In Amsterdam there are bike roads constructed everywhere. I’m not even sure they should be considered lanes because in many cases they are roads in their own right. The first thing I learned when I came here was that they are not for pedestrians. It only took one time. The same thing happened to me in Vancouver once. It must be a common mistake for foreigners.
Quite often you’ll see passengers sitting sideways on the rack. The racks on these bikes are sturdy and people carry everything on them. While walking in the morning I saw parents carrying their kids to school. It’s no wonder the bicycle culture is passed from one generation to the next.
Bikes are parked everywhere but the highest concentrations are around train stations. At some stations its the only form of parking. There are tens of thousands parked in massive multi-level lots.
Bike mechanics thrive here, bike shops are more common than cheese shops. However people are resourceful and I saw riders jump off to quickly fix a slipped chain or flat tire. It appears that most people know the basics out of necessity.
The floor of Toronto’s Eaton Centre as I walked through early one morning. The shapes and lines caught my eye so I used a balcony to capture it looking down. There are normally a lot of people walking around but I was here before opening.
Years ago when I lived here this was called the Eaton Center. Eaton’s department store was one of the anchors with Hudson’s Bay the other. Things have changed since those days and the stores are now different and the name of the mall is changed. However I think everyone still calls it the Eaton Centre.
In some monochrome images I’ll leave something in color. This is a technique I use to elevate individuals or things. Photography is a way to freeze an instant of time, a random moment of our lives. Here I am emphasis a person within the setting.
Each person has a unique way of seeing the world, no two are alike. When the mall opens in another hour all of those people will pour in and become a crowd. Each individual in that crowd experiences it in their own way.
I took at dawn on the north pier which is where all the local fishermen hang out. The pier is the remnants of the old bridge that was replaced by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. To get out here you need to pay a fee to the parks department. Everyone that pays that fee comes here to fish, I’m the only one that comes here to take pictures. When I show up before dawn without a fishing poll I get a few sideways glances.
I’ve taken pictures of this bridge from a lot of angles but this is my first time from this one. In reality it was darker but this is a thirty-second exposure and it appears lighter. The eastern horizon began to shift in color in advance of the sun which created a silhouette of the bridge. At it’s highest point between the two towers the bridge is four hundred feet above the water. Even that is not high enough for the biggest cruise ships.
If you sit here all day you’ll see a constant stream of ships passing under the bridge. You might see military aircraft as they make their approach to McDill AFB. You will surely see any number of animals, from sea birds to ocean mammals. People fish off this pier all day and all night and in that time there is quite the array of things flying, swimming and floating by.
In my case I’m only here for an hour before heading off to somewhere else. Perhaps if I were to stay a little longer I might see more things to take pictures of. However, to do that I would probably need to bring a fishing poll. At least then I wouldn’t get those sideways glances.
This is a meditation sunset from Emerson Point in my hometown of Palmetto. It’s the kind of image you might see on the cover of a meditation book, at least that’s what comes to my mind.
Speaking of which, I’ve been trying meditation lately. Not that I know what I’m doing, just taking a few minutes to clear my mind when I can. Long story short, it’s easier said than done. And to be honest I’m not sure if this picture would help. As soon as I look at a photo I start thinking thoughts and you’re not supposed to do that. But I’m no expert so take what I say with a grain of salt. Maybe I should give it a try, it might help for all I know.
Moving along, I took this with my new Laowa 12mm wide angle lens. The fun thing about getting a new lens is I get to try it out on familiar locations and see what happens. A wide angle lens has the tendency to create a tunnel effect, meaning that everything appears to converge in a point on the horizon. It’s just a nifty effect of the lens, we don’t actually see things that way.
Anyway, let’s all take a deep breath, look at this picture and clear our minds. It might just do us a world of good. When I finally figure out how to meditate I’ll write a book and put this photo on the cover. Maybe.
This is a panorama of Coal Harbour in Vancouver. I took this in the middle of summer after a trip to Alaska. When I’m in Vancouver I like to walk along this path. There are always a lot of people out walking, jogging and cycling. Also I think proximity to the water is a good way to clear out the cobwebs.
The original image is even wider but I cropped it because I thought it was too wide. This portion is composed of five photos stitched together in Autopano Giga. It’s a good tool and once you get the hang of it it’s easy to produce panoramas.
One thing I like about panoramas like this is the amount of detail. For instance, I’ve walked by this spot for years and I never noticed the house boats. While processing this photo I zoomed in to take a closer look. Next time I walk by I’ll be sure to stop and look again.
It’s also fun to see what people are doing. Most of them are just walking along and talking with friends. Off to the left is the Weston Hotel, that stands out in my mind because local otters like to use the pool there. How they climb out of the water and find a nearby pool is beyond me. They’re smart little critters aren’t they?
