Tag Archives: panorama

Sunrise lost?

I might see one or two people fishing whenever I pull into Gator Creek Road in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge before dawn. It’s rare to see another photographer there for sunrise, although later in the day on Black Point Wildlife Drive there are often plenty of folks taking photos. On this morning someone else was already out there when I pulled into this spot. They had their camera / tripod set up over on the right (out of the frame in this image). I parked a bit away to give them some space and not interfere with their photography.

Mangroves at dawn Mangroves at dawn

As I set up and starting making images, they headed over with their tripod and camera. I didn’t pay a lot of attention, since I was busy trying to decide on compositions and wanted to capture the light on the clouds before it changed. I figured they just wanted to try a different viewpoint.

They stopped when they got to where I was and started talking about all sorts of things: music, musicians, photographing concerts, what camera I was using, where they lived, where they photographed, etc., etc. I was busy and concentrating on my photography, so a lot of my replies were monosyllabic. As time went on, I continued photographing and they continued talking. I hope I didn’t seem too rude. At one point I even mentioned how much I liked the cloud formations, but they never did make a photo.

There are all sorts of people, and we all have different priorities, but I still don’t understand. This person was motivated to get up very early, pack all their gear and head out for a morning of photography. But then didn’t make photos of a wonderful scene taking place all around us. Maybe they’d already got a lot of great photos before I arrived. But if it was me, I’d have kept shooting.

Anyway, here are some other photos I’ve made on Gator Creek Road: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157720027085338


Changing the subject: Go take a look at Wally Jones’s blog post about this year’s sunflowers at Marl Bed Flats. He was out there on October 12th and got some really nice photos!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please take care of yourselves and each other. And if you’re already out there, please go ahead and make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Planning or Luck?

Ansel Adams is known for his pre-visualization approach to photography.

“The term [pre]visualization refers to the entire emotional-mental process of creating a photograph”

“It’s not what you see, it’s what you want me to see”

Ansel Adams

Having deliberate control of all parts of the photo capture and printing processes allowed him to create wonderful images. We can’t be Ansel Adams, but we can continue learning so that we gain as much control as possible in our own photography.

Embrace your craft.  Study it.  Understand it.  Practice it.  Select a subject. Compose and expose. Process and print. Use all your skills to control the light you capture. It’s a life long activity that you’ll never completely master.

But sometimes the subject and light find you. When this happens, be ready. If you are, you can use all of your acquired skills to make a photo showing what you want people to see. Ansel also said:

“Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter”

Ansel Adams

A while back over in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, I saw this scene developing and really liked the way the sun was shining through the backlit clouds. I quickly searched for some foreground and found a pool of water reflecting the sky. I made a set of four frames that I could stitch into a vertical panorama.

Wetland Weather Wetland Weather

Later on the computer, I had to solve issues with stitching, exposure, and focus but luckily I knew what to try and had the tools to do so. Of course, it’s not Ansel Adams level photography – but I’m very pleased with the result.

What kind of photographer are you? Do you pre-plan / visualize all of your photos? Or do you wander around and photograph what nature presents? Which approach gives you the best results? Which gives you the most pleasure:  A carefully controlled composition that comes out exactly like your vision?  Or a serendipitous image that came out well when you tried something new?

Luck is good.  Preparation is good.  Being prepared when you get lucky is better.

“Chance favors the prepared mind.”

Louis Pasteur

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, be ready – and make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Working a scene

Sometimes when I’m out photographing at dawn, I’ll see someone stop, hop out of their car, make a single photo, then get back in and leave. Will they get a good image? Maybe. But they’d have a better chance if they could invest some time trying different compositions and settings to see what works best.

Brewing storm Brewing Storm: 6:24 am, 20 mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, Blended exposures (2.5 and 0.8s)

On a recent morning at dawn, I photographed a photogenic thunderstorm from the St. Johns River boat ramp on SR 50 for about an hour. As the light changed, I tried different lenses and techniques and I’m pretty happy with the images I came home with.

Sunrise through a thunderhead Sunrise through a thunderhead: 6:52 am, 39 mm, ISO 100, f/11, Blended exposures (1/125 – 1/30s)

I thought you’d like to see these examples from that morning. In each caption, I’ve listed the time I made the photo and the settings I used. Maybe you can take away some ideas for your next dawn photo excursion. If you have any questions or want more details about what I did, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer.

A storm across the river A storm across the river: 7:24 am, 160mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/320s exposure, 5 frame panorama

Header image: Thunderhead and mist over the marsh: 6:39 am, 105 mm, ISO 100, f/8, Blended exposures (1/4 – 1/60s). Full image at https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/51378599007/in/dateposted-public/

The light and colors varied tremendously while I was there. I enjoyed watching them evolve and using different settings / focal lengths to capture the changes and include or isolate parts of the scene.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Be careful out there and please take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, work a scene!

©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

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

Wildlife Panoramas

Sometimes you want to get closer / zoom in with your lens to show as much detail as possible but if you do, you can’t fit everything in your frame. When I’m in that situation I try to expand the frame by making a stitched panorama. It’s a common approach for landscape images – but it can also work for wildlife and I don’t see that mentioned very often elsewhere. Here’s a recent example I assembled from two photos:

Pretty in Pink 2
Pretty in Pink

And here’s one more made from three photos:

A Partial Pod of PelicansA Partial Pod of Pelicans. (Click to see larger on Flickr. Click again to zoom in)

I’ve written about this before, so I won’t repeat myself. If you’re interested in my approach, see these two posts:

And there’s much more info on the web waiting for your DuckDuckGo or Google search.

