Monday, February 25, 2013

The Scottish Highlands In Florida

My photography group decided to attend the 18th Annual Northeast Florida Scottish Highland Games which held a great deal of excitement for me, both as a photographer and a McKenzie. There was a lot to see and I enjoyed every moment. As usual click each photo for a better view.

A good number of Police Associations take part as Scottish band members. This rather serious looking guy is a drummer from the Clay County Pipes and Drums Corp. He was practicing and noticed that I was taking his picture.

Of course bag pipes are a major item in the event, and I had no idea that they had to be tuned. I spent a great deal of time watching as each bagpipe was put through it's paces to get the right sound.

I also learned that drummers are the ones who add flair in addition to keeping a beat. The drummer's flair is based on how they are able to swing around the stick as they strike the drum.This group was also practicing in anticipation of the big arena march where all the clans march and is the highlight of the event.

I really liked the look of this drum major who seemed very majestic as he led his group.

I guess I followed him around so much that he finally asked someone to take a picture of me with him. So much for being a stalker... I mean groupie!

There were all kinds of competitions, but one of the exciting events for me was the weight throw. I found this guy an interesting subject because he had a Mohawk which added to the mystic. Here he is preparing to throw the weight over a bar above him. Everyone seemed to have a particular style that involved lifting the kilt to throw the weight!

I really liked this shot because there are a number of contrasts: the Mohawk guy, the weight lifting guy with his back to the camera, and the big guy in the background deciding what he is going to do.

Kilts were everywhere and this Kilt wearer in training caught my eye. He seemed right at home and plans to work on his weightlifting.

There was also a demonstration of sheep herding by a group of very eager dogs. They put spoiled  Sunny-Girl  to shame as they appeared glad to perform their job and kept the sheep contained to a limited area.

And then the big event: The march in of the clans! This drum major was as majestic as the previous subject as he brought in the clans.

It was a sound to end all sounds as the bands marched in to the sound of hundreds of bagpipes and drums. It filled the entire arena right up to the rafters and made your heart pound and your feet want to dance a jig. It truly was amazing!

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Cherry Blossoms Return

Sunny-Girl and I were out for a walk and as we moved along I happened to look up and could see the trees beginning to bud. I am always amazed that even in what seems like the dead of winter, the trees know when Spring is not that far away, and respond as only they can...with blooms. As usual, click each photo for a better view.

This Cherry Blossom tree was just begging me to take it's picture and I was more than happy to comply.

The blooms are definitely a welcome sight in addition to being just plain pretty. Yes, Spring is just around the corner and will be more than welcome to pay a visit and even stay awhile!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Reenacting A Battle

I think I mentioned earlier that I have joined a photography group and it has turned out to be great fun. Our group leader suggests a place to meet, we arrive, and then run around like ants taking pictures. Sometimes it is first thing in the morning (like 7am, yikes!) or later in the day. It becomes almost a scavenger hunt to first find the place; and once there to see the events through your own photographic eye. The recent event was a Civil War reenactment of the battle for Ft. Milton that occurred here in Jacksonville. As usual click each photo for a better view. 

This was my first time at a reenactment and I had resolved to take in as much as possible. What I discovered is that the people taking part were quite knowledgeable regarding the battle where the southern troops and local people held off the Union Army. And, every effort was made to make the event as close to true-to-life as possible which allowed plenty of picture taking opportunities. The picture above is a side view of the fortification set up in anticipation of the battle. 

I also learned that this reenactment is not only about the battle but also how people went about their lives at the time. Here is a Southern woman surrounded by the few possessions that a life in the wilderness would allow.

Cooking was something that required a good deal of preparation  because the tools you were able to use were fairly basic. I found myself thinking how fortunate we are in this day and age. But, despite the time involved the result looked tasty.

I was also struck that despite the rough life, people were still able to have a level of simple grace that this table shows. There were not a lot of courses but you still get a sense of people carving out simple refinement in their every day lives.

I smiled as I took this shot and thought to myself "what no X box?"  These two girls are providing their own playful entertainment that the entire family might join in with singing. I particularly liked the face of the young woman in the purple dress. There is almost a Madonna aspect to her gentle continence.

This little girl caught my eye, casually strolling through the camp. Even at this age she appears deep in thought and there is a lonely quality to this shot.

The other highlight of the event was a demonstration of working class dress for the period. I was amazed at the layers upon layers that went into dressing for a woman of the time. You could only imagine what upper class women went through and why they required a "Lady's Maid" to help them get dressed. 

And then the battle! This Union soldier is reloading as the rest of the troop advances. Like almost everything else for this time, shooting had to be timed. So, some were firing while others reloaded. 

A local behind the fortification times his shots as well.

I could only imagine the frenzy that occurs during the height of battle. These Southern soldiers are firing a cannon and the sound was deafening! What I like about this shot is the activity to fire the cannon on one end and preparation for the anticipated sound on the other.

And finally, a boy soldier taking a drink from a canteen as the battle rages. Both sides had young boys who helped with the work of maintaining arms and preparing for battle. You can only imagine the things they saw as children. Especially when you consider this was before people understood the existence of germs and doctors went from patient to patient without sterilizing instruments or washing their hands.

All and all, it was a great reenactment of the Battle of Ft. Milton and I learned a lot in the process of taking my pictures.