Tag Archives: reflection

Two birds, a selfie, and the blog

I met Tom M., and Lee A. at Gatorland again last Thursday.  During breeding season I like to go at least once a month to keep up with the activity there.  It’s a very nice experience over time to  see different species nesting, eggs hatching, and young birds growing and fledging.  It was our coldest morning of the season so far, with temperatures a few degrees below freezing.  I know all of you that are suffering in colder climates are thinking that’s not cold – but down here we think it’s pretty chilly.

Anyway, the Great Egrets are wearing their fancy plumes and colors and looking for mates. One of the advantages of the photographer’s early entry program at Gatorland is that the light can be very nice in the morning.  It certainly was on this bird and it was displaying a bit too. I waited for the right moment, and made this image.

Displaying Egret Displaying Egret

A while ago, one of my friends on Flickr asked me about this photo of a Black-crowned Night Heron. Here’s the question and my answer:

Vicki:  “I was wondering about the heron you posted. It has only one leg. Was it missing a leg or is it the way they hold them? I spotted one near me last week and when I got the photos on the computer, I discovered it was only using one leg…even after it moved around in the tree. So I was wondering if you know if it is a normal pose for them to do that.”

Ed:  “I can’t be 100% sure since I didn’t see this heron’s other leg, but it is a typical pose to tuck one leg up against their body.”

In this new image, also of a Black Crowned Night Heron, you can see the other leg, since it’s not quite hidden in the feathers.

Black-crowned Night-Heron Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron Juvenile

This last photo is my latest selfie.  For several years I’ve been looking for situations like this where the geometry is right to see my reflection in the Alligator’s eye and get close enough to photograph it.  This one is a tight crop, but I think it’s my best so far!

Gator eye selfie (crop) Gator eye selfie – Not photoshop – that’s the actual reflection in its eye of me standing on the boardwalk.

 And now about the blog.  I’ve been a bit aggravated for some time with the performance of my hosting service – the load times seemed slow and  I’ve also had intermittent, unexplained  outages  So finally last week I decide to move to a managed WordPress hosting service.  It seems to be working very well so far.  This is my first post on the new system and I hope that everything works well – including the email subscription function.  I’m only telling you this in case you notice any issues.  If so, please let me know so I can work on them.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Around Central Florida

Here are three photos from last week that I made in and around Central Florida. First up is the Cocoa Waterfront.  I liked the early morning look of the clouds and water at River Front Park.

Calm morning on the riverfrontCalm morning on the riverfront. (Two frame vertical panorama, Infrared, B&W, 34mm eq. fl, 1/40 sec @f/5.6, ISO 200)

The morning light was also nice at Viera Wetlands, and this American Bittern posed for us in the reeds.  I’ve been lucky enough to see them there several times over the years. I’m sure they’re in spots like Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge too, but I’ve never spotted one there.

American BitternAmerican Bittern.  (600mm, f/8, 1/640 sec, ISO 320)

Orlando Wetlands Park opened again February 1st.  It’s one of my favorite places for sunrise.  Our walk on Friday morning  was brisk and breezy, but I like the wind’s effect on the water in this photo.

Wee hour winds whisk water and reeds in the wetlandsWee hour winds whisk water and reeds in the wetlands.  (Two frame vertical panorama; 120mm; I shot the bottom frame at f/22 and ISO 50 to extend the shutter speed to 8 seconds and maximize depth of field.  I made the upper frame at f/8, .5 sec, ISO 100 to maximize sharpness)

So that’s some of what I photographed last week.  What did you shoot?  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Merritt Island – 1/31/15

Kevin M. organized a quick trip over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last weekend and invited me to go with him and Kevin K.  We started at Space View Park, where we watched a lovely sunrise.

