Private Fireworks

Rick bridge, cloudscape, Florida, Landscape, Manatee County, Night Photography, nightphotography, SonyAlpha, Urban 0 Comments

This is another image I took on Independence Day. Normally the fireworks are launched from the other side of the river but not this year. Had we known we would have crossed and sat on the south side. Nevertheless we made due and in the end I rather like this photo from just before nightfall. These were someone’s private fireworks before the real show by the city. The clouds on the left were alive with lightning and we had man-made and Mother Nature’s fireworks exploding in unison.

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Private Fireworks

Private Fireworks in Palmetto Florida

Most of my photos do not turn out the way I intended. That was the case this evening with the obstructed view. But it’s not always a bad thing. We think we know what we want, but chaos and randomness dictate otherwise. Go with the flow and work with what you have. Adaptability is the key to success in photography and life.

Before a shoot I have scenes in my head of what I want to end up with. The majority of the time I get something different. But knowing what I want those scenes to be is an advantage. The scenes will eventually appear and I’ll be ready because I will already have thought about it.

For instance, imagine a sailboat in front of a setting sun. If I have my mind set on that I might not get it on a particular outing. But at some point I will see it about to occur and I’ll be ready. The catalog of ideas in my head grows when I look at works of other photographers, or simply when I fail to get the scene I came for. The bigger the catalog in my head the more I’m ready for.

more cityscape images

On Independence Day I did not have this image in my mind at all, not even close. But I went with the flow and ended up with something I liked very much. But that other image is in the catalog waiting for it to come up again, and on that occasion I’ll be ready.

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Rooftop Bar at the Zamora

Rick Florida, people, photography, SonyAlpha, travel, Urban 0 Comments

Another hot tip if you’re looking for cool place to hang out in St Pete’s beach Florida, try the rooftop bar at Hotel Zamora. If I’m not mistaken it’s fairly new because when I look it up on Google Maps it looks like a bare roof. But rest assured its been transformed into a swank pad with a great view of the Gulf.

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Rooftop Bar at the Zamora

Rooftop Bar at the Zamora in St Pete’s Beach Florida

I have a friend that’s getting married here shortly so I’m looking forward to coming back to hang out and taking some great photos.

It’s the kind of place I would go to if I were on vacation, only I live here so I need another excuse. The best excuse I can come up with is the day of the week called Saturday. Short of that I might even consider a staycation.

Along the back is Castile Restaurant overlooking the inter-coastal waterway. My wife and I stopped in for dinner, almost as an afterthought. We were surprised at the quality of food, presentation and service. It’s a hidden gem that we’ve just discovered.

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Just down the street is the better-known Don Cesar hotel; it’s the pink building in the background. That’s a much bigger place with all the amenities of a large resort. But the photographer in me will choose a place with a rooftop bar over the better-known location any day. So for me, the Zamora is on the shortlist in the very near future.

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Get the Job You Deserve

Rick Macphun, New York City, Night Photography, nightphotography, SonyAlpha, travel, Urban, urbanexploration 0 Comments

The “Get The Job You Deserve” sign over Times Square is a mammoth structure. I hesitate to call it a billboard; it’s way bigger than that. I took this shortly after checking to a hotel in New York City. Coming from a small town in Florida to the heart of Manhattan is one heck of a jolt, just the kind I needed.

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Get the Job You Deserve

Get the Job You Deserve

I have a tip if you’re into photography and thinking of going to New York City. Book a room at the Courtyard Marriot on West 54th and Broadway. On one side of the building the rooms overlook Broadway and Times Square. This is the view from a corner room on the 28th floor. The location is about four blocks from Times Square and Central Park in the other direction.

I used to live here many moons ago. The city continues to change yet many things remain the same. It feels like there are improvements yet so much is familiar. Something I noticed is that cabs seem easier to find. My theory is that because so many people are using Uber, cabs are more available. I could be wrong; it’s just a theory.

For all intents and purposes New York City may as well be a nation; boroughs are like provinces or states. You could live in one section of the city and speak a different dialect than in another.

more from NYC

The city has it’s own gravitational field and laws of attraction. If you like the city you are drawn in, if not you are repulsed, there seems to be no grey area; it’s an all or nothing proposition. As for me, I am a monster fan.

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Two-hour Ground Delay

Rick Florida, HDR, iphone, Macphun, people, Tampa, travel, unitedstates 0 Comments

A few days ago I was headed up to New York City from Tampa. We left with plenty of time to spare but by the time we made it through traffic and security we only had fifteen minutes before boarding. We ended up making some bad food choices in a frantic attempt to get a meal in the few minutes remaining. No sooner had we done that than an announcement was made that the flight was put on a two-hour ground delay due to weather. This is the scene from the bar at Pei Wei across from our gate where we made more questionable food and beverage choices.

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Two-hour Ground Delay

Two-hour Ground Delay at Tampa Airport

I am completely amazed at how I was able to make this photo. It was taken with an iPhone7 and then edited it in Lightroom mobile on the same device. By using the camera inside mobile Lightroom the images were saved in RAW format. That allowed me to recover a more detail, shadows and highlights than I might ordinarily.

The other cool thing is that Lightroom on the iPhone is hooked up with Lightroom on my laptop. As I was siting here editing the image on my iPhone, it and the edits were being save in the cloud. I opened up my laptop and started using Lightroom where I left off from on my iPhone. I continued using some of my favorite software including Photoshop and MacPhun’s Luminar as well as a few others, finally ending up with this.

more travel photography

Personally I am amazed, because it really felt seamless hopping from one platform to another. Sure, there is not as much detail as if I had used my three-thousand dollar Sony camera, but there is way more detail in this than I would have expected. You can see both our JetBlue aircraft and clouds at the gate across the way as well as interesting details in the darkened restaurant. For sitting at a bar in an airport, it ain’t half bad if I do say so myself.

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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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