Solarized Crotons

Crotons, Codiaeum variegatum, are evergreen, tropical shrubs that have been commonly grown in Florida landscapes for decades. They belong to the Euphorbiaceae Family. In southeastern Asia they have been cultivated for centuries and many hundreds of cultivars have been bred with a range of different leaf shapes, sizes and colors.
Crotons are originally native to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and northern Queensland, Australia. It is a tropical shrub and grows best in the southern and central parts of Florida. Frost or temperatures below freezing temperatures can damage crotons.
If they get damaged by cold, delay any pruning until the danger of frost is past. In central Florida this is usually late February or early March. If the plant is damaged, lightly scratch a stem. If it is green then the stem is alive and will resprout. If not, usually the lower stems survive and resprout from the roots. Plant it in a warm location in the landscape. In colder locations be prepared to protect the shrub in winter or grow in containers and bring them indoors during freezing weather.
Crotons are easy to grow. Most prefer full sun or bright shade. Plants in higher light have the brighter coloring. Some varieties prefer indirect sun and will look washed out with full sun. Crotons can tolerate shade but the shadier the location the less vivid the foliage color will be.

 

Crotons-web

Prints of this image are available for sale here: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/solarized-crotons-bill-barber.html

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Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Thomas Drayton and his wife Ann arrived from Barbados to the new English colony of Charles Towne and established Magnolia Plantation along the Ashley River in 1679. Thomas and Ann were the first in a direct line of Magnolia family ownership that has lasted more than 300 years and continues to this day.

Magnolia Plantation saw immense wealth and growth through the cultivation of rice during the Colonial era. Later, British and American troops would occupy its grounds during the American Revolution, while the Drayton sons would become both statesmen and soldiers fighting against British rule.

The establishment of the early gardens at Magnolia Plantation in the late 17th century would see an explosion of beauty and expansion throughout the 18th century, but it was not until the early 19th century did the gardens at Magnolia truly begin to expand on a grand scale.

In 1680 the Magnolia Plantation house was built by John Drayton. The original house lasted only until 1865 when it was destroyed by Union Troops. The existing house was built in 1873 and is open to the public for tours. One of the most notable features of the plantation grounds are the gardens. Known as the first American Garden, countless indigenous plants have grown here for more than two hundred years. The gardens are home to the nation’s largest compilation of azaleas and camellias. Also to be experienced on the estate is the 60 acre Audubon Swamp garden, Biblical Gardens, Barbados Tropical Garden, train tours, petting zoo, wildlife observation tower, art gallery, horticulture maze, nature trails, 18th century herb garden, and antebellum cabin.

Below are some of the images I came away with when I recently visited. You can get a larger view of any of these pictures simply by “clinking” on them. I hope you enjoy them.

Sideview-Long-White-Bridge-webIt is almost obligatory that you photograph the “Long White Bridge”. Here are several views if this iconic bridge, from both sides and a Black & White.

Long-White-Bridge-webLooking-Down-the-Long-White-Bridge-webLong-White-Bridge-at-angle-webLong-White-Bridge-at-angle-B&W-webSmall-White-Bridge-webThere is also a “Small White Bridge” that often takes a back seat to its bigger sister.

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Great Blue Heron

Yesterday I visited Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston, SC. While there I had to visit their Audubon Swamp Garden.

The Audubon Swamp Garden is a unique world where trees grow from the water, islands float, and everywhere wild creatures go about their secret lives. It boasts a diversity of living things almost unequaled anywhere else in America. Thousands of plant and animal species coexist amongst the cypress and tupelo gum trees, surrounded by blackwater. Each year, hundreds of egrets, herons, and other waterfowl nest within feet of the walking path. You can explore this wild and otherwise inaccessible landscape on boardwalks, bridges, and dikes.

As I was walking through the Swamp Garden I happened to spot a Great Blue Heron perched on a nest very high up in a tree. The Great Blue Heron is a majestic sight. This stately heron with its subtle blue-gray plumage often stands motionless as it scans for prey or wades belly deep with long, deliberate steps. They may move slowly, but Great Blue Herons can strike like lightning to grab a fish or snap up a gopher. In flight, look for this widespread heron’s tucked-in neck and long legs trailing out behind.  I was fortunate to get a shot of this magnificent creature. I hope you enjoy it.

Blue-Heron-in-Tree-web

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Creativity

Digital Camera World has posted in interesting article on creativity! Here is a link to 52 different photography projects that can keep you busy in 2015! Most can be done regardless of the weather.

Click here to start getting creative.

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Swizzle Inn

In May of 2014, my wife and I took a Celebrity cruise to Bermuda. It was an absolutely wonderful trip. Visited a gorgeous island and made many new friends.

Our first day there was taken up with a tour. Our tour guide was fantastic. On our way back to the ship, we (there were 8 of us) asked to stop at the Swizzle Inn. Most of us had heard about it and we had driven past it earlier and we wanted to experience it. I thought you might like to learn a little about it too.

Located at the Bailey’s bay near Crystal Caves, Swizzle Inn Bermuda is the oldest pub in the island, opened in 1932 and set up in a 17th century roadside house. It is run by the Correia family through generations. Swizzle Inn is known to have created island’s famous drink, The Rum Swizzle. It’s a mix of Goslings Black Seal  Rum, Gold Rum, orange & pineapple juices, and bitters. I found Rum Swizzle fairly strong, however noticed the islanders taking pitcher full of this drink :-)
The restaurant here offers British and Bermudian dishes. As you enter Swizzle Inn, there are thousands of business cards and graffiti pasted all over the walls. It’s customary to leave your business card or scribble your name on the pub’s colorful walls. The furniture in the pub have a rustic look. The guest book dates back from 1942.
The Bermudian magazine rated the swizzleburger, a bacon cheese burger made at Swizzle Inn, as the best in Bermuda. Serving primarily pub fares, some of the freshly prepared favorites include fish and chips, conch fritters, and shepherd’s pie. These items are at least a notch above typical Bermudian pub grub.
If you get to go you will not regret it!
Swizzle-Inn-web
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Sabattier Effect Revisited

Last night I pulled up an image I had taken of a Blue and Gold Macaw (see below). I then applied a Sabattier Effect to the Macaw (also see below).

Using this effect can create some strange images. It is fun to play with! I have a written and video tutorial if you would like to learn more and play along. You can see the tutorial here: Sabattier Tutorial.

If you create some images doing this, feel free to share them on my Facebook Photo Page here: Bill Barber FaceBook Photography Page

Below is the before and after of the Blue & Gold Macaw.

Blue and Gold Macaw-web Blue-and-Gold-Macaw-Sabattier-web

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A Gift For You

As a gift to you I have created 2015 monthly calendars for you to use! The link below will take you to a page where you can download any or all months of 2015. Each download is a 8 1/2 x 11 printable PDF. Download all or a month at a time as you desire.

Click HERE to get your FREE calendars!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

 

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Yellow-throated Warbler

The yellow-throated warbler (Dendroica dominica) is the most common member of the genus Dendroica in the southern United States, where it is known for being a harbinger of spring. It is aptly named for its brilliant plumage, with the bright yellow throat and breast, along with the white patch on the side of the neck, distinguishing this largely blue-grey bird from similar species. Other characteristics of the yellow-throated warbler include a white belly, two white bars on the wing, black streaks along the side, a long black bill and brown legs and feet.

The yellow-throated warbler is a migratory species, and during the winter it is found throughout the Caribbean, along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico as far as Texas, and east to the Florida peninsula and the Bahamas. It breeds in the eastern and central United States, where it is found as far north as Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

There are currently no known major threats to the yellow-throated warbler. In fact, this species’ range is currently expanding, possibly due to the restoration of many areas after the effects of large-scale deforestation in the nineteenth century.

The warbler pictured below was seen at Punta Sur, Cozumel, Mexico.

Yellow-Throated-Warbler-web

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Tumba del Caracol

Tumba del Caracol

The Celarain lighthouse (Faro de Celarain) sits on the Punta Sur promontory (Punta Celarain) and is part of a nautical museum. Just northeast of it is the Caracol (Tumba del Caracol), a Mayan site dedicated to Ixchel that was built during the post classic period and was built with a dome that was covered in marine shells so that the breeze gave it a special humming sound. It was also built as a special place to advise the local people of the intensity of the wind (one of the first hurricane warning systems). It is located in the cape juxtaposed on the island to that of Punta Molas to the extreme northeast.

The Mayans built it in the 12th century, made from coral stone carved into blocks. The bottom section is no more than 5-6 feet high and the openings were small doors on all four sides. A person had to crawl in and only the priests could do so. They would remain in a prone position while in the little room and pray. The top was flat and on that was the smaller room which really wasn’t a room. Just shaped like one. It also had 1 window on each of the 4 sides. There were 4 shield-like stones, I would say they looked like upside down crusader shields, that were positioned about a foot and a half away from and directly in front of the windows. If you look closely at this picture, you can see the remaining stubble of the one out to the left.
On top of the 2nd smaller room is this mortar dome, and in the dome are 4 rows of holes that go straight up to the top and line up with the windows in the little room. These holes are actually little conch shells with the ends cut off, imbedded in the mortar. It looks like the suckers on the arms of an octopus. Now on top of this dome, they put a large king conch shell, again with the front end cut off and placed facing down. They used dugout canoes to get around the island and when weather was normal, nothing would happen. But if the wind started to pick up and I mean really pick up, like being pushed by an incoming hurricane, the wind would create a back draft of sorts behind these little shields and air would be forced up through the dome, creating a very loud sound similar to a trumpet note. With this structure, the Mayans had one of the first hurricane early warning systems.

Some of the sandy beaches are protected to allow hatching for sea turtles. It also serves to protect the beaches, lagoons, low lying jungle, mangrove swamps, and the coral reefs that surround the area. The total area is approximately 1 square kilometer. Observation towers have been erected at the Columbia lagoon to watch wildlife. Off Punta Sur is the Devil’s Throat scuba area, while in the closer reef visitors can snorkel.

We got to view all of Punta Sur via Cozumel Jeep Excursions – I highly recommend them!

Click on image for larger view

El-Caracol-web

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El Cedral

El Cedral is the oldest Mayan Ruins on Cozumel Island, dating back to 800 A.D.

Once the hub of Maya life on Cozumel, this was the first site found by Spanish explorers in 1518, and the first mass in Mexico was reportedly celebrated here. These days, there’s little evidence of its past glory. It is believed to be hundreds of years old and faint traces of the original paint and stucco are evident. El Cedral is different in shape from the typically small and low structures found on the island, suggesting it was used for major ceremonies. Nearby is a green and white cinderblock church, decorated inside with crosses shrouded in embroidered lace.

During the 1800’s, El Cedral was used as a jail. Today, the area is occupied by a small farm settlement. Every May there is a fair held at this location called Festival de Cedral, with several days and nights filled with traditional ceremonies, dancing, music, bullfights and a cattle show.

On display we found a Mayan Calendar and several depictions of Mayan Gods. If someone can ID them, please comment below!

My trip to El Cedral was via Cozumel Cruise Excursions!

 

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