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.

Please click on each of the images below to view full-screen.

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

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Please consider leaving a comment as I always enjoy hearing from my visitors! 😀

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Around the Bend

Happy New Year everyone! This is officially my first post of 2013. And this image was shot on the first day of the year!

For my first outing of the new year I decided to go for a bike ride. I wanted to see something different so after researching the Florida State Parks website for bicycling activities, I chose this area: Cross Florida Greenway – Withlacoochee Bay Trail. Situated in Crystal River, Florida the trailhead starts at Felburn Park. The trail runs 5 miles out to the Gulf of Mexico along an old barge canal. There are pavilions along the way with tables and benches where you can sit and relax with a beautiful view of the water.

The day started out as kind of a gray cloudy day. I prefer blue skies with puffy white clouds, but you have to use what you’re given. I stopped along the way to the Gulf at the different areas to see what I could shoot. I wasn’t really feeling inspired so I continued on.  I did get to see a family of deer run across the trail right in front of me which was pretty cool!

When I got to the Gulf area, I saw the most beautiful God rays I had ever seen. And they lasted for quite awhile. I hope to post one of those shots on the blog real soon.

When I started heading back I was watching the sky and noticed that there was some blue color trying to show through. With eager anticipation I kept looking upwards and decided to stop one more time. I finally got to get what I was hoping for.

Please click on the image below to view full-screen.

Around the Bend

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Please consider leaving a comment as I always enjoy hearing from my visitors! 🙂

A Day at the Beach

Today’s post was designed to bring a little warmth to what is a colder time of year for lots of people. This was shot the day after the photowalk in New Smyrna Beach where I shot this 1958 Cadillac.

After exploring the Daytona beach area for awhile I went down to Ponce Inlet to look at the lighthouse. Feeling a little uninspired with the shots I was getting (read not a dramatic view of a lighthouse with rocks and crashing ocean waves :(), I left hoping something would catch my eye.

I stopped at a little pull-off by the beach and walked down the ramp to see what I could find. I watched the waves wash up on the shore and immediately noticed the reflection. I moved around a bit to find a good vantage point to highlight the reflection of the clouds. Using the distant buildings on the left and the high waves on the right as a frame, I set my tripod down low to get closer to the ground. I had to be quick as the waves were coming in pretty strong. Luckily the water wasn’t too deep where I was kneeling down and I had enough time to capture a few frames before the next big wave brought a lot of water my way!

To enjoy a larger view, please click on the image below!

A Day at the Beach

As always, I hope you enjoyed today’s post and I encourage you to join the conversation by writing your thoughts below as I truly like to hear from all of my visitors! 🙂

Last Light

It seems like every time I want to go out and take pictures, it rains. Well, this past Sunday was no different. I awoke to a beautiful blue sky with white puffy clouds. “Looks like a perfect day to go out and shoot” I thought. Florida’s weather changes pretty quickly, so you sometimes just hope for the best.

Needless to say, when I got out of the house, the sky had turned dark and it was starting to rain. I decided to press on and just see what I could come up with. After driving around for awhile, stopping at different places, I was not having a very photographic day. As the daylight was dwindling down, I started driving to this local beach park.

Sitting on Florida’s gulf coast, Fred Howard Park is a beautiful location to go to the beach, go swimming, or even have a picnic. Upon entering the park, you are greeted with lots of shade trees and picnic pavilions. Just a short way around you come across a causeway with a picturesque view of an island beach.

I drove all the way out to the beach just to get an idea for a picture. Nothing really jumped out at me, so I headed back to the tree lined picnic area and parked. I walked towards the causeway figuring I might see better, photographically speaking, than if I were driving. I was looking at the sky and noticing that there might be a chance for some color to pop out, so I continued walking.

I stopped along the way taking a few pictures here and there, not even realizing that I had walked almost all the way to the beach area. Since I was already that far and the sky was looking pretty amazing, I continued on my journey.

When I got to the beach, I figured I had about a 5 minute window of opportunity to make some pictures. As I suspected, the sun briefly broke through the cloud layer over the water, and there was orange sky for about a minute. I was shooting silhouettes of trees and had to quickly change my position.

This lone lifeguard chair was calling out to me. I surveyed the scene unfolding before me and setup my tripod. The sky was absolutely amazing and the beautiful light came and went in the blink of an eye. Before it was gone, I got this shot!

To enjoy a larger view, please click on the image below!

As always, I hope you enjoyed today’s post and I encourage you to join the conversation by writing your thoughts below as I truly like to hear from all of my visitors! 🙂

Sunset on the Serengeti

No not the African plains but Florida! Busch Gardens theme park in Tampa to be exact. Photo opportunities abound when you pay a visit here. There is a variety of animals to see and learn about. This image features three of their stars: a Reticulated Giraffe and two Marabou Storks. This was a perfect day for taking pictures as it rained off and on all day. The clouds would come and go opening up briefly to let the sunlight in. I was walking around taking pictures of the birds when I spotted this lone giraffe. He kept getting closer to me and I had the hopes of getting a close-up shot. He stopped at a comfortable distance from me and stayed where he was. With him keeping a close watch on me, I setup the shot to include the two storks with the giraffe in the background. I got four shots before he turned and ran away. The color in the sky and the giraffe staring right at me was my favorite shot.

To enjoy a larger view, please click on the image below!

I hope you enjoyed today’s post and I encourage you to join the conversation by writing your thoughts below as I truly like to hear from all of my visitors! 🙂

Sunflower Dreams

This past Sunday I went to a sunflower maze in a small town nearby. Armed with my tripod and camera, I set out to hopefully capture some beautiful pictures. The vision in my head was one of those shots where there is an infinite field of short sunflowers, the sun is low in the sky, and there are big, fluffy clouds. Well that didn’t happen. Most of the flowers I encountered were 8 to 12 feet tall. The sun was still relatively high in the sky. And clouds? Nada! But I am always optimistic about making pictures in any condition.

The maze itself was 5 acres in size. I spent roughly 3 hours walking through it, intentionally going the wrong way just to see what I could find. As this was the last day of the maze being open, a lot of the flowers were past their prime. But most of them were still blooming out nicely. I walked along stopping every so often to take a picture. I was nearing the end of the maze when I saw this flower. The sun was lighting it up from behind and the glow was amazing. I moved around looking for the right angle to capture it. When I found the right spot, I set my tripod up and shot. I looked on the camera screen and thought – no that’s not it. I turned the camera just a little bit and just as I pressed the shutter, the wind blew slightly, moving the other flowers and leaves around. I checked the screen and I was ecstatic. This was the shot I was looking for. The sun flares glowing across the frame in a diagonal line. The bright spot of sun in the upper right. The light cast on the back of the flower. All of these contributed to a shot that only required me to be in the right place at the right time.

I didn’t do very much post processing on this shot. A little bit of sharpening, contrast, and clarity were all that I needed to do in Lightroom.

To enjoy a larger view, please click on the image below!

I hope you enjoyed today’s post and I encourage you to join the conversation by writing your thoughts below as I truly like to hear from all of my visitors! 🙂

Giving Me The Eye

As I was browsing through my catalog of images over the weekend, I came across this one that I had never posted and wanted to share it.

During the beginning of March last year, I went to one of my favorite local parks to do some bird watching. The Osprey nesting season happens at this time of the year which makes for great photo opportunities. I always make sure to keep my distance so I don’t disturb them. I had been to this nest before, but it had been awhile. I walked down the trail and everything started to look familiar. I remembered exactly where it was and found my subject. I took pictures for about 30 minutes before mama decided to go back to her nest.

Osprey, also known as Fish Hawks, like to nest in tall trees and can usually be found close to water.

To enjoy a larger view, please click on the image below!

I hope you enjoyed today’s post and I encourage you to join the conversation by writing your thoughts below as I truly like to hear from all of my visitors! 🙂