Tag Archives: Cypress

Blue Cypress Ospreys

May 12, 2017 update:  We’re far behind on rainfall here in Central Florida, so the water level in many lakes is very low.  It’s a good idea to call Middleton’s Fish camp (800-258-5002) and check on conditions at Blue Cypress Lake and whether rental boats / tours are available before you go down.

Here are a few more photos from our trip to Blue Cypress Lake.   Last week I only posted IR images, so this time I’ll use all color photos.

Joe Middleton's restJoe Middleton’s rest

It’s peaceful there.  Whenever our boat was still, the calling Ospreys and Whistling Ducks seemed very loud.  Occasionally we could also hear quiet voices from other boats carried across the water.

Many of the Osprey nests are in smaller trees out in the water.  The boats can maneuver for a good vantage point and standing up in the pontoon boats puts you almost at eye level with the wild birds – providing a wonderful view of their behaviors.

Breakfast timeBreakfast time – These chicks were very tiny.  The third one (low in front) shows how well they blend in.

Don told us that the younger chicks were probably from migratory birds, since they start nesting a bit later than the year round residents.  In this next photo,  two year round juvenile birds look almost ready to fledge.

Mama and two juvenile OspreyMama and two juvenile Osprey.

The Ospreys don’t have any trouble catching fish.  But getting a photo of one with a fresh whole catch is a challenge.  They almost always stop right away and consume the heads.

Osprey with fishOsprey with fish.

And then deliver the rest back to the nest for their mate and chicks.

Special deliverySpecial delivery

I have more photos from Blue Cypress Lake in this album on Flickr. And Kevin K. has posted his from last Friday in this folder.

I hope I’ve given you some sense of what a wonderful place this is.  You owe it to yourself to go and experience it.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Beautiful Blue Cypress

May 12, 2017 update: We’re far behind on rainfall here in Central Florida, so the water level in many lakes is very low. It’s a good idea to call Middleton’s Fish camp (800-258-5002) and check on conditions at Blue Cypress Lake and whether rental boats / tours are available before you go down.

Lone cypress at dawnLone cypress at dawn  (IR, B&W, panorama).

The trees at Blue Cypress Lake are simply gorgeous.  Their shapes remind me of  Bonsai, although I think instead Bonsai should remind me of these trees.  The ones here are all completely natural, formed by nature into elegant sculptures.  I love the way my infrared camera renders them.  The bright needles and clouds against the darker sky and water is very appealing.

Lynn and I spent last Thursday night near Vero Beach and met Kevin K. at Middleton’s Fish Camp just before sunrise on Friday.  Middleton’s is the only camp and the only development at all on Blue cypress Lake.  The rest of the lake and shore is completely pristine and undisturbed – very rare in our state.  It’s also quiet.  And peaceful.  And just stunning.

Photographing Blue Cypress LakePhotographing Blue Cypress Lake  (IR, B&W).

I wrote about Blue Cypress Lake back in June of 2012, and that’s worth a read if you’re interested.  All of the info there is still current.

This place really is Florida unspoiled, and a photographic “target rich environment”.  We went on one of their pontoon boat tours at first light and Don (our guide) was knowledgable and skilled at navigating in and among the trees near the shore.   He mentioned that this lake and the surrounding swamp form the headwaters of the St. Johns River, which flows north to the ocean in Jacksonville – something I didn’t know.

Lone cypress and OspreyLone cypress and Osprey  (IR, B&W, panorama).

Blue Cypress Lake is also home to a large colony of Osprey.  There are 200+ breeding pairs with  eggs, hatchlings, and some almost fledged juveniles in nests in the Cypress trees.  The birds fish in the surrounding swamp and carry their catch  back for the young.  Many of these Osprey are migratory and leave for South America after raising their young – something else I didn’t realize.

Jeanne Middleton told me that prime nesting time starts around 10 April so we hit it just about right.  I made a lot of photos of the Osprey last Friday too.  I’ll finish processing them and post them soon.

