Photography of Roy Thoman

Posts tagged “Recreation

Road Trip to York PA. A Side Trip to Washington DC.

06-25-2021

Robbie and I had a great time in York PA visiting the family. It was awesome seeing everyone again. We missed them a lot! It’s always nice getting back to York. Hopefully it wont be so long until we get back again. It was time to say goodbye and head back home. It’s a really long drive back to Florida. To break it up a little, we planned a side trip to Washington DC. One of Robbie’s favorite cities. On our way from Florida to York we stopped at Mount Vernon. By the time we arrived it was too late to take a tour. We decided that we would stop at Mount Vernon again on our way to Washington. This time we arrived with plenty of time to take a tour. Due to covid restrictions they were limiting the number of people allow to take a tour of the inside of George Washington’s mansion. Although we could still walk around the grounds and see the farm and the mansion from the outside, they had reached the limit for tours of the inside of the mansion for the day. The admission to Mt. Vernon is fairly expensive. Since we could not see the inside of the mansion, we decided not to take a tour. There is a nice restaurant there next to the gift shop so we had a good lunch before heading into Washington.

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We had booked a room in downtown DC at the Holiday Inn. It was just three blocks from the National Mall, just behind the Air and Space Museum. This was a great location, most of the things we wanted to see were within walking distance. Our rate included come and go parking privileges for the parking garage, very important when visiting DC by car. The hotel was really nice, our room was on the top floor. The room was fairly large and had a sitting area with a sofa. There was also a refrigerator that we made good use of. Along with a view of the inner courtyard we could just see the top of capital dome from our window. There was a rooftop pool, but due to covid, it was closed.

I wanted to see how my new little Fujifilm X100V performed for travel photography. The X100V is a very small camera and easy to carry around. Although it is a small camera, it has all of the features and capabilities of a larger camera, with one, well, two exceptions. The X100V has a the smaller C size sensor (lots of big DSLR cameras have C sized sensors too, so not much of an issue) and a fixed 23mm focal length lens, equivalent to a 35mm focal length lens on my full frame size sensor Nikon (sensor size affects the focal length). I normally use a 24-70mm zoom lens on my Nikon. So the 35mm equivalent focal length lens on the X100V is in the middle of the range that I’m used to using. I was eager to see how being tied to the fixed 35mm (equivalent) focal length would affect my photography. There was still lots of daylight left, so I thought I would walk around and take some photos. When I photograph a place like Washington DC, if I have time, I like to walk around and sort of just follow my nose. I usually have a few things that I want to photograph, but I like to keep things loose. I like to also be able to photograph things that I find along the way. Here, my main targets were the Capitol building and the Washington Monument. If I found something along the way, all the better. I walked a few blocks from the hotel on the way to the Capitol building and found the National Museum of the American Indian. This museum has some really nice architecture. I was having a great time photographing it. This museum was not on my list of places to photograph. Not having a strict itinerary allowed me to spend some time on a found place. Tomorrow will be much different, we have a larger list of places to see, so I won’t have as much time for found places.

After photographing the American Indian Museum, I made my way towards the Capitol Building. It was a really nice evening for a walk through the Nation’s Capital. It was disheartening to see the security fencing around the Capitol Building. The reason why it needed to be there in the first place is even more disheartening. Area closed is not something you want to see around your Capitol. That aside, the Capitol Building was looking very majestic as usual. Thankfully the security fencing has since been removed.

I walked all the way around the Capitol Reflecting Pool then started down the National Mall. There was not a large number of people on the Mall. The people who were on the Mall had been taking part in many activities. They were sitting in the grass relaxing and enjoying the beautiful evening. People were walking, taking in the sights, like me. They were playing games and having fun. Bike riders and rental electric scooter riders were zipping up and down the Mall. A Segway tour passed by. There were people sitting on benches just watching the world go by. It was a great evening to be on the Mall. I was treated to a colorful sunset as I approached the Washington Monument.

