Tag Archives: lighthouse

Regarding image selection

Editors note:  Although I’m feeling much better, I’m still going to take a sick day.  I’ll repeat this post from September 2014.  If you haven’t read it before, I think it’s still very relevant and worth a look.  If you have – then I apologize for the repeat.


If you use raw format in your photography, they look different from jpg photos.  Raw format is just the data read directly off of the sensor with no processing by the camera.  Depending on how you configure your camera and software, raw image contrast and sharpening can be very low, white balance may not be optimized, and exposure is often set for capture / low noise instead of display / print.. This can make it tough to judge raw photos and decide which ones merit further processing.

When I returned from Maine and reviewed my photos, I bypassed some.  When I finished working on the ones I’d identified as “selects”, I went back and re-looked at those I’d set aside.  Some of them deserved attention.

A calm morning on Bubble Pond
A calm morning on Bubble Pond

It’s not just raw images that can be difficult to evaluate.  Infrared photos usually need processing to optimize too.

Bass Harbor Light
Bass Harbor Light

And multi image panoramas make seeing composition and field of view a challenge before the individual frames are stitched together.

Behind Sand Beach
Behind Sand Beach

I can’t tell you how to rate your images and select your best.  But what I can tell you is to be very careful not to discard something before you’re very sure that it’s not worth pursuing.  Give your photos a second chance.  Learn your software so you know how far you can go with adjustments.  And as with any thing worth pursuing, practice will make you better.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Channeling the Beauty of our National Parks

Editors note:  Today we have another post from our roving correspondent,  MaryKate.  This time she travelled to the Channel Islands off the coast of California.   I hope you enjoy her report!


I’ve recently become even more enthralled with our country’s amazing National Park system. So when I headed to Los Angeles for an event with my friend Molly a few weekends ago, I jumped on the opportunity to visit two of our country’s jewels: Santa Monica National Recreation Area and Channel Islands National Park.

Just 35 miles from Los Angeles, the Santa Monica National Recreation Area is an escape from the bustle of the city. We headed to the Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center for some orientation (and souvenir shopping), and did the short but steep hike up to Inspiration Point. We saw lizards and birds along the way, and the dry landscape made for dramatic views against the Santa Monica Mountains:

Plant at the PinnaclePlant at the Pinnacle

That Saturday, we took a morning boat trip out to Anacapa Island – the smallest of the Channel Islands – with a company I’d highly recommend: Island Packers. For just $29 each way, the beautiful boat ride alone was worth the trip. On our way to Anacapa, we enjoyed stunning views of Oxnard Harbor, a few Harbor Seals “sunning”, and even an illusive Minke Whale (he was too quick to photograph and never came back up).

Seal ReflectionsSeal Reflections

The Channel Islands are truly a magical place, sometimes called the United States’ Galapagos Islands because there are 145 species of plants and animals only found there. We stayed 3 hours on the island exploring, seeing as much as we could, and eating the picnic we brought, but there are many arrival/departure options so you can stay as long as you’d like (or even camp over – although the smell of pigeon poop was rather strong!).

Anacapa LighthouseAnacapa Lighthouse

I also enjoyed playing with the fish eye lens I borrowed from my Dad – I thought it brought an interesting perspective to the Island.

Channel Islands National Park SignChannel Islands National park Sign

On our way back to land, we had the treat of a humpback whale doing acrobatics for us: for about 10 minutes we watched him partake in “pectoral slapping” – spinning back and forth and slapping his fin on the water – quite the site juxtaposed against a giant oil rig in the background.

Whale vs. ManMan vs. Whale

If you ever find yourself on the West Coast, it’s definitely worth the trip out to the Channel Islands (and a hike over in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area).  It’s amazing to find so much nature near such a large metropolitan area.  Check out the other photos from my trip in this flickr album (including a life bird: the Rock Wren!).


Thanks for stopping by and reading MaryKate’s blog post.  Now, go make some photos!

©2016, MaryKate. All rights reserved.

