Florida cow country: Joe Overstreet Road goes right through several cattle pastures. I imagine they look the same as they did a hundred years ago.
Snail Kite launch. We usually see one at the landing and it may be the same bird each time.
Killdeer in flight. I normally find these on the ground. This is the first time I’ve managed a flight photo of one.
Bird on a wire 4 – American Kestrel. I rarely catch sight of these and was excited to spot several on this trip.
Sandhill Cranes on final approach. There were more Sandhill Cranes (~50+) in the pastures along Joe Overstreet that morning than I’ve ever seen in one place before. I’m guessing the extras were winter migrants in from Wisconsin. Several of the cranes were banded.
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Not a great photo, but this is a life bird (first sighting) for me – so I’ll include it. There were two and they stayed quite far away from us.
Osceola County / Joe Overstreet Road is a wonderful place! In addition to the eagles and these birds, we also spotted Purple Gallinules, Ospreys, Eastern Meadowlarks, Loggerhead Shrikes, Palm Warblers, Eastern Phoebes, Savanah Sparrows, our normal wading birds and others. We looked for Bobwhites and Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (at Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area), but didn’t find any.
Kevin M. and I knowingly and by chance violated many photography thumb rules yesterday morning. My first example:
Sunrise over the pasture
As landscape photos go, it breaks rules: It’s not all in focus; I didn’t use a low ISO to minimize noise; I used a long lens (so I could keep power lines out of the frame), not a wide-angle ; And I didn’t use a tripod. But I like how it turned out. I’m pleased by the composition and colors. It also has a bit of mystery with the fog, and the cows that are a bit hidden. Florida does look like this.
Next up are some bird photos. In Florida, July is one of the hottest months. Most photographers know this and many choose to stay inside – because the birds know this too and many of them also seem to disappear when it’s this hot. So what did we do? We went out looking for birds.
When we were photographing sunrise, we heard Bobwhites calling and spotted this one on the fence by the pasture. It was very patient and waited with us for better light. But I still had to violate one of my thumb rules and shoot at ISO 3200 to get a decent photo. By the way, let me just say again that technology today is wonderful. This image was at a focal length of 600mm, with a shutter speed of 1/50 second, hand-held!
The Burrowing Owl was a little way down on the same fence line. By this time the light was somewhat better and I could shoot at ISO 1600 and 1/100 sec. Still pretty impressive stabilization and sensor performance.
We did spot some other not so common birds including Brown-headed Nuthatches, Common Ground Doves, and Eastern Meadowlarks.
On the way back, we went by a farm where one of Florida’s Whooping Cranes hangs out. I’ve been there several times looking for it without success. Until this time:
Whooping Crane and two Sandhill Cranes
This is more of a record shot than a great photo. The light is harsh and the birds are beyond the range limit for this lens so it’s cropped in. And the July heat was making waves too, harming the image quality. But I still like it. Thumb rules? Who needs stinking’ thumb rules!
Until the 1930s, Whooping Cranes occurred naturally in Florida (see this article on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation site). There have been efforts to re-introduce them by leading them with ultra-light planes on migration routes (see this site). In January 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced they’d “stop supporting the use of ultralight aircraft to help young whooping cranes migrate from Wisconsin to Florida each fall”. Studies show that interacting with humans has a negative effect on the birds. I’m pretty sure this particular Whooping Crane is a survivor of the program. It’s banded yellow over green on its left leg, but a short google search didn’t turn up any info.
So rules of thumb are good – especially if you understand them and know when to break them. Breaking the rules led me to a sunrise photo I like and four life-birds yesterday (thanks Kevin!). By the way, you can click on any of these for larger versions on Flickr.
And thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!
Lynn and I drove over to the Suwannee River west of Gainesville, Florida last week and stayed for a couple of nights at Fanning Springs State Park in one of their cabins.
Into the Suwannee River – The Manatee Springs run into the Suwannee.
It turns out that April is peak season for Fireflies, at least around here. It’s been many years since we’ve seen any and it was a treat to watch them. On the second night, I set up my camera on a tripod and used the remote control app on my phone to make this photo from the mosquito free comfort of the screened porch at the cabin.
Fireflies 2 – I used my Olympus E-M5 Mark II in Live Composite mode. This is an ~11 minutes total exposure, with ~330 frames at 2 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1600 each. Composited in camera.
We saw other wildlife too, including lots of birds and a few Gulf Sturgeons jumping in Fanning Springs. I managed to catch this snake swimming through the high water at Manatee Springs with my iPhone.
Florida Brown Water Snake – Manatee Springs, Florida
It’s a great time of year for a drive in Central Florida too. We enjoyed the beautiful wildflowers blooming along most of the roads.
Train Track Wildflowers – Next to the Williston, Florida Train Depot
And the farms in the Ocala area along our route are both scenic and idyllic.
