This is from a section of the trail known as Lands End Lookout. As the name implies, it’s on the coast and above the ocean at the entrance to San Francisco Bay. I had a wonderful time here one afternoon and evening and took pictures until long after sunset.
For my money, golden hour is the best time to be here but any time of day is good. From this point, you can look down and see whales going by and large ships coming in and out of the bay. Maybe you can see little red and green dots on the ocean, those are navigation buoys marking the entrance to the bay.
If I had to pick one of my all-time favorite places to hang out, this would be it. I’m not alone, a lot of people come here for the same reasons; chill and recharge. Something about that west coast breeze washing over you on a warm night.
Here is another balloon from the festival last week. If nothing else, it whets my appetite for doing more of these. This kind of image checks a lot of boxes for me: it’s at night, colorful and simple.
It’s an example of how I try to simplify a subject to give it a stronger voice. At an event like this, there are a lot of people walking around, other balloons and basically, a bunch of commotion. But I walked around this one balloon looking for an angle that would minimize the distractions. I also used Photoshop to blackout a bus and truck. So, the combination of composition and post-processing allowed me to create a simpler scene that focuses on just the main subject.
I gravitate towards simplicity in photography. I suppose it’s a form of meditation and a break from the barrage of daily life. So, there you have it, one big reason why I like balloons. And you thought they were just for flying.
This is an image I took along the Grand Canal in front of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. I was taking pictures like a madman at the time but the conditions for photography were not good. Normally, to take pictures at night you need a tripod and a stationary subject.
In this case, I was in a moving gondola and my subject was moving also. To get this I used an aperture of f1.8 and an ISO of 8000. That’s extreme but with a few adjustments in post-production, it’s a winner. So much for the old rules.
Because I don’t know what all the rules are I do things that another photographer might not. I make a lot of mistakes, but I also get some good shots under difficult situations. The tech is so good now you may as well push it and see what happens. One day we’ll have sensors in our eyes and cameras will be obsolete. But until then, it’s fun to keep breaking the rules and trying new things.
This is a section of the midway accompanying the Sarasota Balloon Festival last week. I went on the first day which was a weekday and it happened to be a little chilly by Florida standards. After watching the display of the balloons glowing at night I wandered over here to take a few pics. It was kind of eerie with music, lights, vendors and no one else around.
Just looking at all the various food vendors made me hungry. It was the one time I could walk right up and not wait in line, but I passed on the opportunity and continued taking photos, eating when I got home.
I enjoyed the hot air balloons so much that I came back with my family the next night. That was Friday and by that time word of the event spread and there were tons of people. The midway filled up, the vendors were busy, and the lines were long – the world was right again. But I’m glad I had the opportunity to see it all lit up with nobody about. If nothing else it quenched my appetite for fair photos.
Daylight savings is upon us and somehow this seemed appropriate. It’s a combination of images taken at different times of day. By carefully merging them I’ve created a surreal scene that combines a daylight image with another one at night. It’s a little like the confusion I experience on a Monday after we change the clocks, eh?
If you detected a slight Canadian accent it’s because I took this while in Toronto. I took one shot out the hotel window when I arrived in in the afternoon and another in the evening. In the past I’ve done similar images using a tripod, but in this case I handheld the camera each time. That creates slight variations which could have been difficult to align, but with a little effort it turned out okay.
Even when I travel for reasons other than photography I bring my camera. This was a quick business trip with very little time for photos, yet I still managed to get a few shots from around the hotel. Hope springs eternal and I figure that if I bring the camera and I have an extra hour in the day (knock on wood), I’ll get a little time for doing what I like best: eh?
Yesterday was the first day of the Sarasota Balloon Festival. I’ve never been to one of these, so I wandered over in the evening. The wind was prohibitive but at the last minute a few of the rigs inflated and put on a little glow show. They were tethered with ropes, but as they inflated the wind caused them to tilt like this. Just the spectacle of it was kind of cool, such massive devices with nothing but air, glowing and blowing in the wind.
That was just the first night so I’ll check the weather and head back over to see more. Balloons are a great subject for photography. When I showed up there where no less than two dozen tripods setup and everyone else was snapping pics on their phones. Here’s a quick video I took with my iPhone.
There is also a carnival, so I wandered over to take some pictures of the midway with all the food vendors and rides. It reminded me of when I traveled all over the state of California from fair to fair selling magazines. I worked for a company that set up a booth and for a while I became a carny of sorts. That’s how I spent my high school summers and the smell of the funnel cakes brought all that back.
Today I’m continuing with another photo I shot last weekend at an athletic event in my home town. This is Ethan Surprenant of St Petersburg Florida who made it to the final round of the UNAA Qualifiers and placed third overall. Ethan is an explosive athlete and put on an amazing show.
This shot was during the first round of the qualifiers. After maxing out his arms on a hanging traverse, there was no mercy waiting ahead. Next the salmon ladder, then rings and then an evil set of monkey bars that ascended up rather than across. Finally, the round ending in a warped wall with only four feet of runway. Ethan made it look easy as he seemingly defied the laws of both gravity and physics.
Camaraderie at the event was huge. As you can see here, all were watching with baited breath as judge Dan Lively (lower left) kept an eagle eye out for any disqualifying infractions. When someone managed to complete a round, the look of triumph on their face said it all. For the full video of Ethan’s epic run check out his FB link.
Over the weekend I was at Live Training Center in Palmetto to shoot some images of the UNAA Regionals. UNAA stands for Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association and here’s the link. This is Calle Alexander from Miami who made it to the third round. Here he’s dismounting one of the obstacles in a cloud of chalk. The next section involved a lot of hanging and so he had an abundance of it on his hands as he moved on.
This type of sport is not necessarily mainstream, but it’s become wildly popular due to the NBC Ninja Warrior series. Some of the competitors here have been on the show and are regulars each season.
There’s a real sense of community and camaraderie when the athletes get together. They are competing fiercely, yet everyone is cheering and high-fiving everyone else. It’s not easy to finish any one round and most don’t. But whether someone falls at the beginning or makes it to the end, they’re all roundly cheered.
It was a great weekend photographing the competition and more than anything I enjoyed hanging out with the amazing athletes of the ninja community.
This was taken one evening somewhere on the Adriatic on our way to Montenegro. When at sea you could stand on the balcony in the evenings and see these interplays of sun and cloud. Sometimes it’s nice when you have nothing more important to do than watch the scenery.
Minimalism in landscapes is a theme I continue to study and practice. It could be either a seascape or cityscape, both can fit into a minimalist approach. By placing the horizon low in the frame, it allows the sky to take center stage and creates a sense of space. Minimalism is created when space is the main character.
Anyway, when you are at sea your eyes have few options. There is nothing to look at but sea and sky with the line between them often indistinguishable. A few hours of visual deprivation will lead to heightened sensitivity to changes. It’s then you have a glimpse into how mariners operate, as much by sense as by training. Then when you finally see something like this, you have an appreciation that might have gone otherwise unnoticed.