Not Enough Focus

Rick abstract, Florida, Manatee County, photography, streetphotography, Urban, urbanexploration 0 Comments

More than once on the blog I’ve mentioned that I prefer pictorialism to realism. I also prefer impressionism although I struggle for ways to express that in photography. One simple way however is through blurred images. This is an impressionistic street scene with not enough focus.

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Not Enough Focus

Not Enough Focus dot com

I shot this on my first outing with a new lens, the Sony 85mm 1.8. I didn’t purposely take this out of focus, it was a mistake, but I immediately liked it. It makes me think I should do more. I prefer images that leave something for the imagination; they are more engaging.

I use a variety of techniques to abstract images but rarely lack of focus. It’s a valid form of simplification and now I wonder why I haven’t used it more. I think maybe it’s because I’m normally preoccupied with ensuring focus is tack sharp. It’s hard to break that habit, but if done intentionally and for a specific purpose, lack of focus is a way to impart a feeling or impression.

It’s ironic that the most expensive lenses for photography are the ones that provide the most pleasing out of focus. The out of focus area produced by a lens is called “bokeh”. Reviewers will rave about the area of an image that is out of focus and how pleasing it is. The ability to focus a lens is a given, but to have out of focus areas at the same time, that’s another matter entirely.

Street Images

In fact that’s why I bought this lens, because of its ability to create pleasing bokeh while maintaining sharp focus on something else. Only in this case nothing is sharp. I could say I did this on purpose but you know I didn’t. I like the effect but in this case it was not enough focus dot com.

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Harbour Master Tower

Rick Schwartz Architecture, bahamas, cruise, SonyAlpha, travel 0 Comments

Last week we stopped in the Bahamas on a weekend cruise from Miami. The harbor master tower is the first thing you see at dock. I think it was built before the ships got so big. I took this from a lower deck but you could look down on it from the upper decks and our ship was one of the smaller in port that day.

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Harbour Master Tower

Harbour Master Tower in Nassau Bahamas

This continues on a theme of minimalism. Actually I’ve been on this theme for a while but I don’t always publish the images. I do little studies, with lampposts, trees and buildings, shooting up to simplify the composition. Simplification is the gateway to minimalism; it also accentuates unique qualities of a thing or place.

This image creates an illusion of height, yet the building is no more than a few stories high and there are rooftops just below the frame. But because of how this is composed we imagine it much higher. Minimalism evokes imagination, which in-turn transcends realism.

Since I’m always on the lookout for these I’ll likely put together a book at some point. I get ideas from looking at works of other photographers. One whom I follow on Instagram is Sebastian Weiss. Check him out at the link here https://www.instagram.com/le_blanc/

architecture photography in the gallery

This kind of view is way of looking at the world that is focused on the isolation of something unique. I think we see beauty when we notice uniqueness. It’s all around and all we need to do is narrow our view until we recognize it; at least that my current theory.

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Secluded Beach on Longboat Key

Rick Schwartz beach, Florida, Landscape, Manatee County, Nature, SonyAlpha 0 Comments

This past weekend I took an excursion to a secluded beach on Longboat Key. At least I thought it would be secluded. As it turned out I was only one of about a dozen photographers there. One was doing an engagement shoot, one a maternity shoot, a couple were shooting landscapes and finally a camera club showed up as well. There was a spectacular sunset so I’m pretty sure everyone got good shots and left happy. I know I did.

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Secluded Beach on Longboat Key

Secluded Beach on Longboat Key

This beach is only accessible by boat or hike; it’s not right off the highway like most beaches in this area. At less trafficked shorelines like this you can usually see remnants of past hurricanes. There are spots like this up and down the coast if you know where to look. They are reminders of big events, especially as it pertains to tropical storms altering the landscape of the coast.

This was one of my last shots before hiking back. I got plenty of others but the simplicity of this scene is what I was drawn to. It’s rare that trees or stumps are isolated so I’m always on the lookout for them as photographic subjects. Simplicity resonates in images because it naturally invites interpretation.

minimalism in the gallery

At low tide the beach is exposed where these trees stand, but this was high tide and the beach was completely covered by the sea. However I was standing at a line of mangroves that protect the rest of the island from erosion. If it weren’t for the mangroves there would be nothing left of barrier islands along the coast of Florida.

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Amsterdam in the Early Morning Hours

Rick Schwartz amsterdam, bridge, Bridges, canal, europe, Night Photography, nightphotography, SonyAlpha, Urban, urbanexploration 0 Comments

Here’s another image I took while walking around central Amsterdam in the early morning hours. I was only here for a week so I made the decision to stay on North American time. That meant I was still wide awake very late which works well for night photography. I could capture the lights reflecting on the still waters of the canals to my heart’s content.