There is always something going on here, always something to see. There are a lot of awesome places in Vancouver but this is one of my favorite.
This is a two-minute long exposure of the Sarasota Skyline one afternoon last month. Looking at the file info for this image I see it was taken at 5:43pm. This was obviously before we set the clocks back because now the sun goes down at 5:30. Funny thing about photography is it causes me to notice little details like that.
On one level photography is a mechanical process, take a picture and preserve a moment. On another level the practice of photography is a way of becoming present in the moment and aware of my surroundings. One way to reconnect to the environment is through art, and for me that means the art of photography.
It’s nice if I can make a photo that other people like. But more important to me is to make a photo that I like. It’s an exploration through experimentation that leads to discoveries. To start with, discovering what aesthetics I like. Also discovering how to convey a vision through an image. A vision is in our minds and an image is a thing we look at. Connecting the two is an art.
I walked through central Amsterdam on a Saturday Night and saw a little bit of everything. Having landed only that morning it was my first exposure to things which I’ve only read about. A lot of people were out having fun which in and of itself is not unusual. However the city of Amsterdam is anything but usual.
For instance, I’m not used to seeing people smoking weed and hash out in the open. I’m not used to seeing shops where hallucinogenic drugs are sold. I’m not used to seeing brothels in and amongst the shops, restaurants and bars. Perhaps most unexpected of all was that people seemed quite blasé about it all. These things are just taken in stride.
Honestly I don’t know what I expected. I have this feeling that if we did the same thing in the United States it would be havoc, but that’s probably just my own ill-conceived ideas. I did not see junkies strung out on the street corners. There appeared to be very little crime, I felt perfectly safe on the streets even late at night. It’s the kind of town I could easily live in. In fact Amsterdam has a night mayor. It’s a real position that ensures all the night life runs smoothly.
Anyway, it was early November and they already had Christmas lights up. That, along with all the happy (and possibly high) revelers out having a good time created a fun atmosphere. If I had to sum it up I would say that Amsterdam at night is an exceptional party town that could only exist in a European society. At least that was my first impression.
Here is another image taken at dawn on the Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach. To get this I arrived before dawn on a Sunday morning. Each time I do that I see the staff still cleaning up at the local tavern, but then I’m here only three hours after closing. The coffee shop on the pier is already open with a few early birds already sitting at the counter. The water is always calm and the sky starts turning deep pastel colors. In my humble opinion it’s the best time to be here, assuming you are a morning person of course.
On this last Saturday night I was just a few hundred meters away taking pictures of the gulf in the other direction. This is on Anna Maria Island which is a long narrow island. As I drove past the center of the town there were a lot of people at the outdoor restaurants. It seemed that live music was playing on each corner. I’m fortunate to live here, especially during winter. Its human nature to forget and take it all for granted. When I see folks that have travelled here I am reminded how lucky I am.
Even so I travel to take photos of other places. But when I’m home I have so many things to take pictures in my own backyard. I’m always taking pictures of the water here. The reflections, the waves, the colors, all of it combined .
When I show up here in the morning there is usually someone else doing the same thing. I cannot imagine how many photos of this bridge exists. I am one in a long line of bridge photographers. When I got my first DSLR this is the first place I came to. I’ve been here since and I’ll be back again.
Sometimes I’ll do an outing with my camera and not get any good photos. That’s subjective and long after I may change my mind. Photography is a state of mind and what you perceive as good changes over time. It also has to do with mood. We watch movies based on our mood; drama, comedy, thriller and romance, they all appeal to different moods. So it is with photography. One day I may like one photo, the next day another.
Sometimes I’ll go back and look at a shot I did years ago and have a completely different appreciation of it. I might no longer like it. Or I might see something I like but missed.
From the central station in Amsterdam there are plenty of options as far as transport goes. You could take a train, bus, taxi or ferry. You could also take a bike as tens of thousands are parked here. And if all else fails you can walk.
This side of the station is modern and designed to accommodate these various types of transport. The other side of the station maintains old world classic architecture and is unrecognizable from the front.
On the upper deck to the left is the bus platform which is adjacent to the train platform. Below that is the car lane, then the bike lane and finally the walking lane. On the right the ferry can be boarded, free of charge.
I wasn’t thinking any of this as I took the photo, but Amsterdam Centraal is a monumental feat of engineering, architecture and design. This is where everything and everyone comes together.
My short visit was spent mostly around this section of the city. I missed much and so I plan to come back and explore more. Having time to process what I did see and then go back will make the next trip even better.
And when I do go back I’ll have plenty of options for transport.