I hope you had a chance to attend the annual Cracker Christmas at Fort Christmas Historical Park a couple weeks ago. It’s a fun activity with a lot to see and a lot of vendors selling unique items. If you couldn’t make it this year, keep it in mind for 2020. And don’t forget that you can visit Fort Christmas throughout the year.
Christmas Post Office
This park in east Orange County includes a reproduction of the 1837 Fort built near this spot. It also has 7 restored historical homes that preserve the ‘Cracker’ architecture of the area. The park gives us a glimpse into Florida pioneer life. It’s a little like traveling back in time and photo ops abound.
NO Chickens Allowed
Volunteers often dress up in period costumes and demonstrate what life was like back then.
During the festival, there are even more folks showing us aspects of other times.
Civil War Re-enactors
Here’s a photo hint that helped me when I was there: Scan your frame to check the composition for distracting or out of place items that might spoil your image. In this photo of the two soldiers, I noticed Airstream trailers behind their tent so I shifted my viewpoint so they weren’t visible in the final image.
In the kitchen
And in this photo of the kitchen, there was initially a modern Yeti cup on the stove. I was glad I was able to re-make my photo when it was removed. Much easier than removing it in Photoshop!
Many of the homes are decorated for the season and you can photograph things in December that don’t exist the rest of the year. A fabulous time to go!
Merry Christmas to all!
Anyway, a fun short photowalk. You can read more of my Fort Christmas posts here. And you can see more photos from there in this album on Flickr.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Merry Christmas to everyone and enjoy spending time with family and friends. And don’t forget to make some photos with them!
I make a lot of photographs – you may not have been able to tell ;-). And I have many that I like that never get into the blog. So this week I’m going to post a handful of B&W images from around Central Florida that I think are worth seeing. I hope you like them too. Not many words this morning. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Pump house, Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive
Cathedral Interior, St. Augustine
Cypress stand, Orlando Wetlands
Quiet morning, Merritt Island NWR
Sunrise Along Bobcat Trail, Orlando Wetlands
Tranquil morn, Orlando Wetlands
As always, click to view larger on Flickr, and you can see many more of my monochrome photos in this folder.
Thanks for stopping by and looking at my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Lynn and I spent a couple of days in St. Augustine, Florida last week. It’s been two years since I last wrote about it (in this post), but it’s still a photo rich environment. Here’s a sample of the images I made there this time.
Columbia Restaurant interior. We usually stop by this place for the food, but the inside is lovely too!
Memorial Presbyterian Church Dome. We rode the Old Town Trolley around again and got off at this stop to see this beautiful church. Henry Flagler built it in the 1890s as a memorial to his wife.
>Santa Maria Restaurant Ruins. Our trolley guide told us it has too much hurricane damage to repair. It’s going to be demolished soon and replaced with a new restaurant
Flower Box. I like to watch for interesting doors and windows when I walk through town. This is one example.
Golden mooring morning. Lynn used some points to help us splurge on a waterfront room. I made this from our balcony.
Refreshments – Make the photo, then drink the subject. It’s important to get the sequence correct!
I decided to wander over towards Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge early last Friday. My shutter finger was itching and I had to get a camera out and scratch it. I was running a little late and wouldn’t have made it to the coast for sunrise, so I stopped at C S Lee Park on the St. Johns River on my way. Nature provided quite a show.
Another Central Florida Morning
I don’t know what this effect is called – when the sun just kisses the cloud bottoms and leaves higher clouds darker and less colorful. I don’t see it often enough. Maybe that’s because it only lasts for such a short time. According to my EXIF data, I made this image in the middle of a 2-3 minute window and the colorful streaks were much less prominent just before and after. Whenever I do see this, I’m happy to make a photo!
The Jolly Gator Fish Camp Bar & Grill is next to the park, right across a shallow water filled area from where I made the sunrise photo. I liked the reflection and symmetry and made this image before I moved on. I’ve never actually been inside this place. Maybe I’ll talk Lynn into going there for lunch with me.
Jolly Gator Fish Camp & Grill
MINWR has a web page you can check for road closures. Currently, it won’t do you much good – info on Gator Creek, Biolab, and Black Point is all out of date. Last Friday, Gator Creek and Biolab Roads were open. They’ve been re-surfaced and are in good shape. And Black Point Wildlife Drive was closed due to the amount of rain we’ve had recently. I hope they keep the road closures page more current. I sent them a note.
I didn’t have much luck with birds or wildlife on this trip. So I’ll leave you with two more scenic photos.