I have more photos from Blue Cypress Lake in this album on Flickr. And Kevin K. has posted his from last Friday in this folder.

I should go down there and write about this place more often.  It deserves to be seen, photographed, and saved for the future.  Have you been?  If not, what are you waiting for?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – get some of your friends, head down to Blue Cypress Lake, and make some photos!

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Around Dixie Lake

We spent a few days last week at Lake Louisa State Park.  We stayed in one of their very nice 2 bedroom cabins with our friends Nancy and Howard T.  The cabins are up high with a fabulous views of Dixie Lake, one of the three main lakes in the park.  The photos in this blog post are all of this lake.

We were eating dinner on  Tuesday evening when this started to develop.  I quickly grabbed my camera, excused myself, and rushed to photograph this superb sunset.

View from the shore of Dixie Lake at duskView from the shore of Dixie Lake at dusk

We also enjoyed riding our bicycles – the hills are a change from the flatlands where we live.  Returning from a ride on Monday, Howard noticed this Sundog – one of the most colorful I’ve seen.

SundogSundog

The cabins are just a short walk from the lake shore. The reflections and reeds made a pretty scene even in the middle of the day.

View from the shore of Dixie LakeView from the shore of Dixie Lake

Across the lake from the cabins, the park has kayaks for rent.  Wednesday morning we started there and paddled all the way ’round.  It was windy and got stronger as we went, but we planned well and travelled clockwise which helped a bunch.  The eastern shore sheltered us from the strongest winds and on the last bit along the western shore, the wind moved us along at a good clip.  I like the many interesting trees and stumps we saw on the way.

Cypress stumpCypress stump

Wildlife was scarce on this visit.  We did see a gopher tortoise on the way in and a few birds including (what I think was) a Common Nighthawk, a hawk or two, ducks going after fish and some others.  I didn’t spot any deer, turkey, or even alligators but I’m sure they’re there.

Lake Louisa is close to Orlando and a wonderful place to relax and get away from it all.  I  highly recommend going if you get the chance!  You can see other posts I’ve written about it here on the blog.  And I’ve collected an album of Lake Louisa photos here on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Fireflies at Fanning Springs

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 RiverInto 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 2Fireflies 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 SnakeFlorida 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 WildflowersTrain 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 PasturesGreener 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!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Modern Monochrome Homework

You may have noticed that I like Black and White photography.  It’s how I started out, way back when (with Tri-X film, developed in a make-shift darkroom).  So I’ve done it for a while, but I’m mostly self-taught.  I’ve studied many books and looked at a lot of online info, but I felt it would be good to take a course and expose myself to techniques and ideas I haven’t discovered on my own – to see how others are doing it.

I signed up for “Modern Monochrome” at the Crealde School of Art in Winter Park, Florida.  The course promises to cover “the aesthetic qualities of black-and-white photography, seeing in black and white, RGB conversion methods, tonal relationships, luminosity versus luminance, and demonstrations in Photoshop and Lightroom.”

I was a little worried at the first session.  There were a couple of people who didn’t appear to meet the prerequisites and it seemed like we’d struggle trying to bring them up to speed.  But they ended up dropping out and the remaining students all easily kept up with the agenda.

Next week is our last class and we owe the instructor ten B&W images.  I thought you might be interested in seeing some of the ones I’m going to turn in.

Wild OrchidsWild Orchids – at Fort Christmas

High Key GrebeHigh Key Grebe – along Black Point Wildlife Drive

Gloomy dawnGloomy dawn – Blue Cypress Lake

Misty MarshMisty Marsh – Orlando Wetlands Park

The instructor’s going to critique our work and I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

This course has definitely lived up to my expectations.  I learned several techniques in Photoshop – some that I’d heard about and never tried, and others that were completely new to me.  I also enjoyed discussing printing techniques and I intend to apply these more in the future.  I haven’t been printing my photographs as much recently as I should.  The course was also a great incentive to think about and practice photography and especially B&W processing.

You can see some other photographs I made for the course in this set on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – take a photography course – and go make some photos!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Orlando Wetlands and B&W Conversion Software

Here are three photos I made at Orlando Wetlands Park last Thursday morning.

