Here I am close to home on an early Sunday morning. I was standing at the end of Emerson Point which faces west into the Gulf of Mexico. (I, of course, was facing east). This local park is one of my favorite go-to places for sunrise and sunset.
It rained the night before, so I thought we’d have a beautiful display in the sky with high scattered clouds, but, that was not to be. So instead, I composed this shot which focuses on the foreground elements with the sunrise in the back. If the scene doesn’t turn out how I envisioned, I try to remind myself to work with what I’ve got. Plans often go sideways, but there is usually another angle that’s pleasing or tells a story.
One other thing: because it was Sunday morning I figured I’d be alone. But there was another photographer down by the water, and when I turned around after taking this shot, there was yet another photographer with a couple doing a maternity shoot. So apparently, there was indeed an abundance of other compositions to go around.
Lummus Park runs parallel to Ocean Drive in South Beach. I was riding a bike here and taking photos in the middle of the day. I usually prefer to go out when the light is softer, but I thought to myself, what the heck.
The summer sun in Miami Beach is relentless, so I saw quite a few people walking with umbrellas. As for me, I made sure I had an umbrella in my drink. I figure if I collect enough of them I can use them for the sun.
For this shot, I lined it up and waited for the ladies to walk in the scene. It’s an easy technique, and I use it a lot when I do street photography. I suppose this is a street photo, although part of me wants to call it a beach photo. It really doesn’t matter; it’s just my analytical side working overtime.
Here is another picture from South Dakota’s Badlands National Park. Highway 240 is a road with curves and hills, perfect for touring. As usual, I pulled over every half mile or so for a shot of the roadway and scenery.
The ridges are made of alternating soft and hard layers so that they erode fast, which is why they look so unusual. Here is a link to how the Badlands are formed. You can almost see erosion working in real time. When they get torrential rain here, the runoff carves new features and the basin floods. I would not want to be stuck out here in the rain. A few hours after we left a summer storm hit, and I suspect that things looked a little different in the morning.
Along the road, we saw buffalo, mountain goats and large numbers of prairie dogs. Amongst the prairie dogs, we also saw small owls. I’m not sure what they were doing, perhaps looking to steal the young. The landscape here is both barren and full of life. It’s harsh and beautiful at the same time.
That building on the mountain is a church known as Santa Cova de Montserrat. What’s impressive is that it’s only accessible by trail. Also, it’s very near the Abbey of Montserrat in the Catalonian region of Spain. When I took this photo, I was standing not far from the abbey on an overlook near the top of Montserrat. To get up the mountain, we had to drive a precariously steep and winding road.
The landscape here is extreme and, try as I do, still can’t imagine how places such as this get built. The construction must take many generations. Projects like this are not something we are likely to see again.
The Abbey of Montserrat is just an hour from Barcelona, and you can see the outskirts of the city in the distance. We didn’t plan it right and arrived in the afternoon which meant we only had a couple of hours to explore. But now that we know, next time we’ll spend the day exploring much more of this unbelievable monastery in the mountains.
I took this image as I disembarked from the ferry to Victoria a few years ago. That was my first time visiting Vancouver Island, and I remember being thrilled at all the new sites. So, before arriving in town, we stopped here to walk around and take pictures of the scenery.
I used my first mirrorless camera, the Sony A7R. Now, as I go back and look at old photos I haven’t processed, I’m surprised at how well the images hold up, even against newer cameras. So I find myself going back to explore old RAW files with more modern tools and each time, I come away with few surprises.
The trip was the beginning of a week on the island, and some of my all-time favorite images came from that trip. There are different climates all across the island, and the geography varies widely. As a result, I was pulling over all the time to take pictures. That meant it took us hours to get anywhere, but since we weren’t on a schedule it wasn’t a problem, until the last day when we had to be at the terminal on time for the ferry back. That’s when I got a speeding ticket, but that’s a story for another day.
I’ve been avoiding it, but on Wednesday evening I went to Bradenton Beach to see the spectacle for myself. If you haven’t heard, Florida is in the middle of a massive red tide. So I drove to the beach, and as expected, was greeted with the smell of fish washed up on the shore. Maybe because of the breeze, it was not as bad as I feared. After a few minutes, I relaxed and let it fade into the background.
