Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge

Just outside of Nashville, Tennessee is the beautiful city of Franklin. One end of the Natchez Trace Parkway is located here. The parkway covers 444 miles through Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi with a very scenic drive. One of the sights not to be missed is the 145′ tall bridge. Opened in 1994 it spans 1,572′ as it crosses over a highway connecting tree-lined roadways.

Once I settled on a view that I liked I setup my tripod to take some photos. With such a wide scene a standard lens was not doing the job of capturing the entire bridge in one shot. I decided to try out my 8mm fisheye lens. This was going to do the trick! The bridge itself is pretty much straight across, however the fisheye lens added in some distortion which bowed it out slightly. I thought it looked cool so I kept shooting from different perspectives until I found what I liked.

This image was shot in February on a very gray cloudy day. There wasn’t a lot going on color wise, so I went for black and white to bring out the textures.

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A low angle view of the double arch bridge in Franklin, Tennessee.

A low angle view of the double arch bridge in Franklin, Tennessee.

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Waterfall From The Sky

Back in September I participated in the 500px.com Global Photowalk. It was a day to get out and take pictures with other photographers and have a chance to socialize. The leader of the Tampa, Florida photowalk (which actually took place at Honeymoon Island in Dunedin) was Matt Kloskowski. He did a great job of making sure everyone had fun and got to take lots of photos.

Unfortunately the weather decided to be somewhat uncooperative at the start of the walk. We had a fantastic lightning show while we all stood under a building at the beach. The rain kind of went around us and we even got to see a couple of rainbows. Once he deemed it was safe for us to venture out onto the beach, we all went to work.

I have to say, if you want dramatic lighting, just after a storm passes is definitely the time to be out shooting! This scene in particular caught my eye and I had to stand there a few minutes just to visually take it in. The textures of the clouds, the glow of the setting sun behind this massive storm front, and the water pouring out of the sky put my senses into overload.

I used the the wooden pilings to add some interest to the bottom left of the frame and create balance in the image. A vertical shot was the only way to go to fit all of this in the frame.

On second thought, maybe the weather wasn’t so unfortunate after all!

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Taken on Honeymoon Island in Dunedin, Florida. A massive storm cloud passing through close to sunset drops a beautiful glowing rain shower.

Taken on Honeymoon Island in Dunedin, Florida. A massive storm cloud passing through close to sunset drops a beautiful glowing rain shower.

The Calm Before the Storm

Back at the end of October I posted an image of a beautiful church in Gatlinburg, Tennessee with the promise of more pictures and stories to come. This post will bring you some of that.

Today’s image is from my camping trip back in October. I went to Calhoun Falls State Park in South Carolina. Upon my arrival to the campground, I setup my tent and got some of my campsite essentials setup as well. Table – check. Chairs – check. Cooler – check. Air mattress inflated and in the tent – check. Spectacular view of the lake – check! All that was left to do was to walk around the site, take it all in, snap some pics and just relax and enjoy the breathtaking beauty. Sounds easy enough right? Sure let’s go with that.

My specific campsite was surrounded by water as it was situated right at the edge of the lake. Rule number 1 when you camp in a tent: Anytime you are going to leave your campsite you should always zip up all open doors and windows to prevent water from entering said tent. Remember this rule and everything will be fine. So after taking care of that business it was time to explore the park as a whole.

I drove around checking out all of the other campsites so I could pick out my faves for my next visit. After that I proceeded to the day use area of the park for some exploration. This was such a beautiful park that I didn’t want to leave, but after making about a 10 hour drive to get there, all I could think of was getting some food. One of my favorite things to do is grill out. However I didn’t feel like doing that on this night so I had to drive over to the next town to hit a grocery store for some grub. Abbeville, South Carolina was about 25 minutes away from the camp. Insert rule number 1 here!

When I got there I located a nice grocery store and went inside. After perusing the store, I found some good-looking sandwiches in the deli, and a big bottle of tea. A perfect dinner to take back to the campsite and enjoy the beautiful scenery and sounds of nature. As I walked out the door and across the parking lot I was noticing how the full moon was illuminating the night sky. I thought to myself that would be so beautiful rising over the lake at the campsite. Again, we need to insert rule number 1 here.

As I started my Jeep I saw a flash of bright light. Surely that wasn’t lightning! I thought. Naw couldn’t be. I just saw the moon. As I made my way back down the road I saw light flashing again. Now I know that was lightning. Crazy! Then it started sprinkling rain. Do you remember rule number 1? “Anytime you are going to leave your campsite you should always zip up all open doors and windows to prevent water from entering said tent.” Yes, yes I remember that rule. I always practice that rule. Right?

Well under normal circumstances I follow that rule to a TEE. Except this time. Oh no! It absolutely did not look like rain when I left. I am still about 20 minutes away and by now it is raining so hard I can’t even see the road. I pull off into a parking lot to stay safe. I decided to check the weather radar. WOW! Heavy rain is just all over the place. I can tell by the map that the campsite is being hit really hard. I get back on the road and lightning is hitting all around me. I have to drive slow because of the deluge. I kind of figured by this time, what’s the point of worrying about it anyway. Whatever has happened is done and I can’t do anything about it.

