Walking to the train one morning in Vancouver I noticed this cruise ship at dock. It arrived a few hours earlier and was preparing for another voyage to Alaska. A common site in the summer but nonetheless it looked awesome in the morning light so I took a few photos; this is what I saw in my mind. Let me explain…
I spent a lot of time on this photo to make it look like what you see here. The original photo didn’t look so pretty. It had a lot of distractions, including other boats and a parking lot in the lower right. So I manipulated it to make it look like what I thought I saw. What we perceive is usually different than what we see. In other words, we perceive what we want to see and have a tendency to screen the rest; so this image is now closer to what I thought I saw.
At the time I only noticed the boat, it stood out because it wasn’t there the day before. I also noticed the soft light of the morning sun reflecting on the side. I thought to myself that it was an awesome scene, but when I looked at the image later there were other things I didn’t remember seeing, like the parking lot for instance. Rather than get disappointed and throw it away, it became a challenge for me to see if I could replicate my initial impression.
To my way of thinking the practice of photography is an expression of art. If I just want to record an event I snap a photo with my phone. But “photography” can be more than that. That doesn’t mean it should always be manipulated, but it should tell a story. In this case I did indeed manipulate it so that I could convey the story what I perceived in my mind on that summer morning in Vancouver.
One evening in Barcelona we walked along the beach from one end to the other. At the far end is the Hotel W Barcelona, where we stopped for a drink before heading back. I took this as we walked away just after sunset.
The architecture is unique but also bears a vague resemblance to Dubai’s Burj Al Arab, I think that’s why it caught my attention.
For miles along the beach are juice bars, ice cream shops, bistros and restaurants. Just a few minutes after taking this we stopped at an open-air bistro on the beach. Sitting next to us was our United Airlines flight crew from the day before. What was surprising was that they even recognized us; nevertheless we struck up a conversation and had a bunch of laughs as we enjoyed a fun evening with our friends.
This is a panorama I took of Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey. The abbey is high up on a mountain known as Montserrat, which is the highest point in this section of Catalonia. Here I took five photos side-by-side that are stitched together, this is just the central section.
The first thing you notice when you approach the area is the unusual shape of these rock columns on the mountain. Some people in Barcelona told us that there are faces in the rocks and I’ll admit I started to see them also when I stared for a while.
It is a working monastery with over a hundred monks in residence. We saw several in full robes as we walked around and explored. The abbey has been in operating for over a thousand years so the monks are maintaining a long tradition.
One of the most spectacular things to see is the inside of the basilica, however they don’t allow photography; notwithstanding that it’s still a must see with it’s ornate adornments and frescos.
We drove a car up here but only later did I realize there is also a train and gondola from the bottom. In my opinion those are better options than the narrow hairpin road. There are also hiking trails up so if you prefer to walk up you’ll have no guilt consuming extra calories in the restaurants and cafeterias. No matter how you get here, you’ll not be disappointed.
On my last night in Barcelona I walked around the gothic quarter until quite late. For some reason I always find cool things to see near the old cathedral.
In this case it was some guy with a guitar singing classic ballads from Bob Marley, Tracy Chapman and others. He had a full voice and his melodies echoed against the walls of the ancient cathedral. When I first came upon him there were only a three people listening, but within fifteen minutes he had gathered a crowd of thirty.
He was so good that it left an impression on me and I can still hear him in my head. But I think it’s not unusual for a summer nights in Barcelona. That’s why it is one of my favorite places to hang out.
Scenes like this are very much why I like street photography at night. There is a completely different atmosphere and mood, and when that is combined with amazing architecture and music it’s irresistible.
This is a panorama of Anna Maria Island taken with a drone the other day. To get this I took seventeen images and re-combined them in post-production. It’s not as difficult as it sounds but the results can be stunning. This is a perspective I’ve never seen; I come here all the time but like everyone else I see it from the ground.
I like to think that I’m not afraid of heights, but when I fly the drone and look at the live view on my iPhone I get a little queasy. It’s a form of virtual reality, almost as if I’m in two places at once, simultaneously on the ground and in the air. From the air I look straight down and think to myself, it’s a long way down.
Phobias aside, the island is very low-key as compared to other places in Florida, it reminds me of Hawaii. The beaches are almost always filled, yet there are no flashy or tall buildings, just relaxed places to hang out and chill. I recall that in certain parts of Hawaii the building codes don’t allow for anything taller than a palm tree, I think it’s the same idea here.
