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 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.
And this Osprey flew by with its morning meal. I like sushi too, so I went ahead and make a photo of it.
Another 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!
On our trip last week, if I hadn’t noticed Kevin M. photographing this pool of water in the parking area, I doubt I’d have seen or photographed it.
Puddles at dawn
Kevin not only pointed out this scene, he also organized the trip. If he hadn’t, I might have been too lazy to get up – and I’d have missed a very lovely dawn. This was one time when photographing with a group was very helpful. I think going out by yourself is great, but going out with others is wonderful too.
Here’s one more image from that morning.
As you can see, I did enjoy that sunrise – thanks, Kevin!
And thanks to everyone for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos – with your friends!
Kevin M. organized a trip to Viera Wetlands on Friday and Kevin K., and I went along. We were at the small park across from the Lone Cabbage Fish Camp where SR 520 crosses the St. Johns River about 45 minutes before sunrise. It was very dark – making focusing difficult and exposures long. It was also very calm, and I thought the reflections in the water were lovely.
Before Sunrise – Two frame panorama, 24mm, f/8, 30 seconds at ISO 160
Kevin M. noticed a puddle in the parking lot and we spent several minutes using it to frame the sunrise. You should check out Kevin K’s version of this here on Flickr.
“Hey Ed – sunrise is over here!” – Kevin K. helping me figure out which way is east. Isn’t it amazing how level he’s holding that leg of his tripod?
At Viera Wetlands, the rangers closed the roads because of all the rain we’ve had, so we walked around the cell closest to the entrance. It was quieter than the last few times I’ve been there, but we still saw many of the usual Florida avians. This Turkey Vulture was posing in good light on one of the observation platforms.
Why don’t I ever see Eagles posing like this?
It’s still plenty hot here in Florida, but the days are getting shorter. We can look forward to cooler weather soon along with the arrival of migrants and winter visitors to make the birding even more interesting.
I met Tom M. at Ponce Inlet last Friday at dawn. We arrived at 6 am when the park opened and were the first ones in. We didn’t see anyone else for about 30 minutes. I was surprised by how few people were there. I guess it helps to go during the week instead of on weekends.
I thought I’d share three photos along with some details on how I made them.
The moon was full on Friday for the second time in July and was just setting as we got out on the jetty. I found this vantage point to highlight the “Blue Moon” over the water along the rocks. This is a two exposure composite that I blended manually using layers and masks in Photoshop. I exposed the top part for the moon (ISO 50, f/11, 1.6 sec.) and the bottom part for the water (ISO 50, f/11, 5 sec.). I used my Nikon 24 – 120mm f/4 lens at 120mm – it’s very versatile for these kinds of outings.
Blue Moon descends
I liked the way the area just north of the jetty looked, with the sun and clouds above the water and rocks. I made a few exposures, and then waited for the sun to rise a bit more so it would be behind the clouds and the light would be less harsh. I saw a pelican flying by and managed to catch it just about under the sun (52 mm, ISO 100, f/11, 1/100 sec.). I thought it would look better with silky smooth water, so I made one more exposure using an 8 2/3 stop Neutral Density filter to slow my shutter speed (52 mm, ISO 100, f/11, 8 sec.). This image was also blended manually using layers in Photoshop. I did have some issues with color balance. The ND filter added a yellowish tint to the bottom that the top didn’t have. So I adjusted it to match as closely as I could before blending.
Ponce Sunrise – Early morning, just north of the jetty at Ponce Inlet.
For comparison, here is one of the photos I made about 5 minutes earlier when the sun was lower. This is a single exposure (50 mm, ISO 100, f/11, 1/100 sec.). I made a burst of several and picked one that best showed the sun highlighting the spray on top of the breaking wave. I like the framing on this one better too as I can see the sun reflecting off the jetty wall. The colors are more orange since there’s more of the sun showing through the clouds.
Ponce Sunrise too – Same place as the previous photo, and a few minutes earlier.
I’m not sure which one of these sunrise images I like best. I’m leaning toward the second one. Too bad the Pelican wasn’t in place when the wave broke! Which one do you like? Have you tried any techniques like this?
