Tillie Fowler Regional Park

Spring Forest - Tillie Fowler RP This was my first visit to Tillie Fowler Regional Park to photograph the trees. I had been here before many years ago when we photographed a family for our Photographers For Freedom project. The park is located directly across from NAS Jacksonville off of Hiway 17. We had just experienced a heavy rain and the trails were very wet. There is a large network of nature trails through mixed hardwoods and pines. There are remnants of an old brick road system from a military facility that was originally here.

The park is very large and there is a nature center located at the north end. You could spend a whole day here, exploring and finding lots of interesting trails. It's nice to have this resource so close to the city.

Abandoned Brick Road

Ocala National Forest

Oak Hammock - Ocala National Forest I love visiting the Ocala National Forest in the spring. On first glance the "forest" dose not fit the typical expectation of a classical forest. Miles and miles of pines intersected by dirt roads does not make one think of the deep dark forest of ancient trees. No, Ocala is mostly managed timberland, with very little (if any) old growth trees. Mostly pines and a few oaks, wiregrass, and dirt roads. That's it. Finding points of interest is the fun part, as there are pockets of live oak and other flowering trees interspersed within the property. I found this particular oak hammock on my last visit and was a little unclear where it was located. I drove around retracing what I remembered as my old route and there it was. Going to a site multiple times is always good for me. I always have a new perspective and it allows you to try new things.

I am shooting stitched panoramas and this was a perfect scene for one. I'm also doing more shots looking straight up and again, the subject yielded a lot of interesting material. I'm sure i'll be back again for another visit and some new things to try.

Oak Canopy 148

Oak Canopy 157

Cold morning in Brooklyn

Union Street Bridge It was 20 degrees in Brooklyn today with a brisk wind. Not very pleasant conditions for the guy from Florida but the sun was out and the images were waiting. I took a stroll from the Prospect Park area to Carroll Gardens up and down Union Street. Lots of warehouses, apartments, and typical Brooklyn streetscapes. I was glad to get home after that walk and warm up to a good cup of coffee.

Parking lot, Brooklyn NY


Stardust - Car door constellations

Foggy Morning at the Bluffs

Foggy Morning at The Bluffs The Bluffs is the main parking area for Big Talbot Island State Park. My traditional first shoot of the year usually happens at Big Talbot. I've been coming here for years. Many new improvements such as the completion of the Buccaneer Multi-use Trail have opened up new areas to explore. Once again I had a great time and was not disappointed with the fog.

Electric Oak

Old world craftsmanship

Hugos Frame Shop - Clamps

I've been doing some work for Hugo's Fine Furniture and Interiors and had the privilege of doing some personal shots in their frame shop on Phillips Hiway. I'm really interested in work areas and seeing the environments where real work gets done. This was a fascinating shop, with equipment and tools everywhere. It's fun to discover these places because products don't magically appear out of nowhere. In this case furniture is made by hand from pieces of wood. Wow! No robots, no plastic, no fancy CNC equipment. Just saws, planers, shapers, sanders, and plenty of clamps. I spoke to Steve the shop manager who has been at Hugos for over 30 years. He has an interesting perspective on the importance of making things in a quality way. This was reflected not only in the feel of the shop but in the pieces he was producing. Steve is a true artist. I hope to return because you need time to take all of this in.

Hugos Frame Shop 1 Hugos Frame Shop 2

Hugos Frame Shop 3 Hugos Frame Shop 4

PhotoJAX at CoRK

PhotoJaxLast night the second annual PhotoJAX photography festival had a reception at CoRK. We had lots of people coming through the studio and I appreciate all the nice comments I received on my space and some new work. I made a decision to print some of my large panoramas from our trip to the Canyonlands, namely the image from Goblin Valley State Park and the sunrise from Hiway 24 looking towards Moab. The Goblin print was 30x150 on canvas, the sunrise was 30x96 also on canvas. I also printed a large image taken at Yellowstone back in 2010. This was a burned out area near the Thorofare Trail trailhead. Last minute I printed a 60x40 tree from Sam Taylor State Park in California (near Pt Reyes). Sometimes you just gotta print these things out to see what you have. Images living in your computer can only take you so far...having the print changes everything. Large prints are cool!

