Tag Archives: fishing

Mother Nature’s rewards

I headed out toward Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge with KM and KK last Friday.

We stopped by the boat ramp at the St. Johns River on US 50 for sunrise.  There weren’t many clouds, so my hopes for color weren’t too high.  But there was a nice pop as the sun came over the horizon and I zoomed in to capture this moment:

St. Johns SunriseSt. Johns Sunrise – a peaceful pasture

I had my infrared modified camera in the car.   When I saw these fishermen leaving, I pulled it out and hurried over to make an image.  Despite rushing, I like the way it turned out.  The clarity that IR brings to this image is nice, and the wake and boat reflection are pretty too. I’m glad I had the camera all setup to go before I grabbed it!

Early departureEarly departure – Monochrome, infrared

KM is an ace at spotting birds and he called out this Merganser.  When I got home, I thought at first it might be a Common Merganser – which I’ve never seen before.  But it turns out their range doesn’t include Florida.  So this was a Red-breasted – which I have seen, although infrequently.

Red-breasted MerganseRed-breasted Merganser

There are a large number of Northern Shovelers around Black Point Wildlife drive.  Of course they were mostly far away and when they were close, they seemed to always face in the wrong direction.  But patience paid off when this male eventually swam slowly in front of us in good light and dragged his very handsome reflection with him.

Male Northern ShovelerMale Northern Shoveler

Thistle plants are also all over on Black Point – this one came with a Bee on it.  I made a four image panorama to record the whole subject with higher magnification and resolution.  Sometimes I run into issues stitching these together.  But this one turned out well:

Thistle and beeThistle and Bee

KK called out this Snipe in the mangroves along the canal and we of course stopped to photograph it.  The light was poor, with the sun behind it.  When I first looked at my photo on the computer, it was very washed out.  I added some dehaze in Lightroom and was pleased with the result.

Wilsons SnipeWilson’s Snipe

Smaller birds were flitting around near the rest stop on Black Point.  I usually find these hard to photograph.  The light is bad way back in the reeds and they move quickly.  It’s tough to focus on them through all the obstructions.  I was shooting toward the sun for this image too and it didn’t look good at first on my computer.  Thankfully it’s in focus and  there’s a lot of latitude for processing with a RAW format file.  I used local adjustments with the radial filter in Lightroom to boost the exposure and visible detail on the bird.

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat

When we left on this trip, I had no idea what we’d see and photograph.  There are no guarantees.  I’ve learned though, that Mother Nature usually rewards us when we pay attention to her – in this case with a nice sunrise and several birds that I rarely see.  And a little post processing rewarded me with improved photos.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Flagler Beach Whale Quest

MK and I decided to drive over to Flagler Beach last Sunday.   Several whales have been seen recently – one the week before from the pier. We knew the chance we’d spot one was very small, but it’s a pretty place for sunrise and the restaurant on the pier serves a decent breakfast!

Quilted surf sunriseQuilted surf sunrise

We set off at “o-dark-thirty” and arrived before dawn.  I spent some time making photos on the beach and when it was light enough, we went up on the pier to scout.

Under the pierUnder the pier

North Atlantic Right Whales are among the most endangered whales in the world.  There are only about 450 left.  In addition to deaths from ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement, their birth rate seems to be declining.  They migrate south from New England to the warm waters off Florida to mate and give birth.  Unfortunately, there were no new calves spotted last year during the whole 2017 – 2018 season.

Fishing trawler "Miss Hope" at daybreak near the pierFishing trawler “Miss Hope” at daybreak near the pier

So it was pretty exciting when the first calf was spotted this year:  https://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20181228/right-whale-watchers-rejoice-as-calf-spotted-off-jacksonville-coast!

Flying close to the sunFlying close to the sun

Humpback Whales are also seen off our coast.  They’re usually further out than the Right Whales, which seem to stick closer to shore.

We ate breakfast and then drove to a couple more spots on the beach.  We knew before we left that day that our chances of seeing whales were slim.  But we all know our chances are zero if we never look.  And although we came up empty, it sure was a nice morning and worth the drive.

Here’s more info on Florida whales:

I’ve collected more photos from Flagler Beach in this album on Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157675598379207

You can view whale photos I’ve made here:  https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_id=8231395%40N04&sort=date-taken-desc&text=whale&view_all=1

And MK has many whale images in her Flickr stream.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black Point Reconnaissance

Kevin M. invited me to go out photographing with him last weekend, but I begged off since Lynn and I had just returned from Pennsylvania and I was tired.  Instead we went out on Friday to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  Kevin K. was in town and he tagged along too.  It’s been over six months since the three of us have been on a photo excursion together.  Much too long!

