Tag Archives: storm

Shenandoah – Starscapes, Sunsets, Storms, and Falls

Our visit to Shenandoah National Park this year  was extremely enjoyable (mentally not physically!)  relaxing, and cooler than back here in Central Florida (highs there in the 70s).   It was also interesting from a photography perspective and different from last year’s trip.  I did a lot of sunset / night photography and didn’t try very hard to get up early every morning for sunrise.

We were fortunate with seeing conditions on the night we arrived. There were no clouds, and the Milky Way center was above the horizon for about two hours after moon set.  Shenandoah has dark skies and the large cleared meadow near the lodge provides wonderful views all around the compass.  Lynn hadn’t ever really seen the Milky Way before and I’ve never seen it this well.  We were both amazed, and I was also impressed with how much detail my Nikon D800 was able to capture.

Big Meadows Milky Way Big Meadows Milky Way.  Three frame panorama, 24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 2500, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

Lynn is a big fan of meteor showers, and due to a gravity assist from Jupiter, the Perseid was predicted to be spectacular this year.  We set the alarm for 1am the night it was forecast to peak and went out to watch.  The area around Big Meadows was crowded with over a hundred people watching the show, and each overlook had cars parked with more people observing.  It was a good show.  Here’s one of my photos from that morning.

A Persied Meteor and a cloud in front of a portion of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy A Perseid Meteor and a cloud in front of part of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy – From Old Rag View Overlook on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.  24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 3200, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

I tried sunset photos on most nights.  The sky wasn’t as dramatic as I’ve seen it in the past, but there were many wildflowers in bloom helping to make up for that.

The end of the dayThe end of the day – Looking out over Shenandoah Valley from Skyline Drive. The wildflowers were beautiful when we were there.  Two frame composite, manual masking in Photoshop.

And storms also added interest.  We watched this one develop from the balcony outside our room at the lodge.

Shenandoah Storm #1Shenandoah Storm – A storm built up to the west at sunset. As seen from our balcony at Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah National Park.  Multi-frame panorama.

Dark Hollow Falls is one of the most popular places in Shenandoah.  When we drove by on Sunday, the parking area was overflowing with cars.  We waited until the next morning to hike down.  Last year, I didn’t make it to these falls and used one of my  20-year-old photos  to illustrate it.  For some reason, the hike (especially the return up from the falls) is more difficult than it was when I was 20 years younger.  Hmm – I wonder why?  This is from very near the same place, and a horizontal, wider view.  I like this one too.

Dark Hollow Falls Dark Hollow Falls.  14mm equivalent FOV, ISO 100, f/8.0, 1/13 seconds, Olympus hires mode.

We did a bit more hiking this year than last and went on trails we hadn’t tried before.   Rose River Falls and Black Rock Mountain were two new favorites.  Another one we hiked was Pocosin Trail.  It was interesting, although I didn’t like it as much as the others.  Maybe it was because of one sentence in the trail guide:  “Soon the trail flattens.”  It never did!

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and more photos from Shenandoah in this album on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Photographing Florida Weather

Florida has wonderful weather photography opportunities.  They’re not often the kind that you see from tornado alley out west.  But the clouds here are awesome too.

Lynn and I traveled recently (New Jersey, Virginia, and Georgia).  I realized when going through those photos that they lacked dramatic skies like we often see here in Central Florida.  Maybe our timing was just bad.  Anyway, it inspired me to put together this post with some examples of our weather along with a few hints.

We’d had several days of rain last August and even though afternoon light isn’t usually the best for photography, I decided to drive over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and see if I could capture some of the weather drama.  This one is from the south-east side of the causeway.  There was a slight drizzle where I was standing and rain drops ruined several frames. This one must have been right after I cleaned the lens.

Weather over the WaterWeather over the Water (24mm focal length)

And this one was that same day, looking south along the back side of  Black Point Wildlife Drive.

Storm AheadStorm Ahead (stitched panorama, nine frames at 24mm focal length).

This next photo is from September of 2012, also at Black Point Wildlife Drive.  These clouds actually stopped me in my tracks and made me shift out of bird photography mode to make this B&W, IR image.  You can see a color version of this here.

A little stormyA little stormy (stitched panorama, three frames at 24mm eq. focal length).

These next two have been on the blog before, but they also illustrate my point:  Clouds and storms in Central Florida are photogenic!

Stormy ShoreStormy Shore:  Storm clouds blow through north of our hotel on Casey Key, Florida.  June 15, 2015 (stitched panorama, eight frames at 24mm eq. focal length).

And this last photo is from way back in October 2007.  I put it in to honor our fading Lake Jesup sunflower season.

Lakes Jesup Wildflowers and RainstormLakes Jesup Wildflowers and Rainstorm (105mm eq. focal length).

We don’t have mountains here in Central Florida.  And we don’t have very good waterfalls either.  But our clouds are just as good as anywhere else.  How are they where you are?

Photo hints:

  • Although you can see interesting weather all year, the best time here is summer afternoons and evenings.
  • The storms are big.  As you can see from the captions, many times I find myself using a wide-angle lens or stitching panoramas for this kind of photography, although some situations (like the last image) benefit from a longer focal length.
  • You can shoot from your car in many cases or just dodge the showers.  Do bring a lens cloth and maybe a towel or some plastic to cover  your camera if it’s not weather resistant.
  • Be careful with your exposures.  If you have clear sky behind the clouds you can easily blow out highlights in the image which will be tough to fix in post.
  • When processing your photos, try using some mid-range contrast / clarity to bring out details in the clouds.  Don’t go too far though or your results will look unrealistic.
  • Find yourself some good foreground locations so you’ll be ready to head out when the weather gets interesting.
  • And be careful – don’t get struck by lightning or ruin your equipment!

