I’ve posted similar subject matter in the past with the same underlying premise. Translated, there are some shots that have taken me hours – even days to shoot due to lighting, placement, angle, availability etc… But there are those wonderful rare shots where I’m walking by something or someone, I just pick up the camera and click the shutter without even thinking or preparing. Then there are also shots like this one where I started out framing up a shot of the flowers with the bright blue sky in the background. Then (in this case) – along comes the Disney Monorail ….. and …. voila !!! :).
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:
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!
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’. 🙂
This post is about change, moving forward, embracing the future and sadly, saying farewell to two of my most favorite and nostalgic attractions ever at The Walt Disney World Resort.
Upon my second visit to Walt Disney World was in 1984, two years after EPCOT Center opened. Among the many rides and attractions, one that became my favorite: “The Universe Of Energy.” I thought it was THEE coolest ride ever. It was powered (and still was up until today – the final day of operation ever) by solar panels on the roof. It had moving theater cars that moved sections of an entire seated audience in and around the show / theater. The main focus was on energy, how and where it came from dating back to the dinosaur era. The attraction also contained many audio animatronic dinosaurs, too. All around very cool ride that in it’s day was so advanced and high tech. It remained a nostalgic favorite all through the years even through several changes spanning the 35 years of operation. Well, I believe it was George Harrison that used the line in one of his songs (or maybe it was an album title – don’t remember and it’s not really the point), “All things must pass.” The Universe Of Energy’s time has now come and gone. As of Sunday August 13th, 2017, the attraction loved by so many is no longer. The Walt Disney Company has decided to shutter the doors to make way for a brand new attraction. Exactly what and when that new ride will debut is not fully clear yet.
Now, as if that weren’t enough to break this old heart today, another major attraction that opened with the (then) Disney / MGM Studios Theme Park in 1989, “The Great Movie Ride,” has also been closed permanently by Disney in order to make room for another new attraction themed around none other than Mickey and Minnie Mouse. I coincidently was there for the grand opening of The Disney / MGM Studios Theme Park on May 1st, 1989. I didn’t plan it but it just happened to turn out that way. I was there as a Guest and not working oddly enough. To be honest, I wasn’t all that impressed AT FIRST with this park. About 3 years later after some major additions and expansions, it was a different story and my feelings changed. That park was now pretty darn cool! That being said, there was one attraction that I fell in love with the first time I rode it on May 1st, 1989. Yes, it was The Great Movie Ride. Disney had just introduced 3rd (I believe) generation audio animatronics. The characters in the ride (John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, James Cagney and more) were so life like with their moves it was almost creepy – but great! There was also a human interaction as the Disney Cast Member that ride with you in your theater car told a story as you travelled ‘through the movies’. At one point, the Cast Member would either get thrown off the ride at (fake) gun point and later, everyone got to experience some ‘magic’ as that Cast Member would reappear in another scene / portion of the ride. I could go on and on. But alas, The Great Movie Ride saw it’s final trip around the theater Sunday August 13th, 2017. 🙁
To all the Cast Members, technicians, Imagineers and everyone else that helped keep that attraction running and made us all feel like we were part of the movies, an incredible heartfelt THANK YOU! I get it when it comes to growth, progress, change etc… Walt Disney’s dying words to his brother Roy were, “Don’t let my parks become a museum … change, grow and update forever.” Nonetheless, it really does put a lump in my throat seeing these two classic attractions go away.
Here’s to the future – whatever it may bring all of us!
Yep, you read the title correctly :). I ventured out today (Friday August 11th, 2017) in the late afternoon. Just one of those ‘have to get outside’ days. Well, silly me overlooked the fact it was Friday afternoon / evening. The traffic was terrific! So I puttered along until I was getting close to one of my favorite spots, “Lake Louisa State Park.” I know – I shoot there a lot. But there’s just SO MUCH in the park and always something new. Today, as I was driving towards Dixie Lake (one of the 5 lakes within the park), I looked to my left and saw a few of the local residents puttering along at a much slower pace than I was. I immediately exclaimed, “DUDE!” (have to be a Finding Nemo fan to get that one LOL). I stopped, got out of the car and captured the two pics of these two turtles pictured herein. “Radical, shawe!” 😉
When I got to Dixie Lake, I walked down the pier to the waters’ edge. There I found a non typical Florida sunset as you see in this shot below. The contrast and dynamics the huge clouds created made for a pretty nice and different shot. Enjoy!
