“The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.”
It’s been a very busy week here on our little island, so I’ve dug into the archives for a response to Michelle’s Unlikely challenge this week. Following her lead, my opening image is a favorite from our African safari several years ago. I remember wondering what the giraffe must have been thinking as he or she came upon the strange red animal in the grassy plains of Botswana 😊.
“Beauty exists, even in unlikely places.”
Richelle E. Goodrich
Even more unlikely, we came upon this little fellow during our visit to Victoria Falls. There, the animals seemed quite comfortable with their human visitors. No doubt the restaurants and other accoutrements we travelers require provide endless entertainment for the creatures there, although this one seemed a bit unhappy he couldn’t make the human contraption do whatever it was he wanted.
Wishing you a fun weekend filled with some happy, even if unlikely, moments.
“Embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
If you spend time looking for lines in nature, you’ll be amazed at how prevalent they are. While my opening capture of nature’s lines looks like a plant with some of its fronds missing, in fact the fronds are there but have lost their color due to this winter’s unusual frost. To me, in addition to the lines, the color changes made the plant more interesting – as did the sunlight brightening the verdant green.
“I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
Vincent Van Gogh
Often here on Kiawah our beach is re-designed by the effects of tidal surge. One afternoon as I strolled along with my highly-portable Fuji 🙂 I was amazed by the grooves that had been carved in the sand. Clearly Mother Nature has her own ideas about how to create lines.
“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
Henry David Thoreau
On another beach stroll, this time with iPhone in hand, I came upon a jellyfish washed up onto the sand. In this case the lines are one of the creature’s natural features. Interestingly, jellies can be found in every one of the world’s oceans and have survived for over 500 million years. They are actually not fish at all so are more often referred to as “jellies” in today’s vernacular.
“Nature is pleased with simplicity.”
Moving further inland, on a recent visit to Magnolia Plantation (which I featured in a previous post) I decided to try my Fuji on some vertical pans. Although I must admit it took me a bit more effort that it had with my Nikon, I was pleased that once I worked it out, my Fuji handled it quite nicely. Clearly the issue was my comfort with the new camera’s mechanics rather than it’s capabilities.
“Let us give Nature a chance; she knows her business better than we do.”
Michel de Montaigne
Finally, I’ve closed with an image of many lines. Those in the sand are of course the result of the hand of man on one of our beautiful golf courses. But notice the line of plated armor down the back of the alligator, and the lines that run between the top and bottom of his tail. If that’s not one of nature’s most interesting sets of lines, I don’t know what is. As any golfer would agree, there would be no penalty assessed for a ball left in this bunker! 🙂
Wishing you a week filled with natural wonders.
“Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.”
Here in lowcountry South Carolina, spring is in the air. Beyond the warm sunshine and soft breezes, there are signs of seasonal change that we’ve come to love. Chief among them, we appreciate the devoted nesting behaviors of our beautiful avian residents such as the egret above and the pair below.
“Springtime crawls out of the wild mouths of flowers.”
Like many other parts of the country, springtime brings with it an amazing variety of colorful flowers. Although our fragrant, creamy magnolia (my personal favorite) is only now beginning to bud, the wisteria, camellia and azaleas have blossomed everywhere these past few weeks – adding their wonderful scents to the very air we breathe.
“To everything there is a season.”
Ecclesiastes 3 KJV
What is it about flowers that brings a smile to most everyone’s lips? Is it their color, their fragrance, or simply the fact that they persevere whatever havoc the winter throws at them?
“All seasons have something to offer.”
Beyond the birds and the flowers, so too the creatures who call our island home become ever more plentiful – deer giving birth to fawns, gators to hatchlings and bobcats to kittens. Life begins anew as both flora and fauna sense the turn of the calendar’s pages.
“Spring is the fountain of love for thirsty winter.”
Sadly (for us at least) spring is also the time when our sleepy island awakens, soon to be shared with the many visitors who come for our warmth, our beautiful beach and it’s breezes, and for all of the wonders we preserve so carefully during our winter season. Hopefully all will follow the oft-quoted advice to “take only photos, leave only footprints”.
“Every season has a reason.”
