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.
sur·prise: noun: an unexpected or astonishing event, fact, or thing verb: cause (someone) to feel mild astonishment or shock synonyms: astonishment, amazement, incredulity, wonder
One reason I like photography is because it often pleasantly surprises me. If you do a search on this blog (https://edrosack.com/?s=surprise). you’ll find I’ve used the word many times. Today I have a couple more examples, so lets discuss photo surprises again.
Jumping fish sunrise
The title of this one gives away the surprise. Of course, it’s not unusual for fish to jump out of the water. I was set up for landscape photography, not wildlife or action and I didn’t notice the fish that morning so I hadn’t tried to time my shutter to include it. When I started processing the photo on my computer I was amazed that my camera recorded the fish (a mullet?) mid jump. I think it adds interest to the photo. A small wonder, but a good one. Here’s a closer look.
This second image is a different kind of surprise.
First Light on Wetland Wildflowers
I was on Black Point Wildlife Drive and saw that beautiful light on the clouds. When I got out of the car to make a photo, I noticed those nearby wildflowers and wanted to include them – it was a difficult task. The exposure for the flowers would be very different from the sky. And getting everything in focus in one frame would also be hard. I decided to make three vertical frames (adjusting focus and exposure in each one) and then try blending them together into a single panorama image when I got home.
I wasn’t hopeful. On top of capture issues, I knew the blending would be hard too. The flowers were very close and would change perspective against the open marsh when the camera moved. And any motion from wind would cause ghosting or other issues. I made the frames anyway – it was worth a try. I didn’t think it would turn out this well – an unexpected success!
You can click on the first and last photos to view larger versions on Flickr.
Changing the subject, Tropical Storm Isaias is heading toward Central Florida. Our skies are blue and cloud free right now. Later today it’s expected to be a lot closer and we might get some strong weather beginning this afternoon. Lynn and I have done our hurricane prep and are hoping it stays out to sea and doesn’t get too bad. We also hope all of you anywhere near the projected path are prepared too.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there and take care of each other. And if you can – make some surprising photos!
The first post on this blog went up on May 4th, 2007. Who would’ve thought it’d still be going 13 years, 672 posts, and 2000+ photos later?
It seems like I should have something profound to say in an anniversary post, but I’m not feeling any deep, heartfelt photography thoughts today to share. Instead, I’ll just remind you: We all carry our cell phones around. Make sure you take yours out and use its probably very good camera whenever something attracts your eye.
Here are a few sights I thought were interesting over the last several months when the only camera I had with me was my phone.
Light on leaves on a limb – From a neighborhood walk on May 2nd.
New palm fronds – From a neighborhood walk on April 29th.
Red Bottlebrush – From a neighborhood walk on March 14th.
Fire in the sky – Just before dinner at Cracker Barrel on February 7th.
Lynn and I are doing OK here. We’ve been sticking close to home and social distancing for what seems like forever. Florida has started to lift our pandemic lockdown a bit and I’m thinking about venturing out for a some careful exploration / exercise with my camera next week at one of the parks around Orlando that are beginning to open up again. It’d be nice to get out for a bit.
Changing the subject: I hope all Moms out there are having a wonderful Mothers Day! – Thank you for all you do – you make the world a much better place!
“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”
I miss you Mom.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there, stay safe, and take care of each other. And if you can – make some photos!
Lynn has a Lily of the Nile plant outside our front door. It looked stressed over the winter, but at the beginning of April it perked up and started blooming. I kept an eye on it and made these five photos over three weeks to show the sequence.
Cameras, lenses, and settings varied over time and some are single frames while others are multiple frame focus stacks. I tried to make the look consistent across all the photos when I processed them and converted to B&W. How’d I do?
Why did I choose to post these? I put up things I like and hope that you’ll enjoy them too. It’s not a good idea to post things I don’t like and hope you’ll like them. Is it?
Changing subjects, here in Florida we’ll begin a Phase One reopening next week in most of the state. Social distancing and other pandemic restrictions will still be in place. And we should all use our common sense and be cautious. But I did hear that state parks are reopening. We’ll have to see exactly what the rules allow.
Many have died, many more are sick, and even more are out of work. Our hearts go out to all of you. I hope that we get through this as soon as possible.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of each other.
I hiked out into the Marl Bed Flats part of the Lake Jesup Conservation Area yesterday morning (10/4/19) to visit the swamp sunflower fields that grow wild along HW 417 north of Lake Jesup for a few weeks this time of year.
Swamp Sunflower panorama
I left a little late because I don’t really like to go out there in the dark. I’ve never had any issues though, so just be careful if you do go before or after it’s light (official hours are “Dawn to Dusk”). There were two cars already there when I arrived and the gate into the larger parking area was closed. Parking could be tight at the end of the road – hopefully there will be plenty of room if you visit. I met one of the other photographers on my way in.
We haven’t had much rain recently, so both the red and yellow trails are dry and clear until you get out to the flowers. The flowers are in great shape although they didn’t seem as dense as I’ve seen them in other years – they may still be filling in. The ground in the fields is damp in spots but not very muddy in the areas I went through. I didn’t have any problems with bugs but I used insect spray before hand.
Right now is a great time for a visit and I think the flowers will last for at least another week or so. You’ll get a little exercise and you’ll witness a wonderful Florida nature spectacle! Take water, bug spray, etc. and watch out for snakes and other wild animals. It is a wilderness area!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
I try to maintain a regular schedule here and normally blog once a week – almost always on Sunday morning. I get up early and write (or finish writing) so I can hit the “publish” button before breakfast. My system’s worked pretty well for me and I hope for readers too. It’s gotten me up to almost 600 articles so far.
