Life Close to Home

Rick Bridges, clouds, cloudscape, drone, Florida, Landscape, landscapephotography, Manatee County, Sunset 0 Comments

Here is section of the town where I live taken with a drone. This is Palmetto along the north bank of the Manatee River as it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Having just spent a few weeks away I’m happy to be getting back to the routines of life close to home. One of those routines is getting out to take images of the sunset like this.

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Life Close to Home

Life Close to Home in Palmetto Florida

About a week ago Hurricane Irma passed by and this river nearly flooded. We were fortunate it did not and that is something everyone here is thankful for. The shared experience of having come so close has brought the community together. As the tide subsided and the river receded, there was a collective sigh of relief, almost festive; yet keenly aware that it could have gone either way. There is also the undercurrent of posttraumatic stress in the wake of the adrenaline-fueled week.

Life is returning to normal; power restored, schools reopened, shelves restocked. Most of us are left with simple assessments, cleanup and repairs. But that’s nothing compared to those further south. That we did not experience the same tragedy is pure chance, leaving us humbled and taking nothing for granted.

more from florida

I’m philosophical, if not a little superstitious about all this. The way I figure it; we have Mother Nature to thank for calm idyllic scenes like this. As much as we love what she has to offer, we try to remain mindful that moods change and sometimes tempers flare. And in those rare cases, we are at her mercy.

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Reflections in St Marks Square

Rick Architecture, europe, Italy, Night Photography, nightphotography, people, travel, Urban 0 Comments

We had just passed this way a few hours earlier and it was dry, now it was filled with puddles. I like taking pictures in the rain but in this case there was no rain in the forecast. From a photographic perspective it was a nice surprise so I stopped to take pictures of the reflections in St Marks Square.

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Reflections in St Marks Square

Reflections in St Marks Square in Venice Italy

Before visiting here I never knew that Venice was actually sinking. But it’s true and the rate is about a tenth of an inch per year. Basically the soil that the city is built upon is slowly compacting. When we walked through the central square at night the tides had risen up through the square to form puddles.

At this time of year Venice is super busy with visitors. I thought about that when approaching the city and I decided to include the crowds, making them part of the scenes I was capturing. There is a fun kind of energy late at night when so many people are walking around within the ancient lamp lit architecture.

more images with reflections

I was only here for about a day and a half; if I had been here longer I might have walked around in the early morning hours to get images without people. But that’s okay; I can save that idea for another day. Hopefully that day will be sometime soon before Venice goes the way of Atlantis.

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Another View of Burnaby

Rick canada, clouds, cloudscape, Landscape, minimalism, travel, urbanexploration, Vancouver 0 Comments

This is another view of Burnaby BC that I took from about ten miles away in downtown Vancouver. I think they refer to it as a bedroom community but that sounds strange; Burnaby is anything but sleepy. There is a lot of construction going on and it seems every time I come back the skyline has changed.

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Another View of Burnaby

Another View of Burnaby BC, just outside of Vancouver

Speaking of skylines, what looks like a hill to the right of the buildings is Central Park, something I posted about recently. It’s not really a hill, what you see is the contour of the tall cedars against the skyline.

This type of view is what I call my rule of tenths. In photography there is a “rule of thirds” which recommends segmenting the composition into thirds. I use that a lot but sometimes I feel that the sky deserves more than just a third, in cases like this I give it about nine-tenths.

more images from canada

The reason I do that is my own sense of perspective. I have a habit of drawing back from a subject, be it in photography or life, and trying to see things in relation to how it fits in. With something as big and complex as a city, it helps to get a little distance. At least that’s my theory; it works for me, …usually.

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Cafeteria Built on a Rock

Rick clouds, cloudscape, europe, Landscape, landscapephotography, SonyAlpha, Spain, travel 0 Comments

While in Spain we were told by several people that we should visit the Abbey of Montserrat about an hour north of Barcelona. It’s built in an impossible location on a steep mountainside and has stunning views of the region. It’s a great place to take photos and this is one I took of the cafeteria built on a rock.

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Cafeteria Built on a Rock

Cafeteria Built on a Rock at the Abbey of Montserrat

To drive here you take a series of steep switchbacks up the mountain. But if you don’t like hairpin turns over cliffs, you can also take a train or gondola from the valley floor. In that respect it reminds me of locations in Switzerland or Germany. However the red earth and unusual rock formations also remind me of the southwestern United States. Perhaps it’s a combination of both, yet entirely unique.

This is a popular place because there were a lot of people here when we arrived. And there is a lot more to see than just a cafeteria, but this grabbed my attention when I first arrived. It’s no ordinary cafeteria, at least not the kind that comes to mind when I think of my old high school. If you did nothing but drive up here and buy lunch, it would be well worth the trip as you gaze out at the valley and Barcelona in the distance.

more European photos

My only regret is that I didn’t know about this place sooner. I will come back and explore it more thoroughly on my next visit, especially at night. And there is way more to see than just the cafeteria, so plan a day of it the next time you’re in the area; I know I will.

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Evolved Sense of Style

Rick B&W, bicycle, europe, Italy, monochrome, people, SonyAlpha, travel 0 Comments

As an American, one thing I will say about Europeans is they have an evolved sense of style. I took this in central Bologna around noon while I was busy snapping pictures of people. Most of my people pictures were not very good but this one I liked. It makes me think of the differences between Europeans and Americans.

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Evolved Sense of Style

Evolved Sense of Style on the streets of Bologna

I could have spent my time taking pictures of the architecture and ancient landmarks, but the Europeans and their culture intrigue me. It’s instructive to observe how they carry themselves in everyday settings. By taking pictures of people in different places I am recording something a little more ephemeral than a ninth century church. Not that there’s anything wrong with ninth century churches.

If you walk around and observe things around you, interesting things appear, they happen all the time. This lady has a delightful style and, she’s using a bike. The scene is reminiscent of something I’d expect to see in a fashion ad.

more street photography

If I saw something this in the little town in Florida where I live I would know for certain that hell had frozen over. But here in Italy a fashionable lifestyle is as common as an ancient church.

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The Gothic Quarter

Rick Architecture, europe, people, SonyAlpha, Spain, streetphotography, Urban 0 Comments

One of my favorite things to do in Barcelona is to take pictures of people walking around the gothic quarter at night, especially next to the main cathedral. The architecture and lighting creating a setting that is good for night photography.

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Walking Around the Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

 

As write this I am in Barcelona by accident; I was scheduled to return home but my flights were cancelled. That gives an extra day to explore one of my favorite cities at night. Images like this illustrate my preference for shooting scenes at night. In my mind it’s more interesting than daytime.

It’s not just the time of day but the location. In Barcelona there are people out walking around at all hours. Those people and their sense of style surrounded by the ancient architecture create the perfect settings for this type of image making.

more from Barcelona

One thing that helps is a fast lens. I used an f1.8, which lets in more light. That’s necessary for handheld night photography without a tripod. That in turn allows me to quickly capture scenes with little setup. In this case I am using an ISO of 1600, which is high but well within the means of today’s cameras. The technology will only get better and these types of shots will become easier to capture. Having that combination in a city like Barcelona is a very good thing.

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Walking Aimlessly Around Venice

Rick Architecture, bridge, Bridges, canal, europe, Italy, SonyAlpha, travel 0 Comments

I took this while walking aimlessly around Venice one afternoon. It’s easy to get lost among the narrow ways and canals, but at the same time it’s easy to find your way back. Every building has a sign on the corner pointing to St Marks Square. In this manner I headed out, got lost, and found my way back with little trouble. Along the way there were dozens of scenes like this.

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Walking Aimlessly Around Venice

Walking Aimlessly Around Venice

I walked far enough out from the central square that the streets were quite and life returned to the normal sights and sounds of an old world village. Shopkeepers leaned against doors, people lingered in cafés, and an old woman carried groceries. It was in contrast to the crowded tourist center where I started.

This is my first time in Venice. It’s one of those places that immediately struck the photographer in me with endless possibilities. I have seen many images from here, yet the experience of being here is beyond the clichés.

more from the European gallery

Like other iconic locations, the beauty of it inspires artists, and has done so for centuries. I was here only briefly but captured many images that I can go back and enjoy for a long time. I will share some of my favorite, but for now this is my first. And I have no idea exactly where I was when I took it.

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Sunrise at the Port in Livorno

Rick clouds, cloudscape, cruise, Italy, SonyAlpha, travel 0 Comments

This is just before sunrise at the port in Livorno Italy along the western coast of Tuscany. I took this from the deck of the ship as we pulled into port. On a cruise you wake up in a new place each morning so sometimes I like to get up and have a look around while the ship docks. On this morning there were colors on display as the ship entered port.

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Sunrise at the Port in Livorno

Sunrise at the Port in Livorno, taken from the deck of RCCL’s Brilliance of the Seas

Come to think of it, if it wasn’t for the sunrise and sunset I’d loose all sense of direction while travelling. A geographic sense is one thing, but being able to point east or west is entirely another. I had the same problem in Florida because the ground is so flat; there is no point of reference.

Where would we be without a GPS? I’ve become attached to using it. I used to read maps and a compass but it’s no longer necessary. Maybe one day we’ll have GPS chips implanted in our brains and we’ll never lose our way. Even then we’d be inferior to starlings that use the magnetic lines of the earth. It seems we need a lot of technology to catch up to what is already in nature.

other cruise ship images

Anyway, back in Livorno the ship docked and I took a trip along the coast of Tuscany. Because it was the coast I had sense of which way was west. But as soon as we returned to sea, all bets were off.

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Composite of Downtown Vancouver

Rick composite, long exposure, Night Photography, nightphotography, photography, travel, Urban, urbanexploration, Vancouver 0 Comments

This is a multi-exposure composite of downtown Vancouver. I took this while staying on a high floor at the Marriott Delta Vancouver. My Marriott profile indicates a preference for a high floor. About half of the time, depending on availability, I end up with an amazing view like this.

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Composite of Downtown Vancouver

Composite of Downtown Vancouver from the Marriott Delta Vancouver

To get this I setup the camera on a tripod next to the window and left it there for about twelve hours. I took exposures in the afternoon, evening and then upon waking in the morning. I also used a lens skirt so that there wouldn’t be any reflections on the window coming from my room. Later I blended them all together to form this composite image.

The technique is my attempt to counteract my indecision. Often, the images I post are just one of many that I took of the same thing. I suppose I could post them all but that would get boring, so I pick just one. That’s where indecision comes in. I’m left with ten or twenty images of the exact same thing, but in different light.

some other composites

A composite allows me to pick and choose my favorite aspects of each photo and combine then into one image. It’s a little like seafood gumbo; it can be tasty if all the ingredients are nicely blended. And for desert, I get to have my cake and eat it too.

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Monterosso al Mare

Rick cruise, europe, Italy, Landscape, landscapephotography, panorama, SonyAlpha, travel 0 Comments

I recently arrived here in Monterosso al Mare by boat and spent the afternoon walking around, taking photos and tasting the local cuisine. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it. Actually I was on a tour and so my time was not as leisurely as I make it seem. However I did have a couple of hours to enjoy a meal of antipasti and explore the village. I took this on a walkway that is carved into the rock overlooking the Mediterranean.

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Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso al Mare in Italy

This image is comprised of 12 high-resolution photos in a six by two grid. Panoramas like this are extremely high in resolution and, as it turns out, can be difficult to work with. The reason for that is two-fold; first is the size of the individual images and second is that I shoot in RAW format which adds even more size and processing requirements. It pushes the limits of what we can do with normal computers and software. But as with all things technological, this is only a short-term problem.

more panoramas

Speaking of problems, the biggest one this day was the hour hand on my watch. I love tours but they only give you a taste. There’s a lot of information coming at you in a short period. Its like wine tasting, you sip of different vintages but never fully enjoy one. The taste I had of Monterosso al Mare was just enough to whet my palette and make we want to come back; for a full glass of course.

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