Florida

Florida can conjure up many different scenes in peoples minds. Sun, beaches, Disney, high rise condos, spring breaks, golf, etc. When I think of Florida my mind goes quickly to the wild life, shore birds mostly. Living in Boston most of my life and coming from a family of commercial fishermen, I am easily drawn to the ocean. A small part of my life was exposed to my grand father and his two brothers-in-law at the docks working on their boat or emptying their catch after being at sea.

Repairing the nets on the family fishing vessel.

Repairing the nets on the family fishing vessel. Boston harbor, around 1952

I would drop a line into the harbor and try to catch mackerel living under the piers, however, with limited success. To this day I still have limited success when fishing, I often think my relatives used up my ‘fish caught’ quota. So as a photographer my interest in photographing the ocean, more specifically the shore birds, has replaced any inherited gene for fishing.

Recently I was invited to spend a few days near Fort Pierce, FL. On one day we journeyed over to one of the many marinas and found a small pontoon boat that does tours around Tucker’s Cove and Shorty’s Slough, part of the Fort Pierce State Park. I must admit I never really paid much attention to pontoon boats. They always struck me as odd lake crafts that landlubbers preferred to sit and float around their lakeside cottages. Well for our purposes, this boat couldn’t have been better. At one point we were only 2 feet from the shore and floating in about 18 inches of water.

Captain Chop

Captain Barry 'Chop' Lege'

Our captain was raised in Louisiana from native American Indian and French decent. His rich ancestry along the Mississippi would prove to be just one more perk to our tour.

below is an excerpt from his web site…

‘Going back for three generations, his family has been involved with lands and game management. His grandfather had a hunting and fishing resort and also worked as a games warden. Father and sons worked with his grandfather on the property. His father also managed the famed McIIhenney ‘Tabasco Sauce’ family properties. By his fathers side he learned subtle ins and outs of birds and wildlife, such as knowing the health of the environment, wildlife and birding flocks by the types of calls and sounds that a carefully trained ear can detect. Along with his family as wardens, he has worked for the preservation of coastal wetlands in Louisiana and managed hunting and fishing resorts along the coast of Louisiana.’

He was quiet and quickly surmised, from the gear hanging from my neck, I was a professional photographer. That would turn out to be quite fortuitous for us. I like to romanticize his life as a boy, living along the banks of the Mississippi with his extended family carving out a rich life in harmony with nature.

As the first mate pushes us off I start to look around for some interesting photographs to make. I do like scenes that make me chuckle and sometimes I add a little text to them just for fun.

“HEY! How many times do I have to tell you this is MY cement pylon?”

Blackheadded Gull - Juvenile

Blackheadded Gulls - Juvenile.

Man and Boat, Indian River, Fort Pierce, Florida

Man and Boat, Indian River, Fort Pierce, Florida

Way Icky!!! Yes, Pelicans can be filthy creatures.

Pelicans on outboard motor covered in pelican poo.

Pelicans on outboard motor covered in pelican poo.

I start, as I often do, with some basic documentary shots of everything I can see. Lens moving across the horizon quickly, creating panoramas that will tell the story of our location later. Then I focus on more intimate, slices of life around me, moments in time that I am privy to as this trip unfolds and this is just the beginning. Captain Chop, takes us on a two and a half hour tour (about double the normal time) that brings us into the new mangrove plantings and gives us an opportunity to view dozens of shore birds as well as dolphins and crazy flying fish skipping across the surface of the water, trying not to become someone’s lunch.

Indian River, Fort Pierce, Florida

Indian River, Fort Pierce, Florida

Indian River, Fort Pierce, Florida

Indian River, Fort Pierce, Florida

Bascule Bridge, Rt 1A Fort Pierce, Florida

Bascule Bridge, Rt 1A Fort Pierce, Florida

Indian River, Fort Pierce, Florida

Indian River, Fort Pierce, Florida

Indian River, Fort Pierce, Florida

Pelican, Fort Pierce Harbor, Fort Pierce, Florida

The mangrove trees were replanted as part of a project to restore the natural filtration system to the area as well as rebuild the oyster crops. Oysters grow on the roots of the mangrove trees. If you like oysters it’s quite a sight, as you might guess. Hundreds of those delicious little darlings hanging just under the surface of the water, not more than ten feet away. Yummm.

Mangrove Trees, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Mangrove Trees, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Mangrove Trees, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida.

Mangrove Trees, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida.

Then the birds begin to appear. Ospreys, Egrets, Turkey Vultures, more Pelicans, Cormorants, Black Vultures, Magnificent Frigate Birds soaring in circles over head, Ibis and countless small shore birds feasting on the crustaceans living along the shoreline. Quite a symphony of natural selection happening all around us as we putter along, the entire time Captain Chop is giving us an oral history and wildlife lesson that keeps us well informed as to what is happening around us.

