It’s getting to be that time of year again – when the Marl Bed Flats part of the Lake Jesup Conservation Area along HW 417 north of Lake Jesup usually fills up with wild swamp sunflowers. It’s a late September / early October event and lasts for a couple of weeks. Lynn and I drove by yesterday to scout the area.
Swamp Sunflowers (from 2012)
The good news is that we already saw a few sunflowers blooming. The bad news is that we also saw a lot of standing water, especially near the lake. Flooding or standing water in the flower fields usually means fewer flowers.
“The Lake Jesup Wilderness Area is currently closed due to high water levels …”
It seems we’ll have to wait until next year to photograph these flowers. Sorry about that.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay safe! Take care of yourselves, your friends, and your families! And if you can, make some photos – although probably not Lake Jesup sunflower photos this year.
The first post on this blog went up on May 4th, 2007. Who would’ve thought it’d still be going 13 years, 672 posts, and 2000+ photos later?
It seems like I should have something profound to say in an anniversary post, but I’m not feeling any deep, heartfelt photography thoughts today to share. Instead, I’ll just remind you: We all carry our cell phones around. Make sure you take yours out and use its probably very good camera whenever something attracts your eye.
Here are a few sights I thought were interesting over the last several months when the only camera I had with me was my phone.
Light on leaves on a limb – From a neighborhood walk on May 2nd.
New palm fronds – From a neighborhood walk on April 29th.
Red Bottlebrush – From a neighborhood walk on March 14th.
Fire in the sky – Just before dinner at Cracker Barrel on February 7th.
Lynn and I are doing OK here. We’ve been sticking close to home and social distancing for what seems like forever. Florida has started to lift our pandemic lockdown a bit and I’m thinking about venturing out for a some careful exploration / exercise with my camera next week at one of the parks around Orlando that are beginning to open up again. It’d be nice to get out for a bit.
Changing the subject: I hope all Moms out there are having a wonderful Mothers Day! – Thank you for all you do – you make the world a much better place!
“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”
I miss you Mom.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there, stay safe, and take care of each other. And if you can – make some photos!
Lynn and I flew up to Wisconsin for a wonderful visit with Mike, Sara, and Calvin last weekend. Just before landing back in Orlando, the sky lit up. Lynn had the window seat and was making many photos, and she made a few for me too.
Almost home – a lovely sunset on our way in to Orlando from Wisconsin
Before I gave her my iPhone, I opened the Lightroom Mobile App and set the file format to RAW DNG. When I got home I processed it in Lightroom and Photoshop. I think it’s very nice for a grab shot through a thick window!
If you have a recent generation phone, you should look into using RAW format, especially for scenes like this. It records much more information and gives you adjustment room in your post processing, especially when changing white balance and recovering highlights and shadows. It’s well worth it!
We’re both a little under the weather after our trip, so that’s all I have for you this week.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some RAW photos!
The Orlando Balloon Glow was last weekend in Baldwin Park. Thanks Kevin M. for telling me about it! Lynn and I had never been to anything like this. It was fascinating to see the process – especially at dusk, and it made for a compelling photo op.
The action took place in a large field in Blue Jacket Park, which can accommodate a big crowd with good viewing for everyone. It started around sundown when air blowers began inflating the balloons. Scout the layout so you can catch some of the activity in good light or against the sunset.
Dusk inflation. iPhone XS back camera, 4.25mm, 1/200 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 32
Once they’re partially inflated, propane burners light up and provide heat needed to make the balloons float in the air.
Hot Air. Olympus E-M1 MII, 40mm, 1/10 sec @ f/2.8, ISO 500
The light is challenging. There’s very high contrast with bright flames against dark surroundings. You’ll need to balance aperture and shutter speed with ISO and image stabilization to eliminate motion blur and get sharp, well exposed images. I’ve added my setting info to these photos to give you an idea of how I shot them. These were all made hand-held. If you don’t have image stabilization, you’ll probably need a tripod.
The balloons strain against their tie downs and then rise into a blue hour sky.
Blue hour balloons. Olympus Pen F, 17mm, 1/3 sec @f/1.8, ISO 500
Once they’re ready, you can purchase tethered rides on some of the balloons. The event also features Orlando area food trucks, a retail village and activities for kids. We splurged for paid parking and were glad we did, since space was tight for all the cars.
And one warning: There were a lot of ant hills in the field, so be careful where you step – especially after dark. You may want to wear closed shoes instead of our typical Florida flip-flops. Just sayin’.
Lynn and I drove past the area yesterday. There’s a lot of standing water visible from 417. We saw a few flowers along the road, but none out in the fields.
When I got home, I checked their website. It says: “LAKE JESUP WILDERNESS AREA IS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE DUE TO HIGH WATER LEVELS. THE PROPERTY WILL RE-OPEN ONCE WATER LEVELS ALLOW.”
