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Archive for the ‘Landscapes’ Category

Remembering Prince…Purple Rain, Purple Rain

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Slanted Rain, Florida Everglades 2012

Upon hearing of the loss of Prince to the world, I thought of one image that could memorialize one great song from one great artist who gave us so much great music. So here…let there be Purple Rain, because if at no other time, certainly today would be a day… when doves cry as well.

Again, It is only Black and White, But I (Really) like it

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Moonlit Sailboats, Coconut Grove, FL 2010

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Under the Boardwalk, Deerfield Beach, FL 2010

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Power of the Sea, Tequesta, FL 2011

Staying with the Black, White and Water genre here again, this time with simpler, more direct lines, yet no less impactful. Some images are just made to be captured in Monochrome, the power of the composition mandates it and although sometimes certain scenes could be shot either way, I believe these three are clear.

Moonlit Sailbaoats is a given. The extraordinarily calm waters of Sailboat Bay in Coconut Grove against the almost perfectly vertically still sailboat masts, lit by the Moon, left no doubt how this scene should be shot. A tiny sway in the front catamaran proves that the image was (im)perfectly real and I believe, one for the ages.

Next, Under the Boardwalk, utilizes the same tripod technique allowing for the rushing water to blur against the solid pier. The glare from topside lights lit the cement braces below, creating a vanishing point design that really makes the image work.

Finally, with a mildy rough sea (on a good day the water can shoot 20 feet high), the layout at Coral Cove State Park creates an explosion of ocean as it hits the limestone shoreline. The Black and White treatment worked well considering the strangely matching cloud formations, and that is something I always consider..

As with all of these, timing was everything, so that each feature falls into place creating an image that makes the most of the moment and tells the story of that time and place as it needed to be told.

…Finally, speaking of timing, if you happen to be in the area of St. Louis, MO today, stop at the beautiful Visions of Iceland Photographic Exhibition at http://www.bullivantgallery.com/ or for later, private viewing of this and other great work…contact the guy with the great eye: Jeff Appel  http://on.fb.me/1UpwnEO

 

 

 

Missing the Mountaintops / Lofty Goals

MT Snowcovered Mtns_FINAL_Fix 3Mountaintops Reflected, West Yellowstone, MT 2010

With all the News reports of snow around the country, I miss the endless photographic opportunities that comes with it, along with the all the chaos.

On this particular day, in a place where snow is a fabric of the landscape much of the year, I made my first and only, unsuccessful attempt at flyfishing in a Yellowstone river. When I finally realized there would be no fish this day, I looked up to see the remaining light highlighting what looked like the clouds reflecting the mountaintops below them. I quickly exchanged my fishing gear for my camera gear to capture the scene before the light was gone. Using the almost sihlouetted row of Evergreens as a foreground element, this image was the one good thing I caught all day.

Later that night I enjoyed a fresh local trout, pan fried to perfection, at a small, West Yellowstone restaurant …the next best thing to catching it myself.

And Now for Something Completely Different / Time for a Change

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Fantasy Island, Ode to M.C. Escher, 2006-2010

Albert Einstein is attributed with the clever quote: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Although it has come into question as to whether or not he actually said it, it is still both catchy and thought-provoking.

After an absolutely awful year of health, which is still challenging me through the new year, it leads me to think it would be insane not to try something new going forward. That being said, my work has always been known for its rendition of Mother Earth’s natural beauty with very little, if any, help from post production “magic.” Notwithstanding, over the years, I have (secretly) dabbled in the creation of scenes which have been born in my mind’s eye and then generated from several composite images I have captured over time.

Hence, for the first time seen beyond my eyes, one of my more complicated compilations, Fantasy Island. Created from over a dozen images taken over several years, this is truly one that the viewer can see new things at every different turn. Produced in the mystical style of M.C. Escher, following the composition around, brings you back to the beginning…or does it? It’s enough to drive you insane.

Starting to Snow / At Least That’s What I Hear

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Momentary Blizzard, OH 2013

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Gray Wolf in Snow, Prone, West Yellowstone, 2010

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Three Horses in Snow, Colorado 2010

From my immobile position in South Florida I hear that other parts of the country are starting to see their first snow fall.

Since I won’t see any of it first hand this year, here are images from some early snows that I memorialized …in days gone past.

