Sunday, December 13, 2015

Meeting Clyde Butcher

Meeting Clyde Butcher was something of a dream of mine. I’ve been a fan for a handful of years now, am on his email list and I follow him on Facebook. I knew he was hosting the Big Cypress Gallery Fun Swamp Event on October 31 and November 1, so I made plans to spend the weekend in Everglades City at River Wilderness Waterfront Villas so I could meet him in person. To me, Clyde is one of the most influential black and white photographers, or at least his work has influenced me in ways that have changed my life and the way I approach what I do as a photographer.

I decided to attend his Big Cypress Gallery opening extra early to keep from standing in what I thought was going to be a very long line to meet him. Upon arriving at the gallery, there were quite a few people outside speaking with the rangers and signing up for the swamp walk. That day, I was not interested in the swamp walk. I headed on into the gallery where I was greeted pleasantly by a lady at the reception area.  She asked if I was there for the swamp walk. I told her no, whereafter she asked if I was there to meet Clyde. I said yes, and showed her the two books I had purchased from the gallery about two years prior, and how excited I was for Clyde to sign them. She said he would be in the gallery in a few minutes and showed me inside.

I browsed the gallery in complete awe, my usual state while viewing Clyde’s work. I was admiring images he had captured in Jupiter, Florida, and when I looked up, Clyde was entering the room with a cup of tea.

Clyde greeted me pleasantly. After introductions, we began a conversation about photography while he took me on a mini-tour of the gallery and his digitally captured images. In the midst of our conversation, as he was explaining to me about being out in the wild and why gators don’t bother him, he suddenly pointed to one of his images and stated emphatically: “I wanted to capture the whole situation that was going on.” The way he worded that phrase gave me pause. The whole situation. I had never thought of a landscape scene in quite that way before. It gave me a complete understanding of the way he thinks and feels about a scene, even before he sets up his camera. The word "situation" for me meant stillness, silence, and action, all coming together at the same decisive point of view.

That statement made such a profound impact on me. From now on, I will use that knowledge when photographing a landscape. I will ask myself “how do I convey not just what I feel about this scene, but how can I better convey what is before me.” In other words, I must first set up the shot in my consciousness, and then bring the image into the physical world with emotion, vision, and action.

I heard Clyde say something else that day that was equally as profound. He was speaking to another fan who had happened into the room we were in. He too was beaming to meet Clyde. He had a video camera in his hand and asked Clyde permission to shoot some video in the gallery. Clyde gave him the go-ahead, and the man, who spoke with a heavy English accent, asked Clyde “How do you use your camera to take such pictures?” to which Clyde answered by saying "My camera doesn't take the picture, I do. The camera is just an instrument I use to show the world my view." Now that might not be what he said verbatim, but again, I found myself plunged into another “ah ha!” moment, one that was even more profound because in this we share the exact same viewpoint. 

These were just some of the things I have learned from Clyde Butcher. I was like a sponge, soaking up every bit of knowledge that he shared with me. What a great day. He signed my books, and I also purchased one of his prints called "Little Butternut Key 1" The image can be seen here, [Little Butternut Key 1]. He signed the back of the print as well, and I pre-ordered his new book, which will be mailed to me when it is available.

I love the Florida Everglades. It is about a two-hour drive from Pahokee, FL, The town I was born and raised. I find it so amazing that I was raised in this area and had never until fairly recently seen Clyde Butcher’s mesmerizing Everglades landscapes. I discovered Clyde's work about three years ago through a friend who had previously viewed his work and thought I should see it. We went to a showing at the Orlando Museum of Arts in Winter Park Florida, and I was instantly awestruck and amazingly uplifted as I entered the exhibit room. I felt like I was floating around the exhibit, buoyed by complete admiration, and blessed by the presence of each image.

I felt drawn into each print, captivated by each situation. I felt peaceful emotions move through me as I walked in the presence of alligators. Birds held their places on branches and beaches as I journeyed close by, as though my being was a naturally occurring thing. I was able to peer under and around cypress knees, and be dwarfed at the base of huge cypress trees. I moved over silky waters, with clouds that rolled across the sky just below heaven. I strolled through marshes and mangroves, over beaches with dunes on a landscape that went on into infinity. I was no longer in the museum but being pulled into the Dead Lakes, teeming with life, floating over wetlands as I became a part of the Fakahatchee Stand. I traveled Tupelo Creek, Three Sisters Springs, Fish-Eating Creek, and I rested below a memorial tree. And after this short but infinite journey, I floated back into the museum with the mantra playing over and over in my mind: I must meet him, I must meet Clyde Butcher, for I knew what I was seeing was beyond photography and into the mystic. Finally, on October 31, 2015, this dream was realized.

