Back in South Africa

Every year I spend a few weeks in South Africa visiting my family. The first two weeks I spent in Durban with my mom, and we spent many hours sitting on her sunny verandah watching the garden birds as well as other random visitors. Here are some pics that I snapped during that time. Next on to Cape Town and a five day stay at Struisbaai, a beautiful little town near Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.

Dixie Dude Ranch, Bandera TX

I had the good fortune to spend a few days here in April, 2024. I randomly picked it as a result of a search for Texas locations within the path of the April 8th total solar eclipse. It seemed to meet all my criteria for an authentic Texas ranch experience as an aside to the eclipse event, and I went ahead and made a reservation. The reservation was in itself a miracle, since they were technically full and had been for a couple of years. Anyway, suffice it to say that the eclipse was a bust since we had heavy cloud cover on that day, but it didn’t seem to matter in the grand scheme of things, because the entire experience was one that I wouldn’t have missed for anything. Great place, great people, great food. Loved every minute. More info here : https://dixieduderanch.com/

Spring at Middleton Place

I have photographed the onset of Spring at this location many times over the years, so this year I tried something a little different. There is a genre of photography called ICM (Intentional Camera Movement), which I have been playing with. It involves using longer shutter speeds and moving the camera intentionally while the shutter is open. It’s kinda hit and miss at the moment for me, but I’m enjoying the new challenge. Here are a few examples.

Winter Storm hits the NC Mountains

I had made plans a few weeks back to spend a few days in the Blowing Rock area in the hope that it might snow, and that I would capture some white, winter landscapes. Well, boy did it snow! In fact it snowed to the point where it caused significant chaos on the roads, and people were stranded all over the place. Some couldn’t travel home from ski resorts, and the roads and ditches were littered with cars planted firmly in the ice and snow. Not such a big deal up north, but certainly it certainly presented a challenge for the Watauga County public officials, stretching their resources to the limit. Fortunately for me, I was there for fun, and my Jeep Cherokee 4×4 certainly earned its stripes as it carefully transported me through a winter wonderland. One of my more thrilling and adventurous excursions!

Falcon Heavy Fly-By

The SpaceX program and their apparently bold and limitless imagination as to what can be achieved is so admirable. To me, it represents the brightest and best of American ingenuity and I plan to visit Cape Canaveral soon to witness a launch in person. In the meantime, I went out to Folly Beach on the evening of December 28th to see if I could spot Falcon Heavy fly by. Launch time was 20:07 and the trajectory was showing that it was passing up the eastern seaboard. I took my camera along for fun, and captured this shot of the separation from the boosters as the rocket continued on its journey into orbit. What a thrill!

Sol Legare Island

The Sol Legare and Kings Flats area has an incredible history. “During the Civil War, the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was one of the first sanctioned African American regiments in the Union Army. The 54th fought on this narrow strip of land in 1863 during the Battle of Sol Legare. While fighting to free enslaved Americans during this battle, the 54th lost 14 men, with an additional 17 wounded and 12 missing. A mere two days later they went on to fight in the Battery Wagner battle (which you can see in the movie Glory starring Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman). In the late 1800s, newly freed enslaved Americans settled on Sol Legare to farm and fish. Many of its current residents are direct descendants of these original settlers.For more than 100 years, the Seashore Farmers’ Lodge on Sol Legare served as a community building for meetings, school, church and funerals.” (quoted from Rheosgear’s blog).

I have frequented this area over many years now. Back in the day, I would visit Thomas Backman at his seafood dock. He would usually be found working on his boat, Backman Enterprise, getting it ready to put back to sea. Sadly that never happened, since he passed away suddenly a few years back, and now the old shrimp trawler sits in mud most of the time, dreaming of better days. Here is a photo of him, taken back in 2011.

I went back down that way today, and took the following photo. Sadly his dock is now a jumbled mess of planks in the marsh, thanks to the battering of many storms and high tides. I guess some day this property will be sold and reimagined as a cluster of condos. Time marches on.

Family Portrait Season

The family portrait season is upon us. Funny how the end of the year signals the time to tie up loose ends, accomplish the goals that were set at the beginning of the year, etc. This includes recording the growth of the kids, including new family members and perhaps visiting grandparents, etc. I have enjoyed photographing this family for years, and yes there was a new little one, and the others have grown and changed. The commitment to document the family progress over the years is a worthy one. As a grandparent who photographed her kids often as they grew, I now watch my grandkids going through old albums of their parents at their age, asking all kinds of questions and hugely enjoying the experience. Here are a couple of my favorites from last weekend’s session.