Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Really Surreal?

I stumbled upon a book on the history of photography and have found myself deeply engrossed and fascinated by it. I particularly like the surrealists which strikes me as odd. I say odd because I am generally a purist regarding the pictures I take and refuse to do anything to them other than cropping (Photoshop is the antichrist!). But something about what I was seeing struck a chord and I realized I could manipulate my photos  to provide a whole new meaning to the term "mind's eye". As usual, click each photo for a better view. 

What really surprised me about this whole affair is that I could let my mind run wild and see orchids as butterflies.

flowers as balls,

a wet leaf as a road traveled by rain drops,

a pier as a twisted road,

and parts of a bamboo shade as whirls.

This little experiment has opened a whole new world for me. And, while I'm not ready to run out and buy Photoshop I will admit to being willing to see the world in a different way.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Flying With A Crane

I saw this video and had to share it. As someone who is afraid of heights and continually has to work to overcome it, the thought of being able to take a camera into a crane operating 1,100 feet in the air is both exciting and overwhelming.

I love encountering new situations where I can use my camera to get a bird's eye view of anything. But, how would you feel if you had to do that everyday?

Take a look...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Forever Gone... But Not Forgotten

Memorial Day is generally seen as the start of the Summer traveling season in America, and sadly many forget the other reason for the holiday. Thinking about the upcoming event, I remembered that a National Cemetery had opened here in Jacksonville and decided to visit.  As usual, click each photo for a better view. 

The area is out in the country, which despite the distance makes sense because it enabled the cemetery to buy a good expanse of land that allows room to grow as veterans from various conflicts age and ultimately require a space. There is something solemn that strikes you as you encounter the entrance. 

I worked to get this shot because in its own way it reminded me of Arlington National Cemetery  which has a much longer history and a special place in the hearts of most Americans as the resting place of America's war dead. Strange, but I felt a sense of pride that Jacksonville could now be counted as part of that national history. 

I could not help but think that Marine James Davis has a great view of the grounds throughout eternity. Rest easy my friend.

There are restrictions for flowers and displays on a grave, that I at first thought were harsh but on reflection realized simple tributes are much more poignant. This lone flower almost shouts "I remember" and is why I like this shot. 

Lest we forget, there is a human cost to war, and someone dear has been lost. This visitor captured for me the remembering that needs to take place from time to time. That we honor the dead and announce that they are forever gone... but not forgotten. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The French Connection... Who Knew !

Earlier this month the City of Jacksonville celebrated the landing of the explorer Jean Ribault and Jacksonville's connection with France. To mark the occasion several tall ships were in the area, both at the dock downtown and Mayport naval station. A chance to view old sailing ships and take some pictures... I could not resist! As usual, click each picture for a better view. 

The schooner L'ÉTOILE and her sister ship Belle Poule were built in the shipyard of Fécamp, France in 1932. They were both used by the Free French Forces during the Second World War  

A schooner is a type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being shorter or the same height as the rear masts.This was the type of ship the explorer Jean Ribault used in 1562 to lead an expedition to the new world and explored the mouth of the St. Johns River in modern-day Jacksonville.

During the 16th to 18 centuries, the golden age of piracy, I discovered the schooner was a popular craft for pirates, as it could carry up to eight or more cannons, and was sleek and fast despite the fact it weighed around 100 tons. It usually had a crew of about 75.

There were plenty of other people just as curious wanting to view the ship and the crew members were very helpful and friendly.. What struck me was how compact the ship is. The adventurer and his crew definitely had close quarters.

These ships were built stout and sturdy and for that reason were selected later as navy training ships. Today French naval officers get their sailing education on them.

All in all the viewing made for a great afternoon of hanging out on the river and I learned something in the process about Jacksonville's French connection!

Friday, May 11, 2012

For Love of Their Passion

 I am always amazed by people with passion and the exciting things that passion causes them to create. Had a chance a few weekends ago to visit my favorite city: St. Augustine, for their annual Arts Market and ran into some very passionate, talented people I wanted to share with you. As usual, click each photo for a better view.

First, a very colorful character who is part of a duo (Ralph and Dan) called The Broom Brothers that had yarn upon yarn to tell about of all things brooms.


A broom is not just a broom and they prove that right down to the selection of the perfect broom corn to make their creations or the revival of a ritual from slavery by African Americans of getting married by "jumping the broom." You could listen for hours as he describes the process that goes into creating one of these jewels and their uses.

The next artist's work just drew me to it: The mixed media of Diane Dean. There is texture that the camera (or at least, my camera) could not completely capture. The colors are quite vivid and yet have a dreamy quality that as I stood studying it I found myself transported to the scene from the Wizard of OZ where the wicked witch says "Poppies, lots of poppies!"

This vase of flowers has that same quality that I also found overwhelmingly strong and yet dreamy. There is definitely a sense of passion to it which is amazing because the artist herself seems almost shy. 

Next is one of my favorite points of interest: glass blowing. Henry C. Duquette from "Wildfire Glass" was displaying hand blown pendants. I could not resist taking a picture of this picture highlighting him blowing glass. 

The pendants were quite beautiful with very intricate designs within designs. 

And his wife even got into the act and posed as a model. They were a talented, fun couple.

A good number of artists and photographers are producing amazing work with HDR photography (high dynamic range), which quite simply allows more contrast and therefore more detail in images. This work by Jack Wicks looks like you could walk into this street scene of a lazy southern afternoon, it is so sharp.The mood and the colors just grab you!

And who could resist an afternoon at a beach like this? The rocks and the sky seem to draw the eye and combine to produce a sense of peace and calm.

It was almost time for the show to close and then I spied these glistening  works that could light up any room. Clark Art Studio is a husband and wife team  who work with brass. She paints the piece and then he uses a grinder to remove the paint that produces a finished work very similar to the HDR photos above but with wonderful texture and brilliance. My photos don't do justice to the depth and brilliance of each piece

That is especially true for this piece where the brilliant blue of the flowers seems to hang suspended on the canvas.

All of these artists demonstrate again and again their passion for the work they love. I have highlighted links to their individual websites so you can dig a little deeper into their work and get a chance to experience what I did during my encounters with them. Enjoy the journey!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Not Your Father's Farmer's Market !

I have to apologize for being away for awhile. I  have gone on a number of adventures but just could not find the time to move the photos from the camera. Well, today you are in luck because I have made myself sit down and savor some of the places I have been. 
 Farmer's Markets have become a staple in most major cities, and Jacksonville is no different, except with a twist: The Jacksonville Arts Market. Rather than just fruits and vegetables it offers artisans and performers a place to display their talents and is a pretty cool way to spend a Saturday. 

The venue is held under one of the many bridges that dot the city and offers welcome shelter from the oppressive heat that is Florida.

 The picture above gives a panoramic view of the little amphitheater that allows performers to attract a crowd and I am certain has launched a number of careers.   

I found this performer particularly interesting. There was something very earnest about the way he played. I only wish now that I had done a video of him playing because he was quite good.

Everyone comes to possibly buy a painting or take in the sights. Taking a picture under the supports of the bridge is one of the usual pastimes. I was no different with my picture of a picture. I really like this shot as there is something sort of intimate about it, and then the eye follows the lines into the tunnel.    

This one too is another favorite. Again, that sense of an intimate moment only this time the two people in the shot appear disconnected. The young man is looking away and the young women is facing front but looking off into the distance. And then, the eye trails off into the tunnel.

There is something for everyone as this future Method Actor illustrates. He really got into the spirit of his face painting and does a very good tiger.

The venue has styled itself to be very inviting and this shot illustrates just how inviting. A drinking fountain is a common place item, but when you consider that it even has a spout for dogs, it sends the signal: "Come one, come all!"  The dogs and their owners have heard the message loud and clear.

I hope you have enjoyed the outing as much as I did and realize that the Jacksonville Arts Market is definitely not your fathers Farmer's Market ! If you are in the area, it is a great place to while away an early morning and probably an afternoon.