Friday, July 30, 2010

Southeastern Lubber Grasshopper

This time of year, one can find these giant Grasshoppers most anywhere in Florida.

The Southeastern Lubber Grasshopper (Romalea mycroptera) is a flightless, slow moving grasshopper with a voracious appetite. They can quickly destroy the largest leaves. They cause wide-spread damage where ever they're found. When disturbed, they emit a foul-smelling secretion.

I've seen them walking around on the sidewalks, on my patio chairs, table and in the grass, along roadsides, field edges and salt marshes. They can be found in the southeastern and south central parts of the US.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Safety Harbor Marina Sunset

This shot is for my friend, Margo. I know she misses her second home, so I'm posting this one for her.

Every Monday night, my friends and I go to the Safety Harbor Marina for our regular Meetup. With it being so hot in Florida this time of year, we've changed our regular times so we meet at the Marina, then leave for the Safety Harbor Grille a few blocks away, then go back to the Marina or walk around downtown for our regular shoot.

This photo was made 2 weeks ago tonight when we decided to change our regular times. We're rarely at the Marina for photographs around sunset except in the Winter (if you can call it a Winter in Florida) months.

I'm really enjoying the new times. Tonight, everyone chose to walk around Safety Harbor downtown for some street shots. I begged off because I'm just 2 weeks out of my Cam Boot and cast on my foot and since I have a wedding to shoot on Saturday, I don't want to chance walking around unnecessarily. A new foot injury is not what I need right now. Although, when I injured my foot, I shot a wedding on a Golf Course. It hurt like the dickens, but I made a commitment and I had to show up; broken foot or not.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Marina on the Kennebunk River

Yep! More photos from my vacation in Maine. It seems like I'll never get through all those photos. It's a good thing I didn't go for a month!

This view is of the Kennebunk River. It runs alongside the downtown area of Kennebunkport. Most of the shops and homes are built on its banks. In this view, you can see where the Whale Watch boats and Charter Boats are just waiting for their busy season to start.

If you click on the photo, you'll see a larger image which will allow you to see more detail on the docks.

I was lucky to have wonderful weather with just enough clouds in the sky to make it interesting on this vacation.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


My Amaryllis, Belladonna cultivar from my backyard.

I started these plants a couple years ago with 21 bulbs. At the time, the directions said to plant them 12" apart. To me, they looked too sparse like that because I know zip about gardening. So, I planted them a bit closer. Now I have probably 40 plants all crowded in together. I've read that they can be propagated through division, but I have no idea what that means, let alone how to do it.

I love these flowers. They're the only flowers in my yard that my roommate doesn't destroy because he likes them, too. All the others are whacked to the ground every time he mows. It breaks my heart every time he does that. It's his house and I'm a renter, so I have no choice in the matter. I just won't buy any more plants.

These flower twice a year and they're just about done now. I think there's only 2 or 3 clusters left. The flowering period lasts about a month and they're just so beautiful. According to my plant books, there's supposed to be only about 4-6 flowers per stalk. These have 6-9!

I'm sad to see them go and can't wait for the next flowering period. I'll miss them.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Nott House

Once we got to Kennebunkport, we parked the car and explored the downtown area, namely Maine Street. Yes, Maine Street is spelled correctly with an e.

This Greek Revival architectural beauty known as The Nott House, was built in 1853 and former home of the Perkins family is now a Kennebunkport Historical Society show place.

It has all the original furnishings inside; paintings, furniture, books, etc. The Nott House is located on 8 Maine St in Kennebunkport. This house accurately reflects the varying and evolving tastes of four generations of the Perkins and Nott families spanning the late 1700s through to the middle 1900s. The Nott House may be the only house in America to have this distinction. Guided tours are available from July through October.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Wedding Cake House

The Wedding Cake house located in Kennebunk, Maine is by far the most photographed house in all of Maine.

It was built for his wife, Jane, by George W Bourne, a ship builder, using only hand tools in 1852. The work was completed shortly before his death.

According to legend, the carving was done during the lonely hours aboard ship by a recently married sea captain who had had to leave his bride before he even had time to eat his wedding cake.

At one time, the barn, connected to the house by a shed, caught on fire. The barn and shed were torn down by fire fighters in order to save the house. The barn and shed were reconstructed by Bourne, who had been to Europe and admired the Cathedral of Milan. The barn and shed were built in that fashion. The Federal styled house was soon to be Gothic style. He then added unifying designs to the house to marry the both styles together.

