While this looks like a river, it’s known as a strand or slough. It’s nothing more than a widening of the swamp along a section of the loop road inside Big Cypress National Preserve.
I think it would be impressive to kayak here; however, I would not go without a guide. The swamp is endless, the land is flat, and the Cypress trees are so thick that one wrong turn and you have no sense of direction.
I was born and raised in California, so I’m more accustom to the mountains. With mountains and hills, you can follow the contours of the land. But down here in the Everglades, there are no contours; at least none that are distinguishable from ground level. But with a guide, I could cede navigation to an expert and occupy myself with countless variations of scenery and wildlife to photograph. At least that’s my plan.
This image was taken in the gothic section of Barcelona on my last night there. I was standing next to the cathedral listening to musicians and taking photos of people walking down Carrer del Bisbe.
Coming from North America, this is an enchanting place. I can’t describe it in words, I try with pictures, and yet it still falls short. You have to experience it for yourself. I’ll be going back in a couple of months, so I hope to get out in the gothic section again.
Anyway, this is a street scene, a night scene, and an architecture scene all wrapped into a single image. I’m not sure what to call it, but it’s a lot of fun. For me, the appeal is shooting at night when everything takes on an almost mythical quality. You can imagine the same spot hundreds of years ago and see with your mind’s eye the same scenes, unchanged over the centuries.
On Saturday evening I visited the pier at Fort Desoto Park. I don’t know why I waited so long to return here; it’s one of my favorite places. I was lucky because as you can see, the sunset was epic.
From the moment I got out of my car, I was busy taking pictures. I go camera-crazy whenever I’m in an idyllic setting. I dare say we all do; when I looked around nearly everyone was holding a camera of some type (be it phone or DSLR) taking pictures.
To make this final image I combined three exposures into Aurora HDR, made a few adjustments and then used Luminar 2018 to make a few more. I never repeat the same process twice. I do everything by feel, and I don’t write anything down. It’s a form of improvisation, similar to what a musician might do. It’s no wonder, so many photographers are also musicians, the creative process has certain similarities. Which got me thinking, I wonder what this scene would sound like if translated into music?
This section of mangrove is within walking distance of my home in Palmetto. I think it’s interesting how the roots appear chaotic, yet the structures create a fortification against the erosion of the land.
Half of Florida would be washed away if not for mangroves; they are an excellent example of how life evolves to overcome. It also seems like an example of order versus entropy, the seemingly disorganized root structure is well suited to ensure it, and the land survives in place.
What you see here is an HDR image composed of five exposures. The mangrove roots were dark, so I blended an overexposed frame for that. The sky was bright in comparison, so I combined an underexposed frame for that. In the end, my seemingly haphazard approach to composition resulted in something slightly more enduring. It is my very own example of order from chaos. Perhaps that is what I should call mangrove photography. Or not.
I was down in South Beach for a couple of days, and the first thing I did was walk over to the pier. Looking back at the land seems to help me set my bearings.
It was my first time to this spot; however, I’d seen it from cruise ships in the past as we sailed in and out of the Port of Miami. Now that’s it’s summer most of the ships are in Europe. With the hotter weather, the Miami Beach area is in low season. For me, it’s the best time to visit because prices are low and wait times are non-existent.
I came here to take photos, so I just wandered around. It’s hot, but you expect that. Ice cold refreshments are at every turn, so it’s easy to stay hydrated. I drank twice my usual amount of water without even noticing. Even so, I prefer to be out in the morning or evening. This photo is the evening of the first day as the sun sets over the Miami downtown section.
I just returned from driving the Loop Road in Big Cypress National Preserve. It’s a twenty-four-mile dirt road through the heart of some of the most stunning landscape in Florida. As a landscape photographer, I was in my element and overwhelmed at the same time. There was just too much to take in, but I tried.
Living in an urban area, I find only scraps of nature as I look for it among the sprawl. So when I get the chance to emerge myself among hundreds of square miles, it’s a good thing. It took me nearly five hours to travel the road because I stopped every quarter of a mile. A bike would have been faster. But, alas, I was in no hurry.