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On my way back to the hotel I stumbled onto the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden. The garden is a beautifully landscaped brick walkway between Jefferson Drive and Independence Avenue. It’s part of the gardens surrounding the Smithsonian Arts and Industries building, the prominent 1800s redbrick building along the National Mall. The Air and Space Museum was undergoing a renovation and had construction fencing around parts of it. I poked my camera through the fence and I was able to get a photo of the Delta Solar sculpture. Just a block from the hotel I passed the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial with a nice view of the Capital Building. I had fun walking around the Nations Capital taking photos. I was very happy with the performance of my little Fujifilm X100V. Occasionally I needed to reposition myself to frame an image. With my 24-70mm I would have been able to simply zoom. For the most part thought I was working well with the fixed focal length. The camera was really nice to carry around, I felt very light and free. I just had the small camera, with an extra battery and lens cloth in my pocket.


Road Trip to York PA. The York County Heritage Rail Trail, Seven Valleys PA.

06-23-2021

While Robbie and I are visiting York PA, we like to take walks on the York County Heritage Rail Trail. The trail is a 20 plus mile long trail through southern York County. We like this trail because it’s very scenic with lots of things to look at along the way. In the heat of the summer the trail is covered in shade by trees on both sides of the trail. The shade keeps it nice and cool while walking the trail. The other day we walked from the Brillhart Station parking lot to the Howard Tunnel. We wanted to walk a different section of the trail, so today we started from the Seven Valleys trail parking lot. We walked South past Hanover Junction for about two miles before returning to the Seven Valleys parking lot.

The rail trail winds its way through 200 year old small town America. It’s like a trip back in time before suburbs and urban sprawl. Seven Valleys is one of those small towns, population 517. There are several bike themed art pieces all along the trail. The Seven Valleys parking area has three large bike sculptures. There is also a building with old bikes mounted to a wall. There is an antique store that probably has that amazing piece you have been looking for. Back when I rode my bike on the trail, it was more of a general store. On my way back home I would stop for a snack and a drink. Seven Valleys is known for cigars and ice cream.

Just past Seven Valleys is Hanover Junction. In Hanover Junction the Northern Central Railroad line split and headed west to Hanover PA. Trains would either go west to Hanover or continue north to Harrisburg. Abraham Lincoln passed through Hanover Junction twice. The first time he was on his way to Gettysburg, to give the Gettysburg address. There was an infamous photograph that was said to be Lincoln at Hanover Junction on his way to Gettysburg. It has been determined that it was not Lincoln. Photo or not, his train did stop in Hanover junction. The second time, his funeral train passed through Hanover Junction on the way to Harrisburg PA. The train station has been restored to look the way it did in the mid 1800s. There is a small museum inside. It is currently closed due to covid. Outside there is a small butterfly garden full of butterflies. There is a man and horse sculpture, sculpted from old bicycle frames and parts.

The other day we noticed new railroad ties laying along the tracks all of the way from Brillhart Station to the Howard Tunnel. Today we ran into the railroad tie machine in Seven Valleys. There is a steam excursion train that is based at the New Freedom train station. New Freedom is the southern most town in PA along the trail, close to the Maryland line. They have been running the excursion train for several years. They needed to do an extensive rail restoration in order to be able to run the train. The restoration work was completed north as far as Hanover Junction. The train has been running from New Freedom to Hanover Junction and back. After the track is renovated into York, the train will run from New Freedom to York. That will be a really nice train ride!


Comet Neowise

Comet NEOWISE visible over the Indian River Lagoon in Titusville Florida. NEOWISE is a newly discovered comet. It was just discovered this past March. It was discovered by the NEOWISE space telescope (Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Explorer). The comet is visible from just after sunset until about 10:00pm. In Florida anyway, I think it’s visible later farther north. NEOWISE is low in the north sky just under the Big Dipper. The comet is pretty dim and hard to find without binoculars. Once it’s located with the binoculars, you can see it with the naked eye. NEOWISE will be visible until July 22. Happy comet watching!

