Cocoa Beach

Here’s a shot that I took with my iPhone as we left Port Canaveral on the inaugural Atlantic crossing of Symphony of the Seas. Not bad for a two-and-a-half-year-old iPhone.

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Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach from the deck of Royal’s Symphony of the Seas

I was up on the top deck without my camera as we pulled out of port. I wished I had my Sony because there was a lot of hoopla surrounding the first U.S. docking of the world’s largest ship. But, as the old saying goes, the best camera in the world is the one you have with you. In my case, that means the iPhone 7 plus. I think it did a pretty good job.

more iPhone images from the gallery

Nevertheless, I processed it a little in Skylum’s Luminar, and this is how it turned out. I like this perpendicular perspective of the beach. It’s a minimalist landscape shot, but not too shabby. One of these days I’ll get around to upgrading my iPhone to a new model and get even better pictures.

Egret on a Tree

These egrets will sit on trees to preen while keeping an eye on the fishermen and their catch.

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Egret on a Tree
An egret perched on a tree in a Florida bayou

I took this at a bayou that is also a state preserve. Florida preserves give wildlife a safe place to thrive outside of the urban sprawl. Egrets are opportunists that adapt to just about anything. Often I’ll see them on the front lawn looking for lizards. It’s not uncommon to see them perched on the roof of a car.

more bird images

However, just because they adapt doesn’t mean they’re not skittish. If you get too close, they’ll fly away, so I had to keep a comfortable distance to capture this photo. That meant using a 70-200mm lens with a 2x converter for a total of 400mm. It’s rare that I carry that combination, but I’m glad I did on this day.

Village Across the Water

This is the back side of Bradenton Beach, the front side is, uh, a beach.

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The village of Bradenton Beach as seen from across the inter-coastal waterway.
The village of Bradenton Beach as seen from across the inter-coastal waterway. 

The little beach town is surrounded by water because it sits on Anna Maria Island. The back side faces the intercoastal waterway and is the place where all the boats dock. It’s also where you’ll find a lot of fun things to explore, like restaurants, galleries, and fishing piers; not to mention other little villages like Cortez.

more from Anna Maria Island in the gallery

I shot this picture at water level using a Platypod on a remarkably calm night; usually, there’s a little chop. This is also a prolonged, thirteen-second exposure, so it makes the water appear even smoother. Then I stretched the lights a little downwards to accentuate them. But at the end of the day, if you squint your eyes a little, this is exactly what you would see on most evenings along the inter-coastal waterway. But if that doesn’t float your boat, there is always the beach on the other side.

Angry Seas

Isn’t it funny how we anthropomorphize all things? Here are some defiant colors against the angry Mediterranean.

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The tempestuous Mediterranean as seen from the port of Barcelona
The tempestuous Mediterranean as seen from the port of Barcelona

I do it all the time with animals, but between you and me, I think most animals have emotions, so it doesn’t seem like such a stretch. However, sometimes I do it for the weather or inanimate objects; then I’m surely projecting my own feelings into the world. The sea can’t really be angry, can it?

more minimalism in the gallery

As we journeyed out into the North Atlantic, things got worse. There was a hurricane a long way off that roiled the ocean. The winds across the deck were seventy-five miles an hour, and the swells fifty feet high. At that time I looked out at sea from the comfort of a massive cruise ship and tried to imagine myself on a small ancient craft crossing the ocean in the midst of a storm. Admittedly I had feelings, but I’m pretty sure the sea had none at all. And that was maybe, just a tiny, bit, scary.

Down Low

This looks out across the water from a few inches up; like what you might see if you were treading water.

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Down Low
Along the inter-coastal waterway in central Florida

For this low angle, I picked up a new gadget called a Platypod. It’s a little stand that makes it easy to take pictures from the ground. I even took it on a recent trip overseas rather than a tripod. There were a couple times I could have used a regular tripod, but the small size and versatility of the Platypod outweighed that.

more water in the gallery

This low perspective is a little less common and adds a little something extra. Raise the camera to eye level, and the scene changes completely. But down low, the water becomes a foreground element which, is a neat little trick in an of itself.

River Storms

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.

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River Storms
Typical summer day as a storm travels downriver.

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.

more from the Manatee River

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.

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.

more minimalism from the gallery

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.

Chill Time

With the pace of things being what they are, a little chill time can be a good thing. It’s something we all probably need a little more of. Sometimes I try to meditate, but often I end up falling asleep.

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Chill Time
A quiet evening in Bradenton Florida along the causeway.

I took this photo of myself on a quiet evening in Bradenton, but I wasn’t really relaxing, I was setting up the shot, setting the timer, clicking the shutter and then running up to sit in the shot. But if we ignore all that, its a pretty chill shot.

more in minimalism

This morning I took a yoga class that ended with a few minutes of meditation while laying on our backs. I became aware of my breathing and let my thoughts go. A few minutes later when we were all standing the instructor walked over to a couple of people still on the ground to wake them up. I had to laugh inside because that’s precisely what happens to me most of the time.

Friday Evening

I know I shouldn’t spend time wishing I was somewhere else. However, I do. Except when I’m here, then I don’t.

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Friday Evening
The scene from Bradenton Beach

When I have a vacation coming up, I wish I was there already; but if I were, it would be over sooner, and I’d be back to the real world when I should be on vacation. The only other option is to make life one big vacation. Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

sunset gallery

If life was just one big vacation, would I want to go to work? I think I know the answer to that. Sometimes I have too many thoughts for my own good. The best cure for that is a beach-view of the sunset on Friday. There’s plenty of time for the other stuff on Monday.

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.

more sun themes from the gallery

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