At the Cummer Museum

Cummer Museum banners I guess the next best thing to being in the Cummer is being on the Cummer. Two of my images from projects that I've worked on are on huge banners in front of the museum. Dorian first noticed this and pointed it out. I had no idea!

The image for the Cathedral Arts Lobby for the Arts project was taken in my studio in early December. The other image is from my documentation of Jim Draper's Feast of Flowers exhibition. Both of these were really nice shows and I am happy to be a part of them.

Impressions of Place

Southlight Evite - Impressions of Place I installed a new exhibit at Southlight Gallery called Impressions of Place, featuring 17 selected photographs from our recent trip to Hong Kong and Japan. I also presented a 70 image slideshow and artist talk during Art Walk at the gallery. The work was compiled as a series of significant "first impressions" in these incredible places. With over 4000 images to work from, the editing was a challenge. I will be posting the exhibit images in a portfolio on the site along with the artist statement. Hopefully an accompanying book containing the images will be available soon.

More details on this exhibit to come.


Exhibit Layout (click to enlarge)

Folio Weekly Invitational Artist Exhibition

I was fortunate to have two pieces accepted into this prestigious exhibit at the Cummer Museum of Art. I struggled during the submission process to decide on which pieces to propose. I always find it difficult to sort through work. Do you propose what you think others would like, or work that you truly like? I find it best to enlist the help of others. I'm more apt to choose something that is new rather than something that is richer or more meaningful. I tire of looking at my older pieces so fresh always seems best, which doesn't always equate to a good selection. Earlier this year I ventured out to several local parks and forests. On one very fruitful trip at the Ocala National Forest I captured several images that ended up in my collection of keepers. Sometimes you are blessed with good days. One photograph accepted is titled Forest Renewal and is a panoramic of a pine forest that was just recently burned to clear the underbrush. Earlier in the day I passed some work crews setting small fires at the base of the trees to eliminate the underbrush. The resulting scene left an eerie veil of smoke above the gray ashes and green pine needles.

Doug Eng - Cummer Museum - Forest Renewal

The second photograph is titled Dancing Oaks. The National Forest is essentially a managed forest with pines which stretch out forever. Dirt roads crisscross the area forming a recreational oasis for ATVs and dirt bikes. While driving the dirt roads there is always an occasional oak or other hardwood tree, perhaps left over from earlier times or somehow transplanted there. I saw a grove of oak trees from the road and followed a small path to the area. There were roughly 30 oak trees growing in close proximity in the middle of the pines.

Doug Eng - Cummer Museum - DancingOaks

Opening night at the Cummer was exciting and the museum was packed. It was great to actually have a museum opening and to be in the company of many distinguished local artists.

Sea Ranch California

Sea Ranch is one of those idyllic places that evoke calm, peace, and the California lifestyle. It is a developed community on the coast started in the 1960s whose purpose was to preserve the area's natural beauty. Some noted architects and landscape architects planned for the construction of about 2400 homes along 10 miles of the California coast. This caused quite a stir and became the impetus for the California Coastal Commission. McClure's Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore

We were lucky enough to be invited to stay at a rental at Sea Ranch for a week. We flew to San Francisco and made our way up the coast, first stopping at Point Reyes National Seashore and Sam Taylor State Park, two of my favorite spots. There always seems to be something interesting in these areas, although I never can get the weather I want. Too much sun! We planned to shoot the sunset at McClures Beach on the northern tip. I had the beach all to myself.

Sam Taylor State Park, Devil's Gulch trail

We stayed at a small B&B called the Bear Valley Inn, which was very convenient to the park. The room was nice and it's always fun to deviate from the Best Western now and then. The next morning we woke up early and headed to Sam Taylor State Park. I was hoping for some fog but the sun came up strong so the shooting time was limited. Sam Taylor has many old growth redwoods and some other older hardwoods. You can always find something in there, but the traffic on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. gets busy.

Sea Ranch sunset

Our rental at Sea Ranch was an exquisite house called Breakers Point with this view from the deck. We couldn't ask for a lovelier place. While there we made a few side trips to Armstrong Woods State Park, Fort Ross, and Mendocino. We also had fun exploring some of the smaller roads and finding some great forests.