We met way too early and car-pooled over, stopping at Titusville Marina Park for sunrise.  Riding together is great for catching up with friends!

Dawn on the Indian RiverDawn on the Indian River

Dawn was subdued until the sun actually rose, when the color finally popped.   Photoshop and the Topaz Clarity plug-in might’ve helped nature out a little too.

We saw several other photographers (and non-photographers) also out too early.

Early startEarly start on a calm, lovely morning

In general, summer isn’t the best time of year to bird in Central Florida – but there are exceptions to every rule-of-thumb.  For instance, Kathy B. found a Clapper Rail on Black Point at the end of June, and D. Cunningham enjoyed seeing the Swallow Tail Kites that visit us before heading to South America for the winter.

We didn’t spot any unusual birds on Friday, but we did enjoy photographing a few of the common ones.  This “Swamp Chicken” was posing with its reflection in good light;

Swamp ChickenCommon Gallinule

And so was this Tri-colored Heron:

Tri-color HeronTri-colored Heron

… and this Green Heron too (although it wasn’t kind enough to include a reflection):

Green HeronGreen Heron

We’ve been having torrential rains nearly every afternoon. and the water is very high around Black Point.   The St. Johns river is also high – the area around where it crosses SR 46 is flooded although it doesn’t come all the way up to the road.  I hope we don’t get a hurricane any time soon – adding even more water could be dangerous.

And the rain has created a great environment for mosquitos – expect to get bit unless you wear some repellent.

One more  (small, kind of sad) story.  We saw two pigs at Black Point.  The second was along the canal near the exit.  I snapped a few photos of it and when I got home and looked at them the poor thing was obviously deformed.  I don’t want to post my images, but if you’re curious, look at Kevin K’s photo.   It doesn’t look like a recent injury – this little pig is a tough survivor.  I wonder if it’s a birth defect or from an encounter with an alligator or other predator?

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Trouble in post-process land

I found this scene while driving down Biolab Road along the Indian River in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge a few weeks ago.  The composition with three posts and a full complement of Cormorants caught my attention.  I really liked the graphical layout. But…

Three CormorantsThree Cormorants

I was shooting into the sun and the light was incredibly bright and harsh.  I struggled with the image and processed it two or three times without coming up with anything that I was happy with.

Then I vaguely recalled this photo that I made 10 years ago.

FishingFishing

I dug it out of my Lightroom archives and remembered how much I liked the image. It’s from about the same location and in very similar conditions. I used it to guide my post processing decisions and the result is the the image at the top.

I guess the moral of this story is that you can find inspiration from many places – even from your younger self.  Which seems like a very good thing.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Hurricane Irma may pass directly over Bahia Honda State Park

This morning, we’re waiting to see what Hurricane Irma is going to do and it looks like it might pass directly over Bahia Honda State Park as a Cat 4 or Cat 5 storm.  It’s hard to imagine the damage that could result.

Lynn and I returned from the Florida Keys a week ago.   We spent a couple of days in Key West and then were lucky enough to stay in one of the 6 cabins at Bahia Honda State Park for 3 more days.  They’re built on stilts but even so are only about 10 -15 feet above the ocean.  And we felt them swaying at times while we were there – even in good weather.

The cabins are on the right side of the overseas highway as you head down to the keys.  They’re furnished with everything you need for a great Florida vacation.  And the location on a beautiful lagoon is wonderful.  These next three photos were all made on the patio, just a few steps from the cabin door:

Loggerhead TurtleLoggerhead Sea Turtle – The ranger told us that turtles, dolphin, and tarpon like the lagoon because it’s so quiet and protected.  We’d see one or more of Loggerheads from the cabin porch almost every time we stepped out to look.  We also saw Tarpon rolling on the surface a few times and maybe a dolphin or two.

Sunset FishingSunset Fishing – You can fish in the lagoon by the cabins, but other water activity isn’t allowed.  We often saw campers fishing there.

The view from the cabinAnother view from the cabin porch. The skies at Bahia Honda are some of the darkest in Florida. Lynn and I got up at about 1:30am on our first night. The moon had set and we had a stunning view of this part of the Milky Way, right from the patio. And the bugs weren’t biting too much!

The Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary is about 8 miles southwest of Bahia Honda and snorkeling trips leave for the reef twice a day.  It was a relaxing swim – the water temperature was in the high 80’s, which can cause storms to strengthen.

Sergeant majors and othersLooe Key Sergeant majors and others –  The visibility wasn’t very good the day were were there, but the number of fish we saw was still impressive.

There are also 72 campsites in the Park.  Many of them are in awesome locations too.

Between the bridgesBetween the bridges – This is at sunset, between the old abandoned bridge on the left and the new one on the right.  You can see some of the lovely Bahia Honda campsites on the left side of the frame.

Lynn and I thought of this visit to Bahia Honda as a “scouting trip”.   Based on what we saw, we definitely want to go back.

To everyone in Irma’s path and to everyone impacted by Harvey:  We’re thinking of you.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – stay safe in the storm!

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black Point Wildlife Drive – 1/6/17

I was planning to post more photos from our recent cruise this weekend.  But after visiting Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last Friday with Kevin K. and Tom M.  from the Photography Interest Group, I changed my mind.  There’s a great deal of activity there and it’s well worth a blog post (and a visit!).

One of the first birds we watched was a Redish Egret fishing close to shore.  It’s great fun to see these birds dance and pounce.

Reddish Egret and MinnowReddish Egret and Minnow

I had the Olympus E-M1 Mark II with me and practiced with the “Pro Capture” mode (I brought the right lens this time).  This really helps you catch a decisive moment – it’s almost cheating.  You’d better have a large card in your camera and time to go through all the images, though.  I used low-speed and still had way too many frames.  Here’s one example:

Wood Stork and MinnowWood Stork and Minnow

There were a huge number of White Pelicans and they treated us to “air ballet shows” all morning.

Synchronized FlyingSynchronized Flying

We saw several huge fish in the canal along the drive.  Possibly the same kind as in this post from last year.

Several (3 or more?) large fish (carp?) swiming in the canal alongside the road. These were about two feet long.Several (3 or more?) large fish (carp?) swimming in the canal near the road. These were about two feet long.

And there were more gators visible than usual.  They look well fed – perhaps they’ve been after those large fish.  These monsters stay so still that you can take your time and make a stitched panorama of them. Unless they’re chasing you 🙂

Gator panoramaGator panorama

We also spotted Belted Kingfishers, a Bald Eagle, Osprey, several varieties of duck, a wild pig, and many other interesting things.

You can look at my other photos from MINWR in this album on Flickr.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. There’s a lot going on over there – go see for yourself!

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Fishing up a storm

I was at the Cocoa Beach Pier last Thursday morning with Tom M.  People were fishing in the surf and the Snook were running.  We watched two large ones caught in just a few minutes and someone told us they’d caught eight so far.  It was easy to see that the fishermen were having a great time.  Their concentration when casting and excitement when they hooked one was obvious.

A little later,  this gentleman wandered over.  I only had to move a little to place him in the middle of the reflection from the clouds and sunrise.

Fishing up a storm
Fishing up a storm 

I had a good time photographing that morning, but it seemed like the fishing was much more enjoyable.  Maybe I should bring fishing gear when I go out with a camera.

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

Let's go fishing – how I made the image

Here’s another photo from my last trip to Viera Wetlands.

Let's go fishing!
Let’s go fishing! Two fishermen head out before dawn.

I’ve made this kind of photo before – you can see some examples in this set on Flickr.  I think this one turned out better than my earlier tries.  I used a different approach and because it’s been a while since I’ve written a “behind the scenes / how-to post”, I thought I’d fill you in on how I made this.

The boat ramp at this little park where SR 520 crosses the St. Johns River is pretty busy around dawn.  It seems to be a popular place for fishermen to put in.  I  waited several times while they cleared my frame and the water calmed down before I could make my next exposure.  So I decided to make an image that included a boat.

It’s a challenging shot.  I wanted to capture the intense sunrise colors so I had to be careful not to over expose and blow out the sky.  I also wanted some detail in the boat, so I needed to over expose there a bit, but still minimize motion blur.  At sunrise, I normally use a low ISO for the best quality image, and a small aperture for good depth of field.  This results in a long shutter speed, which is bad for photographing moving boats.  And if I want to bracket and use multiple frame HDR to capture the huge contrast range in the scene – that’s even worse for moving boat photography.  So how did I make this image?  Glad you asked!

