Dolphins, oh my! and snorkeling gone awry

3 08 2009

On June 2, the day after Chantell and Austin’s sailboat wedding in Key West, our entire group went back out to sea in two boats for our great dolphin watch and snorkeling adventure. As Captain Gary predicted, we did see a plethora of dolphins. He told us that they were taking an afternoon siesta—that explained why they didn’t come up really close to the boat or show their faces very often—but I still got some nice record shots.

The morning started off beautifully—smooth aqua-colored water, sun in the sky, dolphins encircling both boats. We got to the snorkeling spot and disembarked. By the time I got the hang of the mask-in-the-water-tube-above-water-don’t-forget-to-breathe procedure (thanks to Kathy), the waves picked up (making it hard to keep the salt water out of our tubes!). We knew it was getting a bit dangerous to stay out. The sky went from sunny and blue to a menacing shade of gray. The boats were rocking so violently that we had trouble even getting back into the boat when our trusty captains called us in. The snorkeling jaunt was supposed to be 45 minutes long—we weren’t in the water more than 20+ minutes before the weather ended it all. The ride back to shore was incredibly violent and the rain started coming down so hard that we were soaked by the time we got back to the dock. It was so choppy that I couldn’t even shoot photos to show how rough the weather was! Despite the rocky and abrupt ending to our adventure, we certainly had a “Champion!” morning—as Zimbabwe-born Captain Gary had promised.

The Muchemore family was on Captain Gary’s boat. Michael and I shared a boat with A.J. and his girlfriend, Christina (the couple shown in two of the photos below). A.J. is in the Army and was home on leave from Afghanistan and vacationing in Key West with Christina. The two met in Pontiac, IL (where he is from) four years ago and became the best of friends, which evolved into a “fairytale love story,” according to Christina. When he gets home in December (they’re hoping), he’ll be moving to Schaumburg, IL, where Christina majors in Interior Design at the Art Institute. She plans on getting her masters in architecture. A.J. will attend Harper Community College to finish his degree. And it appears that there’s an engagement and wedding in their future—need a photographer, Christina?

Check out these links below for more photos from our weekend in Key West, including Chantell and Austin’s wedding:

Birds of a feather
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/what-20-bucks-will-get-ya-in-key-west/

A rather unusual tree
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/11/amazing-tree-in-downtown-key-west/

Weekend in Key West
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/04/weekend-in-key-west/

Here lizard, lizard, lizard
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/here-lizard-lizard-lizard/

Cloudspotting
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/cloudspotting-spinal-column/

Much more of the Muchemores
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/11/much-more-of-the-muchemores/

Muchemore redux
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/25/muchemore-redux/

Chantell and Austin
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/chantell-and-austin-on-the-pier/

Yes, another wedding photo…
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/yes-another-wedding-photo/

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/the-key-west-butterfly-and-nature-conservatory/

A few more butterflies…
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/a-few-more-butterflies/

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

SnorkelAdventure





A few more butterflies…

28 06 2009

…from the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

KeyWestButterfliesx3





The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

28 06 2009

While in Key West, we visited the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory before we met up with the Muchemore family for the big event—Chantell and Austin’s wedding.

This conservatory is definitely one of our favorites now! As you walk around the winding pathway through the conservatory, you’ll hear classical music playing. Not only are there 60+ species of butterflies, they also have an array of exotic birds, tropical plants and a koi pond. Ever notice that most butterfly conservatories are hot and humid? That’s the case here, except for the strategically placed cool air tubes throughout the conservatory—these are to help cool the air for the birds. We humans appreciated that touch on a hot Florida day, too! There’s also a Learning Center and a wonderful gift shop. Founders Sam Trophia and George Fernandez established the Conservatory and the Trophia Butterfly Foundation in January 2003. Read more about Sam Trophia in this article on www.SunSentinel.com.

I photographed a plethora of butterflies at the Wings of Fancy exhibit at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland last year. If you fancy butterflies, click here and here to see those photos. I often find butterfly subjects to photograph in our garden—check out the Monarchs I photographed last fall here. Last year I designed a Monarch Butterfly Habitat poster for my friend Mary Ellen of Happy Tonics in Shell Lake, Wisconsin.

I have no idea what kind of butterfly this is below, but it’s a beauty, isn’t it? I made a half-hearted attempt to identify it for you but it’s late and I need some shut-eye (it may surprise some of you, but yes, I do sometimes sleep).

As my father often writes on his blog www.thekingoftexas.wordpress.com, “I’ll get back to you later with more details.”

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Butterflylorez





Yes, another wedding photo…

28 06 2009

Can I help it if these two are so photogenic? I used either the “Rusty Cage” or the “Super Fun Happy” filter from Doug Boutwell Studio’s Totally Rad Action Mix to achieve this warm and dreamy effect.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

SweetPhoto





Chantell and Austin on the pier

26 06 2009

I had such a blast photographing these two on the beach the day after their wedding. Both were spontaneous, up for anything, clearly crazy about each other and photogenic to boot. I had complete creative freedom, trusty assistants (the groom’s parents), a tropical backdrop, magical afternoon light, and easy-to-direct and very appreciative “models.” This assignment truly could not have been more ideal! I’ve photographed over 100 weddings in my photography career (most during and after college in Texas), and this one was the most laid-back, go-with-the-flow, low stress events of any of them!

Be patient and one day I might share an image or two and some really crazy stories about some of the most memorable weddings I have photographed. I shot one wedding during a tornado alert! I actually have photos of the mariachi (Mexican music) band swaying in the fierce winds with a turbulent navy sky in the background—at 4:00 p.m. on a South Texas afternoon. The bride and groom were so much in love and anxious to marry that they were apparently oblivious to the impending storm. Then there was the bride who paid half down, then went off to work as a migrant worker for a year. (Half down was $75, if you can believe that—I never charged more than $200 for a wedding—at the time, “top” photographers charged anywhere from $500-800. Those were the days, huh?) She came back with the balance in a piggy bank— we had to break it open to get the money (I can still hear the quarters, nickels and dimes as they rolled across our coffee table). Sweet couple—although a little slow on pickup and payment! Trust me…I’ve got the stories!

In those days the contemporary photojournalistic style wasn’t in use at all—we had a checklist of posed images to get and then we could play after that. I love the new approach and it suits my shooting style so much better. And we shot print film then; digital wasn’t available yet. Having immediate feedback makes the job much more enjoyable and guarantees you get the shot. It almost makes me want to hang out my wedding photographer shingle again. We’ll see.

You can view the previous Key West/wedding photos here, here, and in the posting below this one.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Pier Collage





Muchemore redux

25 06 2009

Here we go again! More photos finalized from Chantell and Austin’s June 1 wedding in Key West…even more to come (I’m editing and prepping photos in a folder that contains almost 1,000 images)! Special thanks to the groom’s parents, Kathy and Kevin, for their creative sand art creations for the photos.

You can view the previous Key West/wedding photos here and here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Wedding Collage 3





Much more of the Muchemores

11 06 2009

Okay, I couldn’t resist…with a last name like that, this blog post title was inevitable! Muchemore to come…

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Muchemore2






Amazing tree in downtown Key West

11 06 2009

I’m fairly certain that a Ficus aurea, or strangler fig, has taken over this tree (or group of trees) in downtown Key West. I did some research online and learned that they are common throughout the Caribbean and tropical Americas. You’ll find excellent and very detailed information about strangler figs with illustrative photos on this site: http://waynesword.palomar.edu/ploct99.htm

Michael serves as my scale reference in the first photo. Doesn’t the second photo look like a backdrop from a Harry Potter movie? If I have misidentified this unusual tree, enlighten me!

THIS JUST IN…Artist Val Webb posted a comment on my garden-only site, http://www.gardenmuse.wordpress.com. Here is her comment:

“It has been many years since I visited Key West, but I seem to recall that the tree in question is a banyan tree. There is a large one on the Thomas Edison property there.”