A Jacksonville Jaunt

Although there’s no official definition, Wikipedia’s article about Central Florida (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Florida) says Jacksonville is outside the region. I also consider it to be outside the region – it’s such a long drive and I seldom go up there. But there are a great many photo ops around the city and it’s well worth exploring.

Which is what MK, Lynn, and I did last weekend.  And it was a great weekend for a day trip to national parks and monuments since August 25, 2016 was the 100th anniversary of the National Park System.

Our first stop (other than breakfast!) was at the Fort Caroline National Memorial, which was one of the first French settlements in America (around 1562).  The rangers were setting up to serve National Park birthday cake when we were there.  The rain started coming down pretty hard and I’m trying to control calories, so we moved on.

Fort Caroline rampart Fort Caroline rampart. Along the St. Johns river near Jacksonville, Florida.

I haven’t used my infrared camera for a while and brought it along this time.  Most of the photos I liked best from this trip were IR.  Kingsley Plantation is a well preserved / restored example of pre-Civil War Florida homesteads.  Zephaniah Kingsley moved there in 1814.  The site does a good job describing life during those times, including the use of slave labor to produce cotton, citrus, sugar cane, and corn.  Tours inside the plantation house are by reservation only and were full so we’ll have to see that next time.

Kingsley Plantation - main house Kingsley Plantation – main house. 5 frame infrared panorama

On the way up to Cumberland Island National Seashore, Lynn discovered Amelia Island Light in Fernandina Beach.  We managed to find it in the middle of a neighborhood after a wrong turn or two.  I’m glad we went by – I thought the vultures flying around the structure were photogenic.  I’m also glad I could add it to my collection of Florida lighthouse photos.

A kettle of vultures around Amelia Island Light A Kettle of vultures around Amelia Island Light. I combined birds from several infrared exposures to capture as many of the birds as possible in my image.

You get to Cumberland National Seashore via ferry from Saint Marys, Georgia.  The ferry’s also by reservation and runs only twice a day, so if you want to spend time on Cumberland Island, plan in advance.  I wandered down the street while MK and Lynn finished in the gift shop and found this interesting old building.

An old building on the street in St. Marys Georgia An old building  in St. Marys, Georgia, across from the ferry dock. Single infrared exposure.

This was a long drive from Winter Springs, but well worth it.  We have lots of ideas for where to go back and spend more time.

If you’re interested, here’s one other blog post that includes photos from near Jacksonville (Little Talbot Island State Park).  And here’s a folder where I’m collecting images from that area.  Coincidentally, they’re mostly infrared.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Lake Toho

Kevin McKinney wanted to go by Shingle Creek for a sunrise photo and I’ve wanted to do that too.  We went last Saturday – and found out that park doesn’t open until 8am.  A little late for sunrise.  🙁

Fortunately we got there early enough for our backup plan to work and we ended up in Kissimmee along the Lake Tohopekaliga shoreline.  They have a park there too – and it was open.  🙂

Lake Toho light at dawnLake Toho light at dawn

There’s a little lighthouse at the end of the jetty and the protected water makes for some nice reflections.

We saw a few birds hunting the shoreline close by that turned out to be Snail Kites.  I’ve only ever seen these before at Viera Wetlands and didn’t get a very good photo.  This one perched nicely for a minute or so before flying off.

Snail KiteSnail Kite

And this Osprey flew by with its morning meal.  I like sushi too, so I went ahead and make a photo of it.

Osprey in flight with fishAnother Osprey with a “take-out” breakfast

A pleasant morning after all and I’m glad the backup plan worked.


Reminder – it’s that time of year again:  The Lake Jesup flowers are getting ready to bloom.  I got an email last week from my on-line friend Jeff Stammer.  He’s already been out to Marlbed Flats to check on the flowers.  He says that while it isn’t as wet as last year, it is quite grown up with tall plants and there aren’t as many cow or horse paths as there have been in the past.  So the hiking may be tougher than usual.  I skipped going last year and regretted it.  I’m going to try hard to get out there this year.  When we drove by Friday evening we could already see some yellow color.  I think they’ll start to really peak in a week or two.

Maybe I’ll see you there!


