Monument Of States

wwii, ww ii, world war ii, pearl harbor, monument of states, kissimmee, fl, disney world


Today being December 7th, 2017, the date marks the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I wanted to post about something – anything – different but related directly to ‘that day in infamy‘. I remembered doing another photo shoot in the downtown historic area of Kissimmee, FL, a town that borders The Walt Disney World Resort, just to give geographical reference. The monument or this post has nothing to do with Disney. Anyway, while doing the shoot I mentioned, I recalled seeing a very unusual monument in this section of town called, “The Monument Of The States.”

Upon further research regarding this unusual monument, I discovered that this structure was the brain child of Dr.Charles Bressler-Pettis. Dr. Bressler-Pettis’ idea was to have every one of the United States send a rock significant to the respective state to him. He would then use these rocks within the construction of The Monument Of States. The reason behind it all was to create or display a symbol of patriotic unity in the early, dark days of World War II just after Pearl Harbor was attacked. Dr. Bressler-Pettis sent out a letter to each of the governors of every state requesting a rock from each respective state. The response to his request was phenomenal and unanimous. All 48 states (at that time) complied and became a major part & contributor of this project.

If you look closely at some of the pictures herein, you’ll see what I mean. Each little section is labeled or named and has a rock (or something similar) within it. Over time, more rocks and placards were added to the monument. You’ll see offerings from Canada, Africa and more in the monument (and in a few of the photos).

The Monument Of States was created in 1942. Here it is 76 years later and it’s still standing! As a side note, the monument did have a facelift of sorts in 2001 making it look even better and due to incidents at around that time frame, have even more significance.

If should ever want to go see this thing in person, the address is 300 East Monument Ave, Kissimmee, FL. It technically resides in Lakefront Park at the aforementioned address.

To all who perished and to all who survived this day in 1941, you’ll never be forgotten by this photographer / writer!

Pray for peace everyone! Thanks for stopping by! And most important, thank you to every U.S. Military Person who is or has protected all of us from harms way. God Bless All Of You and your families!

Mike T.

Mother Nature At Her Finest

So there I was – at a place called Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, FL. Yes, I’ve posted a few blog articles on this gorgeous, peaceful, nature abounding place before (and more to come). I was there taking care of some “business”. And by the way, the “business” I speak of is pretty darn cool ;). There’ll be a separate post announcing some very exciting news for yours truly and whomever else wants to be a part of it all. But that post / announcement won’t be here (on this blog) until Friday (day after tomorrow, August 17th, 2917).

Anyhoo – back to where I got off track lol. While I was out walking in the gardens at Bok, I was astounded by the amount of butterflies and bumblebees hanging out in those gardens today.

It was almost like an enclosed butterfly sanctuary – but – without the enclosures ;). It was all wild, fluttering wings of both butterflies and bees. Scary to some who have an aversion or fear of bees perhaps. But to this photographer, I was right in my wildlife, nature element.

The pictures herein are just a few of what I captured out there today. So de-stress by looking at these photos and imagine you can hear those wings all ‘a-flutter’. 🙂

Peace – Mike T.

Florida Backroads: My Friend & Author Rebekah Lyn

So if you’ve read this blog at all, you know one of – if not my biggest passion – is the natural beauty and lesser known roads of Florida. Fairly soon, there’ll be lots more coming about all that but that’s another blog post for another time. THIS article has to do with one of my best, long time friends, Rebekah Lyn. Rebekah is an author with 4 or 5 books to her credit thus far. Of late, she’s been working on another new one. Release date has not been confirmed at this point.

Recently, I had the honor to be asked to shoot the cover photo for this new book. The shoot itself went great, albeit, it got VERY hot very quickly. But we were all only out in the blazing Florida summer sun for about 2 hours. Well, I certainly don’t wanna give anything away about the new book – including the actual final contenders for the cover picture. However, while I was out there with Rebekah, I managed to click off this ‘generic’ shot in an area near the Space Coast. Hence, part of the reason for this blog post.

