2016 Wrap Up

The end of the year is always so hectic, with holidays and weather pecking away at spare time. It feels like I just posted about returning to Overlook Mountain last week.. but it was in October! So, here is what I’ve been up to.

Another Maine Road Trip

In 2015 I did a solo October New England road trip, and loved every second of it. In 2016 I wanted to return to Maine and spend more time in Acadia National Park. At first, I planned on going with a friend of mine. Continue reading

Happy 100th Birthday National Park Service!!

What is known as “America’s Best Idea” turns 100 today! The National Parks Service was created August, 25 1916 and now oversees more than 400 sites, including reserves, preserves, historic sites and parks. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some of these great sites like Acadia National Park and Assateague Island National Seashore. To celebrate the National Parks Service’s centennial I decided to share a some of my favorite photos. Enjoy!

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Gettysburg National Military Park

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Where is Spring?

A few weeks ago I took a mini-vacation and went down to Florida for a few days. I made sure I packed my camera so I could snap some shots of warm weather… just in case spring doesn’t make it to the north east this year!

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Waiting for the Storm

It’s summertime in Florida and Hurricane Season is just starting to ramp up! We’ve already had one Tropical Storm come through a few weeks ago, but there are currently several weather systems brewing out in the Atlantic Ocean. This picture, from last night (Aug. 9, 2012) shows what they call a Tropical Wave, I’ve never heard the term before now. It is capable of kicking up large, lightening and wind packed storms in a hurry.

Photo taken with my LG Esteem Android phone.

 

Kayaking with a Shark.

Monday July 23, 2012 at 5:30am I awoke with the idea of getting a little early morning kayaking in. Those hours just before and after sunrise are some of my favorite times to paddle. Although they sky was a bit overcast I was confident that there would be no adverse weather until early afternoon. I prepared a little snack and some water, placed my camera, binoculars and my phone in my water tight box and went outside to prep my kayak.

About 10 months ago I built a kayak trailer out of PVC tubing for my bike, it doubles as a stand when the ‘yak is not in use. I secured the boat, hitched it to my bike and loaded my paddle, cooler, water tight box and life jacket and started to think about where I’d paddle to and how long I’d stay out… both of which depended on the wind and tide since the river I’d be paddling, the Halifax, is a tidal river so it’s direction of flow is at the mercy of the ocean.

I got to my put-in at The Wilbur Boathouse right at sunrise and noticed the tide was out…. way out! Meaning that a southerly exit from Wilbur Bay was near impossible, without a little portaging. So I decided to exit to the north, through the boat channel and head towards the Port Orange Causeway Park. Once I entered the river I immediately noticed that the tide had turned and was headed back in, pushing the river north, the direction I was headed… and that the wind was also blowing to the north. This  was making my trip out easy enough, but my return trip would be a bit more challenging. As the wind speed began to increase, I decided it would be in my best interest to turn and start paddling into the wind and tide, so that way when I got tired I would be south of my entrance to the bay and I could allow the wind and tide to push me back.

As soon I turned I noticed something swimming very close to the shore, I figured it was just a catfish that had gotten into the shallows and was working his way out… as I watched it dawned on me that this was no catfish, it was too big and too gray. As a list of fish went through my head I came to the only conclusion… shark. My thoughts were confirmed as the shark turned and headed right towards me and then to my surprise… swam right up to me. My kayak was pointed west towards the shore and the shark came north and didn’t stop until it was directly beside my port side (left)… actually between the tip of my paddle and the boat, and I was paddling so it’s dorsal fin came less than 3 inches from my hand. It was about 3-4 feet in length, most likely a Nurse Shark.

I was completely in awe. This is the first shark I have ever seen in the wild, and I’ll admit… I was giddy. To be that close to such a creature made me remember why I love to kayak! So, I turned away from the shark and gave it some breathing room, and then kept an eye out for it to appear again. The above photo was taken just a few minutes after that first encounter. As I watched and followed the shark, I could hear the occasional exhale of a nearby Dolphin… maybe it was sticking around just in case.