On a side note, I used my Nikon D800 camera that I’ve had for more than three years to make these. A couple of weeks ago, Nikon sent me an email and offered to clean and inspect it and fix anything they found wrong – for free! I took advantage of the offer, got it back, and was anxious to test it out. It seems to work fine and it’s nice to know it’s still in good shape. Thanks Nikon!
Kevin K., Kevin M., and I went round the Wildlife Drive on the Lake Apopka North Shore yesterday. This 11 mile long section of dirt roads opened to the public earlier this year and provides access to a large part of the restoration area near the lake.
Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive Entrance.
This was mostly a scouting trip as Kevin K. and I had never been, and since it’s the middle of the summer we didn’t expect to see a lot of wildlife. But similar to Viera Wetlands, there was lot going on. We saw many of the usual Florida birds and even some unusual ones like Least Bitterns. About half way through, we stopped behind another car observing a tree full of birds that turned out to be swallows.
My experience with swallows is that they’re very erratic flyers and seldom sit still – which makes them hard to photograph or even identify. But these were happily perched in the tree and later on power lines. This allowed us to get some good photos and recognize several species. Two (Bank Swallow and Barn Swallow) were lifers for me. I even got both of them in the same frame – how cool is that?!!
Vivian Maier was an enigmatic nanny and an extremely prolific street photographer who passed away in 2009. She’s the subject of the film Finding Vivian Maier. Lynn, Mary and I saw it when it played recently in Orlando. I enjoyed the movie and recommend it to anyone, especially if you’re interested in photography.
If you haven’t followed her story, you can easily catch up by googling her name or clicking on her website (first link above). It’s worth your time.
What I find fascinating is that while she made over 100,000 photographs, she was completely unknown before they were discovered in an abandoned storage locker in 2007. And her photos are very good. She captured street scenes in Chicago and other places that show us what life was like. She was obviously passionate about photography. But – she apparently had no interest in sharing her work. There were even 2000 rolls of film that she never developed.
Brooks Jenson (publisher of Lenswork Magazine) has a podcast that I listen to. In one of them, he talks about why we photographers are so passionate about what we do. For him, photography is a way to explore life. I like that idea. It seems Vivian Maier was exploring life around her with her photography too. He goes on to say that there are two sides to photography: The observation / capture side, and the publication / sharing side. Brooks says you can’t have one without the other. I think that’s right for most people. They want to share something they’ve seen with others. Something that they see differently or that others may pass by.
Street photography isn’t my forte, but I suppose we need at least one photo for this post. Vivian Maier would sometimes include herself in her photos. So here’s my attempt.
Waiting at the corner of Venice and Nokomis – I was playing with my camera while the ladies shopped. Vivian Meir’s version of this would be in Black and White, and probably use a vertical 4×5 format. It also might include a reflection of her, not me.
I find Vivian Maier’s story compelling. She did the observation / capture side of photography without the publication / sharing side. Until recently her photography was incomplete since no one had seen it. After she’s gone, her work is finally being shared and we’re seeing some of what she observed.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos – and share them!
This gorgeous park is about 14 miles south of Tallahassee and surrounds a first magnitude spring. Water from the Floridan Aquifer flows into the Wakulla and through the St. Marks Rivers to the Gulf of Mexico. The flow comes out of an extensive cave system and divers have explored about 12 miles of the network. It’s been a popular place with film crews and several movies were filmed here, including Creature from the Black Lagoon.
You can see how clear the water is in the photo above. It was even clearer: When Lynn and I were last there (~ 15 years ago) we could see the mouth of the spring from the surface. But now:
“Sadly, Glass-Bottom Boat Tours over the spring basin have become the exception rather than the rule in recent years. Tea-stained or green water impedes the penetration of light needed to view the impressive features of the deep chasm of Wakulla Spring. Heavy rains combined with other factors still to be fully understood are thought to be the cause of decreased visibility.” https://www.floridastateparks.org/park-activities/wakulla-springs#Boat-Tours
Even though the glass bottom boat tours are rare, they run guided riverboat tours every day – make sure you take one. The Wakulla River is protected in the park and they’re the only boats allowed. It’s an isolated and very pretty ride, and in addition to the scenery we saw lots of wildlife including Manatees, Turtles, and birds. The ranger even pointed out a Yellow-crowned Night Heron on the nest with chicks – a life bird for me. Unfortunately, it was far back in the leaves and my photo isn’t good at all. 🙁
Alligators were up on the banks and swimming in the river although we didn’t see any close to the roped off swimming area. When I asked the ranger about that he said “We have an agreement with the gators.” I hope it’s a binding contract!
