I took this image from the dock at Regatta Pointe Marina in my hometown of Palmetto. The marina is a few miles up from the gulf on the Manatee River. It has a restaurant that does good business on account of the views. I’m not a boater or sailor so, when I come, it’s to have a meal or take photos, or both.
I have sailed out of here once and also out of the marina on the opposite side of the river. Both were charters, and both times it was a great experience. You bring cheese and wine, sit topside and enjoy the views and breeze. That’s my idea of a good time.
I came here because the colors in the sky were shaping up and this was only a few minutes away. When I feel the urge to capture a sunset without planning, I’ll rush to the river and point west. Here at the marina, there were plenty of people walking along the dock. A few were diners, a few were boaters, but just about everyone stopped to watch at the view.
The lifeguard stands at Miami Beach are these funny cartoon-like structures. Whoever designed them has a brilliant sense of humor; each one is cut out from an active imagination and looks like something from a Disney movie.
When I was here a couple of months ago, they had started rebuilding each stand. There was an area roped off in Lummus Park where new stands were under construction. Perhaps they replace them every five or ten years. With the storms in summer, they need to be extra sturdy.
If you look close, you can see a couple more of these down the beach; each is unique with a different color and shape. Living near the beach lifeguard stands are a common subject for me; they are like little houses. I romanticize them in my pictures, but I think they provide only the barest of necessities for the lifeguards that sit inside all day long keeping a keen eye out for trouble.
On our summer road trip, we stopped to visit friends in Wisconsin. It turns out they live only a few minutes from Wisconsin Dells, or The Dells as its known colloquially. I never knew of such a place existed, but here it is. Despite the heat of summer, it was cool and dark in this mini canyon, so I balanced the camera on the wooden railing to get a longer exposure.
The Dells are sandstone gorge formed by glaciers. There are tributaries like this that run into the river. Below the boardwalk ran a cool creek that ended at the river. This walkway strategically ends up in a snack bar about a quarter mile up from the river. Nevertheless, the photo opportunities are endless.
In some sense, the area reminds me a little of Niagra Falls where there is a natural wonder that spawned a local tourism industry. There are indoor (for the winters), and outdoor water parks, wax museums, and lumberjack shows every hour. It bills itself as the water park capital of the world. Who knew? But for me, by far the best experience was taking a boat up the Wisconsin River to see the Dells.
Lately, I’ve been taking drives into the country looking for interesting things to shoot. For some reason, I find this old broken down barn interesting. I’m not sure if its a barn, it could be an old house.
I go alone on these trips because my driving would terrify any sane person. When I see something, I quickly check behind me and then decelerate while pulling over to the side of the road. It’s enough to give a passenger white knuckles. Often I’ll back-up to get a better look. If it looks promising, I’ll get out and compose a few shots then move on.
Anyway, I saw this out of the corner of my eye and then pulled over about a hundred yards down the road. Maybe it reminds me of something in the past, or perhaps it has character. Whatever the case, I was intrigued enough to stop.
Here is a cityscape of Manhattan that I took from One World Observatory. High-resolution cityscapes are a way for me to explore the details in the quiet of my own home. There is no way to take it all in when you are there taking the photo.
This frame is only a small section of the city and having so much crammed together is one thing that makes New York so compelling. You could live your whole life in one part and never see it all. But maybe that’s true for most places, we never really see everything. Perhaps a cab driver does, but most of us limit our movements.
Whenever I’m up high like this, I like to take photos of the expanse. It’s a natural desire because scenes like this are so foreign to our earth-bound eyes. I make these photos with the knowledge that I’ll look more closely during post-processing. Post-processing can take an hour or more, and during that time I am emersed in the details, as though I was right back at the scene. It’s like Deja-vu all over again.
When I hear the word dune, I think of the desert, but these along the Florida beach are a different variety. Unlike the shifting sands of the Sahara, these are covered with plants and are meant to hold their shape in a storm. They are what keeps us from being washed away completely.
