Tag Archives: Flowers

Flowers and Flyers

I hope you don’t mind a few more photos from Virginia.  The wildflowers and butterflies were beautiful, and the birds varied from what we normally see in Central Florida.

Wildflower Chicory bud wildflower. Thanks Charlotte Norton for identifying this for me!

There were butterflies everywhere, probably because wildflowers were everywhere.  We had a marvelous little meadow under the balcony behind our room.  It was fun and relaxing to sit there and watch all the activity.

SwallowtailSwallowtail

Bees and birds were busy too.

Wildflower and BeeWildflower and Bee B&W

We stood in line for the dining room at the lodge one night and the woman in front of us was carrying a large DSLR camera and lens.  She lived close by and had come up to photograph butterflies in Big Meadows.  I said we were enjoying them too, and then we started talking about birds.  I was all excited about the Indigo Buntings and American Goldfinches we’d sighted, since we don’t often see them in Florida.  She didn’t seem to care about such common birds – and was much more interested in getting to Florida to see some Spoonbills.  To each their own!

Eastern TowheeEastern Towhee (life bird!) – Thanks Kevin McKinney for the bird ID help!

And one more image to wrap up.  I made all the photos in this post with a micro four-thirds camera and 100 – 400 mm lens (200 – 800 mm equivalent).  I found it very useful for close up photography and even though I had a macro lens with me, I never used it.

Wildflower 3Wildflower 3

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and more photos from Shenandoah in this album on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Shenandoah – Starscapes, Sunsets, Storms, and Falls

Our visit to Shenandoah National Park this year  was extremely enjoyable (mentally not physically!)  relaxing, and cooler than back here in Central Florida (highs there in the 70s).   It was also interesting from a photography perspective and different from last year’s trip.  I did a lot of sunset / night photography and didn’t try very hard to get up early every morning for sunrise.

We were fortunate with seeing conditions on the night we arrived. There were no clouds, and the Milky Way center was above the horizon for about two hours after moon set.  Shenandoah has dark skies and the large cleared meadow near the lodge provides wonderful views all around the compass.  Lynn hadn’t ever really seen the Milky Way before and I’ve never seen it this well.  We were both amazed, and I was also impressed with how much detail my Nikon D800 was able to capture.

Big Meadows Milky Way Big Meadows Milky Way.  Three frame panorama, 24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 2500, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

Lynn is a big fan of meteor showers, and due to a gravity assist from Jupiter, the Perseid was predicted to be spectacular this year.  We set the alarm for 1am the night it was forecast to peak and went out to watch.  The area around Big Meadows was crowded with over a hundred people watching the show, and each overlook had cars parked with more people observing.  It was a good show.  Here’s one of my photos from that morning.

A Persied Meteor and a cloud in front of a portion of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy A Perseid Meteor and a cloud in front of part of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy – From Old Rag View Overlook on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.  24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 3200, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

I tried sunset photos on most nights.  The sky wasn’t as dramatic as I’ve seen it in the past, but there were many wildflowers in bloom helping to make up for that.

The end of the dayThe end of the day – Looking out over Shenandoah Valley from Skyline Drive. The wildflowers were beautiful when we were there.  Two frame composite, manual masking in Photoshop.

And storms also added interest.  We watched this one develop from the balcony outside our room at the lodge.

Shenandoah Storm #1Shenandoah Storm – A storm built up to the west at sunset. As seen from our balcony at Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah National Park.  Multi-frame panorama.

Dark Hollow Falls is one of the most popular places in Shenandoah.  When we drove by on Sunday, the parking area was overflowing with cars.  We waited until the next morning to hike down.  Last year, I didn’t make it to these falls and used one of my  20-year-old photos  to illustrate it.  For some reason, the hike (especially the return up from the falls) is more difficult than it was when I was 20 years younger.  Hmm – I wonder why?  This is from very near the same place, and a horizontal, wider view.  I like this one too.

Dark Hollow Falls Dark Hollow Falls.  14mm equivalent FOV, ISO 100, f/8.0, 1/13 seconds, Olympus hires mode.

We did a bit more hiking this year than last and went on trails we hadn’t tried before.   Rose River Falls and Black Rock Mountain were two new favorites.  Another one we hiked was Pocosin Trail.  It was interesting, although I didn’t like it as much as the others.  Maybe it was because of one sentence in the trail guide:  “Soon the trail flattens.”  It never did!

