Windows to Calm and Storm Since 1852

•October 12, 2014 • 12 Comments

Carysfort Windows

Summer doldrum or hurricane winds, the windows of Carysfort Reef Light have been a portal to the moods of the Atlantic Ocean since 1852. Lighthouse keepers quartered there must have fought boredom on days when all there was to do was watch fish swim in the shallows beneath them and keep the light lit. Despite the sparkling beauty of Florida’s waters, guiding mariners safely away from the treacherous shallows was a lonely mission.

Before the lighthouse was constructed, the reef was marked by lightships. The first named Caesar in 1825 ran aground on its route from New York City at Key Biscayne during a storm. The ship was salvaged by wreckers out of Key West and ultimately the owners had to buy back their own ship in order to finally place it at Carysfort Reef. Like its replacement lightship, the Florida, these vessels were subject to being blown off station by storms and running aground on the very reef they guarded. Carysfort Reef Light derives its name from the HMS Carysfort, a 20 gun Royal Navy ship which ran afoul of the reef in 1770.

I can still remember the first time I heard that George Meade was involved with the building of lighthouses. I only knew him as the Civil War general victorious at Gettysburg. The teaching of history can be very narrow with information tied to specific events. Historical figures have much more depth than a single date, time or place. So I never knew as a young lieutenant with the Army Corp of Topographical Engineers, George Meade was surveying for reef lights in Florida. And, as it would happen, Carysfort Light was his first such project!

While Carysfort Reef Light is the oldest of its kind still functioning in the U.S. we cannot take for granted the survival of this or any of Florida’s reef lights. The original Fresnel lens was replaced by an xenon flash tube and the beacon was automated in 1960. Time and technology have marched on  and today the Coast Guard is divesting itself of the aging beacons. These steadfast sentinels which have stood for over 150 years are now deemed too expensive to maintain.

So in early August this year, Jack Hardy a photographer friend who resides in the lovely city of Cuenca, Ecuador, visited my neck of the woods. It seemed natural to include one of the reef lights in our day of boating and snorkeling the upper keys…a good historical photo opportunity with perhaps a time limit. The water was like glass, a perfect Florida summer day as we headed to the red octagonal tower six nautical miles east of Key Largo. We weren’t alone as we encountered snorkelers already enjoying the day swimming around the base of the beacon.

The images below are various shots taken that day showing Jack one of Florida’s six reef lights and a little sample of my life taking pictures of these special historical structures from the 19′ Nautica Inflatable we call Janthina! And, you can’t beat sharing with friends!



Carysfort Approach

Could the water be more glorious!! But,  you can see how shallow as we approach the lighthouse.

Carysfort Lighthouse

A closer up view shows some detail of the screw pile, pyramidal, octagonal tower and its traditional red paint job! Birds (Cormorants here) always happy to find a resting place out at sea, are perched on the various support beams.


Carysfort Back and White

A black and white treatment reveals velvety smooth of those doldrum days so perfect for a boat ride and exploring the reef.

Jack Hardy - Photogapher

Jack Hardy aka Saipan Jack long time resident of Saipan now residing in Cuenca, Ecuador. Click his pic to go to his photo site.

Summer Sky - Moody

One of the fun things about converting images to black and white is changing the mood. Which day was it? A soft summer blue or something a bit more dramatic?

Summer Sky Over - Upper Keys


 Florida Lighthouse Specialty License PlateClick the Florida Lighthouse Plate image to link over to one way to help raise funds for the preservation of Florida’s historic lighthouses.


Under Foot

•October 8, 2014 • 11 Comments

White Egret Nestling with Mom's Foot

This White Egret nestling was one of the three chicks tossed from its nest when a marauding male White Egret stole the nest from its parents last season. See story here! This little snapshot was from the one day I had the chance to photograph the chicks which were probably around 10 days old at the time. Sadly, I thought I’d have more time.  While focusing on the little guy I did see the toes of mom or dad as its foot was lifted to change position in the scene while the nestling looked up both adoringly and adorably.  I liked the shot for the scale, textures and the dappled lighting and added it to my play with monochrome for possible inclusion in my series. Just kept getting drawn to do something with the little fellow each time I reviewed this shoot. You can see his little baby wing curled up like a little arm with the hands pointed down as he gets used to the sounds and movements around him.

Like many things in life, photographically you can never assume you’ll get another pass at an opportunity and should never take it for granted. Even if you do, its always a new day and a new thing!

Nighty Night,

An Offering to build a nest

•October 4, 2014 • 12 Comments

Great Blue Heron Mates Housekeeping

I have been away and unable to post for a little while and on returning home got back into the Black and White Bird Portrait Series. Though finished with the images for now, I wanted to share this Great Blue Heron pair. It is only October so scenes like this will wait until the bird nesting season comes ’round again. While this picture frustrated me as a black and white venture, I do like the body positions of this avian couple. I don’t always get the feet of both birds in the shot when the male flies in with nest building materials, so it always feels like an accomplishment when it happens!!


Happy Fall to Everyone!! Looking forward to more moderate temperatures and drier air here in the sub-tropics soon!!



Plume Shadows

•August 30, 2014 • 27 Comments


 Great Blue Heron - Plume Shadow_4844-c-tex-level


As someone  would say…dabbling along in monochrome again!!  :)  Going lighter with this one to let the textures show with a very monotone display. The regal Great Blue Heron does look wonderful in color, but the plume shadows across the face made it irresistibly interesting to work on in black and white.  The Great Blue Heron was shot against a bright baby blue sky with no powerful clouds or particular features other than the light on the bird and its shadows and textures.  So this images tries to capitalize on the high key lighting and tonal variations in the light, shadow and natural dark and light feathers of the bird itself. Because I generally feel as if something is missing when the background is plain, I added  a bit of texture into the featureless sky to round out the portrait.  The plumes attracted me to the treatment with the geometry of the parallel shadow lines on the bird’s face. The chest plumes and dark lines along the neck add to the linear textures.


Thanks for looking and your thoughts and criticisms are always welcomed with this experimentation.


White Egret with Wind Tossed Aigrettes, a black and white portrait

•August 23, 2014 • 20 Comments

White Egret - Wind Tossed Aigrettes


I have neglected posting lately due to so many distractions! One of them is that I’ve been hell bent on working on a collection of black and white bird portraits. Not toned or color or any permutation in between, just black and white. White egret images always lend themselves well to such a conversion. Metering off the white so as to not blow out any highlights tends to throw the surroundings into a darker contrast. And that is good. Even when it doesn’t, I adjust to try and simplify the clutter of leaves and branches so there are just some graceful curves of branches or curls of leaves giving context and less tangle.  Course this doesn’t always go simply since I am both particular and indecisive. When am I finished and when do I need to go that one little next adjustment for it to be just right?

In the case of white birds, the issue is always not losing detail in the white and then still have the brightness perfect for the inherent softness of feathers and delicate aigrettes. Too much contrast and too much sharpness will destroy the thing you liked best about an image sometimes.   So this guy I’ll have to do a test print of before I really know whether to notch it up a little. Of course, most of us end up using computers at home and at the office and possibly an iPad or Surface or some other tablet for viewing images and these screens vary in vibrance and brightness. Even if it looks perfect on the screen, in the end you must print.

This image I had apparently ignored for some time and I don’t know why since the pose so lovely with the back ornamental plumes showing so nicely and the action of wind a bonus.

I don’t know how most people make black and white images or if most like to shoot in black and white from the get go. Since I go to all the trouble to shoot in Adobe 1998 for that extended range of color you get, I would be reluctant to give any of that potential up. Although, with raw digital captures I wouldn’t be surprised if a bw capture file actually still has the color information. This I’d have to educate myself on sometime. But, I do love having color when I do a conversion because I can use color sliders to brighten yellow leaves or darken green ones or lighten something red and that way control the look of the black and white. Black and white film photographers would do that with lens filters and get the drama in the capture. A red filter for instance would be used to darken the blue sky and make the clouds pop if the photographer was after that. With Photoshop and digital conversion you can decide later, which might be lazy or might be a life saver for indecisive sorts like me who want to wonder what this would look like, or lets try that!!

