Tag Archives: wildlife

A nice surprise

When I wrote about Father Crowley Overlook a couple weeks ago, I realized I had several promising Death Valley images in my  archives that I’d never processed.  A trip like that can be overwhelming, and dealing with so many photos takes time and effort.  I suppose back then I picked out ones I thought were best and left the rest for later.

Well this week I went back, found this one I liked, and worked on it.

Shifting sun, shadows, and sandShifting sun, shadows, and sand – early morning at Mesquite dunes in Death Valley.

This scene is looking roughly north about 15 minutes after sunrise.  The low sun angle makes for lovely contrasts and colors, and helps emphasize the shapes and textures of the dunes.

While I was working on this in Lightroom, I noticed something on the far sand dune, just below the shadow at the top. Please click on the image below so you can see it better.

.                                                                  The hidden surprise!

I was making landscape images, so I used a 24-120mm lens and fortunately liked the framing at 120mm.  My Nikon D800 camera had a 36 MP sensor and captured a great deal of information in the file.  Even though it’s at the limits of resolution, you can definitely tell there’s something there – tracks in the sand and one (maybe two?) animals!

A photo like this is a good example of something I wrote about 10 years ago: Photographic “Level of Detail”.  Looking at it from a distance, you see colors, shapes, shadows and lines.  Zoom in a bit and textures, tracks, and other details become visible.  Zoom in all the way and you can spot wildlife.  How cool is that?!

I really enjoy this aspect of photography.  Have you ever discovered something like this in one of your images?

You can view my other DVNP photos here.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos – it’s can be surprising!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Back to nature

It seems like ages since I’ve been out amongst our natural Florida wonders.  So I was eager to visit Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last week for a look ’round.  I stopped first by the Indian River before dawn.  The geometry of the pier, bridge and sun rays teamed up to form nice leading lines toward the pending sunrise.

A peaceful morning on the pier by the bridgeA peaceful morning on the pier by the bridge – Veterans Memorial Fishing Pier by the Max Brewer Causeway in Titusville, Florida

East Gator Creek road was closed, so I drove up to Haulover Canal and the Mantee Observation Point – of course there were no manatees visible there!  Then I circled back to Black Point Wildlife Drive.

Standing birdStanding bird – Tri-colored Heron on a bush. It was so still that I had time to zoom in and make a three frame vertical panorama.

We’ve had lots of rain lately and there was plenty of water at Black Point.  I saw fish schooling in several spots, although for some reason the birds weren’t interested. I think the highlight of the trip for me was watching two Reddish Egrets dancing over the water.

Running birdRunning bird – a prancing Reddish Egret seems to walk on water

There were just a couple other people on the drive and I only saw them briefly.  It’s a special privilege to have a place like this mostly to yourself – even at this time of the year when it’s so hot and the wildlife is a bit sparse.

Flying birdFlying bird – a Great Egret glides above the water

What a delightful morning!  I have many more MINWR photos here.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go enjoy nature – it’s good for you!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Howell Creek

Howell Branch creek starts at Lake Maitland and flows into Lake Waumpi.  From there it’s called Howell Creek as it goes through Lake Howell and then wanders east and north  to empty into Lake Jessup. It passes within a half mile of our home in Winter Springs.

I’ve driven by this spot below in Maitland many times, but didn’t realize it’s on the same waterway:

Howell Creek No. 2Howell Creek – Where it crosses Lake Howell Road.  A small dam there creates a lovely little waterfall / rapid.  I’ve driven by it for years and finally made a photo.

I never stopped before because there’s no obvious parking nearby.  But Lynn volunteered to drive me over, drop me off (and come back and pick me up too!).  So off we went…

My plan was to make a few images from down near the water with a wide angle lens, maybe up close to the dam.  But several  “No Trespassing” signs scuttled that. I stayed up on the bridge by the road and made my images from there.  I’m glad I brought my 24 – 200 mm (eq.) lens too – the reach came in handy!

Several people walked by while I was there and mentioned how pretty the view is.  They talked about wading birds and the otter family they see there.  I didn’t see any otters, but a Great Egret eventually wandered into my frame.  I was lucky it stayed still while I made a long  exposure to blur the water.  When Lynn saw the photo, she thought it needed a dark colored bird – I should’ve waited for an anhinga!

Wind caused some blurring in the leaves and Spanish moss.  I was also worried the vibration caused by trucks on the road behind me would shake my tripod and blur things.  I made several frames just in case and this one came out pretty well.

