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!

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!

Time Off

Autumn through Spring has me hopping when it comes to photography work.  Lots of concerts keep me from having very much free time and when I get any, it’s only for a few hours at most.  I do a lot of traveling and with editing my personal time is at a premium.

The past few weeks I have had completely free weekends and I took advantage and went camping.

My first adventure was over Mother’s Day weekend where I spent a lot of time with my youngest son Tommy Owen  at Trail Lakes Campground where I stayed in one of the wonderful cabins.We took an adventure and walked through an area where no one really goes.  It was around a lake that was full of alligators and nesting Green-back Herons.  Sometimes we didn’t really have a path to follow, we just allowed the lake bank to guide us.

 

 

We finished the day with dinner then off to Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk to attempt some night photography.

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The streak is an airplane

This past weekend I went camping at Myakka River State Park, it’s been a few years since I have been there and I made sure to secure my favorite spot.  The first evening was beautiful and I did a lot of shooting.

 

Saturday I went to The Ringling Museum for the morning and afternoon.

 

Upon returning to my campsite a heavy rainstorm ensued.  The rain continued all through the night and into the early morning.  I ended up leaving a little early because of the rain.  It was still a great weekend to be away enjoying the natural environment.

This weekend will be back to my concert shooting, so watch my Facebook page for some upcoming photos.  Until next time, from behind the lens.

Another Year……Memories

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:

 

 

Treasures of Time

This past weekend I briefly took a step back in time.  I attended a reunion of friends from my youth.  As a young girl I attended a Baptist Church and became very active within the youth group.  We had a Pastor who loved the youth as well as his entire congregation and we had a youth leadership team who led us, and encouraged us to grow and to seek Jesus, we had a bond that was unshakable.  Yes, we would argue and fuss at each other, but we truly loved each other and knew how to say those two little words “I’m sorry”    Still today some of my greatest loves have come from this group; my life long best friends, respect for leadership who treated us like their own kids, and a love of the Lord that has grown stronger through time.

I was asked to document the weekend through photographs, which I did with portraits and candid moments, a book will be created from this collection and I look forward to working on that project.

The weekend began on Friday night with an informal gathering, skits, fun, and fellowship, reminiscent from days past. And of course it would not be a Baptist get-together without food, LOTS of food, an entire row of tables full of homemade fare.

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We told stories and shared memories and hugged each other, laughed and ate (did I mention we had lots of food?). One of the event organizers created a beautiful slideshow of those who were once a part of us, but have now graduated to heaven.  I never made it past the second slide before the tears started, even writing about it gets me choked up.

On Saturday evening, we met at a local restaurant in a private room.  Again with stories, laughter, hugs and lots of great food!  We gathered with some who could not attend on Friday and caught up with their life.  The evening ended with a group photograph and singing.  I’m sure the restaurant has never experienced anything like us before.

Sunday we gathered for worship as a group, and were surprised to see our very own Pastor Hammond in attendance.  I cannot say enough about this man. He is gracious and loves the Lord.   We could not wait to see him and talk to him, many of us  ran to greet him before he even sat down.  I was one of those, and he greeted me fondly by the nickname he had bestowed upon me years ago………’Trouble’,  yes, I cried just hearing him call me that. There is a story behind the nickname, someday I will share that story.

As I sat in the service, I really can’t recall what the current minister was speaking on.  My thoughts were encountering past memories, treasures of the mind; and for a time, we were teenagers, Pastor Hammond was up in the pulpit Randy Willett was sitting next to him, Tim Davis was at the Piano and Steve Wright was directing us youth in choir, and for a moment, time briefly stood still.  My heart is still full, and my eyes are still leaking with the thoughts of those I love.  We all experienced this weekend, those treasures in time.

Until we meet again……continue to let your light shine.  “You are the light of the world, like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

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Holiday Wedding

On December 30, 2016 My son Tommy and I photographed a wedding at one of the prettiest venues here in our Fort Myers area, The White Orchid.

This venue consists of a beautiful old Florida style home, with a courtyard full of native plants and flowers a beautiful fountain, and an expansive lawn which reaches to the Caloosahatchee River and a dock perfect for formal photos.

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Due to unforeseen circumstances the wedding party was unable to utilize the beautiful building, however the owner of the venue set up a tent and it was impeccably decorated, and the DJs up-lighting added to the ambiance of the day.

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Photo take by Tommy Owen

 

Our couple were from the cold north and enjoyed the comfort of a Florida winter day. However as the sun dipped into the horizon, so did the temperature, but the wedding party didn’t allow the cold to keep their party from heating up.

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As the formal photos were winding down, the sun was just beginning it’s show of magnificent colors.

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Photo take by Tommy Owen

 

This was the perfect ending to a perfect wedding and we wish Kaylynne & Ryan all the best for their future.

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.