There is a colony of skimmers on the beach not far from my home on Anna Maria Island. They have a patch of sand that they come back to each year to hatch and nurse their young. It’s normally taped off so we don’t interfere with the hatchlings. Anything that hatches and nests in the sand is quite vulnerable. The adults take turns guarding the nest. In fact the whole colony, whether they have chicks or not, pitch in on security detail. It takes a village to raise a skimmer.
This is taken at a different location in St Petersburg. Lowering the camera close to the water helps see from the perspective of the wildlife. The small flock of skimmers was picking at the sand while some children swam behind them. With me in front I was surprised they stayed in place for as long as they did. Like so many birds in Florida they’ve grown accustomed to us.
Now is the time of year we also find turtle nests in the sand. Isn’t it odd that the turtle just lays the eggs and then takes off? It’s so unlike other creatures that stick around and nurse their young. After hatching the baby turtles make a dash to the water to avoid being eaten, and then try to avoid the same fate in the water. I don’t blame the mom for not wanting to stick around; the odds seem so slim.
I use random people in scenes all the time. Sometimes a person is positioned in such a way as to create a scene. Street photography is all about people in scenes. One technique is to create compositions where people are juxtaposed to nearby architecture or structures. A simple example is a person waking past an archway. Looking for a composition is like a game; you feel a sense of accomplishment when you capture one. I haven’t played but maybe it’s a little like Pokémon Go.
I took this at Bayfront Park in Sarasota recently. The park is an island with a trail around it and these swings are spaced every fifty meters. I come here when I want to do a mixture of people and landscape photography; it has plenty of both. As I walked behind this lady I think she knew I was taking pictures because she glanced back. She didn’t seem to mind so I paused to get several more.
I use people in this way all the time. Of course it’s better to be coy about it, if people become aware of what your doing they may change their behavior. Lately I’ve taken to carrying only a small 35mm lens on my camera. That way it doesn’t stand out so much and I can almost pretend I’m a casual shutterbug. In reality I’m on an undercover mission.
One time it backfired on me. I was trying to be nonchalant as I took a picture of a rundown garage in a gritty part of town. The people inside thought I was snooping on them and started yelling at me. It turned out okay but I should have asked first. Most people don’t mind if they know what you’re doing. And if they do mind, well, no biggie, it’s just a game.
This image is based on the Vancouver terminal, or YVR as its also known. Each time I travel here I am intrigued by the construction. The architects created an exoskeleton with which they hung the functional necessities of the terminal. The form and function are indistinguishable from one another. I’ve noticed this elsewhere and it represents an evolution in how we build.
In the software industry we employ patterns to do basic tasks. Patterns are the analogs of load-bearing structures used in construction. Software has always drawn parallels from construction, and soon I believe it will occur the other direction.
We are evolving into beings that live as much in software as brick and mortar. The trend is accelerating and the boundaries between virtual and physical are becoming more tenuous each day.
The Matrix struck a chord because it explored merging of physical and software realities. I believe we are on some of the same trajectories proposed in the movie. In another generation virtual reality will be as commonplace as a cell phones are now.
When I see physical structures I think of their corollaries in software. Likewise when I build software I borrow construction techniques and terminology. Now opposite is beginning to occur with construction rendering which is an offshoot of 3D printing. We have begun to build physical structures with software as seen on this YouTube. We are now on the verge of yet another revolution in combining software and construction. The merging between software, virtual reality and construction and manufacturing are all but disappearing before our eyes.
I was flipping through some old photos and I found this waterfall from British Columbia. What caught my attention was that it was taken exactly three years ago today. This is just below the massive Shannon Falls north of Vancouver. When I took this it was in full flow from the spring runoff, so I imagine it would be the same now.
I took this with the Sony A7R, which was still fairly new at the time. I had had it for only a couple of months and was still learning its ins-and-outs. Looking at this now makes me want to take a trip back to the Pacific Northwest and go waterfall hunting. For a landscape photographer waterfalls are big game.
A lot has transpired in the last three years. In that time I’ve taken close to a hundred thousand images. They’re not all winners mind you, in fact only a very small percentage of them are what I’d consider “good”. In one sense photography is a numbers game. The more you do the better your odds. Eventually you get some good ones.
When I get asked how I got to where I am the answer is simply that I take a lot of photos; some turn out good. That’s not to diminish the effort, but it’s more repetition than anything. If you get out and take pictures, magic eventually happens. If you want to take good photos, take a lot of photos. Eventually you’ll get some real winners.
I took this with the new lens that I purchased from Sony. It’s a 85mm and I shot it wide open at f1.8. I’ve been missing this focal length since switching from Nikon several years ago. I could have purchased one earlier but for one reason or another never got around to it. I’m glad I waited because from what I can tell this new version performs identical to lenses three times it’s price. The first time I used it was on a trip to the Bahamas. As we were walking through the shops and alleyways I took a few shots to see what it could do.
Yesterday I wrote about how street photograph allows us to study a scene later. As for myself, I miss a lot of little details when I’m in the scene. I think we all do that, its natural. If three people walk into a place, each will see something different, like the three blind men and an elephant story. Maybe it’s wired into our DNA that we scan for predators which prevents us from seeing everything clearly.
This is where photography can play a role. It gives us a second chance to go back and see what was really going on. When I compare a photo to what I thought was going on it’s usually different to one degree or another.
