On the shore of Lover’s Key State Park, this tree refuses to go away. Years ago it died and fell over on the beach, exposing its root system to the wind, the rain, the sea and the hot sun, melting into sunset every day, waiting in darkness through the cool nights. The people who wander past hang a shell on its frame and return to find it again, perhaps adding another shell. Dozens of shells, carefully placed, tell a silent tale of all the people who came and cared.
This was not the first time I visited this tree and wondered about its story. Here is my photo from early 2018 also at sunset, just one year before. Comparing the two, you can appreciate the erosion that has gradually diminished the remains.
“Mind if I join you?” is the quote that comes to mind. There is something about this clumsy looking, yet actually graceful pelican landing that I find endearing. Brown pelicans are huddling in close quarters on this rookery island to spend the night.
It is a privilege to watch all of these graceful birds flock to the island in Rookery Bay (near Naples, Florida) at sunset. This close up is a cropped image, captured with a 200mm Nikon lens. We are not as close as we appear, and we stay silent to avoid disturbing this natural daily migration.
The sunset Eco-cruise is provided by the Southwest Conservancy. Buy your own ticket online at conservancy.org.
Today I’m returning to snowy Pittsburgh where the sky may be overcast, and ice coats the sidewalks. As I board the plane in Florida, I remember my afternoon at the Naples Botanical Garden when my friend Marjorie walked around the lake on the lookout for alligators. I told Marjorie that I was admiring the textures of the grasses and pines. Marjorie replied, “I’m looking for color.” A few minutes later, I spotted this brilliant red orchid growing in the limbs of a tree. I liked the way the smooth white bark of the three tree limbs framed the plant.
Walking through the Naples Botanical Garden, I realized that the plants are quite familiar to me, as I have walked the trails with my camera many times. This time, I was on the lookout for something new. At the edge of the water lily pond, I looked for some nice reflections and saw this tall palm tree looking quite a bit like an Impressionist painting.
Just two hours before sunset, the sun was low in the sky and the ripples in the water created the perfect filter. Today, Claude Monet was my inspiration.
When you think of Florida, you probably think of beaches, baseball and golf. Or maybe Disney, tennis and retirees. Right now it’s snowing and cold in much of the United States, but in Florida the landscape is green and warm and teeming with life. In a typical day here, I observe numerous birds, lizards, turtles, alligators, and fish. In any case, when you think of Florida, you don’t think of dead trees…unless perhaps you think of hurricanes.
Lover’s Key State Park has a white sandy beach, lots of shells and birds and people with beach towels and coolers, but it also has a number of dead trees. They stand boldly on the beach where they have tried to survive hurricanes and all manner of wind and weather. While their leaves and branches are long gone, several trunks still stand tall, reminding us of our mortality and the circle of life.
Looking through my viewfinder to see the moon in the composition, I liked the simplicity of the blue and white image. The stark tree trunks reminded me of the skulls that Georgia O’Keeffe painted in New Mexico. I think that O’Keeffe liked the simple sculptural shape of the white, dessicated skulls, and she also probably thought about that unpopular subject, the short term nature of our lives.
One of the best things about travel to a faraway land is learning about the symbols that derive from the natural environment there. When I visited New Zealand, I learned that the spiral shape celebrated in art and jewelry refers to the spirals found in the fern as it unfurls. Ferns are ubiquitous in the rainforests of New Zealand, and the ancient plants come in many varieties. As a new fern grows, you can see a delicate spiral unfurling as each leaf and stem grows. This spiral represents new beginnings.
On the other side of the globe, we learned about a different interpretation of the spiral shape. In Turkey, the spiral shape represents the Meander River, which curves back and forth and seems to go on forever. When visiting Ephesus in Turkey, we were told the spiral shape in repetition, or the Greek Key design, represents infinity.
In yet another trip, we were surprised to find the Greek Key design in the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Surely the ancient people from all these places were not comparing notes! It seems to me that the ancient people in all these distant spots on the globe had put together an observation of the intriguing shapes in Nature and thinking that joined Nature, Art and Philosophy. I choose to embrace both meanings in the spiral found in Nature: new beginnings and eternity. Both concepts bring me optimism, peace and happiness.
It takes talent to hunt for dinner and manage crashing waves at the same time. These ibis have what it takes! Yesterday was a hot day in Naples, Florida, and no doubt the water felt very refreshing.
A shutter speed of 1/125 froze motion just enough but not too much. The final image has a painterly quality that I love.
While I reduced the size of this digital file, so it would load quickly on the blog, it can be printed with great success since the jpeg is a large file with virtually no noise (ISO 100). Email me or check my website for a print.
It was a quiet morning at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida until the Anhingas started to squawk. They are usually quiet birds, but I discovered that when they cry out, they can be loud. (Click here to hear one.)
Sometimes called the “snake bird” because its slender neck often curved in an S shape looks like a snake when it sticks out of the water when they swim underwater, and pop its head out to breathe. Since females have brown necks, this one appears to be a male. They are also quite large (wingspan 42″) and are commonly seen in Southwest Florida and the Everglades. Black and white feathers on the mature Anhinga resemble piano keys.
This one had a lot to say. He seemed panicked as though he was putting out a danger call. Perhaps there was a bobcat or a vulture in the area.
Recently I have met new friends in Florida who ask me what kind of photography I do. I usually reply that my primary niche is landscape/nature and any wildlife that crosses my path. But many of my blog followers might call me a travel photographer, since many of my subjects come from scenic travel destinations. Last year, I brought you images from Paris, England, Scotland, Wyoming, New Mexico, California and Florida.
Today, I enjoyed the monthly bird watching tour I like to do in Naples, Florida. While looking at birds, I also look around at the environment for textures and shapes that appeal to me, and for compositions that work in a rectangular or square frame.
This is the kind of photography I like to do. My subjects don’t have to be important. This scene conveys a peaceful moment that I wanted to preserve.