Tag Archives: infrared

Take the shot? Or not?

Editor’s note:  For everyone in The Bahamas, here in Florida, and up and down the east coast of the US – please keep an eye on hurricane Dorian, get prepared, and stay safe!


I’ve driven by this tree many times – every time I go around Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  I like its isolation and the reflection it makes in the usually very still water.

Lone pine between the canal and roadLone pine between the canal and road

I saw and admired it again on my visit a few weeks ago, but I almost didn’t make this image.  Why not?  Because I thought I’d already made that very one before and didn’t need another.  Fortunately, I wasn’t in a hurry, so I stopped and made a two frame vertical panorama with my IR camera.

When I got home, I tried to find the photo I thought I remembered.  Here are two of that same tree that I found in my archives.  This first one is from nearly the same spot:

Clear day, calm water 1Clear day, calm water, January 2011

And this one is from the other side:

Left at the lone pine treeLeft at the lone pine tree, August 2018

I like the newest photo the best.  I’m glad I went ahead and made it!

On the other hand: When Kevin M. and I were down in Osceola county, we saw two or three Bald Eagles.  When I was young, Bald Eagles were rare and I never saw one in the wild until I moved to Florida and started paying more attention to wildlife.  Now they’re getting much more common but I still get a thrill whenever I see one.  One of the eagles was sitting on a pile of dirt a little off the road.  Kevin asked if I wanted him to stop for a photo and I said no.  I have quite a few Bald Eagle photos that I like (e.g. this one), and the setting that day just didn’t look like it would make a good photo.  It would probably have sat on my hard drive or been deleted when I went through the photos.  Why make it?

Take the shot or not? Like many things, it depends.  I suppose the moral of this story is: “When in doubt, make the photo.  But don’t make every photo.”

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos, or not!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Howell Creek

Howell Branch creek starts at Lake Maitland and flows into Lake Waumpi.  From there it’s called Howell Creek as it goes through Lake Howell and then wanders east and north  to empty into Lake Jessup. It passes within a half mile of our home in Winter Springs.

I’ve driven by this spot below in Maitland many times, but didn’t realize it’s on the same waterway:

Howell Creek No. 2Howell Creek – Where it crosses Lake Howell Road.  A small dam there creates a lovely little waterfall / rapid.  I’ve driven by it for years and finally made a photo.

I never stopped before because there’s no obvious parking nearby.  But Lynn volunteered to drive me over, drop me off (and come back and pick me up too!).  So off we went…

My plan was to make a few images from down near the water with a wide angle lens, maybe up close to the dam.  But several  “No Trespassing” signs scuttled that. I stayed up on the bridge by the road and made my images from there.  I’m glad I brought my 24 – 200 mm (eq.) lens too – the reach came in handy!

Several people walked by while I was there and mentioned how pretty the view is.  They talked about wading birds and the otter family they see there.  I didn’t see any otters, but a Great Egret eventually wandered into my frame.  I was lucky it stayed still while I made a long  exposure to blur the water.  When Lynn saw the photo, she thought it needed a dark colored bird – I should’ve waited for an anhinga!

Wind caused some blurring in the leaves and Spanish moss.  I was also worried the vibration caused by trucks on the road behind me would shake my tripod and blur things.  I made several frames just in case and this one came out pretty well.

Research indicates there was a water powered mill located just up stream from this dam in the mid 1800s.  And I found an old article in the Orlando Sentinel, saying that the first dam in this spot was built around 1900. One story says residents blew up the dam during a hurricane and replaced it later.  Apparently, a more durable one was built in  the 1950s and was replaced by the current dam in 1979 when Orange County widened Howell Branch Road.

It doesn’t seem like I’ve used other photos of Howell Creek in the blog before, so I’ll end this post with two older images from closer to our home in Winter Springs.

Howell CreekHowell Creek infra red (October 2013)

Howell CreekHowell Creek bed and reflections (October 2013)

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – stop somewhere you’ve been passing by and make some photos!

©2013 and 2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Blue Cypress Lake Postcard

Hello loyal readers! This is the next entry in the occasional blog category called “Postcards” where I upload photos of Central Florida scenes – similar to ones you’d find on a postcard.

It’s easy to find all of these. Just use the “Places / Categories” pulldown menu over on the right side of the blog and select “Postcards”. If you’re viewing the site on a phone, you may not see that menu – in that case, just type “postcards” into the search box.

Blue Cypress ShorelineBlue Cypress Shoreline

I made this image in April of 2017 from a pontoon boat in Blue Cypress Lake, near Vero Beach, Florida.  This wonderful lake is part of the St. Johns River headwaters.  Here’s a link to all the posts I’ve written about it: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/blue-cypress-lake/.  And you can view other photos from there at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157630027829768.