Dawn from Space View Park Dawn from Space View Park

Next we drove around Black Point Wildlife Drive where there were lots of birds, some wild hogs, some alligators, and lots of  photographers!   Two different ponds had concentrations of fish attracting swarms of birds (mostly Snowy Egrets).  They were flying low over the water and snatching their meals “to – go”.  This one seemed full – it stood watching the action.

Fluffy Egret Fluffy Egret

The Great Horned Owl  nest was empty this time.  We scanned the surrounding trees trying to spot the owls (like Jim Boland did on his visit) but we weren’t able to find them.

At least three Painted Buntings were hanging around near the feeder at the visitor’s center.  The light’s usually difficult there for me, but this time I managed to get a good photo of this colorful bird.  It’s exciting to see something like this in the wild.  Now’s the best time – they migrate through here in the winter.

In the bushes 

In the bushes – Painted Bunting

MINWR is a wonderful place and there’s almost always something there worth seeing.  Check it out for yourself!

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

My favorite 2014 photos

Happy New Year!  I hope that all of you, your families, and your friends have had a joyful and happy holiday season!

The beginning of the year is a good time to review results and contemplate how to improve any endeavor and photography is no exception.  I’ve put together these “Favorite photos of the year” posts since 2009.  This is a hard process for any photographer.  For me, it’s difficult to separate my opinion about a photograph from the emotional connections that I have with the subject, scene, or situation.  But making the effort is important and part of the learning process.  I don’t claim to be objective –  these are simply the photos that I like best.  Feel free to disagree, but I hope you’ll enjoy looking at the ones I’ve picked.

This year, all of my favorites were made in Florida.  I’ve listed the date and place for each and included a link to the blog post where you can find out more about the image.  You can click on the photos to go to Flickr where you can see a larger version.  Or you can click on this link to view the complete set on Flickr.

February 2, 2014 – Cocoa Beach

Let's wait a bit to set sailLet’s wait a bit to set sail

More info:  edrosack.com/2014/02/08/viera-wetlands-222014/

March 8, 2014 – Viera Wetlands

Black Skimmer in flightBlack Skimmer in flight 

More info:  edrosack.com/2014/03/09/universal-set-up/

April 6, 2014 – Marineland Beach

99 seconds in the dark99 seconds in the dark

More info:  edrosack.com/2014/04/12/lessons-from-a-photogen…

May 17, 2014 – Viera Wetlands

Marsh MoonMarsh Moon

More info:  edrosack.com/2014/02/08/viera-wetlands-222014/

May 31, 2014 – Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Preening SpoonbillsPreening Spoonbills

More info:  edrosack.com/2014/06/07/merritt-island-may-31-2…

June 18 2014 – Fort Christmas

Wild OrchidsWild Orchids

More info:  edrosack.com/2014/12/13/modern-monochrome-homew…

July 19, 2014 – St. Johns River, Near Cocoa

Let's go fishing!Let’s go fishing!

More info: edrosack.com/2014/08/01/lets-go-fishing-how-i-m…

July 19, 2014 – Viera Wetlands

Wet wings and itchy backWet wings and itchy back

More info:  edrosack.com/2014/07/25/viera-wetlands-on-7-19-…

November 2, 2014 – Lake Louisa State Park

Morning mist - ColorMorning mist

More info:  edrosack.com/2014/11/09/lake-louisa-state-park-…

November 19, 2014 – Barberville Pioneer Settlement

The SchoolroomThe Schoolroom

More info:  edrosack.com/2014/11/30/pioneer-settlement-at-b…

These links will take you to Flickr where you can view sets of my favorite photos from earlier years: 200920102011, and 2012, and 2013.

I hope you’ve had a great photo 2014 too. If you send me a link or leave one in the comments, I’ll be sure to take a look at your favorites.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some more favorites of your own!
©2011 – 2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Birds Abound at Black Point

I spent last Wednesday morning at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  I hadn’t been in a while and I enjoyed seeing what’s going on over there.