The secret is to carefully capture two frames and blend them together by hand.  The first frame is exposed for the boat:  I used a high ISO and a wide open  aperture to get my shutter speed as fast as possible, and I overexposed slightly to capture a little shadow detail in the boat and in the vegetation on the shore.  With my camera set and on a tripod, I composed and waited for the next boat to get to the right point in the frame.  Here’s that RAW file:

1-the boat Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.49.58 PM
First frame, exposed for the boat, ISO 1000, f/4, 1/20 second

The second frame was my main exposure and I wanted it to be the best quality possible.  I also wanted to slightly under expose to capture color and detail in the sky.  I waited until the boat was gone and the water was calm again and then made this exposure:

2- the sky Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.49.51 PM
Second frame, exposed for the sky, ISO 100, f/11, 0.8 sec

When I got home, I preprocessed the two raw files using identical color balance and paying careful attention to noise reduction (especially on the higher ISO frame with the boat).  I’ve used DxO Optics Pro lately when I want the best RAW conversion.  It does a wonderful job on both lens corrections and noise reduction for supported equipment.  After a few tweaks to exposure in each file, I brought them into Photoshop on separate layers.

The next thing to deal with was the boat.  Even though I’d pushed my shutter speed as high as I thought I could, 1/20 second still left a little  motion blur visible.  The “Filters / Sharpen / Smart Sharpen” command in Photoshop has a “Remove Motion Blur” option and I’ve found that it works well in situations like this where the direction of motion is known.  I used it selectively on a duplicate layer to enhance detail in the boat.   Here are before and after crops at 200%.  I think it’s a nice improvement:

3-motion blur boat Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.45.59 PM
Motion blur (before using the filter)
4-sharper boat Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.45.43 PM
After the motion blur processing

Next I used layer masks to blend the multiple frames together.  I worked carefully around the boat and painted it into the main / second frame.  I like a little detail in my shadows instead of a straight silhouette.  Since I’d slightly overexposed the first frame (and was careful with noise reduction) I painted some of that into the vegetation.  Here’s the first merged result:

6-Initial merge Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.48.18 PM
Initial merged frames

The only filter I used on this was Topaz Clarity – I like the way it increases mid-tone contrast without adding halos.

7-Adding clarity Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.48.29 PM
After Topaz Clarity

After selective sharpening on a separate layer, I returned to Lightroom for final adjustments (black and white points, vignette, etc) to get the first image in this post.

I struggled some with the cropping. I tried a 16×9 aspect ratio, but because I wanted to keep all the sky, I thought the horizon ended up too close to the center. I decided to keep the original composition since the dark water at the bottom holds my eye in the frame. I might play with it some more.

I like how it turned out and I hope you do too.  I also hope the info helps with your photography.  If you have any questions on details or other photography related things, let me know in the comments.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Weekend with Wilson

I stopped by C. S. Lee Park on SR 46 in Geneva yesterday morning with Kevin, Kevin and Lutfi to photograph the sunrise.  There weren’t a lot of clouds but it was still pretty – and some obliging fishermen were kind enough to point their wake into the scene for us.

Hurry, the fish are biting!
Hurry, the fish are biting! C. S. Lee Park, Geneva, Florida

We were on our way over to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  Kevin M. uses the Audubon Birds of North America app, which has links to bird sightings on eBird.  With this, you can search for nearby birds, activity at birding hotspots, and even see reports of recent notable and rare bird sightings.  Using the app, he discovered that Wilson’s Pharalopes were on Bio-lab road last week, so we decided to try to spot them.

The Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) is a small wading bird and the largest of the phalaropes.   Normally it breeds on the North American prairies and in the western US. It is migratory, but according to iBird, isn’t often found in Florida, so this was a rare chance to see it.

Wilson's Phalarope pair
Wilson’s Phalarope pair. Bio-lab Road, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

It was fun to see another Wilson bird yesterday:  the Wilson’s Plover .  These are also waders and breed on both US coasts from the equator northwards. Its common range does include Florida.

Wilson's Plover
Wilson’s Plover. Bio-lab Road, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

I’d seen a Wilson’s Snipe before and now with these sightings I started wondering who this Wilson fellow was.  Alexander Wilson was a Scottish-American poet, ornithologist, naturalist, and illustrator.  He’s regarded as the greatest American ornithologist prior to Audubon.  Several birds are named after him, including the three I already mentioned and the Wilson’s Storm-petrel,  and Wilson’s Warbler. The warbler genus Wilsonia was also named for him.  In 1802 Wilson decided to publish a book illustrating all the North American birds.  The result was the nine-volume American Ornithology, with 268 species of birds, 26 of which hadn’t been described.

