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.
A curious Little Blue Heron signaling a warning of the alligator who was lurking close by.
A lovely Common Buckeye butterfly unknowingly pollinating the flowers as it gathered life giving nectar.
Even the pungent smell of fermenting palm berries carried in the warm breeze was refreshing in it’s erthereal own way.
The nutrient rich tannin stained waters were bringing forth life to the White Ibis as it was searching for a quick meal.
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!
I belong to a local Meetup group called the South West Florida Shutterbugs and in two weeks we will be six months old as a group. In that six months we have offered learning opportunities, trips both local and out of area and have met some really cool people. Recently, we have initiated a mentor/mentee program and I have decided it’s time to take my skills to another level by working with an incredible portrait photographer. This will stretch my knowledge and also take me out of my comfort zone. I’ve already worked with him on a few shoots and he makes what he does look so effortless. I know this will make me better, especially when it comes to using off camera flash.
Now, for the next part, I will be mentoring a more beginner photographer. I really appreciate what has been taught to me and I want to give back. When I started shooting I had no one to guide me and I learned on my own. I learned that concerts and events were sometimes a crap shoot depending on the lighting, but now I go into them full of confidence in my own skills. This mentoring will hopefully allow another beginner to feel more confident with their camera without having to learn it all on their own.
If you are in the South West Florida area and want to join a top-notch photography group, feel free to check out Meetup.com. Happy shooting.
This past couple of weeks I’ve come to the realization once again that loss is a part of life. As I was doing my thing with taking concert photos a long time friend was coming to terms with the passing of her husband. I’ve known this couple since the early to mid 70s, they were beautiful together, and a huge part of my teen/early adult life. Unfortunately his life was taken by the evil affliction of cancer. I’ve not seen them in years, but I was praying for him daily during his extensive battle, he has now received complete healing of his body; for that we are thankful, but my heart aches for his beautiful wife, children, family and friends who were closest to him; I know he will be missed. Along with death there is always life, and sometimes something incredibly beautiful, unplanned and definitely unexpected happens. It’s taken me this entire week to wrap my mind around the circumstances and express in words what I have been experiencing, but because of this friends passing, a lovely friendship which started over forty years ago was rekindled. I can’t begin to express what I feel about this, except it’s an extraordinary event; what a true blessing. Rest in the arms of Jesus Jimmy Steen, and thank you.
You hear all the time that the eyes are the window to the soul, one of my goals when I’m shooting concerts is to get the eye contact; now mind you I don’t ask for it, I don’t do anything distracting to get it, but generally it happens, even when I don’t think they can even see me as with Alice Cooper. I was way over off to the side and a couple of rows up, yet this happened;
There wasn’t anyone that I could see in his direct eye contact, I even asked the photographer behind me if she got him looking our way…….she didn’t.
On Monday I got kind of the same thing, but it was almost as if I was recognized, don’t see how that’s possible, but REO’s bassist comes out on stage and this happened;
and it continues with the other two bands Tesla………
I was invited this past weekend to photograph a local playwright’s work. He is a fellow photographer who is gifted in many areas; film, music and words. It was a happenstance meeting in the camera department at a local big box store. He had told me about this play he had written and I decided I wanted to see it. I feel we need to support all local artists of every genre of art and this fit right into my beliefs.
The story of Ophelia takes place back in the slave trade era of our nation. It is a story of love, strength and beauty in a world that sometimes was anything but beautiful.
I really didn’t get to “see” the play in the tradition form, because I was trying to see it through my camera. I am never sure of what I capture until I get home and load the images. I will allow the photos to speak the rest of the story. (To view all the photos from this body of work please visit my facebook page at: Ophelia)
Ophelia: Written and produced by Judah Williams.
Recently I reconnected with an old friend through Facebook. We had been friends back in our late Junior High early High School days. He moved away and we kept in touch for a short time after; well before Facebook when letter writing was envogue. He had moved back to the same area as an adult and joined the local Sheriff’s Department as a K9 handler. He is currently retired and breeds/trains Malinois & German Shepherds. He contacted me about photographing his dogs working so I took a trip up mid June to a training facility. It was a huge field set up with obstacles and many different working dog owners. I was allowed to be on the field with the dogs working and even though the field was full of water and mud it was a great time. I met some incredible people and took some awesome photos. Out of the photos I took THIS is why I was there!
I love to experiment with my photography. And if you follow my blog you know one of my favorite spots to spend my down time is in the beautiful Florida Everglades; so why not combine the two? I was there over Memorial Day weekend and invited my camera buddies down, however I know this place isn’t for the faint of heart, the elements (hot & humid) and the bugs (mosquitoes) are voracious. The ones who showed up are not fearful of the elements and wanted to learn something new, as this adventure is definitely not for those who are intimidated by the outdoors. We met up around 7pm and took off down a very long dusty road within the Big Cypress National Preserve. The temperature was quite warm and humid due to the rain earlier in the afternoon, however the sky was clear unlike earlier in the day when I had scouted out the area.
We arrived at our destination, and proceeded to set up “shop” with tripods, remote triggers and this wonderful object called a Thermacell! The Thermacell was our lifesaver when it came to being basically mosquito free for the entire night.
As the sun set and the stars began making their first appearances, those who had never seen this site were in awe of the majesty it provided. Then came the Lightning Bugs; in a few of my photos you can see them skittering across the grasses.
We knew the direction of the rising Milky Way Galaxy because someone in our party had an app which told us when and where; of course this is why we were there, to photograph the Milky Way in complete darkness. We almost accomplished that feat except it’s rising in the south, south west sky and Miami was throwing off quite a bit of ambient light.
While waiting for the galaxy to rise, we did a bit of light painting and my photographer son Tommy Owen wanted me to photograph him with a really bright flashlight and we came up with this Star Wars type image.
I’m not entirely sure what that yellow streak is toward the left of the photo, possibly a plane heading for Miami International Airport. The orange glow is the aforementioned Miami.
I learned a lot as did my photographer friends. None of us had ever attempted astrophotography and we found it quite a challenge. We found in the dark we really needed a red gel flashlight to see our settings and we need to find a way to turn off our backlit screen. We also found that too long of an exposure (over 30 seconds) would create the beginning of star trails, and make our stars appear more blurry. We all did concur in the end that it didn’t feel as if we were out there for four hours and we all want to return in the fall/winter when the humidity will not require us to wipe down our lenses every few minutes and the sky will be crystal clear. It was a fun evening and we were able to come up with some usable images, but will still need a bit more practice.
My take away on all this is to keep growing and practicing and learning new techniques. It will keep your mind active and improve your creativity and it’s FUN.
Thanks for stopping by!