It’s been so long since I was here last that I had forgotten where everything was. So it was a nice surprise when I “found” the Jackie Kennedy Onassis reservoir late at night on a bike. This is from the north side facing back towards midtown. This night scene with the clouds reminds me of Gotham City.
I rented the bike for the evening as a way to get around Central Park. I got a basket so I could carry my tripod, as I’d need it for long exposures. The park is open until one in the morning and it was a nice surprise to find so many people out at such a late hour. For me, nighttime is the best time to take pictures here because of the overall moodiness. I stopped so often to set up my tripod that I could have easily been here all night. It was very quiet and I was in the zone.
This panorama consists of four vertical long exposure images, each thirty-seconds long. The clouds were heavy which added to the drama of the scene. They are especially illuminated above mid-town, as you would expect. My guess is that the light given off by Times Square is easily visible from space.
It still amazes me that Manhattan has such a big park in the middle of the city. It’s a vital organ of the city; I think the lungs. Whether you are running, cycling or just sitting on a bench, this is where you come to breathe in, breath out and reconnect.
This is a panorama of the pier on Anna Maria Island on another one of my Sunday drives. I take a disproportionate number of photos on Sunday because I usually end up going for a drive. I’ve also been taking a lot of panoramas lately. This one I’ve shortened but it is actually another twenty-five percent wider on the right. It looks better on a wall that way but what you see here is cropped for the web.
One thing I will say about Anna Maria Island is how quiet it is. That may seem like an unusual statement for someone living or visiting here, but it’s true. I just got back from New York City and the contrast couldn’t be more apparent. Comparing apples and oranges (pardon the analogy) is not a fair comparison, but take away everything else and you are left with the sounds.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE New York City. But coming back to Florida after a little visit there reminds me how much I like quiet places as well. Quite frankly I can use a little more New York in my life, but I sure am fortunate to live here in Florida. We have open spaces, sea breezes and the quiet sound of the waves.
Now that I got that off my chest, I have half a mind to plan another trip to NYC. But in the meantime I’ll go for Sunday drives and look for scenes like this and listen to the sounds of a tropical island right here in Florida.
This is another image I took on Independence Day. Normally the fireworks are launched from the other side of the river but not this year. Had we known we would have crossed and sat on the south side. Nevertheless we made due and in the end I rather like this photo from just before nightfall. These were someone’s private fireworks before the real show by the city. The clouds on the left were alive with lightning and we had man-made and Mother Nature’s fireworks exploding in unison.
Most of my photos do not turn out the way I intended. That was the case this evening with the obstructed view. But it’s not always a bad thing. We think we know what we want, but chaos and randomness dictate otherwise. Go with the flow and work with what you have. Adaptability is the key to success in photography and life.
Before a shoot I have scenes in my head of what I want to end up with. The majority of the time I get something different. But knowing what I want those scenes to be is an advantage. The scenes will eventually appear and I’ll be ready because I will already have thought about it.
For instance, imagine a sailboat in front of a setting sun. If I have my mind set on that I might not get it on a particular outing. But at some point I will see it about to occur and I’ll be ready. The catalog of ideas in my head grows when I look at works of other photographers, or simply when I fail to get the scene I came for. The bigger the catalog in my head the more I’m ready for.
On Independence Day I did not have this image in my mind at all, not even close. But I went with the flow and ended up with something I liked very much. But that other image is in the catalog waiting for it to come up again, and on that occasion I’ll be ready.
Another hot tip if you’re looking for cool place to hang out in St Pete’s beach Florida, try the rooftop bar at Hotel Zamora. If I’m not mistaken it’s fairly new because when I look it up on Google Maps it looks like a bare roof. But rest assured its been transformed into a swank pad with a great view of the Gulf.
I have a friend that’s getting married here shortly so I’m looking forward to coming back to hang out and taking some great photos.
