Best Intentions

Earlier this afternoon I got stuck in a thunderstorm, it was the first of many to come this season. I stood under a shelter for about twenty minutes while I waited for it to pass. It finally did and I walked home in a light drizzle and went about my business. In the evening I had it in my mind to see if the clouds would part a little at dusk so I drove to this spot on the opposite side of the river and waited.

Best Intentions
The DeSoto bridge over the Manatee River in Bradenton Florida

This is a three shot panorama of the DeSoto Bridge in Bradenton just a few minutes after sunset. I was glad I followed my hunch.

In the center is one of three bridges, the other two are just behind it. One of the bridges is a railway and while I was here a train crossed the river. The sound of it’s horn and bulk as it lumbered along was the predominant sound on this otherwise peaceful setting.

In fact I heard the train approaching as I drove over here across the DeSoto bridge. I debated whether I should head that way to get some type of train image, or this way for a landscape. In the end the landscape won the day. I’ve shot the train before but there are always opportunities for new compositions with every outing.

More images of Bradenton from the gallery

Sometime I can’t find anything to shoot, other days I can’t make up my mind which way to shoot. Life is a series of decisions that lead to other decisions and in the end we end up exactly where we should, despite our best intentions.

It Is What It Is

A couple of weeks ago we were driving over the bridge towards Ledo Key from Sarasota and I noticed the sky had become an amazing gradient from blue to pink. Suffice to say I came back a couple of evenings later to capture the scene of the palms as they lead to the bay. This is yet another perspective in my never ending quest to find new ways to compose images of this bridge. Maybe one day I’ll do an exhibition on the many faces of the Ringling Bridge, that would be fun.

It Is What It Is
This is the Ringling Bridge at Dusk

I’m not the only photographer that loves bridges, it’s fairly common. One place I enjoy looking at other photos of bridges is on Ello. Ello is an amazing place to share photography and there is a group there called ellobridges. The thing about ello is it’s all about the art, not commercial at all. Anyway, here’s the link.

More images of bridges from the gallery

Actually, to be honest the bridge plays only a minor role in this image. This is really a Florida scene with the light of dusk and palm trees. I suppose you could say this is a destination photo with a mix of urban exploration. Surely I’m overthinking it, let’s just say it is what it is.

East View

I’m standing on the pier at Fort DeSoto Park in St Petersburg looking east at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on a Sunday afternoon. That’s the bait shop on the right where you can get a few items while you fish on the pier or wait for the ferry. This is a nice place to check out if you come here to visit.

East View
This view looks east into Tampa Bay through the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

They also have a campground not too far from this spot as well. I’m born and raised in California so I’m not sure what its like to camp near the beach in Florida. When I think camping I think of mountains, lakes and streams. Wouldn’t it would be too warm for a sleeping bag? I think my three season bag would be uncomfortably hot. Maybe just a light blanket is all I’d need. The more I think about it the more I think I should try. Who knows, I might like it.

I just noticed that you can see the whole length of the main span of the Skyway from here. In total it’s about ten miles across the bay, here we see about five miles of it.

More from the beach gallery

Anyway, now I can’t stop thinking about that camping idea. I think I’m going to try it out. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

In Plain View

This is a state park I never knew we had that’s five minutes from home. I had it in my mind to follow this old road and there it was, a park I never knew existed; Terra Ceia Preserve State Park. In fact I’ve driven by here hundreds of times. This entrance is adjacent to a main highway that I take all the time. I just assumed it was private land.

In Plain View
This is a state park that was hidden in plain view, I just didn’t realize it

I stopped at a kayak launch and talked to this gentleman who, it turns out, leads tours through the park. Silly me; I forgot to get his name. But I’ll be back regardless, maybe I’ll run into him again, it would be fun to do a tour.

The area is mostly mangroves and bayou and is habitat for all manner of birds including eagles and osprey. But of course for me it’s a new place to explore with my camera. Add to that, the county is opening up another preserve in the opposite direction about five miles away. I am excited to explore that as well.

More images from near home in Manatee County

I suppose most people, me included, don’t notice these parks all that much. But I sure am glad they’re there, in plain view the whole time.

Rainbows in the Night

The Ringling bridge in Sarasota is a favorite subject of mine and finding a new perspective is a fun challenge. This fifteen-second long exposure was taken from a mile away. I used a tripod and manual focusing to make sure the details were as sharp as could be. If you zoom in you can almost see into the windows of the buildings more than a mile away.

Rainbows in the Night
Sarasota’s Ringling bridge looks like rainbows in the night

I geek out about technical aspects of photography, I’m easily impressed by how sharp an image is or how may megapixels it has, but it shouldn’t end there. The image also needs to be something I like. That part is subjective, but I have a little trick to help me figure that part out. I look at a thumbnail of the image and if it catches my attention then it might be worthwhile.

I think that a small image can help me decide if I like it DESPITE all the technical geekiness that I love so much. In other words, it short-circuits the left brain and goes straight to the right. If the image is not interesting enough to want to get a closer look, then it’s probably not that interesting up close.

More Ringling Bridge images from the gallery

That’s my little tip for the day. It generally works but as with everything there are exceptions. So what do I see when I look at this in a thumbnail? Rainbows in the night. Now you can go zoom in a geek out at the detail.

What Dreams May Come

This is a stretch of Highway 41 in Punta Gorda Florida; southbound on the left and northbound on the right. The image is a dreamscape of sorts, how I imagine it looks in a dream.