Rainy Night Dock / Weather or Not, Expect the Unexpected

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Rainy Night Dock, Deerfield Beach, FL 2014

I haven’t posted for a while, because I have been laid up due to a couple of surgeries. When I do post, I often look for an image that relates to an event, season or mood I am in at the time. Although I actually enjoy inclement weather personally, and for photography, a dreary, rainy night sums up my situation (and has for some time).

On one of the last nights I had actually been able to go out to dinner, a casual dockside dining experience was cut short by a South Florida rain storm. Although the outdoor patio was closed to diners, I used a bit of an overhang to capture a moody image of the scene. The rain was so intense, it was blowing the door closed and I was barely able to shoot without my camera getting soaked. Notwithstanding, sometimes the worst conditions can result in the best images. Using a soft filter and shooting the scene in black and white, I like to think I created a moody, timeless image from a scene that many would avoid.

Moral of the story, don’t let some unexpected weather keep you from creating something….  unexpected.

One of a Kind / Commemorating a Very Special Young Man

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Lone Tree at Sunset, 2004                                    WMC TICU Private Consult Room

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WMC TICU Lobby / Lounge                                      Commemorative Plaque

I have participated in more than a dozen Gallery Exhibitions around the country including a Solo Exhibition in NYC. I have been published in most of the major Fine Art Photography magazines and have enjoyed the support of some of the legends of the industry. All that means a great deal to me…but recently I had the honor of participating in a project that not only will make the lives better for the families of those that will find themselves at the Westchester Medical Center TICU (Trauma Intensive Care Unit)…but was created and dedicated to an incredibly special young man, Evan Lieberman.

That some of my work graces the walls of this beautiful, and more importantly, calm and functional space, is truly special. Built from the tireless efforts of Evan’s family through Evan’s Team which they created in his memory as a group effort committed to helping the community  http://www.evansteamny.com/ they hold regular events such as mud runs, golf tournaments, poker nights and the like, raising funds so that along with the Westchester Medical Center http://www.westchestermedicalcenter.com/, they have created a comfortably practical and contemplative space for the families of TICU patients.

My image above, which is part of the project, is entitled Lone Tree at Sunset. It is especially appropriate to have been included in the project because Evan Lieberman…was truly one of a kind.

Images of WMC TICU © Ben Cotten 2015.

Blue Skies / Lightning Strikes / Following the Storm / Towering Inferno

FL EvergladesRiver of Grass, Florida Everglades 2009

Fl Everglades Lightning FINALStrike Right, Florida Everglades 2010

Wildfire, Florida EvergladesTowering Inferno, Florida Everglades 2007

I don’t know how many of my 1,000 plus regular followers and 40,000 viewers to date, actually read what I post. My goal has always been to get the work out there and the text is just my way of venting…and providing some insight into the images, the process and the places.

Anyway, those that do read my words, have probably noticed some cryptic references to my health, especially over the last few years. To that end I post, what I hope will be, one of my final downward metaphors. The beautiful blue skies of the Florida Everglades (River of Grass), the oncoming electric lightning storm (Strike Right) and finally, the resulting significant burn of the Towering Inferno caused by the lightning. These subjects vaguely hint at what this one of earth’s inhabitants has been dealing with for some time.

Soon embarking toward some new roads on the map of my life, here’s hoping that the steps I take are in the right direction and lead to more blue skies in the future….even with the inevitable clouds present…. I’ll gladly take it.

In the meantime, I will continue to post from my existing body of work and hope you all enjoy it.

Categories: Everglades, Landscapes, Nature

Seen Again, but Through Different Eyes / Falling Water

Multnomah Falls OR

Multnomah Falls, OR 2009

In my humble opinion, the Pacific Northwest in one of the most beautiful places our country has to offer. From spectacular granite cliffs, to sand dunes to majestic waterfalls cascading through dense, green foliage. Back in another lifetime, I went there when I could, to re-charge my batteries through the peaceful energy Mother Nature provided in her most spectacular locales.

The 620 foot Multnomah Falls is the most well-known of a series of 77 waterfalls that dot the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. There are only three higher falls in the nation and Multnomah is arguably the most beautiful of those. A trail from the famous Multnomah Falls Lodge (built in 1925) climbs up the side towards the Simon Benson Bridge and then winds further towards the top. Due to 25 years of spine issues, although I have been known (on a good day) to head down a relatively level trail, this uphill battle was not one that I took on.

Instead, I tried unsuccessfully to capture the entire falls, including the zig zagging upper part, in my frame. The bright light at the top of the image is from the setting sun which also prevented me from properly exposing the entire falls. Finally, using a wide angle lens and a tripod, I cropped out the majestic lower falls and slowed down how the eyes see the water movement, which I could only do after the sun had slipped almost entirely behind the mountain. The smooth cascade and deep green surroundings transforms this visual capture of an iconic place from the usual scenic shot into a Fine Art image.

As my analogies have gone for some time, for those of you who actually read what I say, this also exemplifies the downward fall I have been experiencing with my health. After a very long battle, hopefully my future posts will begin to elicit some hope in that department. We shall see. …Either way, I have captured some serious magic in my time, in my images and in my mind.

Reign O’r Me (The WHO, Quadrophenia)

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Slanted Rain, Florida Everglades 2012

With the remnants of Erika, we are seeing a great deal of rain in South Florida. It’s better than a Hurricane.

Often, we can see the storms as they approach. This one was out in the Florida Everglades a.k.a. the “River of Grass.”

Categories: Everglades, Landscapes, Nature

Rare Break / Lavender Sunset

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Rare Break, Lavender Sunset, Deerfield Beach 2014

In a rare, medically induced break from my current madness, I made it to the Sea one day last year at sunset. As luck would have it, just after the sun set, the clouds took on their nightly orange glow inside a pastel lavender sky.

The message I took from that last light was that although it was one of the last Seascapes I have created as of late…I will do whatever I can to make sure it is not the last…that I will create.

Trying Saatchi Art / Approaching Storm

Alligator Alley Rain _9495_FINAL_3Approaching Storm, Florida Everglades, FL 2012

The slanted rain of an approaching storm signals Mother Nature’s nearing onslaught. Storms move very quickly in the Florida Everglades and can be seen from great distances due to the lay of the land. I, for one, have been caught in more than my share of downpours when I waited too long to get the best image, and she punished me for it.

Recently I have tried showing some of my select Fine Art Prints for sale on the Saatchi Art Collection at http://www.saatol.us/1K9YK3d

Hopefully, there will be an approaching storm…of new collectors.

Timing is Everything…Even When it Isn’t

NUBBLE LIGHT lite

Low Tide, Nubble Light, York, Maine 2004

Staying with some of the older, classic images from my archive, I post this rendition of the (very) often photographed Nubble Lighthouse on the Coast of Maine http://nubblelight.org/. One of my earliest Fine Art images captured digitally, the natural light was gorgeous and the low tide exposed the waterline on the rocks when we arrived at the spot from which the famed lighthouse is most often viewed. Knowing I had to try and add something to the image that made it my own, I noticed that there were a couple of seabirds flying continuously around the island on approximately the same path during each turn. I set up my tripod for the best composition and followed the birds in my minds eye as they circled. When I felt I had one placed in the perfect position, I clicked the shutter. The other bird is actually blurred in flight directly below the bird in the sky, and in front of the white picket fence.

Hence, my timing worked out, thanks to some great light, and a couple of cooperative…and predictable, seabirds.

Two Strikes / One that started it all and stands the test of time

Two Strikes FINALTwo Strikes, Singer Island, FL 1990s

While scouring my archives for early images, I came across one that was probably the earliest Fine Art image that I actually specifically worked to create. This image was shot so long ago, it was originally captured on film and scanned to digital for presentation here.

First, as I have mentioned before, when traveling/photographing I always sought out the view with the best photographic potential. In this particular case, the first room available was too low and had palm trees blocking the view (can you believe that I can actually remember that far back?). After moving to a higher floor with an unobstructed view, I set the (Minolta) camera and tripod on the balcony during an evening lightning storm. As explained in previous posts, the trick with lightning is to leave the shutter open until you believe you have recorded the lightning strikes that best fit your composition. In this case, I lined up the beach chairs (lit both naturally and by the building I was in), a wooden storage hut and a small beached catamaran along the bottom of the image. If you look closely, you can actually see a small campfire on the beach, just left of center.

After composing the image, I shot throughout the night, opening and closing the shutter after various lightning strikes were exposed on the film. This, the best image of the night, shows two strikes approximately 10 minutes apart. After visualizing where the two had hit, I closed the shutter (and in those days) had to wait until the slides came back from the developer to know exactly what I captured.

Thanks to Mother Nature, the perfectly fitting composition of the Two Strikes (if I do say so myself), convinced me that I knew what I was doing with this Photography thing and with that knowledge and a bit of luck, I could create images that…stand the test of time.

Categories: Landscapes, Lifestyles, Nature

Old Classic

Wormsloe Trees

Wormsloe Plantation, GA 2008

Although I usually avoid images that have been shot before, as cliche’, sometimes a scene is just irresistible. Such was the case at the entrance to the Wormsloe Plantation near Savannah, GA.

The keys to a successful image of tree covered roads, are even lighting… and not getting run over. Very often the sun shines down through the trees making it impossible to get a consistent, even exposure. This image took a great deal of patience waiting for the clouds to cover the sun while moving the tripod I had set up in the middle of the road, whenever a car drove in.

I like to think I put a new spin…on a classic image.

Nostalgia / Early Work

Swan Song

Swan Song, Brightwaters, NY

Having been unable to get around to shoot for some time, I became nostalgic for some of my early work. This image was entitled “Swan Song” because the swan and surrounding ducks are framed by the hanging branch and together they resemble a musical note. This was so long ago that it was originally shot on film (I went digital in 2004).

Back then I was a member of the Kendall Camera Club http://www.kendallcameraclub.org/ which still exists and exhibits some great work. Swan Song won Picture of the Year at the club, then along with getting my first images published in magazines, those accomplishments jump started my foray into Fine Art Photography.

Since I have a number of early images that bring back fond memories for me, at least for now, I will post some old work that has not been previously shown, …some oldies, but goodies.

Looking Ahead.

ID Smoke on Water_9089_FINAL_edited-1Hope is on the Horizon, Coeur d’ Alene, ID 2010

Here’s hoping that 2015 brings bright new light…after the fog.

Falling Water / Collector’s Edition

WATERFALL_418WScenic Waterfall, Boone, NC 2005

Earlier this year, a couple who are not only two of my oldest and dearest friends, but earliest and continuous supporters, added some new pieces of my work to their collection. In addition to the custom Cityscape in their luxury Manhattan apartment, they added two country scenics to their new vacation home.

This image, Scenic Waterfall, created in 2005, had never been printed or even shown before. After some post production love, the piece was enlarged to accommodate an approximate five foot high space and hung in their new country home.

Here’s hoping the piece watches over many wonderful family memories in their new escape and as always…I thank them for their friendship and support.

BSG shows 3 Images at “Forgotten” Exhibition at A Smith Gallery, Texas

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Road to Old House, Ohio 2013

7Barry_GreffRiver of Fallen Trees, Yellowstone N.P. 2010

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Old Pilings, Naples, FL 2013

 Esteemed juror, Blue Mitchell http://bluemitchell.com/ has chosen three images from three different series of my work to be shown at the “Forgotten” Exhibition at the A Smith Gallery http://asmithgallery.com/.

Established in May, 2010, A Smith Gallery is located in Johnson City, Texas in the Nugent Avenue Arts District. The gallery exhibits the work of both amateur and professional photographers through juried and invitational exhibitions. Amanda Smith is the Gallery Director assisted by Kevin Tully serving as Assistant Gallery Director. 

Blue Mitchell is an independent publisher, curator, educator, and photographer. Based in Portland, Oregon, he has been involved with many facets of the photographic arts. Mitchell received his BFA from Oregon College of Art & Craft where he teaches studio school classes and workshops. Mitchell is the Founding Editor of Diffusion: Unconventional Photography, an independent, reader and contributor supported annual that highlights and celebrates unconventional photographic processes and photo related artwork. In addition to organizing and curating physical exhibitions around the country, Mitchell curates Plates to Pixels, an online photographic gallery that bridges the gap between antiquated photographic processes and new digital media.

Exhibition dates | September 19 to November 2, 2014

Reception | September 27 & October 25, 2014 both 4 to 7pm

My gratitude to Blue and Amanda for their support of my work.