If you look carefully through the top of the dune, you’ll see orange tape marking a sea turtle nest. Scores of volunteers comb the beach for nests, erect barriers, and take careful notes over the incubation period. Once hatched, they’ll dash for the water so as not to be eaten by birds. Only a few survive to adulthood; it’s a rough start to what will hopefully become a long life in the sea.
Nothing is permanent, yet everything is trying to hold on. The dunes and turtles are both pitted against the forces of nature. Perhaps the tension in the environment is what produces the beauty on earth. It seems that elemental pressures are a creative force. Without them, we’d all be washed away and overrun with too many sea turtles. On second thought, you can never have too many sea turtles.
A few years ago I took an all-night drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. The only rule was that I had to be back at the San Jose airport by eight in the morning. So I gassed up the rental, picked up a couple of Red Bulls, and started driving.
By day, it’s one of the most scenic highways. By night, it feels like another world. Once you get below Carmel, there is no light pollution, and the stars are big and bright. As it happened, the moon illuminated the road, and my eyes got used to it, was more comfortable than daytime driving. I would stop at pullouts overlooking the coast and take long exposure images like this one at ten seconds.
Also, the lighthouses are fun to look at as they cast their rotating beams in the fog and low clouds. The one in the distance is Point Sur Lightstation. I made it down to San Simeon and turned the car around. It was a long drive back, but the sense of adventure (and Red Bull) kept me going. I made it back in time to grab my bags from the hotel and catch my flight home. And lucky for me, it was the pilot’s turn to drive, so I slept all the way back to Florida.
This summer we drove back and forth across South Dakota. It was part of a road trip to see the land up close. I’ve crossed South Dakota a hundred times by air, but there isn’t much to see from up there.
Except for a few small cities and towns, the landscape is wide open. For an urbanite like me, it was nice to drive for long hours without stopping because I could start to grasp the sense of scale. The entire state is a wide-open expanse.
Since most people drive through South Dakota, they have some amazing rest stops. Many had grocery store cafes where you could find every snack imaginable. My favorite was the robot frappuccino makers. Some stops have advertising signs for a hundred miles or more. I took this photo at one known as 1880’s Old Town and Diner, where you could fill up, grab a bite, and see a pioneer town while you’re at it.
This picture is a flashback from a year ago today in Venice. The view is from the deck of a ship as we sailed into port from the Adriatic. It was a unique introduction to the city from above the rooftops. We spent the next days down in the canals, bridges and narrow walkways.
For me, it’s a city to get lost in; it’s not so big that you can ever be truly lost, just enough to create a sense of wonder at every turn. While the central square is fun, wandering away from the crowds is where I found myself walking. It’s also a convenient way to work up an appetite for an evening meal alongside the grand canal.
From this height, you get a quick glimpse of the tops of buildings and apartments. Cityscapes like this are anthropological snapshots that provide clues about the inhabitants. With a hi-res photo, I find myself zooming in to discover new artifacts. Has it been a year already?
This image is the golden door at the base of Bok Tower in Central Florida. I was here the other day taking pictures of the gardens and just before leaving noticed this elaborate door. Surely it is an element of some fantasy novel I haven’t read yet.
Florida is mainly flat, and the tower is on the tallest hill of the Florida peninsula at 295 feet above sea level. Add the tower’s 205 feet on top of that, and it’s easily the tallest thing around for maybe fifty or a hundred miles.
While I was there, music from the tower’s carillon bells resounded throughout the gardens. Perhaps someone was playing them or, maybe it was automated. I didn’t take the tour to find out.
A thunderstorm rolled over, and the bells abruptly stopped minutes before lightning hit the top of the tower. The tower has lightning rods, so it’s perfectly safe, but I would not want to be the one striking those bells in a storm. Unless perhaps, it was part of the plot of that novel I’ve not yet read.