Gift Gugu Mona
I’ve chosen to present this week’s images of spring using Topaz Studio Impressions. Here’s hoping your season of warmth and rebirth is also underway. To see more responses to this week’s Prolific challenge, click here.
“It is spring again. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
As Jen has so aptly pointed out, for many of us here in the US, spring has finally sprung. This week I was fortunate to participate in a 2-day session with Ralph Lee Hopkins, an incredible photographer as well as the Director of Photography Expeditions for Lindblad/National Geographic. All of this week’s images, focused on some local spring rituals, were made during a post-lecture shoot with Ralph on one of Kiawah’s beautiful golf courses.
“The ghostly winter silence has given way to the great spring murmur of awakening life.”
Interestingly, some glorious egrets and cormorants have created a very active rookery beside one of the course’s lagoons. Although the weather was not Kiawah’s best, the overcast made it a bit more feasible to capture the snowy white birds as they soared through the trees and tended to their nests. They were clever in the placement of the rookery, making it impossible to get close, but we did our best with zoom lenses, cropping and creativity.
“You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming.”
Beyond the nesting birds there is evidence of spring’s arrival all around us. The ponds are blooming with new plants, baby alligators are everywhere, and the beautiful trees are filled with that wonderful shade of green that is only fleetingly seen as spring arrives.
“The deep roots never doubt spring will come.”
Jen mentions that during her years in South Carolina her favorite season was autumn – which does indeed provide welcome relief from summer’s heat as well as the incredible purples and pinks of sweetgrass. For me though, spring’s arrival plays an even more important role. I love the smells and sights of the season – the budding flowers and trees, the courtship rituals of the birds, the birth of the fawns and bobcat kittens…it doesn’t get much better than spring on Kiawah for a nature lover.
“Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?”
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite images from the day – the sight of soaring white birds in motion against a pale sky is for me a near-spiritual moment. The elegance of these graceful creatures as they return to the nest, where their life-long mates are tending their soon-to-be-born offspring is a special gift not to be taken lightly.
“Spring came, and with it the outpourings of nature.”
Dalai Lama XIV
Wishing everyone the beauty of spring’s awakening whatever your current season.
“My smile is the most potent weapon I possess.”
Here on Kiawah we are quite accustomed to the “smiles” of our resident alligators, which I’ve chosen as my subject for this week’s SMILE challenge. This fellow has been around a while and I think gives new meaning to the term “toothy grin” 😉
“The devil doesn’t smile, it grins.”
The Town of Kiawah is currently working with biologists and animal specialists from the Medical University of SC and Clemson University on a large research project to study these amazing animals. There are approximately 700 gators throughout the island, typically found sunning or swimming in and around our many ponds and lagoons. In the capture above you can see a GPS device that’s been attached to Gator #12, monitoring his habits and the size of his territory.
“When life gives you 100 reasons to cry, show life that you have a 1,000 reasons to smile.”
Our gators come in all shapes and sizes, the smallest having just emerged from eggs the mama gators have protected for just over a month, to adults measuring 12 or 15 feet long. It’s been said that the youngsters are the most dangerous, as they’ve not yet learned to stay away from humans. For the most part however, gators and humans peacefully co-exist – happily sharing the bounty of our beautiful environment.
“When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully.”
Like many humans, gators love to bask in the sun. Above we see three juveniles, probably 2 or 3-year-old siblings, sharing a sunny spot on the banks of a lagoon. Soon they will learn they must compete for territory and will more likely fight one another than share. Survival of the fittest is definitely their modus operandi, which has been honed over centuries of successful evolution. Interestingly, alligators have been around in their current form for some 85 million years. Even more interestingly, they are members of the species crocodylomorpha, which has been in existence for over 200 million years. Perhaps that’s why they’re always smiling 😊.
To catch a few more of this week’s smiles, click here.
“Sunrise, how lovely it seems to see from my window a sky full of dreams.”
Those who know me might think I would focus on sunsets in response to Erica’s Rise/Set challenge, since my reputation for disliking early morning is well known. Never let it be said, however, that I cannot “rise” to the occasion now and then. The photography gods know better than to offer me a mediocre sunset on those times when I’m up before dawn to shoot morning’s glory. As seen above at Botany Bay and below among the oaks of Ace Basin, the South Carolina sun has put on some spectacular shows to reward my pre-dawn efforts.
