Reflecting…

The Pier 1

Today is the one year anniversary of The Pier. This photo was shot at the Jacksonville Beach Pier.  The Pier is my most popular and favored photograph in Jacksonville, being of the pier. It is displayed at Original Piece at the St. Johns Town Center. The reason why I am reflecting on this photo is because it is special to me.

You wouldn’t know looking at this photo, it  was 50° degrees outside when this was shot! Being in Florida you wouldn’t think the beach can get that cold. It was my brother’s first and last time coming to a sunrise shoot with me 🙂 My mentor was also with me, he came to Florida to visit and had never shot the ocean before, so I took him out on an exclusive workshop to the famous Jax Pier. 🙂

When you shoot water and want to get it soft and smooth, you have to use long exposers and before we could shoot this amazing sunrise, we captured what you see below! The garbage man’s truck pulled right into our shot, I don’t think he saw us. 🙂

The photo is special for many reasons. It brought lots of attention to my work, but it was one of the most memorable sunrise’s I had with the greatest company, my grandpa, brother, and mentor.

truck

 

 

The Story Behind The Award-Winning Photograph

 

Let's Chat

“Lets Chat”

This photograph is very special to me. It is one of those photographs that changed my life forever. I have had many requests to write the story on my blog about the pelican photograph. “Lets Chat.” It is an awarding winning photograph. It is hanging in the Hall of Fame in my local wildlife center where I shot the photograph. It won the Cameron Bespolka Photography Award For Young Birders. It also won many peoples hearts.

Before I begin telling you the story about “Lets Chat” I want to tell you that I dedicated thisme and poppy photograph to my grandpa (Poppy) who is very special to me. We have a partnership in my photography, meaning anywhere I go with my photography he goes. He leads me, helps me, and teaches me.  Poppy is not a photographer, but he is a mentor with great knowledge. Every photograph I take he is literly right beside me. There is not one photograph I post on this blog or anywhere  that Poppy has not been beside me. He carries my tripod and I carry my camera (just to remind you I am short so it is difficult to carry all my stuff). when I see something to photograph he takes the tripod off his shoulder, sets up my tripod for me and helps me place my camera, then I shoot and there is my photographs.

Now, Here is the story behind “Let’s Chat…”

In January of 2014 my grandpa and I planned a Saturday to visit Guana Park a local wildlife center and state park. Poppy and I in Guana Park have a secret place where we go and take pictures of birds without having to go hunting in the marsh. All I am going to say is there are always hundreds of birds and all my bird photographs are taken there. I walk up to the birds and shoot some at a distance, but if you are a birding photographer you know that right when you get closer to the bird they fly away. I worked my way down the line of birds on the bridge and one by one they flew away. Then, I saw this rather large pelican at the end. He was looking at me, it was like he was telling me to come to him and God was telling me to walk down to him. I slowly walked towards him. He just stood there like he was waiting for me. I got closer and closer, I actually got so close I thought he was going to fly away, but he didn’t. Thats when I knew that this was special. The pelican was now only 2 feet in front of me and it made me laugh because he was staring at me and it looked like he was trying to talk to me. That’s how the photograph got its name “Lets Chat” because that is how the pelican acted. I soon brought my camera up to me eyes and shot pictures of him. My grandpa was a behind me at the end of the bridge and just couldn’t believe how close I was. After photographing the pelican he looked at me again and flew away right in front of me. It was like he new I got “the shot” and he left like his work here was done. God had it all planned out for me. He knew me getting the picture of this pelican would bring me greatness and it did.

