It’s getting to be that time of year again – when the Marl Bed Flats part of the Lake Jesup Conservation Area along HW 417 north of Lake Jesup usually fills up with wild swamp sunflowers. It’s a late September / early October event and lasts for a couple of weeks. Lynn and I drove by yesterday to scout the area.
Swamp Sunflowers (from 2012)
The good news is that we already saw a few sunflowers blooming. The bad news is that we also saw a lot of standing water, especially near the lake. Flooding or standing water in the flower fields usually means fewer flowers.
“The Lake Jesup Wilderness Area is currently closed due to high water levels …”
It seems we’ll have to wait until next year to photograph these flowers. Sorry about that.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay safe! Take care of yourselves, your friends, and your families! And if you can, make some photos – although probably not Lake Jesup sunflower photos this year.
Just 35 miles from Los Angeles, the Santa Monica National Recreation Area is an escape from the bustle of the city. We headed to the Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center for some orientation (and souvenir shopping), and did the short but steep hike up to Inspiration Point. We saw lizards and birds along the way, and the dry landscape made for dramatic views against the Santa Monica Mountains:
Plant at the Pinnacle
That Saturday, we took a morning boat trip out to Anacapa Island – the smallest of the Channel Islands – with a company I’d highly recommend: Island Packers. For just $29 each way, the beautiful boat ride alone was worth the trip. On our way to Anacapa, we enjoyed stunning views of Oxnard Harbor, a few Harbor Seals “sunning”, and even an illusive Minke Whale (he was too quick to photograph and never came back up).
The Channel Islands are truly a magical place, sometimes called the United States’ Galapagos Islands because there are 145 species of plants and animals only found there. We stayed 3 hours on the island exploring, seeing as much as we could, and eating the picnic we brought, but there are many arrival/departure options so you can stay as long as you’d like (or even camp over – although the smell of pigeon poop was rather strong!).
I also enjoyed playing with the fish eye lens I borrowed from my Dad – I thought it brought an interesting perspective to the Island.
Channel Islands National park Sign
On our way back to land, we had the treat of a humpback whale doing acrobatics for us: for about 10 minutes we watched him partake in “pectoral slapping” – spinning back and forth and slapping his fin on the water – quite the site juxtaposed against a giant oil rig in the background.
Man vs. Whale
If you ever find yourself on the West Coast, it’s definitely worth the trip out to the Channel Islands (and a hike over in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area). It’s amazing to find so much nature near such a large metropolitan area. Check out the other photos from my trip in this flickr album (including a life bird: the Rock Wren!).
Thanks for stopping by and reading MaryKate’s blog post. Now, go make some photos!
Wow – it’s been over a year since I’ve posted any fisheye photos on the blog. So one day last week, I mounted my Rokinon 7.5mm Micro Four Thirds lens and went out looking for some photos. I ended up at Central Winds Park in Winter Springs. It was very foggy and the light was a bit dim – it was a good thing I brought a tripod with me. I noticed several kinds of wildflowers blooming and decided they might be good subjects..
Fog and mist can blur detail unless you get close. Fog in the background can also help isolate your subject. Getting close with a wide-angle lens (especially a fisheye) will emphasize close in objects and make them stand out. So I got close to this flower. It was off to the side of the path and I was able to frame it against the dead leaves so colors also helped it stand out.
Flowers in the forest by the footpath in the fog
Using an approach like this can give your image an almost 3d look. I stopped down to f/8 which made my depth of field large enough to cover the flower, but shallow enough to blur the background a little. At base ISO (200) my exposure was 1/50 second. I used -1 stop of exposure compensation so the sky in the background didn’t blow out, and this also helped with saturation. The Rokinon is manual focus. Since focus was critical, I carefully used magnified live view to get it just right. I like how this turned out, but looking at it now maybe I should have gotten even closer.
A note about the blog: I’m working to add Gallery / Portfolio pages to my site. I’ve posted two so far. You can get to them from the pull down menu at the top of the page, or by clicking these links: Florida Landscapes, Florida Wildlife. Please take a look and let me know what you think.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
I visited St. Augustine, Florida last week with fellow Photography Interest Group member Tom M. It’s a high density photo-op environment and if you haven’t ever been there you really should go. We only spent a few hours, but we saw interesting things to photograph almost everywhere we looked. Here are a few examples:
Three trees, their shadows, and the Castillo de San Marcos
Bottoms up – The St. Augustine Lighthouse staircase
Alcove in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine
I’ve written about this town several times before. You can browse through those posts by selecting the category from the pull down on the right (or click this link). And you can visit this set on Flickr to see other images from St. Augustine.
I was in Colonial Photo and Hobby and saw a Rokinon micro four thirds 7.5mm f/3.5 manual focus fish-eye lens on the shelf. I’ve never had a fish-eye lens before although I’ve always liked wide-angle. I couldn’t resist and ended up taking it home.
Fish-eye lenses are not rectilinear – meaning they sacrifice keeping perspective lines straight to make the field of view big. This one has a full 180° field of view and covers the sensor without any vignetting. 180° is really, really wide – keep your fingers and toes out of the composition! They also tend to have a huge depth of field, which is even greater on a micro four thirds camera than on a full frame 35mm equivalent.
I tried it first on my infrared modified camera – I call these IRFE (infrared, fish eye) photos. In this one, I wanted to take advantage of the distortion introduced by the lens to make the support structure for the bridge look more interesting. So I put the beams as close to the edges of the frame as I could get them.
Suspension bridge: Carl Langford Park, Orlando
In this next one, I saw the tree branch above and wanted to try to capture the complexity against the sky. I’ve found it hard to make photos like this with a regular wide-angle lens. I end up not having a wide enough view and then taking multiple photos and trying to stitch them together as a panorama. Stitching software just doesn’t hold up too well when the angle of view is too large.
Tree branches: Dickson Azalea Park, Orlando
Of course, you can use a fish-eye lens in a more normal way. If you keep things that you want to appear straight toward the center of the frame, the image will look a lot more like a regular wide-angle photo.
Curve ahead: Behind Lake Lily Park, Maitland.
I’m really happy with the lens. It seems sharp, doesn’t vignette and the manual focus aspects aren’t a big bother because of depth of field. It seems to handle flare pretty well and I’m not noticing any pronounced chromatic aberrations or other problems. On my camera, it exposes correctly in aperture priority mode, even though there’s no electronic coupling. And… it’s fun! Isn’t photography supposed to be fun?
You can click on the images above to get to larger versions on Flickr. You can also see some of my other infrared photos here on Flickr.