Time Off

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I took some much needed time off. After a full summer and a busy start to our concert season along with weddings, portraits and other work, I was ready to unplug and get back to nature.

My go to place as I’ve posted in the past is in the Everglades.  I love to camp and I took four full days to step out of the digital world and relax.  I did do some posting to Facebook, but instead of worrying about my status, I took camera in hand and stepped out into the swamp.

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Because of the cooler temperatures (great for camping), the alligators were in abundance along the road of Jane’s Scenic Drive in the Fakahatchee Strand, and on the trails my son and I walked, (check out his website: Phloridaphoto.us He even decided to get a bit more up close and personal with a gator lying on the path we were walking.

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I stopped and photographed him, photographing the alligator.  I just could not bring myself to be that close to something that large with huge teeth.  As my son walked past him, Mr. Gator lifted his head and rumbled that deep throaty sound as a warning to let him know he may be a bit too close.   I had the same experience as I hung out the car door to get a rather large alligator hanging out on the road we were driving.

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We also went out two nights in a row to capture the Milky Way, however during the hours we were there, the sky have cloud cover in the general vicinity.  We did capture the sky at night and this photograph shows Miami glowing in the distance as the International Space Station does a fly over (I have an app on my phone called Sky Guide that allows me to track this).

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Overall it was a wonderful relaxing long weekend, with friends, family and my camera.

Be The Change

I am going to go a bit off topic on this blog from what I normally post.  First of all it is my blog so I can get more personal from time to time and today is that time.

I want to address those who are “devastated” by the choice American made for President of the United States.  First he is not the ideal choice….the ideal choice was eliminated early on.  Next I will address what real devastation is.

Real devastation is waking up and finding out your father has passed away, and you are nine months pregnant.  Real devastation is finding out your child has cancer and won’t live to see his/her teen years or even his/her first birthday.  Real devastation is finding out you have cancer and you’re not sure if you can overcome it.  Real devastation is a parent burying their child who has died tragically.  Real devastation is coming back from battle and being treated like a third class citizen; maybe missing limbs and your dignity and dealing with the horrors you experienced in your tenure overseas.  Real devastation is seeing your fellow man being treated as less than human, no matter who they voted for.  Real devastation is experiencing the horrors of a tornado, flood, hurricane or earthquake and have nothing left of your existence that you worked so hard to build.  Real devastation is waking up wondering how you are going to feed your children because you have to pay the rent and you don’t have anything left for food.  Real devastation is finding out someone you love has taken their life. Real devastation is being homeless and not knowing if you will be alive in the morning because of your circumstances.  Real devastation is not having water to drink, try going a day with out any beverage that requires clean water to make.

Wake up…….

If you are upset over how things are going then volunteer.  There are plenty of opportunities for you to help those who need it.  Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, organizations to help those with cancer, nursing homes where people have no family to spend time with or who care about them, volunteer with habitat for humanity and help build someone a home, donate to worthy gofundme causes, pet shelters where animals could use a little love. If you don’t like the political climate then volunteer for your party of choice. There is a whole plethora of other organizations who could use someone ready to make a change in lives.

I have experienced many of the real devastations life has to offer and I am still here, the sun came up and yes they affected me and still affects me, but they have not made me bitter,  instead have allowed me to understand, care and love deeper.

We are the change, not a man in an office.  Love and cherish the people around you.  Feed a homeless person, give them YOUR coat if it’s cold out. Have integrity, show people what it means to be passionate about a cause, but do it in love; be the change.

Perfectionism at it’s Best (Worst)

Ever make a mistake? Yes, me too and when I do they are normally doozies! I consider myself a perfectionist.  I was the kid who would not erase, but start over on a paper, it always took me longer because of this.  I still carry that bit of perfectionism into my life today and in doing so it imparts undue stress which is something I try to avoid.

When it comes to photography, I rarely have to edit, not that my photos are perfect, far from it many times, but I try to get my settings right in camera to avoid having to spend time in front of a computer to edit.  Last week that completely changed and I had an extremely humbling experience.

The story begins when I was asked by the lead singer of a headlining band to take their final bow shot at the end of the evening.  I knew it would be difficult because the lighting at these shows are less than stellar.  I accepted the challenge convinced I’d be able to give them something great.  Throughout the show I really fought with my settings and the non existent or highly saturated stage lighting, but I still thought “I can do this” because there is one thing I rarely do is question my skills.  Finally the moment came I climbed the steps up to the stage to position myself behind the drum kit and on my way I kept thinking, “I should have grabbed my flash”,  I really didn’t want to use flash because the idea was to capture the crowd behind the band.  I shot off the first few frames and thought my settings were adequate, however I had nothing to focus on as the stage lights were completely off except for this glaring green light bouncing off the cymbals. Still no realizing what was happening I continued to shoot as both bands took a final bow and my job was done.

On the way home the lead singer sent me a text message telling me how he couldn’t wait to see the photos.  I felt the same way, until I downloaded them into Lightroom. My stomach dropped, every single photo was dark; except for the green lights reflecting from the cymbals on the drum kit.  What was I going to do?  I completely broke down; THESE were the MOST important shots of the night and I had completely failed.  I began to question myself, my abilities and my judgement.  For three days I tried to work on the photos and just could not get anything usable.  I was devastated, I had ruined the photos.