Armstrong Woods SP .   Redwoods - Stewarts Pt Road

Sonoma Fences at Ft Ross

First stop, San Francisco

Donald is getting married and our first stop is the Bay area to do the wedding and then it's onwards to Hong Kong and Japan. We've been planning this trip for months. While in San Francisco I always try to get a skyline shot from Treasure Island but alas, it was a foggy morning and nothing was visible. So much for getting up at 5 am! The night of the reception we experienced a great sunset. I tried to coax the newlyweds out of the restaurant for a shot but was unsuccessful. So I enjoyed it all by myself. This is from the Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant near Marina Park in Emeryville. Marina Park, Emeryville

The next morning I took mom to the airport for an early flight so I made sure I stopped at Twin Peaks on the way home. A great vista but the light was blinding.

View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks

Then a quick stop at Telegraph Hill.

View from Telegraph Hill, San Francisco

San Francisco never ceases to have images to offer. Some cities are just like that.

Alpine Groves and other nearby creeks

Continuing on my quest to visit local spots to capture the spring foliage, I stopped first at Alpine Groves Park located in Switzerland, FL. This was the site of an old citrus processing plant and the old barn and some equipment are still there. The park has a great dock overlooking the St. Johns and some wonderful moss-laden trees. This tree was on the river bank as seen from the dock. Alpine Groves - Spanish Moss

From here I drove along Bishop Estates Rd. to the Flora Branch Creek bridge. This is a favorite road for cyclists and I've ridden through this area many times. More great leaf texture and color.

Flora Branch Creek

The final stop was the Bartram Canoe Trail trailhead off of Racetrack Road. It was quiet and peaceful with only the roar of the cars above. Had some lunch, took some pics, and then headed back to the studio. A great morning out.

Durbin Creek

Acosta night shots

Just an evening of shooting from the Acosta Bridge. Not much in the way of clouds tonight, so how about a traffic taillight shot? 10 sec @ f/18, 70-200mm f/2.8L @ 70 mm

Acosta Bridge tail lights

Julington Durbin Preserve

This winter/spring I've made a commitment to get out to some new areas. Although I should be working on my other projects, I always seem to have an excuse for not photographing what's in my backyard. This weekend I attended a walking tour of the Julington Durbin Preserve with artist Jim Draper and naturalist Bill Belleville. This was the first time to this park and I was surprised that something so nice was so close to home. The meetup was at noon, so as suspected, the sun was in full force with no clouds. I decided to just focus on some of the leafless trees against the blue sky. The best part of the outing was finding this location, as I know it will yield some great images in the future.

Durbin Creek - Waiting for Spring

On February 3 I made a follow-up visit in the early morning. The light was much better. This is Durbin Creek with some bright green leaves just starting out. How I love the early spring in Florida!

Spring - DurbinCreek

Sunrise at Jax Beach Pier

Jax Beach Pier Sunrise It's been a while since I updated the blog. I apologize to all of you who frequent my site to see what's going on. I hope you didn't give up on me. I don't know why we quit blogging...I think everyone who has a blog gets complacent once in a while. We'll see if I can get back on track.

Yesterday morning I decided to catch sunrise at the Jacksonville Beach Pier. It's something I've never done before, in fact, I don't know if I've ever watched the sun come up at the beach. Getting up early is tough for me. Add to that a 45 minute drive and it becomes tougher. The alarm rang at 5 AM and I did debate the decision, but I wanted to do this. I usually don't plan my days out. I've been lucky most of the time when I go out early. This morning was no exception. A front had come through yesterday and I was hoping for some clouds, but as I drove out in the darkness all I could see in the sky were stars. Bad sign. I hoped for the best and kept driving.

The Jax Beach Pier parking lot is at the corner of 4th Ave N and 1st St. Parking is free. There were a few surfers there although the wind was very calm and things were pretty flat. I didn't know what to expect and so I grabbed the tripod and a 70-200, with my 24-70 mounted on the camera. I always start out wide until I see what's going on. I took a few shots on the north side of the pier and then walked over to the south. There was another photographer there which ends up being problematic because usually other photographers gravitate to the spots that are naturally good view points and they just park themselves there. Finding other positions where you are not including them in your image can be a challenge. I like to walk around, but this couple stayed in the same spot all morning.

