I’ve posted about this place in the past. But due to a new and upcoming partnership between yours truly and Bok Tower Gardens (more on that in the near future), I decided to visit and capture some new photographs of this beautiful haven!
Bok Tower Gardens is located on some ‘Florida Backroads’ in Lake Wales, Florida (about an hour south of Orlando, FL +/-). It’s a 250 acre National Landmark consisting of a 205 foot (singing) tower, beautiful grounds & gardens, 126 different species of birds plus other wildlife, Pinewood Estates and so much more. Bok Tower Gardens also houses a massive Welcome Center with all kinds of hands on history and heritage that tells the story of where Bok Tower Gardens came from as well as some Florida historical information. Additionally, there’s both a Gift Shop and Cafe’.
I’ve been a Bok Tower Gardens Supporting Member spanning many years. Last Thursday (April 6th, 2017), I made a visit to renew my membership (once a year for those wondering). I couldn’t have gotten much luckier as far as weather and timing goes. It was about 72 degrees, no humidity with a strong breeze blowing. It was also approaching magic hour – that time around sunset before dusk that produces long shadows, warm lighting – a scenic & landscape photographers’ dream!
Below is a series of pictures from my visit that shows off pretty much what you can feel and experience visiting Bok Tower Gardens. I know – I sound like an ad for the place :). But I swear all I’m trying to do is share the beauty, tranquility and sanctity of Bok Tower Gardens. Places like this are becoming very few and far between here in Florida, believe me! So much so that my main purpose & passion for my heart felt photography is to showcase, highlight and preserve that which is unfortunately becoming the exception rather than the norm – especially here in ‘The Sunshine State’.
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?
“We Are One” – The main thread through the new show, “Rivers Of Light” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
After decades of seeing all kinds of extravagant shows at Walt Disney World, I really didn’t know exactly what to expect of this latest new show at Animal Kingdom. I’d seen bits & pieces of it online via YouTube videos and similar. I’d also read varying accounts and reviews about the show.
I headed over to DAK (“Disney’s Animal Kingdom”) with a few cameras and 2-3 lenses in tow. I’d asked a few Cast Member friends of mine where would be the best, most accessible spot to view and shoot from. They suggested the Asia bridge (they were right by the way). There IS a whole new theater (similar to but smaller than the amphitheater at Fantastic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios). But I didn’t wanna be a pest to other guests with all my equipment. I also wouldn’t be guaranteed a front row center seat needed to do the type of photographing I wanted to do.
Cut to the show. This particular show has no pyrotechnics due to the animals being in residence at the park and within close proximity to the show area. The whole performance is done via light, music, water and sensory effects (wild animal and nature sound effects etc…). The show is also not the usual whiz, bang, light up the sky type presentation. BUT – what it is – is a beautiful, peaceful show with just enough energy so that it doesn’t fall short of all encompassing artistic beauty. The storytelling narration combined with the different music segments blend perfectly with what’s happening on the water and up in the trees (yes, up in the trees – with exquisite lighting effects). There’s also a ‘water screen’ where projections of various birds and animals give the show an additional dimension for sure. FYI – the music score is all original created just for the show. Its creator is the same person who did the music score for the movie, “Brother Bear.”
All the floats / barges in the water are controlled via GPS remote Control. No cables. No wires. No drivers. The creatures depicted on the floats (see photos herein this blog post) change colors and also match the ‘scene’ happening around them at the time.
Bottom line, this is a must see! If you hear from people that ‘there’s no story line’ or ‘it lacks pizzaz’, pay not attention. This show is NOT supposed to have all that pizzaz, fireworks, lasers etc… It’s a peaceful reminder that we are all one. We are all connected and that we must all work together as stewards of planet earth. Remember, Disney’s Animal Kingdom was created and built to deliver this type of message. DAK sort of became a theme park by default and some demand. But it IS all about life and the need for communion between all living things. “Rivers Of Light” manages to give all visitors a final reminder and message before they leave this park that ‘We Are One’ to hopefully make a difference and instill this important philosophy within the heart and soul upon departure.
Last but not least, a HUGE congratulations and recognition to any and all persons who had anything to do with the creation of Rivers Of Light! Not only did y’all do an above and beyond excellent job, you managed to take and stir up a little Disney of old – you made learning entertaining. That was one of Walt Disney’s methods of mixing education with entertainment making it fun, interesting and for folks of all ages. Kudos!
