Monday, March 1, 2021

Head of the Gut: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means


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The camera has always been a guide, and it's allowed me to see things and focus on things that maybe an average person wouldn't even notice.” - Don Chadwick

What peculiar names we give to places! Who could imagine a head or a gut being terms for an area of water? How can so many rivers and creeks in the Northeast end with the malevolent sounding kill? (Hint: There's nothing violent to worry about; it's from the Dutch colonists who originally explored there.) Did you know an inlet is also known as an arm of the sea? Some of these terms are for similar types of water features but depend upon their size... for instance, “you can step over a brook, jump over a creek, wade across a stream and swim across a river" as an old saying goes. Where I grew up, a creek was actually called a crick, at least by my mom. In Scotland, a large stream is a burn, thus the common ending to so many Scotch whisky names. I love how these wondrous terms give such imagery to our world. The next time you come across some body of water, take a moment to learn about it. You just might encounter a new word! As I wrote in my post on February 27, 2021...

The Nature Preserve on the north side of the Indian River Inlet is another treasured local place in Lower Delaware. Not only are the beaches and marshes wonderfully wild, the water views from the hiking trail are magnificent, filled with shimmering golds and bright blues. Just north of Burton Island’s Sawpit Cove is a narrows known as the ‘Head of the Gut.’ A head, as it applies here, is a point of land that extends into a body of water. And a gut is a coastal channel that has strong tidal currents flowing in and out. This photograph shows the gut in all its glory marking the transition between Rehoboth Bay to the north and Indian River Bay to the south. Captured just a few hours before sunset, the sky is still brilliantly lit with a gorgeous cloud gracefully passing through the image. I think knowing more about our beautiful lands and waters will encourage us to love and protect them. As always, I wish you peace and to be well, my friends.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Bayside Sparkle: A Jewel to Protect and Enjoy


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Don't shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.” - David Alan Harvey

My friend David Benton remarked, "This has your unique stamp of composition. No one else would have seen that." This post blew up compared to most of mine. I received more than 500 likes on one Facebook group (my first photograph ever to do so) and hundreds more in my other social media and what's even better are the many comments where people described how much they too enjoyed the blessings of the bays. Lower Delaware is lucky to have Indian River Bay and Rehoboth Bay, as are the many animals and plants that live in these remarkable estuaries. People also commented how they worried that the bays may become ruined from overdevelopment and their concerns are valid; many new homes and condos are being built on the bay shore as people flock to the area seeking waterfront living. It's so important to understand the importance of the bays in the natural world and that we both protect them and enjoy them. As I suggested in my post on February 20, 2021, they are jewels in Delaware's crown...

Do you realize how very blessed we are to have Rehoboth Bay in our backyard? The ocean and beaches deservedly get top billing around here but the bay is one of our local treasures. A bar-built estuary, Rehoboth Bay is separated from the ocean by a barrier beach and is fed by several inland creeks. Rehoboth Bay gets tidal exchange with the Atlantic Ocean via the Indian River Bay’s stabilized inlet. Combining with the freshwater and nutrients from the creeks, the tidal saltwater flow makes both bays vital transition zones from river to maritime environments and a prolific natural habitat for a large variety of birds and aquatic animals. I captured ‘Bayside Sparkle’ at sunset from a spot just south of Dewey Beach, showing just a hint of our glorious bay. Have a great weekend, my friends, and I hope you get to enjoy some time outside soon!

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Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Dune's Irregulars: Delicate Buffers


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Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” - Dorothea Lange

Another one of my pleading missives about the dunes: please stay off them while enjoying the beach. The fences and warning signs are there to protect the delicate sea grasses which keep the dunes intact despite the steady ocean breeze and powerful waves. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people of all ages ignoring the signs, breaching the fence, and traipsing all over or lounging on the dunes, often for a group snapshot or selfie. Unleashed dogs are frequently the culprits of grass damage because their owners won't follow the law. We must protect our beaches and natural resources. Everyone of us needs to be a steward of the environment so we and our posterity can continue to enjoy its many blessings. Working together is the only way forward. While it usually takes a village to keep a place beautiful, sadly it only takes one selfish person to ruin it. And if you never gave the dunes a second thought, think about what I wrote in my post on February 13, 2021...

Wind and surf relentlessly erode, stripping the sand away and leaving the beach thin and bare. Powerful storms from the sea and high tides can rush water over the weakened beachfront to unprotected areas further inland. And as the water recedes, it carries even more precious sand away with it. Fortunately, the dunes stand guard, ready to face the onslaught and turn back the tide. But what holds the dunes together? What keeps these delicate mounds of sand stable enough to do their important job? In ‘The Dune’s Irregulars,’ meet the veritable guerrilla army of grasses that grow on our fragile dunes, their stems deflecting the punishing wind and their roots stubbornly helping the sand to turn back the ceaseless waves. Alone, each bunch of grass can do little, but look at what a bunch of bunches can do! We too can accomplish far more together than we ever could alone. Let’s be like the many grasses, working cooperatively to keep our beautiful part of the world stalwart and secure. Peace and be well, my friends!

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Monday, February 8, 2021

Last Call: Memento Mori


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In photography, there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” - Alfred Stieglitz

It's too easy to assume that we can do tomorrow what should be done today. Stephen Covey argued that we too often use our time on the urgent instead of the important, assuming we'll be able to deal with the important things later. A stoic would say to remember that we are going to die, or memento mori. Marcus Aurelius, in his Meditations, wrote, "You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think." Let us realize how precious our lives and relationships are and try to treat them with the respect they deserve on a daily basis, remembering we may not be able to make amends tomorrow for hurt and pain dispensed today. None of this is depressing if we remember the point: our time is a gift and we shouldn't waste it trivially. My post on February 6, 2021 is in memory of two lower Delaware men who by all accounts lived with purpose and integrity...

I don’t know if they knew each other personally but I’m sure they knew of each other. I like to think these two gulls represent the spirits of TJ Redefer and Gus Svolis, both special men who made their marks on the Delaware Shore.
TJ owned Rehoboth Bay Realty, served as the mayor of Dewey Beach, and was known for his genuine love of his hometown proudly showing it off with his amazingly beautiful drone videos.
Gus founded Rehoboth Beach icon Gus & Gus Place way back in 1956 and dependably fed thousands of hungry customers at his charming restaurant at the corner of Wilmington Avenue and the boardwalk.
Sadly, both men passed away last year but their memories will long live on because of the generous way they treated others. In ‘Last Call’ on a sunset pier over Rehoboth Bay, I can see these two Delaware originals peacefully hanging out and keeping an eye over the place they loved.
Hope all of you have a great weekend, my friends! And show someone you love how much they mean to you. Tomorrow is a promise to no one.

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One last remark... I was blessed to receive a reply from TJ's wife Bobbie Redefer in which she expressed her thanks for my post. I'm honored and it warms my heart to know she appreciated it. I share her words here: "I am not sure we know each other, but I just want to say from the bottom of my broken heart, this is a beautiful post and tribute to two wonderful men. TJ touched so many people and am overwhelmed after 33 years of marriage, I am still reminded by everyone what a wonderful husband, father and son and community leader he was. We are all such better people because of him. He was a warm, kind human! We often went to the boardwalk to walk and always stopped in to have a burger at Gus and Gus almost weekly. We loved visiting with Gus and his family, it brought back many childhood memories for TJ. Thank you for remembering them both! I am honored and humbled to say TJ was my husband and best friend. God bless you sir. Love, Bobbie"


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Off Season: Why Winter at the Beach Rocks!


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A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. It is, in a word, effective.” - Irving Penn

One of my favorite memories is being on the beach mid-winter with my young children, flying a kite in the brisk sea breeze. Dressed in fleece and hats, we probably steered the boys clear of the cold water but enjoyed the empty space on the sand and the chill of the salt air. My wife snapped a personal photograph of the three of us that always makes me warm inside when I see it. If you ever find a beach in range on a cold day, go see for yourself why many locals think winter is the best time of the year! As I wrote in my post on January 16, 2021...

Locals know what I’m talking about. That time of year when it’s a bit too damp, chilly, gray, and generally overcast to be pleasing to the fair-weather tourist. The time of year locals can’t wait for every summer. That time of year when those who truly love the seashore head to the ocean, even if you’re from further away. The ‘Off Season,’ when the beaches are empty, dogs can play in the sand, and parking is easy. I hope you get a chance to experience a mid-winter surf stroll with your love, your friend, or perhaps your dog someday soon. Peace and be well!

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Monday, January 25, 2021

Rehoboth Dayspring: A Photo Story


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There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself,  for what we see is what we are.” - Ernst Haas

Who doesn't enjoy watching and listening to the waves crash against the jetty? Even a gentle surf becomes something special and powerful when it has something immovable to break against. The amazing colors in the predawn sky make a spectacular backdrop for the blues and white highlights in the wave curls and jetty spray. Although it requires an early morning wakeup, a fair amount of preparation, and a wee bit of luck to capture an image like this, I find the experience gratifying even I never get to release the shutter. As I wrote on December 19, 2020...

It’s mornings like this one that make my efforts as a photographer so filled with joy. The clouds at the horizon helped pump a lot of creamy color in the sunrise sky while my longer shutter speed helped smooth the surf while still capturing the wave break. So despite the East breeze chilling my fingertips and threatening my tripod, I knew the image could be worth it. I hope ‘Rehoboth Dayspring’ gives you as much joy in the viewing as I take in the sharing.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Connection: Naïve Anticipation for a Fresh Start?


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To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” - Elliott Erwitt

Written shortly before the new year began, the day after Christmas in fact, I tried to describe how the years pass connected to each other but also commemorated by themselves for their significant events. 2020 doesn't stand out as a particularly good year considering the pandemic, the continuing racial strife, the uneven policing, and the polarized political environment. I was hoping to see better things in 2021, but perhaps I was too naïve. The more things change, the more they stayed the same. One can only hope that we see things get better especially with the COVID vaccination program ramping up. As I wrote on December 26, 2021...

As we pass through the holidays and inch ever closer to the new year, there are some who’d like to kick this year to the curb and probably for good reason. We’ve experienced a collective trauma this year the likes of which we haven’t felt in decades. But even with all the difficult challenges that we’ve endured, there has been room for growth, a chance to reaffirm our priorities and work to be better. One year yields to the next and they’re all linked, symbolized here by our iconic ‘Connection’ from one side of the Indian River Inlet to the other. Here’s to the hope that lessons from the past can help us keep making the future better. Thanks to everyone doing essential work and keeping our world moving forward. I appreciate you. And thank you to everyone who has supported my art.

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