Waiting for sunrise at Lake Searcy
Waiting for sunrise at Lake Searcy

My favorite program for converting images to black and white is the Nik Silver Efex Pro plug-in.  I wanted to try a new one called “Tonality” by Macphun software.  I processed these next two photos in both programs so I could compare results.

Cypress and calm water
Cypress and calm water

Clear and very calm
Clear and very calm

Tonality is an exceptionally complete B&W conversion program with lots of presets and sliders to play with.  It also has some built-in capabilities you might not expect such as layers, gradients, and selective edits.  These come in handy when you want to combine several conversions without going through layers in Photoshop.  Silver Efex Pro’s control points provide some of the same selective edit capability, but for me, the Tonality controls are more flexible.  Tonality also has lens blur and glow simulations  and the ability to blend in texture patterns.  Lots of presets, options, and control!

I noticed that the clarity control in Tonality sometimes resulted in halos that I has to tone down.  But I found that overall I preferred the Tonality result over the Silver Efex version for these two photos.  I don’t know if this will hold up long-term, since I’m pretty sure you can achieve very similar results with either one.  I’m going to keep playing with it and see.

By the way, Tonality is Mac only, Silver Efex runs on both Mac and PC.   There are free trial versions you can download, so check them out yourself and see what you think.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Orlando Wetlands Park, 16 August 2014

After the trip to Maine, I was looking forward to getting back out and photographing here in Florida.  So it was up early (not as early as Cadillac Mountain!) and out the door to meet Tom M. at Orlando Wetlands before dawn last Saturday.

Nature foiled our sunrise plans and instead served up some semisolid, soupy fog for our photo enjoyment.

Foggy morning 1
Misty morning 1

And we did enjoy it.  It was interesting looking for compositions in the mist and trying to find foreground objects to add some definition to the photos.  I like the one above but after looking at it on the computer, I wish I’d moved a bit to separate the near and far grass on the left.  I didn’t see the overlap when I made the photo.

It took a while for the sun to burn through the fog.  That gave us time to try several different places.  I thought the south shore of Lake Searcy and the southwest corner of cell 16A were very photogenic.  I especially liked the light on the close leaves in this scene.

Foggy morning 2
Misty morning 2

Discovering beauty in unexpected places or situations is one of the addictive things about photography.  Sunrises shouldn’t all be super saturated.

New subject:  The Lake Jessup flowers will begin blooming at the end of September.  Here’s a link to my post about last year’s flowers, with much more info on them.  Make your plans now!

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Lake Louisa State Park

Update (5/30/14):  See this related post on 5 Mile Road.

Intro / Description

Lynn, Mary, and I spent the first weekend in May at Lake Louisa State Park (LLSP).  It’s located just southwest of Orlando in Clermont, Florida.   LLSP is 4500 acres of rolling hills including six lakes with 105 acres of shoreline.  There’s a range of camping options and 20 very nice, two bedroom, furnished cabins that you can stay in.  Activities include fishing, canoeing and kayaking, biking, swimming, hiking, and horseback riding.

This is another case of me wondering why it took so long to visit somewhere.  My friend Kevin M has mentioned it several times, but I never seemed to get over there – until now.  It’s truly scenic and I’ve included more images than normal in this post – I apologize if it loads slowly.

Info for Photographers

There’s a lot to photograph there and the variety of landscapes is greater than many places in the area.  Hills are rare around here, but this park has them, some over 100 feet high. I made this photo on the hillside above the road by the cabin where we stayed.

Wildflowers and dewey grass at dawn
 Wildflowers and dewey grass at dawn

May 5-11 is national wildflower week and LLSP was doing its part.  Several wildflowers were blooming, including Prickly-pear Cactus, Passion Flowers, Lantana, and others.  I think we were lucky to see such a variety in bloom.  The Passion Flower blooms are supposed to last for only one day.

All of the lakes in the park are great habitats for Cypress Trees and Spanish Moss – very scenic and a classic Florida landscape look.

