Time With Friends

I woke up before daylight yesterday to go shooting with some girlfriends. We were going up to the Venice Bird Rookery here in South West Florida. We met up at 6:30 am and piled into one of the vehicles and headed off.

As we arrived we saw the line of photographers which reminded me of being in Yellowstone National Park when the Grizzly Bears show up. We sidled up to the other photographers and took in the sight before us; beautiful, nesting wading birds in full breeding plumage.

We spent a couple of hours then off to breakfast to a wonderful local breakfast spot.

I hope you enjoy a few of my photos.

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

North Carolina Bound

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. IMG_1422

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.IMG_1373North Carolina-3

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.

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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.

Paradise Found

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.

Ding Darling

A curious Little Blue Heron signaling a warning of the alligator who was lurking close by.

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A lovely Common Buckeye butterfly unknowingly pollinating the flowers as it gathered life giving nectar.

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Even the pungent smell of fermenting palm berries carried in the warm breeze was refreshing in it’s erthereal own way.

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The nutrient rich tannin stained waters were bringing forth life to the White Ibis as it was searching for a quick meal.

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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!

 

 

A New Adenture

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.

Bird Rookery - CREW-19 (Large)

 

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.

Bird Rookery - CREW-3 (Large)

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.

Bird Rookery - CREW-9 (Large)

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.

Bird Rookery - CREW-14 (Large)

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.

Bird Rookery - CREW-11 (Large)

This place was truly amazing and I will be going back again soon.

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Giving up?

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.

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