The best colors at dawn are often before sunrise – sometimes well before. But a couple of minutes after sunrise last Wednesday, I was getting ready to move on when I noticed how colorful the horizon had become. So I decided to make one more photo. I was lucky I had my 24 – 200mm equivalent lens on and I zoomed all the way in. As the image flashed in my viewfinder, I saw a large bird close to the sun. When I recognized how many there were – all flying north (right to left), I made several more exposures.
By the way, this would have been a great time to switch to video, but I’m never able to think of that when I should.
Anyway, I ended up with 7 frames spread over 9 seconds. I brought them all into layers in Photoshop, aligned them, used curves to manually adjust each one so the exposures are the same and then blended birds from each frame into one composite image. I guess that’s cheating – but I think it’s a better representation of what I saw than any single frame I made.
I like images that reveal more the longer / closer you look at them. and this one does. Please click on it to see it larger.
The last time I wrote about covered bridges was way back in August of 2007 when we visited Indiana (The Covered Bridge Capital of the World). I find them interesting, so maybe it’s time for another article!
When we were in Bethlehem, PA, we had some extra time and Lynn found a web page describing a tour of covered bridges in the area (Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour). We printed out their PDF brochure (from this link) and set off one morning to explore.
We ran into trouble right away trying to navigate to Bogert’s Bridge using a street address. We ended up pulling over while Lynn figured out the lat/long location for each one. Using those proved much easier and we didn’t have any further nav issues. If you go, here are the numbers we used.
Covered Bridges of Lehigh Valley Pensylvania
The early morning weather was nice with blue skies and some puffy clouds. But the sky got grayer the farther we went.
Covered Bridges in Florida? I got curious about covered bridges in our state and did some web research. www.dalejtravis.com has a huge amount of info on covered bridges (and round barns too) including state by state listings. His page for Florida lists many covered bridges. Unfortunately, the structures here in Florida are decorative and / or modern – there aren’t any “authentic” / historical covered bridges listed in our state. You’ll just have to travel elsewhere if you want to see some. Pennsylvania and Indiana would be good places to start!
Kevin M. invited me to go out photographing with him last weekend, but I begged off since Lynn and I had just returned from Pennsylvania and I was tired. Instead we went out on Friday to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Kevin K. was in town and he tagged along too. It’s been over six months since the three of us have been on a photo excursion together. Much too long!
We met way too early and car-pooled over, stopping at Titusville Marina Park for sunrise. Riding together is great for catching up with friends!
Dawn on the Indian River
Dawn was subdued until the sun actually rose, when the color finally popped. Photoshop and the Topaz Clarity plug-in might’ve helped nature out a little too.
We saw several other photographers (and non-photographers) also out too early.
We didn’t spot any unusual birds on Friday, but we did enjoy photographing a few of the common ones. This “Swamp Chicken” was posing with its reflection in good light;
And so was this Tri-colored Heron:
… and this Green Heron too (although it wasn’t kind enough to include a reflection):
We’ve been having torrential rains nearly every afternoon. and the water is very high around Black Point. The St. Johns river is also high – the area around where it crosses SR 46 is flooded although it doesn’t come all the way up to the road. I hope we don’t get a hurricane any time soon – adding even more water could be dangerous.
And the rain has created a great environment for mosquitos – expect to get bit unless you wear some repellent.
One more (small, kind of sad) story. We saw two pigs at Black Point. The second was along the canal near the exit. I snapped a few photos of it and when I got home and looked at them the poor thing was obviously deformed. I don’t want to post my images, but if you’re curious, look at Kevin K’s photo. It doesn’t look like a recent injury – this little pig is a tough survivor. I wonder if it’s a birth defect or from an encounter with an alligator or other predator?
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
I’m still the “semi-official” PITCA photographer, so I spent a lot of time there photographing the people, activities, and displays. I also presented a talk on “Collectible Photography” that seemed to go well. But I did manage to fit in a bit of exploration time.
The first photo above is from a morning I spent up on Mount Washington – what a spectacular view of the city! Highly recommended if you’re ever nearby.
On another day, we went on a riverboat cruise that PITCA arranged for the group and that’s highly recommended too. Three different rivers converge in Pittsburgh, so there’s a lot of water and many bridges that add to the scenery.
Pittsburgh: From the junction of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny Rivers
Duquesne Incline – from the river up to Mount Washington
When I was a kid, we used to visit my grandparents every year. We’d usually travel to Cedartown, Georgia in the summertime where my Mom’s folks lived. At Christmas, we’d go to Cannonsburgh, Pennsylvania to be with my Dad’s family. I remember Pittsburgh only as an “almost there” waypoint on the route to Cannonsburgh – I don’t think we ever stopped. As an adult, I visited Pittsburgh on business once or twice and went to see my Dad’s brother (also named Ed) who lived in Ambridge (just north-west of Pittsburgh). But this is the first time I’ve ever actually had a little time to go into the city and look around. I wish I’d done it sooner – Pittsburgh is very picturesque!
Pittsburgh: West End Bridge and the Ohio River
After the convention, Lynn and I spent a few more days traveling around other parts of Pennsylvania and I have some photos from that I hope to share with you in a future post.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
I found this scene while driving down Biolab Road along the Indian River in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge a few weeks ago. The composition with three posts and a full complement of Cormorants caught my attention. I really liked the graphical layout. But…
I was shooting into the sun and the light was incredibly bright and harsh. I struggled with the image and processed it two or three times without coming up with anything that I was happy with.
Then I vaguely recalled this photo that I made 10 years ago.
I dug it out of my Lightroom archives and remembered how much I liked the image. It’s from about the same location and in very similar conditions. I used it to guide my post processing decisions and the result is the the image at the top.