There is an added complication to watch out for when stitching wildlife panoramas: the animals may move between frames. For that reason, I shoot as quickly as possible. I try stitching the frames together automatically and look for any anomalies along seams. If I find some, then I assemble the panorama manually in photoshop and mask out the issues.

I enjoy making these and have many more collected in this folder on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157637736002816. Take a look to see some possibilities.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – stitch some panoramas!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Merritt Island NWR – December 2020

‘Twas the night after Christmas*

‘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 & GrillEarly 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 Indial RiverClouds 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.

Belted Kingfisher 3Male Belted Kingfisher in flight

A Common Yellowthroat posed in the brush.
Then he flew away in a very big rush.

Common YellowthroatMale Common Yellowthroat

Storks in formation soared by above,
A wonderful subject to make photos of.

Formation flight: Three Wood StorksThree Wood Storks in flight

And what to my wondering eyes should appear?
A pretty pink spoonbill, preening quite near.

Preening SpoonbillPreening 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,

Norther ShovelerNorthern Shoveler drake

White PelicanWhite Pelican

Now egrets and herons, with all of your calls,

Reddish EgretReddish Egret

Black-crowned Night-HeronBlack-crowned Night-Heron

Now woodpeckers, cardinals, eagles, owls and more,
So many birds along the shore!

I know I saw a bug in there...Red-bellied Woodpecker. “I know I saw a bug in there…”

Male Cardinal in the MangrovesMale Cardinal in the Mangroves

Nesting Great Horned OwlNesting Great Horned Owl

Large birds, small birds, short birds and tall,
stay for a while, don’t dash away all!

Ibises and SpoonbillsIbises and Spoonbills

Ibises and EgretsIbises and Egrets

And I exclaimed as I turned out the light:
“HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL,
AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!”

Calm HarborCalm 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!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

*With sincere apologies to Clement Clarke Moore.

A good day in the wild

I made a trip to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last Thursday. As you probably know, it’s a favorite of mine. I just hope all of you aren’t too tired of me writing about it.

Refuge:
1. Protection or shelter, as from danger or hardship

a. A place providing protection or shelter

2 b. An undeveloped area for the preservation of animals and plants.
Retrieved November 22 2020 from https://www.thefreedictionary.com/refuges
I think MINWR lives up to these definitions and I’m grateful that it’s close by and has stayed open. Even as the pandemic here in the USA continues to worsen, a visit there seems very safe to me. Lots of fresh air, with just a few socially distanced people. And interesting landscapes and wildlife to see and photograph – and divert me from the 24/7 news cycle.

Anyway, our weather has been a bit strange here in Central Florida. We’ve had lots of rain showers and strong winds too, so I wasn’t sure what the conditions would be like. My weather app said there’d be some clouds (good for sunrise photos!) so I got up at zero dark thirty and headed over to the St. Johns River boat ramp on HW 50.

A windy morning on the St. Johns RiverA windy morning on the St. Johns River

The air here is still on most mornings. But in this photo you can see nearby grass blowing and the water motion smoothed out from my 3s shutter speed. As I was photographing, an owl swooped in and landed about ten feet away. It only stayed for a few seconds as it looked me over. It was very dark, I was a bit startled, and I didn’t have the right lens on – so I didn’t even try to make a photo. But it was a very cool moment.

When I got to MINWR I made a pass around Black Point Wildlife Drive. Maybe it was too early, but I didn’t see much. Then I went over to drive through Gator Creek Road and it was roped off – I’m not sure why. This page says Catfish Creek and Peacocks Pocket are closed due to hurricane damage, but doesn’t mention Gator Creek Road. Maybe it was because of a rocket launch – we’ve had quite a few recently.

The wildlife photography part of my trip wasn’t going very well. Before I headed home, I decided to go through Black Point one more time and I’m very glad I did. The second pass was much better!

_A6605130_DxO.jpgBelted Kingfisher

There are more winter birds showing up now than last time I was there. Kingfisher’s are notoriously flighty, but for some reason this one sat still for me – of course I wish it’d been closer!

Northern Flickers are always a treat. I wasn’t sure that’s what this was until I got home. It was severely back lit and I couldn’t see any detail until I looked at it on the computer (with the shadows slider cranked up).

Northern FlickerNorthern Flicker

There were several of this next one flying around over the marsh. I was pretty sure they were Northern Harriers – the white rump is distinctive. I don’t see these very often and I enjoyed reading about them when I looked them up again. They hunt with both hearing and sight and have evolved stiff feathers around their ears to help direct the sound. They also have soft feathers elsewhere to reduce their flight noise – leading to their nickname “Gray Ghost”. You can read more at this link: https://www.audubon.org/news/northern-harrier.

Gray Ghost (Northern Harrier)Gray Ghost (Northern Harrier)

Here’s one last photo. Reddish Egrets are one of my favorite birds and I usually spot one or two along Black Point. I’m including it because this is the first time I’ve seen one perched up on a branch – they must do this all the time, right? This photo is worth a click to view on Flickr. You should be able to zoom in there with additional clicks to see a lot of up close detail. This post is getting too long or I’d tell you how I made this 40 MP image with my 24 MP camera. Maybe next time.

Pretty BirdPretty Bird

I saw a pair of Bald Eagles, Yellow-rumped Warblers (also winter visitors), a few (far away) Roseate Soonbills, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, Anhingas, Double-Crested Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Black and Turkey Vultures, many Ospreys, gulls and terns, and others too, although I’m sure I missed many. I also saw what might have been a vole scurry across the road.  Lucky for it one of those Harriers wasn’t close by.

A good trip. I guess I’m glad Gator Creek Road was closed and I had to make a second pass on Black Point!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. If you have a National Wildlife Refuge near you, consider exploring it – in a safe, socially distanced way. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – make some photos.

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved