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Sanding Ovations…

I have always wanted to see the sand sculpture event at the beach, but something always prevented me from heading to Treasure Island. And it was not on my mind at 2 AM on Friday when I walked out the front door to look for the lunar eclipse and got rained on. I hadn’t seen a notice that the sand sculptures were even happening, but, lucky for me, my friend did, and off we went. You can see from the pictures that it was a perfect day, hot in the sun but with a wonderful breeze to cool you off and keep the kites aloft. Traffic was surprisingly light driving there, and I was delighted that I had easy access to the sculptures without people in the way. I neglected to notice all the commotion in the background of my pictures while I was taking them. And with the tools in Lightroom and Photoshop I could have knocked my head against the wall trying to remove them, or I could not worry about it and assure myself that I’m presenting an accurate picture of the event. But I’m sure there are lots more people and distractions going on today and tomorrow as the event reaches full swing.

You can see that this is a work in progress. I have no idea when the judging will take place, but I was blissfully unaware of the unfinished aspects of some of the sculptures while I took pictures. They will be on display through the holidays, barring weather related damage. This one is Neptune’s Organ.
Lest you worry about my hydration during this event you’ll be happy to know that we drank Liquid Death while we walked around. At one point I was holding two cans of this when a gentleman asked me how my drink was, and was disappointed to realize it was water. Not even fizzy water. Many people probably shook their heads over this old two-fisted drinker.
This ” tort-a-potty” was one of the first stops of the day.
I didn’t catch the name of this one, something about a mermaid trapped in the kelp.
The DJ was playing some really fun music as we walked around, and he announced that someone had just told him that since he was located beside a sculpture named ‘whale wash’ then he ought to play Car Wash, and he did!
This one was Pilotfish. Those portholes were actually openings to the other side, with different faces looking out on that side.
The hiney on this one caught my eye so I took this picture. As the day went on there were plenty of bikini clad gals walking around showing almost as much hiney as this.
I made it a point to take another photo of that last sculpture and totally missed seeing that he was kissing that scuba guy kite who hovered over us all day.
This is the pregnant mermaid. I love that the little toy rocking horse is actually a sea horse.
Biting the arm that feeds you.
A mighty battle…
The flip side of the battle sculpture was this fresh fish sign.
When you don’t pay attention to the activity in the background you might wind up with a picture you could title “Off With His Head”.
This castle sculpture was placed at the far end of all the sculptures, and was the biggest and most elaborate. I was happy that I could crop the photo and only have a couple of people in it. For scale, LOL, but not really.
This might have been the more interesting view of that castle sculpture, if not for the tools of the trade all on display. I’m surprised that they didn’t show when I took the picture from the other side.

You can certainly tell which photos were taken with the sun behind the sculptures and which had the sun on their faces. As usual I was happy to be out talking pictures in such a fun environment, it’s only when I look at the pictures later that the details of backgrounds and shadows really hit me over the head. But there was so much going on, rows and rows of vendors and a great selection of really good food to choose to eat, that I just happily clicked away. It might be worth another trip next Friday…

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Details…

A couple of weeks ago one of the photo club members was at Myakka River State Park and saw a flock of Roseate Spoonbills fly in. “A hundred”, he said. His pictures were amazing, and ever since then ‘Spoonies’ have been on my mind. A very fun Octoberfest party in Myakka City was just the excuse we needed to head to the park ourselves. We went this morning, and after driving the whole park it became obvious that if I was going to get any sort of pictures of the spoonies I was going to have to walk a very wet and squishy path. But I was happy to see them at least. When I got into the car and looked at my pictures I lamented that the turkey vultures had photo bombed the pictures. Earlier in the day I had said that I’m not a detail person, and when I got the pictures into the computer I saw who else had photo bombed the pictures and proved my point. How did I miss that alligator, and why did all the birds just hang around with him?

They did at least keep their eye on that big boy.
These were the most spoonies I’ve seen so far so I’m happy.
I saw this cute guy from the bird boardwalk.
Merlin says it’s a black necked stilt.
I always loved to see the tri-color heron who visited my back yard in Spring Hill.
We saw lots of wood storks and ibis too.
This is a pretty park.

There are many parks within a couple of hours of home that we can go to see birds now that the migration season is upon us.

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Odds and ends…

I was chauffeur driven for a week in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, which means I was taking pictures from the car, a lot of pictures. Now when I look at my pictures I have some that never did fit into any post I made already, but I liked them, so here goes. The feature photo is one of the four tunnels we drove through every day we were in NC. Two tunnels were longer, but that doesn’t make for as interesting of a picture.

Mingus Mill. A destination in the park, but one that didn’t yield as many pictures for some reason.
I loved seeing these silos along the roadside in Bryson City. After wishing to stop each time we drove past I finally said something and my driver kindly obliged.
This view escaped us the first couple of times we passed by, but once we noticed it we made it a point to stop for a picture.
The actual water wheel in action. Just for show at a shopping area.
This is a view into the house at the farm museum at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. I noticed this boy standing still, looking into the room, after the rest of the family had moved on. I wondered, hoped really, that he was trying to imagine life in those days.
Just a flower that caught my eye.
This carving is outside the Indian museum in Cherokee, NC.