Great Egret, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Great Egret, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Ibis on Mangrove Trees, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Ibis on Mangrove Trees, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Magnificent Frigate Bird, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Magnificent Frigate Bird, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Turkey Vulture, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Turkey Vulture, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Osprey, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Osprey, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Osprey, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Osprey, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Osprey, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

Osprey, Tuckers Cove, Fort Pierce, Florida

As all things do , our boat tour had to come to an end. Sadly we made way back to the harbor with our heads and hearts filled with sights, sounds and stories. If you have an opportunity to visit Fort Pierce in the future and you are in need of a little nature fix, please look in on Captain Chop at the Indian River Lagoon and Swampland Boat Tours. You will be glad you did.

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Partial Explanation to Dinosaur’s Disappearance Revealed

Climate change has opened up a dialog regarding the sudden disappearance of the dinosaurs. Scientist, who remain unnamed, have discovered giant arctic frogs, or toads, even they are not quite sure, frozen in the melting tundra of the back forty in the north east of the USA. “The most amazing thing is that we have been walking past these giant creatures for as long as I can remember” recalls one of the unnamed scientists. “I can’t wait to get started on the dig and the research. The possibilities are unlimited”.

Arctic Frogs

Giant arctic frogs contribute to dinosaur's demise

Personally I am looking forward to future information about this fascinating subject. Happy New Year Everyone!!

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Moving Images

As an image maker I have always been interested in cinematography. It’s everything still shooting is and then it moves and makes noise. What fun. I have always been accused of watching the same movies numerous times, which is true. Not always for the story, but I am a sucker for a sappy love story and if you can add even the slightest bit of sci-fi, I’m a goner. As I enjoy the same movie yet again, I am often focused on the lighting, composition, special effects, editing, sound, music etc. So as I watch the moving and still industries merge at a dizzying pace, I thought I should get some first hand experience. I begin trolling the internet for any projects that look interesting. After many uninteresting posts and responses, I finally make contact with writer, film maker Scott Crowningshield. His work has a very nice feel to it, soft and shallow focus, good movement, a bit of slow motion for tension, excellent composition, things I like in my still work. So after the usual amount of changed dates and meetings, we are scheduled to shoot a music video for the singer songwriter Richard Davia. Nice song and good lyrics with a story. As I arrive at Scott’s apartment the morning of the shoot, he is already busy e-mailing the rest of the crew. We were suppose to carpool but we have too much gear, as usual, so we divide it up between us and off we go to Rhode Island, a little over an hour away.

Scott Crowingshield

Scott Crowingshield – Writer, Director

The location was great. Lots of brick walls, an open doorway to an additional room, plenty of space. Everything one needs to create the illusion that is music video.

Scott Crowingshield Productions – Richard Davia Music Video

Scott Crowingshield Productions

Scott Crowingshield Productions

We rented a RED Camera, which comes with it’s owner/operator Andre Phillips. A very welcome addition to the production. He brings with him a clear understanding of the technical and a great work ethic, as well as an unquenchable creative thirst.

Scott Crowingshield Productions

Andre Phillips – Cinematographer

The comparison between stills and video are many. Lighting, composition, direction, etc., but as we work towards each final captured image, that quintessential moment in time, the moving images industry are working to gather all the parts that will make up the final visuals later, in the editing. A slightly different discipline.

Richard Davia - Singer Songwriter

Richard Davia – Singer Songwriter

So gather the parts we did. Andre was working on his own set capturing slow motion images, while Scott and I were busy working on other short takes and setting up additional shots. Overall a very good working system that produced a great number of parts for the editor.

Scott Crowingshield Productions - Richard Davia, Music Video

Scott Crowingshield Productions – Richard Davia, Music Video

Scott Crowingshield Productions - Richard Davia Music Video

Scott Crowingshield Productions – Richard Davia

Over all it was a very good day with a hard working crew and talent.

Scott Crowingshield Productions - Richard Davia Music Video

Scott Crowingshield Productions – Richard Davia Music Video

Breaking a pain of glass was a bonus.

Scott Crowingshield Productions - Richard Davia Music Video

Scott Crowingshield Productions – Richard Davia Music Video

Here is the final edit on You Tube

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Myopia, The Horse Show

That was fun. Our friends daughter, who is also a close friend of our son, rides and shows. I am speaking about horses. Of course there is no need to actually say they ride ‘horses’. As I have been informed, if one rides, the horse part is assumed.

This was my first foray into this world and it was great. I’ve always enjoyed any connection I could get with horses and I rode as much as any other urban teen. Trips to ‘The Barn’ and trots along well worn trails on the backs of overworked horses during summer breaks. This was certainly not that and I had no reference for what I was experiencing. First, the animals are beautiful and since I can’t begin to tell the difference between them, they are all beautiful to me. Also, they are everywhere you turn. Tall, beautiful horses, some being led around, others being ridden and still others just grazing, enjoying the summer morning.


Then there is the rider. Not only are they experts at the riding part but the dress is exquisite. Jackets, pants, boots even the hats, which are really helmets, are very nice. Although, I bet their outfits can get a bit warm at times.

For all the pomp and circumstance, horse people are doers, there is a lot that happens behind the scenes before the rider ever gets close to the show ring. Any preconceived pretentiousness for a visitor will vanish as you watch someone shove a pitch fork into a pile of horse poo.

I only got to spend a short time there but I will be going back soon and if you have had any connection to horses in the past you should find some time to enjoy this too.

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Irene, Irene

Since we live only a few blocks from the ocean we followed Hurricane Irene with great interest. We emptied the yard of all lawn furniture and misc ‘things’ that summer there and could become dangerous projectiles. We filled the gas tank of the car and gallon jugs with drinking water. We did a little grocery shopping, I say little because there wasn’t much left. We were set. We kept a sharp eye on the NOAA web site, tracking her as she moved up across New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut. Checking wind speed predictions the whole time. Then we waited. Fortunately for us, all the land mass she encountered slowed her wind speed down as to top out at 47.4 (or 44.7, I can’t remember) at the Gulf of Maine Buoy in the Mass. Bay/Stellwagon. I am happy she quieted down as much as she did.

Unfortunately, some people were still unlucky.

There was a total of 9 boats run aground on or near Kings Beach between Lynn and Swampscott MA. A surprisingly high number considering we only received two thirds of the predicted wind speed.

The day after Irene, the sun came out and people gathered on the beach to have a look.

Some came to see what they could find. Storms do toss up things that have been buried for some time.

One boat had its rudder torn off, which left a large hole in the hull. It had to be lifted off the beach by crane. Quite an attraction for the locals.

People made ready their boats as the tide came in and slowly pulled themselves to deeper water.

Finally everyone was floating again and making their way back. Where ever that may be.

Mother Nature is a fickle girl. Things could have been a lot worse here. My thoughts go out to the people who did suffer from this storm. Hopefully their lives have returned to something resembling normal by now and they can begin the rebuilding of things lost to Irene.

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Edgar

My wife and I decided to get back into a walking routine. We have found that it is easy to become busy (distracted) and avoid any form of physical activity. Enough is enough though and we are not getting any younger. So after finishing our morning routine of coffee and e-mail off we go. We are lucky enough to live a few blocks from the ocean so that is our usual destination.

Kings Beach, Lynn

Kings Beach, Lynn

We walk along the sea wall, occasionally smiling at the passers by, or nodding an acknowledgment of being part of the walking along the sea wall group. I have my camera with me and stop to make some snappy’s when she calls me to have a look at something on the beach. A large fish has washed up and some herring gulls are having a feast. Naturally I can’t resist the urge to get closer so we make our way down to it. I shoot the fish in all of his/her dead glory. Covered in sand and lying in a semicircle, mouth open, eye staring.

Fish

The Dead Fish

I continue to shoot some additional scenes and when I look up and she is walking along ahead of me.

Tidepool

Tide Pool

She is looking down at a gull sitting, floating actually, on the edge of the surf. She is surprisingly close to it. I walk passed her and get even closer. Meet Edgar.

Edgar, bonaparte's gull

Edgar

Probably not his given name, but how many birds get names at birth anyway. So Edgar it is. Turns out to be Bonaparte’s Gull. Again I move closer and he doesn’t move. I make a photograph and it cocks its head at the sound of the camera.

Edgar, bonaparte's gull

Edgar

Tide starts to come in quickly so I move back a bit but the bird doesn’t move. The water  pushes him a bit which is when we realize he must be hurt. Walk ends here. Now we are on gull rescue. Collecting Edgar we hurry back home and begin the series of phone calls to ascertain where to get him help. Danvers Animal Hospital has a wild life rescue department so off we go. They are very nice and take Edgar from us and ask us to wait. When they return they inform us they don’t have the facilities to house shore birds, but, Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine’s Wildlife Clinic does. And they are???  Grafton, MA. Turns out to be a bit over an hour away from us, so back into the car the three of us go. When we arrive at the school they couldn’t have been more helpful. These people really care. They don’t know us, or Edgar, from Adam but welcome us and usher the bird into the hospital like they have been preparing for his arrival all week. I have never felt better about someone’s or something’s care.