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and more photos from Shenandoah in this album on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Epic Utah road trip – Chapter 1

I have many “out of Florida” photos to share with you today from Utah.  MK wanted to take a short sightseeing trip out there over the 4th of July weekend and asked me to be her travel buddy.  Of course, I couldn’t turn that down!  Last year on my trip out west , I passed up seeing Zion and Bryce Canyon because I wanted more time in Death Valley National Park.  I’m glad I got to go back.

Flowers at daybreakFlowers at daybreak – Cedar Breaks National Monument.  We visited this beautiful place twice.  The second time before dawn, when we were the only ones there.

Because this was my first time there and our visit was so short, I’m going to write more of a “travel log” instead of a “what and where they are and how to photograph them”.  I wouldn’t try to write that until I was way more familiar with the area.  I will say that it is spectacularly scenic and if you get a chance, just go.  You’ll find all sorts of things to point your camera at.

The first place we visited was Cedar Breaks National Monument.  It was a surprise to me – I hadn’t really heard of it before.  It’s very scenic and has a lot of wildlife too.  We saw many deer on the trip.  Unfortunately, there were several on the side of the road – we watched carefully to make sure we didn’t hit any.

Morning deerMorning deer

We actually went by Cedar Breaks twice.  The second day, we left early to find a sunrise spot and ended up there.  By ourselves – magnificent!

Sunrise at Point SupremeSunrise at Point Supreme – Cedar Breaks

We were walking through the visitors area and I was looking around in the trees trying to find the bird making a very strange call I didn’t recognize. A nice German gentleman came up to me and pointed out the Marmot that was making the racket. A bit embarrassing – but I did get a photo.

Yellow Bellied MarmotYellow Bellied Marmot

Our bird watching was casual, but I did record one new life bird.

Mountain BluebirdMountain Bluebird – These were quite common at Cedar Breaks National Monument

One other place we wandered to was Brian Head Peak – a very scenic ski town.  You can tell from the first photo and this one that there were lots of wildflowers blooming – a beautiful bonus!

Flowers by the road to the topFlowers by the road to the top – On the way up to 11,000 feet at Brian Head Peak, Utah

Here’s a summary of our trip:

  • 53 hours duration (Saturday morning – Monday evening)
  • 1,091 miles driven
  • 3 National Parks (Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef)
  • 3 National Monuments (Cedar Breaks, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Timpanagos)
  • 1 All-American Scenic Byway (Route 12)
  • 1 life bird (Mountain Bluebird)
  • 1 Yellow-Bellied Singing Marmot
  • 1 Elk
  • Lots of deer
  • 14 stamps for MK’s National Park Service passport
  • 700+ photos
  • 1 epic father-daughter Utah road trip! We were so very tired when we got home!

What a terrific trip – thank you MK! I’m still going through the photos and adding favorites to my Utah album on Flickr.  You can take a look there if you want to see more.  And click on any of the photos in this post  to see a larger version on Flickr.

I’ll work on a post with photos from the other spots next week.  Until then, 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.

Flower in IR

Keith H. had his Olympus EM-5 MII camera converted to infrared, so one day after lunch we stopped by Central Winds Park in Winter Springs so he could test it.  I’ve had my IR E-PL5 for a while, but wanted to see how it worked with the Oly 50 – 140mm f/2.8 lens.

Flower in IRFlower in IR

This frame was at ISO 200, 150mm (300mm equivalent), f/5.6, 1/80 second.  It’s handheld, but I braced the camera and the winds were calm so the shutter speed was high enough to prevent motion blur.  And the long focal length and close focus makes the blurred background look very nice.  So I think this lens works well in IR.

The processing was comparatively straightforward.  I ran it through DxO Optics Pro for noise reduction and detail improvement.  The rest was in Lightroom:  Crop, exposure, contrast, clarity, to taste; spot removal for small specs of dirt on the flower; and then small doses of post-crop vignette and de-haze to get to an initial false color IR image.

As a last step, I tried something new.  Instead of converting to Black and White, I played around with the vibrance slider to partly desaturate the colors in the image.  This gave me the “pseudo B&W” you see above.  I like this rendering and I’m going to try it in the future for IR images.

If you have any questions about this, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Merritt Island – March 30, 2016

I went over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last week with Tom M. Here are a few of the things we saw on this trip.