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Amsterdam in the Early Morning Hours

Amsterdam in the early morning hours along the canals

A couple of times I left my tripod back at the hotel. To get these long exposures without shaking the camera I would make due by balancing it on a bike seat. All of the little bridges have bikes leaning against the railings. All I had to do was pick one with a relatively wide seat and gingerly set the camera down. I used a wireless trigger so that I didn’t need to touch the camera to activate the shutter.

That little system worked quite well and to be honest, it’s a technique I’ve used in many other places as well. I don’t always want to bring a tripod especially when shooting street scenes at night. For that I’m grateful for the high ISO performance of Sony cameras, it allows me to do things that were unheard of just a few years ago. For street photography you want to travel light and be able to react quickly.

Yet when I’m out walking around I’ll invariably see something like this scene and I wish I had a tripod. Then it becomes a little game of figuring out what I can use to stabilize the camera. I use all manner of things like balancing on a fence railing, stabilizing the lens with the camera strap, even placing the camera on the ground and shooting up.

night photography gallery

As a result I’m hard on camera bodies. They get scratched quite a bit. But for me the scratches on my camera body are like notches on a belt. It’s funny but a scratched up camera feels to me like a comfortable set of well worn shows; we’ve seen a lot together.

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Super-yachts of the Bahamas

Rick Schwartz bahamas, cruise, SonyAlpha 0 Comments

I took this shortly after sunrise as our cruise ship entered port in Nassau. As yachts go this is pretty big, I’m not sure if this is a government craft or just one of the many super-yachts of the Bahamas.

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Super-yachts of the Bahamas

Super-yachts of the Bahamas

It got me thinking about why people own these. Personally, I don’t think I would want one. I’ve been on rough seas on a big cruise ship and I certainly would not want to go through that on a small boat. The sea does not care how fancy a yacht is, it will be tossed around like a toy.

I had the same thought when we passed other big yachts near the Atlantis Resort and Casino. Maybe the people that have these only sail in fair weather and remain close to home. That I could understand. They are awesome to look at but I think they are no match for the wrath of the sea.

My hat is off to fishermen who work the seas for their livelihood like the guys on The Deadliest Catch. Watching that freaks me out a little. How they manage through storms is beyond me.

sea images from the gallery

I think this attitude of mine comes from a fear of falling into the ocean and drowning. It might stem from an incident when I was an infant and almost drowned. Although I don’t remember it, I was apparently face down and sinking in a lake.

Anyway, I have nothing against these high-end boats. If I did have one I’d be having fair-weather parties on it all the time. However at the first sign of a storm you’d find me firmly on land. In the meantime I’ll just stick to cruise ships and buy crab legs from a store. I’m not really in the market for one of these anytime soon.

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Bradenton Beach Under the Light of a Nearly Full Moon

Rick Schwartz beach, Florida, Landscape, Manatee County, Night Photography, nightphotography, SonyAlpha 0 Comments

This is Bradenton Beach under the light of a nearly full moon. I was taking pictures with a friend and everything was illuminated by the glow from the moon. Coming to the beach at night is an experience that is completely different from daytime. For me it’s a meditative experience. The overwhelming sensation is the sound of the waves.

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Bradenton Beach Under the Light of a Nearly Full Moon

Bradenton Beach Under the Light of a Nearly Full Moon

If possible I try to take pictures of people in night scenes like this. That’s not always possible but with a moon glow and a high enough ISO it sometimes works. In this case there are people with a lantern at the end of the pier. Generally taking pictures of people during long exposures is not possible because when they move they appear invisible. To appear invisible is an oxymoron, but I digress.

Also when shooting at night around urban areas I’ll get those light streaks in the sky from aircraft. Normally I don’t notice them at the time but afterwards the streak is obvious. I suppose you could calculate speed based on the distance of the streak and the length of the exposure. Nevertheless these also occur with moving boats on the water.

night photos from the gallery

Taking photos by the beach at night is a lot of fun. If I didn’t have to get up the next morning I’d probably stay out all night. However I’ll usually leave in a relaxed state of mind with the sound of the waves faintly echoing in my head. After that I have no problem falling asleep.

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Urban Scene at Sea

Rick Schwartz bahamas, cruise, SonyAlpha, travel, Urban 0 Comments

When I visit big cities I like to take pictures of buildings. Repeating patterns are like puzzles for our brains because we automatically look for slight differences. Maybe that’s related to an evolutionary survival trait like looking for predators in the tall grasses of the African savanna. However this is neither Africa nor a big city. This is an urban scene at sea, aka a cruise ship docked in the Bahamas.

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Urban Scene at Sea

Urban Scene at Sea – An RCCL Cruise Ship

This is Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas. If I’m not mistaken it’s the largest cruise ship in the world right now.