Lake Dixie shore
Lake Dixie shore – From the fishing dock in the campground on the south side of the lake

The Cypress tree trunks can also be very interesting.

Nature's sculpture
Nature’s sculpture – The older, weathered cypress tree shapes can be very unusual

There’s a variety of wildlife at LLSP, although not as much as some other locations in Central Florida.  For instance, eBird lists 112 species at LLSP vs 293 in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  We spotted nesting Ospreys (with chicks / juveniles), Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Black Vultures, Wild Turkeys, Nighthawks, a Swallow-tailed Kite, wading birds, vultures, Gopher Tortoises, Alligators, Deer, Crayfish,  grackles and a few other species.

Osprey returning to nest
An Osprey returning to her nest to check on her chick

Photo hints:

Most state parks in Florida seem to open at 8am, which makes early morning photography a challenge.  Since we were staying there, we could photograph whenever we wanted.  This one is on the western shore of Lake Louisa.

Cypress dawn

Cypress dawn – by Lake Louisa.

Tripod/Monopod:  Yes – take yours and use it when needed.

Lenses:  There are so many photo ops here that you could probably make use of every one of your lenses.  Macro for flowers, wide-angle for landscapes, long telephoto for wildlife, etc.  You’ll have to decide how much to carry and what to concentrate on.

Best time to visit:  Any time, but of course winter months will be cooler.  Late April and early May will be better for wildflowers and nesting Ospreys too.  We often heard Ospreys calling.  It was fun to watch the parents bringing food back to their very demanding offspring!

Other:

There’s a nice beach and picnic area on Lake Louisa.  If you swim there be careful though, there’s no life guard and there are alligators.

The park also is a popular place to bicycle, so bring yours if you have room.

The Florida Rambler website has a nice writeup on Lake Louisa and the cabins there.

The kayak launch at Lake Dixie across from the cabins is an easy put in.  The one at Lake Louisa requires a long carry, so bring a friend or a kayak trolley if you plan to paddle there.  You can also put in at the Crooked River Preserve just to the north of Lake Louisa and paddle down to the lake.

I didn’t get a chance (yet) to hike the many trails in the park.  There are 9 main ones ranging from 1/2 to 5.5 miles and some of these lead to smaller lakes which might be very scenic.

The Citrus Tower is close to the park.  It was built as a tribute to the citrus industry in the area.   There’s a great view from 226 feet up, but a lot fewer orange trees visible now than there were in 1956 when it opened.

Cloudy in Clermont
Cloudy in Clermont – View from the top of the Citrus Tower, looking south along HW27.

There are also many restaurants within a short drive from the park if you don’t want to cook in your cabin.

Summary

Lake Louisa State Park is a relaxing and scenic destination.  It seems a world away from busy downtown Orlando.   It’s perfect for a weekend get away.  If you haven’t been there yet, you should go.  I’m very glad we did.

Be sure to visit my Lake Louisa set on Flickr to see these and more photos.

My Gallery /  Flickr photo set:  Lake Louisa set on Flickr.
Website:  http://www.floridastateparks.org/lakelouisa/
Address / Phone: 7305 U.S. Highway 27 Clermont, Florida 34714
(352) 394-3969
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: A CFL Photo Op must do!

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Exploring Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area

Florida’s blessed with many places where you can see Nature and / or animal life.  There are captive animals in zoos /  parks / attractions.  There are anthropogenic places like Orlando Wetlands and Viera Wetlands, where human activities and management can greatly enhance opportunities for animals.  And then there are places like Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area (lets call it TWMA for short) where large areas with little human intervention can approach true wilderness.

If you’ve driven the Beachline toll road (528) from Orlando to Cocoa, you’ve passed through TWMA.  It’s spread out over 30,000 acres along 19 miles of the St. Johns River in east Orange County.  It has a variety of natural communities including  rivers / streams / lakes; freshwater marsh;  Cypress swamps; Wet Flatwoods; Forested Wetlands; and Pine Flatwoods.