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Before

 

On the fourth day once again I received a text message from the lead singer asking when I would be sending the photos over, I told him they would be done later that night; again I broke down, but something at that moment hit me.  I could and would salvage the photo!

I needed to believe in myself and my abilities and understand I could solve the problem (with a lot of prayer and pleading to God).  Finally it came to me what to do and three hours later, the band had their photo.

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After

 

 

Here is what I didn’t realize at the time: The green lights were reflecting from the cymbals back to the sensor on my camera, so when I thought I was exposing for the faces, I exposing for the cymbals. I should have stepped forward instead of staying behind the drums and finally I should have used my flash and deal with the crowd in post processing.

Here is what I learned about myself: Always go with your gut! No matter what, do what your instincts tell you to do.  I should have used my flash.  Next I learned that I need to not stress over this, just breathe and work until a solution is evident.  And finally I learned I am human, and I make mistakes and I need to learn from them.  However, the biggest take away from this is that God has given me the gift of creativity and I need to rely on him and not on myself no matter how impossible the situation seems.  Thanks for following me, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Season Is Upon Us

Where I live in Florida we don’t have four distinct seasons, we have two; Snowbird season beginning in mid October and the season when they go back north which is normally after Easter.  During this time in South West Florida the events and concerts pick up and my camera sees a lot of action.  The weather is a lot more pleasant for outdoor events and weddings.  My season started on October 15 with a wedding held at one of the most historic country clubs in Fort Myers; The Edison.  I am fortunate enough to be able to work with my youngest son.  He is an incredible photographer and one I trust explicitly. The long view of the couple facing The Edison was taken by him.  Please visit his website at phloridaphoto

Between the special events I also schedule portrait sessions and was able to photograph an interesting fellow whom I believe is one of the many spirits which lurk in Historic Downtown Fort Myers, complete with orb and gargoyle (look closely).

I was also at Fright Nite where The Sick Puppies and Devour the Day headlined, there were also a few interesting characters out that night as well. You can see more of the photos from this frightful night by clicking on the photo below.

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October Madness

October is the month where my photographic life starts to pick up. With the cooler temperatures come more outdoor events  here in the beautiful state of Florida, specifically South West Florida.  I shoot more concerts, festivals and portraits during the fall & winter months than any other time of the year, and some weeks it’s totally crazy.  I  don’t mind  the crazy because October is what I call my “sad” month; it’s the month my father passed away thirty-three years ago on October 17.  I have written before that he too was a photographer and I know if he could see what I have done with a camera he would be incredibly proud of me, but I miss him.  This is also the month my oldest son Jimmy turns 33; where has the time gone?  I was just a young girl of twenty-four when this all took place, truly a lifetime ago.

I have a lot of wonderful events on the books and I’m sure I’ll be writing more as they unfold, but for now………daddy, this one’s for you.

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My father Azle Marteney and my first real camera

Summer Slump

The summer months in South West Florida are extremely hot and humid and not ideal for outdoor large venue concerts, and since I don’t often photograph local bands except for an occasional radio station event it’s been extremely quiet

However, just as the weather will be changing; concerts will be picking up and photographic activity is about to come alive.  A plethora of great arena concerts, along with some local shows with big name acts will be arriving in the next few months. I look forward to this bustle after a nice break.

Recently I’ve traveled up to the Tampa /St. Petersburg area and caught several large name acts; I’ve photographed  Alice Cooper, The REO, Def Leppard & Tesla Tour,  and the Heart, Joan Jett & Cheap Trick Tour.  These photos can be found on my Facebook page

Last night I was privileged to photograph The Cirque du Soleil show OVO at our local arena.  WOW! what an incredible show.  The colors were magnificent as the “bugs” danced, pranced, and flew across the stage.  The acrobatics for this show are world class and if you ever have the opportunity to catch such a show, make sure you go.  It’s well worth the money.

More photos can be found by following the links and going to my Facebook page

Paradise Found

I am so fortunate that I get to live in paradise.  I sometimes forget how beautiful our area here in South West Florida is. No matter what direction I travel I can find the natural environment I crave.  From beaches to swamplands it’s all here.  Today my travels took me to Sanibel Island and the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

While driving slowly down the scenic drive and stopping when something caught my interest, I felt so blessed to be able to have the day off and enjoy such natural beauty.  From birds to butterflies the day was full of surprises.  A lone Roseate Spoonbill and White Ibis looking for their breakfast and finding it.

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A curious Little Blue Heron signaling a warning of the alligator who was lurking close by.

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A lovely Common Buckeye butterfly unknowingly pollinating the flowers as it gathered life giving nectar.

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Even the pungent smell of fermenting palm berries carried in the warm breeze was refreshing in it’s erthereal own way.

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The nutrient rich tannin stained waters were bringing forth life to the White Ibis as it was searching for a quick meal.

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As I watched nature doing her thing, I was reminded that I am just a very small part of all of this, yet just as important.  Each of us have our place in this world, the birds, butterflies, the water, the land, all celebrating our creator.

Thank you for joining me on my adventure……until next time, happy shooting!