After a recent fishing trip, my husband was filleting his catch at the marina before heading home for the day. This always draws quite a crowd…not people admiring the catch for the day, but shorebirds hoping for a snack. The feathered opportunists, this little Blue Heron, a few Brown Pelicans and a Great White Egret, were all watching intently looking for any chance that they might have a free lunch. While the pelicans are a given at any marina along the Gulf, Little Blue Herons are a treat to see. Little Blue Herons are small herons that are easily recognizable because they are as named, all blue. That is unless they are juveniles. In their first year, Little Blue Herons are actually all white. This heron is the only species to have such a dramatic color change as they age to adulthood.
On a trip to explore the coast of California, my husband and I took our time driving south along the Pacific Coast Highway taking in the scenery. While I expected Big Sur to be beautiful, I was just as taken with the beautiful rocky shoreline between San Francisco and Monterey. Pescadero especially was beautiful, with Bean Hollow State Beach as a stand out thanks to its “pebble beach“. Another beautiful spot in Pescadero is at the Pigeon Point Light Station. When we turned towards the light station from the highway, the parking area was full, so we drove a little further along the coastal road looking for a place to turn around. While we meandered along the winding road, a huge mass of Ice Plants appeared that seemed to go right up to the Pacific Ocean itself. I decided to get out and snap a few photos, and then turned to see this beautiful view of the light station. As it turns out, this view from our remote stop in the road was much better than anything I could have had from the parking lot at the light station itself. Every now and then a detour is a good thing!
Taken at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, FL, this is likely my single favorite photograph in my collection. Many of you will recognize this photo as I use it as a “signature photo” of sorts on several social media sites and on this PhotoBlog. It was taken back in August of 2007 on a stroll from the main beaches around to the pet beach on Hurricane Pass. There were typical afternoon thunderstorms in the area, and the building clouds are really what got my attention that afternoon. This spot right were Hurricane Pass meets the Gulf of Mexico was the perfect location to capture the golden sea oats in the foreground with the beautiful blue sky and striking white clouds above.
Now that 2012 is underway, it’s time to take a look back at a few favorite photos from 2011. The highlights of my year included two trips with my husband, one to the Southwestern US and one to Puerto Rico. Both were new experiences for us, and both left us wanting more. My favorite photos from the Southwest are by far those from Antelope Canyon. While not the most serene to actually visit thanks to the many tourists and photographers, the photos from that visit amaze me every time I look at them. The expanse of the Grand Canyon was breathtaking, and I was really surprised by all of the trees and the surrounding forest. I’d always imagined the surrounding area to be desolate.
While the Grand Canyon was on my bucket list, I must say that I fell in love with Bryce Canyon. The intense colors of the hoodoos against the blue sky was simply beautiful, but the most memorable was the quiet serenity of our day there. We’ll be back for sure with much more time to explore. On a completely different note, Puerto Rico was a fantastic getaway, and surprisingly easy to get to. The ability to be in 2500 feet of crystal clear water in only a 20-minute boat ride was amazing! My favorite spots were the rain forest at El Yunque and streets of Old San Juan with the beautiful architecture and brilliant colors.
As usual, it was hard to narrow my favorite photos down to only ten this year. There isn’t really any rhyme or reason for why these photos are my favorites, but there is something about each one that I love. Enjoy the photos and have a wonderful 2012!
About six weeks ago, I was contacted by the Editor of Culna – Magazine of the National Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa, about the use of one of my photos for the magazine. Yes, South Africa, as in the other side of the world from me in about every way.
Culna is published annually in November and is distributed free to all schools and libraries in the Free State Province of South Africa, all museum patrons and is also featured on the museum website. All articles are written by museum staff members and the content relates to current exhibits at the museum.
My photo, “Scallop Shells” was used to help illustrate an article entitled “Skulp - onbewoonde huise van die natuur” by Ancilia van Staden. The article touches on the importance of shells in history and promotes the museum’s shell exhibit. As the article is written in Afrikaans, I only know this because I was able to harness the power of Google Translate to read it!
If you are avid reader of the PhotoBlog, you’ve likely been wondering if what rock I’ve been hiding under for the last few months. I wish that I’d been on some exotic assignment taking photos at the ends of the earth but I’ve just been busy juggling too many things at once and something had to give. While photography is my passion, it is unfortunately not how I pay the bills and my ‘real job’ was exceptionally demanding in the last few months. Add to that ensuring that I spent quality time with my family and it left little time for shooting new photos or blogging.
Fall hasn’t been completely devoid of new photos, though. There was a trip to Puerto Rico in mid-October, and a long weekend in Raleigh, NC to see some fall colors a couple of weeks ago. All of the photos from Puerto Rico are up on my website, and I’m hoping to have the fall foliage photos up soon. In the last few months I have also been sneaking in some time here and there to get through a backlog of photos that need to be edited, and feel good that I’m getting caught up.
Now that things aren’t so hectic, it’s time to start blogging again, and that brings me to this photo from San Juan, Puerto Rico. While strolling through Old San Juan and trying to take in all of the beautiful historic architecture, it seems like there was something new to see around every corner. The bright Caribbean colors with bright white trim and were absolutely beautiful and gave each building its own character. While admiring the intense school-bus-yellow on this building, a black and white cat wondered by and added a little of his own character to the photo.
My husband (then boyfriend) surprised me with a trip to New York City in December of 2000. I had always wanted to visit the city, especially at the holidays specifically to see the tree at Rockefeller Center. Armed with my 35mm SLR and several rolls of film, we left Atlanta on Friday, December 1st, on an early flight into LaGuardia. We didn’t know it when we boarded, but we somehow lucked out and were seated where we had a great view of the city while flying in. When we caught our first glimpse of the Manhattan skyline, the most recognizable buildings were the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
That weekend was filled with a typical tourist’s visit to the city including Times Square, Fifth Avenue, The Empire State Building, Central Park and of course Rockefeller Center to see the famous tree. I feel like we walked all over Midtown Manhattan and were exhausted and nearly frozen each night when we crawled into bed. On our last day in the city, we talked about visiting the Statue of Liberty, but wouldn’t have time before we needed to head back to the airport. We decided that a trip to see the World Trade Center would be a great compromise and could see the Statue of Liberty from there.
I choose to shoot with black and white film that day, hoping I’d capture some classic views of the city. Knowing that it would help me keep my photos more organized, I stopped to take a photo at the entrance to the south tower where we were headed to the observation deck.
My husband and I still can’t remember who then decided to look up and take a photo of the building itself, but I am so glad now that one of us had the foresight to do it.
On September 11, 2001, I was attending a training class in the Atlanta suburbs where I lived at the time. The class started at 8:30 am, and like all good participants ready to learn something new, my cell phone was off so that there were no interruptions in the class. At our first break just after 10:00 am, each attendee turned their phones on and found a quiet place to call their offices or loved ones to check in and talk to someone while stretching their legs. I called my husband to see if he wanted to meet me for lunch since he was scheduled to be near the location of my training class that afternoon.
Before I could even ask him about lunch, he told me about the events unfolding in New York. As he said that America was under attack and that one of the towers of the World Trade Center was gone. I couldn’t comprehend what he was telling me and asked him several times to repeat himself and to slow down. As I was trying to understand, I noticed that others on their cell phones looked confused and upset and someone inside had turned on the television. We all sat in silence and watched the second tower collapse and were then sent home for the day.
On this tenth anniversary of that horrific day in American history, my thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost loved ones. Our country changed forever on September 11, 2001 and we will never forget.
In my previous post this week I highlighted a favorite image from the jelly exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Along with the enormous Pacific Sea Nettles and striking crimson Sea Nettles, there are several smaller displays that offer lots of character. This Spotted Jelly was going against the flow allowing the light from above to highlight the intricate detail in it’s tentacles. While crowds were gathered around the larger tanks, I enjoyed my time watching these little guys for a while uninterrupted.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has one of the largest live jelly displays in the country, and it is simply stunning. The entire aquarium is fantastic, but something about that exhibit made it one of my favorite parts of my trip to the west coast last year. While the huge Pacific Sea Nettle display is one of the most photographed and recognizable in the exhibit, I found this lone sea nettle to be striking against the blue background of the display and was captivated.
Like many other national parks in the Southwest, Kolob Canyon was formed over thousands of years thanks to several types of erosion. A combination of uplift along several fault lines and downcutting from nearby streams and creeks helped form the main finger canyons in Kolob Canyon and shaped the landscape. This photo shows what is known as a hanging valley, formed when uplifting of the rocks along the canyon wall created a gap that water naturally runs through after it rains. After heavy rains waterfalls can appear, but they are usually gone within a few minutes. The dark streaks along the rocks are iron and manganese deposits and are an easy way to identify these sometimes waterfalls and hanging valleys.
As I mentioned earlier this week, Kolob Canyon at Zion National Park was a nice surprise on our trip through southern Utah last month. After traveling along a 5-mile scenic drive while also climbing 1000 ft, were were rewarded with this stunning view from Timber Creek Overlook. The photo I shared earlier was from the same location, but looking towards the north and this perspective is looking towards the northeast. Here you will see the two peaks of Timber Top Mountain to the left and Shuntavi Butte to the far right. While Shuntavi Butte may look small in comparison to its surroundings, the elevation is a respectable 6995 feet.