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Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk 2019

I had a blast last Saturday taking part in Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk. This year there were 868 walks in locations all over the world. There were 17,768 photographers taking photos all over the world on the same day. The walk I participated in was lead by my friend and fellow photographer Chris Wiley. We had 13 photographers in our walk. We started our sunset walk in Sand Point Park in Titusville Fl. We split the group in half, Chris took a group to photograph the sunset overlooking the marina. I took a group to photograph the sunset from the top of the A. Max Brewer Bridge. The Max is one of my favorite spots to photograph. After sunset we did a bit of night photography around the bridge. One of the best things about photographing the Max, is the Pier 220 outdoor restaurant and bar. They had a great live band and the place was hopping. So no better way to cap off a day of photography and meeting some new photographers, than to have a bite to eat and some ice cold beers at the Pier 220. I had fun meeting new people and taking some photos. I’m sure there is a walk in your town. Next year you should take a walk.

 


Cruising to Havana: Some interesting things we saw along the way

Our art and culture tour was great! We learned a lot about Cuban culture and life. We saw lots of neat things like Revolution Square, Hamel ally, we had a nice lunch and Mojitos at the Bodeguita. We learned more about Cuban culture at the Bodega. As we walked through Old Havana we saw an architectural school where workers were learning how to restore Havanas old buildings and statues. Our tour ended at the building with the old railroad equipment. This was a large craft market where all sorts of Cuban art and products were sold. We purchased a wooden 3D wall art of La Bodeguita del Medio. We also took home some Cuban rum and a few cigars. Havana was awesome! It really did have a pulse or a vibe that you could feel. When I was reading about Havana before our trip, I read somewhere, I’m sorry I forget where or who said this, but they said, “Havana was in a state of elegant decay.” That was pretty much how I would describe Havana. There’s lots of great architecture. Some of it is restored and some of it, although it is in a state of disrepair, has a certain elegance to it. The colors of Havana are awesome! I really like black and white photos and lots of these photos would probably look really good in B&W. It’s the color of Havana that gives it its charm. I don’t think I will be converting any of these. Robbie and I had a wonderful two days in Havana. Sadly all good things must come to an end. It was time to board our ship for the cruise back to Miami. Things came to an end more than we knew. Havana only gave us a taste for Cuba. There are many other locations in Cuba that we wanted to see. Unfortunately, before we were able to go back to Cuba, the ban on travel to Cuba was put into place. Hopefully the ban will be lifted, but it doesn’t look like that will be anytime soon. For now, photos of Cuba are all we have.

If you click on an image you will be able to see it larger. I’m sorry there are so many, I could not help myself.

 


Cruising to Havana: La Bodega de Barrio

After a really nice lunch at La Bodeguita del Medio, we continued on a walking tour of Old Havana. There was some repetition of our tour from yesterday, but it was mostly things we didn’t mind seeing again anyway. Also this tour took a different route and we saw lots of different things along the way, as well as getting a different perspective. For instance, we got off of the bus near Plaza de Armas and walked through Plaza de la Catedral on the way to and from the Bodeguita.

One of the things we saw along the way was La Bodega de Barrio, a local ration store. Basic staples like rice, sugar, salt, soap and many other necessities have been rationed in Cuba since the 1960s. In order to understand rationing you need to know a little about Cuban currency. There are two types of currency in Cuba. The Cuban convertible peso or CUC and the Cuban peso or CUP. Cuban state workers are paid mostly in Cuban pesos or CUPs, they also receive a few Cuban convertible pesos or CUCs. At the risk of oversimplifying, if Cubans are paid by the government or spend money at a government business, Cubans use CUPs. If Cubans are paid or spend money at a non government business, Cubans use CUCs. You can probably guess which one is worth more. When people from other countries visit Cuba, they exchange their currency for CUCs. Visitors are only allowed to use CUCs. When you exchange U.S. dollars for CUCs there is an added surcharge of 10%, lucky us. Some people like to get Euros and exchange the Euro for CUCs without the surcharge. Getting Euros before your trip also has a cost, I figured it was close to a wash and we didn’t need that much anyway, so we just exchanged U.S. for CUCs and paid the extra 10%.

Getting back to Cuban rationing and the Bodega. The Cuban government gives each family a ration coupon book called a Libreta de Abastecimiento. The amount of rations each family is allowed depends on the size, age, and gender of each family. There is a Bodega for each neighborhood, they must use that Bodega. Cubans take the coupons to the Bodega, the coupon determines how much of each commodity they can buy with CUPs. There are stores where Cubans may buy things over and above the rations. Unfortunately, they need to pay for those items with CUCs and CUCs are hard to get for a lot of Cubans.

