Inter-coastal on Longboat

Rick abstract, clouds, cloudscape, Florida, landscapephotography, long exposure, Manatee County, photography, Sarasota, SonyAlpha 0 Comments

This is a long exposure from a park that sits on the border between Sarasota and Manatee counties. It’s a new park so on a recent Sunday drive I stopped by to see it for myself. I’m facing towards the inter-coastal on Longboat Key.

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Inter-coastal on Longboat

A long exposure of the Inter-coastal on Longboat Key in Sarasota

You may ask, how is it possible to take a long exposure at midday? Glad you asked; I used a strong ND filter. ND stands for neutral density and it blocks the light. In fact I used two filters and together they REALLY block the light. So much so that I can keep the shutter open for a minute or two, something I can normally do only at night.

So why would I want to take a long exposure during the day? Another great question; because everything is gets smoothed out. Even water that has waves appears smooth, the same goes for clouds; they all appear smooth. It’s a cheap special effect you can achieve without a big Hollywood budget.

other long exposure images

You can get pretty creative with photography if you have nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon. As for me I rarely have anything better to do. Standing in an empty park taking long exposures in broad daylight is my idea of a good time. Can you think of anything better to do?

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Light Over the River

Rick bridge, clouds, cloudscape, Florida, Landscape, landscapephotography, Manatee County, minimalism, Night Photography, nightphotography, SonyAlpha, Sunset, Urban 0 Comments

I captured the light over the river one evening after the rain. Riverwalk is quiet directly after a heavy rain. However within thirty minutes people are back milling about, walking, running and fishing from the pier.

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Light Over the River

Light Over the River in Bradenton Florida

I get a little carried away when the light is like this. I’m attuned to special light. For instance I noticed it while doing exercise at the gym this morning. The clouds were in such a way that the light was diffused and I noticed. I notice it pretty much each evening in summer when we get broken clouds after rain. And I notice it when we get unusual weather here in Florida, which can be once a week or more. So on those yet fewer occasions when I have my camera, I get carried away. I’m making up for missed opportunities; I become a bit of a madman.

It borders on obsession. I lose track of everything else as I work on framing the light in different ways. That’s the big difference between a photographer and a painter. Photographers work in a short window of time and a lot must line up for it to work. A painter carries the scene in his or her head, timing has very little to do with it. However I can take all the time in the world when post processing. It’s closer to painting because if the image in my head differs from the one in the camera, I can take my time processing it to bring the two closer together.

other images of dusk

At some level I’m simply working with light. There are mechanical tools and skill and knowledge and software and locations and weather and timing all mixed together. But at some level it’s all just working with light. As I think about it, it’s really kind of amazing for reasons I can only begin to guess.

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Watching the World Go By

Rick bridge, Florida, Manatee County, Night Photography, nightphotography, people, SonyAlpha, streetphotography, Urban, urbanexploration 0 Comments

This is a random shot of people chilling on the pier in Bradenton Beach one recent evening. The pier has benches and swings so you can just there watching the world go by. A nice thing about being on a pier is there are no mosquitoes over the water.

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Watching the World Go By

Watching the world go by on the pier in Bradenton Beach Florida

I hope people don’t mind that I take pictures of them like this. I try to keep folks anonymous by shooting from the back. A few minutes later I was shooting in a different direction and didn’t realize there was someone off to the side staring at me as if to say, hey that’s not cool. Normally I just ignore it and make a mental note not to use that photo. Most people don’t care but I try to be considerate.

Once I was taking pictures of a busy sidewalk at an outdoor shopping area. Some guy thought I was taking pictures of him and told me to stop. I look at him blankly and said; why would I want to take a picture of you? I’ll admit I got a little hot under the collar. I had no intention of taking that guy’s picture, but maybe he was not where he was supposed to be, who knows.

The right to take photos in public places is something we have to assert from time to time. I am respectful but people tend to notice when it’s a real camera. Take the same picture with your phone and no one pays any attention. We’ve become conditioned in odd ways that would be difficult to explain to an alien that just landed on earth.

images from Bradenton Beach

I found no aliens on this pier and so I didn’t need to explain anything to anybody. I did take a lot of pictures of people staring out to space though. Maybe they saw something I didn’t.

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Minimalistic Aesthetic

Rick clouds, Florida, minimalism, SonyAlpha, travel 0 Comments

The minimalistic aesthetic is something I look for wherever I go. It’s easy to compose minimalistic scenes when facing out to sea; the ocean is a natural canvas. A pier or ship or any solitary object creates an object of interest. My theory is that minimalism provides more room for interpretation and connection to the viewer precisely because there is less to look at.

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Minimalistic Aesthetic

Minimalistic aesthetic in photography helps us see with new eyes

More difficult perhaps is minimalism in a big city. It involves framing singular aspects of objects in a way that give them space and room to breath. Unlike an open ocean, capturing minimalism becomes a puzzle within the visually crowded confines of a city. For whatever reason I’ve notice that German photographers seem to be good at this. Maybe it’s a reflection of the culture in some way.