It’s a 2 frame vertical panorama shot with an infrared modified camera, handheld with a 24 mm equivalent lens at f/3.5,  ISO 200 at 1/800 sec. I processed the photo and converted it to Black and White using Lightroom and Photoshop. You should be able to click on it to go to Flickr and then select the download symbol below and to the right of the photo. I hope you like it!

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license

Note: Items in my blog that are marked with a Creative Commons license are available in high resolution for you to download for your personal use. Please visit this page to see details and restrictions that apply: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.

Merritt Island – 4/3/19

When I  visit Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, I’m never sure what I’ll see.  But almost every time there’s something new and interesting.

I hadn’t been to Gator Creek Rd. for sunrise in a while.  This spot is at one of the curves where there’s a break in the mangroves so you can get down to water level.  There weren’t many clouds.  I used a low camera position for this photo  to emphasize the foreground and made a 4 image panorama to get a wider field of view.

Gator Creek MorningGator Creek Morning.

Next, I drove up to the Bairs Cove Boat ramp.  Manatees seem to like the area – I think I’ve seen them there every time I’ve been.  Sure enough, I spotted several and debated whether to park and make a photo.  I’ve made so many photos of their noses that more of that kind of shot isn’t very exciting .  But since I was there, I got out of the car.  I  counted over a dozen as I walked quietly down to the dock.  It wasn’t until I was right at the water that I saw three of them next to the wall.  I’d only brought my long lens with me from the car, so after making several “Manatee Head Shots”, I pulled out my phone to get a photo of the group (https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/40566342263/in/dateposted/).  When I left they were still there – calmly resting and taking occasional breaths.

Manatee head shotManatee head shot

I was heading back toward Black Point Wildlife Drive along Shiloh Rd. when I caught a glimpse of some water through a break in the trees.  I stopped and walked over to make this infrared image in a spot I’d never noticed before.

By the Indian RiverBy the Indian River

Things were fairly busy on Black Point – lots of birds and people too.  I stayed at one small feeding frenzy for a while making images of the birds hunting for fish.  This heron had just launched from the left.

Tricolored Heron in flightTricolored Heron in flight

I stopped next to another photographer who’d found this Killdeer close to the road in very nice light.  I was careful not to disturb her bird as I quietly got out of my car to get this image.

Killdeer Killdeer

I spotted our usual Herons and Egrets, Brown and White Pelicans, a few ducks (mostly Blue Wing Teals, Northern Shovelers, Coots, etc.), Ibis, Willets, Sandpipers, Cormorants, Anhingas, Roseate Spoonbills, Belted Kingfishers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Turkey Vultures, Mocking Birds, Ground Doves, Black-necked Stilts, a few Killdeer, and one new life bird for me:  a Whimbrel.

Another pleasant and interesting morning at MINWR!

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black Bear Wilderness Area

I’ve seen interesting photos recently that some of my local Flickr friends made in the Black Bear Wilderness Area. So last Wednesday, I drove over to Sanford, Florida and took a hike to explore part of it.  Here are a few photos I made.

Black Bear Wilderness Area 3A fern near the start of the trail – these were everywhere and very green.

BBWA is a 7.1 mile nature trail through a 1,650 acre preserve along historic levees through the St. Johns River floodplain.  I thought the entire route would be a bit much for me, so I only hiked about 4 miles total, out and then back – starting counter-clockwise to reach the river.   I used my IR camera on the way out, and my ‘normal’ camera coming back.

Black Bear Wilderness Area 1Along the St. Johns River, near boardwalk 3.  IR monochrome

There are signs posted warning you to be prepared.  The route runs through remote areas with some challenging terrain (slopes, tree roots, fallen trees, etc).  I didn’t think the part I explored was that rough, but be careful if you go – carry water, bug spray, etc.  And check the weather – a rain storm while you’re out there could make the trail very slippery.

Black Bear Wilderness Area 2From a bridge overlooking a canal around mile mark 1

Bald Cypress trees and swamps around them are some of my favorite subjects. You’ll find them in large numbers at BBWA.

Black Bear Wilderness Area 4: Many kneesAmong the knees –  near mile marker 1.5. IR monochrome

Black Bear Wilderness Area %: Inside the cypress SwampInside the cypress Swamp – Near mile marker 0.5

In addition to these landscapes, I also saw a gator or two, and quite a few birds including herons, egrets, limpkins, osprey, and some unidentified smaller birds back in the bushes.  And no, I didn’t spot any black bears.  Shucks.