Built in the 1930s, the Lodge is on the National Register of Historic Places. If you want to get away from it all, this is a fine place to do it. There’s no television, and cell reception is spotty at best. But they have telephone land lines and even wi-fi now! There’s also a nice dinning room so you don’t have to leave the park for meals.
Edward Ball Lodge exterior
We also enjoyed the live entertainment and beverages while reading in the lobby.
Edward Ball Lodge lobby
If you get a chance, Wakulla Springs is obviously worth a visit. Reservations at the lodge are much easier to get than at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. Lynn and I need to go back more often than every 15 years.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!
I have a long time interest in photography and a degree in Electrical Engineering. I’ve also worked for many years in digital design, software engineering, and system engineering. The changes happening in photography fascinate me. Here’s an example:
Tranquility – An exceptionally calm morning in the marsh (On Black Point Wildlife Drive in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.)
I made this image yesterday using the high-resolution mode available in the Olympus OM-D E-M5II. It’s a two frame panorama, but this discussion applies to single frame images too. The camera comes with a 16 Mega-Pixel sensor and can generate images 4 times larger (~64 Mega Pixels) using some very clever built-in technology and processing. I won’t go into how it does it (if you’re curious, here’s a good explanation). If you’re careful and the conditions are right (no motion) the results are outstanding. I’m also seeing lower noise and better color results compared to normal resolution images. Heres a small crop that’ll give you an idea of the detail captured.
Each new model of camera adds more capability: High Dynamic Range, Panoramas, Lens distortion / aberration correction, 3-D / post shot focusing (Lytro), face recognition, image stabilization, Live Composite, and many more algorithms are all being done now in camera.
Most of these (and more) can also be done with software on your computer or phone. In fact, the computation capabilities inside your phone are one reason they’re replacing point and shoot cameras. Algorithms / computation can overcome many of the limitations of the relatively simple camera in your phone. Look at the Hydra app for an example of this.
Photography started as an analog activity. Capture the light via optics, film, chemicals, and sometimes (for experts) manipulation / fine tuning of the chemical process. Create prints with more chemistry and manipulation of light during printing.
Photography today still involves capturing light using optics. Instead of chemistry, most people use digital sensors. And capturing the light as digital information allows us to apply algorithms using computers in many places in the process – either in camera like the E-M5II or in post processing.
I think the pace of change in the camera industry is slowing down at least with regard to sensors. For instance, the E-M5II sensor is said to be identical to the first model (from three years ago). But the rate of change in algorithms and processing is speeding up. The new model has a faster processor with added capabilities.
Where’s all this going? I don’t really know. As they say: “It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future”. I do know it’s a very interesting time to be a photographer. And if you’re a photographer, I don’t think you should ignore the algorithmic and computational side of things. Some of the processing tools can provide exciting capabilities.
On a different subject, there’s a Clyde Butcher exhibition in town at the Maitland Art Center until May 16th, 2015. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend that you go. The subjects / compositions / technique are wonderful and the prints are large and masterfully done. Lynn and I went last Thursday and as we were leaving, Clyde Butcher walked in. I very much enjoyed meeting him.
He achieves beautiful results with an analog, large format, black and white approach which would be very difficult to reproduce with a digital workflow. That won’t be true forever. What will most likely be true forever is that his kind of artistic inspiration and results will be extremely difficult to reproduce with an algorithm.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Some photographers plan their photo ops in detail. In many cases that’s a good approach. Portrait and wedding photography are genres that need advanced planning. And if you’re going on a once in a lifetime trip, planning is prudent. Other genres are more reactive (e.g. photo journalism).
I try to do research and planning if I’m going somewhere I haven’t been, but I don’t plan most of my photography. Especially if I’ve been to a place before, my approach is to explore and discover, and then react to what I find. Often, I end up with photos that I never imagine when I start out. Which is loads of fun!
A few weeks ago, I went over to the Sanford Marina to make sunrise photos. I arrived early and discovered very calm conditions in the harbor. I reacted with this photo. It’s nothing like the sunrise I originally went looking for.
