This is a Saturday afternoon in Stanley Park. I was here not too long ago after returning from Alaska. I could have flown straight from Anchorage to Florida, but being so close to Vancouver I couldn’t resist a quick weekend stopover. This is a panorama of four images that I stitched together to get a wide perspective. Sometimes I use a wide angle lens, but in other cases I find it works better when I take four vertical images and combine them. For one, the resolution is much higher. That makes it easier to produce large prints. As well, I like to zoom into photos and explore all of the little details.
This is the second time I’ve take an image from this perspective. The first time was several years ago using a wide angle lens. I don’t mind repeating myself because as an artist my approach and inclinations change over time. Its fun to go back and play old songs, I hear new things as I grow and evolve. Same goes for photography.
Actually I’ve been redoing a lot of iconic locations lately. Iconic locations resonate in a way that invites new interpretations, new angles, different light. And besides, they are typically fun places to go. So if you see me repeating some old locations, you’ll know I’m seeing something different as well as having a good time.
This is a one minute exposure of Sunrise on the Manatee River in Bradenton. People that show up here for a morning walk see a version of this every day. I’m not a regular so for me it’s an extra special treat. One thing for sure, the sunrise walkers are super friendly. I must have had half a dozen people come up and say good morning while I was taking pictures. It was like they had organized a welcome committee. It was awesome.
Most mornings the river is smooth like glass and the long exposure has a tendency to make it look even more so. The clouds were moving towards me and you can see a little of that action at the top. All in all I like how this turned out and there was very little I did to adjust the final image. I love editing photos but in some cases the original speaks for itself and needs very little help.
I came here looking for a totally different shot. I thought the clouds would be fuller and all lit up with the warm glow of the sun. For whatever reason that never happened. Being flexible is key to photography, especially if you shoot landscapes outside. You just never know for sure what you’ll get. In this case I got an unexpected scene and about a half dozen good mornings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.