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Babcock Ranch Eco Tours

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.

Welcome to 2020!

A new year with lots of new changes. So what’s new you ask? First of all I will be moving to a larger space, one that will allow me to take portraits and head shots in my home because I will finally have a dedicated studio space and an office to work in. I will also be able to be a lot more creative with more space to do so. The move will take place in the middle of January; I’m excited!

My year has already started with a bang and with 9 concerts & events, three Meetup events and add moving into that mix; this girl is going to be busy!

Another area I want to address is my social media, I want to set up a designated social media schedule that will allow me to plan out my posts and schedule them for the week. This is going to be a challenge, but I need a good challenge!

Well since I don’t have any new photos to share, please enjoy my cats.  Harpo my house cat is a tuxedo and Sandee my office cat is a tabby.41F19569-682C-4237-A3FF-FDD1643378F5

A Year in Review 2019

Out goes the old year and decade and in comes the new!

I’m not going lament on not posting a blog regularly, because I have let that go, I’m never have felt guilty or that I needed to this past year. 2019 has been an incredible year. My best in a very long time! I want to share with you all the wonderful things I have experienced. So without further ado lets get into it.

What have I been up to this past year? It comes to 91 different photo opportunities for the year which comes to almost 2 events a week. Here is a breakdown of what I have accomplished for this past year.

  • 6 – different elements of commercial type work.
  • 9 – Concerts outside of Hertz Arena (most with the radio stations I provide for).
  • 1 – fun creative project
  • 13 – events outside of concerts and Hertz Arena, again supporting the radio stations.
  • 28 – concerts & events at Hertz Arena
  • 4 – local band shoots
  • 18 – Meetup events with my Shutterbugs group
  • 7 – different places visited
  • 4 – portrait sessions
  • 1 – wedding

This year was also epic because the new owners of Hertz Arena where I am the house photographer decided to use several photos I have taken the past few years of events and concerts. Imagine my surprise when I found out they were museum quality prints in a large format on metal in approximately 38″ x 42″ size. Also, they posted an approximately 50′ collage banner all done in black & white over one of the concession areas.This year was also epic because the new owners of Hertz Arena where I am the house photographer decided to use several photos I have taken the past few years of events and concerts. Imagine my surprise when I found out they were museum quality prints in a large format on metal in approximately 32″ x 48″ size. Also, they posted an approximately 50′ collage banner all done in black & white over one of the concession areas. *Disclaimer: Melvin Vigo took the photos of me in the gallery photos and Ali O’Connor took the banner images; also the hockey images are the work of Kevin Bires.

Another exciting event was Stars on Ice. Last year I took a photo of Olympic Gold Medalist Charlie White during one of his routines with his partner Meryl Davis. This year, I had him sign the photo. Can’t wait to hang this in my new apartment!

Some of my favorite images from this past year are from many different events, concerts and work I have done in 2019.

I cannot wait to see what 2020 will bring my way, I know by looking at my new planner it’s already filled with numerous events & concert.

Feel free to share your 2019 with me and the best thing you are looking forward to in 2020.

Happy New Year 2020!

Life After Adobe Lightroom

Cancelling Adobe and using On1

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?

Before On1 Editing
After On1 Editing

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.

I’ll see you behind the lens!

Road Trips

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.

Please enjoy some of my photos.

Gasparilla Island, Boca Grande

Solomon’s Castle, Ona, Florida

Cousins!

Road Trip to Nowhere

Panorama iPhoneX

Today I did something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile now. I took a road trip to nowhere. Well, you are probably thinking “surely you went somewhere?” To answer that it’s a yes and no. Upon leaving the house early this morning I had no set plan on where I was going to what I was going to do, I was just going to drive and see where my wheels took me.

My first stop was a nice little park to explore. Lots of great walking paths consisting of paved paths, boardwalk and natural trails too. I walked three of the loops and left the largest which goes by the river for another day of exploration. I took a few photos and some video in time lapse which is below.

I really didn’t see much in the way of wildlife, but we are almost into summer so most migratory birds are already gone. I had a noisy squirrel and a lot of Five Lined Skinks on the boardwalk portion of the trail.

Next I was off to my next adventure, this is where I simply got into my vehicle and drove. I always joke that all roads lead to Arcadia and so I decided to see if that was true, and yes, it is. I ended up in Arcadia, a cute older town, filled with old churches and homes from another time period. I didn’t stop to take any photos as this was a driving mission.

On my way back I stopped at a little farmer’s market/country store/cafe and grabbed some fresh produce and a bite to eat. Next to the road was a nice Sunflower garden. Who doesn’t like happy Sunflowers these giants were over 6 foot tall.

Sometimes you just need to get into your car go nowhere.

Sunflowers iPhoneX

Into Nature

One of my passions is camping and if you add my camera, then it’s simply incredible.  I have not camped all season simply because I have not had a free weekend to do so and now it’s almost too hot…..almost.

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I decided to camp over Mother’s Day, this way I get to spend time with my youngest son, and as a bonus his best friend as well.  The boys got me the most beautiful card and wrote the most beautiful sentiments on it, I was also graced with a bouquet of flowers and a scrumptious meal prepared by my son and we went to breakfast the following morning.

Because I was in the Big Cypress, of course I have to drive Turner River Road, Wagon Wheel and Birdon Road.  Didn’t see much when it came to wildlife although I did see a deer, but he moved to quickly for me to get a photo.  I was downcast to see several dead snakes and a dead baby alligator, I wish people were more careful.

Tommy and I also walked the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk and were invaded by Deer Flies, but we persevered and were graced with a young Barred Owl, of course on this trip I only brought my iPhone so there are pictures, just not close up; I did get some great cell phone shots from our walk.

 

This is a time lapse photo, but it’s a bit jumpy (sorry)

I love being outdoors, I need to do it more often.

Until next time, I’ll see you behind the lens!