Cruise Ships Are Like Spaceships

Rick cruise, Florida, Night Photography, nightphotography, SonyAlpha, travel 0 Comments

On the last day of our three-day trip I got up before dawn to walk around the top deck of the ship. This walkway seemed like a portal on a space ship. I think cruise ships are like spaceships, at least like the big ones in the movies. In my mind a proper space ship has facilities to take tourist to different planets. Then at each location they probably dock on he dark side of the moon and take little excursions to the planet. You never know, truth can be stranger than fiction.

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Cruise Ships Are Like Spaceships

Cruise Ships Are Like Spaceships – Taken before dawn on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas

Anyway, taking pictures of a cruise ship seems to work out better in the early morning. During the day and late into the night the decks are always crowded. But because everyone is up partying so late it’s a guarantee there are few if any people up early. That’s when you can get all those architectural details they build on to the ships; like these colorful arches for example.

Also, in the morning the crew is usually washing the decks and the sheen of wet surfaces enhances the light with reflections. Having said all that, I suppose the real trick is waking up early. Since this was the last day and we were scheduled to get off early I had to get up; I might not be so eager otherwise. About a half hour after this we pulled into the Port of Miami and I saw more cool things I wouldn’t normally see during the day.

more architecture from the gallery

Maybe one day I’ll get up early and we’ll be pulling into the dark side of the moon, and then I’ll know I was up partying way too hard.

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Walk Through the Forest in North Carolina

Rick autumn, Landscape, Nature, SonyAlpha 0 Comments

This was taken a couple years back on a walk through the forest in North Carolina. It was supposed to be a short two-hour hike but ended up taking twice as long and was more difficult than we thought.

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Walk Through the Forest

Walk Through the Forest in North Carolina

Apparently enough people get caught in the same mistake that the rangers and locals have formed a small rescue industry. I felt bad because it was my idea and my wife and sister-in-law were following my lead. But in the end we made it back before dark with a story to tell. We were hungry but too tired to go out so we ordered room service when we got back to the hotel.

As far as photography goes it couldn’t have been better; I’m still finding photos I had forgotten about. Coming from a flat place like Florida it was a big change to be in the mountains and hills. I think that also contributed to our misjudging of the hike, it was downhill going in and an uphill climb coming back. Florida has no hills so elevation never crossed our minds.

I just looked up the step history for the hike on my iPhone; it was 14,000 steps and the equivalent of 43 stories climbed. That may not be Mount Everest but it’s a lot of uphill walking for someone from Florida. When I’m taking pictures I get carried away and it’s probably not fair to the people I’m with.

other forest images from the gallery

I consider myself tech savvy yet I only learned about the iPhone step tracker about a year ago. My phone has been tracking steps for years; who knew? Now I can match it up with some of my photo hikes and see how far I walked. There are a few in there that I can recall very well. But having sore feet is a small price to pay for good pictures. And I’m sure I’ll do it again and again; only now I can check my steps for an added degree of satisfaction.

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Quite the Scene

Rick Florida, HDR, Landscape, Macphun, photography, Sarasota, SonyAlpha, Sunset 0 Comments

I can be a real geek sometimes; like this time. I had it in my mind I was going to take some epic photos and so I brought a bag full of gear including a huge lens and a tripod. Things didn’t turn out as I expected so there I was with all this gear in the middle of a public pathway as the sun was setting. I made the best of it and quickly setup for the shot. A couple came up and said they wanted to be on TV. Obviously I looked like I was from the local station. I must have been quite the scene.

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Quite the Scene

Quite the Scene before me and of me when I took this in Sarasota

This is the image I got and so I didn’t come home completely empty handed. But to be quite honest I could have done better with less. I love gear and so this happens a lot. I always bring more gear than I need. However I can count on one hand the times I used everything I brought. It’s not about the gear; it’s about being present in the moment and working with what you have.

Lately I’ve started experimenting with slimming down what I take. By that I mean two or three lenses. Again, even the times I bring two lenses, I end up using only one. Recently I’ve left the house with just one lens on my camera. No bag, no filters, no tripod. I start out with a feeling that I forgot something. However as I start to take pictures I’m less encumbered and more attuned to what’s around me.

It’s not the camera it’s what between the ears. Taking good pictures requires a state of mind more than a heavy piece of glass. Some of the most amazing photographers on the web use inexpensive cameras. That’s not to say all the equipment is unnecessary, it all has a proper time, place and use.

more sunset images

I like the gear because I’m a geek but maybe I need a little intervention. I think of myself as being on a twelve-step program to be free of lens clutter. I’m not there yet, but at least I know it’s an issue. That’s the first step to recovery.

Now I’m off to read about the just announced Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM and 12-24mm f/4.0. I might need one of those in my kit.

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Skimmers on the Beach

Rick beach, Florida, Landscape, Night Photography, nightphotography, SonyAlpha, Sunset, Tampa 0 Comments

There is a colony of skimmers on the beach not far from my home on Anna Maria Island. They have a patch of sand that they come back to each year to hatch and nurse their young. It’s normally taped off so we don’t interfere with the hatchlings. Anything that hatches and nests in the sand is quite vulnerable. The adults take turns guarding the nest. In fact the whole colony, whether they have chicks or not, pitch in on security detail. It takes a village to raise a skimmer.

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Skimmers on the Beach

Skimmers on the Beach in St Petersburg Florida

This is taken at a different location in St Petersburg. Lowering the camera close to the water helps see from the perspective of the wildlife. The small flock of skimmers was picking at the sand while some children swam behind them. With me in front I was surprised they stayed in place for as long as they did. Like so many birds in Florida they’ve grown accustomed to us.

Now is the time of year we also find turtle nests in the sand. Isn’t it odd that the turtle just lays the eggs and then takes off? It’s so unlike other creatures that stick around and nurse their young. After hatching the baby turtles make a dash to the water to avoid being eaten, and then try to avoid the same fate in the water. I don’t blame the mom for not wanting to stick around; the odds seem so slim.

other images taken at dusk

But the good news is the turtles are back on the rise after years of decline. Thanks to the watchful eyes of countless volunteers using GPS and meticulous notes to identify and monitor the nests.

Just taking a walk along the beach you would never know the amount of drama taking place in the very sand beneath your toes.

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Random People in Scenes

Rick B&W, Florida, Landscape, monochrome, photography, Sarasota, SonyAlpha, Urban, urbanexploration 0 Comments

I use random people in scenes all the time. Sometimes a person is positioned in such a way as to create a scene. Street photography is all about people in scenes. One technique is to create compositions where people are juxtaposed to nearby architecture or structures. A simple example is a person waking past an archway. Looking for a composition is like a game; you feel a sense of accomplishment when you capture one. I haven’t played but maybe it’s a little like Pokémon Go.

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Random People in Scenes

Random People in Scenes in Bayfront Park in Sarasota

I took this at Bayfront Park in Sarasota recently. The park is an island with a trail around it and these swings are spaced every fifty meters. I come here when I want to do a mixture of people and landscape photography; it has plenty of both. As I walked behind this lady I think she knew I was taking pictures because she glanced back. She didn’t seem to mind so I paused to get several more.

I use people in this way all the time. Of course it’s better to be coy about it, if people become aware of what your doing they may change their behavior. Lately I’ve taken to carrying only a small 35mm lens on my camera. That way it doesn’t stand out so much and I can almost pretend I’m a casual shutterbug. In reality I’m on an undercover mission.

images with random people

One time it backfired on me. I was trying to be nonchalant as I took a picture of a rundown garage in a gritty part of town. The people inside thought I was snooping on them and started yelling at me. It turned out okay but I should have asked first. Most people don’t mind if they know what you’re doing. And if they do mind, well, no biggie, it’s just a game.

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Vancouver Terminal

Rick abstract, Architecture, canada, SonyAlpha, travel, Vancouver 0 Comments

This image is based on the Vancouver terminal, or YVR as its also known. Each time I travel here I am intrigued by the construction. The architects created an exoskeleton with which they hung the functional necessities of the terminal. The form and function are indistinguishable from one another. I’ve noticed this elsewhere and it represents an evolution in how we build.

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Vancouver Terminal

Vancouver Terminal in British Columbia Canada

In the software industry we employ patterns to do basic tasks. Patterns are the analogs of load-bearing structures used in construction. Software has always drawn parallels from construction, and soon I believe it will occur the other direction.

We are evolving into beings that live as much in software as brick and mortar. The trend is accelerating and the boundaries between virtual and physical are becoming more tenuous each day.

The Matrix struck a chord because it explored merging of physical and software realities. I believe we are on some of the same trajectories proposed in the movie. In another generation virtual reality will be as commonplace as a cell phones are now.

More abstract images

When I see physical structures I think of their corollaries in software. Likewise when I build software I borrow construction techniques and terminology. Now opposite is beginning to occur with construction rendering which is an offshoot of 3D printing. We have begun to build physical structures with software as seen on this YouTube. We are now on the verge of yet another revolution in combining software and construction. The merging between software, virtual reality and construction and manufacturing are all but disappearing before our eyes.

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Waterfall from British Columbia

Rick canada, Landscape, Nature, SonyAlpha, travel, Vancouver 0 Comments

I was flipping through some old photos and I found this waterfall from British Columbia. What caught my attention was that it was taken exactly three years ago today. This is just below the massive Shannon Falls north of Vancouver. When I took this it was in full flow from the spring runoff, so I imagine it would be the same now.

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Waterfall from British Columbia

Waterfall from British Columbia just north of Vancouver

I took this with the Sony A7R, which was still fairly new at the time. I had had it for only a couple of months and was still learning its ins-and-outs. Looking at this now makes me want to take a trip back to the Pacific Northwest and go waterfall hunting. For a landscape photographer waterfalls are big game.

A lot has transpired in the last three years. In that time I’ve taken close to a hundred thousand images. They’re not all winners mind you, in fact only a very small percentage of them are what I’d consider “good”. In one sense photography is a numbers game. The more you do the better your odds. Eventually you get some good ones.

Canadian gallery

When I get asked how I got to where I am the answer is simply that I take a lot of photos; some turn out good. That’s not to diminish the effort, but it’s more repetition than anything. If you get out and take pictures, magic eventually happens. If you want to take good photos, take a lot of photos. Eventually you’ll get some real winners.

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The New Lens

Rick bahamas, photography, SonyAlpha, streetphotography, travel 0 Comments

I took this with the new lens that I purchased from Sony. It’s a 85mm and I shot it wide open at f1.8. I’ve been missing this focal length since switching from Nikon several years ago. I could have purchased one earlier but for one reason or another never got around to it. I’m glad I waited because from what I can tell this new version performs identical to lenses three times it’s price. The first time I used it was on a trip to the Bahamas. As we were walking through the shops and alleyways I took a few shots to see what it could do.

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The New Lens

The New Lens – taken with the Sony FE 85mm 1.8

Yesterday I wrote about how street photograph allows us to study a scene later. As for myself, I miss a lot of little details when I’m in the scene. I think we all do that, its natural. If three people walk into a place, each will see something different, like the three blind men and an elephant story. Maybe it’s wired into our DNA that we scan for predators which prevents us from seeing everything clearly.

This is where photography can play a role. It gives us a second chance to go back and see what was really going on. When I compare a photo to what I thought was going on it’s usually different to one degree or another.

Each type of lens allows us to record the same scene from a different perspective. Stand in one spot and aim the camera using a telephoto lens. Then aim it at the same spot with a wide-angle lens. Each capture will create a very different image.

more travel photography

Since each focal length creates a different perspective, choosing one allow us to go back later and see what we missed from that perspective. And of course there are infinite possibilities.

I think I’ve analyzed the hell out of that for now, but hey, that’s just how my brain works sometimes. Maybe I could just sum up the whole subject by saying that I’m digging the world at 85mm.

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People and Their Neighborhood

Rick canada, Night Photography, nightphotography, SonyAlpha, streetphotography, Urban, urbanexploration, Vancouver 0 Comments

When I was last here in Vancouver I walked around Gastown at night and this is the first shot I got. It’s a random shot of the people and their neighborhood. I have vivid impressions of this part of town; mostly that it’s a cool place to hang out. There are bistros and bars galore and you can find anything you might be looking for. I also remember being amazed at how many people were smoking weed in the open, not just here but all over Vancouver. That’s a little like Amsterdam I suppose, not so unusual when compared to other progressive cities.

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People and Their Neighborhood

People and Their Neighborhood – a picture of Gastown in Vancouver BC

Street photography, especially at night, is a window on the soul of a neighborhood. I find that from random shots come insights into the character of a place. When walking around we observe a place but when we look at an image we study it. It’s not easy to study something when you are in it. Maybe that’s the attraction to street photography, it allows for a character study of the people and a place.

There is a symbiotic relationship between our neighborhood and us. When we talk we say; she is from this or that part of the city, as though it conveys some sense of character identity. Ever notice that?

more street photos

I’ve learned to appreciate street photography almost by accident. The more I do it the more I learn. In the end, it’s people and their relationship to their surroundings that comes through. You can see into it anything you want but for me it’s vignettes of life that I can study and learn from.

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As Though in a Dream

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

Recently I drove to the beach to take pictures when the moon was nearly full. In places like Bradenton Beach there aren’t many lights so a bright moon will cast a shadow. It makes for an eerie light as though in a dream. When the moon is absent you cannot even see to the end of the pier.

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As Though in a Dream

As Though in a Dream – A night scene in Bradenton Beach

The egret here stood at the end of the pier while I setup the tripod and captured this long exposure in the soft glow. He remained still during the exposure because he was watching for a fish below. It seems these birds have very good eyesight.

I take pictures at all times of day, but given a preference I’ll choose low light. The world takes on a different quality and things become more interesting. For instance I wonder what it would be like to go back in time and take picture before everything was so populated. However at night we get to see a little of what that might look like. There are fewer people out so there is an opportunity to experience crowded spaces without people. Perhaps a hundred years ago I would have seen the same thing.

long exposure photography

People in photos add a human element and we easily relate to that. Sometimes landscapes or seascapes without people work as well. Having said that there was a couple that walked on to this pier while I stood here taking pictures of the heron. It was just dark enough that they didn’t seem to notice what I was doing, so as soon as the heron flew away I took pictures of them as well. I’ll post that on another day as a different interpretation of the same scene.

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