Hermanus Shoreline, South Africa

While I didn’t spend much more than an hour or two in Hermanus, South Africa, waiting to catch a view of the whales, I still appreciated the beauty of the area and the power of the Atlantic Ocean. The weather had been unpredictable with rain and wind, but I was lucky enough to catch some blue sky. This is a place I wouldn’t mind visiting again someday.

Hermanus Shoreline, South Africa

Black Headed Heron, South Africa – Re-Cropped

After my last post, I kept returning to my photograph of the Black Headed Heron taking off. It’s one of my favorite photos from the trip, despite the fact that it is far from perfect. The bird lifted off much more quickly than I expected so I missed getting the perfect composition and had to resort to cropping the image. There’s no way to fix the fact that the tip of the wing was slightly cut off, but I just wasn’t happy with the cropping I’d done.

Luckily, I always save the unprocessed original, so here’s my second attempt, along with another photo of the heron as it flew away in the distance.

black headed heron in South Africa

 

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Much better…

New Mexico Road Trip Part 3 – Sunrise at the White Sands National Monument

The alarm went off early and in that last daze of sleep, we packed our gear into the truck. It was still dark when we pulled up to the entrance of White Sands National Monument. This was the moment we’d all been waiting for, the sunrise photo shoot.

The ranger reviewed our permit and opened the gate, allowing nine of us full access to the park without another person in sight. I was excited, quickly going over the list in my head. Tripod…memory cards…lenses…and the location I had picked out the night before when we’d made our first visit. I wished I had remembered a head lamp or flashlight. But, it was a bit late for that, so I planned to make do with what I had.

I stepped out of the truck to unload my gear. It was COLD! What was I thinking wearing capri pants for a sunrise shoot? BRRRR! We climbed back in and waited for the blue light to come. Now I was worried. How long could I stay out in the frigid weather?

Then things slowly began to come into focus. The early light that comes before the sun peeks over the horizon had arrived. It was as if the starting gun went off. Everyone was quickly out of the cars and moving in different directions. I grabbed my gear and walked out beyond the first dune. I left the world behind as I forged on alone. The footprints in the sand from the previous day had been wiped away by the overnight winds and the new canvas was just asking to be painted by the morning light.

 

Yucca Moon
For a brief moment I tensed up and wondered, “Are there snakes?” Then I thought about how cool it was and decided that if there were, they wouldn’t be out yet, so I relaxed and moved on.

Planning my route carefully, I walked in areas that wouldn’t show up in the pictures that were forming in my head. I sat down in the sand as I positioned my tripod. I was surprised by how soft and fine the sand was. I scooped a handful and let it run through my fingers. It was quiet and peaceful. I took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as I looked around at the incredible scenery of sand, grasses and yuccas. There was no sound, but a light breeze ruffled my hair. Saying a quick “thank you” out loud, I started trying to capture on my camera, the beauty I was seeing with my own eyes.

 

Sunrise Yucca
The cold didn’t exist as I quickly worked, moving to seek different perspectives. I would stop every few minutes to look around. In the past, I have been known to view my world through a camera lens and to miss the bigger picture. Making it a priority on my travels, I now stop to see, listen and appreciate my surroundings. It’s not all about capturing the “shot” but being aware and experiencing special moments. There is always a second when I can’t believe I’m here and then a feeling of gratitude for the opportunities I have to visit amazing places.

 

dawn grasses
Getting up to reposition my shot, I looked back and saw the imprint of the back of my jeans in the sand. It was so perfect that I’m sure if I looked closely, I would have seen the brand name on the impression left by the snaps on my back pockets. I wondered if visitors later in the day would notice the print of my backside. The thought made me laugh out loud.

 

dawn grass shadows

 

Then the sun made it’s appearance, slowly climbing over the edge of the horizon casting long shadows across the waves of sand. Yucca plants creating shadows five times their length. After a few minutes I removed my camera from the tripod and composed more shots, clicking the shutter until my memory card was full, quickly changing it out so I could begin again.

 

yucca shadows
Before I knew it, my friend Janet was calling my name and the trance I’d been in from the moment I’d stepped out of the truck was broken. Sunrise was over and the group was headed to another area of the park. I stretched, picked up my tripod and walked back to where the vehicles were parked, taking a few last pictures along the way.

 

Sand Dune Shadows
Staying around for a few more hours, this time in more of a group, we wandered around with our cameras. The scenery was still spectacular and it was fun to be with my fellow photographers. We laughed and experimented with different shots, this time adding people into the landscapes.