The location I was shooting that day was near Kennedy Space Center on the east coast of Florida. The combination of that, plus shooting for Rebekah’s new book reminded of one of her recent books I really enjoyed, “Jessie.” So here’s the shameless plug for my friend & author Rebekah Lyn ;), check out the particular ebook I just made mention of by clicking the link to Amazon below.

Thanks for stoppin’ by,

Peace – Mike T

Mike’s Great Smoky Mountains Adventure – Final Day

Don’t y’all hate when it’s the last day of a vacation or trip? Yah, me, too. But today is bittersweet. Of all the days I’ve spent here in The Great Smoky Mountains, today (Wednesday June 28th, 2017) was THEE best for pictures and sightings! Yee Hawe, indeed! 🙂
smoky mountains, great smoky mountains, great smoky mountains national park, bryson city NC, steam trains, railroad, railway,
I started out in Bryson City, NC with a visit to The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. Much as I DO like train rides, I didn’t venture over there with the intent of riding. I wanted to take my own photos of the railroad and a few of Bryson City itself But more than just that, there are several trestles where the GSMR Trains cross – one of them not too far from the downtown depot. I’d hoped to get a few good ones of the train traversing the bridge. But as luck would have it, I captured about 10-12 GOOD ones – so rare for even the best photographers. It was too hard to choose which ones to put herein this blog. Therefore, I just posted one herein. The rest I plan on including in another post which will contain a slide show video. More on that later.

After the railroad shots, I headed over once more to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Just after entering the park, I ran into a traffic jam. I knew tis either meant a car accident or a wildlife sighting. I got lucky – it was a herd of elk on the side of the road as well as crossing the road. Must’ve been about 20 of `em. Again, YEE HAWE!!! 🙂

As if the herd of elk sighting wasn’t enough, I drove about another 3 miles down (well, UP) the road. What do I spy there you ask? ANOTHER 2-3 elk. Luckily, there was a small roadside turnout where I could stop my car. I jumped out and clicked off about another 50 shots of these beautiful animals grazing in the high grass.

Did it all stop there? NO I SAY 🙂 I headed to a place called Newfound Gap Overlook. The plan was to stay long enough to capture a sunset. This was at the suggestion of a friend of mine, Alta. The idea was good and I had every intention of staying another hour or two to make this happen. But my luck began to run out, The clouds kept growing and thickening all around the gap and beyond. So I made the best of it and shot about 2-3 different locations (including Newfound Gap) in long exposure with a neutral density filter (which lets you take long exposures in the middle of the day etc…). One of them I’ve included herein this post. However, I will admit there are several more that are ‘fine art’ quality and will be a for sale item at a later point (as are several other shots I’ve shot over the last few days … hey I like y’all and wanna share some of these images, but I gotta save some to offset the cost of these trips LOL).

AND THEN – – – As I was about to depart the park for the day, I was finally able to locate one of the roadside attractions I’d been looking for the last few days. It’s an old fashioned, historic Grist Mill. I got there a little late in the day and the mil itself was already locked up. But again making the most of it all, I captured several pictures of the Grist Mill and the grounds. I included one for now in this post.

Anyhoo – that’s about it from the Smoky Mountains. Headed back to Florida tomorrow (Thursday). I may do a recap video slide show in the next few days. We’ll see how that pans out. Wanna make sure I have enough shots to make a short video worthwhile.

Thanks for stopping’ by and following these last few posts about  mIke’s Great Smoky mountains Adventures! 🙂

Peace – Mike T.

Smoky Mountains Adventure – Day 2

“In every walk with nature, humankind receives more than is sought” – John Muir

great smoky mountains, smoky mountains, cases cove, wildlife, nature, deer, elk, mooseWell, today (Tuesday June 27th, 2017) was one of those ‘outa sync’ days. Meaning – my timing was off, mother nature was off, even the wildlife was off :). Lots of driving through and around the mountains but I just couldn’t make more than a few good photos happen. But it’s really hard to be that unhappy while up here in this beautiful place!!! And that ‘outa sync’ thing … well … I guess it isn’t 100% accurate anyway as you can see by the four pictures herein this blog post.