Still water, sailboats, and stars – Very early and very calm at the Sanford marina
Last week, I took a ride here in Central Florida along Maytown Road between Osteen and Oak Hill. It goes through some very undeveloped areas and ends at Seminole Rest, a small park in the Canaveral National Seashore. In this case, I hadn’t really planned for any photos. I was just driving to see what’s there. I was glad to discover this gnarled old tree, although I wish I’d found a little better light to go with it.
Weathered Tree – Seminole Rest, Canaveral National Seashore in Oak Hill, Florida
This last photo is from back in 2013. It sat in my archives until this week when I discovered it again and processed it. It took a while for me to complete my reaction to the scene.
Sun and shadows – Long exposure under the pier at Cocoa Beach
The photo and video in last week’s post also resulted from the “explore, discover, react” approach.
So what’s the moral of this story? I suppose it’s this: If you approach photography like I do, you’d better be ready to react to a scene when you see it. Know your equipment so you can capture what you need when you discover something. Even in the dark or in rapidly changing situations. Know your software capabilities too, so you understand what you need to capture. Be ready for the opportunities that you find, and the ones that find you.
On a different subject, I realized after I published last week’s blog that embedded video isn’t included in the email. The Jetpack plugin software that I use doesn’t even put in a link to it. So if you read the blog only via email and wondered what the video was about, you can click here to view it on YouTube. And you can always click on the title of the post inside the email to view it on the web. Sorry for any confusion.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go exploring – and make some photos!
It’s been a while since I’ve discussed any photo techniques, so I thought I’d share two hints that you might not have tried recently. I also wanted to let you know what’s going on at Gatorland now that breeding season is in full swing.
#1 – Focus stacking: I’ve written about this before. You can read the posts here:
Both of those were macro-photography related. But the technique can also be used for other situations such as landscapes.
Beneath the bridge, by the rocks – Parish Park in Titusville, about a half hour before sunrise
I was at Parish Park in Titusville one morning, looking for a new view point and discovered this area where I could place these rocks in the scene as a foreground for the bridge and far shore. My problem was that without a tilt-shift lens, using the Scheimpflug principle, it’s hard to get the entire composition in focus.
I decided to make three exposures, changing the focus point in each. In the first, I focused on the rocks in the foreground, in the second on the nearest portion of the bridge, and the last was on the far shore. At home, I did some initial processing (the same for all three) and brought them into Photoshop on separate layers. Then I aligned the layers and manually blended them together using masks. I could have used Photoshop’s focus stacking capability, but doing this myself with layers gave me more control. The resulting depth of field is just how I wanted it. What do you think?
#2 – Fill flash: I often carry my flash and use it to add fill light or catch lights in eyes. It helps and doesn’t seem to bother the animals. I’ve also used fill flash for sunrise or sunset portraits of people. It can do a good job of balancing the exposure of your subject against a bright background.
When I saw this Tri-colored Heron posing in the bush, I made a few photos. But then I thought about adding flash. When I got home, the photos with the flash looked much better. The bright, ambient sunrise was balanced with the fill flash on the nearby bird. There’s a better detail in the bird when I used the flash.
Early bird – Tri-colored Heron at dawn (ISO 800, f/5.0, 1/320 sec, on camera flash in auto slow sync mode, -1 stop flash exposure compensation).
If you try this, you’ll need to practice a bit before you use it in a pressure situation. Make sure you know how to adjust exposure compensation (on both the flash and the camera), shutter speed, and aperture to get the best results. And if your camera has it, try enabling high-speed sync. This lets you shoot with flash at higher shutter speeds without getting any black bands on your photos (at the expense of a lower light output).
I went by Gatorland again last week. The Great Egrets continue to breed and their hatched chicks are growing fast. There are Snowy Egrets and Cormorants on eggs now and I saw Tri-colored Herons, Anhingas, and Wood Storks gathering nesting material although I didn’t spot their nest or eggs yet. A few cattle egrets have also arrived and are courting. And the gators are getting more active too.
Just before I left, I spotted this large turtle there – I’ve never seen one before. It looks quite intimidating and I wouldn’t want to be too close to it in the water.