Research indicates there was a water powered mill located just up stream from this dam in the mid 1800s.  And I found an old article in the Orlando Sentinel, saying that the first dam in this spot was built around 1900. One story says residents blew up the dam during a hurricane and replaced it later.  Apparently, a more durable one was built in  the 1950s and was replaced by the current dam in 1979 when Orange County widened Howell Branch Road.

It doesn’t seem like I’ve used other photos of Howell Creek in the blog before, so I’ll end this post with two older images from closer to our home in Winter Springs.

Howell CreekHowell Creek infra red (October 2013)

Howell CreekHowell Creek bed and reflections (October 2013)

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – stop somewhere you’ve been passing by and make some photos!

©2013 and 2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Reprocessing a Mt. Evans Elk Herd panorama

Back in July of 2007, I wrote a post about Mt. Evans, Colorado and included this image of an Elk herd we saw there:

Elk herd near mile marker 8 on Mount Evans  (2007 version)

At that time, I was using a Nikon D80 camera and made this photo with an entry level 70-300 telephoto lens.  I remember wanting to capture as much detail as possible, so instead of making one exposure of the whole herd, I zoomed in as far as I could and made four different frames at 300mm (450mm eq.), f/5.6, 1/100 sec, and iso 100. I ran across these images in my photo archive recently and wanted to see if I could reprocess the RAW files for a better result.  I thought you might be interested in my work flow – not so you can reproduce my results, but to give you some ideas on how to process your own images.

Here is one of the original RAW files SOOC (straight out of camera).  The white balance and exposure aren’t optimum and sharpness isn’t very good either – maybe due to poor lens stabilization and optical performance (and maybe due to my poor technique).

Here are the steps I went through to reprocess this:

  • Used DxO Photo Lab software to convert from RAW to .tiff and take advantage of the built in Prime Noise reduction algorithm.  I like that this software applies camera and lens specific corrections to all images.  It also returns the results to Lightroom still in RAW / DNG format.
  • Made basic adjustments (exposure, white balance) in Lightroom, and copied to all four frames.
  • Opened as layers in PhotoShop.
  • Stitched the frames into a panorama: Edit -> Auto-align Layers; Edit -> Auto-blend Layers.  At this point, it looked like this:

When I made the original frames, I didn’t cover enough ground for a rectangular composition.  To fix this, I used PhotoShop’s excellent Content Aware Fill on the missing corners.

  • Select the blank areas with the Magic Wand tool.  Expand the selection (~3 pixels).  Edit -> Content Aware Fill
  • use the clone tool to eliminate any obvious fill anomalies.

And then I worked on sharpness.  Here is a 300% look at the area near the Bull Elk:

Not very sharp.  So I:

  • Duplicated the layer and applied the Topaz Sharpen AI filter.  I used the Stabilize method with a Remove Blur value of 0.70.  Here’s the much improved result:

Topaz Sharpen AI can work wonders on this kind of problem, but it does take a lot of CPU power.  Depending on your hardware, you might have to be (very) patient.

  • The final step in Photoshop was to use Topaz Clarity for some added midrange contrast.  I applied the Nature -> Fur and Feathers II preset.
  • Back in LightRoom: I cropped to a 2:3 format; tweaked White Balance and exposure again; boosted texture and shadows on the Elk with a circular adjustment and range mask; Reduced green and yellow saturation; Used a -12 highlight priority vignette and added grain at 15.

And this is the new version I just posted to Flickr.

Mt. Evans Elk herdMt. Evans Elk herd (2019 version) – Near mile marker 8. Quite a harem! There are about 60 elk in this image: A single bull, ~10 young ones, and the rest female.

It took me about 30 minutes to do this.  Was it worth the effort? I can’t answer for you.  I think it looks much better and I’m glad I saved those RAW files! As long as i can re-start from the original sensor data, I can leverage newer software and get better results.  I know a lot of folks don’t enjoy computer work, but I do – so to me it’s worth it.

Click on any of these to see larger versions.  I have other Mt. Evans (and Colorado) photos in this album on Flickr.  And if you have any questions on this, I’ll be happy to try and answer them.  Just ask in a comment below.

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

©2007 and 2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Orlando’s Lake Dixie and Lake Cherokee

MaryKate had the day off last Thursday for Independence Day and invited me to walk around Lake Dixie and Lake Cherokee with her.  I was glad to go – I’d been by before, but only inside a car and unable to take a close look.  We also wanted to check on how the cygnets she wrote about on Fathers Day are doing.

Lake CherokeeLake Cherokee

Lake Cherokee is the smaller of the two and both are lovely.  For a location in downtown Orlando they have a lot of wildlife.  Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised by this since they’re very close to Greenwood Park and Cemetery, where there’s also a lot of wildlife.