When we arrived at the Bodega our guide was telling us about the Bodega and rationing. After that we entered the Bodega. I could tell buy the size of the group and the size of the Bodega that we were not all going to fit. As the group was inside the Bodega, I hung around outside taking some photos of the area. My wife Robbie took these photos of the inside of the Bodega. Also for some reason I felt a little strange photographing the Bodega. As the crowd thinned, I did go inside and took a look around.

You maybe wondering about the La Bodeguita the restaurant and the Bodega the store. The Bodeguita started out as a store many years ago, long before rationing. They started making a few dishes to sell in the store. Eventually it evolved from a store, into a restaurant. Hence La Bodeguita or the little store.

Update on Cuba: Due to the recent ban on travel to Cuba, along with tightening of the U.S. embargo, as of  May 2019, rationing in Cuba has been increased. Cubans now need to make due with even less than before! Also the situation in Venezuela is having an effect. Venezuela has stopped sending aid to Cuba. The relationship between Cuba and Venezuela is said to be the reason for the U.S. travel ban. Although even before things in Venezuela became an issue, the U.S. started restricting travel to Cuba.

 

 


Cruising to Havana: La Bodeguita del Medio

We had a great morning seeing Revolution square and the Callejon de Hamel. Now it was time for lunch. We boarded the bus for the ride back to Old Havana. The streets of Old Havana are fairly narrow, not suitable for large buses. So here is where the walking tour portion of our excursion started. We exited the bus near El Malecon and walked about three blocks through the Plaza de la Catedral to La Bodeguita del Medio. La Bodeguita del Medio is probably the most famous restaurant and bar in Havana, maybe even all of Cuba. They claim to be the inventor of the mojito. It was Ernest Hemingway’s favorite place to have a mojito. Many other famous people made a point of stopping by when they were in Havana. There is a large painting of Ernest Hemingway and I think maybe the bartender or owner on the wall behind the bar. Back before the days of Hemingway, it became a custom to autograph the walls. Today there isn’t an inch of wall space that doesn’t have someones name on it. They reserved the whole second floor for our tour. They served lobster tail, plantains, rice and beans. Robbie and several others were vegetarians; they had a nice veggie plate. We washed it all down with a world famous Bodeguita Mojito. After lunch we were entertained by a Cuban band. The music was great, and in case we didn’t already know it, we were definitely in Havana! Our local Cuban/Mexican restaurant has artwork on the wall depicting La Bodeguita del Medio. Now every time I see it, I remember our lunch at Bodeguita. We also brought home a wooden wall art of the Bodeguita.

 

 


Cruising to Havana: Callejon de Hamel Art and Rumba Dancing

Our bus ride took us across town to the Callejon de Hamel, basically an ally named Hamel. The Hamel is a small two block long alleyway in the Afro-Cuban neighborhood. The ally is covered with the colorful, eclectic art of Salvador Gonzales. The buildings are covered in colorful murals. There are sculptures most people would probably call junk art. Salvador used old pipes, car parts, bike parts, bathtubs, and other assorted scraps of metal to make his sculptures. His use of bathtubs is particularly interesting. Some of them he cut in half and made benches from them. Others he put on pedestals or embedded in the walls. Salvador is self taught, he started with a few pieces in the ally near his home. He was encouraged by other residents and visitors to continue. He now has murals and art work all over the world. There is a small gallery of his art in the ally. These items are for sale, and I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures of them. You can walk up and down the small alleyway several times and see something new each time.

