Tag Archives: Eagle

Casual Birding in New Mexico

The birds we saw in New Mexico varied from what we’re used to in Florida (of course).  I saw 12 life birds while we were there.  And this was really with just casual birding. I’m sure my more serious birding friends (thinking of you Kevin M.) would have found many more!

NM birds: Gambel’s QuailGambel’s Quail – Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

MK wanted to visit White Sands National Monument.  I did too, but I’d heard a lot about the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge so we agreed to get up early and stop by there on the way.  I was really glad we did!

NM birds: Black-chinned Hummingbirds and Broad-tailed HummingbirdBlack-chinned Hummingbirds and Broad-tailed Hummingbird (on the left) – Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

The volunteers at the Visitors Center were very helpful and pointed out where to look for the Golden Eagle.  We would have missed it without their help.  At first glance, I mistook it for a vulture!  They also apologized since there were no Sand Hill Cranes (they migrate through in the winter).  I assured them that we see plenty in Florida.  Hopefully I can go back when it’s cold.  Seeing huge flocks of cranes would be an experience!

NM birds: Golden EagleGolden Eagle – Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

MK was an excellent spotter.  We found the Caissin’s Kingbird when she stopped to look at a road side field on the way home from White Sands.  She also found the Yellow Warbler at the top of Sandia Peak – thanks MK!

NM birds: Caissin's KingbirdCaissin’s Kingbird – Carrizozo, NM

I’ve called myself a “beginning” birder for too long.  Maybe it’s time to change this to “casual” birder.  I like birding and enjoy finding / seeing new birds and figuring out what they are.  But I mostly enjoy the photography and get a bit disappointed if my images are poor.  So, from me to you, here are my…

Birding hints from a casual birder:

  • Take advantage of travel.  New locations can be an easy way to add to your life list.
  • Consider going even if it’s a slow time of year.  Bosque is well-known for its Festival of the Cranes in November.  But we found lots to see even in the middle of summer.
  • Research the local hot spots and add some to your itinerary.  Find and check local sightings or species lists so you’ll know what to look for.  I read through this wildlife list on the Bosque web site before we went (PDF).  It lists bird species by month observed and was a big help.
  • Try to look at the right times of day when birds are more active.  We saw the Yellow Warbler near dusk on Sandia peak, and had good luck at Bosque early in the morning.  I strongly doubt we’d have seen as much in mid-afternoon.
  • Stop by the Visitors Center and talk to other birders there.  The volunteers at Bosque were very helpful.
  • Don’t let birds you’re familiar with fool you.  I might have missed the Golden Eagle and the Neotropical Cormorants if I hadn’t been looking for them.  They look similar to other birds I’m familiar with in Florida.
  • A second set of eyes is very helpful.  With two of us looking, MK and I saw more than we would have by ourselves.
  • Birding friends are helpful too.  I probably could have figured out what all the life birds were on my own, but it was faster with Kevin helping.  And having a second opinion is good too.
  • Photograph everything you see and confirm later.  I wasn’t sure about the Golden Eagle until I enlarged the image on the back of my camera.
  • If you think you might be birding, bring your long lens.  I didn’t and regret that.  Thinking back on it, I should have left my ultra-wide at home and taken my longest lens instead.  You can always stitch multi-frame panoramas to get a wider field of view.  But you can’t get a longer focal length in post processing without losing quality.

I never expected to see so much – it was a great trip!  Here’s what we saw:

Life birds:  Golden Eagle, Gambel’s Quail, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Ring-necked Pheasant, Neotropic Cormorants, Swainson’s Hawk, Cassin’s Kingbird, Say’s Phoebe, Black Phoebe, House Finch, Yellow Warbler

Other birds: Blue Grosbeaks (M & F), Crows, Common Ravens, Brown-headed Cowbirds, House Sparrows, Mockingbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, Road Runner, Barn, Tree, and Cliff Swallows, Wild Turkeys, Canada Geese, Blue Wing Teals, American Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Herons, Turkey Vulture, Mourning Dove, Robin, Grackles, …

Other wildlife: Prairie Dogs, Snakes (no ID, although one roadkill might have been a Rattlesnake), Deer, Rabbit

You can see more of my New Mexico images here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157685850604925

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Wildlife Tails: Seward, Alaska

Editors note:  Today we have another post from our roving correspondent MaryKate.  Her report includes some excellent wildlife watching tips and photographs. Enjoy!