St. Johns Sunrise - silver lining and sun raysSt. Johns Sunrise – silver lining and sun rays:  This is a long exposure (10 second) image I made at the boat ramp on the St. Johns where it meets HW 50.  The water is higher than I’ve seen it there before 

Pollen covered Bumble Bee on Purple ThistlePollen covered Bumble Bee on Purple Thistle:  These thistles are blooming all over Black Point Wildlife Drive.  The pollen on this bee may be an indication of why we’re having such severe allergy problems here in Central Florida.

Spoonbill in the reedsSpoonbill in the reeds:  There were many other birds around too.

Life and death in the Florida wildLife and death in the Florida wild: The bird (a female Red-breasted Merganser) was looking for fish along a small grass island in the distance. I glanced over when I heard some splashing but couldn’t see anything at first. Then I noticed this alligator with the bird. The struggle was hard to watch, but mercifully brief.

On a related subject, you may have seen news about the recent fish kills we’ve had in the Indian River Lagoon.  These are occurring just south of MINWR, nearer Melbourne, Florida.  As we were driving around the refuge, I was struck by how natural it looked and by the absence of any dead fish. I’m very thankful that the Refuge has preserved this natural area for us to enjoy.

I worry about the areas where fertilizer runoff and septic tank leakage can lead to pollution, brown tide, lack of oxygen and dead fish and animals.  I hope that we can figure out solutions so that people living near our natural resources don’t damage them.

OK, sorry for the commentary.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Olympus and focus bracketing

I’ve written before about computational photography and focus bracketing / stacking.    And if you’re curious, you can find much more info on the web.

Today’s post is inspired by a gift the Olympus Camera Company has just given to owners of their OM-D E-M5 Mark II and E-M1 cameras.  They’ve issued free firmware updates that add new capabilities, one of which is focus bracketing.  Here’s an example image I made while learning about the new features.  I wanted all the orchids to be sharp and the background to stay blurry.

OrchidsOrchid – a focus stacked image processed in Photoshop from 14 frames made with the new focus bracketing feature in the E-M5 Mark II.  Individual frames are at ISO 200, f/4, 1/25 second, 60mm (120mm eq.).

You can read about the firmware updates at this link on the Olympus website.

There are several camera companies providing new features in firmware updates to existing cameras.  The Olympus engineering team is exceedingly clever and seem to really enjoy exploiting their hardware to come up with novel features, many of which are computational in nature.    Focus bracketing is the latest example.  Here are my first thoughts about this mode:

  • Of course, you can focus bracket manually, but having the camera do it for you is a big help.
  • When you frame your composition, leave room to crop.  The stacking process can introduce anomalies at the edges.
  • Your starting focus point should be on the closest area.  The bracketing function will step the focus away from the camera.
  • You control the number of exposures and relative step size.  The step size you use depends on the situation and you’ll have to use trial and error to set it until you gain some experience.  If your step size is too great, it’ll leave blurred areas in the processed image.
  • Set the number of exposures greater than you think you’ll need.  Once you look at them on the computer you can discard any unnecessary ones.  You can get very good control of depth of field and background blur by selecting which frames to use when post processing.
  • Focus bracketing uses the camera’s electronic shutter, so there are some limitations from that (e.g. flickering / banding due to fluorescent lights;  An 8 sec. longest shutter speed limit; others?)
  • As with many kinds of multi-frame computational images, subject or camera motion will introduce artifacts.  Focus bracketing works best for stationary subjects with your camera on a tripod

Here’s another example.  And yes, including this may give you some idea of how old I am – I’m old enough not to care about that.

My engineering school calculator
My engineering school calculator – a focus stacked image processed in Photoshop from 21 frames.  Individual frames are at ISO 200, f/4, 1/40 second, 60mm (120mm eq.).

For comparison purposes, here is a single frame from the series.  You can see the tremendous difference in depth of field.

Testing the new focus bracketing feature in the OMD EM5 MII. It works well - big thumbs up to Olympus for putting out this free firmware update. This is a single frame. It works well - big thumbs up to Olympus for putting out this free firmware update.
My engineering school calculator – single image

I have more focus stacked images in this album on Flickr.

I’m very pleased with how well this works.  Olympus deserves a big thumbs up for putting out this update for free.  Doing things like this can earn a lot of customer loyalty.

