an agreement with the gators.” I hope it’s a binding contract!
Built in the 1930s, the Lodge is on the National Register of Historic Places. If you want to get away from it all, this is a fine place to do it. There’s no television, and cell reception is spotty at best. But they have telephone land lines and even wi-fi now! There’s also a nice dinning room so you don’t have to leave the park for meals.
Edward Ball Lodge exterior
We also enjoyed the live entertainment and beverages while reading in the lobby.
Edward Ball Lodge lobby
If you get a chance, Wakulla Springs is obviously worth a visit. Reservations at the lodge are much easier to get than at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. Lynn and I need to go back more often than every 15 years.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!
The new Dr. P. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts was finished after our last trip and I was looking forward to seeing it at night. It’s an impressive building and the architecture and lighting make it an attractive photo subject. Here are two views of the main entrance:
Dr. Phillips Center 1 – The new performing arts center in downtown Orlando
Dr. Phillips Center 2
City hall is just west of the Performing Arts Center. This view is looking up at the front doors from the base of the steps:
Orlando City Hall
Church Street Station is even further west and a bit north. This sidewalk next to the SunRail tracks passing through caught my eye:
Street parking is hard to find. There are convenient parking garages – we used the one on South Orange Avenue at the Plaza Cinema Cafe. I’d like to find a garage with access to the roof and a good panoramic view. If you find one, please let me know!
The area by the Dr. Phillips Center / City Hall is well-lit and photogenic. Lake Eola is also very popular with photographers.
There are a lot of people around early in the evening so the areas seem relatively safe, but be careful.
A wide-angle lens and tripod will help your architectural photos. A high ISO capability and bright lens would be good if you want to try hand-held street photos.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
I seem to have a preference for wide views. Hence my attraction to stitched multi-frame panorama images. They’re a great way to extend the field of view of lenses you have with you.
Keith H. and I walked around downtown Orlando for a few hours one day last week. I made a lot of photos, and after getting home and reviewing them, my favorites all turned out to be stitched panoramas. I guess I just enjoy being able to see the whole scene. Here are three examples:
Back alley break – A woman takes a work break on the back stairs. 4 frame panorama
Also, I hardly ever make selfies, but on this walk I ended up with two that I like – although they aren’t typical of the genre.
A window selfie – Looking south across Church Street from the 4th floor of the Plaza parking garage. That’s my reflection in the glass towards the middle bottom. Infra Red, Black & White, 4 frame panorama. (Click for a larger view on Flickr)
And this next one isn’t a Black & White photo – the sidewalk and wall were that color.
Cracks me up – A shadow selfie. 3 frame panorama.
You might find you like stitching panoramas too. I’ve written about them before. This article has a detailed workflow example and there are some more ideas in this post. Composition can be difficult since you can’t see the final image through your viewfinder as you capture it. Try to cover a larger area than you think you’ll need so you can crop into the assembled image to fine tune the composition. And watch out for long lines and patterns of lines. Look for any errors / mismatched lines between frames after you stitch them together and clean them up with the clone tool.
Besides downtown itself, there are several areas in Orlando with interesting photo ops: the Plaza Theatre, Leu Gardens, Lake Eola, Meade Gardens, and Greenwood Cemetery. I’ve collected photos from all of them in this set on Flickr.
There are a lot of posts on here about nature / wildlife / landscape photography in our area. But the blog isn’t only about those subjects – it’s about Central Florida Photo Ops in general. So this week we have something a little different…
Central Florida’s new commuter rail system opened on May 1. The first phase of SunRail is 32 miles long and connects DeBary to Sand Lake Road, with 12 intermediate stations. The fares have been free for the first two weeks while they work the kinks out of the system. And I had some free time – so it was a perfect chance to check it out.
Trains run every 1/2 hour during the morning and evening rush hours and every two hours in the middle of the day. Getting there early gave me more opportunities to get on and off the train and explore nearby locations. And sometimes the light is really pretty in the morning too!
A beautiful morning to catch the train – at the Maitland SunRail platform
The trains are new, clean, modern, air-conditioned, and the morning I rode they were all on time. They’ve been crowded with many folks riding for free to scope out the system. But by the time I boarded last Wednesday the crush had thinned out – I had no problem getting seats all morning.
There are plenty of scenic locations within walking distance of the SunRail stations. Exploring them all would take longer than a morning so I only stopped at three: Orlando Health, Winter Park, and Maitland. Finding subjects to point my camera at was easy. Here are two examples:
Seaboard Coast Line – Amtrak Station
Lucy Bleuz and the Jazzy Dog – they look like good places to eat
I didn’t try photographing from inside the train – motion and glare would make it tough. But there are some interesting sights between stops. If you want to try this, the east side of the car in the afternoon might have the best shots and light.