In previous years with this much standing water, the sunflowers didn’t bloom. So for now, I’m predicting a poor sunflower season. Yogi’s right, though – I’ll check again and if anything changes, I’ll update you.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
So when I heard their announcement about a photo workshop in Atlanta I was eager to go – and It wasn’t too hard to talk Lynn into getting this for my birthday! They coordinate using the Mirrorless Adventures page on Meetup.com so sign up was an easy process. If my post gets you interested, you can find out about their future workshops there.
Atlanta Marriott Marquis Interior 2
Our HQ was the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta and it’s an awesome photo-op itself – lots of interesting architecture, angles, and patterns to fill your memory card. And if you get tired of the photo ops there, you can take a break at one of their restaurants or bars!
We met on Friday evening and then left for the Jackson Street bridge for some sunset and light trail photography. It’s a popular spot. There were lots of folks making photos and it’s easy to see why – the skyline view is awesome! Here’s one of mine:
A little after sunset.
I made this image with the Olympus “Live Composite” mode. I’ve used this once before, but it was great to get in some guided practice and I’ll be using it more in the future.
Other stops on the workshop were at Old Car City (http://oldcarcityusa.com/), Amicalola Falls (http://www.amicalolafallslodge.com), and Oakland Cemetery (https://www.oaklandcemetery.com). The workshop was last weekend and I came home with hundreds of photos. I’ve been going through them every day since then – but I’m not finished processing yet. So today I’ll just include a few from Atlanta and maybe do another post later about the other locations.
Watching sunrise. We stopped near this park while we waited for the cemetery gates to open
Oakland cemetery was founded in 1850 and many of Atlanta’s prominent citizens are buried there. It has a great deal of sculpture, architecture, and gardens to draw your eye. And an interesting sign across the street!
Six Feet Under BarAtlanta Skyline from Oakland Cemetery
I’ve always liked Atlanta. My mother’s family lived in the area (in Cedartown) so we visited often when I was growing up. I also went to college there (Go Tech!) and that’s where I met Lynn. It was great to visit for a long weekend, and the drive from Central Florida isn’t too bad.
A photo workshop can be a big boost to your image making. You might;
Learn or improve your skills: I refreshed and practiced “Live Composite” mode and will likely use it more often now.
Go places you wouldn’t normally see. I’ve been to Atlanta many times, but the only place from this workshop that I’d seen before was Amicalola Falls (mentioned in this post). Trying new things is good for your soul!
Meet new people. Hanging around with other folks passionate about photography is fun! They don’t even get bored when you talk about lenses, cameras, technique, processing, etc.!
See different approaches / techniques. On the last day, we spent a few hours processing images and each of us picked out several images to show the group and talk about. I was floored by the variety and ideas that everyone shared. It’s amazing how people can go to the same place and come back with such different photographs.
I really enjoyed this workshop – it was a pleasure to meet so many new photo friends! I thought the locations we went to were terrific and Mike and Jamie were extremely knowledgable, friendly, and always willing to help anyone with questions. They created a wonderful atmosphere for us to learn and make beautiful photographs. And I liked the van they used for transport – it was a real pleasure to just climb in and have someone else drive us around to all these spots. Well done Mike and Jamie!!!
Last Sunday (12/31) marked the end of the Buccaneers football season. They went 5 and 11 but finished with a bang by scoring a touchdown in the last 15 seconds to defeat the New Orleans Saints 31-24! I was lucky enough to attend courtesy of my son, Mike.
Pre-game Stadium Panorama (iPhone
The start of the game was really nice. There were fireworks and an Air Force flyover, and the group that sang the National Anthem was extremely good.
Pre-game F-15 formation flyover
They introduced the pilots from the four planes later in the game.
Air Force F-15 Pilots from the pre-game flyover
We had a wonderful view of the action from Mike’s seats on the second level towards the North end zone.
Winston handing off to Barber
Bucs score (just barely)!
The Buccaneers pirate ship lets loose with a broadside!
National Football League rules allows cameras if the longest dimension is 12 inched or less, but they’re very strict about bags. So I brought my Olympus EM-1 Mark II with a 75-300mm lens on a sling strap, with a spare battery in my pocket. Since Micro 4/3 has a 2x crop factor, this gave me an effective focal length of 600mm – pretty good in such a small package!
I used the camera in Olympus Pro Capture mode which let me select frames with peak action – ideal for this kind of photo-op. Although the camera can shoot at 60 frames per second (!) I limited it to 10. This cut down on the number I had to review and I think it was more than enough.
The game started at 4:30, and light quickly became a problem. I shot wide open and had to balance ISO and shutter speed. The 75-300mm is a fine lens, but it’s a dim f/6.7 at the long end. I was getting about 1/500th second at ISO 1600. I got some usable frames with this though I really wanted an even faster shutter speed. As the sun set I kept raising the ISO and eventually ran out of light at ISO 6400 when my shutter speed dropped below 1/400. I usually don’t use such a high ISO setting, but I think the camera did well with it this time.
