I was out without my camera feeling a little anxious as the colors starting blooming in the sky. They say that the best camera in the world is the one you have with you. I had to calm down and remind myself of that because the display in the sky would only last for a few minutes.
In this case I had an iPhone so I took three images using the Lightroom camera app. Later I combined them in Lightroom on my computer. The advantage of using the Lightroom app on the phone is that it saves the files in RAW and automatically syncs them with Lightroom on the desktop.
To be honest I’m biased towards my camera so I didn’t expect much from these; I almost forgot I had them. However when reviewing them in Lightroom later I had to do a double take. Certainly it’s not perfect but it’s not bad for a cellphone.
The sensors in smartphones are getting pretty good, even for landscapes under odd lighting conditions. If you’re a shutterbug like me it’s becoming less “necessary” to always carry a big camera.
I remember the evening well because of how the sky looked. I wasn’t expecting I could capture the essence of it with just an iPhone, however this image is helping me to rethink that mindset. I won’t be giving up my Sony full frame camera anytime soon, but I also won’t be so anxious next time I head out without it; unless of course I forget my cell phone as well.
This is a view of the Bradenton Beach Pier from the bridge. I’m facing west so the pier is on the inter-coastal waterway. The Gulf of Mexico is just behind the row of buildings. To get the whole bridge in the frame I walked on to the bridge between the mainland and Anna Maria Island. Other than that I’d need to be on a boat since there’s no other place to get the full view of it.
I took this early in the evening as people were coming home from the beach. Basically I was standing on the sidewalk next to a traffic jam. That’s because there are only two bridges leaving the island and all those thousands of people have to go home. Right after sunset it can time to drive home, good thing there is nice scenery along the way.
With all the cars crossing it causes the bridge to vibrate. That creates a challenge when taking long exposures like this. For instance, if I have a ten-second exposure and a car goes by in the first five seconds, the image will come out fuzzy. However my Sony A7rII camera has image stabilization so it was able to take a sharp image even with the vibration.
If you follow the pier back to shore, it leads to Old Bridge Street. That’s an area with outdoor establishments and live music at every corner. People are out walking around, listening to music and just seeing the sights. There are a lot of choices from ice cream to lobster, from smoothie to martini.
My favorite thing about Bradenton Beach is the small town atmosphere, something not so easy to come by these days. But now you know where you can find it.
It’s the Memorial Day weekend so we visited the Sarasota National Cemetery. What I didn’t expect is how it affected me. The number of markers is overwhelming; I’m not sure what I expected. I stood here amongst the rows trying to understand. The thought is that these people lived near me; this is not a far away place. It’s inevitable the emotions well up here.
There were quite a few others like myself that had come to see. We were milling about aimlessly, not knowing were to start or where it ended.
Then as I stood here I noticed a couple about my age stride purposely through the rows, they knew where they were going. My heart was in my throat as they stopped and stood at the far side over one grave in particular.
The purpose of my visit was not to make myself sad, but to remember. The sacrifices are not just some passages in a dusty history book; they are here living amongst us, in plain sight every day.
Some of us have the luxury of forgetting, only to remember on occasions like this. Others among us do not.
Last Sunday we went for a walk at this park in St Petersburg. Then after that we went to a nearby outdoor café and met some friends for dinner. The whole afternoon and evening was an exercise in downtime.
I look forward to the downtime of the weekend. That’s when I get recharged for the week ahead. But truth be told I’m not that good at it; doing nothing that is. But doing nothing is just as necessary as breathing in. I think of what I do most of the week as an out breath, a hundred little acts of creation. So whether I’m good at disengaging or not, it’s still necessary.
I’ve even started to practice doing nothing. That sounds like a joke but its not. In the morning I just sit still for ten minutes. It’s a way of training myself to disengage. The idea is to be comfortable with it and carry that into other parts of the day or week. I’m so used to doing things that something as simple as sitting without a cellphone or book is a challenge. But I’m getting better at it even though I have a ways to go.
I’ve challenged myself to do things my whole life, but it never occurred to me that downtime was so important. Now that I know that, I can practice it. The whole thing sounds completely backwards. I just have to do nothing about it. Okay, that one was a joke.
I’m not sure where the term water under the bridge came from, but it’s one I often repeat in my head. If ever there was a metaphor for letting go this is it. It sums up our attempt to keep moving and not get defeated by stuff that happened.
Events are like water; they just happen and we usually have no power to stop them. Water is the most powerful force on the planet. It carves continents, it sustains life and it’s a force that we cannot control. We are born into a place where have little control of things around us.
Water under the bridge is both an acknowledgement that we have no control and an opportunity to keep moving. I think what’s important is how we react rather than what happens to us. It reminds me of the other saying about the journey, not the destination. Life keeps moving and how we endure each day, and every moment in-between, is more important than what has happened or will be the destination.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t have goals or a direction in life. Rather, what defines us is how we live each day while working toward the goal, not the goal itself.
This is a panorama of the Sarasota waterfront. This section is known as Marina Jacks and is the main marina in town. If you want to take a fishing tour or sunset cruise, this is the spot. I’ve done both from here and it never gets old.
I’m going to come back here, this weekend perhaps, and get the same scene at sunrise; this was closer to dusk. As with many of my panoramas I’ve combined several photos so that the resolution is higher than a normal, enough to see very small details. For example, if you zoom in you can see the baseball game on the TV inside the restaurant on the left. That’s perhaps way too much detail, but I think it’s cool nonetheless.