Unfortunately, over time, the trees have grown to obscure the house. To see more detail, click on the photos.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blue Hour Safety Harbor

Monday night as usual, I went to my Monday Night Meetup with my friends. Since it's been so hot lately, we've been going to the restaurant and eating first, then going back down to the Marina to shoot.

We waited through the sunset for the blue hour. That's when I got this shot. I processed it 3 ways; the first way was using my normal post processing, then I tried the Orton Effect, which is a technique I used to use a couple of years ago. I didn't like that effect at all. I liked my normal processing, except the shadows were blocked under the docks and I wanted to bring them out.

So, I turned to HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range processing. Our eyes can see an infinite amount of levels of light, while cameras can only see about 5 levels. What that means is that there's always a give and take situation. Either you expose for the highlights, which results in shadows that are pitch black with no detail, or you expose for the shadows and the highlights are pure white with no detail. It's up to the photographer to decide what's more important in his/her shot. With HDR, a photographer can have it all.

After viewing all three processes, I chose the HDR version to be the best. Anyway, at least that's my opinion. With art, it's all in what the viewer likes. It's subjective to interpretation based on one's personal preferences. There is no right or wrong.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Flowers and Gardens

While in Maine, one of the things that attracted me to a lot of the places we visiting were the gardens and flowers that were in bloom. Some were unusual and I've never seen them before.

These are called Swamp Candles. I originally thought they were some type of Azalea because of their shape and the way they were in clusters. After much investigation on the internet, I found out they are Swamp Candles. They are also known as Bog Loosestrife. They were in the garden at Webhannet Falls in Wells.

The next one is a rare variety of Peony. I love the bright red color with the creamy white centers. I knew it was some kind of Peony, but didn't realize that this variety is rare. They are just as sweet smelling as any other Peony, which was my first hint that they were Peonies. These were in the gardens at St Anthony's Franciscan Monastery in Kennebunk.

Finally, I spotted these Foxgloves. These I was able to identify without the help of the internet. They're fairly common, but I've never seen them in Florida gardens. Maybe they just don't take to the heat very well. These were also in the little garden at Webhannet Falls in Wells.

Most everywhere we went we found flowers and gardens. It just adds so much to the beauty of this area. This also pleased my daughter-in-law. She loves to garden and loves beautiful flowers. She was in her glory.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Norseman Resort

Looking across the Ogunquit River, I could see The Norseman Resort, on Ogunquit Beach. The Norseman is the only resort on this beach.

The Norseman, though, is not what attracted me to this scene. It was the incredible color of the water. I remember saying to my daughter-in-law, "I only hope that I can capture that color". The various shades of blue, green and purple just staring at me begging to be captured with my camera.

I put my camera to my eye and shot the scene. Immediately after, I checked the histogram to be sure the exposure was right on the money. It looked good, so all I could do was hope I got it right. I wouldn't know until I got back to the hotel to check it out on my computer.

I checked the display on my computer later that night and it was perfect! I was pleased as punch to see those beautiful colors. If you want to see them for yourself, just click on the photo and make it bigger. Some of the definition and color is always lost during the jpg conversion, then a little more is lost when uploading to this site; but it still looks great! I just may try to paint this one day.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Incoming Storm

I'm figuring you're all sick of my Maine photos, so I'll stick this one in to show that I'm still out there photographing at home.

On Monday evening, while out with my friends in Safety Harbor, a storm started to roll in over the pier at the Safety Harbor Marina. We were all hoping for some lightning photos, but no luck.

The storm never really hit. All we got were a few sprinkles. It sure looked a lot meaner than that when it was coming.

Florida weather in the summertime is unpredictable. One never knows when a storm will come up. It hits fast, hard and most times the rain is horizontal. It usually only lasts for a about 1/2 hour, then the sun comes out and dries everything up within another 1/2 hour. Most of the time there is heavy lightning and lots of thunder. This storm had no lightning and no thunder, which is unusual this time of year. Tampa Bay is known as the lightning capital of the world.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

JD Williams' Restorations and Museum

This is the main house on the grounds where JD Williams, auctioneer and collector, is in the process of restoring his great-grandfather's home and office. Mr Williams spent 20 years trying to buy this home back from the people who bought it from his great-grandfather's estate and turned it into a restaurant. He now is the owner and is diligently working to restore the main house as well as several other houses on the grounds. He plans on making it a museum. The Museum is closed, but Mr Williams will open it and give a personal tour for a $10 donation. Inside, you will see every possible kind of musical playing device from the last 100 years or so as well as remnants from the old restaurant including the original kitchen and dishes. The restaurant facility in the museum is opened for rent for special parties and weddings, but all the food is catered. The original dishes and silver are used to serve the food.