After learning about Salvador and seeing the artwork in the ally, we were taken to a small brightly colored room, decorated with more sculptures. There were chairs all along the walls, we all found a seat. Our resident Hamel Ally expert, who had told us all about the ally, started telling us about Cuban Rumba dancing. Rumba means party and this dance is certainly a party! It was created by freed slaves living in Cuba. It is a mixture of their African and Spanish heritages. The music, also called Rumba, is played with three different size conga drums. The beat is loud and lively. The dance is wild and exuberant. Some dances are showing off dance moves and skill. Other dances with a man and a woman, have sexual overtones. The man will make advances toward the woman and the woman will resist. This is not the Rumba that Robbie and I learned in ballroom dance class! They passed the hat at the end, a tip was well deserved. I wasn’t expecting the dance show and we didn’t have a lot of Cuban money left. I wish I would have been able to give a little more.

The Hamel was awesome! I did read about it when I was researching doing things on our own in Havana. It’s a little out of the way and I wasn’t sure if we would be able to get there or not. Even if we had been able get there, we would have missed the Rumba dancing. The dancing that we saw was done especially for our tour. The public dancing in the ally is only done on Sundays. It’s little things like this that can make doing a shore excursion worthwhile.

 


Cruising To Havana: Plaza de la Revolucion

On our second day in Havana, Robbie and I chose to do the Art and Culture tour. This was sort of a hybrid tour that involved a bus ride, as well as a walking tour. We woke up early and ate a good breakfast. There is no shortage of food on a cruise. This tour included lunch, but we were not sure when that would be. Once again we met our group in the big showroom to wait our turn to exit the ship. Once we were off the ship we needed go through customs. They had several customs people, so the process went fairly quickly and smoothly. They just check your passport, visa, and make sure you don’t have any weapons, fruits, etc., the typical things you can’t take into another country. There is airport type scanning and off you go. We met up with our group at the designated area and boarded our bus.

The first stop on the tour was Plaza de la Revolucion, we call it Revolution Square. The square is outside of Old Havana, too far to walk. To see this on our own we would have needed a taxi or maybe one of those cool little yellow Cocotaxies. A Cocotaxi is a small, round, motorized rickshaw thing that looks like a coconut. They are rather cute, but being a three wheel vehicle they are prone to tipping over (I don’t think that happens too often). The bus ride from the port took us down Paseo de Pardo,  this is a large tree lined boulevard with a promenade through the middle. If you have the time, a stroll down the promenade is recommended. We road past the Memorial Granma. The memorial houses the yacht Granma that Fidel Castro used to transport revolutionary fighters from Mexico to Cuba. The glass building that houses the Granma is surrounded by old military vehicles, the Granma is not visible from the road. We then passed by El Capitolio, the old capitol building. It was modeled after our own capitol building in Washington DC. Just past El Capitolio is Chinatown.

Revolution Square is a huge plaza where political rallies are held. Fidel Castro and other Cuban leaders address the people of Cuba from this plaza. A prominent feature of the plaza is the Jose Marti monument. It’s a tall star shaped tower along one side of the plaza. Jose was a Cuban hero from the late 1800s. There is a museum in the base of the tower, we didn’t have time to visit. Behind the monument is a large government building and the home of the Cuban Communist Party. On the other side of the plaza are two other government buildings. One has a large drawing in steel of  Camilo Cienfuegos, who sort of looks like Fidel. We thought it was Fidel at first. The other building has a matching drawing of Che Guevara. They were both heroes of the Cuban Revolution and friends of Fidel Castro. As you can see in the parking lot one of the best ways to get to the plaza is in an old classic car. Due to not being able to buy parts from the US, most of these old cars have a Russian engine under the hood. All aboard for the bus ride back to Old Havana.

 

 


Nighttime Photography Workshop 2019

It was that time of year again, the birds were flying south and so were the birders. That means it was time once again for the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. I had the opportunity again this year to offer my Nighttime Photography Workshop at the A Max Brewer Bridge. We had a great time photographing the bridge, watching birds and dolphins. I had lots of fun, I think my participants did as well. I’m sure they got some awesome photographs. I always spend a lot of time working with the people in my workshop, so I don’t take many photos during the workshop. A few days before the workshop I always get out to take a few test shots. So here are the test shots that I took just before the festival.

 


Rocket Launch at Dawn

An excellent photo opportunity has presented it’s self. SpaceX has scheduled a resupply mission to the International Space Station, launching right at dawn. There was a really good chance 45 minuets before sunrise, there could be some really nice color in the sky.  I could not pass this up, I had to give it a try.

