This is a panorama of the pier on Anna Maria Island on another one of my Sunday drives. I take a disproportionate number of photos on Sunday because I usually end up going for a drive. I’ve also been taking a lot of panoramas lately. This one I’ve shortened but it is actually another twenty-five percent wider on the right. It looks better on a wall that way but what you see here is cropped for the web.
One thing I will say about Anna Maria Island is how quiet it is. That may seem like an unusual statement for someone living or visiting here, but it’s true. I just got back from New York City and the contrast couldn’t be more apparent. Comparing apples and oranges (pardon the analogy) is not a fair comparison, but take away everything else and you are left with the sounds.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE New York City. But coming back to Florida after a little visit there reminds me how much I like quiet places as well. Quite frankly I can use a little more New York in my life, but I sure am fortunate to live here in Florida. We have open spaces, sea breezes and the quiet sound of the waves.
Now that I got that off my chest, I have half a mind to plan another trip to NYC. But in the meantime I’ll go for Sunday drives and look for scenes like this and listen to the sounds of a tropical island right here in Florida.
This is a long exposure from a park that sits on the border between Sarasota and Manatee counties. It’s a new park so on a recent Sunday drive I stopped by to see it for myself. I’m facing towards the inter-coastal on Longboat Key.
You may ask, how is it possible to take a long exposure at midday? Glad you asked; I used a strong ND filter. ND stands for neutral density and it blocks the light. In fact I used two filters and together they REALLY block the light. So much so that I can keep the shutter open for a minute or two, something I can normally do only at night.
So why would I want to take a long exposure during the day? Another great question; because everything is gets smoothed out. Even water that has waves appears smooth, the same goes for clouds; they all appear smooth. It’s a cheap special effect you can achieve without a big Hollywood budget.
You can get pretty creative with photography if you have nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon. As for me I rarely have anything better to do. Standing in an empty park taking long exposures in broad daylight is my idea of a good time. Can you think of anything better to do?
I captured the light over the river one evening after the rain. Riverwalk is quiet directly after a heavy rain. However within thirty minutes people are back milling about, walking, running and fishing from the pier.
I get a little carried away when the light is like this. I’m attuned to special light. For instance I noticed it while doing exercise at the gym this morning. The clouds were in such a way that the light was diffused and I noticed. I notice it pretty much each evening in summer when we get broken clouds after rain. And I notice it when we get unusual weather here in Florida, which can be once a week or more. So on those yet fewer occasions when I have my camera, I get carried away. I’m making up for missed opportunities; I become a bit of a madman.
It borders on obsession. I lose track of everything else as I work on framing the light in different ways. That’s the big difference between a photographer and a painter. Photographers work in a short window of time and a lot must line up for it to work. A painter carries the scene in his or her head, timing has very little to do with it. However I can take all the time in the world when post processing. It’s closer to painting because if the image in my head differs from the one in the camera, I can take my time processing it to bring the two closer together.
At some level I’m simply working with light. There are mechanical tools and skill and knowledge and software and locations and weather and timing all mixed together. But at some level it’s all just working with light. As I think about it, it’s really kind of amazing for reasons I can only begin to guess.
The DeSoto National Memorial is a park with trails through the mangroves at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico. I keep coming here to capture scenes along the water. Like most parks in this area it closes at sunset. But in this case I lingered to capture the vibrant tones past dusk.
I get spoiled with our sunsets. Well not really spoiled, but I do get overloaded with so many sunsets this time of year. With a great sunset each night I get a little complacent and then all of a sudden I miss a really good one. That happens several times a week. I have an unrealistic desire to capture every sunset. I will be first in line to pre-order one of Elon Musk’s transporters as soon as it gets invented. See a good sunset, push a button and I’m at the beach. Guaranteed to never miss a good one.
When I decide not to go out I know I might be missing something. It’s hard to just sit back and watch without wanting to capture it with a camera. If I have to do a chore and don’t look outside I’m okay, but when I see colorful clouds I go a little crazy. I suppose it has something to do with why I got into photography in the first place, to capture and convey.
If I were a painter I’d probably feature sunsets as much as I do with photography. The nice thing about painting is you can portray a scene as you see it in your mind, there’s no rush to get to a location for the light. With landscape photography we are working with times of the day: two different approaches to convey scenes. In the end, none of it compares to the real thing. If you consider variations in color and shapes of clouds and textures of terrain you realize that whether we’re painting or taking photos, we are attempting to reproduce the work of a much greater artist.
Last weekend I visited a remote beach that is only accessible by boat or hike. Over the years it’s become a bohemian hideaway of sorts for people that want to escape the crowds. Local photographers, including yours truly, flock here regularly to capture the compositions of driftwood on the coast.
Normally I come here to shoot landscapes but this time I was taking portraits. I showed up with a crew to shoot a couple that is about to be married. It was their first time here and they loved the setting. The landscape photographer in me is always looking for opportunities so during wardrobe changes I’d look around looking for compositions like this.
We were fortunate and had perfect clouds for a sunset. You never know how it will turn out but many times throughout the summer you can almost count on the rain tapering off for the sun to stream through the broken clouds.