While visiting Cades Cove (within The Great Smoky Mountains National Park), I chose to drive the 11 mile scenic loop. For those not familiar, this driving loop encompasses a vast area in Cades Cove where all kinds of wildlife are known to live, come out and feed etc… But here’s why I reference that ‘outa sync’ thing. Even though I saw a mother bear and two cubs, they were so far into the forest, trees blocking my shot, plus it was rather dark where they were, hence, no photos of that little family :(. I also saw what I believe was a fox that came prancing right in front of me. By the time I had my camera at the ready, he / she was gone in the high grass and into the woods . I mean it was really cool to see the two aforementioned. The memories will live in my brain and my heart & soul forever. I just wish I could’ve shared those visions here via my photography. Ahh well.

There were plenty of places to shoot more majestic scenery of these spectacular mountains (see the two photos herein).

And of course the two shots of the two elk (or moose – not sure 😉 ) atop this page helped make up for anything I might have missed for whatever reason. And by the way, those shots (of the elk/moose) were taken right alongside the roadway as I was leaving Cades Cove.

Well, that’s about it for tonight. Hopefully more pictures to share after tomorrow’s big adventures :).

Peace – Mike T.

Mike’s Great Smoky Mountains Adventure – Day 1

“Going to the mountains is going home” – John Muir

smoky mountains, north carolina, maggie valley, gatlinburg, cherokee, tennessee, pigeon forge, dolly parton, blue ridge parkway

I’ve planned and attempted several time to make a trip to The Great Smoky Mountains. I cancelled once due to a projected forecast of heavy rains for like 5-6 days in a row. The last time I chose not to go due to the massive & destructive wildfires they were experiencing. But this time around, I just said to heck with all that, booked it about 3 days before my departure (from central Florida) and just went. God shone down and made the weather perfect for my adventure.

And a big adventure it’s been so far. I can’t explain it. It’s more of a feeling inside my soul. But in just one day (and night) I’ve spent here, I fell like … I dunno … like I’ve taken a step back in time, but in a good way. So many past emotions, experiences and peaceful moments. More on all that stuff in another blog post ;).For now, please read on and view the rest of today’s ‘select shots’.

So here I now sit in my hotel room at the ends of day 1 (which began for me at about 6:30 AM) just in time to watch the sun rise over the mountains. Side note – didn’t get any shots of the sunrise TODAY as I didn’t realize until it was too late that I was basically on the ‘wrong side of the mountain’ for that. But here’s hoping for tomorrow or one of my other days I’ll be here. I managed to visit many of the beautiful and historic areas or venues throughout The Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as some bordering views just outside the park along The Blue Ridge Parkway.

There are lots of old, historical heritage locations like these last two shots in and around the mountains here. The plan is to visit them over the next 2-3 days. Once again, more on all that in more / other blog posts.


These pictures are just a few ‘teaser’ images. At the end of this trip, I’,planning on putting many more photographs on this blog (and elsewhere – i.e. – Instagram (@MikeThomasImagery) etc… For now, enjoy these and let your mind wander into the peace & QUIETNESS of these wonderful mountains!


Peace – Mike T.