 


Photo #10,000

I took my camera for a walk on the boardwalk at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I was just shooting anything that I found interesting. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. I had a nice walk, taking some photos. At home when I downloaded my photos, I thought I had lost half of them. The first photo was one that I had taken half-way through my walk. I thought “well this is odd.”  As I looked a bit more closely, I realized what had happened. Halfway through my walk I had taken photo #9,999 with this camera, so the camera started numbering the photos over again at 001. So here is the 10,000 photo that I have taken with my D600.

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Also here  are some of the other photos that I took on my photo walk.


Pinwheels

Just some pinwheels from the Playalinda Festival of the Arts.


Getting ready for the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival 2018

I was doing a little prep photography for my Take Your Camera Off of Auto class and my Nighttime photography class this week at the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. Stop by the festival this week at EFSC in Titusville and learn about photography as well as birding and wildlife in the area.

http://www.spacecoastbirdingandwildlifefestival.org/main.php


EFSC Sunset Photo Shoot

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 Marilyn Cook, my Eastern Florida State College portfolio class teacher got together a group of past and present portfolio class students for a sunset photo shoot at Riverside Park in Melbourne Beach. Marilyn, Mike Brown (another one of my EFSC teachers) and guest instructor Fred Gramoso gave the group some sunset photography tips to prepare for the sunset photo shoot. Sunsets are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. I think we got a vanilla cream, it was a pretty decent sunset.

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Riverside Park is the Mallory Square of Melbourne Beach. People bring lawn chairs and gather for the show.

 

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Don’t leave after sunset! There are still great photos to be had. Approximately 1 hr after sunset the blue hour will start, not to be missed.

 

Also look behind you, there may be something interesting. In this case the church behind the park offered some interesting photos.

It was great fun getting together with fellow portfolio students, new ones and especially the old ones that I have not seen since the class.


Midnight Landscapes

I was looking at some examples of photographs that were taken at night, using the full moon as the light source. This looked like something that I needed to try. So after many moons of bad weather and bad timing, I finally got a chance to try this technique. You don’t need to have a totally full moon, it can be a few days before or after. You need to check a moon phase chart to see when moon rise will be. Hopefully it will be at a decent hour and not after midnight or later. This particular moon rise was at a good time, right about sunset. Using the moonlight is a lot like using the sunlight. If it is low in the sky, you will get some nice shadows. If it is high in the sky, you will get a more even light, but it’s not as harsh as photographing at noon.

Coincidentally, there was an 11pm rocket launch set for the March full moon. This is great! I can photograph the launch and also try out this moonlight photography thing.

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The rocket launch was beautiful! Night launches always are beautiful. This was an Atlas V rocket taking supplies to the International Space Station. The full moon was a big help illuminating the foreground of this image. I like how you can see everyone on the dock with a lit up cellphone. You can see a few stars, but the light from the moon dims all but the brightest.

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I had a bit of time to kill before the launch, so I took this photo of the bridge. After the launch, I crossed the bridge to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. This is where I took my midnight landscapes. By this time, the moon was getting pretty high in the sky. It was a very clear night just a few sparse clouds in the distant horizon. A few more clouds would make a very interesting sky, but you take what you get. After you find a nice place to photograph (you will need to scout the area ahead of time) take your time setting up. Your eyes need to adjust to the moonlight. Once they do, you will be amazed at how bright it really is. I was able to work with the camera and walk around without any additional light. Using a flashlight would ruin your night vision and actually make it harder to see. Just be careful that you don’t trip over any alligators.

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I was experimenting quite a bit with ISO settings. I settled on ISO 1250 for these images. I will need to do a bit more experimenting to give a solid recommendation. I used f8 and a 6 second shutter speed. I was underexposing a bit. This being my first attempt I did not want to risk overexposing. I think I could have increased the exposure by one stop and still been OK. I had to work the shadows a bit in post. I was able to get more stars in the wider angle image. It looks more like a night photo, the tighter image looks more like it was taken at dusk. The glow on the horizon is not from sunset; it’s the glow of the Titusville city lights. Again the moonlight is overpowering a lot of the stars. If you want a lot of stars you need to photograph on the new moon. You will get the stars, but you will lose the color in the sky and detail in the foreground. You need to keep shutter speed under about 10 seconds to keep the stars from elongating. There is a huge chart to figure this out depending on camera and lens combo, look for the 500 rule.

