Rainy Day Garage Fun

Today was a scheduled maintenance day for Wilma the MGA. To avoid the worst of the rain, I drove to the garage early and passed the time with my phone camera, stray cats, and some really cool cars. A little creative license can make even phone pics interesting!


Umbrella Fail Puddle Dunk

Sometimes inspiration comes from strange places. Last night I was sitting on the couch, disappointed that the UNF/OLLI class field trip I was leading had been postponed due to rainy weather in old town St Augustine.

While half-asleep, I imagined myself  braving the elements to capture deserted wet streets with reflections of the bright lights and saturated colors. Or something like that.

So off I went, into a total downpour.

Paddle Faster!

Two miles out on the placid St Johns River, only the occasional leaping mullet disturbs the water.

Suddenly, Thump….Thump…..WHAM….

Paddle Faster!

The first strike felt like we collided with something…then I turned around and made eye contact with a VERY large (4+ ft) Tarpon who was just as shocked to see me.  He obviously mistook our rudder for a tasty meal (or maybe it was an amorous encounter?) After several more attempts to eat the kayak or otherwise get to know us better, he swam off, leaving us with way more adrenaline pumping than we expected for such a calm day.

What the heck? PADDLE FASTER!!
The Atlantic Tarpon (Megalops Atlanticus)

Now we know what those little mullet run away from! After that experience, the rest of our day seemed rather anti-climatic.

This time of year, we use the kayak to explore Bald Eagles nests that are inaccessible by land. We finally found the Eagles about 3 miles from our launch point, and were able to photograph one on guard duty along the riverbank. Notice the off-white “dirty” looking tail, which is a sign of nesting activity.

We also observed rafts of hundreds of Ruddy Ducks along the river, covering a wide area of the eastern shoreline, and a few Great Blue Heron engaged in nest-gathering.

I always have a GoPro filming on board, but today it was aimed ahead of the boat, and the only evidence of our encounter was my expression when I turn to see the Tarpon vs Kayak commotion.

The camera never lies, so it also captured my graceful exit from the boat at the end of the day.

Until next time…..

Click on any image below to see full-size:

Sunrise Re-discovered

Have you ever browsed through your older images only to discover something you overlooked? I found this one today from a photoshoot last June.  It’s from a road trip taken deep into the pine barrens of Southern New Jersey, my old stomping grounds. I was intrigued by the lush endless ferns and golden morning mist.

I normally keyword, grade, and organize my images right after uploading, but somehow this batch slipped through. Teachable moment from this story: Use those chilly or rainy days wisely and explore your old photos…you never know what you might discover!

Canon 5D IV, 1/80 sec, f/16, ISO 1250, 24mm.

Sunrise Rediscovered

New Bird Morning

I’m not the best bird watcher by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t keep a massively impressive list, but I love the challenge, particularly when photographing a new bird or tracking them down in a new place.

Yesterday we were thrilled to locally observe a flock of Sandhill Cranes, a Priority Species that the National Audubon Society says is vulnerable to loss of habitat. While overall they have rebounded in recent years, they are not terribly common here in North Florida.  Degradation of their habitat here and at major stopover points for migrants could have serious impact on the species in the future.

Anyone who pursues this hobby gets a little thrill when seeing a species for the first time, and today we saw Black Bellied Whistling Ducks and White-crowned Sparrows – new birds for our list! Both species are fairly uncommon in our location. Below are a few more results from a productive morning at our new little birding paradise. Click the preview for a full-sized image. For more information about bird photo outings in North Florida or for photography instruction, please contact me. Thanks for looking!



Making Movies about Making Movies…

My UNF/OLLI classes are a fun and interesting challenge for adult learners. My November 13-20 course was an introduction to iMovie, the basic video production and movie creation software that comes with your Mac. But many folks simply don’t know how to use it! Here’s our class project, with images and content created and provided by my class. For more information about my OLLI courses or to chat about your photography or editing needs, please contact me. 

A St John’s River Sunset

I’m convinced that we live in a sunrise and sunset paradise, especially as the weather cools. One of my favorite locations for viewing sunsets is along the St John’s River near Rivertown, where the massive oak and cypress forest along the shoreline provides ample foreground opportunity.  In sunset or sunrise photography, foregrounds are critical to avoid creating a boring cliche image.

Here are some results followed by a fun video of my recent class outing to capture the perfect sunset!

Moonrise after the sunset.
Friends enjoying the event!

Sunrise Class at Big Talbot Island

Big Talbot Island State Park has an area of driftwood on the beach known as “The Boneyard”. While some areas eroded or were damaged during hurricane Irma, we were fortunate to find this section still accessible. When planning a sunrise photo class field trip 6 months in advance, you never know what you’re going to get, and this time we managed to get the shoot in between hurricanes and cold fronts.  Thanks to my intrepid fellow UNF/OLLI members for braving the bug swarms for this expedition! Next up for my class: Sunsets on the St Johns River, October 23rd.


Plants are “For The Birds”!

I hope you’ll join me on October 12th for an interactive talk about the many benefits Native Plants can bring to your bird-watching enjoyment. Learn which plants in Northeast Florida will help attract more diversity than just birdseed alone. Many insect and fruit-eating birds can easily be attracted to your yard with a little planning and careful selection of key impactful plants. Using photos taken locally, I’ll share my personal journey from an HOA dead zone to a bird-friendly yard and the dramatic increase in species observed. This Native Plant Society sponsored event begins at 6:30 at the Historic Willow Branch Library at 2875 Park St, Jacksonville, FL 32205.

Adventures in Macro

Summertime provides fascinating subject matter for close-up and Macro photography. This week we picked up a used 90MM f/2.8 Tamron lens and ventured into the back yard to see what we could see.

We wanted to practice on an amazing and complex Passion Flower, passiflora incarnata, also known as the Maypop. We have had one of these native vines in our yard for a few years to attract butterflies.

The complexity of this flower requires control of depth of field, lighting, as well as the background. Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro @ ISO 1000, f/16, 1/100 sec. Canon 7D II.