This bridge is a commuter’s nightmare, but before dawn on the weekend, it can look pretty awesome.
It’s amazing how smooth the water looks in a long exposure. I could shoot these all morning if the sun didn’t rise. But, as the saying goes, the son also rises. Actually, that saying doesn’t apply, and I’m mixing metaphors, but we’re all friends here.
They say this bridge needs to be replaced. It’s over fifty years old and, as I mentioned, the traffic on it sucks. But, there is a bright side. Getting stuck on a bridge in Florida is not so bad; you just roll down the window, crank up the tunes, and enjoy the scenery.
This is looking up the Manatee River in summer. After a few minutes we got a thunderstorm for about twenty minutes, then a crazy sunset; every day like clockwork.
The one-second shutter speed makes the water smooth, like the calm before the storm. I’m nervous when out in these conditions, the air is thick, and it’s only a matter of time before lightning strikes. We get more lightning than anywhere on earth because of the geography. My heightened state of nerves battles it out with my need to get a good picture.
The thunder clouds always come down the river, from east to west. Often, if we’re at an outdoor restaurant along the water, we can watch the clouds heading towards us. The river is about a mile wide, so it has its own micro-climate. After the storm passes, we brush the water off the table and, enjoy the rest of the meal, just like clockwork.
Earlier this week the rain cleared out just before sunset. I jumped in my car and came here to Riverwalk in Bradenton. I had less than thirty minutes before the colors faded so I ran around to get as many pictures as I could. This image is the first one I took.
It was twenty minutes of pure awesome. When the conditions are perfect, you have to keep moving. It’s a challenge to get as many scenes as you can before the color drains from the sky. I wish it would last longer, but beggars can’t be choosers.
In fact, soft light in the sky and reflections on the ground make anything look good. I could be standing in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and it would seem remarkable. That’s the reason I prefer low light photography. It evokes an ephemeral mood that overrides the harsh realities of only a few minutes earlier. Anyway, when I left my house, I headed to the river. But perhaps I could have driven in the other direction to Wal-Mart and had just as much fun. You never know.
As a photographer I wonder if the architects of this bridge designed it with the setting sun in mind. It’s positioned such that in you get this view in the afternoon as you cross over to Bird Key. Sometimes if we are going to dinner in St Armand’s Circle we’ll cross the bridge at this time; heaven forbid I should have a camera.
If you scan through my portfolio, you’ll see a lot of photos on or, around this bridge. And yes, some were taken when I was heading to dinner. However, it’s such an iconic location that I’ll keep coming back to hopefully find something slightly different. I’ve worn it out for sure, but hey, who’s counting?
Often on a Sunday morning they’ll close the bridge for a run because this is the closest thing we have to a hill. Florida is really flat. If you want to see the landscape the easiest way is to walk or run up to the middle of the bridge. Of course, you could also stand on the top of a nearby hotel, but then you’d miss out on your exercise, not to mention the intentions of the bridge builders.
If you go to Venice take a gondola at night. It is an experience that reminds me of a ride at Disney World, only it’s the real thing. The sounds of the oars in the water and the lights streaming from the windows overhead combine in the most exquisite way.
I took this sunrise over the Manatee River with a drone one morning. For years I wanted to take a helicopter so I could get a photo with this perspective, but now I just use the DJI. It’s a lot cheaper and I don’t have to hang out the door to get a shot.
The town of Bradenton is on the right and my home town of Palmetto is on the left. The traffic flows into Bradenton over the second bridge in the morning and the other way at night. The first bridge is the rail bridge to the Tropicana plant. In the old days the trains carried people, now it only carries oranges to the plant and juice in the other direction. If you buy a container of orange juice, chances are it crossed that bridge.
I was standing on a pier just off camera to the right. The drone was so high and far away from me I couldn’t actually see it with my eyes. But I could tell where it was through the live feed it was sending back. I always get a little nervous when it’s so far away, but nothing happened and I got the image I’ve been waiting so long for.
This is the supermoon rising under a bridge in my home town. At the time, I only knew it was a full moon, but when I showed up at the river and other photographers were there I realized it must be something special. Shortly thereafter supermoon photos were circulating on local and international news.
What makes it a supermoon is that the full moon coincides with its closest approach to earth. It has an elliptical orbit so technically it is closer; however, I have a sneaking suspicion, the moon does not really appear bigger in the sky, we just think it does. That aside, if you ever see a full moon just above the horizon it appears quite big on account of a lens effect of our atmosphere.
Each month I see it too late to take a photo and promise myself I’ll catch it next month. After about a year of doing that I finally remembered to get out and capture it. Actually, that’s a little lie, my wife reminded me. In truth if it wasn’t for her I would have missed this one also.
This may be the most photographed bridge in the world, that or possibly the Brooklyn Bridge. Nevertheless, every time I approach it I feel the need to take a photo. Never mind there may ten thousand photos of it taken that day, I still have to take my own. Is that crazy or what?
Since cameras merged with cell phones we’ve become a photo-obsessed society. We see something that moves us in some way and we snap a picture. It’s as though we are creating an infinitely rich record of everything we see. Imagine if we combined all photos ever taken into some kind of database. Companies like Google are already laying that foundation so maybe it’s just a matter of time.
Anyway, this is one of many millions of photos of this bridge. Even knowing that I’m still moved when I see it and feel the need to take a picture. And if I’m lucky this image will be added to that great big database in the sky.
This is the Bridge of Sighs as it frames a crowd of people beyond. In this case I am focused on the crowds rather than attempting to obscure them. It’s a different perspective but something I’ve been exploring lately. Lets just say it’s a slightly different take on travel photography.
My idea is to have crowds of people juxtaposed to architecture or in iconic settings. If it’s done right there’s something that makes us want to look closer. Normally crowds are not that interesting but therein lies the challenge.
Also I write about it because it helps me make sense of new ideas like this. The more I integrate it the more I can repeat this idea in different settings; it’s a form of study.
Writing is an integral part of photography for me. I take a photo, work on it and then write about it. In the end I have a something more than just a photo. All the while I’m learning something new and having a little fun. And as they say, it’s all good.