It gets better…

For the second year in a row I entered the Florida Birding and Photo Festival.  I was the youngest photographer in the photo contest. The Florida Birding and Photo Fest is a wonderful event! You get the opportunity to do workshops with talented and famous photographers and enter into the photo contests. I was in the youth photo contest. The cameron awardfestival has a dinner reception and keynote speakers. After dinner they announced the winners of the photo contest and my name was called for the winner of the youth photo contest, but his year the award was dedicated to a young boy named Cameron Bespolka who had passed away in a accident, he was in his early teenage years. His parent’s wanted to dedicate the award for the youth contest to Cameron this year because Cameron Bespolka was a birder. His parent’s presented me the award with great honor, but I was the one honored to have been chosen to be presented with an award in dedication and memory of Cameron Bespolka. That same night of winning the award I met  another mentor and dear friend. He had seen my pelican photograph and was the keynote speaker that night. Bill invited me on scholarship to come to his photography workshop. From there I have continued to travel and learn from Bill. My life changed after that night. “Lets Chat” is a true blessing to me and I thank God everyday.

 

Top Shooting Location: Little Talbot Island

Little Talbot Island

Little Talbot Island

Little Talbot Island is an island full of mystery and wonder. You walk down to the beach and step onto the most beautiful century- old island covered in giant fallen live oak and cedar trees. Thousands of sticks of old drift wood are scattered along the 5 mile long island. The island is located in Amelia Island in Florida. There are trees that have fallen over that are 40 to 60 feet long. All these trees were once alive planted in the ground, but all of the trees grew on the dune fall. Tree skeletons are all over the beach. It is a photographers dream and a photograph every photographer wants to have, especially when you are on the beach at sunrise and sunset. In my photograph, I went to Little Talbot Island at sunset. I arrived in enough time to walk the beach and look around. My grandpa, who always is with me when I photograph took me and my little brother for the adventure. It was a beauty walking the beach full of tree skeletons. Some of the trees were so big you had to climb over them to continue walking the beach. The ocean waves were at low tide and washed against the trees. It is a very peaceful place. Little Talbot Island is famous around the area. There had to have been a dozen photographers that were there on the same adventure I was on. If you are ever in the area I recommend that you bring your camera and tripod because this is a place you need to photograph.

My first photograph above is my favorite shot from that day. I included some more shots below I took when I was exploring the island. These photos are just to show you all the skeleton trees the island had. And I included a photograph of my little brother standing next to the tree, to show you the height of the bottoms of the trees.

I hope you all enjoy my shots!

little talbot island (black and white)

 

little talbot island tree

 

Camera settings: Aperture Mode, F22, ISO 100 for the beach shots.

 

My First Snow!

 

Smokies in the winter

I know this photograph is for Christmas, but I thought I would post this today because of all the cold weather everywhere. This is one of my most favorite and treasured pictures. It was my very first time seeing snow, not only did I see and photograph snow, I got to see enough snow to last me a lifetime! My first snow was 22 inches (up to me knees) when I photographed this picture in the Smoky Mountains near Townsend, Tennessee. It was a moment and day I will never forget. I shot this photograph in November so it was perfect for a Christmas shot. In the picture, you see a house cabin. I was on a photography workshop to the Smoky Mountains with photography friends and my mentors. We were driving in the car when we spotted this cabin. The cabin was actually named “Santa’s Workshop” we didn’t get a chance to go inside, but from what I heard it was a place for you to go in and see what Santa’s workshop looked like. Then a man who looked like Santa Clause walked out of his cabin when we pulled in. We got to meet Santa and he was kind enough to let us photograph his cabin. After we talked to him he disappeared before we could ask to photograph him. As my mentor said to me, “It was a magical day!”

We were in the Smoky Mountains for about 5 days and we were originally there to photograph the colored changing leaves. For the first 3 days it was all orange, brown, yellow, and red leaves everywhere. The forecast had shown a chance snow. I was really excited to hear that because like I had said before I had never seen snow. My mentors and workshop friends were really excited for me for a chance of seeing snow for the first time. Later on, the next day the forecast changed and there was no chance of snow. When we all heard we gathered and prayed for just a little bit of snow so I could just see it. Surely enough, the next morning my grandpa woke me up and told me to look out the window and snow covered everywhere and everything! There was so much snow that there were snow plows plowing the roads! As soon as everyone gathered in the hotel lobby we prayed and thanked God for answering our prayers. God didn’t just give me 1 inch of snow he gave me 22 inches of it!

“He says to the snow, Fall on the earth.” Job 37:6