Elevator Bank

Why do we call it a bank of elevators? My guess is that at one time, only banks had lifts. Rest assured, this is no bank.

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Elevator Bank
Elevators on Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean ships have elevator banks that are functional, stylish and serve as a showcase for hanging art. No two banks are the same which is not only refreshing but helpful. Helpful, in that, on some of the larger ships, it’s easy to get disoriented. Having distinct elevator banks helps with getting your bearings. I can’t tell you how many times I forgot whether I was at the front or back of the boat. Unless you’re up top or by a window, it’s almost irrelevant, but knowing which direction to walk for a meal is an acquired skill.

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Also, each night the crew replaces a floor tile in each elevator with the name of the day. So not only do you know which part of the ship you’re on, you’re reminded the day of the week. Little orientation hist never hurt anyone. Anyway, if memory serves me, this was at the back of the Oasis of the Seas, or was it the front?

Abstract Cruise Photos

Over the holidays we jumped on a last-minute cruise of the Carribean. Living in Florida, these kinds of things are easy to do, just find a cheap ticket and drive to the port.

The ship was Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, which is one of the worlds largest. We’ve sailed on a couple of her sister ships, so we already had a good feel for the layout.

I took a few photos that are of a more abstract nature than typical holiday snapshots. Here is a collection with descriptions of each.

West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach
Florida on the horizon at night

On our first evening at sea, we sailed down the east coast of Florida from Cape Canaveral. The lights on the left are from West Palm Beach if I’m not mistaken. The first day is always a good time to look out to sea and decompress from life on land.

The Trail
The Trail
A trail from the stacks as we navigate south to the Caribbean

Here is another shot from the first night, looking to the back of the ship, as the smoke from the engine trails out. These first two shots are long exposures that were stabilized on the balcony railing.

Leaving Falmouth

Leaving Falmouth
A long exposure creates light trails as we leave port

We departed Falmouth, Jamacia in the evening after a very windy day. All day long I wondered how the captain would pull out in such conditions, but as the sun fell so did the wind, and we departed quite easily. I created this long exposure as the ship slowly moved past the dock. The jiggling of the light trails was from my unsteady hand as I held the camera (not necessarily from the Jamaican rum one may be obliged to try).

Hot Tub
Hot Tub
The hot tub overhang on deck fifteen

There are large hot tubs on both sides of the upper deck that protrude out from the sides of the ship on deck fifteen. I didn’t manage to try them out for myself, but that didn’t stop me from taking an architectural shot from our balcony five floors below.

Over Dock
OverDock
Watching people board

One lazy pastime when leaving a port is to sit on the balcony and watch others board the ship. In Labadee Haiti, there are musicians and dancers on the dock as well. Here I’m aiming directly down at the pier as a passenger walks to the gangway.

After Hours
After Hours
Bar stools after the bar closed late at night

The perfect symmetry of the bar stools caught my eye as I wandered around the decks at night. This is one of the outdoor bars that had closed for the evening.

Port Side
Port Side
A place and time to do very little

I snapped this as we left our last port of Cozumel. Another pastime for me is to sit on the balcony and read or listen to music. No agenda, no schedule, just free time to do anything or nothing at all.

See more travel photography here in the gallery

Oscar’s Swells

This simple image is a long (one second) exposure from the side of a ship. These are swells from hurricane Oscar that was over a thousand miles away.

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Oscar's Swells
A one-second exposure of large swells in the Atlantic ocean.

The captain took us south to avoid the worst of it, but for about two days we saw some impressive swells, more massive than these. Even the largest cruise ship in the world will rock in these conditions. The swells hitting the side of the boat sounded exactly like waves crashing on the shore. It was relaxing, and for two nights we slept with the balcony door open so we could hear the soothing sounds.

To make a one-second exposure in daylight, I set the aperture to f40. That’s a tiny aperture, maybe the smallest I’ve ever used. An F-stop higher than 20 does not have a lot of practical uses, but long exposures are one. One second is long enough to make an in-camera motion blur effect without resorting to photoshop tricks.

