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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are times when life slows down to a snail’s pace and other times I feel as if I can’t catch my breath. This month was one of those times.
I was supposed to have gone to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens with my photo group, but because I had such a late night the Friday before with the Garden Bros. Circus, I woke and decided not to push it. We have a horrible flu epidemic going around and the first thing I don’t want to do is lower my immune system and come down with the flu because I’m stressed and making myself over tired. I also had a large metal concert, RoxStock and I needed to be on my A-game while mentoring a young lady and wanted to give her my best self.
That Sunday found me doing a class on portraiture (always want to add some training to my time behind the camera) and then Sunday afternoon another event Clam Jam. So I cleaned house and just relaxed to some great Mozart instead of going to the gardens.
I had decided a few weeks ago to take the following Monday off because I was offered a behind the scenes tour at Calusa Nature Center with a fairly new photographer friend. It was a wonderful way to end the long weekend. The rest of February was pretty much a blur with concerts and side shoots throughout. I enjoy being busy and I see no let up in March, so keep a look out as I’m trying to also do more writing and sharing with my followers.
I hope you enjoy sharing my adventures as much as I enjoy sharing them. Until next time, get out there and shoot something!
This past weekend found me camping and photographing a concert in the swamp; The 1st Annual The Everglades Roots Festival with headlining band Grass is Dead. It was a weekend for stepping back to a simpler life for a few days, to unwind and prepare for a busy rest of the month and Trail Lakes Campground is the perfect spot. Sunday found me back to civilization with the iconic The Moody Blues. Their music takes me back to my teen years in the seventies and a time I often wish I could return.
Not only did I photograph them on stage, but also was hired to shoot their meet & greet! I really do GET to do this! I am really blessed, to be able to photograph the bands I grew up with and love.
This weekend I will be out with a local radio station and enjoying many bacon influenced dishes. bring on 94.5 The Arrow’s Bacon Jam!
Please enjoy a few of my photos from this weekend.
This year I decided to take at least one weekend per month and either do some day trips or camp. I really prefer camping because I can incorporate day trips into the camping and that get’s me out and away. This aways refreshes my soul and helps with my creativity and simply makes me a better me.
I prefer heading to the Everglades, it’s where my soul belongs, even though I left it years ago, I do sometimes long to go back. The people are fascinating and the stories are many. I could sit for hours (and sometimes do) listening to the locals talk about the “way it used to be”. I long for a time much simpler than how I live today. I could live as a minimalist, in a tiny house somewhere in the woods. I really don’t need much and I think I would be just fine. Maybe someday.
I love being outdoors. I am in an office five days a week for eight hours a day and on the weekend I find I must get out. When I am camping, I get to sit by a campfire, share a meal with my son and his girlfriend and just do nothing or say nothing if I don’t want to.
I go to bed early and arise as the sun is coming up and the birds are beginning to sing.
I overheard a camper yesterday lament about how they hated the birds in the early morning, because they woke them up. Really? how can you hate something so magical and beautiful as birds singing in the new day. I could wake to that sound every single day and be ecstatic for another day. Maybe someday.
Coffee is always better when it’s a cold brisk morning and you arise to the sun shining and the birds flitting about and the dewy freshness of a new day. I so enjoy sitting in the quiet of the morning when I am camping and allowing my body to awaken with nature. I would love to do this every single day for the rest of my life. Maybe someday.
I find I don’t miss the television with it’s mundane programming, or the radio blaring; campers around me always seem to have a radio going, and I just don’t understand why? Why do you need that outside element of noise when there is so much more to hear? and if you just look around life is more exciting than anything the television has to offer. in my short few days, I was able to see a baby raccoon climbing a tree. Birds feeding, alligators lounging around in the sun trying to get warm after a few chilly nights and I got to experience real conversations with people. I learned so much more than if I had been at home in front of a little box. I hope to experience this more and more. Maybe someday.
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.
I sometimes get so busy I forget to actually take time for myself and refresh. I decided to take a weekend away and go camping, something I truly love to do and yes I do it by myself because I don’t have anyone to enjoy it with me. If I didn’t do things because I’m alone, life would be boring, would it be more fun with a companion? Yes of course as long as the companion enjoyed it as much as I do. I hike and trudge through some of nature’s finest swamps and wild lands without really thinking about the dangers that could lurk there. God created the natural world for us to enjoy and after being really busy and feeling the “stress” of daily life seeing green for a few days is exactly what the doctor ordered. My mind clears, I get more creative and I am able to bring that creativity back to my day-to-day photography. I spent the weekend at a private campground, in a very private area, which was nice because they were having a festival of Grateful Dead music called “Skunkin Grateful”, so this actually allowed me to be away from the craziness. The attendees were well behaved and the atmosphere was incredible. I sat back and simply enjoyed the music, the fire dancing and the huge bon fire. I lasted until about 1:00am and understand it went on until about 3:30am or so, by that time I was fast asleep bundled up in my tent because even though the temperature was in the high 80’s during the day the night-time was still in the low 60’s and being a Florida girl that’s cold! It was so beautiful, between looking at the million stars through the roof of my tent, hearing the distant sound of music wafting through the air and the occasional hoot of an owl lulled me to sleep.
During these away times I look back at what I’m doing and what I have done and wonder how I can be better. I rely on my intuition to guide me through the lens of my camera and try not to be so technical. I find when I really let go and listen to my heart instead of my head, my images are 100% better; too bad I don’t do this with my personal life. I feel the image instead of simply seeing it.
It was a wonderful weekend and not sure when I will get the opportunity to do it again, but if I feel myself being pulled in too many directions I simply may disappear again for a couple of days.
Click on the link to check out my photos My Weekend
Wow this time last year, I was experiencing a bit of turmoil in my life; drama that could have been avoided, but when dealing with the immature that’s what happens. Fast forward one year later. I had a great Thanksgivings spent with my youngest son Tommy and the people of the campground where I was staying and where he works as a guide. Old friends were there and so much good food I was in a food coma for hours after. Of course while there I took out the camera, just didn’t have it at the dinner, nor did I have my phone. I simply wanted to enjoy the meal and fellowship with those I’ve not spent time with in a while. I really enjoy going down to Trail Lakes Camp Ground it borders the Big Cypress and so much wildlife all around makes it extra special! Later in the evening I saw with Tommy by a roaring campfire and we enjoyed the warmth of the flames.
It was quite chilly even for Florida standards. I ended my trip with a drive through the Big Cypress on Birdon Road over to Wagon Wheel Road then back on Turner River Road.
Beautiful sky no cloud and that deep azure blue against the sand colored grasses of the swamp. On my way home I stopped and spent several hours at The Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk. No bear this time, but the swamp was still teaming with birds and wildlife. It was a marvelous Thanksgiving and I would not change the way life is turning out.
I want to thank all of my readers and followers for a great year. I was so unsure of myself when I started this blog, but I love the outlet it allows me and I am so glad you have all enjoyed my meanderings. This next year promises to be so much better. Thank you for your support.