There are so many pictures I shot at Disney’s Animal Kingdom while I was there these last few days I couldn’t just let them sit there and do nothing. So here are a few more shots I captured while strolling the park waiting to shoot the new nighttime spectacular, “Rivers Of Light” (a blog post on that one coming soon as well). The pictures speak for themselves. But I thought it might be a little humorous to add a caption or two ;). Enjoy!
I, myself, used to be guilty of overlooking a lot of the hidden treasures and beauty at The Walt Disney World Theme Parks. Even after sooooooo many years at the parks, I still manage to miss, and then fortunately realize some of that beauty undiscovered. Here’s a prime example in a photo I captured the other day while strolling through Disney’s Animal Kingdom waiting to shoot the new, “Rivers Of Light” nighttime spectacular (a blog post on that coming very soon). On the west side (+/-) of The Tree Of Life, these carved details are for the most part over shadowed by the majesty of the tree itself. But just look close at the fine detailing embedded within the trunk portion of The Tree Of Life. Beautiful!
Today was one of those rare not too hot / not too cool sunny days in Florida. Hence, I ventured out on one of my favorite nature trails in a woodsy area of Central Florida. It was beautifully peaceful. Couldn’t even hear a car I was so far into the woods. But then I DID hear a bird. Not being heavy into ornithology (what a big word, huh? lol), I had no clue what I was listening to. Nor can I tell you what kind of bird it is in the photograph I captured herein this post. But he / she was gorgeous and sang like a … well … like a bird :).
So the plan for today was to go to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to see the new, “Rivers Of Light” show. However, in the 19 years that Animal Kingdom has been there, I’ve NEVER seen the parking lot so full. Every single section of the lot was 100% full. And I’m told that they eventually had to close due to capacity. Soooooo – I really didn’t have any other plans and didn’t have any more work to do shooting The Festival Of The Arts at Epcot. Henceforth, I began the track back home. This time I decided I’d exit off the property on the road that passes in front of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.
Well there on the opposite side of the road was a herd of deer grazing on the grass in the gorgeous magic hour golden sunset light. Here are a few examples of what I was able to shoot, once again testing out one of my new telephoto lenses.
I had reason to be downtown Orlando in the Mills Avenue area today.
While waiting for a repair, I strolled the streets a bit. Came across this cool street mural on the side of an old building. No idea really what the artist(s) was trying to convey – if anything. But obviously whomever did this creation definitely does have some talent.
I don’t know how many of you remember the late Charles Kuralt. Charles was (as far as I know) the first journalist that used to travel America seeking out human interest stories, mostly in ‘small town America’. I use to love watching his show on CBS when I was younger. When I really got into photography, I used to wish I could be the next Charles Kuralt. Still, do actually. But in my wish, I don’t necessarily want to limit myself to just interviewing folks. I wanna take great hidden treasure photos from, well, everywhere! So if you’re listening CBS or any major network or journalistic entity, here I am!!! 🙂
This photo I captured today (Monday February 13th, 2017) at one of Florida’s 176 State Parks. Can’t you just feel the warmth and smell the forest? The weather today was one of those picture perfect (no pun intended) days to begin with. But during magic hour (golden hour – sunset time frame), it got even better. I was lucky enough to be way out in the woods on one of the trails. Lighting & timing were also picture perfect (pun intended this tim lol). I managed to capture 3-4 great shots in addition to this one – they’ll be posted later. And that’s not a brag when I say “Great shots.” On any given day I go shooting, I usually manage to snap off several hundred shots if not more depending on the shoot. If I get ONE good shot, I consider myself lucky. But to grab 3-4 really good shots is one for the record books in my humble opinion.
Enjoy the peace and serenity of this shot. Everybody be good to each other – we’re all we’ve got 🙂
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 🙂
Years ago while traveling around the state of Florida – particularly in the Pan Handle area and the Everglades region, I noticed just miles and miles of beautiful saw grass or rivers & streams. No mountains like I’d grown up with in New England – just flat lands as far as the eye could see with nothing in the way. Hence, the self invented title of “Beautiful Nothingness” came to be in my creative mind. This shot is one of those pictures, though not taken in the Pan Handle or Everglades. Just a river (name unknown) running through the Lake Wales, (central) FL region. Kinda falls into that “60 seconds of peace” segment I’ve done here a few times. Only this one is not a ‘moving’ picture.
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.” 🙂