Lens-Artist Challenge: Water

I like it when there is congruence in my life – like a foggy night and the new Lens-Artist Challenge being “water.” The cool gulf water temperatures and a couple of warmer nights here in subtropical southern Florida created fog. I was delighted by it Saturday night as I was closing the sliding doors and by morning the fog had collected in the screens of the lanai. I took several photos, none of which were satisfactory. So goes photography, but now I know what settings I need to change. Maybe sometime soon we will have similar conditions so I can practice again.

During the first six weeks of this year I fought pain, depression, and fatigue but I now seem to be coming out of my watery depths, taking a more active interest in my narrow world. I am maintaining my precarious balance between being aware of what is going on in the broader world while withdrawing enough to not feel burdened by things I can’t control. Something like how I practice my balance exercise of standing on one foot while fighting to stay standing, an exercise to decrease my chances of falling.

Our life seemed to turn back to a more normal state last week when we decided to walk in the botanical garden two or three times a week instead of once. I suggested it because Jim had become very inactive since being diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis late last summer. I understand how hard it is to come to terms with a chronic illness and MG is difficult because the symptoms (weakening of voluntary muscles) compound the normal loss of functioning caused by aging. He felt feeble and afraid. I found a journal article on exercise and MG that reported inconclusive findings on whether exercise helps with MG symptoms but it did reiterate the many advantages of exercise on health in general. I decided that gentle walking in a beautiful garden that he enjoys could only be helpful. Besides, the Naples Botanical Garden provides me with ample opportunities to collect photographs on the topic of water.

I have lived in Michigan my whole life so I have a brain chocked full of memories of spending time close to, on and in lakes and streams during my 77 years of life. Now I spend half the year in southern Florida where water defines life and I am thrilled to be emersed in the ecosystem of the Everglades and the Gulf of Mexico coast. Water is a major factor that has defined who I am, and I experience a strong emotional response when I am near bodies of water.

There are eight small bodies of water in the Naples Botanical Garden where various water plants grow, most having lotus or water lilies plus two larger lakes. Most of my photography in the garden is macro, focusing on the beautiful flowers and foliage but lately I have been drawn to landscapes, in an attempt to capture the personality of the garden. These landscapes also seem to express how the water in the garden impacts on my emotions.

Upper & Lower Lily Ponds in the Brazilian Garden. These ponds are the first to capture the heat of the morning sun.
View of the Water Garden as I am sitting at the cafe eating a delicious scone.
First of three connected ponds in the Asian Garden.
Waterfalls taking water from the upper lily pond to Lake Tupke in the Florida Garden. Southern Florida is very flat so water falls need to be engineered. The topography of the garden was formed by dredging dirt from where the architects wanted lakes. This dirt, along with imported rocks, make it possible to hear the delightful sound of falling water in almost all parts of the garden.
The upper lily pond, that feeds a smaller lily pond a bit below, that feeds the falls in the photo above, that feeds a stone-lined brook that bubbles its way to the lake in the distance, all of which creates the music of water.
When rainwater meets the water of a lily pond via the tiled roof of the shelter in the Asian Garden. What fun I had photographing the patterns formed by water drops among the reflections of light and bordering vegetation on the water surface.

The Botanical Garden isn’t the only place I feel the impact of water on my mind and soul. We make a few trips to the Gulf of Mexico beach where I enjoy the morning or evening light and also the excitement when winds are strong, churning up waves.

The Gulf of Mexico on a windy day.
Peace washes over me as I stroll along the warm gentle water as the sun is setting.

The also go to the protected lands of the Everglades a couple of times a year. This is one of my favorite spots, where I look for wading birds who are feeding in the shallow waters and alligators who are sunning themselves in the cooler winter weather. When I have visited in late Spring I like to listen to the eerie bird calls and rustling from the brush in the near distance where hatchlings are being cared for.

Sweetwater Strand, Loop Road, Everglades

What fun to participate in this week’s Lens-Artist Photography Challenge: Water. Click on the link to share your photography of water.

A Blustery Day at the Beach

The wind was blowing hard, and the waves were rumbling.

A blow-your-hat-off blustery day at the beach.

On Thursday night a front went through that lowered the temperature and humidity here in southern Florida. I sat on the lanai watching the lightening and listening to the thunder exploding and rumbling around us and felt cool rain, misted through the screens, fall on my warm skin. Jim joined me so we ooh-ed and wow-ed together, then laughed out loud.

The next morning Jim saw on the local news that the waves were 11 feet high at the pier but I had physical therapy so I couldn’t think about checking it out. That evening we went for supper at Alice Sweetwater (isn’t that a wonderful name for a pub/restaurant) and split a wonderful baked cod with crab stuffing. Our supper was so very enjoyable but I was also thinking about our plan to go to the beach to see if the waves were still high. High waves are a treat for me because the Gulf is generally calmer than the Atlantic coast on the other side of Florida.