Now if we could only combine it in camera with other computational photography tricks:  focus stacking, plus high res mode, plus HDR, plus … maybe next time.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Viera Wetlands – 11/20/15

I slept in a bit Friday.  Instead of getting up for sunrise, I met Kevin M. at 7am to go to Viera Wetlands.  I know, I know – missing dawn is for photo wimps.  Well, don’t do as I do – do as I say!  Get up for sunrise!

On the way, we stopped by the boat ramp at SR 520 and the St. Johns River for a few minutes.  Water Lily photos are a bit cliché, but I like how the tear in the leaf only shows in the reflection.

Reflection ImperfectionReflection Imperfection

This is a popular place to launch boats.  I caught this one coming back into the ramp and liked the way the wake patterns look.

A boat on the St. Johns RiverA boat on the St. Johns River

There were a few herons along the boardwalk and a great many Swallows – which I have trouble photographing.  They seem to almost always be in the air and change directions before I can track them.  My Tamron 150-600mm lens was also acting up.  For some reason,  it has an intermittent focusing issue.  After I use it a while, the focus seems to slow and then stop.  Usually I can turn the camera off and back on and it will work again, but yesterday that didn’t help.  I did some research on-line when I got home and many folks are complaining about this.  Two of my friends have this lens and theirs sometimes do it too.  I cleaned the contacts on the lens and camera  – maybe that will fix it.  If not, Tamron has a 6 year USA warranty.

When we got to Viera Wetlands, the road was closed (lots of rain lately), so we got to walk the circuit around the nearest ponds. There are very few ducks so far.  But there were lots of Wrens, Terns, herons,and egrets.  We also had a Black Crowned Night Heron, an Osprey fishing, an American Eagle fly over, a Caracarra, a Harrier, and a Belted Kingfisher – all in the distance.  I missed getting a photo of the eagle because I was fooling around with my phone.  Again, don’t do as I do – do as I say!  Quit messing with your phone!

Forster's Tern in flightForster’s Tern in flight – and example of when my Tamron would focus

Kevin spots things all the time that I don’t notice.  He discovered an American Bittern back in the reeds.  They have very effective camouflage.  It took me several minutes to find it – even with him telling me where it was.

Flower and flyFlower and fly – Another flight shot

The Click ponds have been closed for a while.  They’re open now but almost empty of birds.  Maybe next time.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Beauty and Bugs in the Soggy Swamp: Sunflowers, 2015

I don’t know how long the Sunflowers have staged their fall nature extravaganza along the north side of Lake Jesup near Sanford Florida. I’ve been photographing them since 2006, and my first post about them was in October 2007 – a few months after I began the blog.

I didn’t make it last year and just had to see them this time, so off I went yesterday morning (October 9) to the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation area.

Lake Jesup SunflowersLooking up

The flowers are just about in peak bloom.  If you want to hike out there, you’d better make plans quickly.  The blooms only last a couple of weeks, so by next weekend, they’ll be fading.

Lake Jesup SunflowersMonochrome flowers

The flowers are beautiful, but the bugs are swarming.  I didn’t make any photos of the insects, but I did bring home souvenir mosquito bites.  Wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt and use insect spray too.  It’s also wet.  I didn’t get far from the forest edge – but the water was already several inches deep.  Waterproof boots are a great idea.

Lake Jesup SunflowersLake Jesup Sunflowers at Marl Bed Flats

There are other things to see out there too.  It’s a good local birding spot with at least two Bald Eagle nests reported.

When you go, please be careful.  Don’t stop on the side of 417 – it’s dangerous!  It’s a bit of a hike from the parking area out to the flowers.  And it’s still hot – wear a hat and bring water with you.

The Lake Jesup Wilderness area really is wild – I’ve seen bobcats and worried about wild hogs.  I haven’t seen any snakes, but I’ll bet they’re around.  And Lake Jesup has one of the densest populations of alligators in Florida.  So enjoy, but be careful!

You can browse some of my photos of the area in this set on Flickr.  I also have more info on the area collected in these older articles:

And here are some more Florida Sunflower links you might find interesting:

For reference, here’s a Lightroom map of the area with the locations of photos I’ve made out there.  The streets leading in are also shown, so you can see how to get there (click for a larger version).

Marl Bed Flats area on the north shore of Lake Jesup
Marl Bed Flats area on the north shore of Lake Jesup

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Fisheye, fog, and Flower

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

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.

You can see more of my fisheye photos in this set on Flickr.


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!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.