A minimalistic aesthetic as it applies to architecture photography involves seeing things in an isolated way. It’s attention to the little details in plain site that escape most of us. It’s a pursuit that points out what we see but don’t recognize. In my opinion artful photography helps us see with new eyes.

As an aside, I have a very clear recollection of taking this old pier at Gasparilla Island. A few minutes later I slipped and broke my camera. That was over two years ago but it’s never far from my mind. Since then I am extra careful when handling my camera. However, the other day I dropped my camera on the pavement as I was getting out of my car. It dropped from about two feet and I was lucky because there was no damage. But I was rushing and that led to the mishap.

more minimalism

Anyway, it’s good to slow down when looking for minimalism in a city or the sea. By taking extra time we might notice the less obvious perspectives in plain sight. An additional benefit of slowing down is we’ll be less likely to drop a camera.

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Cityscape of Sarasota

Rick Florida, Night Photography, nightphotography, Sarasota, SonyAlpha, Urban, urbanexploration 0 Comments

This is a long exposure cityscape of Sarasota I took one night while waiting for the full moon to rise above the bridge. I was fortunate in that there was no wind and the waters of the bay were still. While that’s great for photos it also means there are a lot of mosquitos. I had a can of repellant and sprayed myself from head to toe: a minor annoyance but its a small price to pay in exchange for perfect conditions.

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Cityscape of Sarasota

Cityscape of Sarasota on a calm night

I never know when conditions will be good for photography until the last moment. If I had all the time in the world I’d go out every night checking. As a matter of fact I did that this evening before I sat down to write this. We had some dramatic clouds and I thought to get in position, but nothing happened and I drove home without a shot. It’s a numbers game; sometimes you lose and sometimes you win.

Earlier in the day I took a three-hour drive looking for compositions, in the end I got only one. The effort that goes into my photography is not carbon neutral. I should probably look into an electric car or just take the bus.

So that the time is not a complete waste I’ll listen to podcasts. I can get drawn into the stories such that the traffic, distances and time are not so monotonous. Even if I come back without a good composition at least I learned something. My favorite is Radio Labs, but I also like This American Life and sometimes Tim Ferris.

other cityscapes in the gallery

A lot of effort goes into making a good podcasts and the same holds true for photos. I love doing it so I rarely notice the time, but most of the images I post involve many hours of traveling, editing, expense, and sometimes even spraying myself with insect repellant.

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Entrance to the Gulf of Mexico

Rick beach, clouds, cloudscape, Florida, Landscape, landscapephotography, Nature, Night Photography, nightphotography, SonyAlpha, Sunset 0 Comments

The DeSoto National Memorial is a park with trails through the mangroves at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico. I keep coming here to capture scenes along the water. Like most parks in this area it closes at sunset. But in this case I lingered to capture the vibrant tones past dusk.

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Entrance to the Gulf of Mexico

Entrance to the Gulf of Mexico in Bradenton Florida

I get spoiled with our sunsets. Well not really spoiled, but I do get overloaded with so many sunsets this time of year. With a great sunset each night I get a little complacent and then all of a sudden I miss a really good one. That happens several times a week. I have an unrealistic desire to capture every sunset. I will be first in line to pre-order one of Elon Musk’s transporters as soon as it gets invented. See a good sunset, push a button and I’m at the beach. Guaranteed to never miss a good one.

When I decide not to go out I know I might be missing something. It’s hard to just sit back and watch without wanting to capture it with a camera. If I have to do a chore and don’t look outside I’m okay, but when I see colorful clouds I go a little crazy. I suppose it has something to do with why I got into photography in the first place, to capture and convey.

more sunsets in the gallery

If I were a painter I’d probably feature sunsets as much as I do with photography. The nice thing about painting is you can portray a scene as you see it in your mind, there’s no rush to get to a location for the light. With landscape photography we are working with times of the day: two different approaches to convey scenes. In the end, none of it compares to the real thing. If you consider variations in color and shapes of clouds and textures of terrain you realize that whether we’re painting or taking photos, we are attempting to reproduce the work of a much greater artist.

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Dawn in a Light Rain

Rick clouds, Florida, Manatee County, nightphotography, SonyAlpha, Urban, urbanexploration 0 Comments

This is a bench at a waterfront park just across the river from me. I took this at dawn in a light rain. My intention was to capture a sunrise but the sun never made it through the clouds. Sometimes I’ll come here to take pictures right after it rains but in this case it was just starting. I snapped a few shots and then retreated to my car to wait it out. After about fifteen minutes it got heavier so I headed home and this is one of the few shots I got.

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Dawn in a Light Rain

Dawn in a Light Rain at the Riverwalk in Bradenton Florida

I like this for the leading line and the bench under the light. If you look close you’ll see the rain under the lamp. When we see images like this we project ourselves on to the bench or out along the path. The projection is an automatic response, which leads to a reaction. If we see ourselves somewhere we want to be we’ll probably like the photo.