“Pan American Flight From The Past Now Arriving…”

airplane, jet, propeller, pan american, airliner, airport, international flight

So there I was – driving home from the small Florida town of Mount Dora Wednesday morning (see other blog post on that one) after shooting the Mount Dora Lighthouse and some bird wildlife. I look over to my right and I suddenly feel like I’ve stepped back in time. I see this airplane (and I use that term intentionally – not jet or jetliner – look at the propellers on this baby) parked on one of the taxi ways. I then noticed an entry / exit to the airport where this plane is. I swerve (carefully of course) off the main highway and into the airport. I find a good spot to capture this shot with a very long lens (so I don’t have to drive out on the taxi way with my car …. yah, THAT would’ve ended well I’m sure ;)). I’m not sure if it is in fact an actual Pan Am airplane or some sort of converted plane that the owner just painted the logo and the Pan Am colors on to. Regardless, I thought it was a pretty good find. Made my day :). Perhaps I’ll go back out there, talk to whomever and try and get permission to go right to where the plane is parked and grab some even better pictures. We’ll see :).

Peace – Mike T.

“Look Into The Eye”

orlando, orlando eye, attractions, florida, disney, universal orlando. sea world, theme parks

While browsing some pictures I’d captured in days gone by, I came across this black & white shot of The Orlando Eye. I did a blog post about two years ago when I went on this baby for the first time. But all (or most of) the shots I’d posted were night time shots as The Orlando Eye looks quite beautiful at night. So I thought I’d post one of my slightly more artistic black & white shots of this nifty, cool attraction!

Peace – Mike T.

The Old Man And The Sea

fish, fisherman, atlantic ocean, pier, sort, water, wildlife, nature

No, not the famous old movie with Spencer Tracy. But rather, this picture I captured at a pier overlooking part of the Atlantic Coastline with this guy casting a few lines did remind me of that movie. Well, because I loved fishing as a kid with almost my entire family (they were all from the Maritimes up in Canada (Nova Scotia to be exact)), every time I see a scene like this, it’s impossible not to think back and reminisce about my youth and my great family. When they (my family) migrated down here to the states in the 1950’s, I came along some years after. Hence, growing up as a kid in New England, fishing was as much a favorite past time for myself and my family as baseball is known to be most of America. I can’t tell you the number of stories & tales of the sea I was put to sleep by. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Makes me wonder how many sea stories this ole` fisherman has to tell?

Peace – Mike T.

Full Snow Moon & Eclipse – Sorta

moon, full moon, snow moon, winter moon, golden moon, eclipse, lunar

You’ve all heard the old expression, “A day late & a dollar short?” Ya’ well – I guess my timing was off tonight. I wanted to capture the lunar eclipse tonight. But I guess I need to relearn how to read a lunar chart so as to pin point exactly when the moon would be on the rise, since that was supposed to be when the most noticeable portion of the lunar eclipse could be seen. OOPS! But I still managed to get a nice closeup of this golden, full “Snow Moon.” So – I thought I’d post it for your viewing and relaxing pleasure 🙂

Peace all you ‘Moon-Dawgs’ – Mike T.

“Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike” – Happy Hump Day!

So I grabbed this shot at the Morocco Pavilion in Epcot at Walt Disney World last week after I’d completed my “work” for the day. I was really just looking for different angles of stuff I had never shot before. But when I got home and saw this, all I could think was that silly camel in that TV commercial talking about “Hump Day.” 🙂

Happy Hump Day – Enjoy!

Peace – Mike T.

News & Updates


That title sounds like a segment of “Saturday Night Live” doesn’t it? Anyhoo – – –

This post is to bring everyone up to date with a few changes and new direction in the ever changing, ever evolving life and career of yours truly, Mike Thomas. Some of this may not be very exciting to y’all. But to me, these changes have been a LONG time coming and are pretty monumentous (is that a word?) to me.

As many of you know, I’ve been a photographer almost all my adult life and have taken leaps and bounds just in the last 4-5 years with both the business and creative side of this art form. I’m now at a point where I want – correction, NEED to divert my efforts and passions to this outlet.

First, everything Mike Thomas will now be under the title, blog title, web site and more as, “MIKE THOMAS IMAGERY.” All the former titles regarding Mike Thomas Productions, Mike Thomas Music etc… are no more – gone! Which leads into point #3. But first, point #2. Is this getting confusing? Sorry if so. Please read on. It will all make sense in the end I swear :).