Initially, SunRail isn’t operating on weekends – so you’ll need to get around another way on Saturday / Sunday. But if you have time during the week, it’s an enjoyable experience. And did I mention there are photo ops?
Maitland is a particularly photogenic city in the greater Orlando metro area. I’ve found several locations there with good photo ops – my most recent visit was to the Maitland Art Center with Keith H.
Way out: A gate in the wall at the Maitland Art Center (Infrared, Black and White)
The Maitland Art Center used to be known as The Research Studio and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It’s one of the few examples in our area of Mayan Revival architecture, which can make for some intriguing details to photograph. The grounds are a popular place for weddings. You may run into one on weekends that will keep you out of one or more of the venues.
Mayan Revival carved door – I wonder if this is where Indiana Jones keeps his stuff?
And the park at Lake Lilly is also photogenic. Try some sunrise or sunset photos there, or walk through the farmers market on Saturdays for some local interest / people photos. Be careful the ducks don’t peck on your lens!
Wide angle, backlit, ducklings at Lake Lilly – looking for a handout
And the Fort Maitland boat ramp at 900 South Orlando Ave. would be a great place to launch your kayak!
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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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!
Tom M. and I went over to Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park in Flagler Beach, Florida. The buildings there were built out of the local coquina rock starting in 1821. It was thriving in 1831 when John James Audubon visited. It’s been abandoned since the Second Seminole War and was burned by Seminole Indians in 1836. The walls and chimneys of the sugar mill on the site remain standing today and are listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Bulow Plantation Ruins
The park has a hiking trail, a boat ramp, screened picnic pavilion, and a park interpretive center with original artifacts and exhibits. The boat ramp is on Bulow Creek, which is a designated Florida State Canoe Trail. It’s open 9 – 5, Thursday through Monday, and there’s a $4 / car entry fee.
I’ve always wanted to see Chicago. It’s my birthplace – but we moved away shortly after I was born. For some reason, I never made it back until this year. I spent a few days exploring at the end of September. My daughter had a business trip there and some spare frequent flyer points, so she gave me a ticket. Thanks, MK!!!
Chicago and Lake Michigan from the air – my first photo of the trip. It was wonderfully clear as we approached the city. You can really see how large Lake Michigan is.
Mary was busy, so I booked a hotel downtown and spent the first afternoon and evening wandering around by the lake shore. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a bit of a problem. I wasn’t used to all that walking and ended up with sore feet and blisters. Which didn’t help me to walk around on the following days – but I still managed to get a few photos.
I did some research online and asked a few questions about places to photograph. One of my Flickr contacts (Brian Koprowski) lives in the area and gave me several good hints. Thanks to him, I ended up at the Adler Planetarium on the first evening. The sunset wasn’t that exciting, but I thought the city across the water at twilight was pretty.
City at twilight
I also liked this fisheye view of the Field Museum that I made on my way back to the hotel. It reminded me of the movie “Night at the Museum“, although that wasn’t filmed here.
Night at the museum – Field Museum
The next day I again walked the city (and made my feet worse). My first stop was the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), where there’s a view from the glass balcony observation deck on the 103rd floor. A wonderful place for a fisheye lens!
From the top of Chicago – Another fisheye view. This one is from the Willis Tower observation deck, 1353 feet above the city
There’s a lot to see around the city including a great deal of sculpture and artwork. And glass on the buildings creates many compositional opportunities. In this image, I waited for the photographer on the near right to get into place so I could finish my photo – I had hoped she’d move a bit more to the left, but oh well.
Flamingo – This artwork by Alexander Calder is in the Federal Plaza
Here’s another rather strange piece of street art. I couldn’t resist adding a little “digital makeup” in Photoshop.
Later that evening I ended up in Millennium Park where the Cloud Gate sculpture is located. I liked the scene – with all the people contrasting with the buildings and sculpture.
Cloud Gate (AKA “the bean”)
My son Mike drove down to meet us and we spent the next morning riding the “L” train, bicycling along the lake shore, and visiting Portillo’s Delli for a Chicago Dog. When Mary joined us that afternoon we took a boat tour on the Chicago River and ate some very good Chicago deep dish pizza for dinner. The final morning before our flight back to Orlando we toured the Museum of Science and Technology and drove by Mercy Hospital where I was born. I was only a little disappointed that there was no “Welcome Back Ed!” banner above the hospital entrance.
I enjoyed my short visit and definitely felt a kinship with this wonderful city. I want to go back again and see more. It’s so diverse that no trip as short as this could possible do it justice.
You can see larger versions of these photos and some others from our Chicago trip in this set on Flickr.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!