Tag Archives: landscape

Merritt Island NWR – July 21, 2021

Our weather’s been seasonably hot and humid here in Central Florida. We’re very definitely in the dog days of summer. According to Wikipedia, they’re called that because historically they’re associated with the summer-time rise of Sirius (Canis Major – the “Dog Star”) in the night sky.

Anyway, mid-summer isn’t the best time for birds / wildlife but I really wanted to do a bit of photography. So I packed some camera gear and headed out toward Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge at zero dark thirty last Wednesday to see what I could see.

There was a nice view near the entrance to the refuge about 25 minutes before sunrise:

Titusville Marina at dawn Titusville Marina at dawn

I drove around Gator Creek Road next although there was little activity and I didn’t make any photos.

Black Point Wildlife Drive was a different story. There were a few of our regular resident birds:

Reddish Egret Reddish Egret

Watching Watching Osprey

And I lucked into a feeding frenzy where Herons and Egrets were “fly fishing” for minows in a small pool of water.

The light was harsh, but it was a great place to practice birds-in-flight photography. They move fast and erratically chasing the fish. Looking through the camera with my right eye while watching the wider scene with my left helped me anticipate the action before I could see it through the lens.

Fly fishing 2 Fly fishing 2

According to the iBird app on my phone, Northern Flickers are here year round, but I don’t spot them very often. When I do they’re usually skittish – this one was no exception. But it decided to fly ahead of me along the road and I followed along slowly at a distance. It finally stopped for a few seconds on the side of a palm tree in some pretty good light and I was able to jump out of the car and make this image.

Northern Flicker Northern Flicker

While I was over there, I went by Veterans Memorial Park to check on the repairs they’ve been doing. The area’s been closed since way back in September 2017 due to damage from Hurricane Irma. It took a while, but now it’s open again and back on my list of favorite sunrise spots!

Sunrise at Veterans Memorial Park Sunrise at Veterans Memorial Park

I like going to MINWR in the dog days of summer when it’s quiet. It may not be the greatest time for wildlife, but there’s still plenty to see and photograph. As a bonus there are usually fewer people there too. I had Black Point all to myself for most of my drive – a very special privilege and well worth getting up early for.

Header image: A Snowy Egret, also “fly fishing”. Larger version here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/51327744874/in/dateposted-public/

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Covid is surging out there again. Please take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Developing Clouds

I was on my way home through some rain one day last week when the sky started to look very interesting. I stopped by the house, picked up a camera (I know – I should have had it with me!) and headed up toward Lake Jesup to make a few photos. I’m glad I did – the clouds got even more dramatic!

Squall Line Squall Line

They were developing quickly. These photos were all made within about 40 minutes.

On the way On the way

The clouds varied in different spots and directions. I stopped several times to make photos.

Weather across the water Weather across the water

This last photo is of some mammatus clouds. If you click on it to view a larger version on Flickr, you can see an airliner flying just below the clouds. I hope passengers were getting a good view and the ride wasn’t too bumpy.

Into the Mammatus Sky Into the Mammatus Sky

The last time I wrote specifically about photographing Florida weather was in 2015: (https://edrosack.com/2015/10/17/photographing-florida-weather/). I think the weather photo hints from that post are still relevant:

  • Although you can see interesting weather all year, the best time here is summer afternoons and evenings.
  • The storms are big.  Many times I find myself using a wide-angle lens or stitching panoramas for this kind of photography. The photos in this post were made with a 20mm lens. Some situations (like this thunderstorm) benefit from a longer focal length.
  • You can shoot from inside your car in many cases or just dodge the showers.  Bring a lens cloth and maybe a towel or some plastic to cover  your camera if it’s not weather resistant.
  • Be careful with exposure.  If you have clear sky behind the clouds you can easily blow out highlights in the image which will be tough to fix in post.
  • When processing your photos, try using some mid-range contrast / clarity to bring out details in the clouds.  Don’t go too far though or your results will look unrealistic.
  • Find yourself some good foreground locations in advance so you’ll be ready to head out when the weather gets interesting.
  • And be careful – don’t get struck by lightning or ruin your equipment!

Clouds and weather are often threatening and dangerous. But sometimes they’re interesting and beautiful. Be careful, and if they develop, make some photos.