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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.


 

Florida Lighthouse Photography

When I wrote this post about Waterfalls in Florida, it was somewhat tongue in cheek – since we’re not really a waterfall kind of state.  Lighthouses are a different story.

Cape St. George LighthouseCape St. George Lighthouse and clouds. Infrared, Black and White, panorama, ISO 200, 28mm eq., 1/1000 @ f/5.6.

Florida has  1350 statute miles of shoreline (PDF) bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.  Currents and shoals make navigation difficult so we have many lighthouses.   This Wikipedia page has 54 entries for Florida Lighthouses.  Some are gone or in ruins, but 32 are still in operation.

Cape St. George LighthouseCape St. George Lighthouse – rebuilt from the original bricks and plans after it collapsed in 2005. ISO 125, 33mm eq., 1/500 @f/4.0

There are many ways to photograph these interesting buildings. Straight exterior shots are one way. Look for good light or cloud formations to add interest to your photos.

Jupiter Lighthouse interiorJupiter Lighthouse interior. Hand held at ISO 800, 15mm eq. fish eye lens, 1/13 sec @ f/3.5

The interiors and especially the stairs can be good photos too. You may want to have a fish eye lens handy, since it’s usually very cramped inside.  You’ll most likely have to use a high ISO, wide aperture, and some form of built-in image stabilization, since tripods may not be allowed.

Night photos can also be very nice.  In this August 2013 post I have some details on how I made a different lighthouse night photo in St. Augustine.

Ponce Inlet light, Moon, Venus, Mars, SaturnPonce Inlet light, Moon, Venus, Mars, Saturn. ISO 200, 70mm, 6 sec @ f/8.0

Many of these are open to the public and you can take a tour and climb to the top.  If you have the energy, they’re a wonderful vantage point.

View from the Jupiter LighthouseView from the Jupiter Lighthouse. ISO 200, 15 mm eq. fish eye lens, 1/2000 sec @ f/5.6

If you like to photograph lighthouses or historic buildings, our state is a great hunting ground.  This map can help you find them. Try your favorite techniques with these photogenic structures as the subject.  I like to look for appealing details, interesting viewpoints / geometry, and scenes and background that look good with my Infrared camera.

I’ve posted more Florida Lighthouse photos in this album on Flickr and a few more lighthouse photos from other places in this album.  I’m nowhere near photographing all the lighthouses in Florida, but I’m going to keep working on it and I’ll add to those albums as I go.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Cruise Ship Photo Experiments

We went on a family cruise to the Bahamas during Thanksgiving week aboard the MS Carnival Liberty, out of Port Canaveral.  It was a large group with Lynn and I, Mary, Mike and Sara, Julie, and Nancy and Howard all along for a wonderful vacation.  Except for wind and current on the day we were supposed to visit Half Moon Cay, the weather was nice.  And the food was delicious and plentiful and the company was delightful too!  We had a great time!

It was a family vacation, but of course I brought along a camera (or two, or three) and I made some photos on the trip.  I’ve written about cruise ship photography before (see Cruise Ship Photography Ops and Christmas Time Cruising).  In this new post, I’d like to tell you about some techniques I tried on this cruise.  It’s fun to experiment and I thought you might be interested in how they turned out.  Here are three photos and some background on how I made them.

1.  Long exposure photography from a moving ship

I’ve wanted to try something like this on earlier cruises, but never have.  Long exposures can add interest to a photo and make it look very different from most tourist snapshots.  But usually, you lock your camera down on a stable tripod and only some things in the scene (e.g. water, clouds) are moving.  On a ship, I was worried that everything is moving.  If I tried to use my tripod for a sunrise for instance, the sun might be unacceptably blurred due to the motion.    But I made it work for this photo by composing with the ship as the subject and using it to fill the foreground.  Since the ship doesn’t move relative to my camera, it’s very sharp.  The horizon and the other ship are far enough away so that any motion blur isn’t a problem.  And with a four-second exposure, the water and clouds take on a dreamy look that I like.