I’m so glad that we made this trip. My computer is full of images of lovely fall scenery. I was initially disappointed that all the hills weren’t ablaze with color, but once I found myself traveling through tunnels of foliage overhead I was quite happy with the fall foliage we did see. It was a nice trip, but it’s also nice to be home…

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Elk sighting…

We pulled the car over to join the line up of cars on the side of the road just beyond the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee, NC. We quickly saw the female elk that everyone was getting out of their cars, toting their phones and cameras, to photograph. She had just emerged from the tree line, and was wandering into the pasture to graze. More females followed her, emerging by twos and threes, or just one at a time. I had seen elk before, but not in such a natural setting. In Yellowstone they had taken over the streets of a town, and the rangers weren’t so much herding the elk as they were herding the people who were getting too close to them. In Colorado Springs I saw them on a lawn of a business on one corner of a busy intersection, with a traffic light and constant traffic just a few yards away. The elk were not fazed by either of these situations.

First came one female elk, testing the waters perhaps?
Others followed soon after.
She seemed to lead the herd, or maybe her collar made her seem more official to me.

What was so different about this situation was the appearance of a huge buck, sporting a very impressive set of antlers. He also emerged from the tree line, and was bugling, and obviously rounding up his herd, which had scattered a bit. It’s the season of ‘rut’, so he was probably establishing his dominance to any other bull elk in the vicinity. It was interesting that a lone female quite a distance away, but in the same pasture, was of no interest to him, beyond a glance in her direction now and then. She apparently didn’t belong. Despite his attentions the females slowly continued to wander in the general direction of the road, and the dozens of people lined up beside their cars, intent on getting their pictures. And as they wandered so did the bull, right towards us, until a female ranger suddenly ran a short way into the pasture, waving her arms, and shoo’d the gals back to the center. I thought she was carrying a camera and long lens, but I was corrected, it was a tranquilizer gun. I’m happy to report that it wasn’t necessary to use it, at least on that day. I guess seeing the beautiful scenery, and having a chance to see the animals going about their business in the same way that their ancestors had done, is the entire point of a visit to our national parks, isn’t it?

He was so far away, just in the treeline and I thought a picture would be difficult.
Then he stepped into the light, he had work to do.
He was quite an impressive sight.
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Have I mentioned?

I know I mentioned that I wasn’t particularly gracious when I found myself driving the endless hairpin turns as we traveled the last 20 miles to the cabin. But I don’t think I mentioned that the entire rest of my trip was chauffeur driven, including the first part of the drive home. That’s the part with the hairpin turns and the frustrating traffic approaching Atlanta. Whew! So I spent one of the days we were there, the day that it stayed overcast most of the day so the light was soft and the colors were nice, shooting iPhone pictures out the windshield of the car. I have, on occasion, tried to shoot pictures out the windshield while also driving, a practice that I don’t recommend since it rarely leads to a good picture, not to mention the danger involved. But with a chauffeur it was hard to resist trying for shots as the scenery was gorgeous but there was nowhere to stop and take pictures. The feature photo is one of my more successful of those shots.

We were at a higher elevation, as well as the softer light, so the colors really seemed more vivid.
Ordinarily I’d have cropped out the people at the bottom of the picture. But as you can see they are aiming their phones across the parking area. I wonder if they ever turned around and looked behind themselves?
I don’t know that I stand and savor these views since I’m usually in such a hurry to take a picture, as if someone is about to snatch the view away.
Rocks and water again.
The water is so clear.
The sound of the water was nice too, and all the while you were under a canopy of gold and orange leaves.

The drive to get to the Smokies may have been long and frustrating at times, and the lack of wifi for the entire stay, as well as not even having TV for the first two days, may have been enough to spoil the trip for some people. But our focus was to get out and take ever more pictures, so that’s what we did. Plus I had downloaded books from Audible before we left, just to use my points before I quit the app, so we listened to a Vince Flynn book for the two TV-less nights. Now we need to listen to the end to see if everyone lives happily ever after. Which is what we seem to be doing…

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Oconoluftee Visitor Center…

This feature photo needs a title. How about “The Little Outhouse in the Smokies?” We were still on our first full day of our trip, and we had heard that this visitor center had a great farm display, as well as occasional visits from elk. We thought we could plan our trip, acquire some maps, and, hopefully, see some elk. We didn’t see them that day, but stay tuned because we did eventually see them. I look at these scenes and think of how hard life must have been in those days…

Here you have the farm house, amazingly devoid of tourists. Like us! LOL.
The house again. It was explained that the owner split the logs and used the halves on opposing walls. A skilled technique.
Further signage pointed out that pigs were essential on a farm in those days. They had large litters of piglets and they provided sustenance.
This rooster really did seem to be ruling the roost, but he did tolerate all the visitors well.
I liked this view of the barn from the walking path better than any of the other photos of it that I took.
Here we have the barn and some of the equipment that might have been used. The fencing surrounded the corn crop, another essential to the quality of life in those days.
More farm buildings, those are corn cribs in the back.
Flowers along the river.

Another objective of the trip was to practice using filters to improve your landscape photos as well as to photograph falling waters and make the water appear more silky. I was new to long exposure photography, but I did manage to get a couple of pictures. I had to toss most of the ones I attempted to take. It seemed that every bend in the road revealed a scene that made you want to stop the car and take pictures. And we were still on our first day in the park.

It will take a lot more practice to figure out this technique.
There were rocky little waterfalls in every stream along the roadside. Many opportunities to take even more pictures.