Tag Archives: philosophy

It’s about time

How much time did it take to make the image you see here?  That’s an interesting  question – I’m glad you asked!

Short answer: 1.3 seconds.  Medium answer:  5 months.  Long answer:  13.8 billion years.

Rocks, water, light - and time - in black and whiteRocks, water, light and time – in black and white

To begin with:

  • Preparing for a photo trip and gathering what you need before you leave takes time.
  • Traveling to a location and back can be minutes or days – you have to decide whether the potential photos at a location are worth the time to go.  Or just go anyway and explore!
  • Once there, you sometimes see a spot off the path or a little further on and you have to decide if that image is worth the time and effort to get to.
  • Then for each photo, it takes time to set up for an image (tripod, lens selection, etc.) and you often have to wait for conditions or subjects to cooperate.

Only after all that do you get to decide on a shutter speed to control how long your exposure is  – in this example, 1.3 seconds.

Then, when you get home:

  • It takes time to go through all your photos, decide which ones are worthy of attention and process them.
  • You also have to spend time posting images and writing about them.

I made this image 5 months ago at Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia and you’re just now seeing it.  And even before all that could happen:

And even before all that can happen:

  • The universe (starting ~13.8 billion years ago) and solar system (~4.6 billion years ago) had to form.
  • Life (3.5 billion years?) and humans (~2.5 million years) had to evolve.
  • Geology had to happen: Mountains had to rise up and erosion had to form rivers, and forests had to grow.
  • And civilization and culture had to progress to the point where leisure time is available to make photos for the fun of it and people have time to read blogs about them.

“Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.”  – Wikipedia

Each of us only has so much time and we have to decide how to spend it.  Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Captive wildlife

I went over to Tampa last week with Tom M. and toured both the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary and the Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary.

Not sleeping
Eyes of the tiger – resting in his den and watching visitors at the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Tampa Florida.

Neither place is intended to be a good photo-op (lots of fences and obstructions) – you have to be lucky to get a good image.  The geometry and light in the scene above worked well, but it’s the only animal photo I made that day that I like.

Volunteer caring for residents at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary

Volunteer caring for residents at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary

So why am I writing about these if they’re not good photo ops?  This is supposed to be a blog about photo ops, right?  Well, we met several volunteers at each place and learned a great deal from them about wildlife in captivity.  If you care about wildlife then there are  things about captives that you should know.

Seeing wild animals such as whales in their natural habitat is exciting and inspiring.  Seeing them in captivity, knowing some of the background on how they’re captured, bred, and kept is depressing.  The tiger in the photo above was well cared for and kept in nicer conditions than many others.  Although sometimes big cats can be returned to the wild, this tiger will never be released.  Wouldn’t it be better if they’d never been captured at all? Places like the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary and the Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary are doing their best to care for large, wild animals that can’t be returned to the wild.  But there are so many of these animals that they’ll never be able to keep up.

Are all instances of captive wildlife wrong?  Maybe not.  But many situations are clearly bad and should be against the law.

I know you don’t come to this site for editorials and commentary, but thanks anyway for stopping by and reading this.  And if you care about this subject, you should click on the links in this post to learn more.

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black Swan

The Black Swan is an interesting bird. Not only from an avian perspective, but also from a philosophy and ideas perspective. Wikipedia introduces the Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) as “a large water bird, a species of swan, which breeds mainly in the southeast and southwest regions of Australia.”

Black Swan
Black Swan at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando

Australia? Then what is a photo of a Black Swan doing on the Central Florida Photo Ops blog?

All known swans were white until Black Swans were discovered in Australia. People would never expect to find a black Swan (even in Orlando). So this bird is often used as a metaphor for an unexpected event.

Nicholas Taleb wrote a book called The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. His theory is that outlier events (which are essentially unpredictable) have an outsized impact, especially due to the human tendency to settle for simple solutions. This is called the Black Swan Theory.

If no one told, you’d never expect to find a Black Swan in Central Florida. But you can – at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. So seeing a Black Swan there is a black swan event – highly unexpected. Or it was, until I just told you.

There are other Swan species there too. I saw Whooper Swans, Mute Swans, and Black Necked Swans last weekend.

