The Sapling

So, to return to one of my favorite topics, my love for nature, beloved parks, and businesses promoting healthy returns back to the environment, I read an article the other day that inspire me, and made me wish that something similar would occur in the United States.

Source:  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/07/india-plants-50-million-trees-uttar-pradesh-reforestation/

In India recently, nearly one million people planted nearly 50 million saplings over a 24-hour period in Uttar Pradesh.  I found this fascinating; imagine the level of coordination involved in planning this event, but more importantly, the impact this will have on the environment in the long run.   This gives a new whole meaning to giving back.  In terms of the environment, what if, for each tree cut down here in the States, four new saplings could be planted in its place? Simple enough, right? One mature healthy tree cut down and four saplings planted, in the hopes that at least one would survive to maturity.

The human capacity for sharing and giving back is amazing.  The fact that nearly one million individuals collaborated for a common goal without violence is even more illustrative of the potential for humanity to accomplish good; it is a reminder that there is still hope for the human race.

I only wish this story would be the type that would saturate our airwaves and news programs.  My wife shared an excerpt from a book she uses in one of her courses, Understanding Global Cultures (2016), by Martin J. Gannon and Rajnandini Pillai, in which the authors note in reference to American media, “The positive features of foreign countries are rarely highlighted.  Because average U.S. Americans are continuously bombarded with news of famine, wars, violence, and political turmoil from the outside world, they are frequently not aware of the pleasant and fascinating features of other nations” (p. 222).  How true. If only this particular event in Uttar Pradesh, and others around the world, would acquire significant news coverage in the States; perhaps this type of event would inspire others to collaborate in a positive manner.  With these types of positive stories, I would like to think there is hope for the future.

 

Gannon, M. and Pillai, R.  (2016).  Understanding Global Cultures:  Metaphorical Journeys through 34 Nations, Clusters of Nations, Continents, and Diversity.  CA:  Sage Publications.

Adventure Quest

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If you are able to experience cost-effective outdoor adventurous experiences throughout the year, what could they be? Many of us want to locate activities that wouldn’t cost a mortgage or rent, a week of your paycheck, or put you or your family’s safety on the line so to speak.   So for those who are like myself and think before wasting my hard earned money, particularly since my wife and I count every single dollar and love coupons, I enjoy looking for opportunities which provide the most value for the money.

So, what activity could result in fun, but also good value for the money?  You would be surprised with what you can do as a family with little or no money.  That’s the theme here folks, because let’s face it, we have priorities that come first when family is involved.  Safety is #1; Health is just as important; those two things alone will cost a pretty sum, but both are vital for daily life.

So, what can a family do on a shoestring budget? Although it would be nice to visit another country or take my wife on a tour of Rome, Ireland, or go to the Virgin Islands, that is just not finically feasible for us at this time. Hell, my wife and I have yet to even take a honeymoon in our ten plus years of marriage, so you know just where I stand.

I listen to individuals and / or companies talk about how you have to spend to earn and take a chance to make money.  While I understand that completely, one cannot spend what one does not have.  So, to return to the emphasis of this post – finding family activities which provide the best value for your money….Let’s talk about turning the ordinary adventure into an extraordinary time. Explore your wild side and making a day of learning about marine life and if taking a trip into the trees zipping across the canopy while laughing sounds like fun, try a zip line course.   One of my favorite places in Virginia Beach for a fun family activity is the Virginia Aquarium and Adventure Park.  There is nothing quite like being face to face with sharks, snakes, sea turtles, colorful tropical fish, stingrays, otters, seals, and komodo dragons at the Aquarium.

AQ

Once you leave the main building you can take a peaceful walk down the nature trail, where you will more than likely see ospreys, eagles, blue herons, kingfishers, and if you are lucky the baby foxes, raccoons, and, of course, we cannot forget the squirrels. The nature trail is full of wonders, but it doesn’t stop there; before you reach the second building to see more of what wonderful creatures Mother nature has to offer, you will hear laughter from fellow families and friends from up above pushing each other on in a positive manner as they zip across the terrain.  For those who enjoy a true challenge, there are also obstacles available for all ages.  For those traveling to southeastern Virginia, you will hear of a few tree top adventure courses in the local area, but by far, the professionalism of the staff, and especially the particular safety measures in place, are both unmatched by other zip line courses / adventure parks which I have visited.  The staff appear to mesh well, and the combination of Fun / Safety/ Respect/ Excitement is a significant combination for the community environment at the museum and / or park.

