Southern Latitudes: Key West

“Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call…”

I’ve been around the world and back. No matter how far I wander, or all the amazing incredible things I see, no place quite holds the draw to my heart that Key West does. Maybe because its surrounded by water, haunted by spirits of pirates, and clothed in salty air. But it just feels like home.

crash

leavingport

Sailaway

Shipatsea

Infinity

Escape to the sea, anytime. Shop these prints and more, here.

Old Sheldon Church

If you smile when you are all alone, then you really meant it… -Andy Rooney

SCR2765_Fotor

It’s Springtime in the South… well sorta anyways. The cold winter air, still nips in the morning and as the late afternoon sun sets. We have chilly days and then we have warm ones, and then the chilly days are back. But those beautifully warm days, scream Spring. Spring is coming! So naturally shaking of the long dull dust of winter, my soul is screaming, “Where are we going to next”? Where indeed.

The very best part of moving to a new place is all the newness that surrounds you. There are so many places to go, so many new things to see and experience. Here in the lower depths of the South, there is no shortage of places to explore. Some places hold such magnetism, you just can’t resist. Once you hear about them you just have to go and see for yourself. The Ruins of Old Sheldon Church is a place just like that. Irresistible.

This amazing place is located on a side road just off of Highway 17, it would be easy to miss if you didn’t know what you were looking for. One second you’re driving down a Oak lined road littered with Spanish Moss and the next you’re driving past this:

SCR2629_Fotor

SCR2755_Fotor

SCR2794_2_Fotor

If walls could talk… Old Sheldon Church still stands despite having been burnt during the American Revolution, rebuilt and then ransacked for building materials during the Civil War. Ancient gravesites litter the church yard, and in the very heart of the church itself lies on of Savannah’s more famous founders John Bull. This amazing places has it all history, mystery, and a good bit of soul.

Keep up with the adventure on Instagram @rebellephoto

Feel like doing a little shopping, check out more of my work in my Etsy, visit here.

 

Driftwood Beach

Art is everywhere. I am constantly reminded that nature is the greatest artist of all. Wherever you wander in this great wide world, there are secret treasures waiting to be discovered, hidden places anxiously awaiting the curious and the adventurous. Your own backyard or across the vast ocean, wherever you may be there is magic just waiting to be witnessed.

I recently walked with wonder, among ancient giants who guard our coasts. This is Driftwood Beach, on the remarkable Jekyll Island, Georgia. Isn’t it just spectacular?

bigdrift2_1

 

JI3

 

driftaway_1

 

JI5

 

 

JI6_2

 

JI8

 

JI9

 

JI10

 

stumped_1

Love these images? Curious about where else I’ve been or am going? Follow along with the blog and visit my online gallery at http://www.rebelphoto.net

See an image you just have to have? Shop my online store here.

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.

happycampers

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.

Shop for theses images and more at the Rebelphoto shop, here.

 

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.

FOGGYSUN

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.

herecomesthesun_1 sunshower

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

Wildflowersign

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.

KSBoot3

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.

2014: My Favorite Things

I’m a little late in this post … 2014 was a year, wow, it was a year! A year filled with adventure, old friends, new places, and most of all love. I went some amazing places, took lots and lots and lots of photographs, and made memories that I will hold on to forever.

When I sat down to write this post I underestimated how hard it would be. The goal was to pick out my favorite images of 2014, to look back, to reflect and remember through the images I had made. How’s that done though? How do you break down a year into just a few images. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy at all. I debated, I laughed, I got up from my computer, sat back down and drank a ton of coffee. It was hard, really hard, but here they are 15 of my favorite things. 2014 a look back: Mountains, to sea and everything in between!

“Palm Republic”- Bahia Honda, Florida

There are some places everyone wants to be. Bahia Honda, a tiny little key nestled between Marathon Key and Big Pine Key is one of those places. With a teeny but beautiful State Park offering on the beach camping and 360 views; try and make reservations for any day of the year and you’ll be hard pressed to find space. So on a random day in February surfing the web when I stumbled across space, I grabbed my credit card and 3 days later I was there. Watching the sunset, sounding the conch and capturing this perfect moment.

palmrepublic

 

“Color Swirl”- Shell Series

In 2014 I spent less days at home than I did on the road. On one of my rare weeks of down time I found myself hanging out in my living room, rain was pouring down on our tin roof, I was looking through “found” items from pervious trips, and thinking about life. Damn. I had collected a lot of shells. What is it about shells? Its like we just can’t help ourselves. Sometimes I find looking at something through a lens reveals an awful lot that my own eye won’t. A few snaps later, I was hooked and the Shell Series was born.  Since that day this series as been picked up for publication, turned into a book, and will be on solo exhibit in Cary this coming May. Don’t hate on rainy days, they might surprise you.

swirlincolor_1

“On The Fence”- Oakley, Kansas

If you’ve ever driven through Kansas you know there’s not much there. Not much at all. But if you ever find yourself traveling I-70 across this great country, take a quick detour. I’m always immersing myself in small cultural details, it amazes me how across the US how much cultures and habits can vary. I couldn’t help but pull over my road weary VW and snap a few shots of this lonely boot. KSBoot

“Alpine”- Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Harvey Broome once said,

“Without wilderness, we will eventually lose the capacity to understand America. Our drive, our ruggedness, our unquenchable optimism and zeal and elan go back to the challenges of the untrammeled wilderness.”

In our National Parks we see that ruggedness reflected. If you’ve never been, go. They won’t disappoint.

RMNP10_1

 

“Solitude”- Mt. Evans, Colorado

I am always finding that my passions feed each other. The need for travel, exploration and adventure feed my photographic hunger, and when I find myself hungry for photos I ache for adventure. It has long been a dream of mine to summit all of Colorado’s 14,000 foot mountains. This shot was taken on Mt. Evans in early June. In a saddle ridge looking out on the Sawtooth and Mt. Bierstadt while my climbing partner looks out and looks in.

souledmountain

“Benightment”- Mt. Evans, Colorado

Another shot from one of Colorado’s giants, closing in on the summit. Storms kick up in the early afternoon, and can cause wild and unpredictable weather. At 14,000 ft. well above the tree line you are the tallest point and lighting can kill you as quickly and easily as a slip from the mountain.  The rule is go early, get down quick. Today was no exception as I took  this shot we watched the beginnings of a storm roll in.

benightment

“God’s Pocket”- Arches National Park, Utah

Married to someone who makes their living climbing I spend my fair share of time in and around climbing gyms. So when I wandered into Arches National Park, my attention immediately went to these amazing weathered pockets in the sandstone. They look remarkably an awful lot like a hang board we have in our home. Its refreshing to know the climbing community is still garnering inspiration from nature.

godspocket

“Desert Boulder”- Moab, Utah

Moab has long been a mecca for outdoor adventure, and with so much space, and so many climbing routes its hard to narrow down a few select projects. But one thing is for sure, wherever this guy goes he’s sure to find something to climb on.

djclimb

“Hanging Lake”- Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

If this incredible lake nestled high in the canyon walls doesn’t give you inspiration. I’m not sure what else will. It probably won’t surprise you to hear that this gorgeous lake that looks like a hidden oasis serves as a pilgrimage to hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts on any given day. Go expected places as often as you go to the unexpected, you never know what you will discover.

hanging lake copy

“Stars On The Water”- Outer Banks, North Carolina

I took this shot on what was probably the coldest morning of 2014 in NC. It was freezing. In my rush out the door I forgot my gloves. Really.  Lucky for me, It was one of those rare moments when everything lines up perfectly. The troller, the sun, the sky, it all added up into what might arguably be my favorite shot of the year.

Starrynight

“Breaker”- Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina

I like to go places when other people don’t. The perspective is different, unique. On this quite October day in NC with just a handful of other people on the island I sat and watched the waves the water sparkled, and just like the waves the day was just right.

breaker

 

 

“Brick”- Bald Head Island, North Carolina

I’m obsessed with detail. I love the big picture, but there is something in the details that capture me. The parts that make up the whole tell their own story. The brick detail inside Old Baldy Lighthouse tells a lot of tales.

brick2_1

“See Birds”- Emerald Isle, North Carolina

Some shots are surprising. Most of the time I can tell you in advance what the winning clicks were, but on rare occasions I will look back and wonder. When I took this shot it was on a whim. A cold rainy day on the beach, seagulls, nothing special and in the end that shot turned into a very special image. I love this image. It taught me to see, and not to just  look.

seeseabirdscolor

 

“Farmall Fall”- Salter Path, NC

In fall along the shores of the Crystal Coast something special happens. The beaches go quiet, bereft  of their crowds of tourists, and the people look back to tradition. Mullet fishing is one of those traditions. Huge nets laid out by tractors seine the waters for the sacred bait fish that many  coastal residents, lives rely upon.

farmalllandscape

 

” Bird’s Of A Feather”- The Point, Emerald Isle, North Carolina

In the winter months sea birds take their turns, turning beaches into mile long rookeries. Wandering down to the point of Emerald Isle where the beach bumps into Bogue Inlet and sound becomes sea, hundreds of sea birds spread out and take respite. I took this shot Thanksgiving Day 2014. It was beautiful.

birdsofafeather1