“Sunrise and the new day’s breakin’ through.”
While both of my opening captures were made within an hour or so of my home here on Kiawah, I’ve also been known to make my way down to our own beautiful beach in the early morning hours. Admittedly it doesn’t happen often but when it does I can usually count on a lovely light show here as well.
“The world is waiting for the sunrise.”
Yet another beautiful nearby spot can be found on Deveaux Bank, where there is a densely-populated bird sanctuary replete with winged creatures of many species.
” Then came sunrise, fading the moon and stars from sight.”
I’ve often been known to wake before the sun while traveling. Since I follow a “one and done” philosophy, I’m always anxious to take advantage of as many hours, and to see as many places, as I can squeeze in. I have a fond and distinct memory of shooting sunrise with a good friend at Angkor Wat, especially since the shoot took place from a hot air balloon (no worries, we were tethered to the ground 😀). The sky that day was quite hazy, which only added to the beauty of this ancient place.
“Good morning sunrise, you brighten up my day.”
Speaking of hot air balloons, I captured the sunrise moment below during a visit to beautiful Bend, Oregon.
“Sunrise, a symphony of golden sunlight.”
Who could forget sunrise in Patagonia in beautiful Torres Del Paine National Park? Happily we shot sunrise on our first morning, as it was the last time the early morning sun broke through the clouds.
“Sunrise, Sunset….Swiftly fly the years”
Jerrold and Harnick
I could go on and on (and I suppose perhaps I already have!). I’ve enjoyed my sunrise meander down memory lane and hopefully you have too. Here’s to a lifetime of beautiful sunrises for us all.
“A garden must combine the poetic and the mysterious with a feeling of serenity and joy.”
I was happy to see this week’s Photo Challenge “Favorite Places” as I’d spent a beautiful afternoon last week at one of MY favorite places, the truly magnificent Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. As spring blossoms across the low country, the gardens – located just outside of downtown Charleston, are an absolute “must see”.
“In the tranquillity of a garden, we detest war and love peace much more than any other place.”
Mehmet Murat Ildan
The gardens are known for their amazing flowers, enchanting walkways, cypress and oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, and water-reflected bridges. All of those things are incredibly beautiful but for me the pull of the gardens is located in the Swamp Garden – which sounds awful but trust me, it is magical.
“May the rain water the garden, and the love in your heart.”
Anthony T Hincks
The Swamp Garden is home to a spring ritual that is irresistible to nature lovers and photographers alike. Within its rookery, there are a plethora of nesting egrets, herons, anhingas and other birds. Photographers gather to capture these graceful creatures as they mate, gather nesting materials, and defend their homes from interlopers.
“Ideas are like flowers that bloom in our mind’s garden.”
Beyond the graceful and sometimes comic antics of the naturally-local birds, the Gardens have a small open-air zoo highlighting some of the animals that would have been resident in years gone by. There were two male peacocks and several pea hens in residence, and I couldn’t resist making a few captures of these colorful birds.
A few additional favorites for your viewing pleasure 😀
“Charity is the entrance to the garden.”
Seth Adam Smith
“A garden is made of hope.”
“Working in garden is like digging knowledge from the earth.”
All of today’s captures were made with my Fuji X-T2. I was very pleased with its performance, particularly in it’s ability to render vivid colors. And on the subject of cameras, for those of you who played along with a guess on the cameras used in last week’s post, here is the correct information:
Be The Ball – Nikon D/50 with Nikon 70-200 mm f/2.8
Rice Fields, Longsheng and Game of Games – Nikon D/300s with Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5 – 5.6
Kiawah Tide Pools – Fuji X-T2 with Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8
Home Sweet Home – iPhone 8 Plus
“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
Our challenge this week is to share the thing(s) we’d “rather be doing”. It’s an interesting thought isn’t it? Somehow it pushes us to examine what we love, and to make sure we’re spending our time – life’s most precious element – appropriately.
“We need much less than we think we need.”