The city looked pretty at sunset from the second deck.
Stadium Sunset (iPhone, 3 frame panorama)
It was great going to the game with Mike and we enjoyed seeing the Bucs win.
Many thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
You might not consider Nassau a “Central Florida Photo Op”, but I do. It’s one of many places that are very accessible via cruise ports in our area. We left from Fort Lauderdale, but Tampa, Port Canaveral, Miami and other places offer cruises to many destinations. If you haven’t tried one, check it out.
We’ve been to Nassau several times and wouldn’t normally think of it as our favorite port. But this time we had a wonderful visit and got to see (and taste) a lot of new things. Highly recommended! I’ve embedded links to most of the places above. Please click on them for more info. And you can see more Bahamas images in this folder on Flickr.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
A few more photos from our trip late last month along with some post hurricane(s) status in the area…
Watching the sun set in Key West. Sunset is a big attraction down there. This view is from the Hyatt Centric, where we stayed. They opened again on 22 September but say that “some amenities are temporarily limited or unavailable”. We’ve heard the marina where I made this photo is “gone”.Injured Loggerhead – Staff members treat an injured Loggerhead Sea Turtle at the Turtle Hospital on Marathon. Their website (www.turtlehospital.org) says the facility and staff made it through Hurricane Irma OK, but there’s extensive damage all over Marathon.Key West: Fort Zachary Taylor Fortress Interior. Their website says they’re closed until further notice with no info on how much damage they suffered.
Key West Street Scenes: Sloppy Joe’s Bar first opened the day Prohibition ended. Ernest Hemingway was a favorite patron. Their website says they’re open for business.
One of the people who run the snorkel boat trips at Bahia Honda has a YouTube channel: “Livin’ the Keys Life” and he’s posting info about Bahia Honda and Marathon. The damage there looks pretty bad. I imagine it will be a while before it re-opens.
As far as locations around Central Florida, please check them before you go too. For example Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is reporting lots of road closures due to hurricane damage (https://www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=2147578811) while Orlando Wetlands Park says they’re open for public use (http://www.cityoforlando.net/wetlands/). And Lynn and I drove over the Lake Jesup bridge again today and the sunflower fields are still flooding. We saw a few blooms on high ground close to the road, but we’ll have to wait until next year on these.
You can check on other parks at the Florida State Park storm information web page: https://www.floridastateparks.org/content/storm-information.
Tourism is a huge part of the economy in Florida and especially in the Keys. One way you can help them recover is by visiting. Just make sure they’re ready before you go, and they’ll be very glad to see you.
This morning, we’re waiting to see what Hurricane Irma is going to do and it looks like it might pass directly over Bahia Honda State Park as a Cat 4 or Cat 5 storm. It’s hard to imagine the damage that could result.
Lynn and I returned from the Florida Keys a week ago. We spent a couple of days in Key West and then were lucky enough to stay in one of the 6 cabins at Bahia Honda State Park for 3 more days. They’re built on stilts but even so are only about 10 -15 feet above the ocean. And we felt them swaying at times while we were there – even in good weather.
The cabins are on the right side of the overseas highway as you head down to the keys. They’re furnished with everything you need for a great Florida vacation. And the location on a beautiful lagoon is wonderful. These next three photos were all made on the patio, just a few steps from the cabin door:
Loggerhead Sea Turtle – The ranger told us that turtles, dolphin, and tarpon like the lagoon because it’s so quiet and protected. We’d see one or more of Loggerheads from the cabin porch almost every time we stepped out to look. We also saw Tarpon rolling on the surface a few times and maybe a dolphin or two.
Sunset Fishing – You can fish in the lagoon by the cabins, but other water activity isn’t allowed. We often saw campers fishing there.
Another view from the cabin porch. The skies at Bahia Honda are some of the darkest in Florida. Lynn and I got up at about 1:30am on our first night. The moon had set and we had a stunning view of this part of the Milky Way, right from the patio. And the bugs weren’t biting too much!
The Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary is about 8 miles southwest of Bahia Honda and snorkeling trips leave for the reef twice a day. It was a relaxing swim – the water temperature was in the high 80’s, which can cause storms to strengthen.
Looe Key Sergeant majors and others – The visibility wasn’t very good the day were were there, but the number of fish we saw was still impressive.
There are also 72 campsites in the Park. Many of them are in awesome locations too.
Between the bridges – This is at sunset, between the old abandoned bridge on the left and the new one on the right. You can see some of the lovely Bahia Honda campsites on the left side of the frame.
Lynn and I thought of this visit to Bahia Honda as a “scouting trip”. Based on what we saw, we definitely want to go back.
To everyone in Irma’s path and to everyone impacted by Harvey: We’re thinking of you.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – stay safe in the storm!