You can see other photo’s I’ve made at Lake Eola in this set on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some unexpected photos!
©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Theraputic Photography

Why do we photograph?  For many reasons:  To capture a moment and save it.  To document something, so others can see what we see.  To amuse or delight viewers with our images.  To create art as a form of self-expression.  To report facts as in a newspaper, or slant facts as in an advertisement.

Most of the time I’m trying to make something interesting or beautiful.  To show viewers what I’ve seen and how I’ve seen it.  I also like to record where I’ve been.  And making family photos  at gatherings / events is also important to me.

Great gloomy plains
Great Gloomy Plains – Photographs often reflect the photographer’s mood.  I made this photo during a break in a light snowstorm near the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Hudson, Colorado.

For the last couple of weeks, my photography has served another purpose – one that I hadn’t ever considered.

My Mother was 80 years old and apparently in worse health than any of us knew.  She passed away while in the hospital for back surgery.  Even though she hated to carry around her oxygen tank, she was sharp and active until the end.  Mom was a great woman and much loved by everyone who knew her.  She was a wonderful mother and I miss her terribly.

Lynn and I went to Denver to be with family and help settle Mom’s estate.  Her affairs were in good order, but there was still a lot to do.  As you might imagine, it was an emotional and stressful time.

Bull Elk

Bull Elk, photographed near Buffalo Bill’s Grave outside of Denver, Colorado

Of course this wasn’t a photo trip, but I did decide to bring a small point and shoot camera.  I’m very glad I did.  During the two weeks we were there, we took a couple of short side trips.  I found that when concentrating on photography, I could exclude other things from my mind and feel almost normal for a while.  It really helped me cope and get my emotions back toward a more even keel.  These are three of the photos I made.

Sunrise over Chatfield Lake 2

 Sunrise over Chatfield Lake – I made this photo on the morning we left to return to Orlando.

Photography helps us remember. It can also help us forget. At least for a short time.

You can see more Denver images in this set on Flickr.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos.

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

I just don’t get these. Can someone help me?

OK first, here’s a photo.

Lake Eola at Dusk
Lake Eola at Dusk: Downtown Orlando, Florida

The photo has nothing to do with the subject of the post,  but I like it and I thought we should have at least one photo today.  I made this one a while ago and went back yesterday to re-process it with some new SW.  I was able to bring out more highlight detail as well as adjust the brightness / curves and saturation.

Now for the main section of the post.  I promise that this isn’t a rant, although it might sound like it.  Also, it isn’t a normal Central Florida Photo Ops post – but there are a few photo related things I need help with.  I admit, I just don’t get them.  Do you get them?  Can you help me?

