The Everglades – Where Wonders Only Whisper by Bill Lea, guest Blogger

FL Alligator by Bill Lea

FL Alligator by Bill Lea


In the first line of her classic 1947 book, The Everglades: River of Grass, Marjory Stoneman Douglas wrote, “There are no other Everglades in the world.  They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth, remote, never wholly known.  Nothing anywhere else is like them…”  

However, since its discovery the Everglades has always endured the negative stigma, which goes along with the word swamp – “disease infested,” “hideous,” “monstrous,” “diabolical,” “God-forsaken,” “obstacle to progress,” “enemy of civilization,” “worthless,” “poisonous,” “repulsive in all its features,” “unredeemable,” “evil,” and more.  In the 1840’s Florida’s first state legislature deemed it “wholly valueless.”  The 1904 governor-elect Napolean Bonaparte Broward referred to the Everglades as a “pestilence-ridden swamp.”

Lacking grandiose mountain peaks, spewing geysers, and tumbling waterfalls, Everglades National Park was eventually established to protect a fragile ecosystem of incredible biological character and diversity.  A discerning eye will reveal the beauty of this mix of tropical and temperate flora combined in an array of habitats.   

Today, when people “picture” the Florida Everglades they often envision the iconic “river of grass” or sawgrass prairies so characteristic of the area.  Yet there is so much more to this wondrous place!  Other environments or habitats within the park include pine rocklands, mangrove swamps, coastal prairies, estuaries, cypress swamps, hardwood hammocks, dwarf cypress prairies, and the Southeastern Saline Everglades.

When I think of the Everglades – I smile.  Puffy clouds drifting over a sea of sawgrass give birth to glorious landscapes.  Soft gurglings of an American bittern, the exotic scream of a lone limpkin, and the deep bellowing of a distant gator all speak volumes of the greatest freshwater marsh in the world.  Yet, at other times, a haunting silence shouts the wonder of this vast wilderness.  I listen; I watch and learn; I feel the magic.  Not everyone sees nor experiences the spiritual revelation.  A quick drive-through will certainly not reveal it.  Some find it monotonous.  One author wrote, “It tends to look a bit yucky…”  Even the trained eye of a visiting National Geographic editor failed to recognize its beauty – how sad.  For the first time ever, the splendor of tall mountain peaks, grand waterfalls, or mighty glaciers did not drive the establishment of a national park.  The unique and diverse biological qualities showcased by temperate and tropical flora and fauna – the complex ecosystem along with all of its extraordinary life – begged for – no, demanded – the creation of Everglades National Park.  

When I think of the Everglades, I think about the rugged people who once inhabited this land.  It was a hard place – definitely not for the feeble.  A 1947 Saturday Evening Post account proclaimed the great abundance of mosquitoes in the Everglades.  It told of windshield wipers used to clear a swarm of the persistent insects and the resultant blood oozing down the glass.  When an interviewer once suggested to notable author Marjory Stoneman Douglas that the Everglades might be a rather inhospitable place, she snapped back:  “Well, they ARE inhospitable!  People are not supposed to live there.  It’s too buggy and too wet.”

When I think of the Everglades, I think of its intrinsic values.  Yes, I cherish the birds, alligators, prairies, dwarf cypress, sounds, and big sky, but I am equally moved by patterns, textures, colors, and the inner-workings of all its life.  The grand scenes are incredible but to the discerning eye, subtle beauty abounds and astounds throughout the Everglades – where wonders only whisper.

Reprinted from The Everglades – Where Wonders Only Whisper                                            by Bill Lea
Author & Photographer

Bill Lea & Chris Norcott will be offering an Everglades Photo Tour into the Everglades National Park
Homestead, Florida
March 5-8, 2015
Fee: $795
Escape the winter weather and join nature and wildlife
photographers Chris Norcott and Bill Lea as we explore
Florida’s Everglades National Park. During the photo
tour Chris and Bill will show you some of their favorite
locations in the park where you will capture incredible
scenic images ranging from dwarf cypress trees draped
in fog to fabulous sunrises along Florida Bay or the
mystical wonder of a tropical cypress swamp.

We will also be photographing an array of wildlife subjects
including alligators, osprey, a host of wading birds, and
much more – many so close you can literally touch them –
but we won’t! Find a copy of Bill’s book
for a sample of possible
Everglades subjects we will be photographing.

The photo tour begins Thursday evening (March 5th)
and concludes on Sunday afternoon (March 8th).
Participants will be responsible for travel, lodging, and
meal expenses. A variety of lodging is available, but
we recommend the Holiday Inn Express where a block
of rooms has been reserved for us at a reduced price.

