Kite Surfing Action Series

three shots in one second

For a change of scene we visited Cape Canaveral, the beach at Cherie Down Park were an informal gathering of Kite Surfers was underway. Here is a series of action shots, one second elapsed from first to last.

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Conditions were excellent: good northerly wind, the sun overcast and, it being afternoon, in the west. Surfers stayed relatively close to shore, near their starting point. I had packed the “heavy gun” camera with a tripod.

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Panning the scene (swiveling on the tripod), the camera in rapid exposure mode, I pressed the shutter release and held it down.

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The surfer was captured mid-jump to landing.


Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Cocoa Beach Kite Skating

Kiteskaters and Cruise Ships

In the early morning hours of Sunday, September 10, 2017 as Hurricane Irma approached the Florida Keys, I cannot sleep, worried about family members north of Miami and in Daytona Beach. To pass the time, I returned to the golden hours of March 4, 2017 evening.  On vacation, Pam and I walked Cocoa Beach starting from Lori Wilson Park, headed north.

The light was perfect when I decided to switch to Raw-Jpeg mode, feeling the extra space was worth it.  I don’t know why I don’t shoot Raw 100% of the time, as always, in retrospect, I regret using jpeg only. The camera was the Sony Alpha 700 dslr with a DT 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 lens purchased 2008 after an expedition to the Superstition Wilderness.

After capturing a wedding photo shoot and surfers there was this set of two Kite Skaters going at least 20 miles an hour. The Sony Alpha was quick enough to capture some of the action in raw mode, I am not satisfied with the sharpness of the images as the lens was not fast enough.

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Overview, Approaching Kite skater

We had never watched kite skaters before and were prepared to understand the vision from watching distant kite surfers out beyond the breakers. North winds are the best for any type of kiting on Cocoa Beach and, that day, the wind was northeast. These riders zipped by in less than a minute. The sport is low key, it does not exist on Wikipedia. Image that. These two are having a fantastic time and stayed upright, going on and on and on down the miles long beach.

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Sailskater Dreamview with Cruise Ship

1990 KiteSkate pioneers on the USA east coast experimented with four-line controllable parafoil kites powering in-line skates for exciting rides on asphalt surfaces.

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Her partner approaches

The name “Wheels of Doom” suggest the danger of going this fast over a hard, rough surface.

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He makes it look easy

These Cocoa Beach riders are outfitted for speed and safety: pads, helmets.

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He maneuvers kite overhead to slow down.

Barefeet?? Unprotected skin? They must know how to dress, though maybe not.  He has never fallen?

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Full speed ahead with the kite positioned forward.

The beach within the tide line is solid, the pebbles, broken shells and such unforgiving as asphalt.

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Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Queen Victoria Arrival

Little did they know what lay in store….

Pam and I walked from Cheri Down park this morning of February 2020 to Jetty Park where we were fortuitous witnesses to the arrival of the Cunard ship Queen Victoria on an 84-day cruise around South America.

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I used my IPhone 7 to capture the event. Understanding the context of a ship’s arrival opens a whole new world. Standing on the pier I researched the voyage.

Here is the list of ports on the itinerary. These include the Caribbean, Central America and many of the same ports visited on the 2016 Oceania cruise Pam and I enjoyed from Lima, Peru to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Hamburg, Germany
Southampton, England
Kings Wharf, Bermuda
Port Canaveral, Florida
 Fort Lauderdale, Florida
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Bridgetown, Barbados
Manaus, Brazil
Santarem, Brazil
Salvador de Bahia, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Montevideo, Uruguay
Buenos Aires, rgentina
Puerto Madryn, Argentina
Ushuaia, Argentinia
Cape Horn, Chile
Punta Arenas, Chile
Puerto Montt, Chile
San Antonio, Chile
Coquimbo, Chile
Arica, Chile
Callao (Lima), Peru
 Manta, Ecuador
 Panama City, Panama
Panama Canal, Panama
Cartagena, Columbia
Willemstad, Dutch Antiles
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Ponta Delgada, Azores
Southampton, England
Hamburg, Germany

Little did they or we know the happy voyage was destined to terminate and return.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Dive!!

Less than 3 seconds elapse from the Osprey initiating dive to emergence from the surf and flight, fish in talons.

A sequence of high speed shots of what the Osprey does best. For this, the sixth and final post of this series (Click me for the first post, “Endless Searching“), we follow the bird in a dramatic plummet into the surf until it rises, catch in claws.

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“All Elements In Place”

Late morning of January 20, 2019 I headed out with the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III mounted with the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L USM lens for handheld shots. Many elements aligned for these shots: weather, equipment, placement among them. The angle of the sun at 11:21 am was not optimal, but the cloud cover made up for it.

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The Day’s Setting

Commitment

The dive impact happens in less than 2 seconds.

My observation is the reason the wings are extended is to maintain control of the dive…..
…..I have seen these dives terminate inches from the water with a u-shaped swoop.
Talons are extended in the final seconds.

The Strike

Less than one second from point of impact until emgergence and flight.

Instant of impace with wings still extended.
Gone

Arise

What strength, to lift off from the water.
Catch in talons
Copyright 2022, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Osprey Pictorial

Humans are hard coded to relish scenes of water and land.

Now and then a photograph comes along that stands by itself. For this, the fifth post of this series (Click me for the first post, “Endless Searching“), we explore images that speak for themselves.

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“Another Day in Paradise”

Humans are hard coded to relish scenes of water and land. This day I headed out with the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III mounted with the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L USM lens for handheld shots.

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The Day’s Setting

Hook, Line and Sinker

Poise

Barely visible on the horizon are Cape Canaveral Launch Towers
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Nesting

December through February is Florida Osprey nesting season.

“Florida ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) commonly nest on power poles, communication towers, water navigation devices, lighting fixtures, outdoor billboards and other man-made structures as well as in decaying or dead trees.” This quote from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission web site is a fitting introduction. For this, the fourth post of this series (Click me for the first post, “Endless Searching“), I explore images of Osprey nesting behavior.

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“Other Man-Made Structures”

Early morning winter Cocoa Beach walks offer a new experience with each dawn be it a change in wind, light, or beach-combing offerings. This looming crane was a consistent specter the entire month, poised over a downtown parking garage under construction.

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On the Lookout

Distant Figures

Each winter morning January 2019 I left our ocean side condo to walk the beach, taking equipment according to a whim. For this series I used the Sony Alpha 700 with a variable “Zoom” lens. In this next shot the focal length was set to maximum.

Searching the internet (“Florida Osprey behavior”), a link from http://www.naturesacademy.org states, in Florida, Osprey nesting season is December through February. The following series of photographs clearly show an Osprey with nesting material. The header image for this post clearly shows the markings of the individual holding a large branch.

The second individual is close to the same size, it is a reasonable conclusion the two are flying together. The series was taken in a 33 second time span.

The two were flying around the crane and it is beyond imagination they’d be successful building on an actively used crane. Would construction come to a halt until the nest was abandoned? I wonder.

In following days there were no signs of nesting behavior on the crane.

Copyright 2022, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Shoulder to Shoulder

Snatch and Grab Shopper

“They walk among us” can evoke horror, still it is a fitting description for the many species successful in an ecological niche occupied by humans. This is the third post of a series featuring the Osprey of Cocoa Beach, Florida. The first post is “Endless Searching,” In this post we follow a householder on a shopping expedition.

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Observation

Search internet references on Florida Osprey you find there is a mixture of year-round residents and migrants passing through spring/fall to points farther north. This being January, my brilliant conclusion is these are residents of Cocoa Beach, maintaining nests. My next post will have more on this.

Each winter morning January 2019 I left our ocean side condo to walk the beach, taking equipment according to a whim. For this series I used the Sony Alpha 700 with a variable lens. In this first shot, the watchful pose of the hunting Osprey is apparent, long glide with head slightly down.

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On the Lookout

Dive!!

Once these hawks entered my dim awareness and their habits understood, with a lot of luck I was able to click the button at the right time. You can see in the previous post, “Fishing Creatures,” how little time elapsed during a dive, the split second opportunity seen in the following photograph.

Committed

Wow, that is impact. The bird is poised to grab one fish, spotted under the water 50+ feet away, talons extended.

Into the Drink

Success rate? Those days in January, if the Osprey hit the water more than 50% of the time it flew away with a fish.

Our seven year old grandson is an enthusiastic fisherman and might be able to identify this catch. In the distance, on the horizon is Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, the lighthouse and space launch towers .

An image of Osprey / Human closeness. The long lens tends to bring objects closer together, the Osprey is far away from the early morning walkers.

A reader, “ekurie”, in observing Ospreys noticed the catch is oriented to aerodynamic, placed head first toward the direction of flight. The hawk is using the evolutionary adaptations of the fish, to reduce drag in the water, to flying through the air.

This snatch and grab shopper is headed straight home to a nest beyond the shore front condos.

A Well Deserved Meal.
Copyright 2019, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Man of War Beach Walk

Beauties and Dangers Encountered During a Walk on the Beach

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Setting off from the International Palms Resort Pam and I turned left, walking toward the pier, about 2.5 miles away. On the left is Lori Wilson (public) Park. One benefit of this location is the lifeguard station and “protected” swimming. We have reservations about ocean swimming: Sharks? Man ‘O War?

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That hotel with the dark windows, on the north side of Lori Wilson Park is the Hilton. This sandcastle, washed out by high tide, caught in the dawn light, was in front of the Hilton. It brings to mind the interaction of nature and people.

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There were strong on-shore winds that day. Dune grass driven by the wind made this pattern.

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The wind and tide washed ashore all sorts of man-mad junk.

These small pieces of plastic washes off distant islands by hurricanes, the plastic ground up into bits.

The branded drink holder, the “corn huskers” of the University of Nebraska Lincoln, does not speak well for the alumni as these are sold locally. Community-minded people walk the beach with bags, picking up the bigger stuff.

When the wind changed the small plastic washed out with the next high tide and the beach was cleared.

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Corpse of a gull with ground up plastic bits.

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The gull beak has the same cruel beauty in death as it does in life.

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The wind drove ashore living creatures, left them on the beach to dry out or as food for crabs and gulls. After a Man Of War washes up on a beach it is still dangerous. Long tentacles extend from the body and can deliver painful stings.

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The person walking around these tentacles is wisely wearing shoes, as I can tell from the footprint shape.

Each such tentacle is threaded with stinging, venom-filled structures coiled, like a spring, ready to pump venom into the victim for the purpose of feeding, catching larval and small fishes and squids.

These structures, called nematocysts fire on contact and do not differentiate targets be it a human foot or a squid.

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The crest of the Portuguese Man of War is very visible in the water, the sac can be inflated/deflated to catch the wind or even sink the organism to escape surface feeders. The fanciful resemblance of the floating crest to a sailing ship is the origin of the organism’s popular name. The scientific name is Physalia physalis. While it appears to be a single creature, it is actually several working together for common benefit.

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In Australia they call these baddies “blue bottles.” So descriptive.

We talked with life guards about first aid procedure, for the stings, and were not comforted by their ignorance. We had done the research ourselves. Be informed before you step onto the beach. Do not expect well informed assistance in the case of a sting, pre-arm yourself with knowledge.

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This is an especially dangerous configuration of a beached Man O’ War (also known at Floating Terror): a blue balloon with strings trailing from it. Young children will see the balloon and want to grab or play with it. If we see tourist families with young children, when these are around, we will go out of our way to warn them.

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These disconcerting findings on the beach do not diminish our enjoyment of the environment, instead we are left with a greater appreciation and respect for the ocean.

Dunes welcome us home after a successful sunrise photo shoot.

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Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Lady Feeding Gulls, Cocoa Beach Dawn

unflappable lady hand feeds seagulls

When Pam read my post “Black Skimmers Feeding” she asked, “Where is the photo of resting Skimmers?”

To answer her question, I looked through Cocoa Beach photographs and discovered I did NOT capture the Skimmers resting.  Instead, here are a related species, the Royal Tern (scientific name: Thalasseus maximus), whose behavior is similar in that it exclusively feeds from the water. There was a wind that morning and these individuals face into it.  These birds are, from a human point of view, well behaved, unlike the opportunistic gull.

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I searched around the web for identification of this gull without success.

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It dines on a dead fish washed up by the surf.  In my previous posting I used the word “grifting” to describe gull behavior, again this is from the human point of view.  Gulls are notorious for stealing food from unwary beach goers, brazening walking over to unguarded chips (any kind), for instance, grabbing them and flying off.  If the chip stash is large, this sets off a nasty feeding frenzy when tens of gulls swoop in and grab.

Here is a series of photographs, demonstrating this behavior.

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The dawn flowed over Cocoa Beach as a lady attracted a crowd of hungry gulls, reminiscent of scenes from Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

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She is obviously an experienced gull feeder, unflappable with a steady hand.

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She had come to the shore at dawn for a photo shoot.  Her male companion (husband?) was there with a camera.

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Pam and I were there for the dawn, me with the Sony camera.
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At first, I stood there amazed at the spectacle.  She was in such control of the situation, not a victim, more like a lion tamer.

Then, Pam said, “You have to get this.”  And I did.

Newlyweds and the Cruise Ship

Images of Newlyweds on the beach

With grandchildren in the Miami Area and a sister in Daytona Beach, Florida was on my mind this morning and memories of this beautiful experience on Cocoa Beach came to mind. After an eventful day touring the NASA launch control center, Pam and I took an evening walk during the golden hour, me with camera in hand.
Full in expectation of catching the passing scene with lots of shot I set to full size jpeg mode using a Sony Alpha 700 dslr with a DT 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 lens. The light was exceptional, so I did not expect much post production work.

My first impression was of the line of cruise ships heading south from Port Canaveral, the starboard side lit perfectly behind human denizens of the Cocoa Beach shore, in full enjoyment mode. A synergy of the images struck me. I took a few experimental shots then, as we progressed down the beach front this unusual tableau came into view.

Wedding Immersion
Newlyweds on Cocoa Beach give rapt attention to a distant cruise ship, it looks like an elegant child’s toy.

Pulling back the focal length a bit the reason for the bride and groom on the beach is clear.

Newlyweds and Photographer
Photographer approaches from left.

The session proceeded smoothly and professionally, it was a pleasure to watch. I felt no compunction for capturing these private moments on a public beach, the transcendence of the images reflect well on all participants.

Newlywed Photoshoot
Bride and groom pose while photographer composes the shot, her assistant behind.

Pull back to capture the entire environment.
Enjoy!!!