Very First Thing

I find that morning is the best time to exercise. In fact very first thing in the morning, that way nothing can come between me and my desire for a workout. By the time its over its still early and I can go through the day guilt free knowing I did something. Guilt free days are good.

Very First Thing
Bradenton Riverwalk very first thing in the morning

This is a place I take a lot of photos, it’s called Bradenton Riverwalk. If I come here first thing in the morning I’ll find a lot of people that think the way I do. Walking, running, doing pushups and basically all manner of exercise. It’s the perfect place, there’s plenty of open space by the water and miles of walkways.

See the Florida gallery here

However when I come here it’s just to take pictures or walk my dog. I workout in a gym in a bootcamp class. I tend to need some type of structured activity inside lest I get distracted by the sunrise and want to start snapping pictures. Maybe I could combine exercise with taking pictures to have my cake and eat it too. That would be like going for a hike with a camera. What a bright idea, I should try that sometime.

Stuck on a Bridge

A shot of the main bridge near my home between Bradenton and Palmetto. Apparently this is now due for replacement. Bridges have a life span and this one is at its end. I imagine that to replace it will be a couple years of chaos, but that’s the price to pay for progress I suppose. In the old days the bridges were flat, not arched like this. When it came time to replace them they simply turned them into fishing piers. I don’t suppose that will work with these arched versions, they’ll probably just demolish the whole thing.

Stuck On A Bridge
There is nothing like being stuck on a bridge in Florida

The traffic over this bridge can be horrendous. But I don’t stress it, besides, what can be better than to be stuck on a bridge in Florida; you can look out and see sailboats or dolphins, the scenery is pretty good. I look forward to getting stuck on bridges here, especially drawbridges, they’re my favorite. Everyone stops and turns off the engine and some folks like me get out of our cars. Its fun to watch the bridge rise and the sailboats pass. I’ve spent a lot of time in traffic over the years, but getting stuck on a bridge in Florida changes your perspective on the experience.

More bridges from the gallery

They’re building another one about five miles upriver. I can hardly wait for that to be built so that I can get pictures from and around it. Anyway, for someone who loves photographing bridges I suppose I live in the right place.

Morning Train

The morning train crosses the bridge to Bradenton on it’s way to the orange juice plant. I stood here as it blew its horn which can be heard for miles away. When I’m home I hear the horn at night and for me it’s just part of the daily sounds that make up the fabric of life in this small town. Each time I hear it I know the train is crossing the river.

Morning Train
The Morning Train in Bradenton Florida

When I travel to another part of the country or up to Canada and see Tropicana orange juice in a carton, I know it crossed this bridge as it left the plant. It’s a subtle feeling of familiarity when I’m far from home.

Anyway, I love traveling by train, there couldn’t be a more relaxing way to travel. Unlike a plane you can easily get up and walk around. There’s none of the nonsense about landing and takeoff and you can pretty much do as you please.

More images of urban exploration from the gallery

Anyway, I don’t see many passenger trains in my part of Florida. Even so they were largely responsible for the population growth in the last century. Now the trains here mostly serve industry. For instance the Ringling circus train leaves from just the other side of the river. That has a long history, and I know someone who works on that train, but I digress; another story for another day perhaps.

Close to Home

Due to some other priorities I’ve been staying close to home lately. That’s been nice because I get to visit all my favorite photo locations within a short drive. But I just realized I haven’t been back to this park in about two years. It just got put at the top of the list. I like it here because of the ponds and the reflections, so I just need to wait for some nice clouds and head over in the next few days.

Close to Home
Bennett Park in Bradenton Florida is close to home

They were going to put a water park here, that was over a year ago but I’ve not seen any construction when I drive past. Hopefully the natural beauty is preserved. I need to remember is to bring mosquito repellant, this is close to a swamp and bayou so there are plenty of biting things. Normally I get so engrossed in what I’m doing that I just ignore them.

Check out some of my favorite images at the gallery here

Now that we’re getting into summer weather again we’ll start getting afternoon thunderstorms. Those can be loud and dramatic, but the best part is after they pass the clouds can be spectacular. You can see some of those clouds way off in the distance here, but this image doesn’t really feature them. Clyde Butcher, a famous photographer from Florida says that the clouds are our mountains. That’s a reference to how they can play an important role in Florida landscape in the same way mountains do in other parts of the country. To me that makes perfect sense, and the bonus is that our mountains change every day. How cool is that?

Old Stumps

This is a shot of an old stump along the Beach in British Columbia. I took this while walking along the Foreshore trail from Wreck Beach. The logs and stumps litter the beach, remnants of storms long passed. There are lumber mills not far from here so it’s not unusual to see stray logs that never made it to the mill. I stopped several times to take pictures of the smooth stones on the beach which is not exactly landscape photography, but images I like to collect nonetheless for use later as textures for other images.

Old Stumps
Old stumps along the Foreshore Train in BC

I noticed another photographer stopping to take photos of the stumps and debris along the beach as well. I think because it’s deserted here and there are so many natural elements you could easily spend hours photographing all kinds of interesting things. That’s basically what I did.

See more images in the Canadian gallery

I’ll be heading up to Alaska in about a month. I hope to get some time walking along a beach up there as well. I know the landscape is beautiful, I’ve seen it on TV. Naturally I’m curious to see it in person because as we all know pictures can never do justice to majestic landscapes. Just the thought of walking in a setting that I’ve never seen before should provide all kinds of opportunities for photography. Even if they are just a bunch of old stumps.

It Just Seems That Way

This is another image from Bean Point at the tip of Anna Maria Island. There is no parking and so the only people that show up here are those living or staying within walking distance. That’s why it’s one of my favorite places for photography at sunset.

It Just Seems That Way
We are not insignificant, but sometimes it just seems that way.

A continuing theme for me is to use clouds in an image to represent proportion and scale. So typically people or manmade subjects become small in relation to the clouds and surrounding environment. The purpose is to draw attention to the scale of nature around us. For me the message is one of reintegration into our otherwise ignored surroundings.

More images of Anna Maria Island from the gallery

Only after I became a photographer did I even begin to notice things around me, such as the formation of clouds. Now I look at the world different from before, I see our existence in relation to our environment. That provides a sense of perspective, something to glimpse a grander scale of things. Without that we tend to focus on small things in front of our faces without ever looking up. It’s like zooming out on a map; we begin to seem insignificant. But of course we are not, it just seems that way.

Plan B

This morning I came to this tower to take a picture of the full moon as it set to the West. Only it didn’t turn out all that good and as I stood here wondering what to do I turned around and noticed the sunrise from behind these clouds. This observation tower is at Neil Preserve in Bradenton. I came here at the crack of dawn and got eaten alive by the bugs as I walked the path from the parking lot. But on top here was a nice breeze and a welcome respite from the mosquitos below.

Plan B
My plan A didn’t work so I turned around and this was Plan B

This is my Plan B shot, the one I didn’t come here for. With photography, and life in general, it’s always good to have a backup plan if the first one falls through. I have a little voice in my head that tells me to turn around. Well, maybe more of a habit than a voice. Nevertheless sometimes I listen and turn around and look for opportunities in the other direction. My own philosophy is that I should have everything I need, I just need to keep an open mind and look for whatever comes my way.

More sky images from Manatee County

That makes every outing a challenge. Life is the same way, each day a challenge, each challenge and opportunity to find a creative solution. There I go again. It seems relating photography to life is also a habit of mine. At least it’s not a voice in my head.

Every Little Thing

I took this during sunrise at Emerson Preserve. As the sun rises the light is truly rare for a few minutes and everything seems to take on a magical quality. Sometimes I like to focus on ordinary plants, placing them directly in front of the sun. At moments like this even the ordinary seems extraordinary.

Every Little Thing
Every little thing matters, whether we notice it or not.

I think that at times we all tend to underestimate our own value. I do it from time to time. Sometimes I feel just like this plant in the field. I’m not sure about the metaphor but you get my meaning. Yet, when I came along on this morning I was struck by this little plant and how the sun illuminated it for a few minutes. I think the plant neither knows or cares that I was impressed and took its picture. It just does its thing, whether someone notices it or not is of little consequence.

So maybe that’s one way to look at it. Despite those moments of self doubt we all get, just keep on keeping on and know that we’re awesome, whether anyone notices or not. Other people noticing is not the point, being awesome is.

Other sunrise images from the gallery

I find my own meaning when I’m up at dawn with my camera. Its about being in the moment and aware of what’s around me. That sounds simple, but for me, it’s the key to just being happy and awesome without having to be noticed.

City Island

This is from a place known as City Island here in Sarasota. It’s not a city, but if you turn the other way it has a great view of the city. This is where the Mote Marine Laboratory is located. It’s a world class not-for-profit marine research facility, they also have an aquarium and ocean mammal rescue and rehabilitation facility. It’s a great place to visit if you’re in the area.

City Island
City Island in Sarasota Florida

However I was here early one morning to get photos of the city at sunrise and then decided to turn my camera in the other direction. This is one of two herons that were there that morning as I walked about the park. They didn’t seem to mind that I was there, probably because it was prime fishing time and couldn’t be bothered with the human and his tripod, can’t say that I blame them.

More images of Sarasota County from the Gallery

I’ve taken pictures of this tree before, it’s distinctive and just begs to be photographed. The problem is there are a lot of distractions if you point the other way towards the city; buildings, boats and bushes. So on this day I took a different approach and aimed away from the city towards City Island. Come to think of it that should be a riddle: How do you turn your back on the city and face the city at the same time? Stand on City Island in Sarasota.

Letting Time Pass

Here is a shot of The Rod and Reel, a local favorite on Anna Maria Island. I took this after dusk on a Friday night. It was the tail end of dusk so the clouds had a hint of the color.

Letting Time Pass
Letting time pass at the Rod and Reel on Anna Maria Island

Here you can get a brew or have a meal while you sit on the pier surrounded by the tropical waters of the Gulf. For a few dollars you can get some bait and rent a pole. The nice thing about that is you won’t need a fishing license so it’s usually the first place I take out-of-state guests that want to fish. I could think of worse places to sit for a few hours.

If you watch the waters you’ll see dolphins and manatees swimming by. People come here at night to fish for shark, it’s not uncommon. Not something I might not do, but hey, I could if I wanted to.

More night photography from the gallery

This is a thirteen-second exposure and so it causes the water to appear smooth. That’s an effect I like a lot, I could do long exposures all the time and never get tired of it. A little like time surfing, whatever that means. I think of it as taking a stretch of time and compressing it. When we do that to water it creates a wave. So here I’m letting some time pass and then compressing it to make this image. Maybe a little bit shaky as a metaphor, but I’m on Anna Maria Island so who cares.