Lone Pine and Clouds at Dawn (color version)
This tree is along the left side of the road leading into the Bairs Cove boat ramp. The combination of early morning light, a lone pine tree, and the clouds in the background stopped me in my tracks. I made this image and the last one out my car window. Fortunately there wasn’t a lot of traffic. With these two photos, you can see how the infra-red sensor renders light compared to an unmodified camera.
So when I heard their announcement about a photo workshop in Atlanta I was eager to go – and It wasn’t too hard to talk Lynn into getting this for my birthday! They coordinate using the Mirrorless Adventures page on Meetup.com so sign up was an easy process. If my post gets you interested, you can find out about their future workshops there.
Atlanta Marriott Marquis Interior 2
Our HQ was the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta and it’s an awesome photo-op itself – lots of interesting architecture, angles, and patterns to fill your memory card. And if you get tired of the photo ops there, you can take a break at one of their restaurants or bars!
We met on Friday evening and then left for the Jackson Street bridge for some sunset and light trail photography. It’s a popular spot. There were lots of folks making photos and it’s easy to see why – the skyline view is awesome! Here’s one of mine:
A little after sunset.
I made this image with the Olympus “Live Composite” mode. I’ve used this once before, but it was great to get in some guided practice and I’ll be using it more in the future.
Other stops on the workshop were at Old Car City (http://oldcarcityusa.com/), Amicalola Falls (http://www.amicalolafallslodge.com), and Oakland Cemetery (https://www.oaklandcemetery.com). The workshop was last weekend and I came home with hundreds of photos. I’ve been going through them every day since then – but I’m not finished processing yet. So today I’ll just include a few from Atlanta and maybe do another post later about the other locations.
Watching sunrise. We stopped near this park while we waited for the cemetery gates to open
Oakland cemetery was founded in 1850 and many of Atlanta’s prominent citizens are buried there. It has a great deal of sculpture, architecture, and gardens to draw your eye. And an interesting sign across the street!
Six Feet Under BarAtlanta Skyline from Oakland Cemetery
I’ve always liked Atlanta. My mother’s family lived in the area (in Cedartown) so we visited often when I was growing up. I also went to college there (Go Tech!) and that’s where I met Lynn. It was great to visit for a long weekend, and the drive from Central Florida isn’t too bad.
A photo workshop can be a big boost to your image making. You might;
Learn or improve your skills: I refreshed and practiced “Live Composite” mode and will likely use it more often now.
Go places you wouldn’t normally see. I’ve been to Atlanta many times, but the only place from this workshop that I’d seen before was Amicalola Falls (mentioned in this post). Trying new things is good for your soul!
Meet new people. Hanging around with other folks passionate about photography is fun! They don’t even get bored when you talk about lenses, cameras, technique, processing, etc.!
See different approaches / techniques. On the last day, we spent a few hours processing images and each of us picked out several images to show the group and talk about. I was floored by the variety and ideas that everyone shared. It’s amazing how people can go to the same place and come back with such different photographs.
I really enjoyed this workshop – it was a pleasure to meet so many new photo friends! I thought the locations we went to were terrific and Mike and Jamie were extremely knowledgable, friendly, and always willing to help anyone with questions. They created a wonderful atmosphere for us to learn and make beautiful photographs. And I liked the van they used for transport – it was a real pleasure to just climb in and have someone else drive us around to all these spots. Well done Mike and Jamie!!!
A few more photos from our trip late last month along with some post hurricane(s) status in the area…
Watching the sun set in Key West. Sunset is a big attraction down there. This view is from the Hyatt Centric, where we stayed. They opened again on 22 September but say that “some amenities are temporarily limited or unavailable”. We’ve heard the marina where I made this photo is “gone”.Injured Loggerhead – Staff members treat an injured Loggerhead Sea Turtle at the Turtle Hospital on Marathon. Their website (www.turtlehospital.org) says the facility and staff made it through Hurricane Irma OK, but there’s extensive damage all over Marathon.Key West: Fort Zachary Taylor Fortress Interior. Their website says they’re closed until further notice with no info on how much damage they suffered.
Key West Street Scenes: Sloppy Joe’s Bar first opened the day Prohibition ended. Ernest Hemingway was a favorite patron. Their website says they’re open for business.
One of the people who run the snorkel boat trips at Bahia Honda has a YouTube channel: “Livin’ the Keys Life” and he’s posting info about Bahia Honda and Marathon. The damage there looks pretty bad. I imagine it will be a while before it re-opens.
As far as locations around Central Florida, please check them before you go too. For example Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is reporting lots of road closures due to hurricane damage (https://www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=2147578811) while Orlando Wetlands Park says they’re open for public use (http://www.cityoforlando.net/wetlands/). And Lynn and I drove over the Lake Jesup bridge again today and the sunflower fields are still flooding. We saw a few blooms on high ground close to the road, but we’ll have to wait until next year on these.