Well forgive my ramble and my eyes are truly shot! Don’t hesitate to say so if I need to get out my Tide and brighten my whites with this image. Isn’t that a clever way to say I am STILL undecided if I am finished!!

As Ever,


Invitation to View Janthina Images’ New Look!!

•July 13, 2014 • 15 Comments

Janthina Images - Guestbook Page

I have just unveiled my new Janthina Images gallery site look!! While not an expert on css or html code or a programmer by any stretch of the imagination, my sales gallery hosting company, SmugMug, made it very easy with some highly customizable new designs they launched in July of 2013. As you can see I am not an early adopter but like to think my reserved nature as regards change allowed any bugs to be worked out of the system!! Sticking with that story!! But, I did realize looking at the world of design templates out there including, of course, the wonderful designs WordPress has, that my old photo gallery site, while very stable in operation, was sadly dated and needed a new modern look.

One of the things Smugmug made very easy was that while I was choosing a design and customizing it behind the scenes, my old site was the same for viewers without any disruption until hitting the Publish button. Very seamless!  I flipped back and forth for awhile consolidating galleries and generally cleaning some things up, but the button push was irrevocable and now its all new. Even though I had a lot of questions for the Smugmug Support Heroes, I think my experience with using WordPress helped me to work more easily there as well. One thing I like about the Smug Designs is that they are more than templates with fixed schemes. There are many themes within a design choice and if you like everything about a theme except the accent color, you can change that. If you want to create your own theme, redo ALL the colors and backgrounds within the design framework, you can do that too. Switch it up and name your theme.

I’d love to invite my friends here on my blog to go to Janthina Images  and let me know your thoughts.  Though I plan further work, I tried to keep things straightforward and easy to navigate.  So every public page has a button on the left vertical navigation bar. I realize from using different computers, that my old XP system at work with the outdated Explorer browser has difficulty handling some things like the slide show, but its ok using Firefox and my more current Explorer on my home machine does everything fine. That a being a factor, let me know if I overlooked anything. The closer you are to something, the less likely to see the flaws…I suppose this is why people get married?? Well, to carry the analogy, I guess I am now wedded to my new design for better or worse. But, I do think…..way better!!

So I truly welcome your visit and thoughts when you have the time to poke around. The snip clip above, with the chatty spoonies, is of the Guestbook page where you can comment if you want. Here is fine too or by e-mail. I have worked on many images the last couple of years which I have not yet posted or put up for sale, but feel renewed and enthused to add more images and another sales gallery to join to one at the top of the galleries page. Life’s one constant is change, they say , but maybe another good word is renewal.

Thanks for listening and looking!!

Feather right



“That’s some tree!”……said my Dad!

•June 28, 2014 • 11 Comments

Maternal Tree Overlooking Graves at the Atlanta Cemetery


The reverence expressed in Kilmer’s classic and much loved poem seems to fit this tree in the Atlanta Cemetery. Even without the unintended results of pruning, a tree has a maternal presence; and, here seems to watch over earth’s children laid to rest in this place.


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

By Joyce Kilmer

The summer of 2006, I visited my son Dave and his family in Atlanta. Lynda Haviland, my novelist sister, was working on the draft of her first book, Immortal Dynasty. At that early stage I envisioned getting her an evocative image of a really cool crypt…maybe even something with some Egyptian Symbols for a book cover design befitting her paranormal romance.   So instead of going to normal places like Stone Mountain, Dave took me to explore the historic Atlanta Cemetery.  While I did find a monument with Egyptian symbols…though not a crypt…it was this Maternal Tree which stole the day for me.

I have been working on my Janthina Images Galleries in order to modernize the website (not yet…old site still up…new site in process).  In the process of organizing, I came across  my old gallery post there of the Watchful Tree.  Seeing it brought back memories of a truly marvelous visit to one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the country.  The maternal solicitude this tree expresses evokes a sense of spirituality and protection of Mother Earth over its children. And, yet there is that other thing!!

 When I asked what he thought of the tree in the Atlanta Cemetery,  with the proverbial twinkle in his eye, he merely said,

“That’s some tree!”


Closer View of our Maternal Tree at Atlanta Cemetery

Wishing Everyone a Wonderful Summer!!



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