I enjoy it, but it’s a challenge at times. I want to include photography info worth reading or at least an image worth viewing. And I want each post to be something that I’ll enjoy re-visiting myself.
This morning I sat here with a blank page and a photographically blank mind. Making and processing images is a passion for me and has been for a long time. I’m pretty sure I’ll continue to enjoy it as long as I can. But it is just a hobby and there can be (and this week are) more important things to think about and deal with.
I won’t burden you with any personal issues – the blog is about image making. Instead I’ll simply leave you with another recent Caladium composition that I hope you’ll enjoy. Processing it to preserve as much detail as possible took my mind off of other things for just a little while.
Morning Dew. We’ve had some bumble bees flying around our flowers lately and I’ve tried to photograph them. I made this image after giving up on the bees one morning.
You can click on this image to view a larger version on Flickr. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits and comments mean a lot to me.
Lynn and I spent a couple of days in St. Augustine, Florida last week. It’s been two years since I last wrote about it (in this post), but it’s still a photo rich environment. Here’s a sample of the images I made there this time.
Columbia Restaurant interior. We usually stop by this place for the food, but the inside is lovely too!
Memorial Presbyterian Church Dome. We rode the Old Town Trolley around again and got off at this stop to see this beautiful church. Henry Flagler built it in the 1890s as a memorial to his wife.
>Santa Maria Restaurant Ruins. Our trolley guide told us it has too much hurricane damage to repair. It’s going to be demolished soon and replaced with a new restaurant
Flower Box. I like to watch for interesting doors and windows when I walk through town. This is one example.
Golden mooring morning. Lynn used some points to help us splurge on a waterfront room. I made this from our balcony.
Refreshments – Make the photo, then drink the subject. It’s important to get the sequence correct!
Tosahatchee wetlands – we’ve had a bit of rain recently
Wild Iris plants are blooming along the roadside there and I stopped to photograph one. As I was framing my image, a Swallowtail Butterfly swooped in and paused for about a second. I was startled, but had time for a single shutter press before it moved on. Thank you, Mother Nature for completing my composition!
Wild Iris (Blue Flag, Iris Virginia) and Palamedes Swallowtail
There were a lot of folks at Viera when I arrived around noon. I found one of the Sandhill Crane nests from last week’s post. I didn’t see any chicks, but all looked well. Both adults were there and standing at first so I could see one of the eggs.
I also went by the Great Blue Heron nest from last week’s post. There was one adult at that nest. Looking very closely at the images on my computer at home, I can make out a newly hatched chick.
Spring has sprung. At least in Central Florida.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Have you heard about Adobe’s recent update to Lightroom? It has a new feature called “Enhance Details”. Adobe says it:
“approaches demosaicing in a new way to better resolve fine details and fix issues like false colors and zippering. Enhance Details uses machine learning—an extensively trained convolutional neural network (CNN)—to provide state-of-the-art quality for the images that really matter.”
You can read an explanation of what they’ve done on their blog at this link: https://theblog.adobe.com/enhance-details/. It sounds like a another fascinating advance in computational photography. It’s also a great example of why you should shoot in Raw mode and save your original files – so you can take advantage of future software updates. Of course I had to try this out!
Wildflower and bug – processed in Lightroom with Enhanced Details (click for a larger view)
I chose this flower growing in Central Winds Park, near Lake Jesup as my subject. By the way, this is the same spot and subject as this 2015 blog post. There’s a lot of detail in the flower and insect and I was curious about how it would look using the new processing.
I ran Enhance Details on the Raw file. At first, I couldn’t really see any improvement. So I opened the original and enhanced images in layers in Photoshop. I set the layer mode to Difference and then used a levels adjustment to highlight changes.
Using this method at 300% magnification to guide me to where the changes were, I could then see them clearly. The enhanced image was indeed more detailed than the original. But (for this example anyway) they’re extremely subtle! Too subtle to show up in a blog resolution image without a difference map.
Adobe claims a 30% increase in image quality. I’m not sure how they derived this number, but from the examples I’ve seen the results are much more subtle than that.
It works better on some subject than others, e.g. night photos of cities with lights, or images with artifacts. Improvements are much harder to see on other subjects such as my flower.
I didn’t see (and haven’t heard of) anyplace where it made an image worse.
You pay a penalty in workflow, time, and disk storage when using this. It shouldn’t be your default processing.
Consider it for portfolio images, or photos that you’re printing in a large format. Don’t bother with it for images shared to the web or ones that you’re printing small. Keep your Raw files and you can always go back later and run them through.
If you use Fuji cameras, try it on their X-Trans Raw files.
We’ll hear more soon as the photo community explores this and we see results.
In the future this or something like it will probably become the default demosaicing approach. Adobe should be commended and I hope they keep developing it
That was fun! Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Lynn added some Birds of Paradise plants to our front and back gardens a few years ago. They’ve done well – we often have multiple flowers open at the same time.
I featured a portion of one blossom in this post from the summer of 2017. It turns out that they bloom in the winter too! Here are some more photos, this time of the whole flower.
Bird of Paradise – side view, on black
The Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is also known at the Crane Flower because it resembles the head and beak of a colorful exotic bird.
Bird of Paradise – from above
They’re indigenous to South Africa and enjoy full sun and warm temperatures like we have here in Central Florida.
Bird of Paradise – side view, on white
In their natural habitat, they’re pollinated by Sunbirds, not insects. The weight of the bird standing on the flower releases pollen onto the bird’s chest or feet, which is deposited on the next flower it visits.
They make lovely additions to our Florida garden, and lovely photography subjects too. I made these images in the early morning before the light got harsh. Lynn held black or white material behind them for me. I like the one on black the best. How about you?
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!