I was on a small ferry traversing the port as we passed this behemoth docked at the terminal. It is about twenty stories high and as long as an air strip. This is just one small section of one side. These mega ships are more akin to cities than boats.

This last weekend I was on cruise ship several times smaller than this, and even that was still quite big. Big enough to have several pools, a rock climbing wall, a casino, clubs, bars and restaurants. So take all that and multiply it by three or four.

urban scenes in the gallery

A few years back I was on the Aurora of the Seas, which at the time was the world’s largest. To be honest, it took me a week to figure out where everything was. It’s a little like visiting Disney World, it takes a while to get your bearings. Since that time we’ve cruised on much smaller ships, like the one this last weekend. And even then there were places on the ship I never saw.

If they make these ships any bigger they might just become indistinguishable from big cities.

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Morning Sun Over Co Co Cay

Rick Schwartz bahamas, cruise, Nature, SonyAlpha, Sunset 0 Comments

This is the morning sun over Co Co Cay in the Bahamas. Over the weekend I found myself on a cruise ship. Living in close proximity to ports it’s easy to drive to a cruise terminal for a weekend excursion. In this case we left Miami and were scheduled for two stops, here and Nassau. However the wind and swells were too strong to safely disembark so the captain decided to sail on. That didn’t stop me from taking a few pictures as we passed by and continued out to sea.

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Morning Sun Over Co Co Cay

Morning Sun Over Co Co Cay in the Bahamas

Every so often its good to get away and decompress. That’s a funny word but it describes what we do to ourselves in everyday life. We take on challenges of life and we tend to layer them one on top of the other. Soon we are squeezed under the normal weight of life. By getting away the layers are temporarily lifted and we decompress, if even just for a day.

I spent a lot of time looking at and taking pictures of the sea. That’s not necessarily interesting from a photography perspective but for me it was a study in the on-going theme of sea and sky. There were clouds and in the morning and evening and it was fun to see how they could interplay with the sun.

Other sunrise shots

Of course I took plenty of other images that are not so abstract, but this one is special because for me it represents a few days of doing nothing. Now back to normal life.

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The Shore of Tampa Bay

Rick Schwartz beach, Florida, Landscape, Nature, SonyAlpha, Sunset, Tampa 0 Comments

This is an example of what happens when you just sit still and let things happen. I sat here on the shore of Tampa Bay watching the sunrise. I wasn’t doing much, just sitting and watching when all of a sudden this egret landed only a few feet from me. He didn’t seem to mind me as long as I didn’t make sudden movements.

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The Shore of Tampa Bay

The Shore of Tampa Bay at Sunrise

Egrets are one of the more adaptable birds to human activity. It’s not unusual to see them in the parking lot of a grocery story. In fact one day I had one on my windshield when I pulled into a parking stall. I think they’re the graceful cousins of seagulls.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m no expert on birds. However living in Florida you get exposed to them all the time. And in many cases they can enhance an image.

I’ve seen real bird photographers, they’re the ones walking around with the big ten-thousand dollar lenses. To get a closeups of a bird from any distance takes “big glass”. I on the other hand only take images of birds if they happen to be there. I’m not sure I have the patience nor time to devote to wildlife photography.

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I do find myself looking for birds, but only as a supporting actor in a scene. And until I go on a wildlife safari in Africa, that and my pets will be the extent of my animal photography.

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Heron Sleeping by the Causeway

Rick Schwartz beach, Florida, Landscape, Manatee County, Nature, SonyAlpha, Sunset 0 Comments

A theme this week seems to be birds. For what ever reason I’ve been processing bird images to share. Yesterday I posted an eagle, today a heron sleeping by the causeway and tomorrow will be an egret. When I take so many photos near the water it’s hard not to capture birds.

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Heron Sleeping by the Causeway

Heron sleeping by the causeway in Bradenton Florida

If framed properly birds can enhance a scene. When a bird is sitting still during a sunset it adds an extra element to the story. We unconsciously sympathize with other creatures, human or otherwise. So a heron sleeping on one leg at the waters edge adds a little interest to the scene as well as a sense of depth. Of course with minimalistic landscape scenes like this, whatever that story means is a little different for each person.

I took this one evening on the way to the beach. Its at a causeway in Bradenton Florida that leads to Anna Maria Island. On the weekend it’s busy but during the week it’s a bit quieter. Weekday sunsets are my favorite time to drop by here. I’m not the only one, I’ll see people pull up with lawn chairs just to watch the sunset. It’s a ritual for many around here.

birds in the gallery

Whenever I see these birds I try to stay back. I use a telephoto lens and shoot from a distance. For me it’s important not to disturb the scene and approach as a silent observer. I capture the scene and then steal away with my purloined images like a thief in the night. Of course, your story may differ.

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