Calm After the Storm

Today and tomorrow we are getting a tropical storm that’s dumping a bunch of rain in the Tampa area. That’s normal for this time of year. I look forward to getting outside to take pictures of the calm after the storm. This is an image I took a few weeks back after an afternoon thunderstorm. In the evening the clouds dissipate causing them to scatter like brushstrokes in the sky.

Calm After the Storm
Calm after the storm in Tampa Bay

Sometimes we can tell that a storm is coming by the behavior of the birds. Where I live the houses form a circle around a stand of trees. The houses shield the trees from the winds and so birds will congregate as much a twenty-four hours before a storm. How they know is beyond me, I’m pretty sure they’re not watching the weather channel. Maybe the weather channel is watching them, you never know.

bridges from the gallery

This is the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The surface of the road is four-hundred feet high and spans about eight miles over the entrance to the bay. When storms come through the wind can get high enough that they close it down. I’ve driven over the bridge in a tropical storm and it was an experience I won’t forget. However the next day the winds die down, the birds return to the shore and we all go about our business like it never even happened; summertime in Florida.

Riverhouse Reef and Grill

That building on the left is the Riverhouse Reef and Grill. I live near a crossroads of sorts, it’s a main thoroughfare between the two towns of Palmetto and Bradenton. As it happens the thoroughfare is really a couple of bridges over a river, and on each side of the river are marinas, parks and restaurants. All in all it’s a pretty nice place to explore and you don’t have to go too far to find a good waterfront restaurant.

Riverhouse Reef and Grill
Riverhouse Reef and Grill in Palmetto Florida

Sometimes we’ll come to this place in Palmetto, other times we’ll go directly across the river to Pier 22 in Bradenton. We sit outside, why sit indoors when the weather is so good? Its rare that we go to an indoor restaurant with so many options. I’m not fanatical about eating outside but it’s rare we go out and eat indoors.

florida gallery

I took this shot at dusk from a concrete pier that used to be the main bridge between the two towns. Someone recently told me that the main bridge was destroyed in a hurricane back in the sixties and so now it’s just a fishing pier. It’s a nice place to walk at dusk and sunset, especially after eating too much at the Riverhouse Reef and Grill.

Public Boat Dock

This is the public boat dock in Bradenton. Anyone with a boat can dock here and walk over to the restaurants nearby. I like coming here in the evening and rarely do I see anyone docked at night. Nevertheless I’ll sit on the steps and chill for a bit.

Public Boat Dock
Public Boat Dock in Bradenton

I took this at dusk when the waters of the river are still. During the day the wind and boats make the water choppy and so it never really looks this nice. I normally have my dog with me and we’ll both just sit here on the steps. Of course he likes coming because he gets to meet so many other dogs.

more images from bradenton

This is just one of those amazing scenes I see so much of in the summer. The clouds are normally dramatic and it contrasts well with the stillness of the water.  If I didn’t have to wakeup so early I think I’d be out taking photos late into the night. Shooting scenes like this at night is a tonne of fun.

Leaving on an Airplane

I’ve had jobs where every week I’d be leaving on an airplane. It still happens sometimes but not as much. So when I’m not traveling I like to take the time to do what “normal” people do. Meaning, going for a drive, letting time pass, waking up in my own bed. When I took this shot the jet in the sky brought those memories to my mind. I was the guy up there looking down at the people enjoying the rest of their Sunday.

Leaving on an Airplane
Leaving on an Airplane out of Tampa Bay

Being up in that plane is neither good nor bad, it just is what it is. But there is another perspective rooted on the ground. It’s the perspective of, well, being rooted. I have moved around so often it feels I have no roots. I feel like an outsider even where I live. But I have a place I call home, and for that I am grateful.

full gallery

Home does not have to be the place we were born or even grew up. It’s a place to return to, or maybe just a place to rest our head. With all that is happening in the world I am grateful for that simple pleasure. But nothing on this earth is forever, not even roots. Eventually a time will come when we depart one home en route to another. And when that time comes we will carry our home in our hearts.

Candy Clouds

These cotton candy clouds appear almost everyday at this time of year here in Florida. The skies are clear in the morning, cotton candy at noon, thunderstorms in the afternoon and sunsets at night. It’s a pattern that repeats itself each day with minor variations. So I headed down the street one day to catch the cotton candy part of the day.

Candy Clouds
Candy clouds near Bradenton Florida

This is an example of how I can go to the same place time and time again and get different results. Some of it has to do with the clouds or time of day, but just as much is my state of mind. I see the same old thing in a new way. Sometimes what I see is more in my mind than what’s really in front of me. I take the picture and idea and work on it until I have a new picture of a familiar scene. It’s a challenge, but there are infinite ways of portraying any one thing. So I have a lot of options ahead of me.

more cloud shots

Lets face it, we live in a complicated world. We do many things to counter that. We dream about things constantly throughout the day, at least I do. I like taking a scene and turning it into a dream. It’s the same thing as a dream, only I make a picture of it. And from that I temporarily escape from the real world, if just for bit.