One of the first things we encountered was this Heron.  I thought at first it was a Green Heron, but got some help with the ID on Flickr.  It was small and still – and I glanced right past it without any recognition.  I’m glad MaryKate commented on it so I could make a photo!  Least Bitterns are supposed to be common in this type of environment, but I don’t  see them much.  I think because they’re so good at hiding!

Hunting HeronHunting Heron (Least Bittern)

Next we came up to this Mallard posing for me in the grass in front of some yellow flowers.

Mallard and flowersMallard

And there were several Wood Ducks.  I’ve seen them before at Greenwood and Mead Gardens, but hadn’t paid attention to their non breeding colors.  This young one is interesting and I’m looking forward to spring time when their plumage starts changing.

Young Wood DuckJuvenile Wood Duck

Here’s a bird that I’d never seen before or even heard of.

Swan-Goose (?)Swan Goose

Swan Geese are native to the Far East and have also been domesticated.  There were two, this one and another that was all white.  It’s likely they escaped or were released from captivity since they don’t occur naturally in the US.

This Mottled Duck was resting in a notch about seven feet above ground. It watched us as I made the photo, but didn’t seem nervous. The tree was right next to the sidewalk and it must be used to people nearby.

Sleepy DuckSleepy Duck

Unfortunately, there’s some bad news about the Lake Cherokee Mute Swan family.  There were initially three babies, but only one’s been seen lately.

From across the lake, MaryKate and I spotted two adults  but no babies.  We worried they’d lost the last cygnet too.  But when we got closer, we saw what was going on – Mom was riding the baby on her back!

Mute Swan Mom carrying babyMute Swan Mom carrying baby

We also saw Limpkins, Common Gallinules, Great Egrets, a second Mute Swan family (with four large juveniles!), Anhingas, and several turtles.  What a wonderful walk and what an unexpected abundance of things to experience and photograph!  Thanks for inviting me, MaryKate!

You can click on each of these images to view a larger version on Flickr.  And if you’re interested, I’ve started collecting my photos from here in this album on Flickr.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Father’s Day 2019

Editors note: Here’s another post from our roving correspondent MaryKate – this time from right here in Central Florida.  She was kind enough to write this for us which let me have  Father’s Day off from the blog. Enjoy her post!


Happy Father’s Day to all Dads far and wide!


To celebrate, I thought I’d share some recent photos of a new swan family at Lake Cherokee in downtown Orlando.  I noticed a single swan in Lake Cherokee, and locals tell me (s)he has been alone for quite some time.  We were worried that something might have happened to its mate.

MK111623_DxO-Edit

Lake Cherokee Mute Swan

However, last weekend, the mystery was solved.  Turns out the swan couple was fine after all and had been up to some FOWL play.  They showed up together with their swan babies!

MK111590_DxO-Edit

Lake Cherokee Mute Swan Family

Mom and Dad are proud parents to three baby swans, two white ones and one grey.  Apparently Mute Swans can be grey or white when they’re young, and then their feathers all turn white as they grow.  My favorite is the grey one.

MK111626_DxO-Edit

Mute Swan Cygnets Close-Up

Especially today, it’s touching to see this swan Dad (and Mom!) taking such good care of their family.  I’m glad they found their cygnet-ficant others before Father’s Day!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Hope all fathers out there (especially my Dad and brother) have a very Happy Father’s Day!  Now go make some photos!

©2019, MK Rosack and Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Merritt Island 6-9-19

It’s getting to be that time of year down here in Central Florida:  Hot, muggy, and buggy, with many of the birds hiding or gone.

None the less, Kevin K. and I went over to Merritt Island last week to see what’s going on. Our first stop was along the Indian River at the Titusville Marina.  Clouds on the horizon helped the sun add some color to the morning.

Dawn, down on the riverDawn, down on the river

On Black Point Wildlife Drive, our most interesting find was this Stilt wading through calm water and good light.  I like this close up, but I wish I’d also made a frame including the whole reflection.

Black-necked StiltBlack-necked Stilt

As we left, this healthy looking animal was calmly marching across the black top.  There were no cars coming from either direction, so we could stop and give him the right of way.  And make a photo too!

Why did the gator cross the road?Why did the gator cross the road? It didn’t say, but the grass is green on the other side!

There are still some interesting birds at MINWR.  For instance, Pat H. found a Clapper Rail on BPWD a couple weeks ago.  But it seems like most of our winter visitors have moved on.  Maybe we need to move on too and look for photo ops in other spots until it starts cooling off again.