For those with packed schedules, the trees await visitors day or night. That’s right folks – at night. And, as an added bonus, you can watch fighter jets practice aerial maneuvers, or watch the Navy, Coast Guard, marine police, kayakers, boaters, jet skiers, and those fishing as well. Everything is all snuggled up together in one beautiful package. You don’t have to drive to the middle of nowhere to have a fabulous adventure on all fronts. The intellectual and physical challenge of the museum and / or course, as well as the memories that can be made, makes this a perfect “one-stop shop”.

VB

So, if you are looking for a cost-effective family outing, and an adventure which will provide lasting memories, then try zipping through the trees and wandering through Mother Nature at the Virginia Aquarium and Adventure Park.***

***Disclaimer:  While I am endorsing the Virginia Aquarium and Adventure Park, I am writing this of my own accord, and am not paid to endorse either the Aquarium or Adventure Park.

See you in the next post.

What makes a photographer

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Why is photography vital? There are so many methods of creative expression, whether painting, drawing, clay sculpting, glass works, tattoo artistry, writing, ballet, opera, musical instruments, or singing, to name several. For me, photography is an opportunity for the artist to capture a single moment in time or the soul of a subject by looking through the view finder and capturing something meaningful. A photographer captures not only a moment, but the essence of sensation – i.e., what one may be feeling prior to the click of the shutter. That’s it! Click. Click. Click. On many occasions, the moment was so fast that the only snapshot you have is in your heart.

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Sometimes you come close to portraying what’s in your heart with the click of the shutter, but even though the shot didn’t capture that single most important second, chances are you might still have a good picture. What’s in your heart at that moment and then trying to produce that capture is another thing all together; searching for that elusive, perfect shot that can make or break a career can quickly become the bane of one’s existence – i.e., the white whale that sinks your ship and kills you in the quest for perfection.  A photographer’s work is often critiqued wholeheartedly – and that discussion can be one of admiration or distaste. You can have an Academy Award winning picture, or one worthy of National Geographic, and / a prestigious publication, and, yet, there will always, always, always, be someone who does not think your picture is worth .02 cents. My opinion, keep on clicking away.

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So, this brings me to this:  What makes one a photographer in the age of digital media?  Career photographers are often classified by their field of expertise, such as:

  •  Landscape
  • Pets
  • Weddings
  • Babies
  • Family
  • Wildlife
  • History
  • Sports
  • War
  • Aerial
  • Water
  • Fashion
  • Porn
  • Sex
  • Lingerie
  • News
  • Gossip
  • Private investigators
  • Crime scenes
  • Forensics
  • Birds
  • Racing
  • Flowers
  • Adventure
  • Food
  • Astronomy
  • Portraits

Career photographers often focus specifically on one of the above (or a multitude of others not listed), but does this mean that if one is a landscape photographer, one cannot also become a portrait photographer or a fashion photographer?  As a society, have we taken what is a priceless opportunity to record a memory, and divided that into too many categories?  What is the main reason for taking a photograph?  Isn’t a photograph an opportunity for the photographer to share his or her soul with the world?  Franco Pagetti stated it best regarding the freedom of the press: “I don’t think press freedom has been eroding in this time period. What is different, however, is the political and social engagement of the photographer. I think there is more of an interest in being visible and winning prizes than in telling stories. There are also more photographers. When I began, the number of photographers that I would meet was very small. Today, everyone takes photos with their cameras or phones. The internet has helped with visibility but it has made everyone a photographer.”  This couldn’t be further from the truth.

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I have an Instagram account myself and I see thousands upon thousands of accounts which individuals and/ or companies post their work.  Personally, I like posting some of my pictures on Instagram. I enjoy it. I have received some pretty good feedback, made some wonderful contacts, and to my surprise gained a pretty good following which I only see growing over the years. I also have had some backlash as well, but I take it in stride.  (After all, someone is always going to reduce your work to .02 cents.)

So many social media photos reflect disorder and even human depravity, which makes me wonder how Matthew Brady or Alexander Gardner would react to the innovation which they helped make available to the public.  I have enjoyed my learning experiences when it comes to taking pictures.  Do I consider myself a photographer?  Even though I thoroughly enjoy taking photographs, I still have much to learn about the process of taking photos.  This goes back to the opening lines of this entry – i.e., what makes one a photographer?  I consider myself a student of photography at the moment.  Even with more than 14,000 pictures posted on Instagram, and countless more in my files, I am still learning; I enjoy what I do and how I feel when I take pictures. It is an intimate thing to photograph a subject whether it is a flower or a human being. I give my heart and soul into the capture of each moment.  It just so happens I am surrounded by nature, so that is what I photograph.

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So, back to social media; there are many individuals who enjoy and love taking photographs, but are not in the main stream media receiving recognition, but yet we enjoy what we do. I have scrolled through hundreds if not thousands of Instagram and Facebook feeds admiring someone else’s works. So, I push the little button that says “like,” and I move on. I leave a short comment if the piece really touched a chord in my heart, but again it costs me nothing to acknowledge someone else’s work.

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Photography is an artistic expression emanating from the photographer; I learn something new each day. There are a lot of fantastic, talented, artistic individuals out there, folks, whose work makes me wonder what the origins are of that particular piece. The artist’s process of photography is what I seek, because I always want to better myself.  It’s not about fame or glory. It’s about learning and finding oneself and surviving on this planet trying to do some good.

 

 

The Macro Classroom

The Macro Classroom

When I am photographing bees or different types of insects gathering nectar, it’s not out of the ordinary to have a few of them crawling on you as you’re taking their picture. With most of these particular shots, my camera lens is around one or two inches from the focal point, so having a reverent appreciation for their habitat and recognizing the dangers help out with being in such close proximity to nature’s miracles. With every organism there are inherit dangers, so when working closely with bees just keep in mind they may sting you out of defense.

With each of these photographs my preference is my Rebel T-5 camera with an 18-55mm lens and a XIT Pro Series Macro attachment lens. I enjoy trying to get the most in-depth angles achievable, when I am involved with macro shooting. The smallest detail can make a picture really stick out – i.e., a water droplet, or a clump of pollen that may have accumulated on the bees tiny little hairs from crawling over the flower.

I am used to having these little insects crawling on me; it just goes with the territory of taking their portraits. So, I just keep clicking away as they buzz around and meander up and down my arms.  Until the colder weather truly arrives, the bees will continue collecting their nectar and the flowers will continue to show life, allowing me to continue practicing my photography.

See you in the next post!

Tranquility vs. Chaos: Segment One

Tranquility vs. Chaos: Segment One

When I am kayaking or on the water I am in my comfort zone. Even more so, when I have a camera in my hand. My fellow photographers may understand this feeling….I look at the environment and 90% of the time I am in a state of awe with what I see. My photos are  a way to share these moments to hopefully inspire someone to believe in something when there is nothing left to believe in.

I take a lot of sky related pictures as well as flower pictures because those are the easiest mediums in which to perfect my art. When I look at the sky, I look back to my past and reflect where I have been and where I want to be.  A childhood is meant to be cherished, not a haunting dream. It relaxes me to watch the clouds change form, or the trees swaying with the leaves bouncing around like they a part in a play or a musical note ready to sound off in a symphony. The sound of the wind whistling through the branches as they are creaking, the leaves falling like a sound of a potato chip being crunched are soothing elements to me. I love the ambiance of the solitude. I can be myself when I am clicking away behind the camera lens. I don’t have to hide what I feel or see, because I am trying to capture that single moment on a picture.

Zen

Natures Romance

When I see a flower in the morning it is the same thing as when I look into to the sky. The dew or a slight mist dripping off the flower petals represents the transition between the morning that was and the day that is yet to be. The flower is cleansing itself to prepare the way for new beginnings. The photo capture of a flower dripping with moisture is sensual in nature and has a romantic quality to it. When love is dry it has no wonders to be discovered and has no desire to be something greater than just a flower. When love is dripping with water it has passion yet to be unleashed and the desire to survive in the harshest of conditions.

These still-life photos represent the way in which I see the world around me. This is my way to express myself in the midst of a world filled with chaos.

See you in the next post!

Hello, blog readers!

Hello, blog readers!

It is possible you may have stumbled upon my blog as a result of Instagram, so thank you for joining me on my venture into the world of blogging.  The blog posts you will read here will contain the view of the world that I capture through the lens, as well as my musings – lovingly interpreted into blog-appropriate prose by my wife.

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This is me – a purposely-hazy photo…
My wife captured this photo last spring in a stance not uncommon to a photographer.
So, what kind of content can you expect?  Similar to the Photo A Day challenge, my goal is to share a photo or two in a weekly blog post, as well as my thought process behind the photo.  I often view photos and wonder about the photographer’s perspective.  Yes, I am able to form my own opinion, but sometimes it is interesting to hear about the artist’s process, so that is what I will share here.  Random musings, photography business photo shoots, and my thoughts on the world through my camera lens will be the theme.
Thank you for stopping by!
                                                          A preview of future content:

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