Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gasparilla Parade

  Yesterday I attended my first Gasparilla parade here in Tampa. Every year the city is 'invaded' by pirates who parade through town tossing beads on the crowds they pass by. I planted myself towards the end of the parade route near Curtis Hixon Park in Tampa.  

  Events like this bring out all kinds of characters, most dressed as pirates but others like this guy just see it as an excuse to dress up as whatever they want!

  Here I snagged a photo of Jim Belushi who was the Parades Grand Marshal.  I discovered that it is not so easy to take great photos of a parade as with things moving quickly you need to move quickly! Next year I will focus more on the people attending then the parade itself but here are some other fun photos that give you an idea of what the event is like.

  I had to wait a long time for the parade to get to where I was but when it did, wow was it long, the floats just kept coming and coming and beads were flying everywhere!  I moved down so that I could get some shots with this fun building in the background.

  I enjoyed myself. It is always fun going to events like these where everyone is dressing up and just having a good time. Reminds me of the Renaissance Festival which will be here starting next month.  


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Few from Fort Desoto

  Today I just have a few photos to share from Fort Desoto Park, on of my favorite places. I went there hoping to encounter some interesting wildlife and witness a beautiful sunset.  It was too cloudy to even see the sun much close to sunset and everything was just really quiet there this trip! Still I got a few images I like.
  The top photo is of a stream running through some Mangrove trees.  It was one of those scenes that seem to have a magical quality about it in person-then you take a photo and it just looks like a bunch of trees. After working on it in photo shop though I think I brought some of the magic back. I love the effect of the reflections.

  I took quite a few shots of this bird and this is my favorite of that group. I like the profile and the fact that he/she is sitting on some kind of pine tree just has a nice look to it.

  This is a simple shot of a plant with a wheat-like quality to it. I wanted to capture the late afternoon golden light on which was difficult as the sun kept hiding behind some clouds.

  This is one of those birds that has a long S shaped neck but you wouldn't know it from this shot!  He looks very goofy here and I also love his feet and the barnacles on the wood he is standing on.

  There was a group of plants like this growing pretty close to the ocean. I used my 100mm Macro lens this time. I looks like a flower even though it isn't.  

  Finally there is this shell that was laying in the sand with barnacles on it. I almost didn't post it because in this case I do not feel I have been able to make it look as cool as it did in person! The sparkling powder white sand and the colors of the barnacles was really beautiful in person and they also look very interesting zoomed to 100%!  I am just as always awed by the beauty and complexity of nature!
   I am currently trying to find out where the large white Pelicans that winter in this area are hanging out. I have seen injured ones at the Seabird Sanctuary but not hanging out in the wild. They are huge and rather remind me of storks more than pelicans. I hope I can find some to show you!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Treasure Island Kite Festival!

  Yesterday I met up with some friends at a kite festival on Treasure Island Beach.  It was a wonderful day in the upper 60s here in the Tampa Bay area and I had a wonderful time hanging out on the beach all day! So wonderful to be able to do so when it is not so crazy hot as it is much of the year here. The only bad part was that there was little to no wind, not the best conditions to fly a kite in!

  Even so we still saw some fun and beautiful kites!  Just a very peaceful and beautiful way to spend the day. So odd to me that in our current times many people would rather be sitting in front of a television playing video games all day!

  I really enjoyed watching this white kite. It looked almost like a ghost moving around up there! Just something very peaceful about it!

  This was my favorite kite of the day! Fish and sharks swimming through the sky! And with the sky blue like the water it just really was a cool effect.  And this was not all there was to this kite check out the bottom part that stayed on the ground!

  I never actually saw this parrot one go up in the air! 

  When it got a little later the light was so beautiful shining on everything including this banner. Ha love the little Marvin the Martian one in the background!

  These 3 were flying all about like birds, I believe all controlled by the same person. I managed to capture all of them at once in this shot. They were a lot of fun to watch.