As usual, I arrived early for a sunrise photo.  I’ve photographed from this spot on Gator Creek Road several times, but I’ve never noticed flowers blooming there before.  I think they make a nice foreground accent.

Another day beginsAnother day begins

After the sun was up, I drove around both Black Point Wildlife Drive and Gator Creek Road.  There were a tremendous number of birds around – the winter visitors are here in force!

You can get an idea of which species to expect at MINWR (and when) over at this page on ebird.  Here are the ones I recognized on my visit:  Northern Shoveler, Lesser Scaup, Hooded Merganser, Pie-billed Grebe, Wood Stork, Double Crested Cormorant, Anhinga, White Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Tri-colored Heron, Little Blue Heron, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Coot, Black-bellied Plover, Killdeer, Willet, Ring-billed Gull, Laughing Gull, Black Skimmer, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Loggerhead Shrike, and Savannah Sparrow.  I’m sure a more experienced birder would have recognized even more.  I also saw an Alligator or two and a River Otter.

And my online blogging friend Jim Boland also spotted a Red-headed Duck there recently.

This bird was posing on a mound of seaweed next to the causeway.  I was able to crouch down and make some eye level photos with a nice out of focus background.

Black-bellied Plover Black-bellied Plover

And this Willet was hunting in the surf, also along the causeway.  The sun was coming over my shoulder and the small waves rolling in made the blue sky reflections contrast nicely with the sandy bottom showing through the water.

WilletWillet

And here’s a bonus sunrise photo – made with my long lens.  I like the group of birds flying in front of the sun in the distance.

Merritt Island MorningMerritt Island Morning – The sun rises next to NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

What a nice visit to one of our Central Florida Photo Op treasures!  If you haven’t been over there recently, now is a great time of year to check it out.  You can see other photographs from MINWR in this set on Flickr, and from BPWD in this set.

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

Lake Louisa State Park – Nov. 1, 2014

Lynn and I went back to Lake Louisa State Park last weekend and spent a very relaxing couple of days.  It was a little chilly – our first Florida “cold” front rolled through while we were there and made us both appreciate the gas fireplace in the cabin.  We didn’t see as much wildlife this time, but I did enjoy making some photos.  Here’s one at sunset from just behind the cabin, looking out over Lake Dixie.  I like the way the field glows in the light coming through the trees.

Grass, trees, lake, and sun
Grass, trees, lake, and sun

The sky was very clear after the cold front, so there were no dramatic clouds to work with.  I think the low morning sun on the trees and the mist on the water  look nice in black and white.

Morning mist - B&W
Morning mist

There weren’t as many flowers blooming as there were last May.  But the few we did see were lovely.  These were along a path just off the road.

Wildflowers
Wildflowers

Lake Louisa is a wonderful, relaxing getaway in Clermont, Florida – very close to Orlando.  If you haven’t been, check it out.  My full writeup on the park is at this link and this set on Flickr has many more photos I made there.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Downtown Orlando

I seem to have a preference for wide views.  Hence my attraction to stitched multi-frame panorama images.  They’re a great way to extend the field of view of lenses you have with you.

Keith H. and I walked around downtown Orlando for a few hours one day last week.  I made a lot of photos, and after getting home and reviewing them, my favorites all turned out to be stitched panoramas.  I guess I just enjoy being able to see the whole scene.  Here are three examples:

Back alley break
Back alley break – A woman takes a work break on the back stairs. 4 frame panorama

Also, I hardly ever make selfies, but on this walk I ended up with two that I like – although they aren’t typical of the genre.

A selfie
A window selfie – Looking south across Church Street from the 4th floor of the Plaza parking garage. That’s my reflection in the glass towards the middle bottom. Infra Red, Black & White, 4 frame panorama.  (Click for a larger view on Flickr)

And this next one isn’t a Black & White photo – the sidewalk and wall were that color.

Cracks me up
Cracks me up – A shadow selfie. 3 frame panorama.