You can click on these images to view a larger version on Flickr. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Mother’s Day 2019

Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms far and wide!

To help celebrate, I thought I’d share some photos I’ve made of Florida Mothers and their babies.  These are all wild animals / birds and they’re from several places over several years, so I’ll include where and when in the captions.

Momma gator guarding nest and 3 babiesMomma gator guarding her nest and 4 (blurry) babies. Along La Chua Trail, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Gainesville, FL, December 2006

What's Momma doing?Momma Sandhill Crane and chick foraging at Viera Wetlands, March 2017

Spoonbill Mom returnsSpoonbill Mom returns, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, May 2010

Great Horned Owl parent and chickGreat Horned Owl Mom and chick in the nest, Circle B Bar, March 2018

Momma Limpkin and babyMomma Limpkin and baby, Circle B Bar Reserve, October 2013

Great Egret Mom and chicksGreat Egret Mom and chicks, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, April 2011

It’s amazing how devoted Moms are, and it’s fascinating to watch them raise their babies.

You can click on these images to see larger versions on Flickr.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go spend time with your Mom!

©2006 – 2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Winter Park Ospreys

This Osprey family is doing well in tony downtown Winter Park – living in their very own, rent free high-rise.  Dad is an awesome fisherman – he brought back 3 during the short time I watched.

Urban, wild Osprey nestDad, landing with a fresh meal for Mom and chick

Mom seems experienced and devoted to the chick, shading it from the hot sun and feeding it small bites of Dad’s catch.

Urban, wild Osprey nestMom feeding chick

I first wrote about this same nest about a year ago.  Please click below to read the older post.

Urban Ospreys

I decided to revisit this week and I’m glad I did.  It’s a wonderful place to observe this family from 40 – 50 feet away.  Since the birds are used to traffic and people, you can watch them without stressing them at all.  An ambulance even went by with its siren going and Mom just calmly watched it.

As a bonus, I met another photographer there.  Turns out we have a lot in common:  While we shot, we talked about birds, locations, cameras, lenses, and grandkids!  A marvelous, mini photo excursion!

Click on each photo to see a larger version on Flickr.  And follow this link to see more images I made in Winter Park: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157636838442164

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Merritt Island – 4/3/19

When I  visit Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, I’m never sure what I’ll see.  But almost every time there’s something new and interesting.

I hadn’t been to Gator Creek Rd. for sunrise in a while.  This spot is at one of the curves where there’s a break in the mangroves so you can get down to water level.  There weren’t many clouds.  I used a low camera position for this photo  to emphasize the foreground and made a 4 image panorama to get a wider field of view.

Gator Creek MorningGator Creek Morning.

Next, I drove up to the Bairs Cove Boat ramp.  Manatees seem to like the area – I think I’ve seen them there every time I’ve been.  Sure enough, I spotted several and debated whether to park and make a photo.  I’ve made so many photos of their noses that more of that kind of shot isn’t very exciting .  But since I was there, I got out of the car.  I  counted over a dozen as I walked quietly down to the dock.  It wasn’t until I was right at the water that I saw three of them next to the wall.  I’d only brought my long lens with me from the car, so after making several “Manatee Head Shots”, I pulled out my phone to get a photo of the group (https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/40566342263/in/dateposted/).  When I left they were still there – calmly resting and taking occasional breaths.

Manatee head shotManatee head shot

I was heading back toward Black Point Wildlife Drive along Shiloh Rd. when I caught a glimpse of some water through a break in the trees.  I stopped and walked over to make this infrared image in a spot I’d never noticed before.

By the Indian RiverBy the Indian River

Things were fairly busy on Black Point – lots of birds and people too.  I stayed at one small feeding frenzy for a while making images of the birds hunting for fish.  This heron had just launched from the left.

Tricolored Heron in flightTricolored Heron in flight

I stopped next to another photographer who’d found this Killdeer close to the road in very nice light.  I was careful not to disturb her bird as I quietly got out of my car to get this image.

Killdeer Killdeer

I spotted our usual Herons and Egrets, Brown and White Pelicans, a few ducks (mostly Blue Wing Teals, Northern Shovelers, Coots, etc.), Ibis, Willets, Sandpipers, Cormorants, Anhingas, Roseate Spoonbills, Belted Kingfishers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Turkey Vultures, Mocking Birds, Ground Doves, Black-necked Stilts, a few Killdeer, and one new life bird for me:  a Whimbrel.

Another pleasant and interesting morning at MINWR!

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved