Southern Gothic: Beaufort’s Old Burying Ground

This is going to sound strange. I love graveyards. If you’re cocking your head to the side as you read this, your suspicions aren’t misplaced. I can’t explain it, its such an odd attraction, especially for someone who in general is a fan of the chipper, sunshinyer side of life.

They have a magic about them, rich in history, steeped in mystery. I always find myself wondering why people avoid them. And avoid them they do! Try it on for size sometime, mention to a complete stranger how you love to stalk around cemeteries, and take in the view and I can guarantee you their view of you will be a slight bit skewed. If you take a moment to think about it its really not all that odd. Graveyards after all are not built for the dead but rather as a place for the living- to visit, to commune, to contemplate.

Odd as it may seem. Graveyards are cool. Southern graveyards in particular hold a special sort of charm. The Old Burying Ground in Beaufort, NC is no exception. The final resting place of privateers, sailors, and even children. History is in no short supply. Famous to infamous, this small cemetery boasts big stories of lives well lived and lost. 13

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Snow Day

I love snow. Especially when its fresh. There is a quiet that falls over the world when it snows. People stay in, the critters hide away, and once it all settles everything is clean and new. Snow has a magic all its own. treeline branchingout bench copy winterwhite winterjay       brighwhite Love these images? Stay in touch, like me on Facebook here.  To purchase these images and more, visit my Etsy shop here.

Burr Berries…

A week ago, I sat at my computer complaining about the rain, the wind, the cold. Today I’m snuggled in with a hot cup of tea, watching the snow pile up outside my window. Its hard to believe the “official” start of Spring is only 24 days away. Pretty soon we’ll be seeing blooms in place of berries…

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For now, lets embrace the last days of Winter, the fresh, quiet solitude of a snow day, and a warm cup of cocoa. Days like today, leave me wishing for Winter all year long.

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Southern Latitudes: Dry Tortugas National Park

No shoes, no shirt, no problem…

Yesterday was dreary, miserable and frigid. It was as if winter was trying to remind us that its not quite through with us yet. All those chilly drafts wafting through the studio had me wishing for warmer climates, salty air, a sunny beach and clear blue water.

Almost 70 miles West of Key West hidden among one of the largest Maritime preserves in the world, is just the beach I’m dreaming of. Dry Tortugas National Park, is arguably one of the most remote and most beautiful parks in the US.  Accessibly only by boat or seaplane, just getting to the park is an adventure. tortugas_1

Spend the day snorkeling the reef and exploring the ocean front fortress of Ft. Jefferson. If you’ve ever imagined an island paradise, it probably looked an awful lot like this.Jefferson_1

While a day on the island is satisfying, spend a few nights and you’ll never want to leave.  Camping on the island is limited and primitive, but offers its own set of rewards. At the end of each day, when the boats board up, and the seaplanes depart intrepid travelers have a rare and unique opportunity, a National Park all to themselves.  Without the interference of artificial light, stars over the water shine bright, and the ocean glows with the life light of bioluminescence. Its a once in a lifetime experience you will want to repeat time and time again.

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The “Dry” Tortugas are aptly named for their lack of fresh water. Travelers who plan on spending a night are responsible for their own supplies of potable water and any other supplies they may need. Know before you go…get all the details you need by visiting the park’s website here.

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Walks In Winter

Today is Groundhog Day, and according to the predictions of one plucky Pennsylvanian marmot it looks like those of us here in the U.S. are in store for 6 more long weeks of winter.  Admittedly winter holds less charms for me than the warm days of summer, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t have its merits.  A few shots to share from coastal walks in winter, days well spent. Six more weeks of winter? It might not be all that bad.

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Well Equipped

I hear it a lot – a lot, “if I had a better camera, I could take better pictures”.  A better picture, whats that? Does it astound, does it impress, does it amaze? I never understood that, what are these elusive, “better pictures” the world is hunting for?

For most people a photo is a trip. A trip back in time to a moment, a place, a person, long gone or  too faraway to be tangible. Short of decapitating some poor unknowing soul or turning an image completely on its head- I don’t believe in bad pictures. Even the iconic photos in family albums around the world of the headless grandmother aren’t bad. They speak- and after all isn’t that the point of a photo? To speak to those days of the past, to the people who lived  and laughed in them? Even the “worst” photo has a story to tell, and that in and of itself is redemption. Check out this hilarious compilation from Buzz Feed, looking at these shots, you can’t tell me they don’t tell a story!bad

But I digress- lets talk about that camera. That camera if you could just replace- you just know you’d be the next Ansel Adams traipsing through the wilderness, saving trees and hugging mountains. Or perhaps you’re more of a Leibovitz, photographer to the stars, capturer of soulfulness. Sorry, sad news alert, I’m here to burst your bubble. No. Just no. No you won’t.

cameraThere are a thousand cameras out there, and I will be the first to admit some are amazing! But in the end, when the photo goes on the wall or in the album, its not the camera that made the image, its you. Its you who see, you who feels, and you who bleeds that all into one moment punctuated with a simple click.

By now, you’re thinking, “Uh-huh, sure” easy for me to say right? Me trotting around with my fancy Cannon camera. I promise you, I speak the truth. A few weeks back over the winter holiday I had a disaster. While traveling with family, in the midst of chaos and fun my camera took a 3ft tumble on to asphalt.  I am close to certain my heart stopped for a few moments. Needless to say, goodbye camera, goodbye job, “Hello, welcome to Mcdonalds, may I take your order”! Crisis, not adverted. My precious companion would no longer shoot or flash, all it could manage was a metallic grinding to remind me of its recent assault. Fixable, yes- when I needed it, no. What to do, what to do?

Creativity, has always been a strength of mine. I don’t mean creativity in the traditional sense I can’t Mcgiver my way out things, but I can think out of the box. What to do when my precious camera wouldn’t work? Find another. And so I did, sitting around gathering dust in my family home was the most generic looking Nikon you could ever imagine. Go to any store that sells cameras and you can pick one up for yourself. My camera elitism shrouded me in doubt, but reluctant as I may have been, I picked it up and proceeded.

A week later, back at home piling through pictures on my laptop, my damaged camera restored to its original health,  an odd thing happened- the pictures from that dusty original generation DSLR came to life before me. To my surprise, they were crisp, clean, and beautiful. I was so dumbfounded, I found myself second guessing, double checking.

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Pretty fantastic huh?

And then I thought about it. Why be so surprised? This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done this. This wouldn’t be the first time anyone had done this. Ever hear of a thing called an iPhone? Every year IPP hosts a iPhone photo contest, the images that come out of it will astound you. You can check out the 2014 winners here.  Believe it or not these two images below, both were taken with my iphone. To date, they are some of my top selling photos.

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The camera, is only half the equation, less than half really. The photographer makes the shot. So go, make images, surpirse yourself, and use what you have. A good camera is important, but feeling through the moment, makes it matter!

 

Got any great camera phone images? Share them here, I’d love to see them!

Western Rises: Kansas

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Stop. Think about Kansas. How often do you do that? It’s undoubtable that those of us with limited exposure, go directly to images of a petite brunette, with some killer shiny red shoes. Maybe you thought of tornados, and maybe you thought of OZ, or maybe you thought of both. The hard truth is when you think about Kansas, you don’t think of much.

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Whenever, I find myself driving I-70 through the vast flatness, I can’t keep my mind from wandering; “What the hell do people do here”? Some things are obvious, farm, farm, and farm. If they live in Wambego, maybe they work at the OZ Museum, and maybe they, um, farm.

Someone once jokingly told me that the reason people live in Kansas is because early settlers made it to the Rockies, saw what they were up against and turned around. Funny. Maybe true. The jokes about Kansas could go on as long as the drive through it does ( that’s a long, long time). But if you spend some time there, you’ll learn alot. You’ll learn that the people are exceptionally kind.  You’ll learn that nearly everyone works hard for what they have, and are proud of what they do ( which is mostly, farm). You’ll also learn that the landscape is a lot more than what it seems.KSTire

If you’re driving West on I-70 from St. Louis, and you survive the 9 hours across the state, along the way you’ll find a few small rewards; The Wizard of Oz Museum and Winery in Wambego ( free wine, yay!), and the Russell Stover factory in Abilene ( free samples,  double yay!). When you get to Oakley, take a break. At first Oakley, might look like another stop along the road, and in some ways it is. Gas stations, fast food, 80 million year old rock chalk formations. Wait, what?!VWrocks

In the flat lands, of the high plains tucked away in the middle of a farmer’s field are Monument Rocks, the nation’s first National Natural Landmark. The formations some reaching as high as 70ft. tall were formed millions of years ago when what is now Western Kansas was a vast inland sea. In the summer months, the rocks become home to thousands of tiny cliff swallows, who nest along the rocks. Stand among them for a moment, listen to the quiet, and stare up at their size, and for a few seconds, and you’ll be saying to yourself, ” I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore…”KSROCKS2 KSROCKS4

On your way back to the highway, stop by the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center for a little local history, a friendly chat, clean bathrooms, and free coffee. Free coffee, yep. Worth the stop.

The lesson from Kansas: Step outside, get some air, and expect the unexpected.