Point #2 – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – but mainly, Facebook. Here’s the deal. About 9 months ago, I made a decision to shut down all my Facebook Pages (as in ‘business pages’ – not my personal Facebook page). Well, the decision was not wrong. BUT – (and I’ll say this as eloquently and politically correct as possible), I’ve come to realize that a personal Facebook page does not serve me well. In fact, with the changes in society, I find that whenever I go on Facebook to see what others are up to, I end up navigating away from Facebook after about 5 minutes due to frustration levels, stress levels and observations off many (not all) people’s’ choices to post topics that cause and fuel more stress & negativity almost to the point of anger between people / rivals. This is not what I signed up for Facebook for years ago. Now that being said, I’m all for freedom – freedom of speech and expression more than anything. Anyone can do whatever they choose – this is still a great free country. But this option or right if you will, applies to me as well. Henceforth, all postings on Facebook will appear only on my “Mike Thomas Imagery” Facebook (business) page. I’m just tired of viewing so much negativity and political protests and undertakings. Not saying anyone is wrong or right for what they believe or post. Like I just said above, it’s a free country. But I, too, have the same freedom and I’m choosing to not be part of or view things that do nothing except steal my joy and drain me of creative energies etc… Who knows, maybe someday when things quiet down I’ll return to utilizing social media for fun. But for now, anything and everything regarding Mike Thomas Imagery – the pictures and stories that accompany them will emanate from my web site / blog, . Those pictures, stories and posts will appear on my Mike Thomas Imagery Facebook Business Page as well as on Twitter and possibly on Instagram. I sure would be appreciative is y’all would “LIKE” my Mike Thomas Imagery Facebook Page – and if you decided to follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram, that’d be way cool, too. When was the last time you heard someone say, “Way Cool?” – 1985 perhaps LOL. I still live too much in the past, but that can be a good thing with this new artistic preservation project I suppose.

Point #3 – Music. I know never to say never in this life. BUT – I’ve had a wonderful and rewarding 41 year run with my live musical performing, song writing, recordings, productions, touring and more. But it’s just time for me to move on. I’ve been fighting this for about 10 years (maybe even longer). Not retiring, mind you. I still plan on playing the piano and synth at home in the studio – maybe even write & record a song or two. And maybe even get together with a few select friends and jam or whatever. But the live aspect of it all … well …. life and times have changed y’all and so has my desire to put all eggs in one basket as I’d done for so many years – that being music. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE music and always will. Like I said above, I plan on playing and being a little creative at home, on my time, without lugging hundreds of pounds of equipment from gig to gig. And I will always be so thankful and appreciative to everyone that has supported my by coming to the shows, buying my CD’s and other stuff. Most of all, “To God Be The Glory.” I take no credit for my talents. God gave me those upon coming into this world. It’s simply just time to lighten up, slow down a wee bit and put my creative efforts and juices into another art form – photography & multimedia (and lug around much less equipment 😉 ).

My biggest wish going forward is that I can be creative in such a way that my artistic abilities / pictures honor God and the humanity of this ever changing world. What do I mean by that statement? Well, I’m all for progress. I’m a geek, tech head and more – love new things :). But there are some aspects of life that need to be preserved. Whether it be for simple beauty or be it for future generations that may not get to know enough about our heritage or history. This doesn’t have to be huge happenings necessarily. I can think of so many geographic areas, incidents, and progress that has over shadowed what once was etc… Unless someone documents them in one form or another, they may just fade away like invisible ink. THAT, my friends would be too sad for me to just stand by and do nothing about when I possess another God given talent that might lend itself to the artistic preservation of such slices of life.

Please keep an eye out for lots more news, updates, postings and more from yours truly. And please follow me here (subscribe above left) or on Facebook, on Twitter or Instagram – or ALL THREE! :).

That’s it for now. Be good to each other – we’re all we’ve got!

Peace – Mike T