Sunsets are my favorite time of day: December 2020

Mornings are not my time of day. I will confess that I am a night owl. I read late, and hate to wake up. The whole change in our lives, as a result of Covid, has saved me a 1 hour work drive. That means 1 hour extra of sleep time. Now if I could just get the cats on board with my story I would be over the moon. No they want their food at 6am. Seriously Dudes!!

However on the flip side I love the evenings, especially now in the winter time zone. It gets darker earlier, so I don’t feel like half my evening time is gone by the time I have got my photographs and got back home.

Recently I got a message from a friend saying that she was heading out to Loxahatchee Everglades National Park to watch the sunset, so I decided to join her. It’s always nice when there are a few other people around as it can get quite lonely when it is dark.

I always stop at at pond first to see what is happening, and whether I feel like I will get a decent image across the water, before heading up to the canal that edges the slow moving river that floats through the Florida Everglades

While chatting to my friends, I spotted a local gator hanging out in the water. This guy will come out to play a little later on.

One of my favorite things to watch is the murmurations of the Grackle as they head to the national park in the evening. some evenings there are hundreds of them flying across the sky. It is such a beautiful sight to see and such a musical dance in the sky.

We also get the single fly by’s. You will hear someone say “bird” and all camera’s go up to capture the bird, This night we had a few random birds fly by.

I had taken a couple of different lens with me and this is my wide angle. I just loved the swirls of the clouds.

As I mentioned earlier this alligator would appear again. It was moseying along the water when I spotted it in the sunlight. Suddenly it started swimming a bit faster and changed direction. It was swimming towards the reeds. On the edge of the reeds swimming obliviously along were two Moorhens, squawking like they normally do. Then very next thing we heard was a loud squawk and one Moorhen flew into the bushes and the other walked on water. A little fast for me to capture it as well as I would have liked to.

Walking back to the car I happened to turn around and found the perfect silhouette of the night. Watching the sunset is a great way to spend a bit of time.

Thanks for stopping by. If you don’t do it often, now is the time with the social distancing to just be quiet. To go to places where few others go. To enjoy the beauty of our creation.

Please continue to stay safe, healthy and keeping a low profile. This too shall pass. If I do not blog again before Christmas. Please have a wonderful festive season even if it is just a small group. Fortunately for us we have no family in the US and so celebrating in a small group is not unusual. If you are not celebrating Christmas but rather something else, I hope you have a blessed time.

Look out for another post at the end of the month, if not before.

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Share Six: December 2020: Story Telling

Oops, this is not my comfort zone. I don’t have littles, I am not quite sure how to adequately embrace the theme {Story Telling}, chosen by Ceri Herd Photography, this month. My story telling will be words as well as images and will be more than 6 images just a heads up. I don’t want to break up this days trip.

In August, when we realized that we would not be doing our European trip, we decided to rent a cabin in the mountains of Georgia. If you have read my blogs before you will remember that I am a bit of a planner. So I did my home work and discovered there were some wine farms near the cabin. I looked a most of them with the idea of going and doing some wine tasting and eating some lunch. Of course, as a photographer, I look at all the images and I eventually landed on a wine farm a lot further away from the cabin than the local farms.

The day we planned to go to the vineyard we had done a hike to Anna Ruby Falls, and then headed to Brasstown Bald. By the time we we ready to travel to the vineyard it really was too late for lunch. Richard wanted to hike the next day, but most of us were all hiked out. I had booked a trout fishing morning for them thinking that it would be something fun. The ladies stayed in bed and the men & I headed out early on the Wednesday morning, with the idea that we would spend a couple of hours fishing and then drive the hour to the wine farm. The men were fishing and I was along to document this momentous moment. More about the fishing in another blog. The fishing was interesting but the scenery and colors of fall were more enjoyable for me.

Finally we were back home, the smell of fish washed away and we are all ready to head out. One of the criteria of the trip for me, was to try and catch some fall colors and to rest after a few days of hiking.

Interestingly we ended up traveling the same route as the previous day for at least half the trip. We headed towards the Lakes area of Macedonia, Hiawassee, and Young Harris.