In a panorama the view sweeps from one side to the other. There is something epic about the perspective; it gives you a sense of scale. Anyway, this is one way to capture the waterfront without taking a shot from an aircraft or drone.
I was walking my dog when I took this. I held the leash in one hand and the camera in the other and took five images from left to right; no tripod was involved. That says more about the capabilities of the Sony camera than it does about my camera holding skills. It’s perhaps not the best way to go about it but the dog needed a walk and I needed a picture, so we compromised. In the end we both got what we wanted.
Manipulating scenes like this is a departure from normal, it’s not real so our minds are free to play a little; we each read into it something different.
When in Vancouver I will often pass through this station. I can never get enough photos in and around trains. Among other things they are studies in leading lines.
I sat at the end so I could look back as we pulled away.
I’ve created a mirror effect, which for me is a metaphor for a choice between two paths, one direction or the other. When we are children we have so much in common; as we mature we diverge in different ways depending on a million things.
We choose one path or another every single day, and often we spend time wondering if we made the right choice. Sometimes we make difficult choices and then wonder about them later. Life is setup in a way that forces us to make decisions; we have no choice but to make choices. Not choosing is still a choice. Maybe the lesson is not so much the decision but how we deal with it after the fact.
This image brings all that to mind, probably because I spend more time than I should thinking about decisions I’ve made. This is my metaphor for rushing through life’s stations, making choices, looking back yet trying not to look back.
On the last day of our three-day trip I got up before dawn to walk around the top deck of the ship. This walkway seemed like a portal on a space ship. I think cruise ships are like spaceships, at least like the big ones in the movies. In my mind a proper space ship has facilities to take tourist to different planets. Then at each location they probably dock on he dark side of the moon and take little excursions to the planet. You never know, truth can be stranger than fiction.
Anyway, taking pictures of a cruise ship seems to work out better in the early morning. During the day and late into the night the decks are always crowded. But because everyone is up partying so late it’s a guarantee there are few if any people up early. That’s when you can get all those architectural details they build on to the ships; like these colorful arches for example.
Also, in the morning the crew is usually washing the decks and the sheen of wet surfaces enhances the light with reflections. Having said all that, I suppose the real trick is waking up early. Since this was the last day and we were scheduled to get off early I had to get up; I might not be so eager otherwise. About a half hour after this we pulled into the Port of Miami and I saw more cool things I wouldn’t normally see during the day.
This was taken a couple years back on a walk through the forest in North Carolina. It was supposed to be a short two-hour hike but ended up taking twice as long and was more difficult than we thought.
Apparently enough people get caught in the same mistake that the rangers and locals have formed a small rescue industry. I felt bad because it was my idea and my wife and sister-in-law were following my lead. But in the end we made it back before dark with a story to tell. We were hungry but too tired to go out so we ordered room service when we got back to the hotel.
As far as photography goes it couldn’t have been better; I’m still finding photos I had forgotten about. Coming from a flat place like Florida it was a big change to be in the mountains and hills. I think that also contributed to our misjudging of the hike, it was downhill going in and an uphill climb coming back. Florida has no hills so elevation never crossed our minds.
I just looked up the step history for the hike on my iPhone; it was 14,000 steps and the equivalent of 43 stories climbed. That may not be Mount Everest but it’s a lot of uphill walking for someone from Florida. When I’m taking pictures I get carried away and it’s probably not fair to the people I’m with.
I consider myself tech savvy yet I only learned about the iPhone step tracker about a year ago. My phone has been tracking steps for years; who knew? Now I can match it up with some of my photo hikes and see how far I walked. There are a few in there that I can recall very well. But having sore feet is a small price to pay for good pictures. And I’m sure I’ll do it again and again; only now I can check my steps for an added degree of satisfaction.
I can be a real geek sometimes; like this time. I had it in my mind I was going to take some epic photos and so I brought a bag full of gear including a huge lens and a tripod. Things didn’t turn out as I expected so there I was with all this gear in the middle of a public pathway as the sun was setting. I made the best of it and quickly setup for the shot. A couple came up and said they wanted to be on TV. Obviously I looked like I was from the local station. I must have been quite the scene.
This is the image I got and so I didn’t come home completely empty handed. But to be quite honest I could have done better with less. I love gear and so this happens a lot. I always bring more gear than I need. However I can count on one hand the times I used everything I brought. It’s not about the gear; it’s about being present in the moment and working with what you have.
Lately I’ve started experimenting with slimming down what I take. By that I mean two or three lenses. Again, even the times I bring two lenses, I end up using only one. Recently I’ve left the house with just one lens on my camera. No bag, no filters, no tripod. I start out with a feeling that I forgot something. However as I start to take pictures I’m less encumbered and more attuned to what’s around me.
It’s not the camera it’s what between the ears. Taking good pictures requires a state of mind more than a heavy piece of glass. Some of the most amazing photographers on the web use inexpensive cameras. That’s not to say all the equipment is unnecessary, it all has a proper time, place and use.
I like the gear because I’m a geek but maybe I need a little intervention. I think of myself as being on a twelve-step program to be free of lens clutter. I’m not there yet, but at least I know it’s an issue. That’s the first step to recovery.
Now I’m off to read about the just announced Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM and 12-24mm f/4.0. I might need one of those in my kit.