You can browse more weather related posts on the blog at this link: https://edrosack.com/?s=weather. If you click on the photos above, you can see larger versions on Flickr. I’ve also collected other Florida Cloud and Storm photos that you can browse in this set.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can, make some photos!

Header image: Clouds over the hill. Larger version here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/51310975255/in/dateposted-public/

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Picking a Print

We’ve been slowly (Lynn thinks too slowly!) making prints for our family room. We like metal prints and have been pleased with ones we’ve ordered from MPix. When they sent us a 25% off coupon last week, it was time for another order.

Having images tagged and organized in Lightroom is a big help for something like this. Using its filtering capabilities helped me quickly come up with some (too many) candidates. It was also easy to choose images based on size. I needed enough pixels for a quality larger print.

Candidate images

I spent a few minutes converting some I thought would look good to monochrome. I sorted them based on which ones I liked the best and then asked Lynn to help. We narrowed our B&W choices down to the ones you see below. They’re in date order, along with info about each.

Stormy Shore Stormy Shore; Casey Key, FL; June 2015, 8 frame panorama; 8863×6064

Anhinga - full length portrait Anhinga – full length portrait; Gatorland, FL; March 2016; 5 frame panorama; 7665×11204

Field of Flowers Field of Flowers; Advance, WI; August 2017; 3 frame panorama; 5167×4134

Cocoa Beach Pier before dawn Cocoa Beach Pier before dawn; Cocoa, FL; October 2018; Single frame (Olympus Hi res mode); 10196×6797

"Who are you lookin' at?" (B&W) Who are you lookin’ at? Viera Wetlands, FL; January 2020; 2 frame panorama; 8312×5541

In the end we liked the photo of the deer the best. I think we can appreciate looking at it for a while. Our print should get here next week – I hope it turns out as well as the others we’ve ordered from Mpix.

Do you make prints of your photos? Have you tried metal prints? How do you pick the ones you hang on your walls?

Header image: Lake Eola in downtown Orlando; January 2013; Single frame; 7348×5046


It looks like tropical storm Elsa is heading our way. If you’re in the projected path, stay up to date and stay safe.

And for those of you in the US, Happy Independence Day!


Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some prints!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Marvelous Morning After All

Have you ever had one of those photography outings? The kind where you’re not sure any of the photos will be worth the effort? Where it feels like you’re just going through the motions?

 Hindsight: Perception of the significance and nature of events after they have occurred.

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/hindsight

I hadn’t been to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge since March. The weather forecast when I got up at zero-dark-thirty last Thursday wasn’t good: Overcast, hot, and probably buggy because of the rain we’ve had recently. I went anyway and on the drive over, the clouds were pretty thick. I stopped at a favorite spot and made a few photos. The light was mostly dull, but there was a minute or so when the clouds lit up.

A nice morning after all A marvelous morning after all: Gator Creek Road panorama

There wasn’t much wildlife along Gator Creek Road, but the sun was back-lighting some flowers along the water. I tried a few photos, hoping to catch the early morning colors in the background. The shadows of the stamen and stigma on the flower petal were a nice bonus!

Wild flower 1 Wild flower 1: Morning-Glory(?)

The hot summer months aren’t the best time to see wildlife here in Central Florida and I didn’t spot much on Black Point Wildlife Drive, either. But I made a few photos of our colorful residents. The clouds made for diffuse light and soft shadows, although to get a good exposure, my ISO settings were running between 3200 and 6400. A little noise / grain in an image is better than no image, right?

Green Heron Green Heron

Blue Heron Blue Heron

There were lovely patches of wild flowers on Black Point too:

Wild flower 2 Wild Flower 2

I normally see several Manatees at the Bairs Cove boat ramp. On Thursday I only got a brief glimpse of a single one. There’ve been reports of a lot of Manatee deaths this year. I wonder if that’s why. Anyway, while looking for them I found this place by the canal that I’d never noticed before. I liked the viewpoint.

By the boat ramp By the boat ramp

Driving home Thursday morning my thoughts were mixed. I’d enjoyed getting out and seeing the refuge again, but I wasn’t sure I’d gotten any good photos. Most of what I remembered seeing in the view finder didn’t seem that great. When I started looking at them on the computer, I was happy with how they turned out. There’s something about the light that morning that appeals to me.