If you click on the photos above, you can see larger versions on Flickr and I also collected  other Florida Cloud and Storm photos that you can browse in this set on Flickr.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Group photography and sunrise follow up

I’ve written before about photography as a solo or group activity.  You can read that post and comments at this link).

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 dawnPuddles 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.

Stormy horizonStormy horizon

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!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

South Florida, the Everglades and the Florida Keys

First, an apology:  It appears that a couple of the species names for birds we observed in the Dry Tortugas triggered some people’s spam filters.  So if you’re an email subscriber and didn’t get the email with the Dry Tortugas post, please check your spam folder or click here to open it in your browser.  Sorry about that.  Although there’s not much I can do about it.  And it is funny.

Second:  Happy anniversary, blog!  The first Central Florida Photo Ops post went up on May 7th, 2007 – 6 years and 270 posts ago.  Thanks once again for  all your encouragement.  I enjoy writing the blog, but I don’t think it would have lasted this long if not for the occasional comments and questions from readers.  Please keep them coming!

Third: Here’s some info on the rest of our South Florida trip.  The Dry Tortugas were the focus of our expedition, but we also visited Blowing Rocks Preserve, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Largo, Everglades National ParkJohn Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and Brian Piccolo Park.  Since these were such short visits, I can’t really provide detailed reviews of each.  Instead, I’ll show sample images to give you some background and an idea of  what you can see in each place.

I’ve heard that Blowing Rocks Preserve in Jupiter Florida is an awesome landscape place under the right conditions.  The morning we were there, the light was harsh and the  weather wasn’t ideal to show off the rocks.  I think studying the tides and winds (and some luck) are required to make the most of a visit to this place.  Here’s one photo I came up with.

Blowing Rocks Preserve
Blowing Rocks Preserve – Sand steps, Three sets, Two close, No return? 

We stopped at Bill Baggs to look for a couple of birds that had been spotted there.  We didn’t have much luck with the rare birds, although I enjoyed seeing the light house and this awesome lizard.

Cuban Knight Anole
This Cuban Knight Anole was over a foot long, much larger than the anoles we see in Central Florida

We spent a day driving through the Everglades, stopping at each area along the main park road and side roads.  It was very overcast, and I found it tough to compose landscapes.  I’m sure there are some great spots that people more familiar with the area know about.  I guess I need to go back and find them.

Brewing storm
Brewing storm, Everglades National Park  – A pine tree and grass reflect on the inches deep Everglades “river of grass”

We made it all the way to the end of the road in Flamingo.  I was very excited to see a couple of American Crocodiles in the marina there.  Only about 2000 of these remain in the wild.  They look different and somehow even more menacing than the alligators we’re used to seeing in Central Florida.

American Crocodile
American Crocodile

We had tentative plans to find some night-time / star trail photography dark sites in the Everglades, but with the long days and cloudy weather, we never got to it (another reason to go back).  While in the Everglades we saw Purple Martins (rooming with House Sparrows), Shinny cowbirds, Brown Cowbirds, Spotted Sandpipers, Red Headed Woodpeckers, Swallow Tail Kites, Red Shouldered Hawks, an Anhinga rookery, Black Vultures (that were eating rubber off of cars!), the American crocodiles, and of course Alligators, Turtles and many other common birds.

The place we were staying in Key Largo had a private beach and boat ramp, and we spent one sunset there.  It was pretty – the rocks in the foreground look like a Japanese garden.  So much so that I wonder if someone arranged them.

Gulf view from Key Largo at sunset
Gulf view from Key Largo at sunset

On our way home, we stopped at Brian Piccolo Park to see the Burrowing Owls.  They were easy to find in their marked nests and fun to watch.  We also saw a few Monk Parakeets there.

Burrowing Owl guarding nest
Brian Piccolo Park:  Burrowing Owl guarding nest

Other wildlife seen on the trip included Loggerhead Shrikes, Ground Doves, Eurasian Collard Doves, White Headed Pigeons, a Great White Heron, Cardinals, a Northern Curly Tailed Lizard, and Iguanas.

It was a fun but exhausting trip!  For more photos, please look at this set on Flickr.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Summer Blahs

July in Central Florida is a tough time for photo-ops, especially nature and wildlife photo-ops. The bird breeding season is over, and the heat makes both human and animal activity brief and difficult.

A few of us did scout Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge last weekend.  It’s supposed to have the largest summer gathering of Swallowtail Kites in the Southeast US.  They spend July and August there while they prepare to  migrate to Brazil.  We didn’t see any.  We’ll try again and I’ll put together a better scouting report.

Birdless, misty morning
Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge: Birdless, misty morning

I did manage to make a couple of photos around my neighborhood last week.  This one is from Tuesday.  I noticed these awesome rain clouds on my way home from work and stopped by a small park on the south shore of Lake Jessup to photograph them.

Might Rain
Might Rain: Looking north from the south shore of Lake Jessup

And this is a photo of one of our neighborhood eagles.  We’ve seen it sitting in this tree on many mornings this year.

Neighborhood Bald Eagle
Neighborhood Bald Eagle:  It always amazes me when I see one of these in the wild.  What a remarkable comeback they’ve had from near extinction.

So there you have it.  My photo life this week.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, 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.

DSC_6211_2_3Enhancer
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!

_DSC3626nx2-PS-Phototools
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”.

_DSC3667
September 28, 2009: Lake Jessup 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.

Summary

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 Jessup 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.