I belong to a Meetup.com group for photographers call the SWFL Shutterbugs. I have been a member of this group for quite a number of years and have made some wonderful friends. This past weekend 26 of us gathered and went on an eco tour of Babcock Ranch. It’s not just a historic part of Florida’s history, but it’s still a working ranch with the descendants of the original Spanish Cattle and real working cracker cowboys.
The best thing is the wildlife we saw. Lots of wild hogs and baby pigs (bacon bits!), Wild turkey, Sandhill Cranes and lots of Alligators; lots to photograph!
We were fortunate enough to have our own private tour with a wonderful tour guide. The tour uses old school busses as their swamp buggies. It’s open, and bumpy and just a lot of fun; we filled the bus with our group. I love the wildlife, but my heart danced with joy when the cowboy’s horses came over and graced us with their presence. Our tour was over 90 minutes and was simply wonderful.
After the tour we all had lunch together catered by the ranch. As much as our group loves to take pictures, we love to gather together fellowship with each other and eat just as much.
If you ever make it to South West Florida please visit the Babcock Ranch Eco Tour, it’s worth every penny. Please enjoy the photos and feel free to leave me your thoughts.
A little over a month ago I decided to try a new (to me) software for photo editing. I have been an Adobe Lightroom user for many years and I’m quite proficient with it. So going to a new software with the schedule I keep shooting was a bit intimidating. I started reading forums and watching videos just to see what I would be getting myself into. I was pleasantly surprised with the results other’s were getting and at the ease they were obtaining them, so I did it, I purchased On1 and I also purchased a year of their On1 Plus.
A Rough Start
At first I was getting great results, it was easy and although I had to watch a video or two I was pleased with my purchase. Then comes the update…….well that did not go smoothly at all! At first I thought it was me, and the fact that I had no idea what I was doing with this program, so I went onto the forums and tech support to see what I was doing wrong, I found out it wasn’t me, it was the update, it was filled with bugs and naturally it was during a deadline for getting photos to my venue for a show I had shot and mind you I had already given up Adobe Lightroom; cancelled my membership and moved on to bigger and better things or so I thought. In a panic I had to go back on and reinstall Adobe Lightroom to get my project finished.
Two Weeks Later…
Two weeks after this happened, I was reading the forum and found out the bugs were fixed. I still have to keep Adobe products for now due to their “contract”, but I have been editing 100% with On1 and I love it! I have also talked to some photographer friends who are considering the move, but they are waiting to see what I think first.
I have included a few before and after photos, can you spot the differences?
After using this software for a while longer I will update you with the findings. For now use what you’re comfortable with, but keep your options open, because you may find something you like better.
Since I was a little girl one of the things I remember were road trips with my mom & dad. We would pile into the family car and my dad would just drive. Living in West Virginia, there were lots of scenic back roads and I would sit in the back and listen to my dad whistle. Long stretches of roads leading to nowhere in particular….
Seems as if in the past few weeks I’ve felt a need to revisit road trip travel and have several times over this past month.
The second weekend I had a trip with my photo group to Gasparilla Island on Boca Grande and photographed the lighthouses. It was a beautiful day.
The following weekend I visited Solomon’s Castle and vivid piece of architecture which came from the imagination of an incredibly talented and eclectic man. His art is whimsical and speaks volumes of the man he was, sadly he passed away several years back, but his home is open to the public for touring along with his private collection of art and pre – 1935 cars. Unfortunately due to his estate, we were not permitted to take photographs of his artwork (I may be able to find some from a past trip when he was still living).
Strolling through the grounds in the Florida heat & humidity, you simply take in the beauty of the land and his gardens, along with the beauty of the structure he built. Photos will never do it justice. The tour is funny, insightful and gives you a glimpse of what life was like for this eccentric junk collector; although to him it was art and not junk. If you live in Florida, this is a must see place, just remember however, they close from August 1 to October 2.
Sunday June 23 was my birthday and I decided to head over to the Avon Park area, hang out with friends at their church and be closer to attend the funeral of one of my cousins. I was able to reconnect with his daughters whom I’ve not seen in at least 50 years. It was such a bittersweet time. Oliver was probably my dad’s best friend along with Oliver’s brother Rich, growing up as kids. They hung out together and played as kids; Daddy was the oldest, however he was also the first to pass almost 36 years ago. Oliver lived to be 91. As a child I remember him being funny and always up to some shenanigans with my father. I know he will be missed.
This past weekend I headed back over to the Avon Park area so the I could participate in the Independent Day musical of a really good friends church. It was wonderful to be able to re-ignite another passion. Music Has been in my life since I was a little girl. My soul was so refreshed.
As you can see I’ve had a busy month traveling taking day and over night trips. It’s been refreshing to just drive the country back road Florida has.