I guess the moral of this story is that you can find inspiration from many places – even from your younger self. Which seems like a very good thing.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
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!
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 tree
Walking through can be surreal – especially in infra-red.
Old 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 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 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 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.
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 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 & 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 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.
This first photo is from 2014. I reprocessed it, mainly to correct some blown highlights in the water. First observation: Blown highlights bother me a lot more today than they did back then.
I made this from the foot bridge near the top of the falls. Second observation: It’s quite a hike, especially with a load of heavy camera gear. But it’s well worth it for the wonderful view! With a wide enough lens, you can try to show the grand scale and sweeping power of the falls.
Amicalola Falls – The grand view from the footbridge near the top. Nikon D800, ISO 50, 16mm, f/22 @ 1/3 sec.
I really like this photo, and I’m glad I made it. Third observation: Four years later, I think that it was a bit too easy. Probably everyone that visits these falls will try for an image that looks like this.
The next three images are from 2018. I must have been anxious to get the grand view photo in 2014 and hiked right by these locations – I don’t recall noticing them. On this recent visit, Mike Boening pointed out several spots along the trail and I stopped at a few and set up for more intimate photos.
Light in the creek. Olympus OM-D M II, Hi-res mode, ISO 200, 28mm eq., f/8 @ 1 sec.
On the way back down, the last spot I stopped at was only a few yards from the parking area!
Flow. Olympus OM-D M II, Hi-res mode, ISO 200, 40mm eq., f/8 @ 1.2 sec.
I like the grand view image I made in 2014, but I think I like these 2018 images even more. There are probably quite a few photos of Amicalola similar to my first one. I suspect that images like the second and third are much less common since the number of possible viewpoints and compositions is so much greater.
Sometimes, only one approach will work for a subject or your style of photography. On the drive up to the falls, we stopped at an overlook and I was fascinated by the fog / mist and low clouds moving through the valley. I was able to poke the small lens on my iPhone through the chain link fence to grab this frame. At the time, I didn’t think about an intimate detail type of composition there.
Foggy mountain view
But that’s just me. I saw a photo later that showed Mike making an image of some graffiti on the road. Last observation: Graffiti isn’t something I normally photograph and I didn’t even pay attention to it at the time. Our usual photo styles can limit the potential images we see.
So what’s the moral of this story? Should we make grand scenic view images or intimate, up-close photos of the details? You know what I’m going to say , don’t you? “It depends”.
Actually, I’m going to say: It depends, but try hard to get both. You’ll grow as a photographer if you can teach your brain to see both ends of this spectrum. Shoot whichever you prefer first, but force yourself to look for the other compositions before you leave a spot.
The sky wasn’t very promising on our way over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last week. There were no clouds and we didn’t think the morning color would be any good. Since it didn’t seem like we had a lot to lose, we decided to try a new sunrise spot: Loughman Lake, on the south side of SR 46 just west of Mims.
Misty Palms. Olympus High Res mode, converted to B&W. ISO 200, 3.2 sec. @ f/6.3, 200 mm eq. (cropped to ~250mm eq.). 6:16 am.
We were right – at first. There was hardly any color and I ended up converting this first image to black and white. But there was some photogenic fog and around 15 minutes later, the color arrived along with a few clouds on the horizon.
Misty Dawn. Olympus High Res mode, two frame stitched panorama. ISO 200, 1/6 sec. @ f/6.3, 150 mm eq. 6:28 am
The images in this post are in time order and I’ve added exposure, focal length, and timing info for you. It turns out that I made all of these with a relatively long lens – unusual for my landscape photography. I’m sure that there are some great wide-angle compositions there, but the shorter focal length photos I made that day aren’t as interesting to me as these. I’m glad I brought the very versatile Olympus 12-100 f/4 zoom.
Morning Glory. Olympus High Res mode, two frame stitched panorama. ISO 200, 1/80 sec. @ f/8, 200mm eq. 6:37 am
Here’s one more image. I like the Great Blue Heron “statue” out in the water.
Misty morning marsh. Olympus High Res mode. ISO 200, 3.2 sec. @ f/6.3, 200mm eq. 6:45 am
Loughman Lake turns out to be a good place to stop on the way over to MINWR. But make sure you bring a longer lens!
Sometimes you can get amazing photos of wild birds inside Florida cities. Winter Park (and other places too) put up nest boxes around town to attract birds. Ospreys typically use them in the spring to raise their young.
Urban Ospreys 3
I met Kathy B. (www.flickr.com/photos/kbargar/) through the Orlando Camera Club and we’ve run across each other on photo shoots. I saw her photos of this nest on Flickr and when I commented on how nice they were she was kind enough to share the location with me.
Urban Ospreys 1 – The young one’s stretching it’s wings. Mom looks a little wary – like she’s making sure she doesn’t get knocked out of the nest!
If you’re close enough to zoom in and fill the frame, and you can pick a vantage point that has foliage in the background – you can get some swell, natural looking photos of wild birds. There’s no way to tell from these first two that the nest is located downtown. Here’s a wider shot: The nest is on top of a utility pole and 40 – 50 feet away from the upper floor of a very convenient parking garage.
When I first arrived, the chick was asleep and hidden, so I went to the other side of the garage and made this photo while I waited for it to wake up.
The track through Winter Park
And this crow was checking me out while I waited too. I think it was expecting a handout.
Anyway, I’m glad this didn’t turn into another “empty nest syndrome” like our expedition a couple of weeks ago. And by the way, Tom M. checked and the eagles were back in that nest the week after we went, so they must have just been away while we were there.
I really like my close up photos. I think they’re the best ones I’ve gotten of nesting Ospreys.
Thanks for stopping by the blog. Now – go make some photos!