Kansas City Union Station

As we drove home from South Dakota, we stopped in Kansas City for the night. We intended to sleep and continue the next morning, but instead, we fell for the city and stayed an extra day.

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Kansas City Union Station

The restored train station in the heart of Kansas City

To orient ourselves, we took one of those red bus tours. It left from here at Union Station, so when it returned, we came back inside to have a look around. In its heyday, this was a busy rail station. It fell into neglect and then restored to its former grand architecture. Amtrak now stops here, so it’s once again a working rail station, more than just a remnant of the past.

more interiors from the gallery

It was my first time in Kansas City, and I was pleasantly surprised to explore and learn a little. We went to dinner at Jack Stack BBQ, one of many BBQ options in the city. The line up to get a table was long, so we sat at the bar, ordered BBQ and watched the Kansas City Royals get their clocks cleaned by the Boston. Aside from that last part, it was an excellent day, and now we know to come back when we have more time.

Mount Rushmore at Night

We drove across South Dakota to Rapid City, and by itself, the drive was pretty amazing, full of sights. The next day was Independence Day, and so we set out sightseeing the two main attractions. In the morning we visited Mount Rushmore which is about twenty miles from town, and in the afternoon we drove to the Sitting Bull monument which is another seventeen miles west.

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Mount Rushmore at Night

Mount Rushmore on the evening of Independence Day

At both locations, there were large crowds, but that was no surprise on the biggest holiday of summer. After a full day, we returned to our hotel in Rapid City for dinner. During dinner, we decided that rather than watch fireworks in town, we would drive back to see the monument at night. Spotlights illuminate Rushmore in the evening creating a massive spectacle.

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So on our second trip to Rushmore that day, I took this image from behind the amphitheater about thirty minutes after a presentation. As it was late at night, the crowds had dissipated, and only a few visitors remained. That is how I managed to be standing at the base of the mountain to take this picture without anyone in the frame. All in all, it was an excellent way to end the day.

Skeleton Dinosaur

Driving east on I90 through South Dakota there are some strange sights. This sculpture is one we encountered as we approached the Badlands. Here is a Google Maps link

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Skeleton Dinosaur

Seen along Interstate 90 in South Dakota

The open space seems endless along the highway. Mile after mile, it stretches across the country. The gently rolling landscape is broken sporadically by rest stops, gas stations and quirky recreations of western towns where billboards advertise coffee for five-cents.

Images from Europe

We came upon this sculpture near a stop known as 1880 Town. It’s not far from Badlands National Park which, among other things, is known for large fossilized bones from 33 million years ago. Perhaps back then, the dinosaurs were as familiar as the Buffalo along the plains of South Dakota. I think everything looked much different, and I wonder what it will look like in another thirty-million years.

Stand Rock

One of the first stops on our summer road trip was in Wisconson. While there we took a boat up the river at Wisconsin Dells in an area known for rock formations like this. I can imagine seeing these in Arizona or Utah, but here in Wisconsin, it was a big surprise.

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Stand Rock

Stand Rock in Wisconsin Dells

This formation is known as Stand Rock, and during the summer, trained dogs will leap from one surface to the other. If you look closely, there is a net in the space between the rocks. When we arrived, it had just rained, so the demonstration was canceled for safety reasons.

Nevertheless, there is a famous image of this rock taken by HH Bennett over a hundred years ago. That image is in the lower part of the frame, and it depicts his son jumping from one rock to the other (without a net). Among other things, Bennett was a pioneer in photography because he invented the shutter which freezes motion.

my portfolio

Back then there was a lot of logging here. If you look closely at the old image, Stand Rock is mostly exposed. Today it’s covered in a thick canopy of trees as logging has long since ceased. Anyway, I thought it was cool that not only is there an old photo of this rock, but it is related to photographic history as well.

First Stop Nashville

A few days ago, Crystal and I left Florida for a summer road trip. Other than visiting friends up north, we had no real plans. So the idea was to get to Wisconson for a couple of days and then begin wandering for a week or so.

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First Stop Nashville

A view of the Parthenon in Nashville’s Centennial Park – taken with my iPhone!

The first day we left early from Palmetto and made it to Nashville after about fourteen hours. I don’t drive a lot, so that was a stretch, or should I say I desperately needed to stretch after we arrived.