His great-grandfather was an Optometrist. His office and exam room are still in the museum. They are the first thing seen as soon as the door is opened. All his tools and machines including the glass and old eye-glasses are still there.

The Socony Gasoline station, Cummings Railroad Depot, Wells Fargo and Western Union building, and several other buildings, including log cabins and even a caboose are all awaiting restoration.

Mr. Williams has taken on a huge project, but if he can wait 20 years to buy back his great-grandfather's house, I am convinced he has the patience and stamina needed to complete this project. In the meantime, visitors can enjoy the fruits of Wiliams' labor for pennies.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dinghy on the Rocks

This little dinghy just sat here all alone on these rocks with nothing else in sight. It just goes to show how trusting people are in northern New England.

The chain that's holding it isn't strong enough to keep someone from stealing it, yet it just sits there. In the big cities, it wouldn't last an hour, let alone for however long it's been there.

Cities have become unsafe to live in. I can remember as a kid my parents never locked the door, never locked the car, and we lived in a project. In those days, a project was a great place to grow up. There were always other kids to play with, activities planned for after school, weekends and school vacations at the community center. There was always something to do. In the summer it was play ball, roller skate and play outside; in the winter it was ice skating, sledding, snowball fights. What a different world we live in today.

We feared and respected our teachers, the police and our parents. Our mothers stayed at home and made us tole the line. If we got in trouble with our teacher, we not only got whacked by the teacher, our parents whacked us on top of it. Today, mothers are forced to work to make ends meet, and there are no activities for kids after school planned. We yell back at our teachers, our parents and have no respect for authority. When did all this happen? No wonder we're a mess!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Last of the Monastery

These are the last of the St Anthony's Franciscan Monastery photos. I hope I haven't bored you all to death with these. As you can imagine, I was quite taken up with this beautiful place.

The image of St Francis of Assisi shows the whole fountain. It is located at the beginning of the walking trail, which winds around through the woods adjacent to the Kennebunk River.

The next image is of the Shrine to St Anthony just inside the entrance of the Monastery. This was also created by the same artist that won several gold medals at the 1964 World's Fair. In case you haven't been following, his name is, Professor Vytautas Jonynas.

And finally, we have a long view of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, which shows the prayer benches. I have posted closeup views in my previous post. This shrine was constructed in Lithuanian architectural style by Jonas Mulokas, winner of the First Prize if the American Architects Associated.

I hope you have enjoyed my journey on the grounds of the St Anthony's Franciscan Monastery. If you ever get up to the Kennebunk area of Maine, this is a must see.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

St Anthony's Franciscan Monestary

I hope all this stuff from St Anthony's Franciscan Monestary isn't boring you all. I'm nearly done with my visit here. Tomorrow, I'll be posting the last of it.

The first image of the stairs is just inside the building where the Chapel and Confessionals are. There was a sign pointing to the offices; but nothing was mentioned about where these stairs were leading. I'm assuming that they are probably the stairs to the Monks' quarters.

When we were coming out of the walking trail, we spotted this side entrance. We had no idea what was in store for us to see, but we went up the stairs anyway and followed it around the building. We saw some of the most beautiful gardens and well-landscaped grounds with very unusual flowers.

The image of the building that includes the stairs in the foreground is the side entrance to the main building. I have also included a shot of the rear entrance, which is equally as stunning as the side. At one time this was a private residence owned by William A. Rogers, Esq. He was a Buffalo industrialist. He had the building built in 1900 by Green and Wicks, a Buffalo firm.

The estate was sold in 1937 to William N Campbell. who owned other homes in Brookline, MA, Bal Harbor, ME and Miami Beach, FL. In 1947, Campbell sold the estate to the Franciscans.

The last image is of the Chapel, which was designed by Professor Vytautas Jonynas, the same artist who created the World's Fair piece that sits at the entrance to the estate.