The view aft, before dawn
The view aft, before dawn.  (21mm eq. field of view, f/8, 4 seconds at ISO 200)

2. Stitched panoramas from a moving ship:

Panoramas are also problematic from a moving ship.  The change in the camera’s position between frames can lead to issues when stitching frames together, especially if you use automatic stitching software.  For this photo, I made two frames.  Instead of using automatic stitching, I loaded the frames into layers in Photoshop and selected Edit -> Auto Align Layers.  Then I manually blended them using layer masks and was able to use the natural seam along the right hand side of the breakwater as the line between the images.  Since not much overlaps there except water, I could hide any perspective shift stitching errors.

Nassau Light
Nassau Light – Leaving port late in the day.  (f/2.8, 1/100 second at ISO 125.  70mm eq. focal length, two vertical frames, stitched panorama, hand-held)

3. Low light photos without a tripod

And finally, here is another stitched panorama.  In this one, the ship was moving very slowly, so I probably could have used a tripod.  But – I didn’t have it with me!  Bad Ed!  So instead, I upped my ISO, and opened my aperture so that I could shoot hand-held.  Even though the pre-dawn light was dim, I was still able to make a super wide image consisting of 9 vertical frames showing our arrival back at Port Canaveral.

Pre-dawn arrival in Port Canaveral
Pre-dawn arrival in Port Canaveral.  (f/1.8, 1/50 second at ISO 1000.  24mm eq. focal length, nine vertical frames, hand-held, stitched panorama)

So that’s how I got these three shots.  Photography is an interesting pursuit.  Creativity helps – and not just with subject, composition, etc., but also with technique.  Now I know these descriptions aren’t very detailed, but maybe they’ll give you an idea or two to try for yourself.  If you want more information, please feel free to ask in the comments.  I’d be happy to answer questions.

You can find larger versions of these photos on Flickr (just click the image).  And more photos from this cruise are in this set:

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some cruise ship photos!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Regarding image selection

Sometimes it’s obvious that an image is good the first time you look at it.  With others, it can be difficult to visualize what they’ll look like after processing.

If you use raw format in your photography, they look different from jpg photos.  Raw format is just the data read directly off of the sensor with no processing by the camera.  Depending on how you configure your camera and software, raw image contrast and sharpening can be very low, white balance may not be optimized, and exposure is often set for capture / low noise instead of display / print.. This can make it tough to judge raw photos and decide which ones merit further processing.

When I returned from Maine and reviewed my photos, I bypassed some.  When I finished working on the ones I’d identified as “selects”, I went back and re-looked at those I’d set aside.  Some of them deserved attention.

A calm morning on Bubble Pond
A calm morning on Bubble Pond

It’s not just raw images that can be difficult to evaluate.  Infrared photos usually need processing to optimize too.

Bass Harbor Light
Bass Harbor Light

And multi image panoramas make seeing composition and field of view a challenge before the individual frames are stitched together.

Behind Sand Beach
Behind Sand Beach

I can’t tell you how to rate your images and select your best.  But what I can tell you is to be very careful not to discard something before you’re very sure that it’s not worth pursuing.  Give your photos a second chance.  Learn your software so you know how far you can go with adjustments.  And as with any thing worth pursuing, practice will make you better.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

St. Augustine, Florida and vicinity – photo hints

Lynn was out-of-town last week at the Pressing Iron & Trivet Collectors of America Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. I talked her into letting me out of my spousal support services subcontract, so I had a chance to sneak in a few days of photography while she was away. I spent the time in St. Augustine, Florida, which is “the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States”. I’ve written about it many times (see this link) and it’s one of my favorite places to photograph. Photo ops abound and include landscapes, architecture, street scenes, beaches, historic landmarks, wildlife, and much more. It’s hard to go anywhere in the area and not come back with a photo! Here are some of mine along with hints on how I made them.
There are some wonderful sunrise and sunset spots. Friends told me about Marineland Beach (thanks Kevin M. and JT) which is just a little south of St. Augustine. It’s now one of my new favorites. The coquina rocks there worked really well as foreground objects in my photos.