You can check on other parks at the Florida State Park storm information web page: https://www.floridastateparks.org/content/storm-information.
Tourism is a huge part of the economy in Florida and especially in the Keys. One way you can help them recover is by visiting. Just make sure they’re ready before you go, and they’ll be very glad to see you.
It’s been a while since our last trip to Wisconsin to see Mike and Sara (April of 2015!), so Lynn and I were excited to spend a week with them at the beginning of August. We were also quite happy to finally get to meet Avon – who is (probably) a mountain cur that they adopted from a rescue society. He’s a real sweet dog!
I didn’t realize how big of a crop Sunflowers are in Wisconsin. And fortunately for us, the beginning of August is peak bloom time. In fact, Bergsbaken Farms near Cecil Wisconsin was having a Sunflower Fest while we were there so we stopped by.
Riding in the rain through the sunflower fields
Even though it was a bit rainy that day, there was still a large crowd and we enjoyed seeing the seemingly endless fields of flowers. We also saw a few strange creatures:
Strange creature seen in Wisconsin field
There were several of these tall, happy looking beings along one of the paths through the field. Authorities didn’t respond to questions on where they came from or why they wore sunglasses in the rain. One of my Flickr friends commented: “A nice guy no doubt, but a little seedy, wouldn’t you agree?” Yes, I do agree!
MK and I went out to New Mexico for a short visit over the July 4th holiday. I’d been there several times on business travel but never got to see much of the state. This trip fixed that!
One place we very much enjoyed was the Acoma Pueblo (also known as Sky City). It’s a lovely spiritual site, and provides a glimpse into what Native American life was like as long ago as the 13th century. The Pueblo is about 60 miles west of Albuquerque – it’s a lovely drive. Mesa Encantada – Along Route 23 just east of Acoma Pueblo (visible in the distance on the right). According to Acoma Pueblo oral history, it was their first home before they moved to the current location.
If you enter “Acoma Village” in your GPS, it will try to lead you up on the mesa, which you can’t get to unless you’re on a tour. Search for the visitor center instead!
Looking up – This B&W IR view of Acoma Pueblo is from about 360 feet below, just across the highway from their visitors center
At the visitors center you can learn about the culture and history of the area. Their tour includes a bus ride to the top of the mesa and a guided walk around the pueblo. Also included in the tour price is a “photo permit” for one camera. You’ll have to buy more permits if you want to use multiple cameras. I decided to just bring my Olympus Pen F with the 24-200 mm equivalent lens and it worked for most situations on the mesa. I used the extra space in my camera bags for two bottles of water. Nice to have while walking around in the hot sun!
The horno is a traditional outdoor, wood fired oven. People were selling bread made in these ovens in the pueblo.
Homes, horno and wood fuel
Even though there’s no electricity or running water up there, many of the homes on the mesa are still lived in. I liked how occasional colorful paint accents contrasted with the tan walls.
Door and windows – One of the homes on the mesa
Our guide told us that the Acoma adopted Catholicism from missionaries in the 1500s but they still practice their own spiritual traditions too. Although they’re very private about this, outsiders can attend celebrations during the Feast of St. Stephen(September) and at Christmas.
Kiva – The Acoma concealed their traditional worship places inside homes and entered via a ladder through the smoke-hole in the roof.
As you’d expect, the views from the mesa are spectacular and the visibility is awesome.
View north toward Mount Taylor (on the horizon, about 40 miles away). Ponderosa Pine used to build the mission was hand carried from Mount Taylor and up to the mesa.
Photography isn’t allowed in the cemetery (to the left of the mission) or inside the church itself. This spot is about the best vantage point I could find.
San Estevan del Rey Mission Church – Built between 1629 and 1641. According to Acoma oral tradition, their people were forced by Friar Juan Ramirez to build the mission.
For those of you that are wondering why I haven’t posted any bird or wildlife photos in a while, please be patient. We did some birding while we were in New Mexico and I’m planning to blog about that next.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Last week’s post went over my usual three photo budget. So here are even more images that I didn’t include (and again I’m over budget!).
The Air Force Memorial. (ISO 200, f/5.6, 14mm equivalent FL, 1/640 sec.). I was glad I had an ultra-wide lens. It all fits into the 14mm field of view from a close distance.
The Potomac River at Great Falls. (4 frame panorama, ISO 200, f/4.5, 28mm equivalent FL, 1/1600 sec., color image converted to B&W in Lightroom). Although I grew up near Washington DC, I don’t remember ever hearing about the park until Lynn mentioned it on this trip.