I looked up “banyan tree” and learned that a banyan is a fig tree that starts its life as an epiphyte when its seeds germinate in the cracks and crevices on a host tree. The seeds germinate and send down roots toward the ground, and may envelope part of the host tree…giving them the name of “strangler fig.” So apparently banyan is another name for it. Thanks for the input, Val!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

StranglerFig





What 20 bucks will get ya in Key West

5 06 2009

(Delicious bruschetta not included) While eating dinner Saturday night at Caroline’s on Duval Street, we watched a cockatoo dancing in time to reggae music on a nearby bench. The bird is on exhibit at Jungle Greg’s Rescued Animals booth in downtown Key West. A sign lists prices at $10 for each animal for photographs. He also had various birds and two large snakes on display. So Jungle Greg must have been feeling pretty good that night because he attached four birds to Michael for just $20 so I could get this shot. Whatta deal! The money goes to his rescue projects (at least that’s what the sign purports; the  animals on display aren’t rescues). I did observe that the animals were far more lively and conversational than the proprietors. But $20 isn’t too bad considering he usually charges $30 (plus tax) to shoot a photo for you and that gets you one 4×6. As we were leaving, two twenty-somethings came up and said, “we’re scared to death of birds, but can we get a photo of the python wrapped around our necks?”

Coming soon: See how fast you can part with $35 in 15 minutes in the tropics!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Bruschetta & Birds





Cloudspotting: spinal column

5 06 2009

Key West sky photographed Tuesday, June 2, during a dolphin-watching tour

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

SpinalColumnClouds





Here lizard, lizard, lizard

5 06 2009

Every time I hear the word lizard, I think of that Taco Bell dog commercial shown here.

On Sunday, Michael and I visited the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden, the only “frost-free” botanical garden in the continental U.S. The garden showcases flora native to South Florida, Cuba and the Caribbean and emphasizes cultivation of threatened and endangered species of the Florida Keys. This “biodiversity hotspot” is home to many species of plants and animals. Common animals includes box turtles, Green iguanas (one greeted us in the parking lot), Mangrove Skipper Butterflies (which I saw and photographed), and various turtles, crocodiles, birds and snakes. And there were lizards virtually everywhere…on the walkways, benches and in trees. I saw at least six different species, three of which are in the collage below. There were so many that as I was photographing one lizard, another would crawl into the frame or run past my subject! And I had to look closely to be able to spot them—they were so well camouflaged. More photos to come…

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Lizard Camouflage





Weekend in Key West!

4 06 2009

That title should explain my brief (and abrupt) exit from my blog. Michael and I flew into Key West on Saturday afternoon. We spent that evening exploring Key West, followed by a visit to a botanical garden and a butterfly conservatory on Sunday. Late Sunday afternoon we met up with the parents of the groom, Kathy and Kevin (groom’s parents), who are my parent’s neighbors in San Antonio. They had asked us to join them at their timeshare in Key West; the trip soon morphed into the impromptu sailboat-at-sunset wedding of their son, Austin, and his lovely bride, Chantell. I was asked to photograph the event and was thrilled to do so. This is just one of the photos I’ll be posting. I shot this shortly after they said their “I do’s.” (Notice the sunset behaved well for the shot, too!) It was the most fun wedding I’ve ever photographed (and I’ve shot over 100 of them since college)! Chantell and Austin—with their unbridled energy, enthusiasm, and sparkling white smiles (not much to improve in Photoshop there!)—were such a joy to photograph. Perfect weather, perfect wedding, perfect couple with perfect smiles, perfect day!

We had to get back so I could photograph an event for the American Horticultural Society (which I’m leaving for now, in fact), so we (sadly) couldn’t stay with them the rest of the week. This was our second time in Key West, but we saw quite a bit more than we did on our first trip many years ago. I felt like we were in some exotic country—almost forgot we were still in the U.S. It’s quite a different atmosphere—lizards, iguanas, roosters and chickens running loose everywhere…very laid-back atmosphere…brightly colored cottages and exotic flowers in bloom…and bicyclists and mopeds galore. It was a short but very adventurous four days!

More photos to come of botanical garden lizards and flowers, butterflies, Key West shots, parrots, Hemingway’s house, cats, boats, interesting clouds, dolphins, snorkeling…and, of course, more wedding and sailboat shots.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Chantell Austin Wedding