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These photos were taken at midnight, not midday. It’s amazing the colors you can see at night. It’s very eerie being in the marsh at night. The only sounds you hear are the sounds of nature. Wondering what that was that just made a splash in the water?  This only adds to the experience.

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I came upon this group of sleeping wood storks and spoonbills. I was very careful not to wake them. Every once in a while I could hear one of them ruffling its feathers, but they never moved.

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Completing the loop through the salt marsh I couldn’t resist taking another photo of the bridge before heading home. I will need to try this technique a few more times and do some fine tuning. I had a great time photographing my midnight landscapes.


Frog and Reptile Macro Workshop with Mike Matthews Photography

The organizers of the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival expanded the photography offerings for the 2016 festival. One of the photographers that joined the festival this year was Mike Matthews. (click here to see Mikes web site.)  Mike conducted an amazing macro workshop with an interesting cast of characters.

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Mike brought with him 10 to 15 species of exotic reptiles and amphibians like this very cool three horned chameleon.

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He not only brought along some very cool subjects to photograph, he also brought the sets to photograph them in. There was a whole room full of small props and backdrops. Mike would expertly place one of the reptiles in the set then you instantly have a great photograph. Mike enjoys teaching photographers the tricks of the trade. He was very helpful with camera exposure settings as well as lens and flash selections. A well placed drop of water on a lizard’s mouth would create a fantastic image as the lizard licked the drop with its tongue. This was a great workshop! Not only were you able to learn all about the wonderful world of macro photography, but you came away with some world class images. Another one of the many reasons why you need to get your butt to the 2017 SCBWF!

I want to thank Mike for allowing me to follow him around and photograph his workshop. He helped me get some good photos as well as helping his workshop attendees get good photos. I only wish I would have had more time to see some of his other cute little friends.

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The Little-Big Econ State Forest

Another amazing Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival field trip: The Little-Big Econ State Forest. I was anxious to photograph this field trip; I have not been to this area before. I know Little-Big sounds a bit contradicting, but this is where the Little Econlockhatchee  and the Big Econlockhatchee rivers come together, hence Little-Big Econ.

The field trip was led by biologist Lorne Malo from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, wildlife biologist Selena Kiser, Angel and Mariel Abreu with Nature is Awesome Tours. This was my first trip with Loren, he knows this area and its history very well. I have been on other trips with Selena, Angel and Mariel, they are all excellent birders! This is another reason why you need to attend the SCBWF. You could visit this area on your own no problem, but you would not have four expert birders with you. They know the area, they know the birds, they are great at sharing their knowledge with you. SCBWF field trips are a wonderful learning experience. I learn something new on every trip. For instance, on this trip I learned about mistletoe. In Florida not many trees lose their leaves. The ones that do sometimes have several balls of green leaves among their bare branches. I always figured they were some sort of parasitic plant. I learned from Lorne that it is mistletoe and that cedar waxwings like to eat the mistletoe berries.

The Little-Big Econ was beautiful. It was almost like walking through a prehistoric jungle. The mist was rising off of the river. The eerie call of the pileated woodpecker. I was expecting to see a dinosaur at any moment. There were no dinosaurs, but Lorne expertly lead us through the many trails to where we were able to get a good view of an eagles nest. There was an eagle in the nest to boot! We could not see into the nest but the eagle seemed to be tending eggs or maybe very young eaglets. The female eagles are very noticeably larger than the males. This is quite evident when you see them together. This was a large eagle, my guess is that it was the female. I travel light and didn’t have enough lens to get a decent photo of the eagle. Besides the eagle, we saw many types of birds on this trip. The Little-Big Econ is a great place to go birding. Fun was had by all.