In April, I escaped the Florida heat and visited my friends Monette and Jesse in their new home of Seward, Alaska.  This was my third Alaskan adventure with Monette, and while we stayed in one place for the duration of the trip (a rarity for our travels!), I enjoyed the beautiful vast views and wildlife that Seward, Alaska has to offer.

Alaska MoonriseAlaska Moonrise

While in Seward, Monette, Jesse and I went whale watching.  This was my second trip with Kenai Fjords and I’d highly recommend them.  Their boats are comfortable, there’s plenty of room for running around to view wildlife, the crew is very knowledgeable, they serve great snacks and refreshments (wine!), and they had awesome limited-edition Grey Whale Tour 2017 T-Shirts.

Humpback WhaleHumpback Whale

We were lucky enough to see Dall’s Porpoise, Sea Lions, Sea Otters, a Humpback Whale, and the first Gray Whales of the season returning to Seward!  Pacific Gray Whales migrate all the way up from Baja to Alaska every Spring, the longest migration of any mammal – quite remarkable!  You can tell Gray Whales and Humpback Whales apart based on their blow.  While Humpback Whales have a tall blow, Gray Whales have a shorter, thicker heart-shaped blow due to their double blow hole.

Gray Whale

Gray Whale Blow (short and puffy/heart-shaped)

Keep your eyes open when whale watching – constantly scan the horizon back and forth to look for blows.  You don’t want to miss any of these amazing creatures, and it’s really exciting being the first to spot them (as Jesse often does!).

Gray Whale

First Gray Whales of the season!

Once back on shore, we saw some other wildlife friends too, like this Sea Otter – who was anything but shy and really hammed it up for the “otterazzi” of cameras!
Sea Otter

Synchronized Swimmer

And there’s plenty of wildlife on the side of the road.  Like this Bald Eagle couple…Bald Eagle Couple

Bald Eagle Couple

Or this grazing moose…Moose

AlMOOSEt done with this blog post

Finally, I recommend swinging by the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in nearby Girdwood, Alaska – this group is “dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education, and quality animal care” and you can see many residents up close.  The Center takes in orphans and lost babies – this resident Black Bear is Kuma (or Uli?), and is unable to return to the wild:Bear Necessities

Bear Necessities

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

©2017, MK Rosack and Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Osceola Wander

Kevin M. organized a Photography Interest Group expedition yesterday.   I went along with  Kevin K., and Frank B.  The four of us were up extremely early to beat the sun to this pasture in Osceola County along Canoe Creek Road.

The sky was kind of plain when we arrived, except for the very thin moon rising ahead of the sun, and the ground fog over the grass in the distance.

Sliver moon and mistSliver moon and mist

After photographing there we moved on to Joe Overstreet Road and then Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area to see what we could see.

There’s a photography joke:

Q: Why did the bird cross the road?

A: To get to the bad light.

I don’t know about you, but this often happens to me when I’m trying to make photos of birds.  And if they don’t hurry into the bad light, then they usually turn away from the camera.  The backs of birds are not as photogenic as the front.  Yesterday the birds were a little slow and we managed to catch some of them in very good light and not facing away!

Into the lightInto the light

I wish I hadn’t been framed so close on this Bald Eagle.  I would have loved to catch it in full flight.  They’re seen down there often, so I’ll have to try again.

The meadows along the roads were full of Eastern Meadowlarks.  And when we couldn’t see them we could definitely hear them.

Morning songMorning song

There were signs posted at the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area with results from recent hunts. And the deer we saw were definitely very wary. These two stared at us for a while before running off into the trees.

Two wary deerTwo wary deer

All in all, it was a good day for photography.  And the banter in the car was quite entertaining too.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Very good, but a bit sad – revisiting The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey

I hadn’t been by the  Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida in a long time.  So when Tom M. mentioned he wanted to go, I was happy to meet him and Keith H. there one morning last week.

Irked Eagle
Irked Eagle – This is Frederick, one of the permanent residents. A staff member brought him out for us.  In this photo, he’s yelling at a different staff member that walked by. Maybe he was expecting a handout?

