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
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!
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: 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: 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: 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.
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!
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
Citipati fossils were discovered in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, and the fossil find included an entire nest and four adults.
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!
Heterodontosaurus was a smaller dinosaur – it only weighed about 13 lbs. It had five fingers and opposable thumbs for picking up things.
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!
Experts think that the Parasaurolophus used its head crest to make loud bellows.
Placerias looks fierce but it was a herbivore. It could use those tusks for defense but also to slice through thick branches and roots.
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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!
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 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!
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’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!
I’d heard some reports of American White Pelicans visiting Lake Davis in downtown Orlando. When MK confirmed they were there, we agreed to meet last Tuesday morning for a walk and a look-see.
They’re winter visitors in Florida and I often spot them at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge over on the coast. I didn’t realize their stops at our in-shore lakes are as common as they seem to be now. In addition to Lake Davis, Wally Jones writes in his blog about a pod of them in downtown Lakeland on Lake Morton.
White Pelicans are interesting. According to this article, they can have wingspans up to nine and a half feet, making them some of the largest birds in North America. And they often feed together in small groups, herding fish in front of them. Here’s a video MK made of this behavior:
The Pelicans were somewhere else during our walk, but MK has seen them since – so if you don’t catch them the first time, it might be worth another visit. Since I missed them that day, I’ll have to cheat a bit and use a photo of one that I made over in Merritt Island last December:
American White Pelican in flight (MINWR)
We did see many other birds that morning including some Mallards:
Many Wood Ducks:
A few Ring-necked Ducks:
And even a family of these strange looking (to me at least) Egyptian Geese.
The Egyptian Goose is native to the Middle East but humans have helped them spread around the world. They’ve been in Florida since the 1960s and as recently as 2009, Florida Fish and Wildlife didn’t think they bred outside of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. See this article for more info : http://wildsouthflorida.com/egyptian.goose.html.
Lake Davis is a lovely surprise hiding in downtown Orlando and a wonderful place for a walk! This search will bring up other posts on the blog about the area: https://edrosack.com/?s=lake+davis.
Lake Davis Morning
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you (peli)can – make some photos!
Well. Kevin M. wanted to meet and photograph the SpaceX launch scheduled for 5:15 am last Friday morning. Talk about zero dark thirty!
Anyway, I was all packed and prepared Thursday night when the launch was postponed. Since I was ready to go, I decided to head over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge anyway on Friday morning (just not so early!). I’m glad I did. I got to see a lot more things flying than just a space ship. By the way, if you like to look at photos of SpaceX launches, their Flickr stream is awesome.
With our recent cool, clear weather, I expected few clouds and a so-so sunrise. But this scene with the sun rising below the clouds and centered behind the Vehicle Assemble Building at Kennedy Space Center was pretty.
Gator Creek Road at MINWR has been closed for a while so I was glad to see it finally open again. They’ve been busy maintaining the dirt road surface and trimming vegetation along the sides. You can see a little better now – and you don’t have to dodge potholes! There was a lot of bird action.
A large squabble of gulls (Mostly Laughing and Ring-billed)
Birding is interesting in many ways. For instance, you can always call a group of birds a “flock”. But I think the group names for different bird species are fun. If you’ve ever listened to a big “squabble” like this, you’ll probably agree it’s an appropriate name for gulls. You can also call a gull group a “flotilla”, “gallery”, “screech”, or “scavenging”.
I’m not sure what attracted these huge gatherings to Gator Creek. but they sure seemed to like it there.
A tightly stacked scoop of Skimmers
“Scoop” is a wonderful name for a group of Skimmers too. The classic photo for Skimmers is of a single one feeding just above a calm surface with its lower mandible in the water (like this one). I didn’t see any of that behavior on Friday, but I really liked this alternate flight shot. It’s hard to understand how they fly that close without hitting each other. Groups of Skimmers are also known as a “conspiracy” or “embezzlement”.
On Black Point Wildlife Drive the water was very low in spots but there was still a lot to see. Here’s one more group flight shot:
A fling of Dunlins
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that Dunlin are sort of a life bird for me. What I mean is I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them before, but I find Sandpipers challenging to ID and I’d never consciously done so with Dunlin. I also saw / ID’d some Western Sandpipers on Friday for the first time. Flocks of Dunlin are also called a “flight” or “trip”.
And here’s one last bird photo. This group was a lot smaller than the others. They were spread out and flying around so fast the only time I could grab a collective image was when they settled for just a moment.
A small worm of American Robbins
It looks as though there’s only the one name for a group of Robins. I suppose you could always be boring and call them a “flock”.
So that was a great visit to my favorite wildlife refuge! In addition to the birds above, I also saw a Bottle Nose Dolphin, Alligators, a Bald Eagle, Roseate Spoonbills, Forster’s Terns, a Eurasian Collared Dove, Brown Pelicans, Turkey Vultures, Ospreys, Ibis, American Avocets, Great Blue and Tricolor Herons, Redish Egrets, Great and Snowy Egrets, and some others that I’m forgetting or (once again) didn’t ID.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – make some photos!
You may remember my post from late last year (https://edrosack.com/2020/12/13/three-spoonbills/) where I mentioned a Cinnamon Teal that’s been wintering on Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I didn’t find the bird on that trip and it avoided me on three more tries, although reports kept coming that others had seen it. Finally on my fifth try last Tuesday I actually saw it with my own eyes!
Another update for today: It’s been a long while since I’ve visited Bio Lab Road. Damage from Hurricane Dorian closed it for a while, but that’s all been repaired now and the road is in very good shape. Howard T. told me they’d driven it a few weeks ago so I decided to check it out too.
There are some nice views across the Indian River through breaks in the vegetation. I think this one looking out across that sand bar is very “Florida”.
Bio Lab road is a good place to see large gators. I’m not sure if this is the same one Howard saw, but it’s huge. I was glad it was across the canal!
And here’s one last image from the day, also on Bio Lab Road. I don’t often see these little falcons and this one stayed still for a moment so I could make a photo:
It was cloudy last Tuesday. Some might think the light was bad and I agree it was dim. But diffuse, even light can be a plus. Direct sunlight can be harsh and create deep shadows and blown highlights. I had to raise my ISO to get decent shutter speeds for some of these shots, but the camera sensor handled it well. So if you’re out photographing on a cloudy day, use your ISO setting!
Thanks, Howard for reminding me to re-visit Bio Lab Road! And thanks to that darn dodging duck for providing such a large dose of motivation to get out, enjoy nature, and keep looking!
Thanks to all of you too for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – make some photos!
Editors note: Here’s a post from our visiting correspondent MaryKate – this time from right here in Central Florida. Enjoy!
I recently met a friend at Blue Spring State Park, the “Winter Home of Manatees,” for a nature walk and manatee viewing. With many offshoots and observation decks, the wide wooden boardwalk makes for a safe place to enjoy nature and view wildlife during COVID – – – IF you get there early.
The manatee viewing was amazing, even with “just” ~150 manatees on the day that we went. The weather was cooler the week before, and manatee counts were ~ 400! Regardless, we saw plenty of manatees, fish, birds, beautiful scenery, and even this upsidedown-atee!
The park opens at 8 am, and I arrived around 7:55 am, but I was stuck in a line of cars waiting to get in. I’d suggest arriving by 7:40 or 7:45 am to skip the traffic. You can purchase a park vehicle admission pass in advance here, but you can only purchase same day. I recommend buying in the morning right before you head over.
It was relatively empty at the beginning of our morning, and all park visitors were wearing masks and keeping socially distanced. However, by about 9:30 am, it started to get crowded, and many of the late arrivers weren’t as well behaved.
Florida Manatees are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. While this status was officially downgraded in 2017 from endangered, the population is still at risk: in 2020, over 600 Florida Manatees died, with 114 of those deaths being caused by humans (i.e. boat strikes). Want to help? Consider donating to Save The Manatee Club, a nonprofit founded by Jimmy Buffet and Bob Graham, and the world’s leading manatee conservation organization.
I doubt many landscape photographers have the south shore of Lake Jesup in Seminole County on their must do list. But local parks are a great resource and we should take advantage of them. At the very least, you can practice your landscape photo skills and maybe spot some wildlife too. I went for a very short drive last week and made three stops. Here are some photos from the trip.
