Seeing Your Folks In A Different Light

© 2010 by Michael A. Pancier

Since my mother died a little over a year ago,  I've been going through all her belongings including all of the photos that she had.   Many of the images were in albums and faded.  I learned of a company called Scancafe which will scan and restore anything you send them, whether it be negatives, prints, slides, or cardboard.  You simply put the pics or negatives in a zip lock and label them,  put everything n a box and send it to them.  They put them online and you only pay for the scans you want (provided it is at least 50% of the total images scanned).  You can learn more about the service on their website.  In any event, I finally got the proofs today available online, and damn the quality is amazing. Photos of my parents honeymoon from 1961 as vibrant as ever.  But what is even more wild is seeing your parents are young people.  In this image below,  my mom was in her mid 20's and my dad in his mid 30's.  They were young, healthy, thin, in love and enjoying themselves.  Seeing them in these photos makes you realize that in addition to being your mom and dad,  they were also regular people who probably thought and did the same or similar things that you did when you were in your 20's and 30's and without children.  It makes you realize that before your mom was "mom",  she was a young attractive woman and your dad before he was "dad" was a handsome young cool looking dude and not the parents we watched age throughout the years leading up to their eventual deaths. But here in this photograph,  their youth is captured and frozen for all time so I and my kids can enjoy. Once again, it is so important to take pictures of your parents, your family, your kids.  Save the images, scan them, for one day the pictures and the memories will be all you will have.  The above image was taken in Buenos Aires Argentina in March of 1960.

In any event, this service has restored some images that were 2x2 and stuck in the garage for over 10 years into very cool images.  Some of my negatives that I kept from the 1980's have been scanned and are sharp and vibrant as well. My goal is to try and scan everything worthwhile in my possession from the pre-digital days, especially my family pics that are fading fast so I can import them into Lightroom, catalog and tag them,  and create coffee table photo books which are archival and which will last for generations, so perhaps my kids can see what their grandparents and parents  looked like when they were young, wild, and free and in the end, seeing their parents as simply human.


The Gatorland Egrets

The Gatorland Egrets from Michael Pancier on Vimeo.

Starting with the Canon 5d Mark II,  most new DLSR's out today have HD video capability.  So now you can you shoot video with the same high quality lenses you use for still images.  This adds another facet for creativity especially for the nature photographer.  While I am out photographing avian behavior for still images, I can easily, switch my camera to video and shoot a live action video of the same behavior.
While I'm still a novice at the video thing, I am having fun which is what counts.

This video is a love story of two great egrets, Irwin and Candice.  The video includes still images and video of a shoot I did last Friday at the Gatorland Rookery in Orlando, Florida. It's spring, so love is in the air....


Olga Diaz Comes to America

I am really amazed by the Google historic newspaper archive. I was able to find the article published in the old Miami News in June 1958 when my mom, Olga Diaz, came to the United States as a winner in a flag design contest for the Festival of the Americas.  It's interesting reading what was in the news that day.  She ended up staying here (as it was too dangerous to return home) which in turn allowed her to bring everyone out when folks were no longer able to leave Cuba just a few years later.  The byline was the "Cuban Betsy Ross."  I'd love to get an actual copy of her picture here, but as this newspaper has been out of print for years,  I have no idea where to begin. 

If you click on the paper, you can read the articles.  My mom always got a kick seeing herself referred to as the "Latin Beauty" when I showed her a copy of this front page that I made in the 1980's while a college student from the microfilm archives. Remember microfilm?  It would be nice if all these old historic newspapers can be scanned and put online for all of us to see. It's kind of cool having a newspaper article documenting your mother's first trip to the United States.

Those Silly Birds

Short two minute video I made with my digital SLR and long lens while photographing spoonbills and reddish egrets (the red and white morph) on the west coast, plus a guess spot from a burrowing owl from Pembroke Pines, Florida.


Spoonbill Slideshow


Driving Through Old Florida - Kenansville

 Heartbreak Hotel - Kenansville, Florida
© 2010 by Michael A. Pancier

It's really wild when you drive through parts of the state to find interesting ghost towns and towns that are virtually a shadow of what they were 80 years ago.  In my last post, I took some images from the old Florida ghost town called Pinecrest which  sits on what used to be the old Tamiami Trail in the middle of Big Cypress.  This past weekend, I discovered a similar town while driving along Canoe Creek Road in search for birds from Cypress Lake in St. Cloud onto the famous crossroads known to folks as Yeehaw Junction.   I got out of my car to take some photos of a swallowed-tail kite then I saw this old building called the Heartbreak Hotel, seen above and below, and I had to take a picture of it. 
© 2010 Michael A. Pancier

The place seemed like a working hotel, but it was closed. Upon turning around, I saw a historic looking bank and had to take a picture of that as well.
Kenansville, First State Bank
© 2010 Michael A. Pancier

So where the heck was I? I looked it up to learn I was in a near-ghost town called Kenansville, which has a population of less than 1000 with a majority of the folks being over 50. It's located on CR 523, (Canoe Creek Road) in Osceola County.  The place was named in 1914 after the wife of Florida pioneer, Henry Flagler and was a big cattle town with the old Florida Eastcoast Railroad running smack through the town. 

I also learned that the Heartbreak Hotel got its name, not from Elvis, but from being being a very out of the way place where people from nearby cities would sneak away for illicit love affairs. It supposedly is still a working hotel though it was closed when I was there.  I've found that legend has it that the Elvis hit was inspired by this hotel. Below is an image, not mine, of how the place looked in its heyday.
Image courtesy Florida State Archives.

At the end of the drive heading south you will run smack into SR 60 and US 441 otherwise known as Yeehaw Junction.  Most folks only know of that place because of the Turnpike Exit with that name and the tourist traps there that try to sell you discount attraction tickets.  There is a historic place at that famous crossroad though, it's called the historic Desert Inn.
Desert Inn © 2010 by Michael A. Pancier

Of course, I wondered, why this dive in the middle of nowhere is famous.  Apparently, before there was a Turnpike and when these towns were booming,  according to town historians and several original newspaper articles that are displayed at the Desert Inn National Historical site, the town was originally named "Jackass Junction". This name was given to the four corner site back in the early 1930s, when local ranchers rode on burros to visit the Desert Inn (then the local brothel). 

The place looks like a real dive. I didn't have a chance to go inside, but I've since learned there are a bunch more historic and abandoned places there worth taking photos of so I'm going to have to go back and maybe then I'll actually order a beer in this place. 
  Image courtesy Florida State Archives
Just above, is an archival image I found on the Florida State Archives website showing what the old Railroad Depot used to look like.  The Turnpike and the elimination of the Railroad, made this area a pseudo ghost town.  As it stands though,  it's certainly a place worth exploring for photographic opportunities as well as it's an amazing drive through Central Florida especially if you stop along the big lakes in the area such as Three Lakes WMA,  Lake Kissimmee/Joe Overstreet Road, and Cypress Lake which are an amazing area if you are into wildlife and birds.

See you out in the field.