Ceiling in the Library of Congress. (4 frame panorama, ISO 200, f/4, 30mm equivalent FL). Our tour of the US Capitol included a stop inside the Library of Congress. I had to shoot from an awkward angle and stitch multiple frames together for this view.
The Burghers of Calais – Sculpture by Auguste Rodin, one of twelve original Bronze casts, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Mall. (Infrared, B&W, ISO 200, 34mm equivalent FL, f/4.5, 1/320 sec.). I really like the way the IR camera rendered this, especially the bronze contrasting with the foliage. There are some very impressive sculptures in the National Mall in DC. You can read the fascinating background on this one at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burghers_of_Calais.
Washington Monument at dusk. (Olympus High Res mode, ISO 200, 62mm equivalent FL, f/5.6, 1/8 sec). There were hundreds (thousands?) of people just behind me at the Lincoln Memorial. I moved to the water’s edge to avoid most of the tourists and frame this view. I like the way this square composition shows off the symmetry. I also like the light and reflections – the last time I was in DC (2008?) the pool was a mess! After we left this time, we heard reports that the pool had been drained due to duckling deaths (www.washingtonpost.com/local/malls-reflecting-pool-to-be-…).
I grew up near Washington DC, and I’ve made many trips (both business and pleasure) to the area since then. So I feel somewhat qualified to offer ideas on photo opportunities in our nation’s capital.
My most recent visit was last week. Lynn and I went to Williamsburg, VA to see Caroline (our niece & god-daughter) graduate from high school. We decided to go early so we could spend a few days as tourists in downtown DC.
“Uncommon Valor was a common Virtue” – I was very happy when I saw how the light was falling as we arrived at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington. I couldn’t wait to get off the bus!
I probably don’t have to tell you that DC is a rich photo environment. Monuments, memorials, museums, history, art, architecture, gardens, government, and more are everywhere. But how do you get interesting photos, ones different from everyone else’s? Here are some suggestions.
Try using an Infra-Red modified camera. I really like the way mine renders buildings against foliage and the sky.
Smithsonian Castle – Infrared, Black and White
Take an evening guided tour: Lynn signed us up with the Bi-Partisan Tour Company for their “Epic Evening Tour” (thanks Lynn!), and we both really enjoyed it. They took us around to great locations and allowed us to see them in a different light (dusk, blue hour, and night). I think it added interest to my photos.
If you do take a tour, stay alert in the bus and watch for good vantage points as you ride. I spotted the Washington Monument behind the Jefferson Memorial and rushed back to make this shot when we parked while everyone else went into the building itself.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial at dusk – with the Washington Monument in the background
It’s almost always crowded. You can try going in early on a Sunday morning, but if you’re there with everyone else you’ll have to use the people in your photos or find vantage points / ways to minimize them in your photos. I don’t know how many were at the Wall when we were there – it was elbow to elbow and had to be thousands.
Crowds at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” Martin Luther King, August 28, 1963. Ghostly figures move around the base of this long exposure photograph of the Martin Luther King Memorial at blue hour, with the Washington Monument in the background.
If you go at night, be sure to take your tripod. It can be a pain, but my night tour images wouldn’t be nearly as good if I hadn’t taken mine.
Some other hints:
Contact your senators or congress person to arrange a tour of the capital (you’ll need to start months in advance). If that doesn’t work out, there are commercial ones available that will still get you a guided tour inside.
Take wide or ultra-wide angle lenses. Building interiors don’t fit in the frame with a standard zoom.
Before you go, practice making stitched panoramas. You can use this technique in place of an ultra wide lens.
Stay in a hotel as close to the National Mall as you can. Parking is scarce and expensive. You’ll be walking or catching rides to get where you want to go. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes, and use your light weight photo gear.
If you’re from Florida, you’ll appreciate the price of admission. All of the museums and monuments are free. Museum hours are usually 10am – 5:30pm. Lines were typically short, but some will require reservations (check first). You can visit monuments 24/7, but rangers are only available 9:30am to 10pm.
You might have cooler weather in May or early June. It’s not as pleasant to walk around later in the summer with the temperature at 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can spend many days (or weeks!) exploring DC. But if you run out of things there, Photo ops abound in the surrounding area. Two that I’d highly recommend are the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center just south of Dulles, and Great Falls Park about 30 minutes NW of DC.
I’m collecting Washington DC photos in this album on Flickr, and I’ll add to it as I finish processing images from this trip. Please check it out!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go to Washington DC and make some photos!