The only way you’ll ever see this view for yourself is if you take a parasailing ride up and down the beach; or, if you happen to have a drone and can virtually fly with your feet still on the ground. In either case, it’s a long way down.
This is the Hilton Molino Stucky in Venice. I took this in the evening from a water taxi as we passed by. The moon was full and I managed to snap this just as it appeared over the spire. The clouds created a dramatic effect and I was actually surprised this turned out at all.
I used an aperture of f1.8 and an ISO of 10000 and a shutter speed of 125th of a second. All that translates into an ability to take hand-held photos at night from a moving boat. I’m still amazed that this is possible even though I’ve had my Sony camera for a couple of years now; compared to what was possible just a few years ago it’s phenomenal.
The hotel is on the island of Giudecca and there is a lot to see here including art galleries, ancient churches and, of course, the city of Venice right across the water. I can imagine that the night view of Venice from the roof top bar is well worth whatever they charge for a gin and tonic. I think the hotel also has its own water taxi for guests.
As for me, it’s all on my list for the next time I return.
To borrow a saying from golf, a bad day at the beach is still better than a good day at the office. On the weekend there was a storm in the gulf, and whenever that happens it pushes waves into the coast. That’s a queue for local surfers, and me, your intrepid photographer, to show up at the south end of Bradenton Beach for a little action.
The waves may not be big compared to other places like California, but big enough to get the job done. Hurricane Nate was about four hundred miles east of here, but even at that distance it managed to create a nice little swell.
This is the first time I intentionally came to the beach to photograph surfers; at other times I’m usually shooting something else and just happen to get a few shots. This time I came prepared with a long lens to get in close.
I’ve photographed other sports and each type has a different set of tricks. The first thing I learned this day was that the angle of the waves dictates the direction of the boards. Basically it meant that from my angle the surfers would have their backs to me. There are little nuances to know about photographing each sport that never occur to you until you’re there. I learned a few things for the next time so it’s all good.
Lucky for me I live in a place were I’ll have plenty of opportunities. However just standing on the beach with the waves at my feet, taking pictures of anything is a lot of fun. It was way better than even a great day at the office.
Here is a simple image I took from the dunes at Lido Beach. I was part of a last minute rush by locals and tourists alike to get to the beach and watch the sunset. There was no convenient parking so I double-parked and walked over to the dunes to take this. Not really a smart idea but it worked; at least this time.
It looks like I was on the dunes but I was on a path; it’s not good to walk on the dunes because it wrecks the plants. The plants preserve the dunes, which in turn preserve the islands during a storm. The island in this case is Ledo Key, which is one of my favorite places in Sarasota because I usually get nice pictures whenever I come here.
Anyway, when I see these sunsets I go into full photography mode. What should be a serene experience is a little more stressful. I like to think it’s the good kind of stress, creative stress. That’s usually followed by the satisfaction of having captured a good sunset. Somehow I manage to survive these frequent episodes; at least I did this time.
I wasn’t in Venice long but managed to walk along the city edges one afternoon where I saw things resembling normal life. If you stray away from the main square you eventually end up in areas were things are a little quieter. I have no idea who this man is, but looking at this several weeks later reminded me of what I was thinking about at the time.
Amongst the canals and stone houses are things like a grocery store, a florist and a hospital. I saw city workers picking up the trash. It was those kinds of domestic norms that I found oddly comforting. Walking through an unfamiliar environment can be a disorienting until you recognize things that we have in common, then it starts to feel a little less foreign.
It’s nice to see the historic squares and cathedrals, but seeing how people live day to day is just as interesting. W all go through the similar routines of life, yet we are also products of our environment, language and culture. So casually observing the interplay of these in a quiet section of town can be just as fulfilling as standing in the middle of St Marks Square.
This is from one of the many terraces at the Hotel Arts Barcelona. We arrived here in the morning after an overnight flight from DC. In fact we were too early, so while waiting for our room I walked around to explore and take a few pictures. The hotel gets its name from the collection of public art in and around the hotel.
Unlike other areas, this is in a modern section of town and the outdoor art accents the area to give it a unique feel. It’s in contrast to an area like the gothic quarter, but like any big city there are distinct districts with completely different atmospheres.
Even though we couldn’t check-in right away the terraces and patios were nice places to decompress after a long flight. It didn’t hurt that they seemed to have an endless supply of complementary champagne while we waited.