birds, nature, photography, sunrise, on closer examination, Florida wildlife, perseverance, technology, a second look, 'scene' along the way, making memories, foggy sky

The Lurker…

She arrived in the dark.  “No, not just dark,” she thought, “The fog is rolling in.”  “At least I’m alone,” another thought, and then she laughed at herself because there were plenty of no-see-ums arriving to keep her company.  Or drive her crazy.  She opened the back of the van and rummaged for the can of OFF that she kept there, and doused herself.  There was a slight glow in the sky as she took a couple of pictures at the first bridge, her first stop, and then, anxious to get to the second bridge, her favorite, she moved on, .

It was darker there, foggier, even though she had driven only a minute up the road.  She got out of the van and set up her camera.  As she glanced around she looked to her left and caught a hint of a shape in the murk.  Was it him, she wondered, hoped?  She always looked for him when she came to this place.  She used to see him every time she was here, but then he was gone, just gone.  If she saw a fisherman she always asked if they had seen him, but they didn’t seem to know what happened to him either.  She didn’t come as often as she used to, but still she always looked, and she was always disappointed.  She aimed her camera in that direction, hurrying in case he disappeared into the gloom.  “Of all days to come out without the zoom lens,” she lamented, mad at herself for choosing to grab the little camera only in her haste to get out the door.  “Wait,” she thought, she could zoom with her phone, even if it didn’t take a sharp photo she’d be able to know for sure if it was him.  She clicked a picture, but still wasn’t sure, she needed to put the photo into her computer when she got home.  She crossed the road for a better angle, afraid she’d spook him, but he didn’t move as she took a few more pictures.

Then there was a voice, calling, “Hey Fred,” it said.  He turned his head instantly, and then quickly moved toward the sound.  “Hi Fred,” a man’s voice.  She saw him in a pool of light from the street lamp, smiling as he tossed something to Fred.  And now she was sure it was him.  One-foot Fred was alive and well, she now knew for sure.  The sunrise hadn’t been much, but she drove home smiling, happy that she had come out that morning after all. 03-27-20aripekaFred03-27-20aripekaFred203-27-20aripekasunrise203-27-20aripekasunrise3The iPhone shot…03-27-20aripekaFred3

'scene' along the way, adventure, birds, Florida wildlife, making memories, moments, nature, perseverance, photography, road trip

That kind of day…

When I proposed to my friend that we make a stop at Myakka River State Park while we were in the general area the other day, I had Roseate Spoonbills on my mind.  I knew from other photographers’ pictures that they are sometimes found at that park, and I hoped to take a fabulous picture like the ones I’ve seen online.  When we arrived the Ranger asked if we were looking for alligators, I told him no, we were hoping to see Spoonbills.  He directed us to an area called the Weir, and we made that our first stop, but didn’t have any luck.  We continued the drive through the park, and I also walked out onto the bird walk, hoping to see them there.  I didn’t.  We completed the drive but the north gate was closed so we headed back out the way we came in.  The Weir was only a little out of the way so we made another stop, and as we were driving to turn around in the parking lot one flew into view and landed at the shoreline.  This guy was quite cooperative, walking along the shore dipping his ‘spoon’ into the water and swinging his head back and forth.  Their bill serves as a sieve to capture their lunch.  And when he was nearly out of sight he turned around and came back.  I wasn’t able to get the picture that I hoped to get, the one I imagined, but I felt lucky to have seen this guy at all.  Sometimes you make a plan for a day and all the pieces fall into place.  It was that kind of day.03-23-20spoonbillcolor.jpg03-23-20spoonbilldrip03-23-20spoonbillcolor203-23-20spoonbillwingredo

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'scene' along the way, birds, making memories, moments, perseverance, photography, Pine Island, sunset

Back to Pine Island…

As I drove to Pine Island on Sunday night I was early for sunset, on purpose, because I’d been to a class on photographing birds in flight the day before and I knew there would be lots of birds at Pine Island.  I did get distracted as I drove and saw the beams of sunlight filtering through the clouds and I was worried I’d miss that shot.03-09-20pineisland1stshot

I liked the soft color when I first got there, plus I didn’t miss the light beams.  There were hundreds of gulls there, all sounding off in unison.  As far as the birds in flight thing goes, this wasn’t exactly what I was thinking of ahead of time, but it seems like there is always a kid or two who takes great pleasure in rousting out the gulls.03-09-20pineislandgir203-09-20pineislandboy03-09-20pineislandgulls

And of course we did manage to have a sunset, despite the clouds.03-09-20pineislandgirlandrays.jpg

And kudos to the iPhone, so often I like those photos best.  And I never have to do much to them.03-09-20pineislandphone103-09-20pineislandphone203-09-20pineislandphone303-09-20pineislandphone403-09-20pineislandphone503-09-20pineislandphone6

friends, fun, making memories, on closer examination, perseverance, photography, reality check, sky, sunset, technology, Uncategorized, unintended images