Thank you, Mr. Butcher, for your contribution. The gifts you have given to the world through your photography has inspired me, and no doubt millions of others. Your work whispers to us all not to just keep shooting, but to try and see and feel that invisible, ever-present, ever-peaceful creative energy. Your images so perfectly encapsulate the movements, the essence of that eternal energy. When I view your work, I think: there I am, that peace that exists in the midst of wildness, that which neither man nor animal can disturb.

Here is an image of Clydes new book it arrived on time for me to place in my blog, its more of a photography story book very different from the other books I have purchased of his.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Crowning The Pine, Tale Of The Caracara Bird.

Some things are just meant to be photographed and at times all you have to do is be prepared. I first came upon this caracara bird on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. It was standing in the middle of my lane but as I got close enough to him to determine what type of bird he was he flew off. 

I asked my traveling companion to turn the car around in hopes that maybe he landed up high in the tree. We turned around and headed back and waited a few minutes but he didn’t return so we continued on our journey. 

We had been gone for several hours before heading back down this same two lane country road and to my amazement in the same location I spotted what I first thought to be an eagle flying pretty low in the sky. I keep my camera in the front seat with me and if I am traveling alone it is my passenger seat companion. I became so excited and asked my companion to pull over but the only place she could pull over was in someone’s driveway. I was like “ we are not going to be here that long.”  This made my companion pretty nervous but she pulled into the driveway anyway, but not without letting me know several times we were parked in someone’s driveway.

I jumped out of the car with camera in hand and spotted the bird high up in a pine tree. It was at this point I noticed it was not an eagle but a caracara bird. I fired off several shots hand holding the camera but wanting to get sharper images I took a chance on grabbing my tripod from its bag Laying on the back seat, then in a hurried frenzy I opened up all the legs and placed my camera onto the tripod and to my amazement the caracara waited. I had done what I needed to do and that was show up and be prepared and nature would do the rest as she always does.
To learn more about the Crested Caracara bird click the link:Crested Caracara

Monday, May 11, 2015


The top 20 captivating images you will find are some I captured from the very beginning of my photography endeavor to the present moment. The unyielding desire I possessed in the beginning of my photography journey, is one I hope to use to perfect my craft with each click. I am not a technical person and my biggest teacher has been Guru "Trial and Error." Maybe you have met him/her, they happen to be the very best teacher you could hope for. 

I love the digital era and digital photography is one of those genres one can become as creative as they desire. With digital imaging one is no longer stuck at the mercy of the print shop. We no longer wait and worry for days to see what our images look like. Printing capability is improving more and more each day. Owning a professional printer is a photographers dream along with the best camera and gear on the market. 

In truth all one needs these days, if photography is your dream, is a camera."I say a camera"  because as your images began to take shape and others start commenting from your social media outlets the desire to improve on your new skills or to broaden your horizon will come complete with a desire for a new upgraded camera. Buying a new printer, new and improved camera along with accessories means nothing without first understanding how to operate your equipment to get "Your" desired results. I capitalized "Your" because it's your eye looking through the view finder and "Your" creative vision and the world will take it or leave it. The most important thing is to create it, share it and go make more of it... To purchase or view more of my images please visit: Or visit and like my photography page at:

This image is one of my very first attempts at long exposure, I had my camera,  B+W 3.0 ND filter, it was my trusted filter, I thought of using no other filter at this time because I was so very pleased with the results as you can see. My camera setting was as follows: shutter speed 240 sec, manual mode, f/5.0 with an ISO of 100. The lens I used for this shot was Canon EF-18-55mm. I can't tell you the time of day as I have forgotten and my camera data does not have the correct time. I am of course using a tripod (a very cheap one but it worked) which is a main ingredient for long exposure photography unless you have a very steady hand and can hold your camera over 30 sec or longer. The image above is the end result of my first ever attempt, therefore it was not without my trusted trial and error Guru. I had no book only the info in my head that I read on the web on this technique, a strong desire to master it and my won creative flair. You can acquire filters any place you like but here a few places.
(NOTE: the larger the dimeter of your lens the more money you will spend on a filter)
Taken at a pull off on the way to Big Talbot Island In Jacksonville. My main focus was the bridge using an infrared filter but that did not turnout well, walking back to my car I again pulled out my trusted B+W 3.0 ND filter and this is the end result.
Sometimes you never know where the shot will take you. I had to walk through the woods, climb  down a dirt ledge and carefully walk over slippery mud all while carrying my gear. For this shot I used Lee's Big Stopper to slow the movement of the falls and the clouds. I was aiming for the dreamy look and do believe I succeeded in my attempts. The fall colors in the background further added to the beauty of this magical landscape. I captured several shots as I did not want to climb back down to get to this location nor did I know when in future I would return. Therefore it's very important to make sure you get the shot you envision as there might not be a second chance.  I processed this image using Nik Editing Software as I do with all of my images.  You can find them here:

This is one of those images where the end result brings a smile to your lips. I love the contrast in this image. The way the lights makes the bridge appear yellow when in fact it's white is amazing to me. I set my camera on the tripod for steadiness as I needed to allow the shutter to be open for about 30 sec or until I got my desired results. For this shot there were no filter used but because there were very little light, I needed the shutter to remain open to allow enough light to enter the camera and make the image. It is also very helpful to use a shutter release cable so you do not have to touch your camera which can result in blurred images if your camera shakes even a little.
For this image I once again used Lee's Big Stopper, I find that the urge to go out and capture images might not be during the most popular times of day but with filters, it frees one up to go out whenever the urge hits them. I am a firm believer that when intuition and inspiration hits the freedom to answer should not be hindered by the time of day. Therefore it would not hurt to add to your gear bag a few filters, so that day light will never darken your creative yearnings. I also love to angle my shots so that the obvious is not dead center but placed off to the side. I find this adds depth to the image making it more interesting it also put the attention on other beautiful things within the photo.  More about the Big Stopper can be found here:
I love this image because it's not confined to anyone direction and  speaks to ones desire to get out and see the world,  whether by water, land, or air. It has life, movement and depth. It also says slow down and live in the moment. Once again this is a long exposure image, using the Lee filter and a shutter release cable attached to the camera keeps the camera steady on the tripod. I find that the slightest movement will blur the image. The only thing I wanted blurred was the water. So many of my best images was captured when trying out a new technique and not being afraid to do so. 
Check here for Lee's Big Stopper:

Enjoy the remaining images. All images taken during daylight hours were captured using Lee's Big Stopper. As you can see I love long-exposure photography and try my hand at it every chance I get. You can purchase any of my work at
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Tosochatchee Wildlife Management Area, Orlando Florida.
                                                       Panama City Beach, Florida 
On my photography journey I found myself alone, "meaning" having no one to ask a question as to my techniques, which made this journey one of both laughter and tears. Just when I thought I had the shot correct it was only after I had driven miles back home to find my blunder and the tears would roll.  But I did managed to get this one right.. Photoshop CS5 is my best friend and I love this editing software, which has came with a learning curve all in itself. As they say "Repetition is the mother of skill," and if you keep at something long enough you are bound to master it. 

Sanford Florida Marina. This image I edited using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, My favorite editing software along with PS CS5. 

Panama City Beach, Florida.
Washington Oaks State Park, Palm Coast, Florida and Key West, Florida
In this image I blended the sky taken in Key West Florida with the beach and rock scene from Washington Oaks State Park and this is the end result. 

Captured off of an old Florida roadway in Flagler County. This was one of those images that screamed "TAKE ME HOME TO YOUR LIGHT ROOM" and so I did...

No filter was used for this image just the camera lens, shutter release and tripod, 30 sec exposure time. Capturing images at night one need not bother with a filter, you could but the exposure time would be extremely longer than it needs to be. But I have done that as well, and as stated, I just hung out at the location a long time...

                                                   Lower Cataract Falls in Indiana
This location truly tested my courage, but my desire to capture the image outweighed my fears...I took several shots exposing for the sky alone first, then I reset my camera for the foreground and in PS blended the two images to create it the way I saw it in my head. 

Boat harbor in Titusville Florida. My aim was not just for the boats but the tree in the background that split this image in half.

A fantastic day shooting long-exposure photography can be achieved with clouds like these. I always look for the sky filled with great white puffy clouds screaming to be photographed. They make a great image even greater, when there is movement and they are not just sitting in the sky. Although I usually angle off my shots this one demanded center stage. We also have to learn to listen to how a scene wants to be photographed, so taking a little time so sit and meditate on the image helps to give a clear vision in your minds eye and doing so will gift you with a great image. 
Two images merged to make one, I captured the sky first with a longer shutter speed, then I changed the settings in my camera and photographed the bottom half of the image using a shorter shutter speed, merged and edited them both in Photoshop CS5 and then bounced it over to Nik Silver Pro. This was my first attempt at merging an image and I am happy with the results.  

Early morning sunrise
Overseas Railroad, in the Florida Keys.
Also note: that whenever working with Lee's Big Stopper or any dark filter make sure to focus the shot before putting the filter on.  I usually auto focus on the subject first and then turn the lens to manual and bulb on the camera, using bulb mode allows me to hold the shutter open as long as I desire, using a shutter release cable. If the camera is not set to manual mode it will not be able to capture the shot, per my own experience the camera will not be able to focus through the black lens and will keep searching for a subject.

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