The World Through My Lens


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Week #26, Theme #24 “Wild Card”

Florida Rat Snake

Last week, photographer friend, Emmett, and I traveled to Sanibel Island where the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is located. Normally a very busy place, in terms of wildlife activity, not so much was going on when we arrived early in the morning. We did get a few shots of white pelicans, yellow-crowned herons, a few ospreys….and also a manatee (I had no idea they were so big!). The highlight of the day (for me) was coming across this 3′-4′ Eastern Rat Snake. They are harmless to humans and prey mostly on small varmints, frogs, lizards, roaches (yay!), and the like. For maybe a minute, this one slithered into an open, sun-lit spot where the lighting was about as good as it gets! I positioned the sun to my back, focused (shooting at about 7fps), hit the shutter trigger, and, poof, just like that, he was gone. It dawned on me once again that good photography, oftentimes, is a matter of being in the right place, at the right time, with the right equipment. I thanked him for posing for me and sent him on his way with a “Happy Hunting” message. What beautiful creatures there are, living all around us. I hear people say all the time, “The only good snake is a dead snake!” Actually, the overwhelming number of snakes in Florida are harmless, though there are a few that are poisonous (cottonmouth, coral, rattlesnake, etc.). So please, when you see one of these beauties, remember that, in all likelihood, it’s harmless. Just step around them and let them do what they do best: control rat and roach populations! Hope you enjoy!


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Week #25, Theme #18 “Door” (Creative)

Church in Michigan (4)

You may think it unusual that I chose this picture, one I took while in Michigan last fall, for Theme #18 “Door”. Let me explain. Many words come to mind when I look at this picture: abandoned, shuttered, sad, weathered, lonely, dead, proud, statuesque (meaning attractively tall and dignified)….I could go on. Don’t you know that there was a time when this church was beautiful in her bright, white coat! Stately! Tall! Proud! And without doubt, those doors were the most important feature of this old church! Why? How else could the people enter?! Oh, if those old doors could just talk to us! What would they say? Would they speak of the wedding celebrations they’ve witnessed? Of the beautiful hymns of old, sung by folks from another generation who loved God? Of the pot-luck dinners held in the basement? Maybe these old doors would cut a joke or two about long-winded preachers or deacons that were meaner than snakes! Having said all that, though I obviously can’t say this with any degree of certainty, I believe the most precious of memories to these old doors would have to do with the cast of souls whom they greeted every Sunday morning. Perhaps many entered broken, lost, hopeless, and flawed (just like us!) but left through these very same doors with a spring in their step, joy in their hearts, peace that passes all understanding and a brighter outlook on life than they’d ever known before! Why? Because these doors ushered folks into a sanctuary, a safe haven, a place where burdens could be lifted and sins could be forgiven, a place where weary life-travelers could hear a message of hope and acceptance, about God’s love for them, of how Jesus, God’s Son, died on the cross for them and rose again and offers them eternal life (I will probably lose half my followers because of this post….but that’s OK)! Yes, these old doors could tell quite a story, I’m sure, if only they could speak. Why did this church die? I don’t know. Some might say, “Ah, who needs it?” But I’d rather think of it like this: there was so much joy and gladness and hope about this place, they had to leave this one, go across town, and build a bigger one!!

 


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Week #24, Theme #6 “Forsaken”

Whitey's Barn

As you know from earlier posts, I was born in south-central Michigan and spent my first 13 years of life there; my three oldest siblings still call the area “home”. In an earlier Challenge, maybe two years ago, I posted a picture of a barn located near where my oldest brother and sister (and their spouses) live. The farmer we all called “Whitey” owned and worked the farm until he passed away several years ago. For a long time, the farmhouse was empty and it looked the kids were going to just let it go. But low and behold, they repaired the old barn last year; gave it a new coat of red paint with white trim and even put a new metal roof on it!

Anyway, last fall, while visiting my siblings, I walked over to the farm place, camera in hand, and found a door to the old barn unlocked. Nobody lives there now so I let myself in the barn, and it was like stepping back in time! Pieces of old farm equipment that looked like they hadn’t been moved in years were scattered about. The smell of old hay filled the cavernous structure as streaks of sunlight poured in through cracks in the old wood siding and the floor boards creaked as I made my way to the room pictured above. I’m not sure how or when this stuff was placed here but I figured it would make for an interesting picture. After reviewing my recent activity and comparing it with my list of themes, I settled on this picture for the theme, “Forsaken”.


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Week #23, Theme#9 “Product”

JD Corn Picker

When I was a boy, growing up in south-central Michigan (between Grand Rapids and Lansing), I always loved the fall of the year….for a number of reasons. Cooler weather was always accompanied by the turning of the leaves (back then you could burn them and to this Michigan boy, there’s nothing that smells better than burning leaves!), hunting season, and of course, the gathering in of the corn, soybeans, etc. I haven’t lived in Michigan for many years now but I go back every three months to visit my older siblings who still live there. I love the harvest time and this past fall, I timed my trip perfectly; the taking in of the corn crop was in full swing.

I chuckle when I look at this picture because, when I was just a boy, the “corn pickers” used by the farmers then (decade of the 50’s) picked two whole rows at a time! Course, farms back then were much smaller; 150 acres was considered a big farm! Most of those smaller farms have been gobbled up and it’s not uncommon nowadays for a farm to consist of several thousands of acres. Obviously, the 2-row corn picker used back in the day would not be of much help given the size of the fields today! Anyway, I used to love listening to the old John Deere Model A, B and C tractors sing their familiar “putt-putt-putt” song, especially if they were pulling a plow and working hard. John Deere combines used today, like the one pictured above, pick 12 rows at a time, have air-conditioned cabs, are guided by GPS, and can just about run themselves!


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Week #22, Theme #30 “Dried”

Dried

While visiting my friend, Emmett, I found this banana tree leaf laying in his yard. Though I didn’t have anything particular in mind when I took the picture (with my iPhone!), I took it simply because I found it interesting. As I was reviewing the themes for our Challenge that I had NOT yet used, and came to Theme #30, “Dried”, I couldn’t help but think of this picture. Amazing that, even in death, something like this can still be a thing of beauty!


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Week #21, Theme #46 “Fear”

Fear

Just before Christmas, I (and my buddy, Emmett) took a day-trip to the Florida Everglades and as usual, I was on the lookout for subjects I could photograph that might be usable in our current Challenge. This sign, posted on a gate at the Clyde Butcher Gallery and Visitor Center (a must-see if you’re ever on old Hwy. 41 in the Everglades), is intended, I’m sure, to strike fear in anybody even thinking about opening the gate or jumping the fence!