  1. I don’t know if you’re a Flickr member or not.  If you take a look at Flickr Explore, you’ll notice that there’s a surprising (at least to me) number of doll or toy photos there each day.  To each his or her own, but I just don’t get this.  I don’t really see why these are interesting to everyone.  What is artistic or appealing about photos of toy dolls?  How do these get on Flickr Explore?  What am I missing? (Note:  Flickr revised their Explore algorithm in 2020 and it’s much better now!)
  2. The Lensbaby:  OK, I’ve never used one, but why would I?  It’s an inexpensive, imprecise tilt lens, with not so good optics.  You can sort of cause an area within the frame to be in focus while blurring the rest. Is it just fun to play around with?  Why would you put this on an expensive DSLR?  Can you really do something artistic and controlled with it?  Can anyone point me to an outstanding photo made with a Lensbaby?  If so, was the Lensbaby critical to the photo or could you make it another way (Gaussian filters anyone)?
  3. Micro 4/3 cameras:  Yes, they have interchangeable lenses and larger sensors (=better image quality) than point and shoot cameras.   And a 4/3 kit is smaller and lighter than a DSLR kit.  But …  Is it your only camera or a secondary / backup / travel camera?  If it’s a secondary camera, you have to buy a whole new kit (body, lenses, flash?).  That’s pretty expensive.  If you want small and light, why not go for smallest and lightest (e.g. a point and shoot) for a lot less money.  If you want quality why not go for quality (e.g. your DSLR).  Will you be happy with a compromise? —– 9/2/11 Update:  I think I do get this now.  These cameras are much smaller and lighter.  The lenses are less expensive than corresponding DSLR lenses.  And they can be used (with reasonably long lenses) in places that don’t allow DSLR photography – like most theaters, some sports arenas, etc.  Since they are less conspicuous, many people prefer to use them instead of DSLRs for street photography.  And finally, although micro 4/3 sensor quality lags a generation or more behind the best APS C size sensors, it is enormously better than compact point and shoot sensors and good enough for most applications.
  4. Not posting EXIF data with images:  Some people go to great lengths to make sure the EXIF data captured by their camera gets filtered out before they post the photo.  Why?  How does it hurt to have someone on-line look at this data and try to understand how the photo was made?
  5. Paying all those $ for a DSLR kit and not using it:  You’ve got to have it with you, know how to use it, and use it.  If you don’t know how to use it, use it anyway, make mistakes, and learn from them.
  6. Paying all those $ for a DSLR kit and using it like a phone camera:   Don’t leave it on “A”.  Learn what all those other modes are and use them. Take charge – don’t let the camera think for you.
  7. Not post processing: Some of my friends have expensive DSLR cameras and they live with the .jpg output of their cameras. I’ve tried to explain the benefits of RAW capture and post processing, but they don’t want to listen. I just don’t get this.
  8. All right, no one gets this:  Flash in the stands at sporting events and concerts:  But why do you still see this?  How can anyone do this without dying of embarrassment?
  9. Film:  Film is fun, but for most serious photographers, digital is so much better.  OK, maybe I do get the 8×10 view camera people, but still It’s a lot of extra work and many compromises for an improvement in a few small areas.
  10. Comment Spam on photo blogs (OK, any blog):  I think the intent of comment spam is to get links back to their oh so relevant pages.  Really? How are children’s shoes related to Central Florida Photo Ops?  And that’s a G-rated one.  There are many that are R-rated or worse.  Why would I allow these comments through on my site?  Does anyone?  I really don’t get this.

If you “get” any of these things, or would just like to leave a comment to tell me how crazy I am, feel free (although I do moderate comments because of #10).

In the mean time, thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Three Letter Acronyms For Success (TAS), TAS #2: GAS

OK, gentle reader, our first TAS was HAC – Have a clue . So, once you have a clue, what’s next?

What’s the next thing you need to do to be successful in life and also in photography?  TAS #2 is GAS.  We’ll use the family friendly version here, which is GAH or “Give a Hoot”. In other words, care about your photography, be passionate, be motivated, take all the knowledge you’ve acquired and apply it.  Get out there and make some photographs!

Are you a “serious” photographer? I don’t mean serious as in don’t have any fun with it (quite the opposite).  I mean do you care about your photography? I suspect if you’re reading this blog you do.  That’s really all GAH is about.  It won’t make you a success all by itself, but it is necessary.  And it’s the motivation you need – and combined with the knowledge you acquire with HAC, you’ll be much more likely to be successful.

OK, so TAS #1 (HAC) is all about acquiring knowledge and TAS #2 (GAH) is all about applying it.  The more you apply your knowledge the more it becomes something you do instead of something you just know.  Practice builds the skills you need to get the shot when you don’t have the luxury to think things through.  This happens quite a lot in photography – the light or the situation changes quickly and you have to change quickly to capture it.  Big secret here:  I think most honest photographers would tell you that they have screwed up a photograph many times in the heat of battle.  You will too.  You need to try to minimize this.


  • Carry a camera – use it. Always look for scenes / subjects that would make a good photo.  Make the shot.
  • Think about photography as much as possible.  Mental exercises – how would I shoot that: framing, composition, lenses, ISO, etc.  When you look at your finished photos, think about what you should have done different.  When you’re getting ready to take photos, think through how you’re going to do it. Look at other people’s photographs and try to understand how they made them.
  • Try a new photographic technique as often as possible
  • Show your work to people.  Accept feedback and use it constructively

There are the two photos that go with this post.  I used the second one in a prior post , but this is the first time I’ve posted the other one.  I think the pair together is a good illustration of TAS #2: GAH.  I was very motivated and passionate about this particular photograph and went to a good deal of effort to make the image, edit it, and print it.  It looks pretty good up on my wall.