We were over an hour early for sunset but the sun was low, sending rays down through the clouds, and down the beach to the right were some wind surfers taking advantage of the wind and waves.

Is that an urban skyline reflected on the beach? Naples doesn’t have building more than three stories high.

The Naples beach is a long, public beach with every east/west street ending at the beach with parking. Where we parked the beach was narrower than at other places and it was close to high tide. I had to point one eye down to make sure the surf didn’t come up over my shoes as I was keeping my other eye looking through the viewfinder. We have had a super tide (when high tide, a full moon, and extreme change in atmospheric pressure converge) and high tides due to hurricanes but I have never been on the beach when it was this high.

What fun to watch the waves reach out long onto the beach and then retreat, only to return to stretch even further, leaving behind white foam that would blow further inward toward the high side of the beach.

Is that snow I see?

This sand structure touches my personal story somehow, but I’m not sure how. If and when I figure it out I can use this as the lead photo for, as Paul Harvey used to say, “and that’s the rest of the story.”

Thank you, Amy, for this wonderful Lens-Artist Challenge: A Day of my Week. Check out her post for her beautiful images, links to other’s posts, and to participate yourself.

One Photo in how many ways?

We were on Mission Peninsula that juts into Grand Traverse Bay north of Traverse City in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Wow – a lot of words to say that were spending a few days camping “up north” – by Lake Michigan. But when I write my posts my audience is scattered around the world and “up north” may not mean much. When I am talking with friends here in southern Michigan, it goes like this: “Where did you go last week?” “Oh, up north.” “Did you go to the U.P.?” “Only for a day trip; we stayed by Traverse City.” “We love it up there – did you go to…?” Everyone in Michigan has perfect images in their memories of “up north” and all that is need is a bit of clarification as to where exactly up north is – then the listener fills in the rest.

The images I am using of up north for Tina’s Lens-Artist Challenge – One Photo, Two Ways were taken at a boat launch and small public marina down a side road on the Mission Peninsula. I stood on the dock with my camera, looking for interesting pieces of the land/waterscape. What caught my attention was a leaf floating in the water, carried along by a fairly strong current. I had to shoot quickly because the leaf was moving and twisting quickly away from me. The photo above is one that I like a lot because it captures the movement that was taking place. This one is as it was when I downloaded it to my computer – but what you get on my blog is never one photo one way. I love post processing so I always have one photo in two, three, or maybe even four ways.

The second way involved cropping the photo to decrease the amount of water portraying the light and shadows of the rocky bottom so that the leaf is the main attraction and the light and shadows support the main subject by providing the context of movement. I also changed the angle of the photo to better illustrate the rolling nature of the leaf’s movement. I think the angle is more pleasing to the eye than the vertical. I also used the spot remover to decrease (but not remove) the black line off the tip of the leaf and the line to the middle, left of the leaf by decreasing the opacity just a little.

I wondered how this version would present in black & white so that became the third way – and I think the water becomes more of the focus as the lack of color creates less contrast between water and light and with a greater sense of movement. This would be good if I wanted to present an image with more tension. An orange filter gave it an amount of contrast that I really liked.

I generally prefer color to b&w but sometimes I find it fun to desaturate the color. For the next option I both decreased the vibrance and increased the saturation a little bit leaving a suggestion of color.

As the leaf tumbled and moved on the current, it became flat. This would be good if I wanted the shape and coloring of the leaf to be the primary subject. The only change I made from the original was to crop it. The bottom of the lake is also different, the water deeper and different rocks reflecting light.

The next photo was taken just 4 seconds later but it made a great difference especially in the variations of light, dark and color. There are also some ripples on the surface at the lower left quadrant, and they create lines that increase the sense of movement of the water and also move the eye to the main subject. I increased the exposure for this image and used the Tone highlight to brighten the leaf.

This exercise taught me that sometimes I don’t choose which version of a photograph that I like the best, but which one serves the purpose I have. This series of photos would be ones I would use to illustrate a concept or life experience I want to write about. Depending on the mood of my written subject, any one could work.

Silver and White on Manitoulin Island

The month of June is about over meaning that Jude will soon be changing her “white & silver” Life in Coulor to something else for July. I have been paralyzed by options as I scanned some of my favorite files. Today I told myself to just do it – so I picked a day on Manitoulin Island in Canada’s side of the Great Lakes. We have been thinking of returning but can’t until both countries decide that the pandemic is controlled enough to open the border. Doing this post seemed to sooth my soul’s need to soak in the calming atmosphere of the island.

Morning “Rush Hour” on a Quiet Manitoulin Island Lake in Canada
Bridal Falls
Silver Tin Roof on a Red Barn
A White Boat Waiting

I hope these photos helped you get a feel of this space in time and colour.