The pre-dawn sky was great and as sunrise approached the sky began to light up. There was a small band of clouds right above the horizon which is good. If there are no clouds, once the sun comes up it will burn out and attempts to shoot in that direction. I knew I would get multiple chances to include the full sky in my compositions as the sun rose and went behind the clouds. As the morning progressed I also noticed a bank of clouds from the north heading south. What was a perfectly clear sky would eventually be filled with clouds. Perfect.

After shooting for about an hour around the pier I decided to pay the $1 and walk onto the pier itself. There were a few people fishing but for the most part it was pretty empty. By this time the clouds had made their way across the sky and I waited patiently for the sun to be obstructed. You can see from the images that the light was great. Around 9:00 I decided to call it a day. I had taken about 140 images and was ready for breakfast at the Beach Hut Cafe on 3rd St (and 13th Ave). A great place for a home cooked breakfast. I'm hoping to get out to the beach more in 2012, and to focus on more regional areas.

Jax Beach Pier - South side, pre-dawn Jax Beach Pier - North side

Jax Beach Pier - on the pier Jax Beach Pier - clouds and surf

Jax Beach Pier - waiting for the big one

July 4th - Family, fun, and fireworks

BuckeyeLakeFireworks_2011-0702-037 BuckeyeLakeFireworks_2011-0702-052 BuckeyeLakeFireworks_2011-0702-042

July 4th is always a good holiday to divide up the year and reflect on what has happened and what is yet to come. I was fortunate to leave the heat and humidity of Jacksonville to spend a few days with Diana's in-laws and Dorian's brother in Ohio. We enjoyed fireworks on July 1 (an early tradition up here) and 3 days of continuous feasting. Being with family always has it's benefits.

Fireworks photography is always fun if you can find a decent spot and the weather cooperates. I regret all those summers I spent in Montreal and never photographed the International Fireworks Festival competitions...oh how I wished I was there for the summer. I experienced the fireworks at Buckeye Lake which is about 40 miles west of Columbus. They say the show is one of the best in the area and it did not disappoint. Almost 30 minutes of explosions. We were able to view them from a house on the lake, no long wait for a spot. After some dismal results with my 24-70 lens, I switched over to my 70-200 and went for some closer shots and details. Not having a clear view of the lake posed some challenges and I wasn't able to get many shots with the reflections in the water.

There are lots of articles on camera setup for fireworks (just Google "fireworks photography"). My settings were ISO 400, f/10, with an average 2 sec exposure. Cable release and tripod are essential. You want to be careful of not blowing out the highlights, so these settings depend somewhat on the distance you are from the show and the number of explosions happening at one time. Be prepared to adjust the ISO and aperture to account for this (check your histogram or flashing overexposure warning). Another convenient setting is to use your "B" mode and just count down the seconds. This gives you more control over when you want to stop the exposure, especially when you see another firework starting to enter the frame. I actually forgot about using "B" and many of my shots ended up with a new firework entering the frame, something to remember. I'm paranoid about focus, and since everything is pitch black you wonder what you should be focused on. You can pretty much go to infinity and just back off a tad. Shooting at f/8 or above will ensure that the lights will be in sharp focus.

While waiting for the show you can always play around with moving your camera on the surrounding lights. This will help you warm up and to get an idea of the exposure.

Buckeye Lake Fireworks - Shorelights

I post-processed all images in Lightroom and needed to increase the Blacks and Vibrance. Of course some cropping helps to isolate the patterns. I was thankful for the resolution on the 5D2, zooming in on some of the light trails revealed some very interesting patterns. Shooting tight with the telephoto gives a different perspective on the scene. I know that we get caught up in the grandeur of the big circular clouds, but try to isolate for a different look. The half hour show went by quickly. It's nice to have images to relive the moment.