I’ve featured two of my favorite things, travel and golf, in my opening captures. I also love reading, writing, playing my piano, spending time with friends and family and of course, photography.
Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky.”
Those who know me well know that I love games that challenge the brain – cards, sudoku, crosswords, trivia and most especially Mah Jongg. The capture above is from a game we happened upon when we were in China – where they take their MJ much more seriously 😀. Happily our weekly game is more about socializing than competition – although we do work hard for our quarters!
“Contentment is the greatest treasure.”
I love walking our beautiful beach here on Kiawah where there is always something new to see and to shoot. This week the tide pools were amazing as my husband and I strolled to the very end of our pristine island. Birds were pecking away at water’s edge and the sun shone beautifully as we enjoyed the return of spring’s warm breezes.
“Contentment is the only real wealth”
Most of all, I love spending time relaxing at home with my husband of 20+ years. Sharing life with my best friend, whom I still love more every day, means there’s really nothing at all I’d rather be doing. And that is really saying something, isn’t it?
By the way, it’s often noted that the best camera is the one you have with you. This week’s captures were made with a mix of my Nikon DSLRs, my Fuji X-T2 and my iPhone 8+. Can you guess which is which?
“What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.”
Jen has asked us to tell a story with our captures this week and for me it’s an opportunity to share a recent nature photography experience. In the shot above I’ve captured a friend standing in a disappearing sandbar during a shoot earlier this week.
“Light is precious in a world so dark.”
For the better part of 90 minutes, we shot landscapes in a grey, flat sky covered in clouds that showed no sign of clearing. I crossed a deep stream, wet to the tops of my calves and covered in sand, to capture a flock of birds on the other side.
“Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”
We found ourselves shooting textures in the sand, scenes that lent themselves to B&W post-processing, monochromatic birds and any other subjects that might translate into something interesting without being lit by the stubbornly non-existent sun. Suddenly and with absolutely no warning, there came an unexpected break in the clouds and an incredible light burst through for a very brief moment.
“What we choose to do with the light while it’s here is up to us.”
When the light appeared the landscape became glorious in every direction. The grasses were greener, the water bluer, and the sand grew positively luminous. The moral of the story is – never give up. Work the scenes you’re given and be ready (and appreciative) if the gift of a few perfect moments should come along.
Many photographers can create nice images in good light. For me, it’s what we do with bad light that offers a more interesting challenge 🙂. Here then, a few of my “creations” from the earlier part of the day.
“You can make it dark, but I can’t make it light.”
“Every day you play with the light of the universe.”
“If darkness surrounds you, look for the light.”
Ann Marie Aguilar
Last but not least, a capture of the sun’s final moment before the clouds closed back in.
“We must bring our own light to the darkness.”
Here’s to the gift of light in moments of darkness – may we all appreciate both for the lessons they bring.
NOTE: For the photographers among us, I took advantage of the outing as an opportunity to compare Fuji vs Nikon, shooting duplicate photos with the two cameras. I’m happy to report the Fuji held its own despite the use of an 18-55mm kit lens vs Nikon’s legendary 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, an unfair comparison indeed.
“The sky has a huge heart open for all clouds even on the gloomiest of days.”
This week my husband and I joined some good friends for 18 holes on Kiawah Island’s beautiful Ocean Course. The day started out bright and beautiful but as morning turned to afternoon the skies became a bit more foreboding.
“There is peace even in the storm”
Vincent Van Gogh
As we waited for the group in front of us to clear, it became apparent that a storm was imminent. Since we were walking the course and were quite a distance from shelter, we made the decision to call in for a ride back to the clubhouse. It didn’t hurt that none of us was doing a very good job of competing with the ever-increasing winds that came along with the clouds 😊
“Thunderstorms are as much our friends as the sunshine.”
Since Ben’s challenge this week asks us to show a familiar scene in an otherworldly way, I thought these images of our normally-beautiful Ocean Course fit the bill perfectly. By comparison, I made the capture below in my backyard a few days earlier during a much more typical Kiawah day – quite the difference, wouldn’t you say?!
“In a dark and tumultuous place, know the storm will soon pass.”
Lorna Jackie Wilson