Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Over geologic time the earth's landmasses shift, quake, erupt, erode, break apart and reconnect, freeze, thaw, heave and settle.  Few of us will witness any of these changes, because all but the most violent and immediate take place infinitely slowly.  Not so the ocean!  It's easy to walk past a field and barely notice it.  If it's covered with snow, it will likely remain visually static as long as the temperature permits, and if not, will change only imperceptibly from day to day as the season progresses.  But, the ocean is never the same.  It can be as mercurial as a pampered prima donna, or phlegmatic as a classical FM radio midnight DJ within a day.  It is impossible to ignore, and why would anyone want to?  The three photographs below were made during three successive days.  It's no wonder I can't get enough of the shore...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

North Florida is quite different from the southern part of the state.  I suppose people headed to Miami on I 95 think they've arrived at last when they cross the border from Georgia, but they're mistaken.  They actually have most of another day's drive to get where they're going.  The Jacksonville area may be subtropical, but it gets quite cold for a number of weeks in winter, and during this autumn has been very comfortable a lot of the time.  It's amusing to witness natives "freezing" when the air is in the 50's, but, in time, my blood will have adapted to this place, and I'll be whining about the "cold" too!!  Nonetheless, on November 22nd, I was really hot after a quarter mile hike to beach access at Big Talbot SP, and couldn't help thinking of 'home' where the high was in the upper 40's.

There are fewer iconic locales in this area than in other parts of the state, but this is one of the few that's celebrated.  Big Talbot Island State Park is famous for the driftwood and fallen trees that litter its beach.  This photograph doesn't do justice to fallen timbers, but they will be represented here soon.  I can't wait to return!!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Am I living the 'salt life'?   I just can't get enough of the coast.   The rhythms of the surf are hypnotic both when relatively calm, and when wind whipped and roiling!  As some of the recent posts here can attest, there is interesting light at all times of day whether in full sun or overcast.  The ocean's tidal pulse is fascinating in its gentler moments, and truly compelling in its surging power during and after storms.  Sometimes, there is less to photograph than to just savor and enjoy.  It's easy to walk on wet sand and let thoughts come and go as they will while always mindful of the ocean alongside.  In most places that I'm aware of on the Atlantic coast, dunes are protected and sea oats are illegal to pull or disturb.  Nesting areas for turtles and birds are also given sanctuary from the inquisitive and acquisitive passer-by.  In the 'off' season, the seaside is just a wonderful place to be!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

There are a number of photographers I admire who have specialized in photographs of the ocean and seashore.  Many others have ocean and seaside portfolios as well, but two of my favorites are Nana Sousa Dias, from Portugal, and Chip Hooper from California.  Their work does not duplicate each other's imagery, but does help one to recognize the enormity of the subject and how infinitely varied it can be.  As my life now is so proximate to the Atlantic Ocean, I'm finding it irresistible to drive there before dawn, and photograph whatever I see that isn't too much like what I saw yesterday.  And that newness is easy to experience.  I'm looking forward to eventual fog, wildly compelling clouds, big surf and glistening sand, and that will come in time.  Meanwhile, the jetty at Vilano Beach has been interesting at both low and high tide.  The sea was wind driven and churning and it was an exciting place to be!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Retirement from a formal, everyday-go-to-work career is a life altering event.  It's been five months since I've had to get up at 4:30 AM to prepare, and then drive 50 miles to where I taught for 28 years.  I certainly don't miss the commute, nor the bullshit aspects of the job (that most people have to endure, as well), although I do miss the teaching.  Nor, is it easy to quickly make the transition to creating one's own schedule.  It's very tempting to waste time in indolence and unseemly wallowings, but I'm trying not to.  What I'm not able to abandon, it seems, is the physical clock that tells me to stop sleeping at a very, very early hour.  So, I'm trying to get it in gear before dawn to go where golden hour light illuminates a subject or place that appeals to me visually.  The photograph below is a consequence of a quick change of plan when I realized I wouldn't get to the ocean and be able to set up the camera in time for sunrise.  I remembered this salt-marsh where I had parked once before a long time ago.  I was able to rapidly prepare just as the sun was about to greet the horizon.  After that, for about 15 minutes, there was nothing to witness that wasn't magic!

Leaving the marsh, I drove to Vilano Beach.  The sun was glarey and too high for an easy exposure, but there were clouds.  A few came to my rescue and I was able to make this photograph using the jetty rocks as foreground. Fortuitously, there was water on the nearground rock and the sun brought it to life very successfully.  For any who are interested, this was made with my 45mm lens which must be incredibly well coated to not have flared in direct sun.  Lucky me! lol!!

And finally, this photograph was made just to the left of the one above.  I might not have taken it if it were not for the birds which, I believe, were pelicans.  They are beautiful in flight, and continue to fascinate me as I had never seen them in life until I moved to Florida.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A nor'easter has been in progress for  most of today,  Knowing it was coming, I drove to Vilano Beach before dawn at the recommendation of a friend.  Happily there was no rain involved then, though there was a  lot of it later in spots.  I did get wet doing this, but only to just below my wallet and shorts pockets.  Even the camera bag came within inches of getting drenched, but I was very lucky and the day was saved. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Being new to this southern region, I'm having to forge new relationships with the flora of Florida.  I deeply miss the maple trees, and grand pin oaks, day lilies, and other plantings that can't grow here because of the heat.  But, I'm encountering some that I've not seen before, like cypress trees (and cypress knees), loblolly bay trees, and Spanish moss.  I've been told not to handle it, and avoid nasty bugs that get on your skin, but handling it wasn't my ambition in the first place, so I'll have no trouble following that advice.  These two images were taken in a small park near the St. John's River just off San Jose Boulevard.  Finally now, (the beginning of November) the sun is a bit more oblique, and shadows are longer in the morning and afternoon which favor my photographic biases.  I'm told that there will even be reliable morning fog in December.  I'll revisit this place again when those changes are in place.