This is the raw capture straight out of the camera:

Littleton, Colo. cabin (straight from camera)

And this is the processed image ready to print.  It took a lot of knowledge (HAC) and a lot of passion (GAH) for the final print to come out like this.

Littleton, Colo. cabin (post processed)

As your homework for this session, you can point out things that are different between the two images and how you think they got that way.  As before, I’ll grade your answers before I post TAS #3.  Oh, by the way, I’ve added a comment to TAS #1 explaining what I meant about the photo in that post.

Be passionate about your photography .  To help you with TAS #2 – Give a Hoot, and to help you stay motivated, here’s a few inspirational photo related links I’ve come across recently.  Please take the time to explore these.  They moved me, and if you’re at all interested in photography, I’m betting they will move you too.

Zack Arias – Transform Video http://www.zarias.com/?p=284
David duChemin – A question of definition (link no longer available)
Darwin Wiggett -Beyond the trophy http://darwinwiggett.wordpress.com/2009/06/12/beyond-the-trophy/
Paul Indigo – Do professional photographers love their jobs? http://paulindigo.blogspot.com/2009/06/do-professional-photographers-love.html
Scott Bourne – Taking the best photo you possibly can (link no longer available)
Rick Sammon – It’s “Have Kid Will Photograph” (link no longer available)

©2009, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Three-letter Acronyms for Success (TAS), TAS#1: HAC

Well, gentle reader, here’s the grand challenge in front of us…

Can I come up with a series of three letter acronyms for key ideas on how to be generally successful in life, apply them to photography, explain them in a way to make them interesting, and illustrate each with a photograph?  If I do this, will you visit this blog and read about it?

I guess we’ll find out the answer together. This series of posts will be somewhat sporadic and I’ll be using them as a filler when I don’t have a photo expedition type of blog entry to post.

Here’s the image that goes with this post – it’s a Christmas cactus bloom:
Christmas cactus bloom

OK, so let’s get started with TAS # 1.  HAC stands for “Have A Clue”.  To be successful in life and in photography too, you need to have a clue about what you’re doing.  Oh, sure, you can buy a point and shoot camera and take some good pictures, but can you do that under all conditions?  Can you do that when you need to, every time?  When one of your photos doesn’t come out, will you be able to figure out why and then do better the next time? When you’re in a football stadium or a concert will you be one of the people trying to take pictures with your point and shoot flash going off?

How do you get a clue?  How do you know what you don’t know?  Take a course or workshop, read books or magazines, talk to someone knowledgeable, join a photography club and ask questions, do research on line, read photo blogs.  Try things and see how they come out and then try variations when they don’t work.  Learn about the basics of exposure, composition, depth of field.  Keep trying and keep learning and don’t give up and don’t expect to get all the answers given to you in 5 minutes.

Once you have a clue, you still need to keep getting more and revising the ones you have, because things change.  If you thought you knew photography 5 or 10 years ago, guess what … it’s a lot different now.  You have to keep learning.  All of your clues are a good foundation for continued learning, but learn you must.  For example, if you grew up with film your brain might be conditioned to think of exposure as aperture and shutter speed – film speed was fixed for the whole role of film.  Well guess what, now days it’s aperture, shutter speed, and ISO – we can vary the ISO sensitivity for each exposure.  You have to keep learning or you might not think about things like changing the ISO.

OK, is that enough words on this?  The point is, to be successful you have to have a basic knowledge of what you’re doing and then you have to keep building on that knowledge.

Now, back to the related image at the top of the post.  See if you have a clue about what’s going on with depth of field in this image.  If you think you know the answer, post a comment.  I’ll grade your answers after the TAS #2 blog entry goes up.

To help you get started gathering your clues, here are some photo blogs where you can learn about photography:

Digital Photography School http://digital-photography-school.com/
Luminous Landscape http://www.luminous-landscape.com/
Photofocus (link no longer available)
Nature Photographer magazine (link no longer available)
Naturescapes.net http://www.naturescapes.net/docs/
Thom Hogan http://bythom.com/

©2009, Ed Rosack.  All rights reserved.