Grassy Trail

Grassy Trail – In addition to dirt roads running throughout TWMA, there are lots of trails to walk or bike.

Activities at TWMA include hunting, fishing, hiking, bicycle riding, horseback riding, canoeing and kayaking, camping, and scenic driving.  There’s a daily entry fee and hours are 8am to sunset.  As long as it hasn’t rained too much, the dirt roads are passable – even with a two-wheel drive car.  So everyone can see much of the area.  Hiking trails lead off from parking areas on the roads so you can get even further out into the wilderness.

Lonesome lifeless pine
Lonesome lifeless pine – Pine Flatwoods at TWMA

eBird lists 162 species seen in TWMA, vs. 293 in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, so there aren’t as many kinds of birds there.  And they’re spread out over a larger area, making them harder to see.  During my visit, I found Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Osprey, Yellow Rumped Warblers, Palm Warblers, Red-winged Black Birds, Anhingas, Belted Kingfishers, Red-shouldered Hawks, an American Kestrel, Black Vultures, an Armadillo, and a deer.

Embrace the chaos
Embrace the chaos – Cypress Swamp at TWMA

I hadn’t explored TWMA until recently.  I’m glad I finally got down there.  Although you may not see as many animals as you do in some other spots, the types of terrain are more varied and the animals are there if you’re patient.  It’s a great place to catch a hint of wild Florida out along the St. Johns River.  Definitely worth a visit!

TWMA is about 25 miles east of Orlando, near Christmas.  From Orlando, take S.R. 50 east to Taylor Creek Road. Turn south on Taylor Creek Road and the entrance will be on the east.

Sure, it'll hold - you go first...
“Sure, it’ll hold: you go first” – A sturdy and well maintained bridge across a stream at the southern end of TWMA

You can click on the photos above to get to larger versions on Flickr, and this set has a few more images from Tosohatchee.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

The Senator Saga – another update

The Senator” is the nickname of what was a 3500 year old Cypress Tree in Big Tree Park in Longwood Florida.  Sadly, it burned down in January of 2012 when a drug addict lit a fire in the hollow at the base of the tree because “it was dark and she wanted light to see the drugs she was using.”.  The culprit confessed and is expected to be sentenced shortly to either probation or a few months in prison.
I’ve written several blog articles about this and I hope you’ll forgive me for writing one more:
The latest chapter in this story is even more personal and began in December of last year when someone posted a comment on this  photo of the Senator on Flickr asking if I’d be willing to sell a copy of the image.  Tony Seifred and I exchanged a few emails, and to make a long story short we also ended up exchanging gifts.  I gave Tony copies of two photographs of the Senator and he gave me a piece of the tree itself!  I’ll let Tony tell his side of the story:
“Back when the tree burned, NPR covered the story the following morning.  Within an hour I was cold calling county personnel and getting passed from one person to another.  I was trying to encourage them to make offerings to school systems for educational purposes.
After many months I received an email that the decision had been made to take applications for remains.  I contacted my local schools and museum trying to get them to apply.  I even provided the applications.  No one applied.
So I decided to try on my own.  Eventually I did receive a piece of the outer part of the tree, but pick-up had to be in person.  The story after that is long and convoluted but eventually did find someone there to accept payment to collect and ship the piece. Upon arrival the box was open and the piece had clearly been out.
Despite the rather expensive UPS store packing.  Some pieces were broken off and still inside the wrapping. I am gifting you the largest of those pieces.”
Kudos to Tony for pursuing this and making it happen.  I had the piece mounted together with the photo I made before it burned.  Here’s how it looks:
A shadowbox display of a photo of the 3500 year old Cypress tree in September of 2011 before it burned along with a small piece of the remains from after it burned down in January of 2012.
A shadow box display of a photo of the 3500 year old Senator Cypress tree in September of 2011 along with a small piece of the remains from after it burned down in January of 2012.
This means a great deal to me and I’ll treasure it as a reminder of visits to the Senator before the tragedy.  I’m exceptionally grateful to Tony for his generosity in sharing with me.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved