Nature’s Fireworks

Rick Bridges, Florida, Manatee County, Nature, Night Photography, Urban 0 Comments

What do you call a place that starts the day with a sunrise and ends with nature’s fireworks? I call it Florida in summer. Normally the thunderstorms come in the afternoon but once in a while they’ll occur at night. The spectacle is both awesome and beautiful. The lightning flashes occur every few seconds appearing like something out of a science fiction movie. When I first moved here I was awestruck, now I’m more or less accustomed to it.

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Nature's Fireworks

Nature’s Fireworks in Bradenton Florida

Most people stay indoors, it’s not a good idea to be outside when this happens. Getting struck by lightning is a real possibility in this region. That being said, I was a couple of miles away from these strikes and after just a few shots I retreated to my car. A picture may be worth a thousand words but it’s not worth getting hurt over.

night gallery

But, thunderstorms rarely last for very long. Within a few minutes the lightning stopped, the rain started and it all blew over within about forty-minutes. Even though its officially autumn, the tropical weather continues here in Florida for about another month. Then, sometime in mid-to-late October we’ll get a cool front and it all stops as quickly as it started. But for now, we still have a few weeks of nature’s fireworks remaining.

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Morning at the Pier on Anna Maria

Rick Florida, Landscape, Manatee County, photography, Sunset 0 Comments

On Sunday I spent part of the morning at the pier on Anna Maria Island. This image is a study of sorts. I recently purchased a couple Lee filters and have been experimenting with long exposure daytime photography. In this case the experiment was to see what would happen if I took a long exposure of the sunrise. I used a wide angle so that the pier would be somewhat proportional to the sun. This is exposed for nearly three minutes, 175 seconds to be exact. For an experiment, I kind of like how it turned out.

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Morning at the Pier on Anna Maria

Morning at the Pier on Anna Maria Island

If you look close you’ll see ghost like images of the white egrets that populate the pier in the morning. I would normally try to keep them out of the frame but in this case they’re faded presence adds a narrative to the scene, an indication of what was going on at the time. In fact, what was going on is there were fishermen behind me net casting for bait fish. They would dump the catch on the pier and the egrets would snatch up any that didn’t make it into the bait bucket. Long story short, I was surrounded by white egrets.

more images from anna maria

I came here to watch the sunrise on a Sunday morning. As usual I wasn’t alone, there are always a handful of people doing the same thing. It’s a beautiful place and time of day to be here and it’s almost like being in church, there is a sense of reverence. In a way I suppose I was at the weekly Anna Maria sunrise service, only the parishioners were my fellow egrets and fishermen.

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Central Foyer

Rick alaska, Architecture, photography, travel 0 Comments

This is the central foyer of the Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas. I took this early one morning which is the only time that no people are present. The central column is about eight stories high and is serviced by elevators and stairwells. In the evening this is augmented with a colorful lighting display. I found this perspective through a glass portal at the very top.

Central Foyer

Central Foyer on Royal’s Radiance of the Seas

At the very bottom is a bar, the next up is a Starbucks, then a champagne bar and so on up the levels. There are game rooms, libraries, areas for lounging, each level is unique. Often we would lean against the banister and watch the band playing music below or perhaps watch a demonstration on cake making. Certainly there are things to do outside, but on an Alaskan cruise there is plenty to do indoors as well.

This is a small ship by todays standards but it’s a sister of the first ship I ever saw, the Jewel of the Seas. I was and still am amazed that this type of space and architecture can exist on an ocean-going vessel. Yet to the truly big ships this is unremarkable. I’m a simple man, and to me, this is really really big. Getting on a bigger ship seems like maybe going to the mall with a hotel that floats. The sea is almost incidental.

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Anyway, my impression of these ships is one of awe, how they build them is way beyond my ability to comprehend.

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Lights of Coal Harbour

Rick canada, Night Photography, photography, travel, Urban, Vancouver 0 Comments

Each time I visit Vancouver I take a walk in the evening to see the lights of Coal Harbour. This is an eight-second exposure I took using a tripod. The hotel I stay at is just left of center. To get here you have to walk around the harbour into Stanley Park and shoot back. Add to that little walk a dozen or more stops for photos and it can take hours. But time always flies when I’m having fun so I rarely notice the hour.

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Lights of Coal Harbour

Lights of Coal Harbour in Vancouver

This is one of those cities where something is happening every weekend of the summer. On this weekend there was a big triathlon and the staging area was just across the water. Behind me was an outdoor concert taking place. All around were people out walking and like me, taking pictures. Most areas of Vancouver are safe and busy late into the evening. It has a little of that New York City energy.

Vancouver Gallery

I had just returned from an Alaska cruise and a few hours later I was to fly back to Florida. For me Vancouver is fresh each time I visit and, of course, completely different from Florida. That change of scenery is the kind of thing that keeps me up late at night losing track of time.

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Long Exposure at Bradenton Beach

Rick beach, Florida, Landscape, Manatee County, photography, Sunset 0 Comments

This is another long exposure at Bradenton Beach. In fact the exposure was over a minute and a half and in that time people walked in and out of the frame, only they don’t show up. However this one person just stayed in place the entire time and so she was the only one that showed up. If I recall there was with a small child running in the water, splashing and generally having a good time while this lady watched. Interesting how that turned out, eh?

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Long Exposure at Bradenton Beach

Long Exposure at Bradenton Beach

Long exposures are a slice of time that give us a four dimensional view of the world. When you compress time into an image this is one version of what it looks like. It brings up all kinds of interesting ideas. Imagine if you could step into a different dimension where time moves at a slower rate. Then imagine that you could look back into this dimension. Maybe this is what you’d see. Kind of like being an Ent from the Lord of The Rings and watching hobbits.

Beach Gallery

This is just one way to apply a little abstraction to the world and put it in a different perspective. Sometimes we use angles, or height or light to see things a little differently. In this case I’m using time. For me its just another way to change the perspective of a scene.

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Lightning Storms

Rick Florida, Landscape, Manatee County, Nature, Night Photography 0 Comments

I live in an area of Florida where lightning storms are common. Growing up in California I remember the one lightning storm I ever saw. Now living here it’s so common I hardly notice. However I did notice this one as I drove home from the beach last weekend.

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Lightning Storms

Lightning Storms in Florida

Normally there’s thunder as well but sometimes the lightning is silent. I’m not really sure why that is. Quite often the lightning will stay in the clouds rather than strike the ground. In cases like that the lightning can be so frequent that its like watching fireworks, a flash every couple of seconds. The evening I took this it was about every ten-seconds.

new zealand gallery

To capture lightning you need a tripod. Once mounted I use manual mode on my Sony. I set the shutter speed to Bulb and using the remote I open the shutter until a flash of lighting occurs and then close it. In this case the shutter was open for six-seconds.

It really is a lot of fun. It’s a little like a meditation just sitting there in front of a nice scene capturing pictures of lightning.

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Hunting for Images

Rick beach, Florida, Landscape, Manatee County, photography, Sunset 0 Comments

When I show up at a beach to take pictures I approach from the road as though I’m hunting for images. Well, maybe that’s a little over dramatic. Let’s just say I’m looking for a shot as soon as I get out of the car. So as I walk on to the beach I might see something like this and quickly snap a photo.

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Hunting for Images

Hunting for Images along the Beach in Florida

Placing anonymous people in the image adds a point of interest for consideration. It’s a simple trick that causes our brains to project ourselves into the scene. Of course scenes don’t always need people but in general should at least one thing of interest like a bird, or tree or boat, anything really. The point is certain objects have a way of telling story in a picture, and it seems that people tell some of the best stories, just by being present in a picture.

When I place people in landscape images I do so anonymously. I do it with stealth so as not to disturb people in their own world. If someone sees me with the camera I’ll walk away so as not to ruin the moment that they may be having.

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So to be as unobtrusive as possible I try to make sure my camera settings are ready. If not I could be fumbling around for a couple of minutes. In this case I saw the scene, snapped a picture and moved on. And in this case I managed to captured the moment without harming my prey in any way. 🙂

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Sarasota Under the Clouds

Rick Florida, photography, Sarasota, Urban 0 Comments

This is a long exposure of Sarasota under the clouds. It was midday and I used filters that allowed me to keep the shutter open for over a minute. As a result you begin to see their movement as they rise up with the intense energy of the Florida sun. I love to observe clouds and this technique allows me to capture their movement.

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Sarasota Under the Clouds

Sarasota Under the Clouds

Below is a flat perspective of the Sarasota skyline. The main downtown area is on the right. It’s not a big city per se, but big enough to have a lot of restaurants, an arts scene and a mini building boom. And of course we can’t forget the beaches, some of the best in the world. But I digress, I like putting things in perspective and to do that I take a step back, metaphorically and physically.

sky images from the gallery

This image is part of a reoccurring theme, let’s call it the open spaces theme. Often we don’t think of cities as having much in the way of open spaces. But if you look above the buildings you’ll notice there is all kinds of space. We are so oriented to the two dimensions of a flat earth, but really there is so much more above our heads, And when we take that into account there is a larger perspective that we easily miss. For a visual medium such as photography, using the open spaces above brings a different perspective we don’t always consider.

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Star Princess

Rick alaska, photography, travel 0 Comments

As we were sailing out of Skagway the Star Princess remained parallel to ours for about thirty minutes. The straight is not that wide and the sight of two massive ships in the light of dusk silently passing through must have been quite the thing. Only these areas are uninhabited save for the wildlife, so we were unnoticed save for the eagles sitting on treetops.

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Star Princess

Star Princess in Alaska

There were four or five cruise ships in Skagway that day, I believe this is the same one I posted a picture of earlier. It’s hard to tell because in that picture I was standing next to it on the dock and it’s hard to get the full perspective up close.

The low light capabilities of the Sony A7RII allowed me to capture this at ISO4000. These kind of shots still amaze me when I think that just a few years when this type of shot was impossible. My preference is to shoot in low light, I prefer the moodiness of it.

Alaska images

My ship was Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas. I wonder if there was someone on the Princess ship watching our ship and taking a similar shot. If you’re out there somewhere let’s swap photos so we can see our own boat, eh?

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Dusk at Bradenton Beach

Rick beach, Florida, Landscape, Manatee County, Night Photography, travel 0 Comments

I took this about a week ago during dusk at Bradenton Beach. This is a one minute exposure which makes the waves of the look smooth. It was actually a little darker when I took this but the long exposure makes it appear a brighter.

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Dusk at Bradenton Beach

Dusk at Bradenton Beach

Along the right are the lights of the restaurants as they cast their glow on the overhead clouds. These restaurants attract both locals and visitors here at night. The Beachhouse Resturant is on the right, a reliable favorite of ours.

Straight up the beach about a mile is Holmes Beach, its more popular than Bradenton Beach so this is a little less crowded. This whole area is known as Anna Maria Island. It’s basically a key linked to the mainland by two bridges, surrounded by beaches and dotted with little villages, piers and restaurants. This is the laid back section of Florida.

I love coming here at sunset and night to take photos, there is always something interesting. We love the area so much we are planning to rent a beach house here soon and do a stay-cation. Why travel when you have all this in your own backyard?

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