So:

  • You can’t know how a photo trip will turn out before you go. You can’t even be sure how much you’ll like the photos before you go through them.
  • If it feels like you’re just going through the motions, go ahead and do your best. You might be surprised by the results.
  • Hindsight could be another name for photography. Your photos let you perceive the significance and nature of a trip after it’s over.
  • In hindsight, my morning was marvelous after all.

Header image: A panorama of the wetland across the road from the Black Point exit.

By the way, Happy Father’s Day to all Dad’s out there! Many thanks for everything you do to make the world a better place.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can, make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Tennessee – May 2021

Here’s one more post to finish up with photos from our road trip. These are all from time we spent at and near the new Central Florida Photo Ops field office in Nashville, Tennessee.

I’d never heard of the Parthenon in Nashville’s Centennial Park before MK took us there. It was originally built for Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition in 1897 to celebrate Nashville’s nickname: “Athens of the South”.

Nashville Parthenon 1 Nashville Parthenon (iPhone)

The original structure was meant to be temporary. Nashvillians liked it so much that they didn’t want to tear it down – so they kept patching and repairing it until 1920 when the city decided to rebuild it with permanent materials. In 1982, work started on the statue of Athena which was completed in 1990, making this an exact size and detail replica of the original temple in Athens, Greece – both inside and out.

The surrounding Centennial Park grounds are beautiful too with many things in bloom while we were there.

Centennial Park flowers, by the Nashville Parthenon Centennial Park flowers, by the Nashville Parthenon (Thanks for this idea MK!)

The next photo is a multi-frame, stitched panorama I made of Nickajack Reservoir on the Tennesee River. It was another one of the very pleasant scenic surprises we encountered at highway rest stops on our journey. This one was along I-24 near Jasper Tennessee.

A peaceful pause A peaceful pause

Natchez Trace is a historic forest trail extending about 440 miles from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi. It was created and used by Native Americans for centuries. European and American explorers, traders, and emigrants also used it in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a scenic highway running along the route of the original trail. It was built starting in the 1930s and the final sections were completed in 2005.

Natchez Trace Parkway bridge, as seen from a nearby overlook on the north side. Natchez Trace Parkway bridge, as seen from a nearby overlook on the north side.

There are many historic sites along the parkway and sections of the original foot trail are still visible. I’m hoping to explore some of these next time.

The header image is also of the Natchez Trace Parkway, from the base of the bridge by the National Park Service sign.

The Stones River photos in my Memorial Day post from a few weeks ago are from Tennessee too.

I’m collecting all my photos from Tennessee in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157719274946967

We enjoyed our first visit to the area and are looking forward visiting again. Next week though, I’ll try to get back to some Central Florida Photo Ops! Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can, make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Memorial Day 2021

Memorial Day is observed In the US on the last Monday of May. It’s a time set aside to honor and mourn military personnel that have died in the line of duty.

Fence line Stones River Fence line

Lynn, MK, and I visited the Stones River National Battlefield (https://www.nps.gov/stri/index.htm) and Cemetery (https://www.nps.gov/stri/learn/historyculture/nationalcemetery.htm) on our recent trip. Photos from there seem fitting for a Memorial Day post.

Stones River National Cemetery Stones River National Cemetery

The Civil War Battle of Stones River was fought from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863. There were 24,645 casualties in the battle (12,906 Union and 11,739 Confederate). That’s 31.4% of all troops and the highest percentage of casualties of any major battle in the Civil War.

Fields of fire Fields of fire

Tactically it was inconclusive, but strategically it was very important to the Union. The Confederate threat to Kentucky and Middle Tennessee was neutralized, and the Cumberland River wharfs and Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad were secured as major Union supply routes for the rest of the war. After the battle, Abraham Lincoln wrote to General Rosecrans saying: “You gave us a hard-earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over.”

Cart Cart

There’s a lot of talk nowadays about how divided we are in the US – and I suppose we are. But we all must search for common ground and strive to overcome our differences so that as Lincoln also said: the “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Artillery Artillery

This last photo (and the header image) are also appropriate for Memorial Day. Lynn and I made a habit of pulling off at rest stops along the Interstate. We almost didn’t visit this one in Kentucky, but I was really glad when we pulled into the parking lot and saw a beautiful field of poppies overlooking the road. I crouched down low to hide the traffic and emphasize the flowers and made this image:

Plentiful poppies II Plentiful poppies II

“In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row, 

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

From the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Flanders_Fields)

Ever since Lt. Col. McCrae’s poem was published in 1915, poppies have been a symbol of soldiers lost in war.