Tufts veterinary wildlife clinic

Tufts Veterinary Wildlife Clinic

When I tell this story I get a lot of “you saved a seagull?” I guess we did. Didn’t really see him as a seagull but more as a part of the whole. What if it was a kitten?  Everyone would save a kitten. Kittens are cute, lovable, fuzzy, funny. Seagulls? Not too many people have a soft spot for these birds. So, we saved a seagull, Bonaparte’s Gull actually. They were named after Prince Charles Lucien Bonaparte, a zoologist and nephew of Napoleon. Somehow, one of the smallest gulls has historic roots to French royalty. Hmmm, that makes him a bit more interesting. Charles Lucien Bonaparte was an ornithologist, updated Alexander Wilson’sAmerican Ornithology‘, was friendly with John James Audubon, who he tried to get accepted by the Academy of Natural Sciences, but was opposed by the ornithologist George Ord. It’s funny how this small gull, sitting in the surf, can become so interesting so quickly, if we just take a few minutes to notice. I think it is important to think of everyone and everything around us a being part of a whole. I find it brings me just a little closer to everyone and everything, which is how I like it.

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Emotions

I have always been fascinated by heavy metals. Not the bands or the geology so much as the finished products. Stainless steel, copper, cast iron. Diamond patterned steel plate is another one. It is often used to bridge the gap between delivery trucks and loading docks, too many odd jobs come to mind here. So when I saw these railroad spikes lying around near a curb, especially with no railroad in sight, I had to have a look. The combination of colors that made up the spikes were beautiful. Rust is usually not something we like to see. It brings to mind thoughts of structural damage and safety issues, as in the rusty underside of a bridge or a highway support. It tells us that something is beginning to decay and may need to be repaired or replaced. This was different though. These rusty, heavy metal spikes were no longer in service. Perhaps they already had been replaced and somehow were left here by error, or discarded by someone who no longer had use for them. Whatever the reason, here they were, lying in a pile, no order or purpose. Not much of a final resting place for something that safely held in place the tracks that carried thousands of people to and from countless destinations. I like to think of them securely fastened to the wooden ties, their heads gripping onto the lips of the tracks while the unwitting passengers enter the platform and car, hoping to get a window seat. Granted, not many people, me included, ever give this a second thought. They ride along staring out that window, listening to the rhythm of the train’s wheels shuffle along, daydreaming about what awaits them at their destination. Family. Friends. Partners. Siblings. Relationships. Children. Struggles. Emotions. Do they work together to achieve the common goal of keeping the rail in line, so the wheels stay on the tracks and the passengers get to look out the window and never give it a second thought?

Love. Loneliness. Stubbornness. Uncertainty. Loss.

A Full Range of Emotion

Range of Emotions

Togetherness. Stability. Assurance.

He & She

He & She

Parents. Sisters. Brothers. Grandparents. Children.

Us

Us

Friendship. History.

He & She

Them

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Post A Week 2011

So, after extensive sitting and researching I am joining the Post A Week 2011 challenge, assuming I am not too late. They said I could sign up anytime but you can’t believe everything you read, this is the web after all. Hopefully this will keep me motivated enough to post an image each week going forward.

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Well here we are

Today is my first blog post. You would think this would be easier, talking about myself and all, from what my closest and dearest tell me. Well it’s not. It’s a bit silly really. I’m sure I am not the only person who has this feeling either. I guess that is why I named this blog My Latest Distraction. That is basically how my life works. I move from one distraction to the next trying desperately to convince myself I am working hard, or learning some new invaluable technique or going as far as making the world a better place to live. I suppose some of that is true but to what degree? I am usually working hard at ‘something’ and always trying to learn something new and interesting but the ‘making the world a better place’ is usually left to about cleaning the cat litter (which is what i should be doing but instead i am writing this) and trimming the shrubbery. Not what you might call a Mother Teresa moment, but there you go. It is what it is and who I am. I hopefully will be posting some interesting and thought provoking images for people to see, perhaps some thoughtful prose and maybe a new and interesting technique I have learned. I will try to keep the shrubbery shots to a minimum. In fact, let’s get those right out of the way.

For any one who doesn’t know, these are milkweed pods. ‘Pods” may or may not be the proper name given to them by horticultural societies, but for me that name gives them so much more of a sci-fi personality. (insert distraction here) They attract monarch butterflies, which, again for those who don’t know, migrate every year to the south west USA and Mexico, some up to 2500 miles. So having a few of these in the yard is really just part of my making the world a better place. (Mother Teresa’s eyebrows move a bit here) The pods contain seeds which are attached to the lightest and most beautiful fairy-like feathery things, which can carry them away on even the slightest of breezes. Bringing them into your home is also an interesting idea. (aka distraction) The cats seem to like them and they find their way into pretty much everything and everywhere. Fortunately they are beautiful and no one really minds them too much. They are also great should you need a clever and non-descriptive background for Venom to swing through on his way to destroy what ever it is these guys seem to need to destroy.

Oh what fun…

OK…must not procrastinate any longer, like a super hero I am off to bring order to the cat litter.

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