There were about 15 other people on the trail that morning, which seems like a lot to me for the middle of the week.  I guess the word is getting out about beautiful views along this amazing trail through wild Florida.  I wish I’d heard about it sooner!

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

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

First, check the web page!

I missed out last week on a trip with Kevin K. and Kevin M. to the Circle B Bar Reserve due to some dental work (ouch!).  So I was eager to photograph something this week.  My schedule was finally clear on Friday, and when I woke up early, I decided to go walk around Orlando Wetlands Park – one of my favorite spots in this area.

Whoops.  I suspected something was wrong when I got out of the car and heard engines running.   I walked out toward Lake Searcy in the dark and when I saw construction gear and  no water in the corner cell, I turned around.   Fortunately I’d gotten up way too early, so I still had time to change my “plans” and almost make sunrise over on the coast.

Early morning on the river shore 2Early morning on the river shore 2. Rotary Riverfront Park, Titusville. That’s the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building in the distance.

After that, I headed to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  There are a lot of winter migrants here now.  The birds must’ve known beforehand about this week’s Polar Vortex.  In addition to our year round species, I saw American Avocets, Lesser Scaups, Northern Shovelers, Hooded Mergansers, and fast warblers I couldn’t ID.  I also stopped and talked to some folks on Black Point Wildlife Drive who were trying to find a Cinnamon Teal that’s been seen there.  I heard later they found it again on Saturday.

Hooded MergansersHooded Mergansers. Two males taking turns displaying for the females in the area

Pair of porkersPair of porkers.  Part of larger family just inside BPWD.

Spoonbill and reflectionSpoonbill and reflection.  This bird was so still, I had time to zoom in and make a three frame panorama.  That really helps with details!

Weathered Red CedarWeathered Red Cedar.  I was glad to see that my infrared camera still works after so much neglect!

So my photo adventure started out badly, but turned out well.  Those engines I heard were pumps.  I checked the OWP web page when I got home – they’re “demucking” Cell 14.  And there’s also construction going on in Cell 16.  I’ll go back in a while when the ruckus dies down.  Don’t be like me – check the web page before you go.  Even if you’ve been there many times!

Orlando Wetlands photos here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157639616792296

More Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157627776386723

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

I joined Kevin M. and Kevin K. on a trip around Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive last Friday. We got a late start and didn’t make sunrise, so you’ll have to be satisfied with a monochrome landscape this week.

Lake Apopka ShoreLake Apopka Shore.  Monochrome, IR

Black Point Wildlife Drive seemed quiet when I was there a week ago, but Lake Apopka is active.  We saw lots of people and lots of birds.  I don’t catch Black-crowned Night Herons that often, but we spotted several including this young one fishing in a canal.

Lake Apopka ShoreBlack-crowned Night Heron

A little later we spotted another that’d just caught a catfish.

Black-crowned Night Heron and CatfishBlack-crowned Night Heron and Catfish

This looks like a Sailfin Catfish.  I hadn’t heard about these, but Kevin M. filled me in.  They’re a type of suckermouth (or armored) catfish and a non-native, invasive species in Florida.  Originally from Venezuela and Colombia, they’re popular in aquariums.  Most  likely they escaped from tropical fish farms and / or were released here by people.

Now they’re abundant and widespread throughout Florida and bad for our ecosystem.  They dig burrows that cause erosion.  Because of their tough, armored skin and sharp spines, they can choke birds that eat them.  There were a lot of them in the canals next to the roads.  The St. John’s River Water Management District has an undesirable fish harvest each year that gets some of them out of the water.

In addition to the Night Heron, we also saw a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret with one.  I hope they didn’t choke.

I don’t see many Purple Gallinules either, and I didn’t realize this was a young one until Kevin M. ID’d it for us.  Thanks, Kevin!

Purple Gallinule juvenilePurple Gallinule juvenile

We saw several other types of birds, dragonflies, butterflies, flowers, and the usual alligators too.  Lake Apopka is well worth a visit, even in the hot summer.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Old Car City

Okay, I know the name of the blog is “Central Florida Photo Ops” and I usually write about landscape and wildlife photography.  But Old Car City (http://oldcarcityusa.com/) is a very cool place and I have a scouting report and some photos to show you!

Photographers ParadisePhotographers Paradise

Old Car City calls itself a “Photographer’s Paradise”, and the “worlds largest known classic car junkyard”.  It’s hard to disagree.  It began as a general store in 1931 in White, Georgia.  Over the years it evolved into a forested refuge for 4000+ cars, most more than 35 years old.  Located about an hour from downtown Atlanta, it covers 34 acres with 6 1/2 miles of trails to explore.