Greener Pastures – A cattle ranch near Ocala, Florida
Fanning Springs and Manatee Springs are about 7 miles apart along the Suwannee. Both offer kayaking, and swimming (usually), and many other activities. High water at Fanning closed the swimming when we were there, but Manatee was open.
You can rent kayaks and canoes, and if you put in at Fanning, you can coast with the current down to Manatee. There’s a service that will return you back to your starting point. This sounds like a relaxing paddle to Lynn and I and we plan to try it next time. We’ll have to watch out for the jumping Sturgeons, though. There’s also a pontoon boat tour you can take from the concession at Manatee.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go enjoy some Florida State Parks and make some photos too!
This is the story of a photograph that I made a couple of weeks ago when we were in Wisconsin at the Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary, and how I eventually made a print that I was happy with. Along the way, Lynn laughed at me for taking so much time to print a single photo and my photo friends gave me all sorts of suggestions on techniques to make this come out right (some of which I even used – thanks, Keith).
I knew when I saw this scene that there was a photo here. The lighting conditions were overcast and gloomy – exactly right for the kind of image I wanted, but this made capturing the photo a little difficult. And, it turns out – made printing the photo even more difficult.
I had my Canon G9 with me and used the built in flash in fill mode. I had visions of a 13×19 inch print, so I kept it in ISO 80 and saved it in RAW (like I always do). The skull on the ground looked like good foreground material, so I cranked the lens to the most wide angle setting and got up close to make this exposure (this is straight out of the camera, with no re-touching other than conversion from raw in Lightroom 2)(click on this image for a larger version).
This is an interesting scene, I really liked the concept of this photograph, but the initial image left a lot still in my imagination. The sky is washed out, the skulls on the pole are way too dark, and the foreground skull is too bright. Also, the grass in the foreground is too bright and distracting (among other things).
I tried various methods over several days to make it work using mostly Lightroom2 and some Photoshop tools. Lightroom2 has some very nice new local adjustment tools which I played around with along with the usual curves, etc. to darken the sky and lighten the pole skulls. I also used the black and white conversion tools in Lightroom2 and generated the version of the photo that is posted in my previous blog entry. This was a lot better than the initial photo, but I thought it could be better. Here’s where Keith comes in. “Why not run it through Photomatix?” he said. “Why didn’t I think of that?” I said. And so …
Here are the steps I went through over several days (some of the steps multiple times – it’s a good thing Lightroom is a non-destructive editor)
1. Basic exposure, clarity, curves, etc. adjustments
2. Create 3 virtual copies of the image – one for the sky, one for the skulls on the pole, and one for the foreground. Adjust each one separately: First adjust the exposure and then convert to Black & White to highlight the appropriate features. Export these as 16 bit .tiff files.
3. Use Photomatix Pro 3.0 to create a combined HDR of the 3 B&W .tiffs, then tone map the HDR file and save.
4. Load the tone mapped file into Photoshop. Clone as needed from the appropriate B&W conversion file to highlight the skulls on the poles. Clone out a portion of the horn on the foreground skull. Crop to the final dimensions. Adjust levels, sharpen for output.
Here is the final image (click for a larger version):
If you want more details on the steps I went through, I’ve posted the intermediate photos for each step at this link .
It is quite a bit different from the original, and it looks pretty good enlarged to 13″x19″ (especially for a point and shoot camera). So I think it was worth the extra effort. What do you think?
We stayed an extra day and a half after Sara and Mike’s wedding to make sure everyone got back to the airport OK and all the tuxedos got returned, etc.
We also wanted some time to ourselves to relax a little bit. The weather on Monday was a bit sporty, so we didn’t want to spend all day outside at the Wisconsin state fair. Lynn did a little research on the web and located a wildlife sanctuary about 50 miles north of where we were staying, so we decided to drive up there and take a look. We wanted to see a little bit more of Wisconsin and ended up taking mostly back roads on the way up. It was a very pleasant drive (until we ran into some construction – but we routed around that easily enough). One place we went through was Port Washington, on the coast of Lake Michigan. It is a scenic little town, although they seem to have been hit pretty hard by the slow economy. This first picture is their lighthouse, built in 1860.
The Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bend Wisconsin was our main destination for the day. They have elk, bison, big horn sheep, several variety of deer, wild turkey, and other animals. You can drive through the property in a golf cart and if you’re quiet and the animals cooperate, you can see quite a few of them. The day we were there it was very overcast and in fact started to rain fairly hard by the end of our visit. Photography was quite a challenge due to the low illumination. I was traveling light with just my Canon G9, which is not a good low light camera, so my photos of the bison, are a bit blurry. Oh well – there’s always next time.
I do like this photo of a native American animal skull display. I’m thinking about making a large print for my office at work. I’m hoping it will warn my enemies to stay away. The rest of my photos from this trip are at https://edrosack.com/Port-Washington