Loan Oak

Whenever I drive these roads, I have my eyes peeled for lone oaks. They add a natural aesthetic to the interior landscape of Florida.

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Lone Oak
An oak tree along highway 35A in Central Florida

Much of the state is agricultural and along the highways are pastures with these massive trees. They provide shade for livestock and, lucky for me, are not shy about posing for photos.

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There is a theory in science that consciousness is present in all things. It’s tricky to know what to make of that given our limited understanding of the subject. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to feel the presence of something when standing near these great living creatures. It makes me wonder what we’ll eventually learn through science and if, it will validate that sixth sense we sometimes have about certain things.

Mouth of the Manatee

I took this photo at the mouth of the Manatee River. I live further upstream in the esophagus.

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Mouth of the Manatee
The view from DeSoto National Memorial Park in Bradenton, Florida

It’s curious how we anthropomorphize everything. DeSoto National Memorial Park is in the heart of Bradenton. Having grown up in the west, I still find it odd to have a national park in an urban area.

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To see the sunset like this, you walk into the park after closing. Doing so I thought I’d be alone but found a crowd along the shore, all with the same idea. After sunset, I took a quiet trail back to avoid the crowds. However, the trails have lifesize cutouts of historical figures, and more than once, I was startled by conquistadores and aboriginals staring back at me. It was a little unnerving, to say the least.

Florida Flora

Whenever I visit a preserve in Florida, I spend time trying to figure out what to shoot. Sometimes the answer is right in front of me.

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Florida Flora
Flora from a park in Central Florida

There is beauty in endemic flora that’s easy to overlook. I tend to get preoccupied with subjects and the composition, but simple scenes like this are as vibrant as any mountain landscape; it’s a matter of perspective and scale. There are realms within a tangled garden, micro-ecosystems that, while imperceptible to us, are just as alive.

more images of nature in the gallery

Our minds operate in familiar regions; we habituate our vision to the human society we know. But shift focus just a little, and there are other worlds in plain view we rarely acknowledge.

Beach Battle

There is a barrier of dunes that run the length of Anna Maria Island. Plants grow in the dunes and as a result, protect it from the onslaught of the sea.

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Beach Battle
These dunes prevent erosion of Anna Maria Island

It’s incredible how nature comes up with devices to protect one thing from another. The forces of nature are regularly at war, and the results of the conflict create a boundary that, in this instance, we call a beach.

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Sometimes I like to get down into the trenches with the troops. In this case, I found a path through the dunes at Manatee Beach. People came to enjoy the sense of peace and tranquility. However, as summer approaches, it will invariably bring new storms that test the resolve of these little dunes. May they hold fast and secure.

Obstructed View

There are so many mangroves along the water that quite often the view is obstructed. But maybe in some cases, it’s a good thing.

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Obstructed View
An obstructed view of the gulf through the bushes in Emerson Point, Palmetto

I was walking along a hidden shoreline at Emerson Point in the afternoon when I took this photo. I’m not sure what prompted me, but it seems the focus on the foliage is the subject of this image.

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Foreground elements are essential, especially in environmental or landscape shots. They’re a good idea anyway because they tend to be the first thing we focus on. As our eyes wander, we travel from foreground to the background. The trick in photography is to make that journey enjoyable.

Tree Aglow

This photo was taken from a preserve adjacent to Highway 41 in Palmetto. If you look close, you can see an eagle sitting on a branch just to the left.

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Tree Aglow
A tree in a nature area just of Highway 41 in Palmetto Florida

It’s a spot that’s within walking distance of my home. However, I always end up driving because I’m trying to capture a sunset or something last minute. In this case, the sun is behind the tree illuminating the leaves and, causing them to glow.

more tree images in the gallery

I didn’t notice the eagle until after I took the photo. However, when I did notice, I walked a little closer to take a picture, and it flew away. But I’ve seen it here before, so if I really wanted to get the photo, I could just come back at dusk. We have a lot of eagles in our area, but having grown up when they were endangered, it’s still exciting for me to see one.

Pelicans Preening

Cortez is one of the last fishing villages on the east coast of the United States. That would mean these pelicans picked the perfect place to live.

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Pelicans Preening
Sea birds in Cortez, Florida

We came for the annual fish festival and left stuffed to the gills. They had every kind of fish dish you can imagine, and then some.

Fishing vessels were docked alongside the processing plant, and I captured these fellas preening themselves, oblivious to all the commotion around them. Sea birds in Florida coexist with fishing and are not afraid of humans at all.

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Anyway, this reminded me that I need to come back to Cortez on a regular workday to see everything in action. It’s one of the first places I came with the new Sony camera about five years ago, and I always find something interesting to shoot here. And, as one of the last villages of it’s kind, it is a little bit of history.

New Bridge

The new bridge at Robinson Preserve presents an open invitation to cross over to a winding trail with ponds, marshes, and wildlife on all sides.

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New Bridge
A bridge in Robinson Preserve

The image I posted yesterday was not far from this spot, but the weather could not have been more different. That image was on a foggy morning, and this is at the end of the day. The light in each tells an entirely different story.

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As usual, the story is mostly in our mind. With these types of landscape images, we all see the same thing, yet we fill in different details. And, as with life, we perceive in it what we want to see. I think self-projection is one of the purposes of art, to allow us to muse upon things that are reflections of ourselves.

Friday Morning

Friday morning in Miami is no different than any other place. Oh who am I kidding, it’s WAY different!

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Friday Morning
The Friday morning commute in Miami

For me, a big advantage of taking a cruise out of Miami is, well, Miami. An average view from the deck of a large ship is still better than a great view from a skyscraper. Nevertheless, the new boats are big enough to be skyscrapers.

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Miami is a favorite city of mine to photograph. You have it all, the beach, the nightlife, the cityscapes. No matter how you look at it, it’s not your average city. I’m sure it has its problems, but as with many things, I tend to look at it through rose-colored glasses.

Memory Lane

Here is a photo of Trey Ratcliff and Danny Levin that I took about five years ago. Danny and I were on one of Trey’s New Zealand photo adventures.

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Memory Lane
Trey Ratcliff and Danny Levine on Lake Hayes in New Zealand

That seems like such a long time ago, but I still have a ton of photos and memories. I shot this on the original Sony A7R which was relatively new at the time. Now, I’m on the third generation of that camera, but I still own the original. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

see more from New Zealand in the gallery

Actually, I processed this with the latest tools. In this case I Aurora HDR 2019 and Luminar 3. Those are also the third generations from Skylum, and I’ve been using them for three or four years now. Every time they come out with new versions I go back and find old photos like this to process. When I do that, it’s like taking a trip down memory lane.