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Maybe this is a dull image without a central subject. It’s more texture or pattern than a photo. Even so, it reminds me of the gentle sounds the waves made all through the night.

Dreams

I imagine the dream world is a mirror; we exist there as fully as we do here. In my waking state, I have only the vaguest remembrance of dreams. A glimpse quickly forgotten.

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Dreams
There is a veil between the two worlds, sometimes its lifted.

The secret to dreams is knowing they’re dreams; easier said than done. If I knew I was dreaming, would it be a dream? Is the world of dreams a country with arbitrary borders and strange laws? Or is it the other way around?

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There is a veil between the two worlds; sometimes the veil is lifted, and we see through to the other side. We are left with the feeling of something familiar, yet forgotten. The only thing lucid is whatever side of the veil we’re on. And sometimes even that is subjective.

Florida Sun

I used to live in Canada and wondered what it would be like to live in a place like Florida; now that I’ve been here fifteen years I know, hot as hell.

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Florida Sun
This image is from the Venice North Jetty, just south of Sarasota.

It’s called the sunshine state for a reason. The sun is white, hot, and intense; which is why I remain most of the time indoors. I look forward to the few months I can wear a sweatshirt.

Like anything, you adjust with light clothing, hats, and sunglasses. If however, you work outdoors, then you cover up. Outdoor workers cover from head to toe in the most intense heat and humidity imaginable. Think about that.

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I cannot fathom how the early explorers wearing wool and boots made due. But they did, and now we have A/C, Raybans and PiƱa Coladas. Thank goodness for that.

Urban Symmetry

This image was taken in central Barcelona from the rooftop of the Grand Central Hotel. At first glance, you’ll notice symmetry in the picture. That’s because I’ve mirrored the image, and then painstakingly altered it so that the equality is incomplete. In effect, I’ve taken something that was perfectly reflected and added randomness.

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Urban Symmetry
This mirrored image creates a sense of confusion on closer inspection

There are plenty of mirrored artifacts, but depending on how you look at it, it might play tricks on you. Our brains quickly suspect its a mirror, and then our eyes begin looking for proof. Depending on where in the image you look, it may not confirm your first impression.

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The photo is an exercise in abstraction and deception. It’s a time-consuming exercise to produce, but it’s fun at the same time. My purpose is to hint at one thing while throwing you off the trail and forcing you to figure it out. I hope you don’t mind a little harmless deception in the name of fun.

Key Biscayne Layers

This image was a bit of a project to create. I stood on the South Pointe Pier facing Key Biscayne in South Beach. I took three pictures, each focused on a different point. The first was the railing, the next was the jetty and finally Key Biscayne off in the distance.

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Key Biscayne Layers
An abstract composition with Key Biscayne off in the distance.

I combined the images into a composite using a technique known as focus stacking. After that, I kept working on it until ending up with an abstract rendering that is neither real or imagined; it’s somewhere in-between.

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I could say something smart about layers, like how they are metaphors for something, but not today. The result is the product of a study in technique and abstraction. I had an idea when I took the shots, and I practiced various methods to get the image I wanted. Perhaps that’s the best way to describe it.

Vision at Sea

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.

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Vision at Sea
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.

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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.

Pictures are like Metaphors

Pictures are like metaphors. I think this is one of those, at least it seems that way to me. Point in a direction, keep marching, in the process define yourself. Which sounds a lot like life in general, only I get to wax eloquent because this is my blog.

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Pictures are like Metaphors
This can be a metaphor for a number of things, including life.

I’ve taken dozens of shots from this pier in Bradenton Beach. Even though it’s same old thing I come back looking for more. As long as were on metaphors, shooting this pier is like stone soup. The sea is the broth, the pier is the stone, and everything else gives it flavor. I keep coming back to try new flavors. Maybe I’m on to something, or just hungry.

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Nevertheless, the more I immerse into photography, the more I look for metaphors. It seems natural when going to the beach, at least for me. Always looking for meaning in non-descript scenery, it’s what I do.