Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

20191209 FOL Christmas Trees

Karl and I camped at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Spring, FL last week. For years we attended their annual Festival of Lights, then skipped a year or two due to changes they made. We decided to try again. It changed again, and we loved it.

The Festival of Lights goes on most of December, with Silent Nights some nights which mean just the lights are available and Holiday Nights, which include Santa, a snow machine, the Gingerbread Village with the store open, craft cabins open, free popcorn and free hot chocolate. And, of course, the lights. We attended Sunday for the first time, and saw cars streaming in and parking, and families walking everywhere. We made our way through the wonderfully lit pathways, with creative light displays everywhere we looked. We commented to a ranger on the number of people, and she smiled and said “You should have been here last night, we had even more then”.20191215 Festival of LIghts

We bought some food at the North Pole Cafe and sat at a picnic table to eat and people watch. Suddenly at 6:30 the snow machine came on, and children ran yelling from everywhere in the area, all focusing on the snow. For those in northern climates, Florida rarely sees snow so this is a magic sight to the kids.

We continued to walk around, visiting the model train exhibit which takes up an entire room and should not be missed. Santa visits with children in another room of the same building.

We celebrate several holidays during this short, festive season, including a very personal one, our wedding anniversary.

Happy holidays and best of the season to everyone!

Working on Close-ups

20191014 wasp pollinator

I spent a lot of time trying the closer focus on the Canon 100 – 400mm lens. Most of the shots didn’t work at first, it took some time to get used to just what I could and couldn’t do, but experimenting is half the fun.

I shot this wasp several times. I really liked that I could effectively blur the background. It worked on this hooverfly too.20191013 Pollinator on Blazing Start

This one took a long time. The breeze seems to come along just as I focus. I did change my angle on this one several times not only to get the shot but the blurred background.

20191016 katydid

This Katydid is softer than I would like, but the colors are incredible. I had only seen katydids that were mostly solid green before. I had no idea there were so many different species until I tried to identify this one.

It is almost the end of 2019 already. Rather than setting goals for photography each year as I did before we semi-retired the business, I’ve tried to keep a little more casual this past year. I guess you could say I decide on some general directions. Time to think about that for 2020.

Through the Coffee Shop Window

through coffee shop window
Through Coffee Shop Window 1

I spent some time in NYC during my business years, and spent some evenings reading and drinking coffee in the local Starbucks. We rarely ever did that at home. Our local natural foods store moved from a strip mall plaza to the downtown area of the nearby small town. Lately we shop there early once a week, and then have coffee either out on the sidewalk or just inside the window waiting for the farmer’s market to open.

Still inspired by the street photography lecture of weeks before, I decided to try some through the window shots. Oh, the temperatures were a bit low for Florida or we would have been sitting outside.

Then I remembered the maxim that street photography should have people. No one came into my frame during as we drank our coffee (regular for Karl, Cappuccino for me). so I took a couple with moving cars. through coffee shop window 2 Since self driving cars are still a California phenomena I can be sure this one had a driver. Does that count? I don’t know. Personally I like the other one!

Cold Day on the Beach

Chair on the Beach
Unknown person watching the waves and reading on a cold beach day

I like to visit beaches on cold days, especially just before or after a storm. I encounter few if any other people, sometimes a person fishing, someone like me walking the beach, or the last time one intrepid soul watching the waves and reading. The shot above shows true solitude.

When the northern cold front dipped into the Florida park at which we camped this last time, even I found the beach too cold. I took short walks when that happened. Karl came once, and chose to remain in the warm car in the sun the second time.

I had not seen the Ghost Crabs much this trip, so when I spotted some smaller holes in the sand with marks around them I stood and waited. This small one finally came out to look around. These crabs get quite a bit larger, but I only saw one bigger one this time, scurrying across the road to avoid the car.

Ghost crab walk on the beach
The Ghost Crab blends so well you need just the right light for a photograph

I looked especially at the water line to find what the waves and storm bring ashore. I found a lot of single shells, but only this one empty bivalve. It disappeared with the next wave.Shell Walk on the BeachWith mostly overcast skies, and the colors of the water, sand, and sky, most of my shots ended up an interesting monochromatic study. I changed settings frequently on the camera, playing with shutter speed more than usual.


Sunrise at the Beach

Sunrise behind the dune
Sunrise from behind a dune

We spent nearly a week on St. George Island, FL camping. We love falling asleep to the sound of the waves on the beach, and waking to walk to the beach and watch the sunrise. Since we drove the entire day before, we woke later than we planned the first day and really walked fast to get to the beach for the main event. As we crossed the road and walked the path, I stopped for this shot of the beginnings of sunrise behind the dune.

We spent time walking around and watching as the colors in the sky changed, and the top crescent made its way into view. Usually by that time on other trips several people join us. This time another couple came just as the sun rose, took a quick photo, and left. No one else made their way down to enjoy the daily spectacle. georgeKarl took this shot as the sun came up.

We walked back slowly, anticipating another cup of coffee at the RV. As we walked down the entrance road to the campsite, I noticed that the still golden light of the sun illuminated this downed and dying tree making the colors look almost surreal.Early sun on falling tree

We were glad we made the extra effort to see that first sunrise. We woke to very cold weather and rain the following morning, and clouds the next morning.