I came primarily to take pictures of the sunset because red tide or not, when the atmospheric conditions are right it’s still astounding to see. However, as I walked along the beach, something seemed out of place. I struggled to put my finger on it as I continued and then it hit me. It was too quiet; there were no birds. All of the gulls, pipers, and pelicans had either succumbed or escaped, and there was not a single one on the beach. The lack of avian sounds and activity left me with an eerie feeling. That was the moment it hit home.
I am heartbroken, of course. I rationalize to myself that we are moving through the worst it, but that we will make it to the other side. The conditions that allow the algae bloom will eventually cease, and the fish, birds and sea mammals will, in time, return. I’m glad I went, and now I know that I will go again because I think it’s important to witness it first hand, not just from TV. People are avoiding the shore, and the beach is empty in more ways than one. As for myself, being there to hear its silence is in some way, essential.
To be honest, “Dogs” should be singular, there is only one dog. This image is a fun creation from a night in Central Park. To make this, I stood on an overpass and snapped several pictures as a couple, and their dog walked below. Then, in post-processing, I blended the images to create multiple copies of the people and dog.
There are endless opportunities for composition in Central Park, particularly at night. Low light is my preference anyway so for me it’s especially fun. The park is so big that I decided to rent a bike to cover more ground. It was a little awkward because I had a tripod hanging out of the basket as I rode. I get torn between the desire to cover a lot of ground and slowing down to focus on a small area. But either is okay; there are times for both.
I remember when walking around Central Park at night seemed a little scary. But now it feels like it’s a reasonable thing to do; there are a lot of people out, and NYPD patrols it quite visibly. The park is a peaceful break from the city, but even more so at night. I came away that night with a lot of compositions and a desire to get back and do it again. And next time maybe I’ll walk.
I took this picture in the lobby of the Delta Toronto Marriott when I was there a few months ago. Have you ever noticed how hotels design lobby spaces to feel inviting? This one is a far cry from the Motel 6 we stayed at when I was a kid.
When I’m in a big city, I like walking into lobbies and taking pictures of the architecture. The lobby is where the hotel puts its best foot forward. The idea is to convey a sense of luxury and comfort at the same time. Comfort usually means plush furniture and pillows that make you want to sink into them.
Anyway, I was walking through in the evening, and the colors caught my eye. I had been sitting here a few hours earlier to meet someone, but hardly noticed it in the daylight. I’m continually surprised at how light affects a place. In my opinion, it’s the key to photography. On the top floor, there is a lounge with a spectacular view of the CN Tower. And my room had a pretty nice view of the lake as well. I think the hotel is rated four stars, but from a photographic perspective, it’s easily a five.
Sunday is a day off, so I drove around looking for things to shoot. But as it turned out, the sky was overcast, and everything seemed dreary. After a couple of hours looking for something interesting, I stopped at Benderson Park and got out of my car. Two minutes later there was a thunderclap, and it started to rain.
I looked for shelter, but the camera and I ended up getting soaked. Nevertheless, I tried taking a few shots, but in my opinion, the pics were not very good. So I gave up on my plan and walked back along this path to my car thinking it just wasn’t meant to be. At the last minute, I turned around took this one last picture. Oddly, I like how it turned out and was happy with the result.
It can be frustrating looking for new images; mainly when close to home and I’ve seen everything a million times. Also, landscape scenes at midday can be uninspiring, especially in an urban area. But add a little rain or lower the lights and the mood changes. That’s when I begin to get a little inspiration from my muse whom, up until that point, had taken the day off.
Nearly five years ago I flew to Queenstown New Zealand to participate in a workshop with Trey Ratcliff. Due to jetlag, I woke up on the first morning at an ungodly hour. But after a couple of hours walking around the hotel, dawn began, and we had the most amazing pink sky. It was an excellent start to a week of photography.
I’ve had this in my backlog for a very long time. The biggest challenge was that the sky was so red and orange that it did not seem real. In the original RAW images, it looks like I photoshopped the colors. To make it seem a little more realistic, I’ve desaturated the glow. Usually, it’s the other way around; I might saturate or add vibrancy to give a photo a little extra pop. Not this time.
In the grand scale of things, five years is not a long time, but for me, it feels like a lifetime. It was a life-altering trip; it moved me in ways I can’t even begin to describe. I had such a fantastic time that it almost didn’t seem real. Life is rarely perfect, but that week came about as close as I’ve ever known. And it all started on the morning of this sunrise and continued building from there.