You might find you like stitching panoramas too.  I’ve written about them before.  This article has a detailed workflow example and there are some more ideas in this post.  Composition can be difficult since you can’t see the final image through your viewfinder as you capture it.  Try to cover a larger area than you think you’ll need so you can crop into the assembled image to fine tune the composition.  And watch out for long lines and patterns of lines.   Look for any errors / mismatched lines between frames after you stitch them together and clean them up with the clone tool.

Besides downtown itself, there are several areas in Orlando with interesting photo ops: the Plaza Theatre, Leu Gardens, Lake Eola, Meade Gardens, and Greenwood Cemetery.  I’ve collected photos from all of them in this set on Flickr.

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

Orlando Wetlands and B&W Conversion Software

Here are three photos I made at Orlando Wetlands Park last Thursday morning.

Waiting for sunrise at Lake Searcy
Waiting for sunrise at Lake Searcy

My favorite program for converting images to black and white is the Nik Silver Efex Pro plug-in.  I wanted to try a new one called “Tonality” by Macphun software.  I processed these next two photos in both programs so I could compare results.

Cypress and calm water
Cypress and calm water

Clear and very calm
Clear and very calm

Tonality is an exceptionally complete B&W conversion program with lots of presets and sliders to play with.  It also has some built-in capabilities you might not expect such as layers, gradients, and selective edits.  These come in handy when you want to combine several conversions without going through layers in Photoshop.  Silver Efex Pro’s control points provide some of the same selective edit capability, but for me, the Tonality controls are more flexible.  Tonality also has lens blur and glow simulations  and the ability to blend in texture patterns.  Lots of presets, options, and control!

I noticed that the clarity control in Tonality sometimes resulted in halos that I has to tone down.  But I found that overall I preferred the Tonality result over the Silver Efex version for these two photos.  I don’t know if this will hold up long-term, since I’m pretty sure you can achieve very similar results with either one.  I’m going to keep playing with it and see.

By the way, Tonality is Mac only, Silver Efex runs on both Mac and PC.   There are free trial versions you can download, so check them out yourself and see what you think.

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

Fishing up a storm

I was at the Cocoa Beach Pier last Thursday morning with Tom M.  People were fishing in the surf and the Snook were running.  We watched two large ones caught in just a few minutes and someone told us they’d caught eight so far.  It was easy to see that the fishermen were having a great time.  Their concentration when casting and excitement when they hooked one was obvious.

A little later,  this gentleman wandered over.  I only had to move a little to place him in the middle of the reflection from the clouds and sunrise.

Fishing up a storm
Fishing up a storm 

I had a good time photographing that morning, but it seemed like the fishing was much more enjoyable.  Maybe I should bring fishing gear when I go out with a camera.

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

Avoid the Familiarity Trap

We’re blessed in Florida with wildlife we can easily photograph. Alligators are common, and many kinds of birds too.  But how many photos do you need of a Great Blue Heron, or an Alligator basking in the sun? If you live here for a while you may get jaded with our common animals.  So much so that you don’t even bother taking a photo of one when you see it.  “Familiarity breeds contempt” and it’s a real risk in photography – one you must not fall into!

I have plenty of Anhinga photos but I was still excited to make this recent one.

Wet wings and itchy back
Wet wings and itchy back – An Anhinga dries its wings and preens its back at Viera Wetlands

 This isn’t close enough for a “record” shot of the bird.  The Anhinga’s just one element of the composition.  But I like the light, the reflections, and how the bird’s pose echoes the tree’s shape.  If I had glanced at this and only seen the bird, I’d have missed the photo-op.  To be a better photographer, you have to really observe things you glance at all the time.  Watch for good light and backgrounds.  Keep an eye out for unusual behavior, poses, or patterns.  And of course pay attention to new life birds or rare animals to help keep things interesting.  Avoid the familiarity trap.

I’ve put a few other examples in this set on Flickr.

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