After a bite for dinner, we wandered across from the hotel to Centennial Park to see the full-size replica of the Parthenon. I had my DSLR, but in the end, I liked the shot I got with my iPhone best of all. I held the phone at ground level and angled the camera up. I did the same with the big camera, but this ended up being my favorite picture. It just goes to show, it’s not the equipment, but the composition. I also edited this in Snapseed on my iPhone.

more images from my iPhone

Just after it got dark, we saw fireflies in the park. We were amazed because we don’t get them where we live in Florida. And to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I saw one. They added a faerie-like quality to the warm summer evening which, together with the surreal spectacle of the Parthenon, made for an excellent first day on the road.

Sweetwater Slough

While this looks like a river, it’s known as a strand or slough. It’s nothing more than a widening of the swamp along a section of the loop road inside Big Cypress National Preserve.

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Swamp Strand

A strand inside Big Cypress National Preserve

I think it would be impressive to kayak here; however, I would not go without a guide. The swamp is endless, the land is flat, and the Cypress trees are so thick that one wrong turn and you have no sense of direction.

landscape gallery

I was born and raised in California, so I’m more accustom to the mountains. With mountains and hills, you can follow the contours of the land. But down here in the Everglades, there are no contours; at least none that are distinguishable from ground level. But with a guide, I could cede navigation to an expert and occupy myself with countless variations of scenery and wildlife to photograph. At least that’s my plan.

Carrer del Bisbe

This image was taken in the gothic section of Barcelona on my last night there. I was standing next to the cathedral listening to musicians and taking photos of people walking down Carrer del Bisbe.

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Carrer del Bisbe

Late night along the Carrer del Bisbe in the gothic section of Barcelona

Coming from North America, this is an enchanting place. I can’t describe it in words, I try with pictures, and yet it still falls short. You have to experience it for yourself. I’ll be going back in a couple of months, so I hope to get out in the gothic section again.

more from Barcelona

Anyway, this is a street scene, a night scene, and an architecture scene all wrapped into a single image. I’m not sure what to call it, but it’s a lot of fun. For me, the appeal is shooting at night when everything takes on an almost mythical quality. You can imagine the same spot hundreds of years ago and see with your mind’s eye the same scenes, unchanged over the centuries.

Epic Saturday Sunset

On Saturday evening I visited the pier at Fort Desoto Park. I don’t know why I waited so long to return here; it’s one of my favorite places. I was lucky because as you can see, the sunset was epic.

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Epic Saturday Sunset

Frome the fishing pier at Fort Desoto Park in St Petersburg, Florida

From the moment I got out of my car, I was busy taking pictures. I go camera-crazy whenever I’m in an idyllic setting. I dare say we all do; when I looked around nearly everyone was holding a camera of some type (be it phone or DSLR) taking pictures.

beach gallery

To make this final image I combined three exposures into Aurora HDR, made a few adjustments and then used Luminar 2018 to make a few more. I never repeat the same process twice. I do everything by feel, and I don’t write anything down. It’s a form of improvisation, similar to what a musician might do. It’s no wonder, so many photographers are also musicians, the creative process has certain similarities. Which got me thinking, I wonder what this scene would sound like if translated into music?

Hometown Mangroves

This section of mangrove is within walking distance of my home in Palmetto. I think it’s interesting how the roots appear chaotic, yet the structures create a fortification against the erosion of the land.

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Hometown Mangroves

A section of the mangroves in my hometown of Palmetto, Florida

Half of Florida would be washed away if not for mangroves; they are an excellent example of how life evolves to overcome. It also seems like an example of order versus entropy, the seemingly disorganized root structure is well suited to ensure it, and the land survives in place.

other images of mangroves from the gallery

What you see here is an HDR image composed of five exposures. The mangrove roots were dark, so I blended an overexposed frame for that. The sky was bright in comparison, so I combined an underexposed frame for that. In the end, my seemingly haphazard approach to composition resulted in something slightly more enduring. It is my very own example of order from chaos. Perhaps that is what I should call mangrove photography. Or not.

South Beach Pier

I was down in South Beach for a couple of days, and the first thing I did was walk over to the pier. Looking back at the land seems to help me set my bearings.

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South Beach Pier

The setting sun silhouettes a walker on the South Beach Pier

It was my first time to this spot; however, I’d seen it from cruise ships in the past as we sailed in and out of the Port of Miami. Now that’s it’s summer most of the ships are in Europe. With the hotter weather, the Miami Beach area is in low season. For me, it’s the best time to visit because prices are low and wait times are non-existent.

more monochrome from the gallery

I came here to take photos, so I just wandered around. It’s hot, but you expect that. Ice cold refreshments are at every turn, so it’s easy to stay hydrated. I drank twice my usual amount of water without even noticing. Even so, I prefer to be out in the morning or evening. This photo is the evening of the first day as the sun sets over the Miami downtown section.