As I finally pull in the park entrance, my headlights are no match for the driving rain pounding the darkness. I make my way slowly back to the campground and to my site. I pull into the driveway and just sit there. The rain is blowing sideways into the tent! The good news is that it is still standing. Only thing to do is sit and wait. And wait… After consuming my dinner in the Jeep, what seemed like hours of waiting, the rain finally quit. Once the lightning disappeared for good, I got out to survey the damage. My air mattress was covered in water as well as the whole tent floor. Looks like I’m sleeping in the Jeep tonight.

After a not so restful night, I awoke to birds chirping at the sunrise, signaling a new day. Looks like today will be awesome! Right after I dry everything off and get some breakfast. Now where did I put that towel?

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This was taken at sunset right before I left to go get dinner. C’mon this does not look like a monsoon is about to let loose!

A beautiful sunset reflects upon the water in South Carolina at Calhoun Falls State Park.

A beautiful sunset reflects upon the water in South Carolina at Calhoun Falls State Park.

Hotel du Canada

Today’s blog post features one of my favorite buildings at Disney’s EPCOT. It is located in the Canada section of the world showcase. The building was designed to resemble The Fairmont Château Laurier that is located in Ottawa, Ontario. There is a fantastic steakhouse that resembles a wine cellar underneath the building aptly named Le Cellier Steakhouse. Here is the story about this photo.

It was a chilly moonlit night. There was a breeze in the air that said fall is on the way…

Ok wait a second, that was all a vision in my head!

For a long time I have wanted to get a picture of this beautiful scene at night. However the dilemma has been to get the shot without people. The way the lights illuminate the area always catches my eye. So how can I turn my vision into reality? Shoot it the early morning hours before anybody is there and then use a little Photoshop magic to turn day into night! The original picture is an HDR from three bracketed exposures, then processed to my taste. A little time with a brush tool to turn the lights on and create the glow added a lot of character. The clouds were perfect to add in a little bit of diffused moonlight. Add in some light beams to illuminate the top and finish off with some maple leaves and it’s done.

So whenever you think you can’t get the shot you want, just think out of the box. You never know where you’re creativity will take you!

If you would like to view more pictures on my blog from Disney, just click here.

Also here is a link to a previous blog post from the Canada area titled “The Cottage.”

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Hotel du Canada

Camping at Lake Kissimmee State Park

At the beginning of October I took a little camping trip. I reserved a campsite at one of Florida’s many beautiful state parks: Lake Kissimmee State Park. If you are a nature lover and want to get away from the lights and sounds of the city then this is the place for you. Located about 15 miles away from the main city area of Lake Wales is a park that is hidden from urban development. Once you arrive at the entrance the campground is still 3 miles back in the park. With extremely dark skies the park is a wonderful place for stargazing.

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Upon my arrival I checked in at the ranger station and drove back to the campground to get my site all setup.

CampsiteAfter setting up the site it was time grill up some burgers! No food pics as I was pretty hungry by the time I got to eat so the camera was put up.

When I checked in on  Friday evening the ranger informed me that their cow camp had just opened for visitors. I was intrigued at the photo opportunities so I perused the brochure to find out more information.

1870's Florida Cow CampThe open prairies of the area were a real draw to the cowboys of the day. They even had a real cowboy on hand to tell the stories of survival in the wild of the 1870’s.

1870's CowboyThey had some authentic items on hand to complete the theme as well. This saddle was a great example of the way of life back then.

Saddle 'em Up!

Here is a close-up of the metal emblem on the horse bridle hanging on the end of the wooden post.

US Horse Bridle

And this old wooden canteen for carrying drinking water was another great find.

CS Wooden CanteenAnd nothing completes a great day better than a spectacular sunset provided by mother nature.

Sunset Canal

But to really finish off the night nothing can beat a sky full of stars!

Starry Starry Night

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Red

On a walk around downtown Tampa, Florida last year, I found a lot of interesting architecture. Armed with my camera and tripod, I set out to capture the beauty of this city. Now normally I drive through the area, casually glancing out the windows and catching some of the buildings,  but parking the car and walking around for a few hours gives a completely different perspective. There are so many things that you just don’t see while behind the wheel. Plus it’s great exercise!

As I was strolling down the street, I came across this building. What struck me most was the rich texture of the red brick facade. It popped out between the other buildings. Traffic was minimal as this was taken on a Saturday, so I didn’t have to worry about too many pedestrians or cars moving through the shot. The reflections in the windows were an added bonus.

This building houses a cafe and a restaurant on the bottom floor and a law firm on the 2nd and 3rd floors. For a little bit of history about this building click here – 110 East Madison.

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Red

The Path of Love

In honor of Valentine’s Day, today’s post features a wedding gazebo with intricately cut hearts around the top.

Disney’s Boardwalk area is the setting for this image. A flower lined brick pathway leads to the gazebo with Disney’s Yacht Club Resort creating the perfect backdrop. I felt like I was walking into a painting. The lighting was perfect with the right mix of sun and clouds. All of the magnificent color was what initially drew my eye to this scene. After that it was just a matter of framing up all of the elements I liked.

The lamp-posts and the flower pots seemed to add just the right amount of decor to an already eye pleasing scene. The vibrant colors of the flowers and the awnings completed the picture.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

If you would like to view more pictures on my blog from Disney, just click here.

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The Path of Love