Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Blowing Rocks Preserve - At High Tide This Time

It is fairly easy to check the tides. I have an ap on my phone in fact. But it is not always convenient to visit certain places at the exact right time. Now that I live relatively "around the corner" at 30 minutes away, and have completely free days,,,,, I have zero excuses to do this right.


Blowing Rocks Preserve is a somewhat unique bit of Florida beach. Solid limestone rather than endless sand that comprises most of the Florida beaches. For the first time I've captured the waves actually blowing out of the holes that have been drilled into the hard rock over the last hundred thousand years. There is even a low whistling sound as the air is pushed out ahead of the waves.


It's hard to tell from the photos but this was a very breezy and rainy day. I was forced to return to the car more than once because of showers.


Even though the weather was not the best for my camera, it was perfect for this bit of beach. The surf was crashing rhythmically and spectacularly. Huge sprays of water misting across the beach. As the tide reached its high point, I was forced to head a bit inland. That's where I found this little guy. It's actually the biggest hermit crab I've ever seen.


I like the photo below as it was storming right before I took it. You can see the angry clouds in the video below. I was about to leave but decided to wait out a downpour in the car. Moments later blue skies and 25 pelicans all in formation coasting at high speed down the beach.


[click here] for the rest of my photos. Now that I have finally caught this spectacle with my camera, I think I will no longer be a stranger. There are not many completely empty beaches in Florida and on all my visits, this one has seldom had more than a few visitor. Next time I just want to sit on the rocks and let the water wash over me. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Jupiter Lighthouse Revisited

The last time I visited the Jupiter Lighthouse to take photos was in 2012. I brought along my only quality camera, the Nikon D70 and the 18-70 mm lens that came with it.

[click here] to see that set. Now that I have all the time in the world I decided to go back with a newer camera and lens and try again.


My Nikon D3100 with the Tamron 18-270 mm lens has been my go to camera for fairs and festivals. To find the complete set from this weeks shoot, [click here]. Honestly I don't know if I did any better than last time. I brought along a big flash which I struggled with right in the beginning so I went to the pop up. Also you have to go along with the tour so there is a limited amount of time to get a shot with no people in it. That and my never ending struggle with vertigo and fully open staircase lead me to be more cautious about tumbling down the stairs than setting a proper shot.


I did time my visit perfectly to see the rainbow effect from the Fresnel lens cascading down the staircase but clouds were continuously shutting it off to tease me. You can get a small sense of this amazing effect from the photo below. Standing where I was in the moment the clouds peeled fully back, this rainbow traveled all the way to the ground floor. I managed to catch the fading glimmer as the group behind me began heading down and the clouds shut it off for the full descent.


I had some goals for this visit. The staircase, the lenses, and the rainbow. Time was certainly a limiting factor but I did capture what I set out to and a bit more. I'm still waiting for the "must print and hang on the wall" shot. I do have another camera so maybe one day.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Walt Disney World - My Personal Happy Place

I used to keep track of my visits to Walt Disney World but I stopped counting at 150 days at the parks. I'm sure I'm over the 200 mark by now. My first visit was 1976 and a drive all the way down from Philadelphia. It's a little easier to get to since the move to Fort Lauderdale in 1978.

Disney's Magic Kingdom - Cinderella's Castle
That said, it's been a long time since I've had an annual pass. Until a few months ago that is. I took a few years off as life got in the way a bit and there was way too much of the rest of the world to see.

In the last two months I've made 4 solo trips. Mostly to take it all in at my own speed and take the kind of photos I can't enjoy trudging around in a group. I also like to ride all the thrill rides and I don't know hardly anyone who can bounce from one to the next as fast as I can.

One of the unexpected things was the flood of memories, the excitement of new rides, sights, sounds, food, and attractions, and missing the rides of the past. I suppose traveling alone really brought out a deeper experience than just asking all day long "What do you want to do next"?

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Tower of Terror
One of my best memories was riding Tower of Terror and Rocking Rollercoaster 10 times each in one day. That actually consumed an entire trip. Wait times are seldom in the 5 minute range on the most popular rides. If you go early enough you can get several rides in as I did last week before the lines grow. Of course these days I need to sit a bit right after.

I also pick notoriously slow days at the park. Never weekends or holidays. I'm ok with the crowds but not wait times over an hour.

A lot of my reminiscing involved my daughter.  I brought her so many times (starting at 6 months old) that by high school she wanted to go anywhere but. And we did exactly that.

When EPCOT opened, the family and I were there the first month.  I remember how fascinated I was by virtually visiting countries around the world knowing full well my family would never get to see any of them. Collectively we have visited Canada, Norway, England, France, China, Japan, and several not even on the list. I have no doubt if not for this introduction, we would have not visited a single one.

As a stockholder, one of the perks was to book a new hotel when it opened for $99.00 a night. The Dolphin, Swan, Coronado Springs, Beach Club, Port Orleans, and Caribbean Beach. I missed the Grand Floridian and that little perk has long ago expired. A room in those hotels is significantly higher than a hundred bucks these days. On my new retirement salary,,,,,, It's pretty much All Sports or All Movies for me but a Disney hotel beats anything outside. There is a customer service level second to none even in the lesser priced lodging.

Disney's Animal Kingdom - Tree of Life
If you have been following my blog you know I have been adding to my experience with special attractions like Cirque Du Soleil and the giant helium balloon at Disney Springs or the very pricey Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom. Pricey but worth it as are most things at Disney. I plan at the end of my season pass to do the Backstage Magic Tour. An all day back stage pass to the 4 parks and a long time dream of mine.

So why do I keep coming back. I have traveled extensively and most places I've only tread once or a few times at most. I've never really had an answer to that question. I suppose it's part of the magic.

Disney's EPCOT - Spaceship Earth

Since these 4 visits were mostly to grab a few photos, click on the park to view them.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Stuart Air Show - 2015


I should rename this post to "I Flew in a Huey"!! That's pretty much how I've started every conversation this week. Sure I managed to take some of the best air show photos I have to date but for a mere $75.00 I took and unbelievably amazing ride.


The Stuart Air Show has had my attention the last 3 years. The first time I went I was very impressed. I even took a $40.00 helicopter ride at the end of the day. The show has only grown each passing year. For my photos from the show [click here]

But let's get back to my helicopter ride this year.


The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation provided the flight. I did not get a chance to do this last year so I was first in line this year. Well 11th actually. They take ten riders at a time and I was on the second trip. You can see from the photo I took of the group ahead of us, there is not a lot between the seat and the ground in the door gunners position. Just a little old vintage seat belt.


I was using a 500 MM lens and it was sticking out of the door enough to be affected by the down wash. I guess I was more interested in getting the shot than worrying about the seeing the ground in a quick hurry.


Getting that birds eye view was a dream come true but most of my photos were from the ground. When you think air show you typically think way up in the air above your head. At this show, you can walk right up to planes and pilots on the ground that will later be performing overhead, battle re-enactments and weapons demonstrations of vintage fire power.  Not all the action is a mile in the sky Some is pretty close and very loud.


As much as I enjoy the ground show.... "I Flew in a HUEY"!!!!!!!! I had to throw a little music on the video as the rotors were loud as hell but damn - it does not get better than this.

Ok.... well maybe next year it does.....