Long exposure sunrise

Long exposure sunrise – Marineland Beach, Florida

This is a single exposure, made through a Hoya ND400 filter right after sunrise. The waves were coming in around me, but I stood my tripod on one of the rocks to keep us dry. I used my lowest ISO setting (50) and even with the sun in the frame, the 8 2/3 stop ND filter gave me a 14 second exposure at f/8 . The long shutter speed makes the water surface contrast nicely with the rock texture.

One thing you’ll run into in Florida on summer mornings is condensation. It’s so humid that if you take your camera gear directly from your air-conditioned room or car out into the moist air, you can expect 15 to 30 minutes of fog before they clear. You can decrease this by not running your car’s AC on the way. You can also seal your camera and lens in a plastic bag with as much air removed as possible until it warms up. And it’s a good idea to bring along a micro-fiber cloth to remove condensation if needed. The larger your camera / lens is, the longer it will take to warm up. This is one time that good glass works against you – at least until the temperature equalizes. One more point: try not to change lenses under these conditions. If water condenses on your sensor, it can be hard to remove and may cause dust to adhere to the surface.

The harbor and fort (Castillo de San Marcos) also provide interesting detail for sunrise or sunset and landscapes in general.

A calm morning in the St. Augustine harbor.
A calm morning in the St. Augustine harbor: Clouds to the north over the Castillo de San Marcos and the quarter Moon above the Bridge of Lions add interesting detail to this image.

This photo and the next were both multi-shot panoramas made with the techniques I described last week. Images like the harbor scene can be tough to blend due to smooth gradients in the sky and water. Be sure you check carefully and correct any glitches.

Another thing about summer in Florida: We have awesome afternoon thunderstorms. Clouds add a lot of drama to photos, but the storms were so bad on two of the days I was there that I couldn’t go out for sunset. Plan accordingly.

St. Augustine Sunset
St. Augustine Sunset behind the Castillo de San Marcos

On this evening at the fort, there was a large thunder-storm to the west. The sky wasn’t colorful at all until the sun moved down below the thunder head, resulting in these shadows and rays. One big advantage of sunset photography vs. sunrise is that you can wait to see what develops. At sunrise, you need to be in place extremely early to see all the variations happen.

I had a great time walking around the fort at sunset with my large tripod and big DSLR camera. Most people were oblivious and walked right through my photos (I don’t blame them – I don’t own the place).  I’d wait for a clear spot in the traffic and make another exposure. Other folks stood next to me since they thought wherever someone with a big camera is has to be a good spot. At one point, a tour guide in a pirate costume leading a group of 20 or so people saw me and stopped his group from walking in front of me until I finished my exposure. It turned out he’s a photographer too.

I wanted to try a night photo of the lighthouse. I also wanted to capture the look of the beam coming out of the light. This turned out to be a tough assignment. The contrast range is huge and there’s a lot of glare from the lights in the scene.

St. Augustine Light Station
St. Augustine Light Station

I ended up merging two exposures. The first one was long (f/4 @ 3 seconds) at a low ISO (400) to decrease noise. The slow shutter blurred the light beam, so I made a second exposure (ISO 3200, f/4 @ 0.4 seconds) and this stopped the beam enough to highlight it. The second exposure had some noise, but was fine with a bit of post processing before I blended the two manually in Photoshop.  I made this photo about an hour before sunrise. It was dark and there was no one around. One of my contacts on Flickr commented that spooky things happen in this area. I’m glad I didn’t notice any when I was there.

Tom M. met me up there on one of the days and we spent several hours just walking around. There were many interesting scenes, and I never saw any two doors  alike.

Red door #33
Red door #33

We were walking down one street and saw someone in the distance photographing this house with his iPhone. He was really working it, making multiple photos / compositions and was still there when we arrived several minutes later. We waited for him to finish and when he looked up and noticed us he asked what kind of cameras we had. It turned out he’s a photographer too and was there on vacation, but forgot his Nikon D3S DSLR. He said using the iPhone was “very liberating”. Photo hint 101: If someone’s taking a picture, look at what he’s photographing – it might be interesting. Photo hint 102: Don’t forget your camera.