It’s the kind of place I would go to if I were on vacation, only I live here so I need another excuse. The best excuse I can come up with is the day of the week called Saturday. Short of that I might even consider a staycation.
Along the back is Castile Restaurant overlooking the inter-coastal waterway. My wife and I stopped in for dinner, almost as an afterthought. We were surprised at the quality of food, presentation and service. It’s a hidden gem that we’ve just discovered.
Just down the street is the better-known Don Cesar hotel; it’s the pink building in the background. That’s a much bigger place with all the amenities of a large resort. But the photographer in me will choose a place with a rooftop bar over the better-known location any day. So for me, the Zamora is on the shortlist in the very near future.
The “Get The Job You Deserve” sign over Times Square is a mammoth structure. I hesitate to call it a billboard; it’s way bigger than that. I took this shortly after checking to a hotel in New York City. Coming from a small town in Florida to the heart of Manhattan is one heck of a jolt, just the kind I needed.
I have a tip if you’re into photography and thinking of going to New York City. Book a room at the Courtyard Marriot on West 54th and Broadway. On one side of the building the rooms overlook Broadway and Times Square. This is the view from a corner room on the 28th floor. The location is about four blocks from Times Square and Central Park in the other direction.
I used to live here many moons ago. The city continues to change yet many things remain the same. It feels like there are improvements yet so much is familiar. Something I noticed is that cabs seem easier to find. My theory is that because so many people are using Uber, cabs are more available. I could be wrong; it’s just a theory.
For all intents and purposes New York City may as well be a nation; boroughs are like provinces or states. You could live in one section of the city and speak a different dialect than in another.
The city has it’s own gravitational field and laws of attraction. If you like the city you are drawn in, if not you are repulsed, there seems to be no grey area; it’s an all or nothing proposition. As for me, I am a monster fan.
A few days ago I was headed up to New York City from Tampa. We left with plenty of time to spare but by the time we made it through traffic and security we only had fifteen minutes before boarding. We ended up making some bad food choices in a frantic attempt to get a meal in the few minutes remaining. No sooner had we done that than an announcement was made that the flight was put on a two-hour ground delay due to weather. This is the scene from the bar at Pei Wei across from our gate where we made more questionable food and beverage choices.
I am completely amazed at how I was able to make this photo. It was taken with an iPhone7 and then edited it in Lightroom mobile on the same device. By using the camera inside mobile Lightroom the images were saved in RAW format. That allowed me to recover a more detail, shadows and highlights than I might ordinarily.
The other cool thing is that Lightroom on the iPhone is hooked up with Lightroom on my laptop. As I was siting here editing the image on my iPhone, it and the edits were being save in the cloud. I opened up my laptop and started using Lightroom where I left off from on my iPhone. I continued using some of my favorite software including Photoshop and MacPhun’s Luminar as well as a few others, finally ending up with this.
Personally I am amazed, because it really felt seamless hopping from one platform to another. Sure, there is not as much detail as if I had used my three-thousand dollar Sony camera, but there is way more detail in this than I would have expected. You can see both our JetBlue aircraft and clouds at the gate across the way as well as interesting details in the darkened restaurant. For sitting at a bar in an airport, it ain’t half bad if I do say so myself.
This is a long exposure from a park that sits on the border between Sarasota and Manatee counties. It’s a new park so on a recent Sunday drive I stopped by to see it for myself. I’m facing towards the inter-coastal on Longboat Key.
You may ask, how is it possible to take a long exposure at midday? Glad you asked; I used a strong ND filter. ND stands for neutral density and it blocks the light. In fact I used two filters and together they REALLY block the light. So much so that I can keep the shutter open for a minute or two, something I can normally do only at night.
So why would I want to take a long exposure during the day? Another great question; because everything is gets smoothed out. Even water that has waves appears smooth, the same goes for clouds; they all appear smooth. It’s a cheap special effect you can achieve without a big Hollywood budget.
You can get pretty creative with photography if you have nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon. As for me I rarely have anything better to do. Standing in an empty park taking long exposures in broad daylight is my idea of a good time. Can you think of anything better to do?
I captured the light over the river one evening after the rain. Riverwalk is quiet directly after a heavy rain. However within thirty minutes people are back milling about, walking, running and fishing from the pier.
I get a little carried away when the light is like this. I’m attuned to special light. For instance I noticed it while doing exercise at the gym this morning. The clouds were in such a way that the light was diffused and I noticed. I notice it pretty much each evening in summer when we get broken clouds after rain. And I notice it when we get unusual weather here in Florida, which can be once a week or more. So on those yet fewer occasions when I have my camera, I get carried away. I’m making up for missed opportunities; I become a bit of a madman.
It borders on obsession. I lose track of everything else as I work on framing the light in different ways. That’s the big difference between a photographer and a painter. Photographers work in a short window of time and a lot must line up for it to work. A painter carries the scene in his or her head, timing has very little to do with it. However I can take all the time in the world when post processing. It’s closer to painting because if the image in my head differs from the one in the camera, I can take my time processing it to bring the two closer together.
At some level I’m simply working with light. There are mechanical tools and skill and knowledge and software and locations and weather and timing all mixed together. But at some level it’s all just working with light. As I think about it, it’s really kind of amazing for reasons I can only begin to guess.
This is a random shot of people chilling on the pier in Bradenton Beach one recent evening. The pier has benches and swings so you can just there watching the world go by. A nice thing about being on a pier is there are no mosquitoes over the water.
I hope people don’t mind that I take pictures of them like this. I try to keep folks anonymous by shooting from the back. A few minutes later I was shooting in a different direction and didn’t realize there was someone off to the side staring at me as if to say, hey that’s not cool. Normally I just ignore it and make a mental note not to use that photo. Most people don’t care but I try to be considerate.
Once I was taking pictures of a busy sidewalk at an outdoor shopping area. Some guy thought I was taking pictures of him and told me to stop. I look at him blankly and said; why would I want to take a picture of you? I’ll admit I got a little hot under the collar. I had no intention of taking that guy’s picture, but maybe he was not where he was supposed to be, who knows.
The right to take photos in public places is something we have to assert from time to time. I am respectful but people tend to notice when it’s a real camera. Take the same picture with your phone and no one pays any attention. We’ve become conditioned in odd ways that would be difficult to explain to an alien that just landed on earth.
The minimalistic aesthetic is something I look for wherever I go. It’s easy to compose minimalistic scenes when facing out to sea; the ocean is a natural canvas. A pier or ship or any solitary object creates an object of interest. My theory is that minimalism provides more room for interpretation and connection to the viewer precisely because there is less to look at.
More difficult perhaps is minimalism in a big city. It involves framing singular aspects of objects in a way that give them space and room to breath. Unlike an open ocean, capturing minimalism becomes a puzzle within the visually crowded confines of a city. For whatever reason I’ve notice that German photographers seem to be good at this. Maybe it’s a reflection of the culture in some way.
A minimalistic aesthetic as it applies to architecture photography involves seeing things in an isolated way. It’s attention to the little details in plain site that escape most of us. It’s a pursuit that points out what we see but don’t recognize. In my opinion artful photography helps us see with new eyes.
As an aside, I have a very clear recollection of taking this old pier at Gasparilla Island. A few minutes later I slipped and broke my camera. That was over two years ago but it’s never far from my mind. Since then I am extra careful when handling my camera. However, the other day I dropped my camera on the pavement as I was getting out of my car. It dropped from about two feet and I was lucky because there was no damage. But I was rushing and that led to the mishap.
Anyway, it’s good to slow down when looking for minimalism in a city or the sea. By taking extra time we might notice the less obvious perspectives in plain sight. An additional benefit of slowing down is we’ll be less likely to drop a camera.