A Coke And A Smile – – – In The Woods

coke, cocal cola, soft drinks, things go better with coke, a smile and a coke, woods, forrest, nature

So yah, at this juncture, there is absolutely no point to this picture. Well, actually there WAS a point. But that point has since passed and it’s too long a story & not worth getting into here. I just loved this shot too much to let it sit forever and do nothing on my external archive drive. It somehow looks like (and I know this is an unrealistic statement) an old fashioned wooden Coke machine dispensing a bottle of the beverage.

No one else owns any rights to this picture except little old me. Hence, I thought I’d share it with y’all :).

“… Things Go Better With Coke…”

Peace – Mike T.

Melbourne Beach, FL – Long Exposure Shots – And A New Project Coming

florida, beaches, melbourne beach florida, long exposure shot, nd filter, neutral density filter, oceanOne of my favorite types of pictures in photography are long exposure shots. At night (when it’s nice and dark), it’s easy to create long exposure pictures. But during the day in the sunlight, it’s much more of a challenge – especially in the wide open of big beach with bright sun and little or no clouds. In order to make these type of photos happen, you need something to make what the camera sees appear darker. The best way to do this is with a Neutral Density Filter (ND Filter) in front of the lens. I created this particular picture using a 10 stop ND filter, ISO of 200, aperture of F-8 and using the Bulb setting to vary the shutter speed – in this case, the timing / shutter speed ended up being a 10 second exposure.

This is only one picture from a brand new project coming very soon (stay tuned, please). 😉

Peace – Mike T.

Super Moon: A Day Late :(

super moon, full moon, lunar, astro photography, spaceWell, I had plans of getting out and making an attempt to capture the full moon / super moon yesterday (January 30th, 2018), But let’s just say those plans fell apart. So I thought perhaps tonight (Wednesday January 31st, 2018), I’d see what I could do. I stepped outside, waited for the moon to rise. But by the time it did (6:26 PM), the sky was already black, hence, I couldn’t capture anything in the foreground to signify the “Superman” status. So here’s just another shot of a full moon. Nice as this is, I just really wish I could’ve done what I wanted and made it stand out as a super moon.

Next time perhaps.

Peace – Mike T.

Mike Thomas’ “Florida Backroads” Exhibit Now Live At Bok Tower Gardens

 

After little sleep, loading in of all the frames and other art pieces in the unusually freezing Florida temps (32 degrees) this early morning (“O’Dark Thirty” lol), my photo art exhibit, “Florida Backroads” is now officially open at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, FL. The exhibit runs through April 26th, 2018.

bok tower gardens, florida, lake wales, national historic landmark, florida backroads

All pieces on display are also available for purchase as well. Prices range from $85.00 to $110.00 per piece and include frame, matting w/backing and of course the image printed on archival fine art paper. Sizes range from 14″ X 18″ (frame and matte) / 11″ X 14″ print; 16″ X 20″ (frame and matte) / 11″ X 14″ print; 18″ X 24″ (frame and matte) / 12″ X 18″ print. Bok has also requested my work to be available in their get shop as well. FYI – the gift shop pieces will be offered in smaller sizes and unframed (matted & backed only) and will therefore sell at a slightly lower price (prices TBD). The aforementioned merchandise art will be coming to the gift shop within the next week to ten days.

“Look Ma’, I’m In Print!”

OK, so much for the sales pitch (for now… LOL). If you’ve never been to Bok Tower Gardens, you really need to go there – especially if you’re looking for a peaceful, tranquil, 250 acre environment with the tower itself (known as “The Singing Tower”) chiming out over the grounds as the musician in the tower loft plays an old fashioned Carillon.

Click anyone of the Bok Tower Gardens links within this blog post for a full description and history of Bok Tower Gardens. And by the way, Bok Tower Gardens is on the National Registry of Historic Landmarks. Just can’t say enough good things about the place!

Hopefully I’ll see you there. Bok has me doing a ‘Meet & Greet’ on January 24th from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. I’ll keep you updated as the event progresses. Y’all also might wanna check my Instagram Account (www.instagram.com/mikethomasimagery/) as well as I tend to post quick / short updates there.

Peace – Mike T.

Mike Thomas’ “Florida Backroads” Photo Art Exhibit Coming To Bok Tower Gardens!

 

Greetings Everyone!

First off, hope y’all had great Holidays! Also hope everyone is making their way through these frigid and snowy conditions on the east coast (and elsewhere, but I’m on the east coast and experiencing Florida’s version of a cold snap).

OK, let me get right to it. If you’ve read my blog over the last several years, you know I’ve visited Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida many times. I LOVE this place for many reasons but mainly because of its serenity, beauty, peacefulness, attachment to nature, the size (250 acres) and of course, the 205 foot ‘Singing Tower’ itself (click the Bok Tower Gardens link here or below for in depth details on the ‘singing tower’, the surrounding gardens and more). You can also find some wildlife, tons of butterflies fluttering all around you (and these offerings are all truly wild and not in a sanctuary or similar). Best of all, Bok Tower Gardens is on the National Historic Landmark Registry Listing – meaning it’ll be there for a long, LONG time!

Above and beyond all the aforementioned, Bok Tower Gardens offers to their Guests an art exhibit that runs pretty much year round. The artists / exhibits are switched out every few months or so. I saw this exhibit section for the first time at their Welcome Center dating back about 5-6 years and have always thought how I’d love to have my work on display there since it fit the theme (nature, wildlife, Florida). Well guess what? I was offered the opportunity last spring to be the featured artist for one of these exhibits! (YAY! WOO HOO! lol :))

My exhibit entitled, “Florida Backroads,”will begin its run on January 19th, 2018 and finish on April 26th, 2018. All items on display will also be for sale (FYI – any items purchased will remain on display until March 26th, 2018 … at which time the buyers will then receive their photographic art pieces).

In addition to the exhibit, Bok Tower Gardens has me doing a ‘Meet The Artist’ type welcome on January 24th, 2018 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Refreshments will be served during those times and of course yours truly will be in attendance to casually chat and answer questions about my work as well as photography.

Hope anyone and everyone can make it to Bok Tower Gardens between January 24th and April 26th, 2018. Again, the display is inside The Bok Tower Welcome Center. The exhibit itself is free. However, admission to the massive grounds and gardens is required. Below, please find the address and web site link for Bok Tower Gardens:

Bok Tower Gardens, 1151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales, Florida 33853 – 863 676 1408

I’ll update this blog with more information as the opening date draws nearer. I’l also post additional updates as the exhibit progresses.

Thanks for stoppin’ by neighbor!

Mike T.

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.