On our trip, we also saw Alligators, Belted Kingfishers, Green Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, White Ibis, and many kinds of gulls and shore birds on Bio-lab Road.  We drove through Black Point Wildlife Drive too, but there wasn’t as much going on there.

So this trip provided an incentive to clear out some of my birding ignorance and now I know a bit about another great American ornithologist.  You can see more MINWR photos here and here, and birds photos here and here.  And I have a some more Florida landscape / sunrise photos here.

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

The St. Johns River near Sanford and Deland

Intro / Description

At 310 miles, the St. Johns is the longest river in Florida.  It’s one of the few rivers in the US that flow from south to north.  Near Orlando it forms the dividing line between Seminole and Volusia counties, and it’s a favorite destination for fishermen, boaters, and folks on jet skis.  It should be a favorite destination for photographers, too.

A beautiful place to catch some fish

Vince invited Tom and I out on his boat for a photo expedition a while back.  We finally took him up on his offer  a couple of weeks ago.  We were up early, put in near the I-4 bridge right around dawn, and motored north.

There’s a rule of thumb about sunrise and sunset.  The rule of thumb is that there’s no rule of thumb telling you when the good colors / conditions will occur.  You have to hang around and keep making photographs until you’re sure the show is over.  The next photo is a good example of this rule (or is it a lack of rules?):

The St. Johns River near Blue SpringsThe St. Johns River near Blue Springs

When we first got out on the river around sunrise (~7am), there was some color in the sky, but nothing spectacular.  About an hour later the conditions were quite different and much more photogenic.

This image is a 5 frame panorama that I merged in Photoshop. I made the exposures hand-held from a moving boat, so they weren’t aligned all that well.  In post, I first ran all 5 RAW frames through Lightroom and adjusted several  parameters  identically, including color balance, lens profile, and camera profile.  Then I moved to Photoshop to do the merge.  After that, I worked on it a little more to take a small curve out of the shoreline, and then used Topaz Denoise 5 to selectively reduce the residual noise that you could see in the full res version.  The last step was to add a duplicate layer and run it through Topaz Adjust 4.  Back in Photoshop, I modified the transparency of the resulting layer and the strength of the Topaz filter.  I also selectively erased portions of the Topaz layer until I liked the result.

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:  We saw many kinds of birds and several alligators.  But the wild life doesn’t like power boats very much.  We had a hard time getting close to any of the birds, and alligators would see or hear us coming and submerge long before we got close to them.   If you have time, you might try coasting in from a longer distance – but that could take a while and we didn’t try it so I can’t tell you whether it will help.  You can also look for alligators on docks.  They don’t seem to be as skittish when they’re out sunning themselves.  In fact, they seem quite friendly.

Gators always smile at you, but this one was even waving!

Gators always smile at you, but this one was even waving!

Tripod/Monopod: They won’t do you much good on a moving boat, so save yourself some trouble and don’t bring them unless you’re going ashore.

Lenses:  The boat motion will also make hand holding a long lens difficult, so don’t bother bringing really long glass either.  Instead, carry your wide angle lens and maybe a short telephoto or zoom.

Best time to visit:  Early in the morning on a calm day before the other boats show up.  The water should be calm,  undisturbed, and very scenic.  And you can get some photography in before it gets too hot.

Calm, dawn light

Other:  There are several places to stop and eat along the river.  If you want to grab lunch ashore, do some research first.  Also, if you don’t have a friend with a boat, don’t let that stop you.  Nearly every marina we passed had pontoon  and house boats for rent.

By the way, if you’re visiting Florida you may not know that it’s probably not a very good idea to swim in the river.  The alligator in the photo above was about 5 feet long.  It (along with some much larger relatives) lives in the river.  We also occasionally have people  infected with water-borne diseases (such as amoebic meningoencephalitis), although that usually occurs in lake water.

Summary

We had a great time and were very grateful to Vince for taking us out.  I got a photo or two that I really like.

My Gallery /  Flickr photo set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157624991879878/with/5010338576/
Website: N/A
Address / Phone: View in Google Maps
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: Very scenic.  If you have a boat, go!

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.