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2016 SCBWF Opening Day

The 2016 Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival got off to a beautiful start. I enjoy taking photos for the SCBWF each year. On the first day of the festival there were several field trips planned at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. My plan was to meet up with a few of the field trips and photograph them. The sunrise was stacking up to be a good one, so I found a good spot to photograph it. This particular area is a berm road with water on both sides. I was facing the sunrise; to my back there was a row of mangroves and the other body of water. Just on the other side of the mangroves there was a huge flock of American coots, but I didn’t know that at the time. Shortly after the sun rose above the horizon something spooked the coots. Possibly an eagle looking for a coot breakfast. The huge flock of coots made a frantic dash for the sunrise side of the berm road. They were crashing through the mangroves and stumbling onto the road. Several of them flew into my car! (no one was hurt.) The water dripping off of them as they flew over me made it feel like it was raining. It was quite the sight, coots everywhere with the beautiful sunrise for a backdrop.

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After the coot fly-in I went in search of the field trips. I met up with Shiv Verma on one of his daily photo walks. Shiv’s photo walks are sponsored by Panasonic. This is cool because Panasonic provides Shiv with lots of new equipment. As part of the photo walk, you not only were able to get some expert photography advice from Shiv, you could also take the new Panasonic equipment for a spin. Grab the new Lumix mirrorless camera and plop it on a new 4800mm scope, wow!  One of the many perks of attending the SCBWF. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to play with the toys.

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Next, I met up with Kevin Karlson on his Birding by Impression field trip. He has recently co-authored a book of the same name. As well as writing books, Kevin is an excellent photographer and also did photography classes and workshops at the festival. I have gotten to know Kevin over the years and his field trips are always among the best at the festival. Birding by impression is a technique of bird identification that he has been perfecting over the years. By observing the birds size and shape, as well as the behavior of the bird, you are able to ID the bird when traditional field marks are not clearly seen. It is an interesting concept and Kevin is fantastic at explaining it. The 2016 SCBWF was off to a great start.

 

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Night Time Photography Workshop

I recently conducted a night time photography workshop at the 2016 Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. I did three workshops on three different nights. On the first night we were treated to a spectacular sunset! On the second night, the sunset was not as spectacular, but we got some spectacular night photos of the Max Brewer Memorial Bridge over the Indian River Lagoon. The third night was the coldest windiest night ever! The waves on the river were crashing over the seawalls. We also, despite the weather, got some great night time bridge photos. I want to thank all of my participants for coming out and braving the weather with me. It was great fun for me, I hope you all had fun as well.

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The Blue Hour

You have probably heard of the golden hour. It’s the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. The light has a warm gold cast to it. It’s one of my favorite times of the day, and not just for photographing. I just really like that time of day. The time just before sunrise and just after sunset is known as the blue hour. The sky turns a beautiful blue color. A lot of photographers will pack up after the sunsets and disappears below the horizon. If you have a little patience and hang around for a while, your images will have an amazing blue sky. You need to plan ahead, find a good location and work fast. Speaking of time, you don’t have much. Despite the name, the effect will last as little as 10min. and as much as 40min. Even then, it’s still not time to pack up your gear. There are still some great images to capture. This is what we will be discussing at my night time photography workshop at the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. I hope to see you there!

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Fishing Together

I think this grackle has been hanging out with his friend the osprey way too much.

If you want to see birds like this doing the things birds do, come to the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.

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The Hotpoint Sign

I have been intrigued by this old Hotpoint sign since I moved to Titusville. Originally occupied by an appliance store, this building sat vacant for quite some time. Amazingly this very cool sign survived. Recently a clothing boutique moved in. I was very happy when they restored the sign and adapted it to their needs, rather than replacing it. I really like this old sign and I’m glad it’s still here.

I will be doing a photography field workshop at the 2016 Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival on night time photography. We will be learning how to make photographs like this one. This is an amazing festival. There is something for everyone, not only birders and photographers. I hope to see you there!

 

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Nighttime Photography at the A. Max Brewer Bridge

During this years Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival I will be leading a photography field workshop. We will be photographing the A. Max Brewer bridge at night. I will be doing three workshops, Jan 21, Jan 22 and Jan 23. This is one of the many locations on and around the bridge we will be photographing. I hope to see you there!

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