Between the wind and the current, it was difficult to hold position so I had to keep on the move. As I meandered through the water I heard a large splash come from behind… I quickly turned and realized I had just missed the shark jumping in to the air. It must have found an ideal feeding spot, as it became very active and would dip out of sight for minutes at a time. Suddenly, about 10 feet off to my right the shark resurfaced and quickly dove, a few seconds later… THUMP! My yak was struck from beneath… I probably should have been concerned, but I just chuckled and moved away. Since I didn’t seem to be getting circled or charged at by the shark I felt I must have just been in the way.

A large boat had just gone by and it’s wake was just hitting my section of the river as the shark continued to search the riverbed. I caught the above video just before the shark started to move north again, the wind was picking up and the temperature was rising so I decided it was time to head back home. Not a particularly long kayak trip… but one I’ll never forget.

Early Morning Monochrome

What better way to start a day than to walk the beach at sunrise and shoot some black and white photos? I decided, instead of shooting in color and then “monochroming” the pictures later, I would make use of this old style B&W filter on my Kodak M532 called Tri-Max Tri-X. It gives the photos that nice, grainy, high contrast look of an old photo.

I snapped a few photos of the branches that washed up, no doubt aftermath of tropical storm Beryl. I particularly like the “washed out” look of the background with this filter.

Who Goes There?

At 3:44am on May 22, 2012 SpaceX successfully launched one of it’s Falcon 9 rockets carrying a Dragon spacecraft into orbit. This mission will attempt to be the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. The Dragon spacecraft is a capsule type craft capable of sending and returning cargo and supplies as well as up to 7 passengers, making it the leading candidate to take the place of the former shuttle program for getting to and from the ISS.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing several night/early morning launches from Cape Canaveral, which is about 50 miles south of where I live. This morning’s launch did not disappoint, casting that familiar orange glow upon the beaches of eastern Florida. Night/early morning launches also give the opportunity to catch a glimpse of  returning stages of the rocket. For this launch SpaceX did not intend on retrieving the booster stage and allowed it to fall back to Earth with no parachute.

Even with a long exposure, my camera couldn’t capture this in the way it really looked. The falling booster stage glowed a pale yellow, slowly dropping to the ocean. With the haze on the horizon and the plume of rocket exhaust between it and myself, it looked like a giant in the distance holding an olde time lantern as if to say “Who Goes There?”

A composite shot of 4 separate, 8 second exposure shots.

Sometimes…. You Just Never Know!

Photo of a photo: Original photographer unknown (at least by me). This photo of a rocket launching behind the Canaveral Light House is displayed in the museum at the Ponce Inlet Light House.

When I was trying to figure out what today’s post should be about, I figured I’d make it a lead in to what I hope to have tomorrow. Early tomorrow morning, at 3:44 am EDT the first privately built spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station will attempt to launch. I was going to use the above photo of a photo I took 4 years ago as a clever lead in. A rocket launching behind the now defunct Canaveral Light House…. or so I thought.

This is a photo I took, with an old camera phone, of a photo that hangs in the museum at the Ponce Inlet Light House. From what I remember, under the photo was a brief story of the light house and how it fell into disrepair. I decided in order to have as accurate information as I could I would do a little research before posting. I was very pleasantly surprised when I found out that, at the time I took this photo of a photo, a restoration project was already under way! This light house, and it’s grounds are being restored… much like the Ponce Inlet Light House was. This will make 3 restored light houses with in driving distance of my home, including the St. Augustine Light House.

I still intend, to have something regarding the SpaceX Dragon launch for tomorrow, but now I need to find out if and/or how I can go explore the Canaveral Light House… more info regarding it here http://canaverallight.org/ 

The Simplest Changes

Some times something as simple as shooting in black and white can completely change the way your subject looks. If you look at this photo, just taken a couple of days ago, of the beach… but think of it as if you are looking from a Mars Rover point of view. Is this what Mars looked like millions of years ago….