Duck, Duck, Goose

No, this is not a goose but rather a blue billed duck. It probably is the female of Oxyura australis. But maybe not. I could not see the tail feathers, which on the real deal are sort of spiky. This guy was living at Flamingo Gardens, in Davie, Florida near Ft. Lauderdale.

I used her as the basis for a digital painting – Corel Painter and Photoshop were used.

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Down the Stretch

Over the years, I have taken many photos at the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, NY. It is one of the most beautiful and family friendly race tracks in the US. Opened officially in 1863, it is the oldest race courses in the country that runs a full season with the top horse flesh and jocks.

The Travers (named after one of the founders of the course – another founder was Cornelius Vanderbuilt) is considered the “4th leg” of the Triple Crown and is also sometimes called the Midsummer Derby. It is televised on national TV. And many of the famous horses have failed at Saratoga – the first was triple crown winner Gallant Fox bested by a horse called Jim Dandy. Thus, Saratoga’s nickname of “the graveyard of champions” was born. BTW, the “Jim Dandy” is another of the race courses big races. At least seven major motion pictures had scenes at the course, including the bond flick, Diamonds are Forever.

For locals, the advertising slogan – the August place to be – means summer fun, not to mention those wonderful give-a-ways. Now that the racing season was extended to July, we have “the summer place to be” (ugh! as a slogan). The best place for the average photographer who does not have press credentials is at the top of the stretch. The photo to the left was taken from this position. It is easy to reach if you shove past the diners at the restaurant there. It has a great vantage point of the horses full throttle at the turn. The next best place is just before the finish line – see the photo above. But get there early because the crowds will get you (Saratoga can get 50,000 people on the best dates). Both images here were converted into a digital painting using my magic fingers.

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A Little Snow Won’t Hurt

winter-bench smLast week my eldest daughter was “stranded” here in Florida for several days due to a big snow storm up north. While I have not personally witnessed a lot of snow in the past 13 years, I do remember – with some fondness – taking photos in the snow.

So I searched around in my virtual shoebox full of old photos for one I took 16 years ago. I was teaching in a technical school in Albany and we had a wonderful fluffy snowstorm. Out back of the building was this picnic bench and a nice pine tree covered with snow. A great photo op. Enjoy.

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Artist and Muse

girl and painter painter smDoes the artist on the left look like the artwork she is copying? Is the artist wearing a talis?  Where is the world is this pair? Well, to answer these questions: the girl on the left is a student in St. Petersburg, Russia. The artist seems to have on a shawl to guard against the drafts. And, this is all taking place in the Hermitage Museum where students are allowed to practice in front of famous and quite valuable pieces until the place officially opens for business in the morning. We were there first thing in the am. On the afternoon that we were there, a certain president with the initials V.P. was visiting, too.

On the right is an image of an artist painting a girl. A sort of alternative to the one on the left. Where is this one? In the Piazza Navona in Rome where you can see the Bernini fountains, lots of cafés and artists (with art works for sale, of course). And a lively crowd of people. Both off these images represent an approach to “street” or candid photography.

 

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Morikami Falls

P3110043-Edit-Edit-EditHere is a photo of a water feature near the main building at the Morikami. According to the official Morikami map, “this dramatic waterfall combines massive boulders and flowing water in a composition of dynamic tensions.” Morikami Falls was funded by several local businesses.

The falls is a pleasantly serene area with a modest waterfall leading to a pool of water, rocks and plants. It would be a much nicer garden if it were not located directly on one of the main pathways near the entrance to the park. You can see a more detail view by clicking on the image.

This image was enhanced with Color Efex Pro 4 and Snap Art 4.

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Kotoji Lantern

P3110037-Edit-Edit-2This stone lantern is a symbol of Japanese creative symmetry in stone. It is named Kotoji meaning “harp tuner” since the two legs on which the body of the lantern stands resemble the tuning forks (or moveable bridges) of the Japanese musical instrument “Koto”.

It is located in Modern Romantic Garden in the Morikami. This type of garden was in vogue during the Meiji period of Japanese culture (late 19th-early 20th century). I processed the image in Alien Skin’s Exposure 2 software with fine tuning in Adobe Lightroom CC. Click to see a larger version.

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Morikami Gardens

P3110003-Edit-Edit-EditWe went to the Morikami Gardens and Museum in Delray Beach, Fl. This is a photo of the Wisdom Ring. This Wisdom Ring is a replica of a 500-year-old stone lantern that has become a symbol of Miyazu, Delray Beach’s sister city in Japan.

The original Wisdom Ring, or Chie no Wa in Japanese, stands at a temple dedicated to the Buddhist deity of wisdom, Monju. This replica was donated by citizens of Miyazu to commemorate Morikami Museum’s 20th anniversary in 1997.

I did have a little fun with this image: some work with Color Efex Pro 4 plus Snap Art 4. What do you think? Click on the image to see a larger view.

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Gator in Waiting

gator reflectionAlligators are a staple of Florida wildlife. This guy is typical of the breed (Alligator mississippiensis) and is commonly called the American alligator. This photo was taken not too far from my home in a location we call “Loop Road”. The American alligator grows no more than 15 ft. long as an adult.

Gators are at the top of the food chain in their habitat and eat pretty much anything they can get their considerable jaws around, including fish, frogs, birds, reptiles and even the occasional mammal. They won’t bother you unless you bother them. But don’t get between one and their kids or you might not survive the encounter. They are the official reptile of Florida (and two other states – can you name them?)

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The Poo Ladies

poo ladiesAt the Renaissance Festival there are quite a few roving performers dressed in “period” costume and addressing the paying customers in character. These three lovely ladies sang a song clarifying their role as poo removers. Very charming in a disgusting sort of way. And very funny, too.

The original photo was brought into Corel Painter to remove the background annoyances and replace with a “painted” shim. The ladies were brought back into relief with another layer and the entire photo enhanced a bit with Color Efex Pro 4. No Photoshopping allowed.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Renaissance Festival

P3040056-EditOur photo buddies celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Florida Renaissance Festival by spending today enjoying the event and taking lots of pictures. Held in Deerfield Beach, Florida, the Festival tries to recreate life in the 16th century (but with a decided contemporary flare).

There are over 100 performers and lots of tents with medieval stuff to look at and buy. We saw dancers and singers, glass blowers and cannoneers. There was a horse show and a high wire act. And of course, plenty of food and drink available.

 

pirate-EditAt least 20% of the paying guests were dressed up in period costumes with lots of busts and leather in display. So were pirates, steampunk, Celtic folk and vikings. The photo above is of a fellow working in an apothecary and was taken in his “shop”. The pirate looks a lot like a character out of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Click on the images to see larger versions.

All photos taken with my trusty Olympus OMD EM5 II and the 12-40 Pro lens.

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