You can see other Memorial Day related posts at this link: https://edrosack.com/?s=memorial+day

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And remember the fallen.

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Seeing in the dark

I made this image a couple weeks ago during our stay at Lake Louisa State park. I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got my camera and went outside. It was a long time before dawn and “flashlight so you don’t trip” dark. Of course, normally you should use your base ISO for landscape photos. And you should stop your lens down to increase depth of field and get everything in focus (and for image quality). But there was so little light I had to use ISO 1600 and expose with my lens wide open for 25 seconds to get anything to show up.

73 seconds, before dawn 73 seconds, before dawn

Anyway, once I had a workable exposure, I lined up my composition as best I could, manually focussed on the dim things I could see, and made four frames – hoping I’d have what I needed to stitch a panorama.

I used my normal workflow, careful to control noise in the RAW file processing. And there were some stitching anomalies in the water that I had to remove, but I really like the finished image. I hope you do too. You can see a larger version on Flickr if you click on it.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you wake up too early – make some landscape photos in the dark!

And Happy Mothers Day to every Mom out there! The world owes you so much!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Panos and Otters on Bear Creek

Bear Creek Nature Trail is a small park in Winter Springs, Florida. There’s a path that winds along next to the water and it has some very pleasant scenery for such an urban location. Lynn and I have been visiting for many years – I think I first mentioned it on the blog in 2008. I decided to go by last week and try to improve my panorama techniques.

In the quiet forest 3 In the quiet forest 3: Nine frame panorama, 14011×7881

I’ve written about stitched panoramas many times so you might know that I like to make them. They’re a great way to get a wider field of view and to capture more detail too. See this post for an example of my workflow up to this point.

I knew I’d been taking a few shortcuts and ignoring some things. I’ve had wonderful results, but at times the post processing was more difficult than it needed to be. Two specific problem areas were sloppy leveling and parallax.

If your camera isn’t level you’ll have to level the image in post, which can require cropping in and wasting pixels. It can also introduce stitching errors at the seams between frames. A panoramic head is one solution for this. It’s mounted on top of your ball head and lets you level your camera using its built in level indicator and the ball head controls instead of using the tripod legs. This works well, and it can be left on your main tripod all the time.

Parallax results when close and distant objects in your scene don’t align the same across multiple frames. A nodal slide can remove / reduce parallax errors.

In the quiet forest 2 In the quiet forest 2: Six frame panorama, 12502×6251

I think my first attempt with these worked out well. It’s a bit more effort to set up before your capture, but it can eliminate fixing some problems later in software. I realize this may be more than you wanted to know about panoramas, but if you’ve tried them and have issues stitching, then here are a couple of links that go into more detail. I think they’ll help – they helped me.

In the quiet forest 1 In the quiet forest 1: Six frame panorama, 7743×6104

Oh, about the otters: Lynn and I saw a couple of them at this park way back in 2009. Since then I’ve looked for them every time I go, but haven’t seen them again. I managed to get a photo of one of them swimming away from us as soon as we saw it. I’ll post it now even though it’s not the best image.

Otter in Bear Creek, May 2009

As I was leaving the park this time, I said hi to a Winter Springs Park Ranger. They said they’re there often and I asked if they ever see any river otters. They haven’t but have seen tracks. I guess I’ll have to keep watching for them.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some panoramas and watch out for otters!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Dinosaur Invasion at Leu Gardens!

Dear Grandson,

I know how interested you are in dinosaurs and when I found out that they were invading Orlando, I was disappointed that you couldn’t go see them with us. So I thought I should at least make some photos you can look at.

The gate into the Dinosaur Invasion

I went on a week day so it wasn’t very crowded, but it was a little bit scary being all by myself sometimes with a few of the dinos. This next photo is my favorite from the exhibit. It’s a close up of an Allosaurus mom and I think she’s looking right at me!

Allosaurus Allosaurus close-up

As you probably know, an Allosaurus looks a lot like a T-Rex, but they aren’t closely related. The next picture shows the mom with her babies. I wonder where the Allosaurus grandad is?