  I am not ever sure what this pinwheel like thing is but I like the effect of freezing it as it spins, just a lot of fun.  I would love to see kite flying get more popular so that whenever I go to the beach can look forward to seeing a different batch of kites like these :)



Friday, January 7, 2011

Fun animals from Busch Gardens

  A few days ago I went to Busch Gardens for the first time. I am 15 minutes away, and have lived here 2 years but just never made it there. I am not really interested in roller coasters and did not realize just how much of the park was dedicated to animals! Finding out that as a Florida resident I can pay one day and go back as many times the rest of the year as I want at no additional charge finally got me there!      

  The challenge for me when I go to zoos or other parks like this to photograph animals is to come back with images that look like I was hanging out in Africa or Australia.  Easier with some animals then others. The cuffs that are placed around the legs of many birds/ducks can really detract from an otherwise beautiful photo. The  amazing new 'content aware fill' feature in Photoshop CS 5 makes it easy to make them go away thus eliminating that problem!   I really liked that I was able to get relatively close to this lion. I was luck to get the first photo as she was sleeping like in the second photo the rest of the time I was there. The male lion I will have to get next time-he was hanging out where I couldn't photograph him except through some glass.

  This little guy had one of those horrible cuffs on his leg but I took it off for him! :)  They really have  long pointy little beaks!

  The area where I took these bird photos was actually my favorite, they are free to fly about under a giant netted ceiling. The background behind this little duck was a waterfall. I love this profile shot!

  At the top of this waterfall a pink spoonbill bird takes a drink! I like this photo because his eye is looking right at the camera!

  How cute is this pudgy little bird!  They had a nice variety of birds here, fun to look around and see what they are up to plus the scene changes quite a bit moment to moment!

  I usually don't bother to photograph sea gulls too much,  they are not a very unique subject but I loved the scenery here and then when he yawned I came a way with a fun unique shot after all!

  Okay it is pretty obvious I am not out in the wild here with this feeding station but I really like this shot-the Giraffes are framed nicely by the trees and the 2 of them are posed almost equally.

Strange friends!

  Two Crocodile tails, a fun, unique and artistic composition. These guys don't move very much or often so they are easy subjects!

  You can also get really close to kangaroos here! Oh how I long to see Australia!  My favorite photo of the day is below.  How cool does this one look?

  I look forward to returning throughout the year to improve my wildlife photography skills. Hope you have enjoyed this collection!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tarpon Springs Epiphany

  Hello, Today I traveled to Tarpon Springs, FL to witness their Epiphany celebration.  It is a big annual event in this beautiful Greek town. The following is copied from the St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral press release about the event:

   Following the Divine Liturgy and Great Blessing of the waters, Archbishop Demetrios, hierarchs, clergy, dignitaries and thousands of people will form an impressive procession to Spring Bayou, with school children in traditional costumes, choir members, Greek Folk dance groups from throughout the Tampa Bay Area. There, an invocation is recited, a young lady releases a white dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit to fly over the Bayou, an additional 105 doves will then be released celebrating the 105 years the holy spirit has bestowed upon Tarpon Springs. The Archbishop will cast a white cross into the water and some seventy-eight young men will dive for the cross, each seeking the honor of retrieving it. The retriever then kneels with the cross 

before the Archbishop for a blessing

  After a rainy night is was a cool but beautiful day. The events takes place at a park on the water that is a wonderful place to visit any day.  In the top photo you can see the string of boats the divers swim to in order to wait for the cross to be toss into the water.

  Here you can see the divers arriving. 

  Here are a few shots of the divers jumping into the water for the first time.

  They then wait for the cross to be thrown into the water by the Archbishop.

  Finally the cross is cast into the water! can you see it?  It is off to the right from the center.

  It was captured very quickly by Louis Pappas. Amazing just how fast this went!

  I took all of these photos from the across the water with my 70-300mm lens.  Therefore I was unable to take any photographs of the procession. This being the first time I attended the event I didn't know what to expect. It is a lot of fun to witness unique celebrations like this!