 

Photographers White Sands
Then, satisfied with a job well done, we climbed back into the vehicles and returned to town for breakfast. It was a magical morning on the white sands.

Related Posts:

New Mexico Road Trip Part 1 – White Sands National Monument

New Mexico Road Trip Part 2- Found Treasures 

New Mexico Road Trip Part 2 – Found Treasures

Road trips bring me up close and personal with the many treasures that I would  otherwise miss looking down from an airplane at 35,000 feet, like…

local wildlife.

Deer

stepping over the state line.
Welcome to New Mexico

unusual art that makes me smile.

Metal Giraffes

places with a lot to say.

Hollywood Rejects

a sight for sore eyes.

Eyes Graffiti

“moo”ving moments.

Lone Cow

We even saw a road runner, but it was too quick to capture on camera. What’s better than a road trip? A road trip with plenty of time to stop to appreciate those magical moments.

Enjoy!

New Mexico Road Trip Part 1 – White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

It was still dark on Saturday morning when I picked up my friend Emelyn and all her photography equipment and started the long drive. We were meeting a small group of photographers down in Alamogordo, New Mexico to visit White Sands National Monument.

I love road trips.

We started in Denver, which is a large and very busy city. The metropolitan area stretches almost twenty miles and after that there are very few sections of Interstate 25 where you won’t see at least one house or in the distance for the next hour and a half drive. It’s a beautiful area of the country and we have the Rocky Mountains that stand as sentinels overlooking the front range.

After the almost constant presence of people in Colorado along I-25, it was fascinating drive for hours without seeing any indication of people except for fences on the long stretch of roadway. The countryside is arid and filled with the shorter piñon pines, yucca plants and grasses moving in the wind. New Mexico has its own unique beauty of simplicity and shadow.

After a brief stop in Sante Fe, we finished the long drive and checked into the White Sands Motel. Sunset was still more than an hour away and we didn’t waste time headed to the White Sands National Monument. One word…INCREDIBLE!

I’ll be adding more updates and photos over the next week.

Message from a Stranger

Yesterday, I received a message from a stranger.

We’ve never looked each other in the eyes or exchanged a word. I’ve seen him twice. Both times he was walking quickly down the sidewalk, instrument in hand, playing music to his heart’s content. It was communicated loud and clear in his movement and his actions. Sometimes we just don’t need words to be inspired.

Message from a Stranger

“LIVE YOUR PASSION”

In the Midst of Manmade Magic

FloridaPineBlog

Hidden treasures in the midst of man made magic
Yellow butterflies lead the way
In solitude I walk between
Fields of palmettos, dotted with occasional pines

A path, leading into the forest of trees
Anticipation, seeking something new
Alone with myself
Taking it all in, seeing, watching

CyprusTreeBlog
Cyprus trees with skirts of roots sink down into the water
Securing them to reflections of blue sky
And of puffy white clouds and dancing grasses of green and yellow
Upside down world…silence punctuated with the occasional buzz of insects

Nature taking it’s course in the midst of man made magic
Drinking in moist warm air as smooth as a fine wine
Time to think and observe
Eagerly discovering, exploring

A walk in a new place
No people, no wildlife, just me 
Breathing in and out moving on the path
Until the end, the perfect place to sit

Nature Conservancy
Rocking back and forth in a chair
Cool breeze weeps away the heat of the midday journey
Happy to discover another world
In the midst of man made magic

My last day in Orlando, I decided to get off the beaten path. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love castles, princes and life sized cartoon characters and will visit them another time. Instead, at the suggestion of a Florida friend, I visited the Nature Conservatory’s Disney Wildlife Preserve. My favorite part was Lake Russell and the cyprus trees that rise up out of the water. The path is a little over 2 miles long and a wonderful option if you are interested in a break from the parks. It’s also free unless you choose to make a donation.

I suggest going early in the day so you have an opportunity to see the wildlife. Take water and good walking shoes. The path is clear, level and easy to follow. It was a great choice for me since it was a new slice of nature I’d never seen before.

Happy travels!

Touched Beyond Belief

New York Graffiti

A funny thing happened last November on my way to find the perfect Christmas gift for a family member. I visited Amazon to look for a book and discovered a young man who is changing the world, one connection at a time. He wrote a book called the Humans of New York.