All I’ve got…

Do you know how long I’ve wanted to find this bridge that I would see in photos from my camera group which is based in St. Pete?  Driving ‘down there’ was out of my comfort zone, and even when Charley was alive we didn’t head down there often, and if we did then he was the driver.  I think of it as ‘down there’ kind of like I refer to wanting to return to New England as ‘up north’.  I have no clue what exactly I’m referring to, it’s a direction not a specific place.  And when I said that sure, I’d join the group for a shoot at the Causeway bridge I didn’t have a clue that this bridge was what they meant.  There are, after all, a lot of bridges in the area and they are all ‘down there’.  I didn’t plan ahead, I was too busy worrying over my iPhone, knowing that starting a function called ‘restore from backup’ an hour before I was due to leave the house was probably not a great idea.  But of course I did it anyway, and left without a photo to save me if I got lost. All of this to explain how it was that I left with the 10-18mm lens on the camera, and with it probably set all wrong for the circumstances.  So all my pictures are ridiculously noisy.  That’s a term I see used in photography but can’t always see what they are talking about.  There was no problem seeing it in these pictures though, and I was heart broken when I saw them in the computer.  This is a lesson to me, or would be if only I knew the specifics of what I did wrong.  So forgive me, but I love the idea of these photos, and I hope to get down there again soon for a do-over, but for now this is all I’ve got…03-06-20bridge03-06-20bridgetoonoisy03-06-20bridgenoisy03-06-20bridgenoisy203-06-20bridgeadobelandscape

'scene' along the way, adventure, Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Preserve, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, live and learn, making memories, natural wonders, nature, perseverance, photography, sunset

Finding our way home…

What we had been deciding, before we took our little side trip to find the lost hiker, was whether to head to Eagle’s Nest or to just call it a day.  Imagine driving the pot-holed trails that you see in the feature photo, and coming across a person in full scuba gear.  It came as a surprise to me, but the signage told the story.

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Exploring the underwater cave system is for experts only, with the proper equipment and experience.  Another mysterious natural world right underfoot, something you would never in a million years expect to be there.  Unfortunately the area has been underestimated with a certain degree of regularly over the years.  Of the 14 people who have died here in recent history it is the father and son who went out on Christmas Day with their brand new equipment and never returned that tugs at my heartstrings.

This is the view that greets you as you arrive at Eagle’s Nest…03-03-20chassnestview.jpg

Divers told us that the no-see-ums were out in force, but we were aware of the time and knew that we would have to head back before they closed the road at dusk, so they didn’t get to feast on us for long.  But the drive back to the entrance took longer than it would have if Mother Nature hadn’t been teasing us with a beautiful sunset.  There was so much purple in the sky, if you see it in the photos it’s completely natural.  We shot photos out the car window every time the view brought us to a halt.  The view and the pot holes in the road, I’m not sure which stopped us more often.  When I headed out the door to join Betty and Linda on this adventure I had no clue what to expect, but I did know that we’d have fun, we always do.

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'scene' along the way, a second look, adventure, Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Preserve, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, making memories, nature, old dogs new tricks, perseverance, photography

Chassahowitzka with friends…

I headed north to join my friends Betty and Linda for a hike in the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge yesterday.  It is a vast, 30843 acre, of preserved wilderness area encompassing four of the coastal counties in the area I call home.  They volunteer at the Chinsegut Conservation Center and have become quite knowledgeable about the history of the area.  The point of our hike was to find an area they had been to on a guided hike a while back, wanting to see the area again without a big group of hikers.  That the hike began with us looking for the particular tree that would mark the spot to go off the trail and into the woods didn’t come as a huge surprise to me, I had faith in them that we would in fact find our way back to the cars at the end of the day.

We were in search of the ruins of a thriving community that existed here from the years 1910-1917.  It was built around a logging company, and these are the remains of the actual logging business and mill that worked the area.  In addition to this area there was a town nearby with neighborhoods populated with workers of various nationalities.  They had a small railroad to move the logs to market, plus there were houses, a post office, school, saloon, all the components of a community.  By 1917 all the usable trees in the area had been cut and the people moved on, taking as much of their building material as they could, to be reused as they rebuilt in a new area.  In the 100 years since they left Mother Nature has reasserted herself, with help, and leaving not much to mark this time in history.03-01-20woodsruins03-01-20woodsruins203-01-20woodsruins503-01-20woodsruins6Some of where we hiked yesterday had been underwater when they had been there before.  The area is spring fed and there is water just off the road in a lot of the area.  Water and the creatures who live there, such as an alligator they dubbed Nestor, who they thought was a male until she had 16 babies last year.  As we hiked I had to wonder where she and her babies might be lurking as we took pictures.03-01-20woodsruins303-01-20woodsruins4I, for one, would not want to be lost on these trails.  Once we got back to the car we did something we don’t usually do, we sat and talked at a picnic table, deciding where to go next.  We were aware of a woman who was waiting for her 84 year old friend and his Jack Russel terrier to return to his car.  She was calling his cell phone, but she suspected that he’d left his phone in the car.  He had been gone quite a while, she said, and it was now 4 PM and with only a couple of hours of daylight left we offered to drive the roads to see if we could find him while she waited by the car in case he came back.  We drove a long way, I was afraid that if he had fallen we may have driven right by him, and we all suspected that surely a man his age wouldn’t have walked that far.  But Linda said that something told her not to turn around, to keep going, because this road was not traveled by many visitors who might come across him to help.  And the story has a happy ending because sure enough, we found him.  He was fine and still walking, but boy was he happy to see us.  He had gotten lost, and the trail he was on would eventually loop back to the parking area, but not for another five or so miles.  Don’t you just love a happy ending.  I do…03-01-20woodsbuddy

His name was Kenny and he said he learned a big lesson from this experience.  Always keep your phone with you.  Good advice.