What Dreams May Come
This is a idea of what the bridges in Punta Gorda might look like.

Have you ever noticed that an artists rendering of a building or architecture is always a little prettier than reality? That’s because its the artists idea or conception of something that, in the end, will never quite look that good. Nevertheless, we hold onto that image in our minds until the project is complete. We go along with it, the artist’s idea that is, because it’s now what we imagine also.

On a slightly different tack, if it wasn’t for dreamers we would never get anywhere. Those who dream new things are catalysts, agents of change, maybe even radicals. Dreamers tend to be disrupters, people that are not afraid to disregard norms on the way to a new normal. Dreamers are generally ahead of their time and quite often not appreciated, only in retrospect do we think of them as genius.

More dreamscapes from the gallery

So back to the photo, I manipulated it until because I had an idea of what it might look like in different circumstances. It’s not a radical new idea but it’s my idea of what something could look like. Maybe, one day, something will come of it. You never know.

What Once Was

This is a shot of palm trunks on Egmont Key. At the far end of this deserted island is a forest of dead leafless Palm trunks on the beach. It’s an unusual sight, I’m not sure what happened, but there they are, poking out of the sand, remnants of a past event.

What Once Was
These stumps are a remnant of what once was a forest of palm trees on the beach.

Perhaps it was a hurricane, about ten years ago we had several. I know of another place along a different beach with a bunch of dead tree trunks from past hurricanes, it’s a little erie and beautiful at the same time.

more from the beach gallery

As I write this the there are massive forest fires in Canada and I was thinking how they are similar to hurricanes. Hurricanes destroy almost everything in their paths and the scars on the land and communities remain years later. The force of wind from a hurricane defoliates everything in its path leaving the land bare and exposed. Eventually new growth takes hold and the cycle begins again. While it’s little consolation to anyone in the path of forest fires, eventually the land will regenerate in a similar manner.

Anyway, I think the trunks, while a reminder of a past event, have a beauty all their own.

Before Dawn

This is another long exposure of the public pier at Anna Maria Island in Florida. It was just before dawn and as usual there were already a few people milling about, mostly fishermen or those who came only to watch the sunrise; another typical morning at AMI.

Before Dawn
Before dawn on Anna Maria Island

Probably because of where I live I’m fascinated by bridges and piers, we seem to have a lot of both. How they make these piers, one piling at a time is amazing. To me its counter intuitive to think that you can build a solid structure into the floor of the sea. Even though it’s only a few meters deep it’s submerged. How they drill and then make sure the piling is stable is something I’d like to understand.

More images from Anna Maria Island

Pilings are big business here on the gulf coast because there are a lot of companies that specialize in it. It seems there’s always construction in the water and most of it is concerned with pilings. On the other side of AMI, facing the gulf, they are building a pier. It seems to me that the work is super slow, they’ve been at it for almost a year, but I suppose that’s the nature of the job. You don’t want to leave it to just any Tom, Dick or Harry.

Anyway, thanks to the folks that make these pilings we can sit on a pier and wait for dawn as though we hadn’t a care in the world.

Shooting in the Rain

I took this last January and as usual it was raining in Vancouver. Even so I spent most of the day outdoors taking pictures. The scenes, energy and images are so different from my home in Florida, I easily get carried away and forget the time. When I finally got back to the hotel both me and my camera were soaked. When I tried to dry it off it didn’t want to work. I should have known better. I laid it on the desk, changed into some dry clothes and went for dinner. By the time I got back the camera was fine. But I made a mental note that if I ever see a nice camera rain cover I should pick it up. I just did from Peak Designs so here’s the link in case your interested.

Shooting In The Rain
I was shooting in the rain in Vancouver BC

We get rain here in Florida also, but it’s not the same by any stretch. In the summer we get crazy tropical thunderstorms and the lightening gets a little scary. Basically you don’t want to be outside when lighting is in the air, yet it creates all kinds of other artistic opportunities.

More images from the street photography gallery

Rain is good for photography, if you take the time to look you’ll see all kinds of unique compositions. For street photography the rain puts everyone a little off center and so they are carrying umbrellas or running for cover. If you’re doing landscape photography then it means the clouds will be full of drama. Either way rain is good for photography yet maybe not so much for cameras. My advice is to get a shell to save your camera so you can worry less about the equipment and concentrate more on the scenes in front of you.

Then and Now

This is a section of Robinson Preserve in Bradenton Florida. I love this section of boardwalk because of the way it curves into the mangroves; …talk about a leading line. It seems every time I try to get this shot something goes wrong, but this time I’m pretty happy with the result. The odds were in my favor for a change.

Then and Now
This path through the mangrove makes me think about what it was like on an expedition two hundred years ago.

This is not far from where the Spanish conquistador Hernando DeSoto landed and began an expedition of the new world. There is a lot of history around that but the thing that grabs my imagination is the physical demands of the expedition. Here we have a boardwalk winding through the mangroves, back then there was nothing. Add to that the Florida heat. Then add the wool and leather clothing they wore back then and you start to get my drift.

More images from Robinson Preserve

We live in a different time, now we have boardwalks and piers, but still I like to think about what it was like. To tell you the truth, if I was walking on this and suddenly it disappeared and I found myself in the middle of the mangroves knee deep in muck, I might begin to panic. But that never happens and instead I took this picture and went home to air conditioning and lemonade.