Blog - Scenery

Kayaking and Nature
29th October 2015
I love to go kayaking. Mind you, I can’t swim, but that doesn’t stop me.

Recently, on vacation in Orlando to see my family, my son in law asked if I wanted to go kayaking. We borrowed kayaks from friends of his and went to King’s Landing in Apopka to put in.

We started out early afternoon, so we had to push to make the 4:00 pick up time at the end of the eight miles. But we did take time to have a sandwich about midway. Going down the river, I was amazed at the peace there. The only noise to be heard was the occasional plane overhead, the movement in the underbrush of animals and the click of the shutters of our cameras.

Even though my arms were aching and my legs were sunburned, I quickly said “yes” when he asked if I wanted to go back again a couple of days later.

This time we were at King’s Landing early in the morning and were on the water by 9am. Being out on the water before others gave us the opportunity to see a bit more this time. We saw turtles lined up on fallen branches and alligators sunning themselves on partially submerged tree trunks.

Since we were paddling downstream, it was a challenge at times to maneuver into position where you could take a few shots. If you were lucky, there were vines that you could grab a hold of and swing the kayak around into position, holding onto them with one hand while taking your shots with the other.

With the warning that we needed to remember that the wildlife was just that – wild - and dangerous to approach (and the knowledge that earlier in the week a woman had an arm ripped off by a gator when she swam into the lily pads and too close to a nest), we backed off when a gator – we estimated him to be about 8 ½ feet – let us know that we shouldn’t come too close. He stayed on the log as we turned our kayaks around at a respectable distance and took our shots.

This was the first time I had been in such close contact with wildlife in their natural environment. And, even though I came away with even more sunburn on my already sunburned legs (although my arms didn’t ache as bad), it was truly an experience that I’ll never forget.
Rain Can Be Your Friend
16th June 2015
There are some advantages to rainy days for photographers. One is that the light is even - no harsh shadows to try to compensate for. Even with the software programs of today, it can sometimes be hard to correct harsh shadows without giving your photos an unrealistic or grainy look.

Another advantage relates to tourist sites: the lack of crowds. We happened to be driving home a couple of weeks ago from the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) region. When driving through Todtnau, your eyes can't help but travel up to one of the most spectacular waterfalls which is easily seen from the road. Driving up the winding road to the waterfall can be challenging though. The parking lot consists of perhaps twenty spots and, when those are full, people park along the side of the road and walk up to the waterfall. I love waterfalls but walking with two heavy backpacks in the heat and juggling for a position to try to photograph the waterfall without a thousand people in the picture is not my idea of fun. The alternative to that is simple:

Go there in the rain...

As I mentioned, we happened to be driving home. As we drove up the winding road, not a car was to be seen. Even the parking lot was empty...totally empty. We parked, put our rubber boots on and walked towards the entrance. The last food stand owner was closing and said "Hallo" as we walked by. I can imagine that he had a good laugh at the tourists walking in the drizzling rain. As we rounded the corner, we could hear the power of the water. The site of the waterfall was incredible. We've been to a few - some natural and some man made. This one ranks towards the top of the list for sheer beauty. And, since it had been raining all day, there was more water than normal.



And we were all alone.

There was a covered hut that protected the camera equipment when the drizzle picked up a bit. While Wolf stayed there, I took the umbrella and balanced it between my shoulder and chin while I shot. I shot the waterfall until the light started to fade. Then I turned around and shot the mountains that were shrouded in the mist. Even with the rain, it couldn't have been a more perfect way to end the day.