Thinking about how photos work and affect us is something I do a lot of. To most of us this is just a photo in a park, we don’t think about why we like or dislike it. It’s true that I have a habit of thinking too much, but I’m also curious about photos. I’m constantly learning by noticing things about images.

Urban Exploration in the Gallery

Some people go to the four corners of the earth to explore and get amazing photos. I like traveling too but I spend a lot of time around home. So I forces me to look past the mundane and think about the things that make a photo interesting. In that way it doesn’t really matter where I am. Even if I had to stay in one spot for a year I would try taking a new perspective each day. That’s a little challenge and game I play when shooting images of things I see often and close to home.

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Driftwood on the Coast

Rick beach, clouds, cloudscape, Florida, Landscape, landscapephotography, Manatee County, Nature, SonyAlpha, Sunset 0 Comments

Last weekend I visited a remote beach that is only accessible by boat or hike. Over the years it’s become a bohemian hideaway of sorts for people that want to escape the crowds. Local photographers, including yours truly, flock here regularly to capture the compositions of driftwood on the coast.

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Driftwood on the Coast

Driftwood on the coast in Longboat Key Florida

Normally I come here to shoot landscapes but this time I was taking portraits. I showed up with a crew to shoot a couple that is about to be married. It was their first time here and they loved the setting. The landscape photographer in me is always looking for opportunities so during wardrobe changes I’d look around looking for compositions like this.

We were fortunate and had perfect clouds for a sunset. You never know how it will turn out but many times throughout the summer you can almost count on the rain tapering off for the sun to stream through the broken clouds.

beach images from the gallery

Like the last time I was here there were a half dozen photographers all doing one thing or another. I think if I showed up on a Monday or Tuesday I might be the only one. Even so, it was quiet and relatively sparse as compared to the accessible beaches five minutes up the coast.

Mainly people come here to get away from the crowds and take pictures. That was exactly what we did and we all came away thinking it was well worth the hike.

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Dystopian Dreamscape

Rick B&W, clouds, cloudscape, greatsaltlake, Landscape, landscapephotography, monochrome, saltlake, SonyAlpha, TheGreatSaltLake 0 Comments

This is adjacent to a marina at the Great Salt Lake. I took this as an afterthought and didn’t think much of it at the time. Only after I processed it in monochrome does it come across as a dystopian dreamscape. Surrounded my mountains it has an otherworldly quality to it.

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Dystopian Dreamscape

Dystopian Dreamscape just outside of Salt lake City

This is a furnace stack from a smelting plant just outside of Salt Lake City. It towers above the landscape and was the visible for many miles. It’s so big it creates an optical illusion of sorts. From afar it appears much closer than it is. Next to the surrounding hills it looks like something on Mars or the moon. The area is rich in minerals and home to some of the largest mines in the world; it’s little wonder the scales are so large.

Speaking of worlds, the cooper mine over the ridge is so large it can be seen from space. The tip of it can be seen from all over the Salt Lake City valley, but it’s in the background, not really a main feature. It’s easy to spot and I suppose the same holds true if you’re looking out the window from the ISS. Here is a picture of it from the NASA archives.

more monochrome images

When we go back to the moon or make it to Mars, we’ll be doing quite a bit of mining. The idea is to use the resources available to build, construct and sustain. Maybe in a few hundred years when someone sees this picture they’ll think it looks just like some places they saw on Mars while on vacation. You just never know.

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Independence Day in Florida

Rick Bridges, Florida, Manatee County, Night Photography, nightphotography, SonyAlpha 0 Comments

We sat along the north side of the river thinking the fireworks would be on the other side as in previous years. We were wrong and this year they were on our side. So as it turned out, waterfront homes and a palm tree obstructed our view. But what I thought was a minor annoyance turned into an iconic symbol of Independence Day in Florida.

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Independence Day in Florida

Independence Day in Florida from the north side of the river in Palmetto

In the middle of summer you can count on more than one type of fireworks. Thunder and lightning are as constant as the heat and humidity. There is a lot of energy in the sky and it can be mesmerizing to look at, especially at night.

Earlier in the day we were at an outdoor concert that was interrupted by a passing thunderstorm. The saying goes if you don’t like the weather wait ten minutes. We sat there in the rain and ten minutes later it was gone. The music started up again and in another ten minutes later our clothes were dry.

In the evening fireworks began on both sides of the river. Even though we had an obstructed view we picked a spot where we could see the lightning and fireworks. Lightning flashed about every five-seconds and it was nearly the same for the fireworks. It was hard to know which way to look.

night photos from the gallery

In this small town it’s exciting when we have fireworks displays along the river, it only happens twice a year, once for Independence Day and the other for New Years. However Mother Nature’s display lasts all summer. So if you like a lot of flashes and booms, this is the place to be.

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