The cars stay where they were originally placed.  Some are piled high.  Others rest alone or lined up.  Many are overgrown with vines and some even have trees growing right through them.  Admission is $25 (only $15 if you don’t photograph).  We spent 3 – 4 hours there and I was exhausted before the photo ops were.

Impala convertible - and treeImpala convertible – and tree

Walking through can be surreal – especially in infra-red.

Old Car City IROld Car City IR Pano

Photography here can be challenging in several ways.  I carried my tripod all around the place and the local cat kept showing up and rubbing up against it – not helpful!

Junkyard cat and VWJunkyard cat and matching VW van. It followed us around and liked to rub up against tripods. Not good, cat!

This isn’t a traditional salvage yard – no parts are sold.  It’s more of a museum, although there’s no effort to preserve exhibits.  The cars were saved from the crushing machine, but not from nature.

You can find much more than just old cars and car parts. There are school buses, and tractors, antique toys, wagons, bicycles, and more.  I even read there’s a Cartersville Grand Theater marquis, but I didn’t see it on my visit.

Doll and chairDoll and chair – You can find more than old cars at Old Car City. This was right next to the path – yet it looks like no one’s disturbed it in years.

Safety:  You’ll have to sign in when you pay admission, but there’s no lengthy rights waiver  and a lawyer doesn’t follow you around.  The place could be dangerous though – there’s broken glass, rusty metal and some sharp edges.  Just be careful, not stupid.  Heed the warning signs, stay on cleared paths and off / out of the cars and you should be fine.  Oh, and some insect repellent might come in handy.

Don't open hoods doorsDon’t open hoods doors

My tripod was helpful mostly for Olympus hi-res images – but if you’re not making those I think you can get by without one.  I used focal lengths from fish eye up to about 200mm equivalent and I’d say your wider lenses would be the most useful.

The number of photo ops in this place is huge.  If you go, my best advice is to do a little research before hand and plan out a strategy or two.  Get some larger framed intro shots, but think about concentrating on one or a few categories:  hood ornaments, door handles, dashboards, interiors, decay, rust, textures, vegetation on vehicles, etc., etc.  The possibilities are huge.

Click on these photos to see them larger on Flickr,  and I have more images from Old Car City collected in his album.  You can also look through many more photos from there via the Flickr “Old Car City” search page results.  And you can find out more on the Old Car City web page.  Here are a couple more links with info:

If you get a chance, go by Old Car City.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Another Central Florida Morning

I decided to wander over towards Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge early last Friday.  My shutter finger was itching and I had to get a camera out and scratch it.  I was running a little late and wouldn’t have made it to the coast for sunrise, so I stopped at C S Lee Park on the St. Johns River on my way.  Nature provided quite a show.

Another Central Florida MorningAnother Central Florida Morning

I don’t know what this effect is called –  when the sun just kisses the cloud bottoms and leaves  higher clouds darker and less colorful.  I don’t see it often enough.  Maybe that’s because it only lasts for such a short time.  According to my EXIF data, I made this image in the middle of a 2-3 minute window and the colorful streaks were much less prominent just before and after.  Whenever I do see this, I’m happy to make a photo!

The Jolly Gator Fish Camp Bar & Grill is next to the park, right across a shallow water filled area from where I made the sunrise photo.  I liked the reflection and symmetry and made this image before I moved on.  I’ve never actually been inside this place.  Maybe I’ll talk Lynn into going there for lunch with me.

Jolly Gator Fish Camp & GrillJolly Gator Fish Camp & Grill

MINWR has a web page you can check for road closures.  Currently, it won’t do you much good –  info on Gator Creek, Biolab, and Black Point is all out of date.  Last Friday, Gator Creek and Biolab Roads were open.  They’ve been re-surfaced and are in good shape.  And Black Point Wildlife Drive was closed due to the amount of rain we’ve had recently.  I hope they keep the road closures page more current.  I sent them a note.

I didn’t have much luck with birds or wildlife on this trip.  So I’ll leave you with two more scenic photos.

Lone Pine and Clouds at DawnLone Pine and Clouds at Dawn (color version)

This tree is along the left side of the road leading into the Bairs Cove boat ramp.  The combination of early morning light, a lone pine tree, and the clouds in the background stopped me in my tracks.  I made this image and the last one out my car window.  Fortunately there wasn’t a lot of traffic.  With these two photos, you can see how the infra-red sensor renders light compared to an unmodified camera.

Lone Pine and Clouds at DawnLone Pine and Clouds at Dawn (IR, B&W version)

I’ve collected other photos from the St. Johns River in this album on Flickr and from Merritt Island in this one.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved