“To a hungry person, every bitter food is sweet. When the preferable is not available, the available becomes preferable.”
This week’s “sweet” challenge was indeed a challenge for me. I don’t do food photography, and I don’t have pets. While I happen to think my husband is truly sweet, I’m not sure that would translate for most people 😊.
“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.”
Then it hit me – our island is home to the sweetest little creatures – our white-tailed deer. When I lived in the northeast the deer were much larger and there was a constant conversation about how to control their numbers. Here on our island the perfect solution exists with no human intervention whatsoever. Our deer population is very well-managed by our beautiful bobcats. They are quite proficient in hunting the fawns throughout the island. Nature can be cruel but somehow both the deer and the bobcat populations continue to be perfectly balanced.
“Life is like that…sometimes you have to peel off the bitterness in order to get to the part that is sweet.”
One of my favorite things about our deer is how accustomed they’ve become to having humans nearby. The capture above was made with an 18-35mm lens and is only very slightly cropped. As for the size of the population, all of today’s choices were made this week during a brief deer-hunting walk with my Fuji X-T2. Seems to me the deer are as happy with the arrival of our spring-like temps as I am. As Jackie Gleason would say…How sweet it is!
“Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.”
This week Krista has asked us to give a virtual tour of our world. It’s been a very busy few weeks here but I couldn’t miss a chance to highlight some of the incredible beauty with which I’m fortunate to be surrounded every single day.
“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”
As noted in my opening quote, South Carolina is not where I’m “from” – that would be the northeastern US where the winters are cold and the roads are busy. Don’t get me wrong, there are some magnificent vistas in the north, but here in the lowcountry it’s hard to drive a mile without seeing something breathtaking. We are surrounded by the peaceful views of our beautiful marshes which are further enhanced by the majesty of live oak trees clothed in lovely Spanish mosses.
“If light is in you, you will find your way home.”
Of course we are best known for our beautiful 10-mile-long beach, which is NEVER crowded and always wonderfully photogenic. The waters are warm and the sands often present treasures like starfish, sand dollars and ghost crabs for those on the hunt. Birds love our beaches and along with gulls and terns they also provide welcome respite for endangered species like red knots and piping plovers.
“The best part of going away for a vacation is coming home again.”
Beyond the beautiful scenery, our area is filled with incredible wildlife who seem to enjoy our scenery as much as we do. I’ve posted this alligator capture before as it’s one of my favorites. We see these prehistoric creatures everywhere and know they won’t bother us if we don’t bother them. For the most part we find them drowsily basking in the southern sun or lurking in our ponds and lagoons. It’s not often we catch them with mouths wide open seemingly enjoying playtime with the local plant life!
“Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Speaking of our beaches, our area is well-known for its dolphins – recently featured on National Geographic’s Predator series. It seems the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia are the only places in the world where dolphins work as a team to corral bait fish and push them onto the beach. They then follow them onto the beach to feast before sliding back into the water. I’ve been fortunate to have seen this behavior several time and it truly is an amazing sight.
“If there is such a thing as complete happiness, it is knowing that you are in the right place.”
Finally, if one tires of being surrounded by peaceful beauty and nature, we are a mere 30-minute drive from the delightful city of Charleston – home to wonderful restaurants, music, theatre and a great deal of interesting history.
Our little island may not be right for everyone, but it’s certainly the right place for me 😊
WPC: Tour Guide
“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.”
After two weeks of ice and snow captures, I am happy to focus today’s post on some favorite beach moments from this past week. A friend and I ventured out during peak low tide toward the end of the day and were amazed at some of our findings.
“The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.”
Because Ben’s Photo Challenge invites us to show “the endless variety that one thing can contain” I’ve chosen to illustrate the day’s findings with an impressionist’s brush. The first, an imprint in the sand of an aquatic plant, the second a somewhat French interpretation of the shore littered with clamshells and the birds feeding on them.
“A mountain still in the distance can appear as a molehill.”
We marveled at the beauty around us, so different from our usual perspective mid-island. Because the tide was unusually low we were able to walk in an area that is normally underwater. The impressions left in the sand by aquatic life forms were a unique experience, as was the abundance of mollusks – both on the shore and in the shallows. There were many both closed and partially-open clams whose pink insides were a new experience for me. The birds were wasting no time making the most of the unusually plentiful feast.
“It all depends on how we look at things.”
A brisk walk with a good friend on a crisp, sunny day surrounded by beauty – it doesn’t get much better than that….no matter how you look at it 😊.
All photos taken with iPhone 8+, edited in Topaz Studio Impressions
“Silence is the language of nature”
This week Cheri has challenged us to “capture silence in a photograph”. To me, nature is a place where soothing silence can always be found by those who seek it. Coincidentally, this week I set out to test a new lens in the woods and lagoons near my home. All of today’s captures, celebrating nature’s silence, were shot with my X-T2 using Fujifilm’s 50-140 mm f/2.8 lens.
“I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
Vincent van Gogh
My test of the lens focused on four things – portability, sharpness, reach and bokeh. The lens (unlike my Nikon 70-200 f/2.8) easily supports handheld shooting without shake. At the narrow end, f/22, I was able to achieve reasonable results with panning to create images like the one above.
“See how nature-trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence.”
I am used to having a bit more reach, and I did find I would have liked more, but the use of a teleconverter could solve that. Also, the lens was quite sharp and since the Fuji files are large, they can be cropped down to a reasonable size to focus in on important elements. In the capture above, the three Hooded Mergansers were a good distance from me, so the shot has been cropped pretty significantly. Note that the birds, even though on the move, are still reasonably sharp.
“Come to the woods, for here is rest.”
I used the lens for some landscapes and found it was also up to that task. Generally, I was pleased with it although I do take issue with those who compare it to the Nikon. For me it was the ability to carry it around for two hours, and to shoot successfully without a tripod, that makes it a winner.
“Serenity is when I realize I’m blessed with beautiful nature around.”
Of course, there are many other lenses to be considered after moving to a new (in my case Fujifilm) platform. There are zooms, primes, macros, wide angles, and of course third party options. Oh dear, what’s a photographer to do?!
The answer, of course, is to focus on our skills. While our choice of equipment influences our results to some degree, improving our ability to “see” the shot, find the light, compose our images and know the limits and capabilities of our gear will trump equipment choice every time.
Equipment notwithstanding, one of my favorite things about photography is that it puts me right in the heart of nature’s silence – how about you?
“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”
I had to laugh as I captured this shot of a neighbor’s mailbox on my street last week. As I thought about the old phrase “neither rain, nor sleet nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” I realized that perhaps things are not as they once were. Our one day storm, which delivered 5″ of snow and ice, prevented us from getting mail for 4 days. Our airport, much to the dismay of our many holiday visitors, was closed for 5. (I can hear the midwesterners and Canadians out there chuckling as they read along!)
“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”
One of my favorite phrases is “making lemonade from lemons”. As I reconnected with friends following our relatively short-lived break from reality, I enjoyed hearing about their adventures and activities while house-bound. One of us took the opportunity to clean out her attic and ended up reliving fond memories with each box she opened 😀. Nearly everyone took advantage of the time to read a good book or two including yours truly. As there was no way to get to the store, we laughed as a group at how each of us managed to make meals from what we had on hand.
“Scars are not signs of weakness, they are signs of survival and endurance.”
Rodney A. Winters
Personally, I took advantage of the opportunity to try out my XT-2 on some scenes that (fortunately) only appear once or twice each decade here in the south. While it was extremely cold for the south, once the storm ended the sun shone brilliantly and the world around us was absolutely pristine. I bundled up with hat, scarf, gloves, boots and my “puffy jacket” (which I’d bought for our holiday trip north), and headed out to explore.
“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.”
There was beauty at every turn and before long I was pocketing my hat and gloves and enjoying the crisp, cold air. My Fuji did not disappoint and I enjoyed being able to walk as far as I wanted while carrying it without back pain or stress on my neck. I returned home energized and happy to have experienced the ice and snow before it melted. Little did I know there would be another 4 or 5 days before our roads would be passable and our plants would finally be free of the freeze.
“A journey, I reflected, is of no merit unless it has tested you.”
Speaking of plants, for the most part they came through with flying colors. The few that were hard-hit were those that are not native to our environment. It was an excellent testament to the efforts of our Nature Conservancy – who several years ago spearheaded a successful campaign to educate homeowners about the importance of using native plants in our landscaping.
All in all, the residents, our non-winterized homes and our flora and fauna weathered the weather quite well. This week we returned to milder temperatures (at least for a while), green fairways and navigable roads. We leave the week with a new appreciation for our mild winters and a new empathy for our friends in the north.
“The weather and love are the two elements about which one can never be sure.”
Anyone watching the news this week has probably seen stories about the bizarre weather in the southern U.S. Having been a South Carolinian some 18 years now, I’ve only seen snow here twice before, and both times it was flurries. We did have a very rare ice storm in 2014 (read about it here ) but generally our winters are relatively warm and comfortable.
“The weather gods are toying with us.”
Not so the opening week of 2018. Our temperatures overnight are dropping into the teens (Fahrenheit) and the days are not much warmer. Instead of rain we have snow and ice, closing bridges and causing numerous accidents. Our cars do not have snow tires nor do we have snow plows, snow blowers, snow shovels or ice scrapers. As a result even a small amount of snow and ice brings us to a standstill.
“You may weather the storm, but will you weather the aftermath?”
Anthony T. Hick
While the snow and sleet has abated for the most part, the heartiness of our tropical greenery is about to be severely tested. In a week where our photo challenge is Growth one wonders how much growing they’ll be doing after a week encased in ice.
“It is a common fault of men not to reckon on storms in fair weather.”
One of the small annoyances related to storms here in Charleston is that our TV stations are totally absorbed with weather news. On days when we are stuck inside it seems unfair that all we can watch are news broadcasts whose weathermen insist on showing scenes of children and dogs playing in the snow under the auspices of “keeping us informed”. Seriously???
“Flurries early, pristine and pearly. Winter’s come calling!
Old Farmers Almanac, 2013
Sadly there are also stories of power outages, burst pipes and over-stressed heating systems as well as overloaded shelters and stranded travelers. I suppose then that complaining about small inconveniences is totally unacceptable.
“Embrace the weather, child, and you’ll understand the balance of the world.”
Let me just say I’m looking forward to next week 😊.
“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come.”
Perhaps an odd choice for Favorites of 2017 but this little hummingbird capture was a lesson in perseverance. I wasn’t equipped to capture him properly but I was able to create something that I found interesting by playing with some post processing tools. As we bring 2017 to a close it serves as a reminder that one can always turn lemons into lemonade, which pretty much describes my year. We weathered several storms (both literal and figurative) this year, but here we are, all in one piece and looking forward to a wonderful holiday and a bright new year.
“Dear world, I am excited to be alive in you and I am thankful for another year.
My second capture comes from an adventure a good friend and I had at a relatively close-by location, Old Sheldon Church. It was a beautiful day with lovely light and we were both weighed down with as much photographic equipment as we could manage 😀. It reminds us that there is much to be seen close to home just as there is when we travel afar. We must always be mindful of the beauty around us, wherever we may be.
“The New Year is a painting not yet painted.”
Mehmet Murat Ildan
My choice of the impressionist-version of the GW Bridge is special to me for two reasons. First, if I am posting something from New York City it means I am with family, and most especially enjoying the company of our granddaughter, who grows more special every year. Second, it resulted from a class I took about Topaz software, which reminds us that it’s important never to stop learning and to be willing always to try new things.
“Treat every day like it’s a new year because it is.”
Speaking of trying new things, I thoroughly enjoyed a day shooting a local hip hop dancer surrounded by interesting wall art. The capture I’ve included here also made use of the Topaz tricks I learned earlier that month, as well as some new techniques for shooting subjects in motion. It reminds us that new challenges help us to keep growing.
“There is good in every year.”
Lailah Gifty Akita
Unlike some of my other choices, the capture above presents a very moody moment in time. I shot it after an extraordinary experience watching whales cavort under the Golden Gate Bridge with very good friends. It serves as a reminder that our task is to make the most of the dark times, learning from them as we make our way to the next sunrise.
“What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year.”
I’m closing my post with two captures of home. Above, our beautiful beach, covered in clouds as we awaited the arrival of Hurricane Irma. Below, a capture of some of our very special birdlife nestled among the sweetgrass. They remind us that each new year may bring storms and trouble, but along with them, each will also bring beauty and peace.
“The New Year is not something before us, it is something hidden within us trying to find the light.”
May your New Year be filled with all good things. See you in 2018.
WPC: 2017 Favorites
“We all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun.”
This month we experienced one of the most beautiful full moons I have ever seen. It was the final super moon of 2017, putting on an amazing display for sky-watchers everywhere (at least those of us lucky enough to have seen it on a clear night).
“Go slowly, my lovely moon, go slowly.”
Despite Mr. Hosseini’s wishes, the moon did NOT go slowly, in fact it was probably fully-ascended in about 20 minutes. I’d checked Photographers Ephemeris and positioned myself where I thought I could capture a tree silhouette in front of the moon, but alas I was off by just enough that it was beside the moon instead. More importantly though, the moonrise was lush with a warm orange color and breathtaking in its splendor. Photography notwithstanding, it was quite a sight to behold.
“It was the kind of moon that I would want to send back to my ancestors and gift to my descendants.”
For my followers who might wonder whether I used my new Fuji or my Nikon, I must admit it was the Nikon. To capture the detail of the moon I used my 70-200mm lens plus a 1.4 TC and a sturdy tripod – none of which I have for the Fuji. YET! But I’ve ordered a tripod plate for the Fuji and have traded in a good portion of my Nikon kit to finance a new lens or two for the Fuji – so keep checking, it’s a journey for sure!
Wishing everyone stress-free holiday preparations 😊.
“Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
This week Michelle has decided it’s time to take ourselves a bit less seriously. Her challenge, “Cheeky” caused me to sift through the archives for captures that would make us smile. Although he may not have been laughing, the horse in my opening shot certainly made me think he’d found something that cracked him up – which definitely made me smile watching him.
“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”
I also had a smile at this little goat. I couldn’t imagine how or why he ended up in this contraption but I did think it was photo-worthy at the time 😀.
“The struggles we endure today will be the ‘good old days’ we laugh about tomorrow.”
I remember the day I first saw this llama. We were having a vacation with our kids and our granddaughter found him (or her) incredibly funny. Nothing is more infectious than the laughter of a grandchild.
“Nothing has to be funny, sometimes I just laugh to unclog my soul.”
I loved the quote included with the capture above. I once read that if you’re feeling really sad, look in the mirror….force yourself to smile or even laugh….do it long enough and eventually you’ll come out of your bad mood. I’ve tried it once or twice and despite making me feel like an idiot it actually did work.
“If you’re going to look back on something and laugh about it, you might as well laugh about it now.”
Finally, one of my all-time favorite captures. I’ve posted it before but when I think of laughter, I think of this moment. We were in Alaska and had been stopped by a guard from crossing the path of this juvenile bear. Unfortunately, the guy with the red jacket was already on the path as he’d been fishing nearby. I only had a quick second to shoot it but you get the idea. I think I may have titled it “Brown Pants” in the past LOL.
I hope everyone enjoys a laugh or at least a smile as they read through this week’s responses to Michelle’s challenge. I know I will.
“Go slow, my life, go slow. Let me enjoy the beauty of silence, serenity, and solitude.”
I’ve been a Nikon shooter since my first FM film camera longer ago than I care to admit. I’ve invested in some amazing lenses and loved Nikon for as long as I can remember. This week I took what for me was a giant leap of faith and invested in a Fuji X-T2 mirrorless camera.
“Be serene in the oneness of things.”
Fuji’s forum calls it the “unboxing” – when one opens the package and first holds the new “baby”. And baby it is – small, lightweight and a pleasure to hold and get to know. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, there is a near-cult following for Fuji’s mirrorless offerings. Having spent just one day with it, I can see why. The good news/bad news is, it’s incredibly capable, customizable and flexible – which of course means it’s a bit complex for a new user. But with a fundamental understanding of photography and a few hours of reading and video-viewing, one can become at least minimally competent with this seriously lovable device.
“Acceptance is an important part of serenity.”
This afternoon, after a late-day meeting at one of Kiawah’s beautiful golf courses, I took the Fuji out for a test run. The sun had just about set so I had a very short window and very little light to work with. Happily, the Fuji did not disappoint. As promised it performed well in very low light and thanks to a bit of study was easy to handle and use.
“Draw clarity and strength from serenity and calm.”
I’m looking forward to learning more about the camera and it’s capabilities and to using it in many different settings. I must admit I was a tiny bit sad as I put the Fuji away next to my Nikons and their many lenses and accessories. I’m not ready to give up on them yet, but they did look a bit forlorn as I went out to play with the new kid in town.
All captures made with Fujifilm X-T2 with XF 18-55mm lens.