Allosaurus family (Jurassic– 155 to 150 million years ago)

The Appatosaurus was a massive dinosaur – about 75 feet long and 30 feet tall. It was a herbivore and could eat hundreds of pounds of plants each day. It’s too big for an exhibit like this one, so they show two of its fossilized bones.

Apatosaurus Bones (Jurassic– 155 to 150 million years ago)

Because they’re small, Bambiraptors are named after the Disney character. Have you ever seen the Bambi movie? These may be small but they don’t look much like a baby deer to me! They walked on two legs, might have been able to climb trees and were possibly covered in feathers.

Bamiraptors (Cretacious– 75 million years ago)

Citipati fossils were discovered in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, and the fossil find included an entire nest and four adults.

Citipati Nest (Cretacious– 84 to 72 million years ago)

Allosaurs aren’t related to T-Rex, but Daspletosaurs are. Its name means “Frightful Lizard”. They stood about 12 feet tall and had very long razor sharp teeth. This one looks like it’s running after me through the bamboo forest!

Daspletosaur (Cretacious– 77 to 74 million years ago)

Heterodontosaurus was a smaller dinosaur – it only weighed about 13 lbs. It had five fingers and opposable thumbs for picking up things.

Heterodontosaurus (Triasic / Jurassic– 200 to 195 million years ago)

Hypsibema is the official state dinosaur of Missouri. Florida doesn’t have an official dino. I don’t think your state has one either, but it needs one!

Hypsibema & Nest (Cretacious– 75 million years ago)

Experts think that the Parasaurolophus used its head crest to make loud bellows.

ROAR!!!

Parasaurolophus (Cretacious– 75 million years ago)

Placerias looks fierce but it was a herbivore. It could use those tusks for defense but also to slice through thick branches and roots.

Placerias (Triassic– 220 to 215 million years ago)

Modern day Crocodiles are related to the Postosuchus. I guess it does look a little bit like the crocodiles and alligators we have today in Florida.

Postosuchus (Triassic– 237 to 201 million years ago)

Quetzalcoatlus was one of the biggest flying animals of all time with an estimated wingspan of 36 – 39 feet! They could probably move fast on the ground too.

Quetzalcoatlus (Cretacious– 70 to 65 million years ago)

Sordes was another flying reptile that could walk on the ground and climb trees. Its wingspan was only about 2 feet – much smaller than Quetzalcoatlus.

Sordes Pair (Jurassic– 155 million years ago)

And here’s our last Dino -the Velociraptor. It’s name means “Speedy Thief” or “Swift Robber”. These carnivores are pretty scary in the movies, aren’t they?!

Velociraptor (Cretacious – 85 to 75 million years ago)

Grandson, I’d never heard of some of these. Did you know about all of them? I hope you enjoyed looking through this. I had fun making the photos and imagining how much you would have liked going with us to see the dinos. Next time you’re here in Florida on vacation, we’ll find some exciting things to do together. We know about a museum we can visit over in Daytona that has a Giant Glyptodont!

Love you!

Grandmom and Granddad

—————————————————————

Here’s a bit more info for those of you that might want to take your kids or grandkids to see this.

Cypress and dark water Cypress and dark water along the shore from the Lake Rowena Overlook at Leu Gardens

Harry P. Leu Gardens (see this previous blog post and this album on Flickr for more photos) is a botanical showcase for plants that grow well in our Central Florida climate. There’s also a restored 19th century home that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and you can tour a portion of the downstairs. It makes for a great photo walk, and the lush vegetation also makes a great backdrop for a Dino Invasion!

These dinosaurs were created by Guy Darrough’s Lost World Studios. They make them life size and as realistic as possible. They looked very authentic to me! If you want to see this exhibit, make your plans quickly. The last day is April 18th.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by and reading my blog. And as always, take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – visit with your grandkids and make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Good Morning

I hope you don’t mind a short post today. I’ve just recovered from a sore throat and laryngitis that I somehow caught in spite of all our pandemic precautions. It wasn’t serious and I’m feeling fine now, but I didn’t get a chance to go on any photo excursions last week.

Anyway, I made this image about a month ago in a favorite spot along the Indian River in Titusville.

It was a good morning It was a good morning

It’s on the western shore, just south of Veterans Memorial Park. The light was changing that morning and I managed to make several photos that I like. For this one, I exposed one frame for the foreground and bracketed three more for the sky. I adjusted them in Lightroom and merged all four manually in Photoshop.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved