Sunday, November 18, 2012

Jousting Returns to Camelot Days - Hollywood

Stormy Knights Jousting
I have been a huge Renaissance festival fan since first taking my daughter to the local fair well over a decade ago. Her favorite act that day - The jousting. My favorite part of that day - The look of amazement on her little face as two horses came thundering at each other and lances crashed against opposing knights.

Jousting had taken a long hiatus from the Camelot Days fair in Hollywood and so had I in my quest to attend bigger shows in Florida and Georgia. Last year I was in a nostalgic mood and returned to the show that started it all for me. My bad luck to attend on a stormy afternoon turned out to be not so bad after all. I had a chance to take shelter and talk with Larry Rabin, a long time performer better known as the Hopeless Romantic. Until that day a year ago I was just a guy shooting pictures but suddenly I was interacting with the cast. Larry mentioned he was working on a new project. Little did I know he was planning to bring Jousting back to Hollywood with Stormy Knights Jousting.

Larry Rabin - back stage
Hard to believe this year has come full circle already. I have made dozens of friends since then. Writing this blog has been a key to introducing me to all sorts of events and entertainment I had no idea about a year ago. I've gotten to know several of the performers to the point they recognize me before I recognize them. Larry even invited me back stage during the second Joust so I could get better pictures. 

Attending the festivals is a great way to catch up with old friends like Kevin Siegelbaum. Kevin recently became an ordained minister and will perform your ceremony as "The Pirate Pastor". The festival is also a great way to make new friends such as Carolina VonFoxy. I've seen Carolina around the fair grounds for many years but never thought to walk up to her and say hi. Like all the performers at all the Ren Fests I've attended, she was very gracious and we had a wonderful conversation. I'm sure my daughter remembers her as she had me buy her a fox tail of her very own after seeing Carolina's collection.

Old Friend - Kevin Siegelbaum
New Friend - Carolina VonFoxy


Besides the jousting there is plenty of other fair favorites like dancing, music, comedy, and magic. Most of the performers know me by now so I don't get pulled up on stage any more although I was almost included in a dance number. Best I just stick to photography although dancing on stage would be the quickest way to launch my comedy career.

I'm sure you are wondering what the rest of this fair was all about so Click Here for the photos I took today. There is still one more day to enjoy Camelot Days then fairs in Deerfield and Miami if your are local or all across the country if you are not. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Helicopter Ride at the Stuart Air Show

After spending the entire day at the Stuart Air Show, I wanted something a little extra. Jumping out the back of a C-130 at 2,000 feet? No that's not it. Hitch a ride on one of the AreoShell Aerobatic Team stunt planes? Had lunch and dinner so that was out. It was getting late, the last plane had flown and the show was closing down then I noticed the helicopter rides. Oh yeah - that's what I needed to do to make this day over the top.

I walked up right as they were taking the last tickets. There was one seat for the next flight so I plunked down my $35.00 and headed for the front of the line.

The helicopter was a four seater (including the pilot) and smaller up close than it looked from across the field.  I was heading out with an Army wife and her very young daughter both just in from Germany. I drove to the show. They came by military transport plane. Lucky for me and my camera, they decided to take the two back seats. I sat up front with and nearly on top of the pilot. 
The last helicopter I rode in was a monster. Sort of a corporate type, six seater. When it took off, you knew it, you heard it, you felt it in your teeth. After I squeezed into the tiny cockpit, buckled up, and checked my camera settings we were off as gently and smooth as a hot air balloon. I'm not even sure where the engine was. I asked what this particular helicopter was used for. Training, movies, rides, and whatever they could schedule to make a buck. Seemed like the best office in the world and the pilot mentioned a commercial license was a mere $17,000.00. That's actually cheaper than my daughter's college education. If not the full license, I would definitely consider lessons or areal photography.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stuart Air Show

 I may be needing to change the name of my blog to "The Very North End of South Florida  - Guy" soon. That's right. Back in Stuart. I should have been painting my new house but decided to visit the Stuart Air Show instead. Excellent choice as it turns out.

I'm more familiar with the Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea show. I've never bought a ticket to it as I've had friends in the near vicinity and can usually find a viewing area relatively close.

I saw the Stuart show from a boat once but this time I thought I would get a little closer to the action. I didn't have time to get a discount ticket as I just heard about it on the radio on the way up so I paid $20.00 at the door. Once through the gate, I was pointed to a parking space right on the tarmac about 50 yards from the entrance. Good thing as I went back and forth to the car for my lawn chair and a fresh battery.