Like the last time I was here there were a half dozen photographers all doing one thing or another. I think if I showed up on a Monday or Tuesday I might be the only one. Even so, it was quiet and relatively sparse as compared to the accessible beaches five minutes up the coast.
Mainly people come here to get away from the crowds and take pictures. That was exactly what we did and we all came away thinking it was well worth the hike.
This is adjacent to a marina at the Great Salt Lake. I took this as an afterthought and didn’t think much of it at the time. Only after I processed it in monochrome does it come across as a dystopian dreamscape. Surrounded my mountains it has an otherworldly quality to it.
This is a furnace stack from a smelting plant just outside of Salt Lake City. It towers above the landscape and was the visible for many miles. It’s so big it creates an optical illusion of sorts. From afar it appears much closer than it is. Next to the surrounding hills it looks like something on Mars or the moon. The area is rich in minerals and home to some of the largest mines in the world; it’s little wonder the scales are so large.
Speaking of worlds, the cooper mine over the ridge is so large it can be seen from space. The tip of it can be seen from all over the Salt Lake City valley, but it’s in the background, not really a main feature. It’s easy to spot and I suppose the same holds true if you’re looking out the window from the ISS. Here is a picture of it from the NASA archives.
When we go back to the moon or make it to Mars, we’ll be doing quite a bit of mining. The idea is to use the resources available to build, construct and sustain. Maybe in a few hundred years when someone sees this picture they’ll think it looks just like some places they saw on Mars while on vacation. You just never know.
This is Bridal Veil Falls near Salt Lake City. To get here it’s just a short drive from the city into the bordering mountains. In a previous post I mentioned that it’s a routine for us to go for a drive on Sunday. As we were in Utah we decided to take the Alpine Loop, which is a scenic drive that winds through the mountains. The road traverses mountains with switchbacks that are open only during the warmer months. There are spectacular views all over and we found ourselves stopping nearly every mile to see one sight after another.
I’m related to some of the original settlers of the area and I couldn’t help but think that they had a much harder time of it. For us it was a Sunday drive through the mountain passes on a paved road; for the settlers in covered wagons it was another thing entirely. It’s little wonder they decided to stop after making it through the mountains; I would have done the same. I have no idea which route the settlers took, but back then there were no highways so it was no Sunday drive.
To get a sense of scale of this waterfall you can see a couple of people at the very bottom of the image. The falls are over six hundred feet high and were once serviced by a gondola and a restaurant at the top. That’s gone now but the falls remain and you can take a short hike to the base or just look from a parking lot next to the highway.
Anyway, the Alpine Loop is a spectacular drive and the parks within it are open to hiking, camping and fishing. And not too far from this spot is where the Sundance Film Festival takes place each year. All in all the Alpine Loop is a must see if you’re in the area.
I have a Sunday drive routine. Each Sunday we go for a drive along the water. As long as we’ve lived in Florida that’s what we’ve done. Basically my wife and I like to soak up the sights, sounds and the smells of the ocean. I took this on a recent drive when I hopped out and took a few shots while the car was running. This time of year it’s necessary to leave the car running because of heat and humidity. My wife sits patiently in the car with our dog on her lap while I take a few pictures. It’s a familiar routine.
Habits are a close cousin to routines and I’m also a creature of habit. If I don’t put my keys in the key bowl I would lose them. Routines are things we do consciously; habits we do without thinking about them. On Sunday when I pick up the keys from the bowl my dog gets excited because he knows we’re going somewhere. For him it seems like so much more than a routine; though what, I’m not sure. I’m also in a habit of taking my camera almost everywhere. Unless I’m doing errands, I normally have it and it just becomes part of the fabric of life. Like having a cell phone, it’s normal and we don’t think about it.
Routines are repeating patterns of activity that give us a sense of normality. With them we mark time and maybe even location. Without routines everything would be different from one day to the next, nothing to hold on to. I am happy to have my routines because with them come Sunday drives and pictures by the water; and that’s something I can hang my hat on.
At the time I took this shot I was way outside of my comfort zone. This is a shot I took just before landing on a mountaintop in sub-zero temperatures while in New Zealand. In this case the scale is difficult to convey because there is nothing to use for reference. However the copter landed on the icy plateau on the upper left and it would look like a small toy if we could see it here.
I remember this stop in particular because I walked a little ways down that slope on the left. It was nothing but ice and the incline increased with each step as it dropped into the abyss. I realized that just in time and froze in my tracks then took several steps backward until my footing was sure and the panic subsided.
We landed in spots that were pretty much inaccessible save for experienced climbers. As it turns out our pilot was a mountain climber and used his knowledge of the area to choose our landings. In fact, he had been up in the area on foot a short while before. Some of the peaks seemed to me nearly impossible to reach and I was always looking for a route down should we get stranded. In places like this I’m not sure what options there would have been.
Despite the extreme landings I was so occupied with capturing landscape images that I had no time to be afraid. It’s only on reflection from the comfort of my home that thoughts of potential danger return. Certainly I had the same thoughts on that day as well, but they were crowded out by the task at hand and the rare opportunity to capture these images. In reality the pilot was super competent and never put us in any real danger. Lucky for me he was well within his own comfort zone.