There are times when I have some preconceived notion of capturing some unique, funny or just different type of shot. I head out looking for it often times – actually, MOST times never come across it. Then there are days I throw the camera in the car, head out for a joy ride, perhaps pick up a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks coffee and just drive down some old country road – – – and come across “Mr. Ed” taking a dip on a hot Florida afternoon :). This poor guy was just too hot in that Florida sun but managed to find some relief.
My parting words – especially to any aspiring photographers: Get in the car, put it in drive and just GO! Ya’ never know what you’re gonna find.
There’s a 30 mile stretch of scenic coastline on the east coast of Florida between Daytona, Ormond and Flagler Beaches. I’d never set foot on it before and I thought it might make a nice Sunday, go shootin’ & explorin’ kinda drive. Truthfully, the scenic portion of this venture was in fact pretty. But in keeping with theme of ‘Florida Backroads’, it just wan’t ‘backroad-zee’ enough. But I did manage to find a few places to click off a picture or 20. They pretty much speak for themselves. But just to be absolutely clear,
the light house shots are that of Ponce Inlet Light, located at the southern most tip of Daytona Beach. This time around I shot with a hefty telephoto zoom versus my usual wide angle. Kinda neat to see those folks up there that climbed this lighthouse (the tallest one in Florida by the way).
I’ve climbed this thing in the past. But it was pretty crowded being a weekend day and I figured I didn’t wanna invest that much time that day. Oh yah, and I probably would’ve needed an oxygen bottle at the end of it all, too LOL :).
The “Flagler Beach” water tower, well, speaks for itself. But with the green vegetative foreground and the nice blue sky, I thought it’d probably make an OK shot. And the beach shot – – – well – – – the only problem with taking almost any beach shot is that they all look the same for the most part: sand, water, sky. Granted, beautiful and relaxing. But from a photographers stand point, difficult to make each shot look that mush different. But I still liked the look and feel of it. I love the feeling any ocean shot brings!
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.
Well I guess this must be show off or modeling season for deer here in Florida. Everyday I’ve gone out shooting for the last week or so, I’ve managed to come upon between 3 and 6 deer a day – including this great capture above (if I do say so myself lol) I was lucky enough to photograph of a mama and baby deer. Certainly no complaints, mind you.
Maybe I’m finally learning the tricks of when the best time is to go photograph these non camera shy beauties – like this cute ‘peek-a-boo’ shot above :). Ahh, mother nature!
Merritt Island Wildlife Preserve is basically near and / or part of the Kennedy Space Center property over on the east coast of Florida. I’d been there only once before with a good friend of mine who – for the second time today – gave me a great grand tour. This is the part(s) of Florida that I have passionate love for. It reminds of a southern version of where I grew up and lived for all of my younger life in New England – specifically, The White Mountains of New Hampshire. So what’s the connection you ask? The beautiful pristine, almost untouched natural beauty of the land Yes, New Hampshire has high mountains while Florida does not. But the same nature based, peaceful serenity I’ve always found up there in the mountains I can find in places like this wildlife preserve.
While touring around Merritt Island Preserve, I managed to capture several wildlife shots as well as a pretty large scale wildfire that was creeping up on the property line of the preserve. It actually may have been on some of the property/ Was far enough away I couldn’t tell. Nonetheless, this wildfire was huge! But even though it was a destructive force, it still made for an interesting and beautiful photo. I certainly don’t mean to make light of this and I surely hope there was no personal injury or property loss.
I definitely plan on making more trips over to Merritt Island Wildlife Preserve. What you’re seeing (and hearing about) herein this blog post barley scratches the surface of what this area has to offer.
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! 🙂 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! 🙂