Participants will
be required to sign a liability waiver since we will be in
the wild photographing nature, which obviously poses
some inherent risks.
305/247-3414 – Group Code “LEA”
To register contact Bill at:
or Chris at:

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Jerry Stone Image – How I did it and why I’m active in photography

Lens lugger Jerry Stone has another reason for being so active in his photography, and he let’s us in on his techniques…

“I shoot a lot. Spend about 4 hours a day in Photoshop. Consequently I come up with a lot of images. I belong to a local camera club, Port Orange Camera Club, and get to use only about two to three prints a month. So I’m always looking for some outlet for all of these images that I process.
One the main reasons that I’m so involved is, I have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and my neurologist wants me to keep my mind busy and active. He thinks that Photoshop is ideal for stimulation. Marie has been encouraging me to post my work on-line, with Facebook, and I just started. The other day, I selected about 100 of my most recent images, downsized, and converted to jepg and I’ll be adding one a day to Facebook, or until someone complains. 
…Ole Jer.”
Jerry Stone image settings: Canon EOS 5DMarkII, 400mm lens Aperture Priority, f/6.7, 1.45 sec, EV+1.5, matrix metering,

Jerry Stone image settings: Canon EOS 5DMarkII, 400mm lens Aperture Priority, f/6.7, 1.45 sec, EV+1.5, matrix metering,

“This image was taken up in Gainesville, at The Butterfly Rainforest. Used a Canon 5D mk II with a 400 M.M. lens with an extender, f 6.7 and 3200 ISO to get a shutter speed that I could use, was still very low, but I got lucky. I wasn’t worried about noise, as the noise reduction software in CS 6 the raw convertor software is great.

No tripods are allowed, so you have to  rest your camera on a railing or something. Taken early in morning just after they watered the plants. Shot in camera RAW, processed in Photoshop CC. Was taken back in October before it got cold. It’s a great place to photograph butterfly’s, but the temperature must be above 70 degrees, for the butterfly’s to fly.

I just noticed the Lens Luggers Facebook site. I’m new to Facebook, my wife got me started interested recently, and I’ve decided to post an image a day on my site.     …Ole Jer.”

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Photographing the Great Egret. “How I did it…” by Duke Miller

White Egret by Duke Miller

White Egret by Duke Miller

We counted nine species within a hundred yards the other morning. So, while I used to search pretty far and wide for bird pics, now I grab a cup of coffee, my D800e, 70-300mm Nikkor VR (usually locked in to its 200mm focal length) and fire away.

We recently relocated from Anna Maria Island to Perico Island, just across the bridge from Anna Maria and a few miles due east of Bradenton, FL. Our villa is on a small lake in the middle of the island with a deck on the lake’s edge.

I set my camera to Shutter-priority at 1/1000 to help freeze the action and Auto-ISO Sensitivity Control set to ON. For this photo of a White Egret landing along the water’s edge, the 1/1000 shutter pushed the aperture to the maximum f/5.3; the camera automatically set the ISO to 5000.

I then processed the image in Lightroom with the aid of some Nik Software filters.

Footnote: Most of these birds head north about the same time we head back to Maggie Valley in early April. Smart birds!

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The Silver Lining in photography

We received this note from Lens Lugger Linda Vannetta, a regular Tampa, FL Resident, who loves the changes of season… She came up to North Carolina in hopes of photographing color this 2014 season.

<<Not much color on this trip. I think peak will be upcoming week.
Also think color is better on the NC side. :-) Heading home now.>>

So, nature's often like that. Its own schedule and unpredictable.
We're lured out for reasons we're unsure of as well.

But then, sometimes, something magical happens.

Thanks to Linda for sending this in…

Cades Cove by Linda Vannetta

Cades Cove by Linda Vannetta

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Fall color – from the field…

Oconaluftee River, Smoky Mountain National Park by Bob Grytten

Oconaluftee River, Smoky Mountain National Park by Bob Grytten

Fall color using other natural elements from the field make effective stories. To assure a complete range of color and sharpness think about making multiple images for possible HDR processing.

This image is the final product of three images -2 EV, 00EV and +2EV using Photomatix Pro 5.5 to effect an image that is more like what our eye sees.

Fall color will be around through November – maybe not as brilliant, not as abundant; but, here some ideas to make effective images…

Oconaluftee R. and Mossy Trees by Bob Grytten

Oconaluftee R. and Mossy Trees by Bob Grytten

Include some other elements to help the design, drawing emphasis away from the color.  Trees on the diagonal and in cluster help to anchor this scene.

Fall Color Red w/Green Bob Grytten photo

Fall Color Red w/Green Bob Grytten photo

Think closeups of pieces of color. Of course when we stumbled onto this combination of Red & Green – we knew that it could be winning combination.

When getting close, design can make a difference. Odd number of similar species (1, 3, 5) can help the composition.

Tennessee Fall Color by Linda Vannetta

Tennessee Fall Color by Linda Vannetta

And once the majority of leaves have fallen, there will be plenty on the ground or in the water. This super image by Lens Lugger Linda Vanetta shows the dramatic effect possible.

Also, be aware that color moves from the higher elevation to the lower. Right now, in the mountains, I’ll be heading toward the Piedmont.

Jonathan Valley, NC Fall Color, Bob Grytten photo

Jonathan Valley, NC Fall Color, Bob Grytten photo

And I’ll have my camera with me in the car, even when not heading into the field. One never knows when those great opportunities will happen. This one happened while on my way some place else.

Have fun.

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Small changes to photos can yield Big results

Small changes to photos and yield Big results.

Sunset image Final by E.L. Ayres

Sunset image Final by E.L. Ayres

We often return from the field, anxious to verify what we were able to capture from an exciting shoot – only to discover that we also managed to pick up some distractions in an otherwise strong image. Either we missed it in the excitement of that special moment or had to include some things we normally would avoid. In either event, technology provides many ways to improve our work.

And sometimes, just applying some basic elements of composition can change an otherwise effective image. One of the common distractions often occurs in the fringe areas of the frame. It use to be that the image was destined for the trash heap. Not so much anymore.

The above super image send in by Lens Lugger E.L. Ayres had a distraction that, in this case, was necessary to make the image at all.

Here’s the original …

E.L.Ayres Image of sun over Stormy

E.L.Ayres Image of Sunset during Storm

This striking image certainly tells the story, and has been well composed – low horizon and good exposure. Looking more closely however. You’ll notice a white piece of sky peaking through at the top of the image. As the eye will naturally go to the lightest part of the scene, in this image it also watered down its intended message.

Returning the image to the post production computer program, there are a number of tools available to rectify this distraction. Cropping, cloning techniques, brushes, even an erasure tool that can help us.  Every computer program has some of those problem solvers, whether it be Adobe Lightroom. Adobe Photoshop, Elements, Nikon’s Aperture, Nikon’s Capture NX2, or Google’s Picasa. Have I missed any?

In Ayres case, he chose to crop across the top to eliminated the distraction. And while it eliminated part of the frame, turning the image into more of a panoramic scene, I think it saved the day

Comments invited…

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When is an Image not an Image?

You talk'n to me…? Bob Gryttebn photo

You talk’n to me…? Bob Grytten photo

When is an image not really an image?

In this issue we will explore that question…

My first reaction would be to say, never. But perhaps the real question should be… When does an image not communicate.

We’ve learned that a photograph means communicating with light and I believe that light is a major factor in making an image.

Alfred Stieglitz “Wherever there is light, one can photograph.”

Wikipedia defines “images” this way…An image (from Latin: imago) is an artifact that depicts or records visual perception, for example a two-dimensional picture, that has a similar appearance to some subject – usually a physical object or a person, thus providing a depiction of it.

For our purpose; however, before we get too far afield right now, let’s stay with the communication part of the discussion. At the same time we will recognize that some images have less communication impact than others. They’re just as worthy. Some images merely describe a subject like a butterfly or dog or person – documenting what the subject looks like. For that we often rely on Technical Skills to make the image as sharp as possible, with as few distractions as possible, good exposure etc., — so there will be no question as to what the purpose of the image is.

Let’s move to the next level; however, to explore a photo as a way to illustrate an event or story — communicate, if you will.

I solicited a random subject and Lens Lugger Beverly Slone sent in an image she took of two people and a dog. It is an excellent example of technique – sharp image, good depth of field, and effective exposure.


What can we do to guide us in the making of an image? Bryan Peterson, in his book Learning to See Creatively discusses Design, Color and Composition of Images, and I think now were beginning to approach what makes that WOW image? — the visual show stopper.

He discusses shape, form, texture, pattern, lines, and color. I think the more images we make, the better we become – but in steps.

First, we become familiar with our camera, then we begin to see things once the equipment becomes more automatic. Next, we begin to see a little differently. Then once we understand the elements of design we begin to incorporate them in our images — and all of a sudden our work magically improves. One instructor called it “practiced intuition.”

The Human Mind Seeks Order

Knowing that the mind seeks order helps us design or make effective images out of chaos. The strongest images seem to incorporate design elements. Our example above incorporates a bunch of them. Color – red and green are complimentary colors (go well together). The eye goes to the lightest color first – that would be the dog. The dog’s leash, while it isn’t strong visually  (the mind fills that in – because of the way the person sitting has his arms) and the other person is looking down which actually draws our eyes toward the dog.

However, while I liked the image, I felt there was a lot going on; but, it couldn’t be avoided. It was there. Then I employed a technique I use to help define elements where a lot of different colors exist. Convert to B&W.  This is what resulted…

Street Scene by Beverly slone

Street Scene by Beverly Slone

Suddenly order came to the image within the shades of grey and white. The doggie really popped out, and the arms of both persons seemed to point toward the dog. Three images also appeared – the dog, and the two heads – each contributing to the story. Isn’t this computer stuff great!!

Stepping out of the box…

Beverly also sent along three other images that are effective. Normally, Beverly shoots nature; however, she was interested in “branching out a bit,” she said. Nature is a great place to develop skills. Applying them to anything can be a automatic transition.

Think non distracting background. And getting closer

Alley Art by Baverly Slone

Alley Art by Baverly Slone

This is the first image Beverly sent…

Notice how much order there is in this image. Probably the first thing is the fire escape on the diagonal. It helps to hold the viewers eye in the frame.

The three trash cans are also repetitive  and the stairs give the viewer a idea about walking through the door, even including the hint of a hand rail.

No caption is required – the elements in the scene are suggestive. And of course once the viewer can’t escape out of the scene, the treat is the stuff written on the wall. A+

Iron on Wall by Beverly Slone

Iron on Wall by Beverly Slone

The next example is simple and all eye candy. The effective graphic here is repetion. It could have been any element – a subject itself does not make an effect image.

Tan Man by Beverly Slone

Tan Man by Beverly Slone

Our third and final image speaks for itself. Clean background, subject, symbol, involvement. All the elements of a first rate Photo Illustration.

Also notice – the photographer placed the eyes in the rule of thirds upper right quadrant, as well as the hand in the lower left quadrant.

Something to think about  next time we have a person to photograph.

No caption required. all visual communication.

Thank you, Beverly.

PS. To develop the eye to recognize images that will work, one simply has to look at a lot of effective images. Consider looking at the works of Master Painters. Let the information flow in. At some point that buildup of knowledge comes out. At some point knowing what ones sees becomes automatic. Called practiced intuition.

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Cataloochee Valley Elk – the Rut

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Lens Luggers in the Spotlight – Beverly Slone and Diane Jettinghoff

Lens Luggers in the Spotlight – Beverly Slone and Diane Jettinghoff

Waxy Caps. Besst of Show Award at 2014 County Fair by Beverly Slone

Waxy Caps. Best of Show Award at 2014 County Fair by Beverly Slone

Photo by Bob Grytten

Photo by Bob Grytten

Waxy Caps by Beverly Slone receives Best in Show at 2014 Haywood County Fair, NC USA

Zebra Breath, 2nd Best of Show, by Beverly Slone

Zebra Breath, 2nd Best of Show, by Beverly Slone


Zebra Breath by Beverly Slone receives Second Best of Show, ’14 County Fair

Bee on Dalhia Blue Ribbon Award 2014 County Fair by Beverly Slone

Bee on Dalhia Blue Ribbon Award 2014 County Fair by Beverly Slone


Bee on Dalhia by Beverly Slone receives Blue Ribbon, ’14 Haywood County Fair

Mountain Layers by Beverly Slone - Blue Ribbon

Mountain Layers by Beverly Slone – Blue Ribbon

Mountain Layers by Beverly Slone – Blue Ribbon ’14 County Fair

Lone Tree by Beverly Slone - Blue Ribbon winner

Lone Tree by Beverly Slone – Blue Ribbon winner




Lone Tree – Blue Ribbon winner by Beverly Slone, ’14 County Fair



Photo by Bob Grytten

Photo by Bob Grytten

Special Showing…

Diane Jettinghoff to hold one person show at City Lights in Sylva NC. Reception to be held Friday, September 12 from 6pm to 8pm. Light appetizers will be served. Jettinghoff’s work ranges from landscape to abstract to small studio to close-up. The theme of this show is “Close-up” and represents both North Carolina and Florida. City Lights Bookstore and Cafe is located downtown Sylva on Spring Street, one block up the hill from Main Street.



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Close to home, Looking Glass Falls – by Charles Coburn

Looking Glass Falls by Charles Coburn

Looking Glass Falls by Charles Coburn

Looking Glass Falls is a very popular falls for photographers and the general public as well, just outside of Brevard, NC on US 276, so going on a Wednesday provided a minimal invasion to disrupt capturing some images.  Working from the platform required careful composing of the image and only slight cropping in post production.  Image was made with a Nikon d300, set at f/22, ISO 200, 2.5 sec, and a focal length of 35mm, with a circular polarizer. The lens is a Tamron 18-200mm, f 3.5-6.3. Post processing was done in Lightroom.

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