Visualization / Seeing is Achieving

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Old Pilings at Sunset, Naples, FL 2013

Visualization of a scene, ahead of time, is often the key to creating something special.  In the image above, before the sun was going to set, I positioned a tripod in such a way as to best capture the pilings in the scene, once the sun had gone down. This included monitoring the spacing and assuring their line-up created a pleasant composition throughout the frame.

At this particular location, I also noticed that sometimes, if the water receded far enough back into the Gulf of Mexico, there was a reflection of the pilings on the beach.  From experience, some sunsets are dull, while others are spectacular and most others are somewhere in between.

As I have said before, the best part of the sunset, is after it has gone below the horizon, watching for the afterglow. On this particular evening, for a very short time, there was a beautiful, solid, orange background on the horizon. I took advantage of that, and the timing of the tide, to capture the reflection of the pilings on the beach. This scenario was quite short lived giving me only a couple of long exposures to get it right.

This was an example of being in the right place at the right time…and waiting for the right moment.

Up the Creek Without a Paddle

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Mountain Stream, Boone, NC 2005

I captured this old favorite of mine while we were staying in a cabin outside of Boone, North Carolina close to the Blue Ridge Highway. Breathtaking during autumn, this area is also quite beautiful throughout the year. This particular tributary was located right across the roadway from our cabin. When I first found it, the lighting was too bright to slow down the water to show motion.

It is always a good idea to re-visit locations if you can during different lighting situations. I returned to the scene when the sky was overcast  and there had recently been a light rain.  This type of lighting is best for these situations and allowed me to set  up my tripod just inside the flow and capture the water as it made its way towards me. The blue and yellow butterflies that were fluttering around me didn’t make the picture, but still remain in my mind’s eye.

Birds Eye View

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Bird in Sawgrass, Florida Everglades, 2012

Having been out of sorts for a long while, seemingly with the weight of the world upon you,  tends to manifest the feeling of isolation. This image captures that feeling wherein the weight of a common South Florida black bird known as a Grackle is supported by a thin reed of Sawgrass in the Florida Everglades.

Although isolated at that very moment, shortly thereafter he flew away, joining other members of his flock and then finding strength in numbers. Until then…

Looking Back / The Importance of Editing

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Moonlit Sailboats, Coconut Grove, FL 2010

Pelican Rest FINAL BW

Pelican Rest, Gulf of Mexico 2010

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am not able to produce new work for a while. Notwithstanding this situation, I will continue to do my best to post images to keep my work out there in the public’s consciousness. In order to do that, I will be posting older images, including some that have never been exhibited before.

While reviewing much of the older work it made me remember the importance of editing, something that is much easier said then done. When you get serious about photography, it becomes very difficult to separate the better images from those that might not meet the test.  In addition to paying attention to the overall composition, lighting, etc., it is often suggested that an outside set of eyes should give an unbiased opinion. Either way, the key is to be extremely critical and be sure that only the best make into the portfolio and/or are ultimately printed for exhibition/collection.

Finally, editing is also critical to the presentation of images in a portfolio, or when published in a book. Here, editing is used to present the images in a sequence that makes them flow. They should be placed in order by comparing color and/or lighting and/or composition and/or subject, so the images lead from one to the next naturally as the viewer sees them. This is more difficult than it seems and it is often necessary to use a professional Editor, even if it is just at the beginning to learn how it is done. I personally have worked with Paula Gillen http://bit.ly/1yMh3Gi, who has helped me along the way.

As a good example of successful editing, in the case of the two images above… they work well next to each other, whether in a portfolio, a book or… across from each other in an office lobby (see last Blog post).

From Virtual to Reality / See it Before you Hang it

PAIR Moonlit Sailboats - Pelicans Rest

Lakeside Executive Suites, Lobby – (PC generated) Virtual Layout, 2014

PAIR Moonlit Sailboats - Pelicans Rest HUNGLakeside Executive Suites – Lobby pieces installed, 2014 (I Phone photo of installation)

After capturing an iconic image, it is added to my portfolio and becomes available for residential, corporate and/or commercial display. While offering  these options, I believed it would be very helpful for those considering which work to display, to see how a particular image, or images, would look…framed and on the wall, in the space available to be filled.

Clearly, if the art buyer, designer, or even collector, could see a framed version of a particular print in an available place, it would be very helpful to their decision-making process. Case in point, the project above, the lobby of Lakeside Executive Suites http://www.lesweston.com/. LES is a first class executive suite office space with all of the amenities of a modern-day contemporary office and virtual office facility.

After reviewing the available space, I photograph the areas with blank walls. I then create various virtual options (see top two images), ie. different images and cut and paste them into virtual frames and present them in the particular area.

In this case the designer and office manager chose the pair of images above for the lobby to compliment the new renovation they were working on. The finished project offers a first class option for anyone looking for office space in the Weston area. Stop in and visit LES for any of your office needs and/or to see the outstanding quality of work done by the design firm… for your next project. http://www.meredithmarlow.com/

Independence Day / Light Up the Sky

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Light Up the Sky, Independence Day, Sunrise, FL

Composite image of July 4th Fireworks lighting up the sky as the streaking lights of vehicles drive by the celebration.

Marsh Forward / Southern Comfort / Striking a Pose

Egrets, Tybee Marsh 800w

Egrets in White Marsh, Tybee Island, GA 2008

For this image I caught the magic late afternoon light over Whitemarsh Island, just west of Tybee Island near Savannah on the Georgia coast. Look closely to see the white Egrets standing in the shallow water. Enlarging the image shows the birds in greater detail which helps to make this image something special. Not apparent where the swarming tiny crabs running around my feet as I set up and composed this shot.

Of course, “when in Rome” you need to eat like a Roman. So, when you are are on the Georgia Coast, you need to eat seafood. One of the best casual seafood restaurants I have ever eaten at was The Crab Shack on Tybee Island.  http://www.thecrabshack.com/

First, you cross the walking bridge over the live baby alligators into the dining room that is situated on the water. Then, while sitting at the wood tables under the peach basket chandeliers, you must dive into one of their giant, overflowing buckets of seafood and go at it. To me, this is… Southern Comfort.

Closer up, the majestic Great Egret preens itself into a classic pose.

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Great Egret, 2013

Miami Vice / South Beach Blues

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South Beach Blues, South Pointe, FL 2008

A bird’s-eye view of the tip of South Pointe (South Beach) captures the change in water-color from aqua to blue as it gets deeper. The colorful lifeguard station, beachcombers and incoming pleasure craft, round out the composition of the image and are reminiscent of our Miami Vice era.

Arctic Thunder / Glacier Calving

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Hubbard Glacier Calving, Alaska 2004

From fire (in my last post) to ice, here. The sudden release and breaking away of a mass of ice from a glacier is known as calving. Witnessing this phenomenon is a once in a lifetime experience.

The sound that occurs when the ice breaks off is like a resounding crack or boom you might hear in a severe lightning storm. All in all, one of the great natural acts one can witness that stays with you forever.

…On a separate note, sometimes a photograph can exhibit an image inside an image. If you look to the bottom right of the frame, you can see what looks likes a human face in the crashing icy water.  I have isolated it below to exhibit its eerie likeness. Just a little something extra in an already phenomenal experience.

AK Hubbard Glacier Calving FACE

         Ice Face, Alaska, 2004

Bringing the Heat

Wildfire, Florida Everglades

Wildfire, Florida Everglades 2007

Summer brings lightning strikes to the Florida Everglades. Combined with dry Sawgrass, the resulting wildfires can be seen for miles.  The electric power line towers at the bottom of the image show the scale of the towering inferno.

This is also a metaphor for our Miami Basketball team going for their third straight Championship, and how I’ve been feeling lately…not in a good way.

 

Fire from the Sky / Lightning, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Lightning, Outer Banks

Lightning, OBX 2006

With the arrival of summer weather, lightning season is fast approaching. I look forward to safely capturing striking (pun intended) images of this amazing and powerful natural phenomenon.

This image, which I posted when I first started this blog, still memorializes the most extraordinary lightning strike I have ever witnessed.

While lightning images require a tripod to keep the shutter open awaiting the strike, on this occasion I had left mine at a different location. Using a hotel railing as support, I timed the shutter release to capture this monumental strike.  The force of the lightning shook the building, yet I was still able to keep the lifeguard stand in focus and record the soft blur of the blowing sea grass.

As my Artist Statement reflects… I capture moments in time, never to be repeated.

 

Categories: Landscapes, Nature, Seascapes
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