Kolob Canyon is one of the little known sections of Zion National Park. While the park enjoys roughly 3 million visitors per year, only ten percent of those visitors ever see Kolob Canyon. The one hour drive from the main Zion National Park visitors center is likely the reason for fewer visitors, but those that do visit are in for a treat.
After absolutely falling in love with Bryce Canyon, my husband and I were headed south on Interstate 15 back towards Las Vegas, where we were flying out the next day to head home. I had seen on several maps that Kolob Canyon was on our way, so we decided to stop and were so glad we did. From the highway, there is no way to know the beauty that is waiting just around the bend known as Kolob Canyon. With steep red-rock cliffs and stunning views that go on for miles, I was delighted for the surprise views and it was an unexpected highlight. This view is one of many from the Timber Creek Overlook.
Google+ is the hotest thing to hit social media in quite some time. Have no idea what Google+ is? You aren’t alone. The tech world has been talking about it for a while, but currently, Google+ is open on an invitation only basis. This apparently lets the brain trust at Google work through the details while keeping the new social network relatively small so that when it is officially launched to the public all goes smoothly.
I was lucky enough to be invited by fellow photographer Nick Chill, and have liked what I’ve seen so far. There are many similarities to Facebook in how things like photos and videos are shared. Like Twitter, you can follow anyone on Google+, even if they are a rock star. So with those observations, how is Google+ different and why should you care?
There are actually a lot of differences that make Google+ unique, but I have two favorites so far. First, on Google+ you are connected to people in circles. Just like we all have our social circles in life that might include friends from college, work and the PTA at school, you group your connections on Google+. When talking to college friends you may want to relive the days of your youth, but maybe not share all of those stories with the crowd from work or the PTA. On Google+, you can do just that. Thanks to the Circles feature, you have the ability to share and view content with different groups of people based on what circle they are in.
Second, the photo viewing and sharing features are awesome! Photographers especially are loving the ability to share photos and interact with others in different ways than other social networks currently offer. I’m still getting used to how to use Google+ and finding people to add to my circles, but really do like it so far. If you are already a Google+ user, I’d love to add you to one of my circles! Check out my profile here. If you are curious and would like to check it out, comment below or send me an email with your email address and I’ll be happy to send you an invite!
Flats fishing is very popular in the summer months, especially here in the in the Tampa Bay area thanks to the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Since my family tends to do more offshore fishing, I had to do a little research about flats fishing and thought I’d share. The term “flat” refers to any shallow area, and the Gulf is full of them. Usually a flat bottomed boat is chosen for the task and after the perfect spot is targeted, the engine is raised and the boat is pushed along the flat with a long pole, like the boat pictured here. This gives the fishermen a chance to effectively sneak up on larger fish like in the shallow water and with a raised platform like the boat pictured gives an even better view of the fish below.
After a slow start, it’s rainy season in Florida. Usually we can expect storms every afternoon thanks to the sea breeze collision from the Gulf and Atlantic coasts and the storms last for about a half an hour. In the last few weeks however, we’ve had some storms last the better part of a day and dump inches upon inches of rain. With swelling retention ponds and drainage ditches full of water making them look more like creeks, wading birds are loving it. Herons and Egrets that have been limited to larger bodies of water are now able to spread out a little and find food all around them. Birds like this Great Blue Heron photographed at John Chestnut Sr. Park are now easily seen in my neighborhood retention pond enjoying lunch.
As I’ve previously mentioned, Upper Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon created by water eroding the walls of the sandstone. From the ground above, the canyon looks like a large crack, or slot in the earth and things can easily fall down into the canyon. Throughout our tour we saw various tree limbs and tumbleweeds seemingly stuck between the walls of the canyon. This tumbleweed wedged between the canyon walls got my attention because of the contrast between it and the smooth canyon walls holding it in place.
Slot canyons are formed by erosion from rain water over many years. During the monsoon season especially, flash floods can be created with less than an inch of rain and can quickly turn into feet of water rushing through the sandstone walls of the canyon. This process has eroded away the sandstone and smoothed the walls over hundreds of years to create the beautiful slot canyons we see today. In this photo of Upper Antelope Canyon you can see the layers of sandstone reaching from floor to ceiling smoothed by the water into beautiful curves.