After turning a number of corners we finally arrived at our destination vineyard – Crane Creek Vineyard. I can certainly say, if you are in the area, make this place a stop on your drive. The vineyard is picturesque, the fall colors were beautiful. I fell in love. Welcome to this beautiful destination.

Aside from the beauty of this vineyard, I wanted a place where we could sit down outside and eat. Our daughter in law is immune compromised and has a number of food allergies. Once I discovered the vineyard and read more about it, I discovered that they had a beautiful restaurant on site. Being South African, I was drawn to the fact that the chef was from Mauritius. Added to that my husbands grandparents emigrated to South Africa from Mauritius.

Kathryn contacted the owners of the restaurant Paris & Company and asked about the menu and whether they would be able to accommodate her requirements. Nina was so encouraging and just asked us to give her a days notice so that she could plan for Kathryn’s needs. We booked a time for lunch and were excited to get there and enjoy the beautiful menu.

We were seated out on the patio, in the corner away from other quests. Nina personally came out and spoke with Kathryn to see what she could eat. We all ordered something different, along with a bottle of white wine named Enotah. The wine is “100% Chardonel (a Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc hybrid). Aged in oak barrels for 10-12 months. Aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, apples and toasty butter.” I got that directly from their website. Credit to Crane Creek Vineyards. The wine was amazing and paired well with our lunch.

I snapped two cellphone pics of the food as I did not want to pull out the big old camera and annoy the rest of the family. The food, in case you were wondering, was excellent. I chose a lobster and crab salad, as seen above, tossed in a tangy sauce, served on a croissant, along with a potato salad side. Daniel, who was seated next to me, chose the Ultimate Philly Cheesesteak with caramelized onions, green peppers and swiss cheese, with a side of fries. There were six of us and I did not take photos of each persons food but it will definitely give you an idea of the options. I definitely recommend having lunch there.

Leaving the restaurant we meandered across the grass admiring the view. Beautiful homes set in the rows of vines. So picturesque in its beauty.

Bursts of color can be found in this scenic view, leaves coat the grass and the smell of fall is a sweet aroma to my senses.

Due to Covid the wine tasting has been shifted outdoors . Beyond the tree below is a patio are where you can sit and taste your wine or you can walk back to the grass area and find a few chairs and relax and enjoy the view. We did do some wine tasting outside overlooking the lake and the vines.

Tranquility is a word I would use to describe the beauty of this scene. Quiet reigns and you can just sit back and enjoy, sipping on your wine.

I had asked prior to traveling if we were able to walk around the wine farm and the answer was yes. So we walked down the sand road towards the lake. Lining the edge of the wines and the road are beautiful rose bushes. Walking down the road we arrived at the lake on our left and looked over a beautiful wedding perfect scene.

In every direction there is a vibrancy fulfilling my desire to see the colors of fall. Contrasting colors, bright colors, muted colors. I decided I love fall colors.

This vineyard was a balm to my soul, color to my imagination, quiet to the noise of life. Time to stop and gather my senses again. And I will add, to rest my feet after days of hiking.

Today I felt like I made a connection with the beauty of nature. I am grateful for the hard work the owners of this beautiful vineyard have put in to making this a place to visit. I would encourage you, if you haven’t been there and you are in the area, add a visit to your bucket list.

Thank you for joining me for this month’s Share Six blog post.  This is a circle blog.  The sneak peaks that are shared are stunning. I can say that because they all come to me prior to the posts going live. The challenges always stretch us just a little bit further. I blog with an incredibly talented group of ladies.  Please take time to visit my friend and very creative artist Lynne from Lynne Grant Photography who always amazes me with her images to see what she has for you this month. To view her  Facebook page click here and her Instagram page here.

Keep following the circle to see what the other photographers have shared this month. Don’t forget to leave a little love on their page as well.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_storytelling

30 Minutes in the Life: November 2020

Female Grackle

For the longest time I have felt like my 70-300mm is just not enough when I walk in the wetlands. However, when I came to replace my existing zoom lens, I was facing bills for my Sims and his lung issues. I was very reluctant to spend over a $1000-00 on a lens. So I bought the cheaper replacement lens. But it bugged me. I still could not get what I wanted

Palm Warbler
Four Spotted Pennant

I, by chance, was looking at a lens group on Facebook and decided to search the lens I had been looking at. It is always a risk to do that as you never know what you are going to get. However, this person was living in the same town as my son. My son also had a Canon camera, so I asked him set up to meet the photographer and check out the lens. If he thought the lens was in good condition, and worth purchasing then to go ahead and get it. The upside it cost half the price of a brand new one.

