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’ve taken the next couple of days off to expand my Memorial Day weekend and to give myself some much needed mental health time, and decided this morning I would try a new place I read about. I got in my car and headed to Bird Rookery Swamp. Anyone who knows me, knows I enjoy adventures and I really enjoy finding new places to photograph. I’ve been so busy I’ve not had time recently to get out and photograph the natural world.
Entering a new place for the first time, I’m always amazed at what I may see and I was thrilled to be the only person on the path. I thoroughly enjoyed the coolness of the trees and the wonderful breeze on this hot, almost summer day. The first thing I came upon is a Red Shouldered Hawk, he’s watching me almost as intently as I am watching him.
The next unusual thing I came across is a Shelf Fungus on the top of railing on the boardwalk. It was quite beautiful and delicate looking.
Walking further on the path, I came upon something called a Witch’s Broom, it’s about halfway up a Cypress Tree, and is an odd growth of parasites and insects which cause damage on the tree and causes the tree to have a strange growth and it looks like a large nest.
The sounds were incredible, a Piliated Woodpecker pounding on a tree which echoed throughout the swamp. Juvenile Red Shouldered Hawks were a constant source of sound along with various other songbirds.
As I continued to walk I watched a White-Tailed Deer run across the path in front of me and I went searching to see where it had gone, turns out it was a gorgeous six-point buck with a full rack of undisturbed velvet still in place. He too looked right at me.
A couple of young raccoons were looking for their morning breakfast and feasted upon numerous lizards they were chasing, sometimes up into the trees. They were curious of me, but we gave each other a respectful distance.
This place was truly amazing and I will be going back again soon.
You know, I write so often about what I have done and where I’m going and sometimes I have to take a step back and breathe, because there are days or weeks that I feel as if I have no time as I am going from show to show or portrait to portrait. This past week was one of those weeks. I really try to balance out my life with work, photography, friends and family then add to that learning opportunities. For the ordinary person I’m sure my schedule seems to be overwhelming, but for me it’s my life. As a creative I also need to take time to renew myself and spend time alone with the natural world. I also need to spend time with people I care about. I prefer that one on one time as it gives me opportunity to open up (something that only happens with a choice few) and it allows me to get some much needed feedback. These are things I need because living alone I don’t have anyone to come home to where I can bounce off my day/evening so I have to rely on myself, and I am my own worst critic. The other night after a huge concert I came home totally upset with the way I felt the shots turned out and I wasn’t sure I would be able to use any of the images as the lighting was a complete nightmare, I wanted to cry. As I was reminded this weekend I am a painter of light, so surely there was something I could use. Turns out I had a few shots that many would call the “money shot”.
I love concerts; I love the challenge of the lights and the thought process that goes into it, but it’s stressful especially when you know someone is relying on you to do you best work. I really felt it this week and when I looked at the images, I wondered if this is really what I should be doing. However, that thought was fleeting as I brought up the images and I know there is nothing I want more (ok there is, but I’m being patient). I love this and I know I am doing exactly what I should be doing as opportunities are opening up for a future I only dreamt about. Spending time with a few friends this weekend and time out in nature has refreshed me for another busy couple of weeks. So I take a breath and keep going because my passion is being a photographer.
This past week I have been pondering a couple of questions. One is why do I prefer digital over film and why use my Canon 50mm f1.8 lens? I’ll tackle the digital question first.
It was asked on one of the Facebook pages I follow why I think digital is better than film?’ I don’t think it’s better, it’s simply different. With film you had to wait for the outcome and didn’t always know what was on that film; was it any good? was it usable? and if you didn’t work it in your own dark room and lab you were at the mercy of a third-party developer. My father had a dark room and I watched him many times manipulate his images in the darkroom element. I did some shooting with film, but never did my own developing and sometimes was not happy with what was returned to me. In the beginning of shooting digital I would take numerous photos download them and get frustrated because there were too many images to go through. Now, I tend to shoot as if I am shooting film and really think through each image before I press the shutter. I’m much happier with what I capture and processing time is cut way down because there is less of it.
The second question is why don’t I use my Canon 50mm f1.8 more often? I did use this lens a few times on my cropped sensor camera and have never used it on my full frame. I wasn’t very happy with the results as they seemed a bit soft, so I basically stopped using it. However, a couple of days ago a fellow blogger Rob Moses whom I follow (or stalk because his images are amazing and I think I follow every one of his social media sites.) had posted some incredible images using a 50mm (follow his blog here). After a few exchanges he convinced me to give it a try (thanks Rob). I only took my Canon 6d with the 50mm f1.8 attached. At first I felt hindered and kept thinking “what if I see something amazing and I need my 300mm?” After a few steps on this overcast morning I realized I was only going to take scenery and waited for the perfect spot. The water was glass-like and I was able to capture incredible reflections. I was also able to get close enough to photograph a couple of squirrels; one licking water from the branches and another eating his breakfast. Overall I think I did alright. I need to practice more before I decide to use it in a concert situation, but I liked the results, still a bit soft but with practice I think I can become quite proficient with this lens.
Experimenting definitely makes me a better photographer and I love that I will never be perfect at it, and I like that it keeps me fresh and creatively challenged. I also like that I have fellow photographers whom I’ve never met willing to give me such wonderful advice.
Walking along the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Boardwalk I realize this is where my element is. I shoot concerts and portraits and I’m quite busy at it, but this is where I readjust, realign my thinking, learn how to shoot better and get creative. I arrived early in hopes not to come in contact with too many other humans. I enjoy interaction, but this morning I need quiet. I am going to be extremely busy for the next couple of months and I will be running non stop with events, concerts, band shoots, portraits and weddings. I needed to simply walk and to be quiet. The silence is golden, there is no one else except for me and an occasional woodpecker singing with many other birds and insects. I watch the leaves drift from the trees; fall soon will be here. It’s amazing to just be quiet for a while, to take it in and to learn from nature.
The noise level I experienced with a group of people makes me wonder why they come to a sanctuary like this, where the quiet is what you absorb. If you plan on seeing anything, you need to be quiet and sadly they will leave the sanctuary thinking there is nothing there. My morning was quite productive with many wonderful photos taken; not all wildlife, but the flora which is quite beautiful. However it was the sounds of quiet, the gentle breeze, the buzzing of the bees and the singing of the birds that I took away with me this fine morning.