When I Was Young

When I was young I remember playing late into the evening during the summer. The days were long and it gave my friends and I an opportunity to stay out late, it was a good feeling. It’s strange because I never really thought about it until recently. I suppose this image reminds me of that just a little. I took this at dusk and the children were squeezing every last minute of fun out of the day, like I did when I was their age.

When I Was Young
I was young I played until late during summer

We lose that when we grow up, but at times we can glimpse portions of it. I get that magical sense sometimes when I go on vacation. I have no responsibilities and the evenings are for having fun. Maybe we all need to play a little more. Maybe play connects us with something important we’ve lost.

abstract images from the gallery

In the meantime I keep taking pictures of people and scenes at dusk and sometimes it reminds me of long lost memories. And then I think the only way to get those back is to go on vacation. And then I never get anything done. But pretty sure I’m happy in that world.

Sky on Fire

I have this place I go to take pictures but I go there so often that in the back of my head I think I’m repeating myself. But with the sky on fire like this, how could I possibly repeat anything? I could come here every day of the year and the images would be different; which is not so much my doing as that of mother nature herself. The display of clouds changes completely from one day to the next.

Sky on Fire
A view from Emerson Point in Palmetto Florida with the sky on fire

As a photographer who is interested in art I think about these things a lot. I think about scenes and what they mean. I try to extract a little perspective. It’s an exercise in self discovery because to interpret something as abstract as an image of clouds requires imagination, vocabulary and some self awareness. And therein lies the heart of the matter.

images featuring the sky from the gallery

Self awareness is about as ephemeral an idea as they come. But I find just a little bit goes a long way. That’s because the ideas and thoughts about self awareness are best described in metaphors. Bingo, images make good metaphors. So if you think about it, we’re not interpreting the image, rather ourselves through the image. So, in the case the this sky, it’s really just a metaphor for something within.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Blue Thunder

I visited the Hubbard Glacier on a cruise over the summer. We arrived in the morning and the first thing I noticed was a sound like thunder as the ice breaks off the edge of the glacier. I’ve seen plenty of pictures but the noise that accompanies it something unexpected when first there.

Blue Thunder
Blue Thunder from the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska

To be honest I was found it difficult to get a sense of scale. We were about a kilometer away from the wall of ice which was taller than the ship. Our ship rose about thirteen stories above the water. So when these columns of ice broke off it created massive waves. I felt safe because we were a far enough back and we were in a big boat. But I cannot imagine traveling through here on a small craft.

Of course much of the ice is below the surface. That too gave me pause and again I was glad to be on such a large ship. Just sailing into this area we grazed chunks of ice as big as a house. I suppose ice that size is of little consequence to a large ship, but I shudder to think how a small vessel could ever navigate here.

landscapes from the gallery

We stayed here for a few of hours to observe the glacier. I was glad that we had an experienced captain who knew the area. I’m sure he sails here all the time, but it was a first for me and even as a passenger I found it a little unnerving. Having said that, once we returned to the open sea I felt a little less concerned. I was left with an impression of this massive field of ice, it is beautiful, spell binding and not to be trifled with. This is the raw force of nature in all its glory.

Moonset Over Three Bridges

This is from the other day when we had a full moon that set within minutes of the sunrise. For me, a full moon rising or setting is just as captivating as a sunset. But of course sunsets are easier since they happen every day. For a full moon you have to look up and remember the date, know the time when it rises and then hope there are no clouds. All these conditions combine to ensure I almost never capture it, …save for the other day. The weatherman on TV mentioned it would be good viewing which prompted me to get off the couch and get outside.

Moonset Over Three Bridges
Moonset Over Three Bridges – Bradenton Florida

In order to make the moon look large I used a telephoto lens. I’m standing by a bridge pointing west as the moon was just about to set. Below it is three other bridges; the first is a train bridge, the second is a car bridge, and the third is the original bridge built over hundred years ago thats now a fishing pier. The telephoto lens makes them appear stacked and close together yet there is a good deal of distance between the first two bridges.

Manatee County gallery


Now that I managed to get a full moon I think I want to do it again. I just looked it up and the next full moon is on September 16th 2016. The moon will rise just after sunset (where I live in central Florida). In that case I’ll be pointing east so I have plenty of time to think about a composition. Hopefully the weather will be good. Now the wait begins.

Patiently Waiting

It seems almost anywhere I go along the water there are herons close by. They are attracted to fishermen as they wait for any scraps or bait. With this heron patiently waiting I setup and shot the image using a low angle. Even though I was holding a camera between him and the fishermen he stood his ground watching me with one eye and the fishermen with the other.

Patiently Waiting
A heron patiently waiting on the pier in Florida

Herons are patient, single minded and determined. I sat here for about thirty minutes and he was still there when I left. They are territorial so I suspect this was his pier and he wasn’t about to give it up to some guy with a camera or the fishermen.

He was watching the waters right below the pier. It’s the perfect vantage to spot fish and then swoop down for the catch.

other images with herons

Herons add atmosphere to an image, I think it’s something to do with how they carry themselves, its hard to put my finger on it. In any case, they never seem to mind having their picture taken, so for the time being I will continue to include them whenever I can.