This first one is in Central Winds park in Winter Springs, down past the playground and basketball court where there’s a short nature trail leading to the the lake and this view. I used a 16mm focal length (with a variable ND filter to lengthen the exposure and smooth the water) and made two frames (using this technique) to capture both the tree / sky in the distance (ISO 100, f/11, 1/4 second ) and the foreground (ISO 100, f/11, 1 second). Then I blended them by hand in Photoshop using layers.
Stop two is a little west, on the pier that you’ll get to when you turn in at the dog park and drive past it down to the lake. Two frames again with the same general approach as the first image. Sky at ISO 100, f/11, 1/6 second; Foreground at ISO 100, f/11, 1/2 second.
And stop three is east of the other two at Overlook Park in Oviedo. Also using the same general approach (although no ND filter for this one). Sky at ISO 100, f/11, 1/200 second; Foreground at ISO 100, f/11, 1/80 second.
Finally, this Oak tree caught my eye and I made one last photo on the walk back to my car:
I used my phone – 13mm equivalent focal length, ISO 25, f/2.4 at 1/240 sec.
Here’s a map image showing all three locations (yellow markers) to give you a better idea of where they are:
Note: If you clicked on any of the photos, you’ve noticed I’m trying a new way to embed Flickr photos. Starting with this post, a click on a photo will still take you to that image on Flickr, but now it will open in “Lightbox” mode and fill your browser widow. You can still click once (or twice) to enlarge it, and you can hit the escape key to return to the non-lightbox view. Then use your browser’s back button to return to the blog.
Happy New Year! We’re all looking forward to better times in 2021! Lynn and I are waiting to get vaccinated so we can visit family and friends again and life can return toward normal. I hope that doesn’t take too long.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – visit your local park and make some photos!
‘Twas the night after Christmas and I sat at my desk,
trying to decide which photos were best.
To the refuge I’d been three times in December.
I was writing a blog post to help me remember.
All of these pictures I selected with care.
In hopes that they’d make you feel like you’re there.
This light on the Fish Camp made me pause for a bit.
When the pandemic’s over, we’ll stop in and sit.
Early morning at the Fish Camp Bar & Grill. On SR 46 at the St. Johns River.
Going into the refuge the river’s reflection,
painted this scene approaching perfection.
Clouds on the Indian River. Just south of Veterans Memorial Park.
Kingfishers on Black Point are loud and brash.
But I managed to catch one, heading off in a flash.
Male Belted Kingfisher in flight
A Common Yellowthroat posed in the brush.
Then he flew away in a very big rush.
Male Common Yellowthroat
Storks in formation soared by above,
A wonderful subject to make photos of.
Three Wood Storks in flight
And what to my wondering eyes should appear?
A pretty pink spoonbill, preening quite near.
Preening Roseate Spoonbill
Other birds to the refuge, they also came.
It’s wonderful to see them and call them by name.
Now Ospreys, Shovelers, Pelicans and all,
Northern Shoveler drake
Now egrets and herons, with all of your calls,
Now woodpeckers, cardinals, eagles, owls and more,
So many birds along the shore!
Red-bellied Woodpecker. “I know I saw a bug in there…”
Male Cardinal in the Mangroves
Nesting Great Horned Owl
Large birds, small birds, short birds and tall,
stay for a while, don’t dash away all!
Ibises and Spoonbills
Ibises and Egrets
And I exclaimed as I turned out the light:
“HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL,
AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!”
Calm Harbor – Titusville Marina
Note: I ended up visiting Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge three times this month and I had so many unused images from these trips that I decided to re-do a post from December 2019 with updated words to fit the new photos. MINWR is a truly wonderful place – especially at this time of year. I’m very grateful that I live close by!
Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope this holiday season brings each and every one of you and your loved ones peace and joy. I know the pandemic has been extra challenging and not being with family is especially hard at Christmas time. Stay safe and take care of each other so we can all enjoy the better times that are on the way for 2021!
This is my last post of 2020, but I’ll be back next Sunday with another one. Until then, have a happy and safe New Year!