BuckeyeLakeFireworks_2011-0702-022 BuckeyeLakeFireworks_2011-0702-050

White Oak Conservation Center - Arts and the Environment

White Oak Conservation Center, Yulee FL White Oak, Annie Leibovitz

45 miles north of Jacksonville, on border of Florida and Georgia along the St. Mary's River, lay 7000 acres of pristine woodlands and fields. Housed on this compound is an amazing assortment of animals, studios, and a wildlife conservation center. This is White Oak, home to white rhinos, giraffes, okapis, cheetahs, and the Baryshnikov Dance Studio. I was asked by Cinda Sherman of Arbus Magazine to accompany her to view the Jacksonville University MFA dance troop completing a week long summer retreat. It was my first time to White Oak, although I've heard about the animals many times. I did not connect Annie Leibovitz's famous "White Oak Dance Project" with this location. Here she photographed Baryshnikov and other famous dancers back in the 90's. I was feeling the power of the place. I also met dance legend David Parsons. The facility is quite amazing but the combination of environmental and arts advocacy is what struck me as unique. And to know that this center is so close to Jacksonville! More on White Oak can be found here. I'm thankful that the Gilman family chose to invest in such a project.

White Oak Dance 1 White Oak Dance 2 White Oak Dance 3

The morning was spent photographing the dancers as they went through a warm-up and choreography exercise. The room was quite large and I brought 2 Speedlights. I really didn't know what to expect and needed to travel light. I set one up on opposites sides of the dance floor and just worked them from there. I wanted to be as unobtrusive as possible. I have gained quite an appreciation for dance and enjoy the energy and flowing controlled movement of the dancers. It is beautiful to watch. I find a great aesthetic to how the individual bodies and arms, torsos, and legs are moved into positions and then as each dancer makes contact and positions themselves in proximity to the other dancers, the composition becomes alive. This is fascinating.

White Oak Okapi 1 White Oak Okapi 2 White Oak Okapi 3

After about an hour of photography we were given a tour of the okapi area, only one of several breeding centers for endangered and threatened animals. We got to be up close and personal with a group of okapis, gentle animals related to the giraffe but partially striped like a zebra.

I was exhausted after the day, but totally inspired not only by the dancers but by the history of the facility for dance, photography, and conservation. What a legacy. I also found and ordered Leibovitz's White Oak book on eBay. Can't wait to get it.

We really need some rain

Last Cloud over Jacksonville - from the County Dock in Mandarin FLIt's been very dry this summer and our area of town (Mandarin) seems to be dodging the afternoon showers all week. I drove through a deluge coming home today but only a few drops fell in the neighborhood. I took a drive out to one of my favorite spots down the road to check out the clouds hoping to see some monster rain approaching. Lots of gray skies and this one cloud over the skyline. No more rain for today...let's see what tomorrow brings.

Friendship Fountain flows again!

Friendship Fountain Jacksonville FL Jacksonville's icon, Friendship Fountain is back in business after many years of "barely working". The fountain opened in 1965 to much hoopla and I remember it being a very big deal when growing up. The fountain was always the gateway to our city, and we were all very proud of it. So when it came time for the renovation planning in the middle of the recession, you can imagine the battle that had to be won. 3.1 million is the final price tag, but I'm glad we did it. We need symbols that we can be proud of, it lifts the spirit and is a joy to see. I hope everyone in Jacksonville comes downtown to see this new incarnation.

My only beef with the fountain is the music and light show. Listening to patriotic music (Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" among many other favorites) and the disco lighting is a bit much. Knowing that the whole system is programmable through some nifty software makes you want to go in and do something really creative. I'm inquiring as to how we can get some visual artists and musicians involved in improving the quality of the shows.

Memorial Park

Memorial Park in Riverside is one of the most photographed parks in Jacksonville. It is located at the "bend" in Riverside Avenue and features a statue "Life" by Charles Adrian Pillars. The park was actually designed by the Olmstead Brothers who's father, Fredrick Law Olmstead designed many of the famous parks in the US (Central Park, the Washington Mall, etc.). Memorial Park is dedicated to the Floridians who perished in WW1. Memorial Park - orange sky

The park faces South, S-E so the trees on either side are mostly in shade except for the late afternoon. Lots of people are usually milling around, fishing, and taking pictures. To find a different shot is challenging, and dodging the people is almost impossible even in the early morning or evening. My first attempt came during the week that several wildfires were burning in the Okeefenokee Swamp creating a weird orange cast to a cloudless sky sunset. I ended up replacing the sky with an orange gradient in Photoshop for the final image. The two compositions I worked with are the standard symmetrical front shot and another shot that had the Park Lane Condominium opposing the statue. Both were shot as 3 shot panoramas.

Memorial Park - condos on right

Memorial Park - client choice