Sunday, February 28, 2010

West Palm Beach GreenMarket

Last Saturday about 30 people from the PBC Photo Walkers met at the West Palm Beach GreenMarket.

View West Palm Beach Green Market in a larger map

To be honest, I was not expecting a whole lot to come out of this meetup but I knew we'd have a good time as we usually do when we get together. I went to work super early for a few hours and then met most of the group at about 9am in the courtyard by the city library; the rest met us over at the GreenMarket.

I guess we were the first photography group to go there this year because the vendors and customers were very curious about what the heck we were doing. Most of them were very happy for us to take pictures of them and/or their products and our group tried really hard to remember to ask before we did. After a while I think everyone got used to us.

Anyway, I said earlier that I didn't expect a lot out of this meetup... but I was pleasantly surprised at the amazing variety and quality of shots that our group took! Here is a link to the photo album from that morning. So far 145 pictures have been posted!
For the most part, I could categorize my pictures in 5 groups.

[1] Fruits / Veggies

[2] Flowers

[3] Other delicious food
(yes, we snacked along the way)

[4] Dogs
(I did not take a lot of dog pictures but there were a LOT of dogs there.
See the group photo album for many really cool dog pictures)

[5] People
We were taking a picture of our reflection in the pavillion builiding
 over by the new WPB waterfront area.

My favorite picture from this photo walk is my favorite because it not only gives a glimpse of how bustling the GreenMarket is but it also expresses the true spirit of our photo group. My Palm Beach County photo of the week on DPC is of Nikki, the "host" of this month's photo walk.

Thanks Nikki!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Blue Heron bridge

When you live in a place as beautiful as Palm Beach County, Florida, you can find an never ending supply of photo opportunities and some of them are quite surprising. In the last few months I have explored the area around Blue Heron bridge... both on top of the bridge and under it (on both the east side and the west side).

View Blue Heron bridge in a larger map

As you'll soon see, this post should really be titled "Strangers under the bridge" or something like that. Many photographers I know are very comfortable walking up to strangers to ask them if they would mind being photographed. I am not exactly at that point yet; I still like to be sneaky about it. However, more and more I am realizing that quite a bit of photography can be more interesting when the main subject is a person, or at least when a personis in the shot. For some strange reason I have had luck taking strangers' pictures in this small area near the Blue Heron Bridge (and none of them knew I was there).


I was very excited at the view when I first walked up to the top of the bridge
 (ok, it was the only time I have ever walked up there).

Looking out

Looking down (again, more strangers)

Looking down the ladder!

Here's my very favorite from one of my visits to the bridge and it is my Palm Beach County photo of the week on DPC.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Belle Glade

Starting with week 7, and lasting until week 15, chances are high that I will not be posting many new pictures. The reason is that "tax season" has officially kicked in. What this means to me is that my typical work week will be anywhere from 60 - 80 hours until April 15th. However, I have promised myself that I will take the time to write my blog each week, although I will probably be using pictures taken sometime during the past year.

This week last year I took a day off and joined the Leadership Palm Beach County Class of 2009's  "Agriculture Day". I was a member of the Class of 2008 and during my year, I missed this day since it was later in tax season. I guess I should backtrack and briefly explain LPBC (which will be difficult because I can talk about this organization for hours). According to their website, "LPBC exists to identify and unite leaders from diverse backgrounds and perspectives in order to increase their understanding of countywide issues and improve their ability to lead effectively." Here's the process... those intererested in participating will fill out a comprehensive application (due in April) and then sometime during the summer they are told if they are accepted; the resulting class consists of approximately 45-50 leaders from around the area. In August they meet as a group for the first time at an overnight retreat at the Hilton on Singer Island. The purpose of these initial few days is for the class to get to know each other and the weekend is filled with a lot of team building exercises and other fun activities.

Starting in September, the class meets the bus somewhere & spends one entire day each month (until the following May) on field trips to various parts of the county. Each day is a different theme and last February was "Agriculture Day" (for more info on the adult leadership program PLEASE visit the website). We headed west to a part of Palm Beach County that few really visit on a regular basis (except those that live there)... Belle Glade. This blog entry will specifically discuss the sugarcane fields in Belle Glade.