I have not taken a vacation, a real vacation in more than a dozen years. I carry a pretty heavy schedule majority of the time due to working a full time job and photographing events and concerts thought out the year. But this year I decided I needed a break, a long two week break in the mountains of North Carolina. My best friend of almost fifty years lives in a little town called Concord. So on October 15 I boarded flight 818 and headed north.
It was a very short flight; less than an hour and a half and was uneventful. We landed on and I made my way across the tarmac to my waiting friend. I should mention that she too is a Debbie. When I got off the plane the temperature was cooler, but still warm, however I was in for a surprise.
On Tuesday we took off on a road trip up through the Pisgah National Forest and up through the mountains searching for some color and some waterfalls. The color was missing from this scenario as North Carolina had longer than normal summer temperatures which was keeping the leaves from changing. Not to mention two hurricane’s had passed through the area.
Our first stop was a little diner where I enjoyed a nice plate of NC style BBQ, one word; Yum! Our adventure continued as we drove through the mountains of the Pisgah National Forest and the weather took a turn and it started to rain. This did not stop our trekking the beaten path to find a waterfall; not only did I find one, but a covered bridge too! Giant score for me photographically speaking. The rain was coming down pretty steady but my excitement built as I heard the sound of rushing water and once we arrived the sound became deafening, but in such a wonderful restorative way.
This next week we stayed close to home and I was able to photograph some local birds and experience a change in temperature. Then on Saturday our other best friend flew in so we made another road trip into Charlotte to pick her up. Did I mention she too is a Debbie? (North Carolina will never be the same).
That weekend we invited a few friends who live in the area over for a gathering, it was great to see them and to meet their families. So much love in one place……incredible.
On Monday October 22 we three Debbie’s took off on a road trip once again. We drove up through the Blue Ridge Parkway and I was able to find more color, the temperature had dropped from the upper 70’s to the mid 30’s and settled around 45 degrees. For this Florida girl it was cold, but the crisp air, sharing time with my best friends and just enjoying the ride and the color seeping through the trees was something I can’t explain in words, only heart can. We drove up to about 5000 feet, found a lovely little restaunt to have lunch and then off to find Linville Falls. We didn’t hike to the top, but I was happy with what we found. Continuing our drive we found icicles popping out of the side of a mountain. So we pulled in to a parking area and I hiked back to the area where water was seeping out of the rocks. My lungs were screaming with the thinner and colder 37 degree air, but it was so beautiful.
I needed this time away, I needed to do some life reflection and to be with my girls who know me so well. I have not laughed or loved like this in a very long time. They are amazing; we are amazing to have had this friendship of 50 years that is so deep and unshakeable. The T-shirts Debbie brought us says it all the back has the three D’s and it says “True Friendship Grows Forever”.
I love these girls so much and I was sad to depart. I will be back…..again.
This year started out wonderfully! I camped over the holiday and it was perfect weather for it too. I had a photo shoot which my son Tommy Owen assisted me; a repeat family I had taken portraits for a couple of years ago. Getting to work with my son is the best!
It was a great time of renewing and refreshing from the busy holiday season, and I got out and photographed some nature. Being out in the Big Cypress and the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk this gives my mind a break and my eyes as they seem to always either be on my phone or my computer when at home. I tried to disconnect as much as possible, just to free myself. Please enjoy the slideshow.
Most of the time I enjoy looking back on my year. However, this year I slacked, a lot, and I have to make some changes. I just didn’t get out as much as I normally do. Even during camping season it seemed it was always interrupted with something I “had” to do. I wasn’t as intentional as I had been the past few years. I didn’t create good content for my Facebook page and actually neglected it. I had something happen that set me off into the “not good enough” thought process, which in turn caused me to purge a lot of unneeded stress in my social media life. But I would go out and take photos and think, “these are not good, what am I doing trying to create good photos when I can’t do it?” I really had to shake that mindset; I am my own worst critic.
Life was disrupted with a move in the middle part of the year and it was during a very stressful time. I’m still trying to adjust. Then, in September we were hit by one of the largest hurricane’s in recent history. Irma totally upset my world, but I came out a whole lot better than many of my friends did and I can tell you I am most grateful for that blessing. Yet, the stress was still there and even guilt that so many lost so much and I didn’t. I can’t explain why it was that way, but it was; again I am so grateful to not have had any damage.
Sometimes life gives you those old lemons and it’s not always easy to make the lemonade. In fact, I have thrown a lot of lemons away because I just could not bring myself to make them work. Ever feel like that?
I’m looking forward to a clean start with 2018, I won’t make promises I can’t keep, but I will put a lot more effort into making it an incredible year personally and professionally.
Here’s a look back on what I did accomplish photographically:
A cute Super Hero
Four homes down from me.
Rod Stewart & Cyndi Lauper
Stars on Ice
The Late Chris Cornell, two weeks prior to his death