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.

visit the sunrise / sunset gallery

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.

Sun Rays

Shooting right into the sun at f13 creates these long rays of light. I could have added them artificially with software, but these are the real deal.

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Sun Rays
From Robinson Park in Bradenton, Florida

A high aperture number is not something I use all the time, but if I want starbursts, it’s the way to go. The only problem is that dust spots from the sensor show up on the image; however, that’s easy to remove with photoshop.

sunset gallery

A few days ago I visited this new section of Robinson Preserve. The creation of it took years, it’s one thing to landscape a bunch of acres, but quite another to allow nature to move in at its own pace. Finally, after several years of growth, I have yet another new landscape to explore with my camera.

Grassy Point

Sometimes I look for places to shoot using Google Maps. It helps me find places tucked away that I may have missed, like this at Grassy Point.

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Grassy Point
The sun peaks through the mangroves on Anna Maria Island

This is a short drive from my home to Anna Maria Island. I showed up before dawn on a cold and windy morning. By cold, I mean it was cold for Florida; low fifties. Nevertheless, it has a path from the parking lot through the Mangroves and ends up here on the intercoastal waterway.

more from Anna Maria Island in the gallery

The clouds were low on the horizon, so the sunrise was not as spectacular as I hoped. Nevertheless, I stayed around for a few minutes to get this shot of the water through the mangroves. It seemed like a long cold hour standing out there waiting for a shot; however that made the hot coffee afterward all the more enjoyable.

Game of Chance

Lately, it seems we are on a streak of winning sunsets, so I decided to drive over here at dusk. It was a short drive and a short walk to get here, but I’m glad I did it. It was a win.

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Game of Chance
Dusk at Perico Preserve in Bradenton, Florida

It’s a game of chance when I go out for sunsets. We often get cloud banks just offshore. I think it will be good, I drive over, and then it’s a dud. It’s a gamble I’m willing to take. But lately, the odds have been good, and I’m getting a little payoff.

see the landscape gallery

This image is comprised of six different frames. I focused on the foreground, took three bracketed shots, then the same thing on the background. I combined everything in AuroraHDR and Photoshop. I did it in a way that everything appears to be in focus. Then, one last stop in Luminar for some final touches. In reality, there were a few more minor steps here and there, but that’s the gist of it.

The moral of the story is, …hmmm, there is no moral. Just a little luck.

Florida Landscape

Landscape photography is the most natural thing to do around the section of Florida I live in. And since its so easy, I should be doing a lot more of it.

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Florida Landscape
A golden glow over the pond at Neal Preserve in Bradenton, Florida

But life gets in the way. There are dozens of perfect evenings that I let slip by. No matter what I’m doing, I still look out the window to see what I’m missing. I think sailors do the same thing.

Florida gallery

I don’t get a lot of opportunities to take pictures of the mountains. I think of that as landscape photography. However, in Florida, we use clouds as stand-ins for peaks. They are usually interesting enough to fill up the top half of a frame. Throw in a sunset and Bob’s or uncle.

Mangrove Glow

A few days ago I had a bright idea to take some photos. Somehow, I managed to leave with enough time to get here and set up the shot without rushing.

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Mangrove Glow
A mangrove plant at Emerson Point in Palmetto Florida

I usually procrastinate and then end up dashing out the door. But once in a while, I do it the proper way, whatever that is. I am continually going between calm and panic in my photography. Kind of like life I suppose.

more mangroves from the gallery

Lately, when I know I’m shooting into the sun, I’ve been using my high-quality Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM lens. It’s a lot heavier than my standard travel lens, but man-o-man, the quality comes through. I notice the difference because I take and process so many photos, but most folks would never know. That’s okay because I take these landscape photos for myself. And as the saying goes, whatever makes me happy.

Green Spaces

There is something about a stand of palm trees that begs to be photographed. These are from a nature preserve surrounded by urban sprawl.

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Green Spaces
A park that provides a refuge for nature in Bradenton

I have never been forward thinking enough to be passionate about green spaces and parks. But as I get a little wiser, I’m grateful to other people that are. This park is named after the late Tom Bennett who was a local resident. Apparently, he and his family were indeed passionate about green spaces, and I have them to thank for this photo.

more greenery from the gallery

I once had a colleague in Toronto who invested in land to be used as a wild preserve. She only wanted the property to be left to nature and not developed. That was a long time ago, and since then, Toronto has gone crazy with development. As I think back, I see that she was a visionary and, I wonder if she held out. For the sake of short-sighted folks like me, I hope she did.

Morning Starbucks

A state of confusion is normal for me, at least until I have my morning Starbucks. And this where I get it on a ship.

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Morning Starbucks
The eye candy of design and architecture aboard Sympnony of the Seas

There’s a lot to sort out in this image; art, mall, elevators, and a window looking out, to name a few. This is on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas. What makes it confusing (at least to me) is that everything is on a different deck. I think they should rename it Skyscraper of the Seas. I’m just saying.

more architecture photography

I took this from deck seven on my way back from a morning walk around deck fifteen. The Starbucks is on five. There are so many decks it’s hard to keep track of where to go, which is why I need a morning Starbucks.

Last Bit of Sun

This photo is created with the 2019 version of AuroraHDR. Skylum, the company that creates AuroraHDR, has outdone themselves this time.

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Last Bit of Sun
A scene from Neil Preserve in Bradenton, Florida

That’s good for people like me that take a lot of bracketed shots. This is a three frame HDR that I processed with both Aurora and Luminar. Luminar is the other software from Skylum that is a lot like Lightroom, only easier to use and, in my opinion, better. In truth, I use a lot of different tools including Lightroom and Photoshop; it’s all good.

check out the sunset gallery

I ran into a guy today that showed me some jaw-dropping photos of Iceland he took with his phone. The colors and detail were so amazing that I thought they were processed; no, straight-out-of-camera. That just goes to prove that the processing is not everything. Placement, composition, a sense of balance can produce better photos than all the processing in the world. All this hocus-pocus is just icing on the cake, so to speak.