As I mentioned previously, the intense light shafts that shine through the open slots into Upper Antelope Canyon are a major draw in the summer. As incredible it was to see the light shafts for those fleeting moments, I really enjoyed my time in the slot canyon after the sun angle changed a bit and they were gone. With a lower sun angle, the light was more even and started to reflect off of the walls revealing truly beautiful colors. This shot is from one of my favorite locations in Upper Antelope Canyon, very close to the entrance. The reflected light really shows off the curves and lines of the walls as well as the colors and patterns of the sandstone.
Upper Antelope Canyon is one of the most popular slot canyons in the world, in part due to the incredible beams of light that shine through the openings above. Only when the sun is very high in the sky during the summer months does this happen, and even then, the light shafts only last a few minutes at a time. Sand is thrown towards the light and a fine dust lingers in the air to help illuminate the light shaft.
Even with the intense light, long exposures are necessary because the canyon is still rather dark. With any low lighting situation, a tripod and remote cable are a must and because it takes some time to get properly set up, timing is everything. We were very fortunate to have a seasoned tour guide that knew where the light shafts would appear almost to the minute, giving us time to get set up and ensure plenty of time for great shots.
I’ve never been anywhere as dusty as Antelope Canyon. I was lucky enough to visit this remote slot canyon a few weeks ago with my husband. Located on Navajo land near Page, Arizona, the canyon is only accessible via four-wheeled vehicle, and you must be accompanied by an approved Navajo tour guide. We chose to go in the summer when the sun shines through the open slots above creating amazing light beams inside the slot canyon.
What you may not be able to tell through the photos is that in order to get those light shafts to show up, sand is thrown towards the light shaft and a fine dust is suspended in the air for a few moments really showing off the light. After two hours in the canyon with sand thrown into the air often, we felt like Chinchillas that had taken a dust bath! This photo shows one of the famous light shafts in the distance with some previously thrown sand falling off of the rock in the foreground. The end result is worth it, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget!
Happy Independence Day! On this great day of national pride, it seemed like the perfect time to share an image of a Bald Eagle. Now synonymous with the United States, the Bald Eagle became the unofficial symbol of our country in 1782 when the Great Seal of the United States was adopted with a Bald Eagle prominently featured. Not everyone was a fan, with Benjamin Franklin rallying hard for the turkey to be our national bird as he believed it was “more respectable”. Thankfully, supporters of the Bald Eagle won in the end and when George Washington was made our country’s first president in 1789, the Bald Eagle was made the official National Bird.
The big adventure to see the Colorado Plateau officially starts tomorrow! After a very warm few days in Las Vegas with my husband, we are setting out for the Grand Canyon tomorrow morning. Sunday we’ll drive to Page, AZ, to visit Antelope Canyon and will then head to Utah to end our day at Bryce Canyon National Park. Monday we’ll start our day at Bryce Canyon and then visit the Kolob Canyon portion of Zion National Park before heading back to Las Vegas for our flight home on Tuesday. It will be a fun-filled few days!
The route from Tampa to Las Vegas includes flying over the Grand Canyon, and after that glimpse I’m more excited than ever to see all it all up close. This photo is with my cell phone and from 38,000 feet, so it’s not my best, but is a preview of some of the landscape to come. We had already passed the Grand Canyon, so all I know is that this is somewhere in Arizona!
One of the things I’m looking forward to in Arizona and Utah this weekend is the opportunity to see all kinds of different flora and fauna.For me, air travel has made it easy to lose perspective about how large the United States is and how diverse the climates are. In just the 8 hour drive from my old home north of Atlanta to my new one in the Tampa Bay area, an entire new tropical world opened up with exotic plants, animals and birds. As I travel through some of the nations most beautiful national parks over the next few days, I hope to see a few new birds and would love to see some of the wildlife indigenous to the area.
As I try to study up on what birds and animals I may see, I was reminded about my surprise and fascination with the new plants and birds I saw in California a few years ago. My husband and I kept seeing beautiful blue birds, but they weren’t the Blue Jays we have on the East coast. After much research, I discovered it was a Stellar’s Jay, pictured here at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur, CA.
This week is the big trip out west to see what seems like another planet compared to the white sandy beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast. I’ve spent the last few days reading more and more about the destinations for our trip and am excited about all of the opportunities for awesome photographs. While I’ve been worrying about how in the world to pack for 37 degree nights and 85 degree days, I started to think about all of the people across the country that would be heading here to my neck of the woods for their vacation and wonder if there is someone in Arizona planning a trip to my local beach. If you are out there, I hope you enjoy it…the weather will certainly cooperate for beautiful photos, but it will be hot and humid! This photo is of Clearwater Beach, FL, a very popular tourist destination in the Tampa Bay area.