When it arrived in the mail, I opened it and was mesmerized. Brandon takes pictures of people in New York and in a sentence or two, shares their incredible stories of life and love. I found inspiration and appreciation for the wisdom hidden behind the faces of people that pass by unnoticed. It’s true that everyone has a story and Brandon is capturing them. The book has become a permanent part of my collection.

Just in case you haven’t been touched by the magic yet, I encourage you to visit Humans of New York to see if there isn’t a message there for you, too.

Photographers from Different Mothers

Waves Against the Shore

I eagerly gathered all my gear and headed up into the Colorado mountains very early on a fall morning. We were meeting in at the home of a couple in Silverthorn. Another person was driving in from Aspen. I’d never met any of them before, except during online chats.

John greeted me at the door of the natural wood sided home that perfectly meshed with the beauty of the mountains. His wife, Linda, was in the kitchen making coffee. I sat down in a comfortable chair and enjoyed the incredible views filling every window.  A short time later, the doorbell rang and Kelly joined us.

It only took a few minutes before we were laughing and comparing notes. While we’d never met in person before, we all shared a common interest…photography. It’s like we’d known each other forever. John and Linda gave us a brief tour of the home, walls filled with shots of incredible wildlife and landscapes. And then we were off.

They had some favorite places in the area so we all piled into one car. We ended up at a beautiful lake surrounded by trails…a photographer’s dream. It was quiet, except for the clicking of the cameras. I’d stop as I walked, trying to capture each shot quickly, so I wouldn’t hold up the group.

Then I realized that no one was rushing me along. As a matter of fact, they were all on different sections of the trail, within viewing distance, but focused on what they were seeing. It was the very first time I was surrounded by fellow photographers. Joy and freedom…that’s the only way I can describe the feeling. There was no need to hurry and words weren’t required. I’d walk ahead and slow down to photograph a section of shoreline and another person would pass me focused on a leaf, tree or reflection on the water. It was like a choreographed dance, weaving in and out. I loved every minute.

Photographers share a common bond and speak a language all their own, not in words, but in moments that visually record their journeys. That day, we were focused on nature. It was a wonderful experience I’ll never forget.

In less than a week, I’ll be meeting up with another group of photographers who share my joy. We encourage and push each other to levels we’d never reach on our own. They feed that creative part of me that sometimes gets lost in the daily demands of life. Each one of them is unique and inspiring.

I can’t wait to spend time with my photography family. They get me. Don’t you just love kindred spirits?

Santa Claus Has A Present for Peyton Manning

I personally spoke with Santa Claus yesterday at the United in Orange Rally in downtown Denver. Broncosrally13

After asking him if Peyton Manning had been good all year, he said, “I have a big present for Peyton. I’ve been holding off giving it to him until now.” 

That sounds promising. Just so you don’t think I picked any man looking like Santa Claus out of the crowd, here’s proof I got the real guy.

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I was lucky enough to talk to lots of Bronco fans who share my passion.

Broncosrally1

These fans will be partying on Sunday. The predicted score? “34-14, Broncos!”

BroncosRally2

“It’s the Year of the Horse!”

This man is the biggest fan in Colorado Springs. His favorite Bronco’s paraphernalia?  “A helmet with John Elway’s autograph.”

Broncosrally3

Bronco Billy will be at the stadium on Sunday, dressed up in Bronco boxers. His favorite player? Ryan Clady. He’s my home boy.”

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It’s one thing to dress up in Bronco gear, it’s a whole different level of commitment to die your hair orange and blue.

Any superstitions? “If I’m standing in a location and we’re doing well, I don’t move.”

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Here are several of our Bronco ladies and their dog, Rocky. Favorite player? Eric Decker. Now there’s a surprise…

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Like momma, like daughter. Hi, Chloe!

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Rocky the Leprechaun, with his friend Mike, has been leading the cheering squad for 31 years! What will you be doing on Sunday, “Getting people noisy!”

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Timothy and his dad are ready for the game.

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This couple’s oldest son is a Patriot’s fan. “I don’t know what we did wrong. Our other boys are all Bronco’s fans.” Their oldest son will be watching the game with them. Maybe there’s hope for a miraculous conversion.

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What’s included on Emily’s game day menu? “Mac and cheese…”

And finally, check out a collection of just a few of the jerseys I saw at the rally. These names look familiar.

Broncosrallyjerseys

It’s going to be a great game on Sunday. Thanks Broncos for an incredible season so far. We’re all rooting for you!!