This image is from one of my dozens of stops. It’s the reflection of the cypress trees in the swamp. As I stood there taking photos I could hear the bullfrog-like bellows of alligators all around me At first, it’s unnerving, but you grow accustomed to it. In reality, alligators prefer to mind their own business. At least from their bellows, you know where they are, and they know where you are; which is as it should be.
The other day I went to Bean Point on Anna Maria Island to capture this image. I didn’t notice it at the time, but there is quite a lot of lens flare. Nerd that I am, it got me wondering about the optics that produced it. Might another lens to create a different effect?
Nevertheless, the photo was taken at f18 at its normal to get a starburst at that aperture; that’s how we get the star effects on street lights at night. However, this looks like a combination of starburst and lens flare, and that’s what made it a little unique, at least for me.
The main reason I used such a small aperture was to get an extended depth of field; meaning I wanted everything to be in focus, from the plants up close to the clouds. Using a high f-stop number is a way to get that, however, because it restricts the amount of light coming in, you may need a tripod lest your images come out blurry from camera shake. In this case, the effect is like a splash of light; which goes to prove that happy mistakes happen all the time.
I’ve heard it said that eventually, everyone passes through Times Square. There’s no way to describe it unless you’ve been there; it’s electric.
Last week I was talking about telling stories with simple images at the beach, but this is an example of a subject that’s the polar opposite of serenity and sunsets. Regardless of the scene, success comes about by framing an image in a way that allows the viewer to enter it and muse about what is going on.
If you want to tell stories with your photos, it doesn’t matter what the scene is. It could be a beach, a farm, a city or anything in-between. I find that having a sense of depth draws us into the scene. We start at items close up and then wander around establishing distance and placement. It happens so fast we don’t notice, but crafting scenes are what makes photography so enjoyable. It’s a subtle version of virtual reality based on immersion. If we are, even for an instant, immersed in a photo, then we’ve experienced a form of virtual reality. Stories when told by a picture or a book, have always been a way to experience a different reality.
This image is an example of the kinds of things you’ll see just by showing up to a location and observing. It’s not staged, yet it has receding elements: a girl, a bird, and a sailboat, not to mention the evening sun. The objects are receding, and from a compositional perspective, that’s pretty cool. Let me explain.
There were other objects and people around, but I positioned the frame to simplify the image. Unconsciously our eyes are drawn from the close-up objects to those far away, and in that split-second traverse, each observer (you) creates a story. I refer to “story” a lot in my images, but what I mean is the musings of an observer (you). When you muse, you automatically make up a story. That makes me the story-teller, and now I’ve connected with you. It’s pretty simple really, and it’s the idea behind stories in photographs.
We can create stories in different ways; for me, it often involves simplifying a scene and engaging the viewer. But each person is different, and we could take a complicated scenario and do the same thing, there are no rules. My photos at the beach are simple, but I also like busy city streets with a lot of things to explore. (In fact, I’ll post one like that next week.) But I digress. When taking photos, you want to tell a story. No matter where you are, you can compose the shot in such a way that when I see it, I make up my own story.
If I had a nickel for every one of these shots on the beach at sunset, I’d be, well, …sitting by the beach at sunset. But that’s what people do here, so I take pictures of it. When in Rome (or Florida as the case may be), you do as the Romans do.
Switching topics for a moment, I have a lot of lenses for my cameras. Some are expensive lenses designed to operate under demanding conditions. While I use them in specific settings, I use an older cheaper lens for my landscape photos. I guess my point is, for my favorite type of photography, I’m happiest when using the inexpensive equipment.
The reason I mention that is to say that photography should not be about the equipment. Any fool can buy a camera and take a picture; “yours truly” is a case in point. But framing an image that creates a story, that takes imagination. That can be done with any camera including the one on your phone. Everything has its use, but I think that when you are creating images, the best piece of equipment is between your ears.