A little later, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this waiter zipping through traffic on the way to work.  On a skate board.  I managed to make a quick photo.

Morning commute
Morning commute – very eco-friendly

We also noticed this person reading on the bench.  I really liked the symmetry of the columns and how they led my eye towards the subject. Tom posted a different composition that I think is really good too.

Reading
Reading.

By the way, if you have Lightroom 5, try out the “Upright” settings in the Lens Corrections panel on photos like the one above. It does a great job squaring things up.

Like I said, there’s a tremendous amount of photo-ops in the area. I didn’t make it by the St. Augustine Alligator Farm on this visit, but from March to June, it’s one of the best places in Florida to photograph a variety of wild birds nesting in the rookery there.  I also didn’t get to Fort Matanzas.  It’s a little south of the city and makes a nice side excursion. The Nombre de Dios Mission in the northern part of the city has a beautiful chapel and grounds as well as a view into the harbor.  And I’m sure that there are a great many more photo ops that I still have to discover in this beautiful place.

You can see these photos larger if you click on them and I have many others from St. Augustine in this set on Flickr.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A few photos from St. Augustine

I visited St. Augustine, Florida last week with fellow Photography Interest Group member Tom M. It’s a high density photo-op  environment and if you haven’t ever been there you really should go.  We only spent a few hours, but we saw interesting things to photograph almost everywhere we looked.  Here are a few examples:

Three trees, their  shadows, and the  Castillo de San Marco
Three trees, their shadows, and the Castillo de San Marcos

Bottoms up
Bottoms up – The St. Augustine Lighthouse staircase

Alcove in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine
Alcove in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine

Whistling waters
Whistling waters

I’ve written about this town several times before. You can browse through those posts by selecting the category from the pull down on the right (or click this link). And you can visit this set on Flickr to see other images from St. Augustine.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Before and After, Again

This is another entry in my occasional series on reprocessing photos. You can see the other posts here, here, and here. You can also read the original blog post about this image here.

Post-processing skills as well as taste develop over time. New tools come out or get updated.  Reviewing your image library for things you may want to change is a good idea.  Just don’t spend too much time on post processing – leave enough to go out and make new images too!

This is one of my favorite photographs and one that I’ve even sold, but re-looking at it I saw several things I thought I could make a little better.  Here’s the updated version after all my re-edits (which are described below):

Ponce Inlet light, sunset, bird (re-do)

After: Ponce Inlet lighthouse, sunset, bird, Final Edit

I started over from the RAW file (you do save your RAW files, don’t you?) and re-did the basic adjustments in Lightroom (color balance, initial exposure adjustments).  Then I moved into Photoshop and cleaned up distracting elements (tire tracks, poles, the tip of the cloud just right of the lighthouse, …).  I then added a duplicate layer and ran that through Topaz Adjust using the “Spicify” preset to bring up structure, detail, and color saturation.  I don’t usually like applying this filter all over an image at 100%, so once back in Photoshop I added a hide all layer mask and partially painted in the  effect, using a higher opacity brush for the sky to let more of the filter show and a lower one for the rocks and ocean to mute the filter effect.  I then took the result  back to Lightroom for final tweaks to color balance, sharpening and a crop to remove part of the sky.  I thought that the colors of the sky and rocks were still a little off, so as one last tweak I added graduated filters to help adjust their tints.

For reference purposes, here’s the old edit of this photo:

Ponce Inlet lighthouse, sunset, bird

Before: Ponce Inlet lighthouse, sunset, bird, Initial Edit

Note:  you can click the two versions above to go to my Flickr account, where you can view larger versions.

And also for reference, I uploaded the original RAW file (with default development settings in Lightroom) below.

Ponce Inlet lighthouse, sunset, bird, RAW Capture

Would I go to this much effort for every image?  No.  But sometimes a photo really appeals to me and I want to get the absolute best I can from it.  It helps that I enjoy working in Photoshop and learning about new techniques.

So what do you think?  Quite a few changes, some more subtle than others – but overall I like the new version better.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved