Tag Archives: Marl Bed Flats

Beauty and Bugs in the Soggy Swamp: Sunflowers, 2015

I don’t know how long the Sunflowers have staged their fall nature extravaganza along the north side of Lake Jesup near Sanford Florida. I’ve been photographing them since 2006, and my first post about them was in October 2007 – a few months after I began the blog.

I didn’t make it last year and just had to see them this time, so off I went yesterday morning (October 9) to the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation area.

Lake Jesup SunflowersLooking up

The flowers are just about in peak bloom.  If you want to hike out there, you’d better make plans quickly.  The blooms only last a couple of weeks, so by next weekend, they’ll be fading.

Lake Jesup SunflowersMonochrome flowers

The flowers are beautiful, but the bugs are swarming.  I didn’t make any photos of the insects, but I did bring home souvenir mosquito bites.  Wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt and use insect spray too.  It’s also wet.  I didn’t get far from the forest edge – but the water was already several inches deep.  Waterproof boots are a great idea.

Lake Jesup SunflowersLake Jesup Sunflowers at Marl Bed Flats

There are other things to see out there too.  It’s a good local birding spot with at least two Bald Eagle nests reported.

When you go, please be careful.  Don’t stop on the side of 417 – it’s dangerous!  It’s a bit of a hike from the parking area out to the flowers.  And it’s still hot – wear a hat and bring water with you.

The Lake Jesup Wilderness area really is wild – I’ve seen bobcats and worried about wild hogs.  I haven’t seen any snakes, but I’ll bet they’re around.  And Lake Jesup has one of the densest populations of alligators in Florida.  So enjoy, but be careful!

You can browse some of my photos of the area in this set on Flickr.  I also have more info on the area collected in these older articles:

And here are some more Florida Sunflower links you might find interesting:

For reference, here’s a Lightroom map of the area with the locations of photos I’ve made out there.  The streets leading in are also shown, so you can see how to get there (click for a larger version).

Marl Bed Flats area on the north shore of Lake Jesup
Marl Bed Flats area on the north shore of Lake Jesup

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Wow – it was really crowded over there!

Crowded with both flowers and people…

I’ve photographed the wildflowers (swamp sunflowers) that bloom near Lake Jesup at this time of year since about 2006.  I’ve never seen as many people out there as I did tonight.  When I drove by on 417, there were 8 or 10 cars along the shoulder and people with cameras and tripods were clambering down into the flowers to get photos.  When I arrived at the Lake Jesup Conservation Area just before sunset, the gate was closed and the two parking spaces outside the gate were already taken – so I had to park on the road.  On my walk in, I met up with two people with cameras and on my way out another person stopped me to ask what I’d seen.  On most previous trips, I haven’t seen anyone.  I guess the word has gotten around.

Lake Jessup Conservation Area - Swamp Sunflowers
Lake Jesup Conservation Area – Fisheye fun with the Swamp Sunflowers.

The flowers are at their peak.  If you want to see or photograph them, you should go in the next few days.

Lake Jessup Conservation Area - Swamp Sunflowers

Lake Jesup Conservation Area Wildflowers

Check out these links for info and please  be careful.  Stopping along 417 could be dangerous.

You can see more photos of the area in this set on Flickr.

 Add a comment to the blog or drop me an email if you go.  I’d love to see your photos.

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Get ready for the Lake Jesup flowers

If you live in the Central Florida area and want to photograph an endless field of flowers, get ready to head over to the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation Area where Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius, also called Narrow Leaf Sunflowers) bloom from horizon to horizon during the last week in September and the first week of October.

Mr. McKinney in the flowers
Kevin M. in the flowers at the Lake Jesup Wilderness Area

I drove by on highway 417 this afternoon to see what’s going on, and there are already a few flowers out.  My guess is that they’ll start peaking next weekend.  Check out these links for info and maybe I’ll see you out there!

You can see more photos of the area in this set on Flickr.

If you do go out there and make some images, please add a comment to this post or drop me an email.  I’d love to see how your photos come out.

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

The Lake Jesup Flowers are back!

We may not get much Autumn color on our trees in Central Florida, but we do have one wonderful sign that fall is here – the sudden appearance of  huge fields of Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius, also called Narrow Leaf Sunflowers) covering the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation Area.

If you haven’t driven over Lake Jesup on the 417 toll road to see this year’s flower extravaganza on the north shore, now’s the time .  They started blooming last weekend and the peak will probably last through this coming weekend.  You can see my earlier posts for more info:

Here’s a photo I made last Sunday evening near sunset:

Marl Bed Flats Flowers
Marl Bed Flats Sunflowers: They bloom in late September / early October and cover a large part of the Lake Jesup Conservation area.

You can look at other photos I’ve made here in this set on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157622430520287/

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

A full bloom riot of flowers

Last year during wildflower season, I hesitated to venture out into the Lake Jesup Wilderness Area in the dark.  I’ve seen several types of animals and birds out there and never any snakes, but it sure does seem like prime snake country to me.  And I don’t relish stepping on something dangerous in the tall growth and dim light.   This year, I was a little braver (and very careful) and got out into the wildflower fields just as the sun came up.

Watching the sun riseWatching the sun rise

I really wish last weekend’s spectacular sunrises had repeated this weekend. But even though there were no clouds and very  little sky color, the fields of wildflowers made up for it with a full bloom riot of Helianthus angustifolius var. canadense.

Lake Jessup WildflowersLake Jesup Wildflowers – Narrow leaf Sunflowers, also called “Swamp Sunflowers

It’s not too late for you to go out and see this wonderful explosion of nature, but it will be too late soon.  This morning, the blooms seemed to be just about at their peak, and they fade quickly.

You can see other photos I’ve made out there in this Flickr set.  For more information, here are two other posts about  this area:



©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.


A short post today with two reminders.

1. I updated the blog’s table of contents again. If you haven’t looked at it, please do. In the TOC, I list the places I’ve blogged about along with links to the blog entry and the image gallery. It also has a collection of  links to other resources on the web where you can find photo-op info. If you’re doing research on photogenic locations in Central Florida (and some other places too) this is a good start.

2. The Lake Jesup wildflower season is almost here. This photo-op is seasonal and usually starts in late September and is over by early October.   If you want to photograph it, get ready.  You can find info in two of my blog posts:
Here:  http://edrosack.com/2007/10/07/storm-and-flowers/

and here: http://edrosack.com/2009/10/10/lake-jessup-conservation-area-wildflowers/

Lake Jesup Wildflowers and Sunrise

Lake Jesup Wildflowers at sunrise: September 30, 2007

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Lake Jesup Conservation Area Wildflowers

Intro / Description

I’ve posted once before about wildflowers on the north-west shore of Lake Jesup.  They bloom this time of year and I’ve photographed them since 2006, mostly from the side of the road.

Lake Jesup Wildflower Panorama
October 10, 2006: Lake Jesup Flowers and Sunrise. 4 shot panorama, assembled in Photoshop; Nikon Coolpix P1, ISO 50, 126mm eq. focal length, f/5.2 at 1/30 sec.

In 2008, the area was completely under water and there were no blooms.

August 31, 2008: Lake Jesup flood waters from tropical storm Fay; Nikon D80, ISO 100, Nikon 18-70 lens at 18mm, f/16, three exposures combined with Photomatix

All year, I really hoped that the flooding hadn’t killed the flowers permanently. Once the water receded, I did a little exploring and found a park and a path out into the blooms through the Lake Jesup Conservation Area.  About two weeks ago, I revisited the park and made these photos.  As you can see, the blooms came back from the flooding.  If anything, there are more than ever.  If you are into flower photography, you have to ask yourself why you’ve never explored this wonderful place in late September.  Get ready for next year!

September 28, 2009:  Lake Jesup flowers and moon; Nikon D700, ISO 200, Nikon 24-70 lens at 62mm, f/16 at 1/50 sec

Here’s a close in photo of one of the blooms.  There are so many different types of wildflowers, that Identifying them isn’t easy (for me anyway).  These are in the Aster family and resemble Black Eyed Susans, but are taller than the 14 – 36 inches my book says Black Eyed Susans should be.  If you recognize them and can supply a positive ID, please let me know in the comments.

1/24/2010 update – These are most likely Narrowleaf Sunflowers, also called “Swamp Sunflowers”.

September 28, 2009: Lake Jesup flower closeup; Nikon D700, ISO 200, Nikon 24-70 lens at 70mm, f/4 at 1/500 sec

Photo Hints

This web page has directions on how to get to the Marl Bed Flats part of the conservation area, where I made these photos.  It’s a short hike over flat ground from the parking area to where the flowers are.

The plants are fairly tall and the blooms range from a few feet off the ground to as high as 6 feet.  A tall tripod will be helpful to get your camera above the vegetation. Bring a wide-angle lens to take in the incredible vista of  so many flowers in one place.  You might want to carry your macro lens too.

Get there early for calm winds. I was a little leery of walking out there in the dark, so I passed on sunrise shots this year.

If you plan to do this, you should scout the area and the time-line before hand.  The blooms last a couple of weeks, but they are definitely better in the middle of the period than at either end.


Website: http://www.sjrwmd.com/recreationguide/lakejesup/index.html
Address: Off of Oakway loop
Sanford, Florida
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: Nothing here until late September – then, WOW!

You can click on the photos in this post to go to Flickr, where you can look at a larger version. I’ve also posted several more photos in my Lake Jesup Wildflower set.

©2009, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Storm and Flowers

Storm and Lake Jesup Flowers

Lake Jesup is in Seminole County, Florida between Oviedo / Winter Springs and Sanford. Wild flowers on the north-east shore start blooming in late September and peak the first week in October. To see them, head north-east on the toll way (417) from Oviedo / Winter Springs. You’ll see them on both sides of the road after you cross the bridge. There are many more toward the east.

I made my first photograph here in October of 2006, using a Nikon P1 point and shoot camera (image 1 in the gallery). I liked it, but wasn’t completely happy. I made it facing into the sun just after sunrise, and the flowers were underexposed since the sky dominated the camera meter. Some post processing made the flowers more prominent but still not as bright as I remembered seeing them. By the time I returned the following weekend, the blooms had passed their peak – so I had to wait a whole year to re-make the shot.

The image above was made today at 5:45 pm, looking east, just before that rain storm swept over me. Luckily, I did get back into my truck with my camera gear before the storm hit – it was quite a down pour.

The light in the scene this time was much more balanced. I also used my Nikon D80 in raw mode, which gave me a greater dynamic range to play with. I do wish I could have gotten over the water filled ditch at the side of the highway to include some foreground detail in the scene. Oh well, there’s always next year.

I think this is a better image than the one from a year ago. You can see several more of my Lake Jesup flower photos here.

©2007, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.