Birds of Prey is a wonderful place but leaves me with mixed emotions.  On the good side, there are many more Raptors now than there used to be. The estimated population of Bald Eagles in Florida has grown from 88 active nests in 1973 to  1,457 nests now.  But on the sad side, there are also many more people and automobiles.  This leads to increased encounters between people, their cars, and birds – and sadly, means that many more birds are getting injured today.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Wonderful places like Birds of Prey take in injured raptors, treat them, and (if they’re well enough) release them back into the wild.  They’re able to release just over 40% of their raptor patients.  But it’s sad that some birds are too injured to be released.

Great Horned Owl
This Great Horned Owl looks a bit sleepy.  It must be a night owl.

The injured birds are well cared for. Some are placed in zoos or other facilities that are knowledgable and able to provide for them.  Others stay at Birds of Prey.  They make exceptional  ambassadors and help teach people about these awesome creatures.  All three raptors pictured in this post are permanent residents at the center.  It’s great that they’re such good photo subjects.  But it’s sad that they’ll never make it back into the wild.

There’s another place like this in Apopka, Florida – The Avian Reconditioning Center.  I haven’t been there yet, but I’m sure they’re just as dedicated to helping injured birds.  And I’m sure there are places like this all over.  You’ll be sad if you never visit one.  In addition to the photo-op, your entrance fees help pay for care for the injured birds.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go visit a bird rehab facility.  And make some photos too!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Maitland, Florida

Intro / Description

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
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
Mayan Revival carved door – I wonder if this is where Indiana Jones keeps his stuff?

Other museums in this location in addition to the Art Center are: the Telephone Museum; the William H. Waterhouse House Museum; and the Carpentry Shop Museum.  If you’re visiting, check the websites linked here – the hours and fees vary.

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:

My approach was to wander and photograph whatever caught my eye.  I found the Art and History Museum  productive for IR / B&W photography.

Tripod/Monopod:  Allowed and helpful.

Lenses:  You’ll probably use wide and normal lenses the most.  I didn’t feel any need for a telephoto lens.  A polarizing filter might be helpful to block reflections in glass.

They're all in the garden at the party
They’re all in the garden at the party

Best time to visit:  Year round, early or late in the day for the best light.  Avoid weekends if possible so you don’t run into any weddings.

Other:

There are some other photo ops close by.  I’ve written before about the Audubon Birds of Prey center – a great place to get close portraits of some very impressive birds.

Recovering eagle, Audubon Birds of Prey center, Maitland, Fl
Recovering eagle, Audubon Birds of Prey center

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
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!

Summary

My Gallery /  Flickr photo set:  Maitland on Flickr
Website:  http://artandhistory.org
Address / Phone: 231 West Packwood Avenue, Maitland, Florida
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating:  A great place to explore; Lots of photo ops

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Merritt Island – March 26, 2013

I saw an interesting article in the New Your Times this week confirming what I feel:  Spending time out in nature can improve your mind.  It’s called “Easing Brain Fatigue With a Walk in the Park” and references a study published this month in The British Journal of Sports Medicine.  (I hope you can read the NYT article – I’m not sure how their pay wall works.)  The study measured volunteer’s brain waves as they walked along a path through three parts of a city.  Then they looked at the recorded patterns for signs of frustration, agitation, attention / engagement, and calmness.  The portion of the path through a park engaged the people’s attention while at the same time increasing their calmness.  The urban portions of the walk increased their frustration.  The moral of the story (at least for me):  Spend more time with nature, and wildlife.

I increased my engagement with nature and my calmness this week by visiting the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

I stopped first at Kars Park.  I hadn’t been there before and wanted to scout it as a sunrise spot.  I also hoped I could see / photograph the cruise ships at Port Canaveral from there.  They should make a good subject when they’re lit up in the dark.  I arrived before dawn and found a pier, but didn’t really like the results and moved on.  I’ll have to try again some time.

On the way to MINWR I noticed clouds developing on the horizon.  They were pretty enough to make me pull over for this photo:

Pretty clouds
Pretty clouds – My sunrise photos didn’t come out so well, but the light was interesting a little later in the morning.

Turning in to Gator Creek Road, I spotted an Osprey in a dead tree.  I crept up slowly, stayed in my car, and tried not to disturb it.  It gave me a few hard looks but kept eating and was still there when I left.

No sushi for you – An Osprey with breakfast along Gator creek Road. It watched me as I drove slowly by and didn’t seem to want to share.