The show ground was huge and loaded with planes from military aviation history, stunt planes, and helicopters to a C-130. All accessible and plenty of personal on hand to ask questions and sometimes tell stories.

Some of the vintage planes looked like they just rolled off the showroom floor. After touring the C-130, the Electra passenger plane seemed like a miniature reproduction. Hard to imagine this plane was the luxury travel of the near past.

The shows started around 11:00 with a WWII weapons demonstration which escalated into an elaborately choreographed fire fight. The entertainment continued with no let up till the end of the air show around 5:30. A real bargain for the price of admission.

My favorite show of the day was the School Time Jet Bus. While the planes were loud, none of them shot a fifty foot flame out the back. When the announcer told the crowd this bus was going to race a stunt plane already in the air and traveling over 100 MPH it seemed like a pretty easy bet who was going to win. Wrong!! The bus travels at 300 MPH and left the plane in it's own smoke trail. Oops - did I give it away. Apparently I was the only one surprised. This is something you need to see to believe. From what I could tell, most of the crowd comes back year after year for this show. I know I will be joining them.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Starting a New Blog

Living in two cities is really putting a crimp in my social activities. I don't blog about a fraction of what I normally do but missing events like the Homestead Air Show, Camelot Days, and Florida Cajun Fest makes for a boring blog. Not hanging out with friends makes for a boring life.

One thing I've enjoyed most about blogging is the friends I've made either in person or electronically. This year has been a whirlwind of meeting new people. One who I've not met in person (and likely won't any time soon) is my biggest blog fan RedNomadOz.  A well known Australian blogger.

While I was kicking around some new ideas, I whipped together a new blog.

I've lived and/or worked in Hollywood since 1978 and have a nice little collection of photos. I also have quite a few Flickr friends with huge collections of amazing Hollywood photos. My intention was to showcase my work and maybe have a friend or two contribute a photo now and then. That was a week and a half ago.

I already have two contributors, two more thinking about it, and 430 hits. It didn't hurt that RedNomadOz pointed me to City Daily Photo who picked up my brand new blog with only 5 photos.

If you are new to this blog, all the large text is a link so click away and enjoy some of those events I'm going to miss. Be sure to head over to my new blog as well. If you have an amazing Hollywood photo, send it to along with a catchy title, photo credit, and maybe a little paragraph and I'll post it for you. An hour after your photo posts, it will be seen around the world.

I am hoping for a photo a day so I'll need a few more contributors.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Butterfly World - Coconut Creek

One of the best places I have found to take my camera is
 Butterfly World
 in Coconut Creek. It's also one of the most expensive at $25.00 for an adult admission so I don't visit very often. They usually have a coupon on the website (above) so start with that when planning your trip.

The first time I visited Butterfly World, my daughter was young. I'm not sure if it was her white shirt or shampoo but several butterflies landed on her. People started taking pictures of the butterfly whisperer. I would like to show you mine but I did not have a camera with me that day. Not even a cell phone camera. That was the very last time I left the house without an image recording device of some sort.

Butterflies do not have a very long lifespan. To make sure there will be some for you to see, Butterfly World has a hatching program. You can even see some emerge from their cocoons and dry their wings if you time your visit just right.

Butterflies are constantly on the move and notice if you get close so the best shots are lucky close up or a bit easier with a long lens.

One of the things that go best with Butterflies and coincidentally photography, are flowers. Hundreds of butterflies can get pretty hungry and flowers sit still a whole lot better for the camera.

If you want to fill your photo album, walls, or website with color, you pretty much can just walk around a while with your finger on the shutter button, it's that easy. I'm more of a casual shooter who will stop and take a few shots of an interesting specimen for my collection. I've seen a some who will spend an hour with a tripod and expensive lighting to get the perfect shot of just one flower.

For me the challenge is the birds. Capturing a humming bird in flight is pretty much like capturing a bullet. Even in the small humming bird exhibit, it's hard to frame a shot. I have some very nice blurry wing and out of frame tail feather photos. I had to stand very still and wait for one to land on a branch to get a shot one I could post. Humming birds take a rest for about two seconds then back to the flowers.

The Lorikeet, a native of Australia, is my favorite and Butterfly World has an enclosure in which you can interact with them. Actually they interact with you. You will find them on your head, nibbling your ear, or standing on your camera. Be sure to bring a friend, buy them some bird food, and stand back with the video setting on. There is a good chance you will have a YouTube video in the making.
The admission price may seem a little high and much more than my typical Free adventures but as I flip through my pictures and the memories of my visits, I would say well worth it.

For more of my photos from Butterfly World. visit my Flickr site. If you have photos online to share, fell free to post them in my comments section.