Belle Glade is a city in Palm Beach County on the southeastern shore of Lake Okeechobee and about half the sugarcane in the nation is grown in the plains around Belle Glade and nearby Clewiston. The LPBC class spent time learning about the sugarcane industry from the fields to the factory.

I have to admit, even after learning about the entire process, it really doesn't make sense to me why they grow the sugarcane and then burn it down... and the bigger question is how the heck did the first person who did this figure out that this is the way to do it? Was it an accident... the farmer was initially very upset that his field was burned down and then wow was he happy when he realized that the sugar was hidden (somehow) until the fire revealed its goodness?

Well, in any case, it was really amazing to watch this happen, especially from so close. At first, we were watching from afar:

The coolest part was watching the birds hanging out along the perimeter of the fields. They told us that the birds know that the critters (i.e. dinner) will come running out of the burning cane fileds.


My favorite picture from the field is my Palm Beach County photo of the week on DPC.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Singer Island

Every year in Janauary Gregg and I take a mini "pre-tax season" vacation. Our first one was the January after we met and we went to Ireland... not surprisingly we haven't managed to live up to that one yet. We generally stay close to home now and find a nice hotel somewhere in FL (past weekend trips include St. Augustine, Naples and Miami). This year we stayed at  The Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa, which used to be The Resort at Singer Island.

We really love staying on the beach; nothing compares to the sound of the waves at night or leaving the balcony doors open and smelling the salt air. I really love getting up super early and bringing my camera down to the beach. I grabbed my camera bag and tripod and headed down about 6:15 only to witness one of the saddest excuses for a sunrise I've ever seen... with one very brief moment of color:

After that, the sky was very boring. However, as would most photographers I know, I did not give up that easily. Heck, I have all of my camera equipment, an ocean, beautiful morning light and hours before Gregg would wake up... right? While standing there attempting pictures of the less than spectacular sunrise, a surfer walked up from the parking area with his surfboard under his arm. We chatted for a bit and then he headed down to the water. He spent less than an hour out there, just paddling around. Believe it or not (and it's almost impossible from these pictures) he said he's been doing this for over seventy years! Pretty incredible.


Right before heading back up to the room (to read on the balcony, another of my favorite things to do) I snapped a few pictures of this lifeguard shack, which is very common around here but a nice photography subject:

Around 11, we took off on our bikes and headed north on A1A. We stopped an chatted with a older couple who were out walking and had stopped on the intracoastal side to look at something. Thank goodness Gregg is very sociable because while he was being friendly, I was walking silently through the brush to capture this guy:


I was later told by one of my Palm Beach Photo Walker friends that he is a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. Learning all of these birds names is a challenge to me but I've been trying very hard and learning a lot thanks to my photographer friends, especially Julianne (Juliboc on DPC). You just have to look at her bird collection, it's truly amazing.

We continued to ride north, our ultimate goal being The Waterway Cafe on PGA Blvd. On the way we passed MacArthur Beach State Park and decided to stop to check it out. I really can't believe neither one of us had ever been there before. (According to the website the park is in North Palm Beach but I'll still include these pictures in the Singer Island blog post). VERY beautiful place, nice quiet beach and even kayaking is available (one day soon).


Alternate A1A is definitely a road worth driving or riding on, especially up that way. I think I was frustrating Gregg a little because I kept stopping to take pictures. The sky was not beautiful that day (and it was VERY windy) but in spite of that, I think the pictures turned out ok. It's just so peaceful and natural...

We did end up having lunch at the Waterway Cafe and rode back to the hotel (after a few beers and the wind picking up, this was no easy feat). It was a pretty long ride but it really made me realize (once again) what a beautiful place Palm Beach County is. One of my favorite shots of Singer Island is of the resort, from the beach side, and it is my Palm Beach County photo of the week on DPC.