A little further on, I ran into this pair, also enjoying breakfast:

No sushi for you! 2
No sushi for you! (2) – A pair of eagles. They didn’t look like they wanted to share their meal either. I enjoyed watching them for a while and when they finished eating they flew away together – so I’m pretty sure they’re a couple.  I’d like to go back to the area to see if I can get a better photo.

After Gator Creek, I took a turn around Blackpoint Wildlife Drive.  It was pretty quiet but I did see a few of the regular birds (Great Blue and Tri-colored Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets, Black Skimmers, Gulls, Mottled Ducks, Terns, Scaups, etc.).

My last stop was the Bairs Cove boat ramp.  I wanted to check out a new kayak launch area just across Haulover Canal from there.  On the way in to Bairs Cove I noticed an isolated tree on the left and made a quick photo.  As I drove around the boat ramp parking area I kept thinking about the scene.  Something was very appealing and I didn’t want to get home without a good image of it, so on the way out I stopped again and made this more careful photo.  It’s two IR, HDR images arranged so I could stitch a vertical panorama to get this square format result.

A tree along the road to Bairs Cove
A tree along the road to Bairs Cove

As usual, my visit to MINWR was very enjoyable – and engaging, and calming.  Click on the photos above to 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!  And by the way, Happy Easter!

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Summer Blahs

July in Central Florida is a tough time for photo-ops, especially nature and wildlife photo-ops. The bird breeding season is over, and the heat makes both human and animal activity brief and difficult.

A few of us did scout Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge last weekend.  It’s supposed to have the largest summer gathering of Swallowtail Kites in the Southeast US.  They spend July and August there while they prepare to  migrate to Brazil.  We didn’t see any.  We’ll try again and I’ll put together a better scouting report.

Birdless, misty morning
Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge: Birdless, misty morning

I did manage to make a couple of photos around my neighborhood last week.  This one is from Tuesday.  I noticed these awesome rain clouds on my way home from work and stopped by a small park on the south shore of Lake Jessup to photograph them.

Might Rain
Might Rain: Looking north from the south shore of Lake Jessup

And this is a photo of one of our neighborhood eagles.  We’ve seen it sitting in this tree on many mornings this year.

Neighborhood Bald Eagle
Neighborhood Bald Eagle:  It always amazes me when I see one of these in the wild.  What a remarkable comeback they’ve had from near extinction.

So there you have it.  My photo life this week.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Eagles, Owls, and more at Orlando's Greenwood Park and Greenwood Cemetery

Intro / Description

Greenwood Urban Wetlands is a 19 acre park in downtown Orlando and was created in 1991 to help handle the sometimes massive rainwater runoff in the area.  The park is right next to Greenwood municipal cemetery, where many of Orlando’s notables have been buried since 1880.

Pre-dawn pond at Greenwood ParkVenus Rising: Pre-dawn pond at Greenwood Park – This is a two image composite that I hand merged in Photoshop.

I arrived before dawn a couple of Saturday’s ago.  I’d heard about it on Flickr and seen photos others had made there, although I still wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was hoping for a sunrise photo, but the sky was very clear and I didn’t know the area.  So, I picked a spot near the parking area and set up for the image above.  For this one, I made two exposures (one for the sky and one for the ground) and merged them as described in this post.  I like the way it turned out, especially with the morning star Venus rising, and the leaves and flowers on the left.

Kevin M. joined me a bit later and we walked around exploring.  There were a few birds (coots, wood ducks, egrets, Great Blue Heron) in the small lakes, but nothing too unusual.  We’d heard about an eagle nest nearby, so we decided to look for it in Greenwood Cemetery.

The nest was easy to find, since there were two juvenile eagles perched right next to it calling quite often.  We made several photos while we waited for better light and were eventually able to get the birds facing us with the sun at our backs.  These two young birds were flying between trees in the area, but didn’t act like they knew  much at all about feeding themselves.  They seemed to be waiting for the parents to bring back food – but that didn’t happen while we were there.

Juvenile Bald EagleJuvenile Eagle

We also saw a very pretty Wood Duck pair in nice light, a couple of Barred owls, and some very aggressive Blue Jays (harassing the owls) on the way out.  You can see the other photos I made in this Flickr set.

Barred Owl 2
Barred Owl

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:

There’s not much to work with for landscapes.  But there’s a surprising variety of birds for such an urban setting.  Make sure you walk through both the park and cemetery if you go.  You could also drive through the cemetery if you don’t have time to walk.

Tripod/Monopod:

Of course.

Lenses:

Take appropriate lenses for your subjects.  Mostly long lenses for the birds.  A flash might help control the contrast for the subjects back in the leaves (owls).

Best time to visit:

February – March might allow eagle nesting activity to be observed.

Other:

This close by park may be an opportunity to snag a few keeper shots for your bird portfolio, and won’t take too long to check out.

Halloween 2012 update:  Don Price, the Greenwood Cemetery Sexton, offers guided moonlight walking tours once a month where you can learn about Orlando and the people who have contributed to the history of the city.  The tour is usually crowded and reservations are required.  Go to the cemetery website and click on “Moonlight Walking Tours” for more info.

Summary

My Gallery / Flickr photo set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157626518075606/
Website: http://www.cityoforlando.net/fpr/html/Parks/Greenwood.htm
Address / Phone: 1411 Greenwood Street, Orlando, Florida
407.246.2283
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: A surprising urban opportunity for a few bird photos.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Sunrise, Otter, Eagle, Cormorants, Raccoon – a nice morning at Viera Wetlands

I’m coming down with another cold and wasn’t very enthusiastic about going to Viera Wetlands yesterday. Actually, “not very enthusiastic” is a big understatement. I almost didn’t get out of bed – but now I’m glad I did.

We had to leave at “O dark thirty” to get to the west side of the wetlands just before sunrise. I wanted to try the D7000 out on landscapes and it performed very well. The image below is a single exposure of the sunrise. I don’t care too much for silhouettes – I like to have some detail and color in the shadows. For this one, I exposed at -2 EV to prevent blowing out the sky and then brought up the shadows in post processing. The D7000 recorded a very broad dynamic range and has remarkably little noise in the shadows at base ISO, even when under exposed. This real world example, along with the the results from the recent DxOMark test of the D7000 indicate it’s going to be a very fine landscape camera. The only problem is that I don’t have a very wide lens for it.

Sunrise at Viera WetlandsSunrise at Viera Wetlands, D7000, ISO 100, 1/100 sec. @ f/11, 16 mm

As we were photographing the sunrise, an otter swam by right in front of us just past those reeds (about 8 – 10 feet away). That’s the closest one’s ever come to me in the wild. Of course, I didn’t have the right camera set up so I didn’t get a photo. I think the otter knew that, and swam by just to tease us. We saw it a couple more times but could never get a shot off. Those things are quick. And black. And hard to photograph.

After the sun was up, we drove around the wetlands and came up on this:

Bald EagleBald Eagle on dead tree, D7000, ISO 320, 1/500sec. @ f/8, 500 mm

This eagle was just surveying the area. I did get a few images when it flew off, but none blog worthy. I need more Birds in Flight practice, especially at 500mm!

The sun was up, but still low in the sky as we saw some cormorants sitting on a viewing platform. The light was hitting this one just right to show off the detail in his dark feathers.

CormorantCormorant, D7000, ISO 220, 1/500 sec. @ f/8, 500 mm

Here’s one more photo I want to show you. This little fellow was digging around in the reeds along with several birds. I’m not sure what they were after, but it might have been snails – we saw a lot of them yesterday. This image is a good example of the D7000 at ISO 1600. Very usable with minimal noise.

Rocky RacoonRocky Raccoon, D7000, ISO 1600, 1/500sec. @ f/9, 500 mm

Today I feel a bit worse, so I’m glad I went out yesterday. Hopefully I’ll start feeling better tomorrow.

Note: you can click on any of these to go to Flickr where you can see a larger version. You can see more of my Viera Wetlands photos in this set, and I’ve collected some Nikon D7000 photos in this set.

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Description

If you are at all interested in technology and space exploration, then you should really visit the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) when you come to Central Florida. Living in the area and having a life long interest in space, I’ve been several times. Most recently last Thursday. This visit was with (among others) a fellow member of the Photography Interest Group: Kevin Krause. In a first for this blog, he’s agreed to help me write this entry describing KSC for photographers.

KSC is located on the east coast of Florida about an hour from Orlando. Here’s a link to a Google Map of the area, and here is KSC’s directions page.

Exhibits: The entrance fee to KSC is currently $38 ($28 for children). There are many museum exhibits at KSC as well as the relatively new Shuttle Launch Experience simulator, Two IMAX theaters, an Astronaut Training Experience, and several bus tours that will take you to places that are otherwise restricted. Several things at KSC, including the bus tours will cost extra. The “NASA up close” tour that we took was an extra $21, and the bus and tour guide showed us the Vehicle Assembly building, the shuttle landing strip and control tower, an observation platform close to the launch complexes, and a theater re-enactment of an Apollo launch. We also toured the Apollo-Saturn V Center where there is a restored Saturn V launch vehicle and other space vehicles.  You can also take a bus from the Saturn V center to the Space Station exhibit.

(NOTE:  clicking on the photos below will take you to their Flickr page, where you can see a larger version – select all sizes at the top)

IMG_0811-4_pano
Panorama image of the Rocket Garden at the main visitor complex, Canon G9, 4 vertical images (full res is 11215×4123), ISO 80, 7.4 mm, f/2.8, 1/50 sec.

IMG_827-9_tonemapped
A space capsule gang way in the KSC Rocket Garden, Canon G9, 2971×3978, 3 shot HDR, ISO 80, 7.4mm, f/6.3, 1/160 sec, 1/320 sec, 1/640 sec.

IMG_0920
The Apollo 14 moon capsule, Canon G9, 4000×3000, ISO 80, 7.4mm, f/2.8, 1/60 sec, built in flash.

Landscapes: KSC is situated on typical Florida coastal landscape. There is some opportunity for landscape photographs, so be prepared. You might luck out with some interesting clouds during one of your tour bus stops as a background to the launch pads.

Launch pads
(Photo by Kevin Krause) Launch complex, clouds, water, Nikon D90, 3666×2445, ISO 200, Nikon 18-200 lens at 24mm, f/10, 1/400 sec.

Wildlife: KSC is right next door to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  As such, wildlife should be abundant at KSC, although it will be tough to photograph in the middle of the day with so many people around. On our tour, we did get a glimpse of a solitary alligator in the canal on the side of the road as well as  egrets, herons, and other birds. There is also a 42 year old eagle nest on the property, but the eagles were not in sight.

Eagles' nest
(Photo by Kevin Krause) This eagles’ nest has been in use for 42 years at KSC, Nikon D90, 2344×1645, ISO 3200, Nikon 18-200 lens at 200mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec.

IMG_0839
A stuffed possum in the wildlife exhibit at the KSC main visitor center, Canon G9, ISO 80, 44.4mm, f/4.8, 1/60 sec, built in flash.

Photo hints

Tripod/Monopod: There is no posted policy on tripods. It might be a problem to use them, if only because of the short time available at most tour bus stops.

Lenses: Bring what you have. Longer lenses will come in handy, except when you’re trying to show several launch pads in a single image.  Have a wide lens for that situation, or you can experiment with multiple images stitched into a panorama.

Other: Check out the NASA Images web page where you can search their archives for down-loadable photographs of almost any NASA subject.  Many of these are available in high-resolution. Let’s face facts – you will have a very hard time making better images than these in the static exhibits or on the tour bus at KSC. Browsing through NASA’s image archives may discourage you from trying too hard to make any images yourself, other than the requisite, documentary “We were here” photos.  But hey – we’re photographers and we live for the challenge, right?

Summary

If you’re interested in aeronautical engineering, space exploration, or Apollo program history this is a very good place to visit. Since the shuttle program is winding down, you won’t have many more chances to see a space shuttle on the launch pad.  If you’re interested, check the KSC launch schedule before you go and try to show up when a shuttle is out. Photo opportunities abound, although they’re of the “museum exhibit with people around” variety.

If you want to see more of the photos that Kevin (131 images) and I (30 images) made, the links below will take you to our respective KSC Flickr photo stream sets.

Our Galleries: Ed: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8231395@N04/sets/72157622475589561/

Kevin: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34024553@N08/sets/72157622599372346/

Website: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/home/index.html
Address: John F. Kennedy Space Center
SR 405, Kennedy Space Center, FL, 32899(866) 737-5235
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: Space buff bonanza, photographic clichés

©2009, Ed Rosack and Kevin Krause. All rights reserved.