Female Grackle
Male Grackle

He liked the lens. In fact he liked it so much he informed me that he may have to keep it. Mmmm … no!

Green Heron
Mockingbird

He bought the lens. I had to wait. We were meeting up in Georgia, and I would only be able to get it from him then. He gave me the box and it was like Christmas. I opened up the box, was super excited, and then realized Sigma has different terminology to Canon. That meant I had to do some reading, which I only did when I got back home.

Great Blue Heron

Of course, we did not go straight home. Nope we went to Charleston. You can imagine my patience level. I really wanted to figure this out. Finally we are back home and I can to my reading, do my testing and then I am ready to hit the road this this beaut.

Green Heron

I have named the lens “The Beast”. Why? Because it is pretty darn heavy. It weighs 4.3 pounds. You are dragging this baby around for 2 miles. Not sure if that is what is giving me a sore shoulder but I am going to suck it up and figure out how to make the should area stronger.

Needham’s Skimmer
Green Heron

The first time I walked out, I found a comfortable position to hold the camera. However, what I found is that this lens is heavy and stabilizing the movement was not as easy as I thought. I found myself having to rest my arms on the boardwalk to give some level of stability. It will get better with time I am sure.

Ornate pennant
Little Blue Heron

When I got home I found that my fingers were sore. Obviously I was clutching at the lens.

Black & White Warbler
Four spotted pennant

I can tell you that I am very happy with the lens. I love the images and the ability to get so much closer to the critters just makes me happy.

Iguana
Four spotted pennant

I am have been out a couple of times since then, lugging the beast. I am excited. I just want to see everything in close up these days. What I will say is this lens will not be doing street photography, or travel photography, unless I am hunting wild horses to photograph. I will take this lens to the wetlands and places that I feel will be suitable for it’s use.

Please continue to stay safe, wherever you are in the world. Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Ceri of Ceri Herd Photography.   You will definitely love what she shares. I am always inspired with what she has to offer.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

30 Minutes in the Life: October 2020

This month I am going to do something just a little different for my 30 minutes. I am going to do 30 minutes of editing because it took me way longer than 30 minutes to capture these little guys.

I love dragonflies. Their mechanics are pure perfection. Have you ever looked closely at their wing formation. The design is fantastic. Along with the back of their heads. I am always amazed at what they look like/ I cropped in an image so that you could get a closer look. Their eyes are so huge and they watch every movement you make. Have you ever watched a dragonfly chew? Oh my, it is so cool. So here are a few dragonfly that I captured over 2 days, plus a few of my favorites. I have tried my best to identify them, but I could be wrong. Don’t hold that against me.

Four Spotted Pennant
Eastern Pondhawk
Isn’t the wing formation fantastic and look at all the tiny hairs at the back of its head. Along with the spiny legs. This little guy kept flying in front of me as though he wanted his photo taken.
Eastern Pondhawk

Needhams Skimmer
Blue Dasher
Scarlet Skimmer
Metallic Pennant (maybe)
Eastern Pondhawk
Four Spotted Pennant
Four Spotted Pennant
Needhams Skimmer
Orange Meadowhawk
Eastern Pondhawk
Scarlet Skimmer
Halloween Pennant
Four Spotted Pennant
Needhams Skimmer sitting on snail eggs

The best thing about dragonflies is that they eat the mosquitos. The sad thing is that in the circle of life, they become food for the birds, and the lizards. Red wing Blackbirds love dragonflies and I have seen them shove an entire dragonfly down a chick’s throat.

Redwing Blackbird
Hungry dragonfly eating lizard (since I do not know what it is called). I think it may be a Brown Anole

It’s either feast of famine for the lizard. He was not having a lot of success while I was watching him.

Please continue to stay safe, wherever you are in the world. Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.