Each type of lens allows us to record the same scene from a different perspective. Stand in one spot and aim the camera using a telephoto lens. Then aim it at the same spot with a wide-angle lens. Each capture will create a very different image.
When I was last here in Vancouver I walked around Gastown at night and this is the first shot I got. It’s a random shot of the people and their neighborhood. I have vivid impressions of this part of town; mostly that it’s a cool place to hang out. There are bistros and bars galore and you can find anything you might be looking for. I also remember being amazed at how many people were smoking weed in the open, not just here but all over Vancouver. That’s a little like Amsterdam I suppose, not so unusual when compared to other progressive cities.
Street photography, especially at night, is a window on the soul of a neighborhood. I find that from random shots come insights into the character of a place. When walking around we observe a place but when we look at an image we study it. It’s not easy to study something when you are in it. Maybe that’s the attraction to street photography, it allows for a character study of the people and a place.
There is a symbiotic relationship between our neighborhood and us. When we talk we say; she is from this or that part of the city, as though it conveys some sense of character identity. Ever notice that?
I’ve learned to appreciate street photography almost by accident. The more I do it the more I learn. In the end, it’s people and their relationship to their surroundings that comes through. You can see into it anything you want but for me it’s vignettes of life that I can study and learn from.
Recently I drove to the beach to take pictures when the moon was nearly full. In places like Bradenton Beach there aren’t many lights so a bright moon will cast a shadow. It makes for an eerie light as though in a dream. When the moon is absent you cannot even see to the end of the pier.
The egret here stood at the end of the pier while I setup the tripod and captured this long exposure in the soft glow. He remained still during the exposure because he was watching for a fish below. It seems these birds have very good eyesight.
I take pictures at all times of day, but given a preference I’ll choose low light. The world takes on a different quality and things become more interesting. For instance I wonder what it would be like to go back in time and take picture before everything was so populated. However at night we get to see a little of what that might look like. There are fewer people out so there is an opportunity to experience crowded spaces without people. Perhaps a hundred years ago I would have seen the same thing.
People in photos add a human element and we easily relate to that. Sometimes landscapes or seascapes without people work as well. Having said that there was a couple that walked on to this pier while I stood here taking pictures of the heron. It was just dark enough that they didn’t seem to notice what I was doing, so as soon as the heron flew away I took pictures of them as well. I’ll post that on another day as a different interpretation of the same scene.
This is at Siesta Key where we went to see a sand sculpture exhibition. However the most iconic thing about the beach is the portable lifeguard stands. They’re painted in primary colors and spaced every hundred meters. This time I hung around the yellow one because it’s where the sand sculptures were.
The beach is situated so the sun set on one end. Normally in central Florida the beach faces west. I am heading up to the Florida panhandle in a few weeks and it will be a similar experience. From a compositional perspective each has its advantages. Forgive me; I’m always relating everything to photography.
This beach is consistently rated one of the best in the world. That’s on account of the white powdery sand. It’s also located next to a little village with all manner of outdoor establishments. My wife and I had dinner and wine before wandering down to the beach for sunset.
I’m always looking for new compositions in familiar places. Because of the number of people here there will always be something new or different, even though the scenery is the same. There is everything from memorials to drum circles taking place depending on when you happen by. I just happen to come on a day they had sand castles.
The cabin of our weekend voyage was at the back of the ship, or “aft” as it’s called in boat-lingo. After we left port we sat in the back and watched the trailing wake and rolling ocean. The best part of that was noticing this view of Miami in silhouette, which for me was unexpected. The clouds were heavy and the sun cut through casting rays upon the ocean. This is a scene I don’t see every day.
We were about five or ten miles out to sea when I noticed this so I used a telephoto lens. I took several shots but this is the least crooked of the set. The winds were high and you could really feel the rocking, especially in the aft section. It didn’t bother me but I had to time the shot so the horizon would be flat.
These condos are up and down the coast of Florida; some places more than others. I have a friend who lives in one near Clearwater and the view is spectacular. On the gulf side you have the view of sunsets every night. On the Miami side it’s sunrises.
For someone like me that loves to shoot scenes of the water I have plenty of opportunities in Florida. But after taking this cruise I think I need to get out on a boat a little more often. Now I just need to find a friend who has one.
I’m originally from California but I lived in Canada for a while. During the long cold winter I imagined what it would be like to live in Florida. This image of Venice Florida is a close approximation of how I envisioned it. Condos on a long sandy beach seem like an antidote for gloominess. It’s no wonder people come down here for a change of scenery.
This is another panorama; I’ve been doing a lot of these lately. This one is composed of four images, two on the left and two on the right. Each side has one stacked on top of the other. I used a 50mm prime lens so the detail is very good.
Because this is a more complex image, I used a tool called Autopano Giga to stitch it together. In general seascape panoramas can be difficult on account of the movement of the waves, but it worked out well this time.
Getting back to the main subject, while living in Canada I read the John Updike Rabbit novels. In the final installment, Rabbit at Rest, the main character retires from Pennsylvania to a condo in Florida. It was a while ago and I don’t remember all the details, but this is the image of Florida I had in my mind.
Of course that was a while ago and now, by a long and winding road, I ended up here myself, although not retired. Nevertheless I have the chance to see for myself all these condos on the water. And every time I see some retired gentleman I think of Rabbit at Rest.