Rooftop Bar at the Zamora

Another hot tip if you’re looking for cool place to hang out in St Pete’s beach Florida, try the rooftop bar at Hotel Zamora. If I’m not mistaken it’s fairly new because when I look it up on Google Maps it looks like a bare roof. But rest assured its been transformed into a swank pad with a great view of the Gulf.

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Rooftop Bar at the Zamora
Rooftop Bar at the Zamora in St Pete’s Beach Florida

I have a friend that’s getting married here shortly so I’m looking forward to coming back to hang out and taking some great photos.

It’s the kind of place I would go to if I were on vacation, only I live here so I need another excuse. The best excuse I can come up with is the day of the week called Saturday. Short of that I might even consider a staycation.

Along the back is Castile Restaurant overlooking the inter-coastal waterway. My wife and I stopped in for dinner, almost as an afterthought. We were surprised at the quality of food, presentation and service. It’s a hidden gem that we’ve just discovered.

florida gallery

Just down the street is the better-known Don Cesar hotel; it’s the pink building in the background. That’s a much bigger place with all the amenities of a large resort. But the photographer in me will choose a place with a rooftop bar over the better-known location any day. So for me, the Zamora is on the shortlist in the very near future.

Inter-coastal on Longboat

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.

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Inter-coastal on Longboat
A long exposure of the Inter-coastal on Longboat Key in Sarasota

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.

other long exposure images

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?

Park City Utah

Recently we drove through Park City Utah and stopped in at the Olympic training center. It was about eighty degrees outside yet skiers were practicing ski jumps at a specially constructed summer training facility. This athlete was practicing multiple rotations before landing in a pool of water. It was amazing because anyone could just walk up and watch and there were no crowds. Once I got over the surprise I setup to take some images sitting next to the pool.

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Park City Utah
Park City Utah where winter olympians train

After each jump the athletes would discuss the jump with a coach standing along side of the pool, then they would walk back up the ramp in their boots and carrying skies. I was thinking to myself the act of getting up to the launching point would be exercise enough, but from what I could tell they didn’t seem winded at all. I suppose that might be why they’re Olympic athletes and I’m not.

That aside it was a beehive of activity. Some athletes were working out on equipment; some appeared to be in rehab, ostensibly from recent injuries, and others were training on the ramps like this.

To be honest this was my first time seeing Olympic winter athletes in person. Normally I watch them on TV like everyone else, but being able to watch them train in the middle of summer was an unexpected surprise of our little day trip.

Some of my favorites

After watching for about an hour we headed into town for some lunch. With little shops and sidewalk cafes the town is pretty cool as well. Park City is an awesome place that reminds me a little of Banff, but different and unique. We only had a few hours but in that time we saw a lot. We decided right then and there we would make it a point to come back a stay longer.

Why I Write About Images

If you read this blog occasionally maybe you wonder why I write about images. It’s because it helps me to integrate with it on more than one level. After writing about an image it has it’s own story and it seems to take on a life of it’s own. Now when I go back to look at an image I remember it’s story.

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Why I Write About Images
Why I write about images on the blog is to create a story about each one

This is St Petersburg Florida across Tampa Bay. At this time of year we get thunderstorms that clear in the evening around sunset. I took this right after the storms and about two minutes after at sun had set. The clouds are a peachy orange from the glow of that hour.

Most photographers post images without a word. Sometimes images are so strong they need no words. But, for whatever reason I take the time to write a story. It’s totally unnecessary but I do it anyway.

The urge to write is something I’ve had my whole life. My grandmother was a writer and maybe some of that rubbed off. Half the time I have no idea what I’ll write but it eventually takes shape. Once I write some thoughts I’ll revise, edit, and revise until it’s done; then the story and image are posted together.

more dreamscape images

Now having said all this about that, today’s images is created with post processing. I imagine the bay produces these reflections, but of course it does not. So to get the final result I took one part picture, one part imagination and a hand full of words and mixed them all together. This is what I ended up with.

Examination of Society

Pictures from big cities like this are a mini examination of society. The scale shrinks individuals and we are left with dwellings, their architecture and proximity. That allows us to examine like an archeologist, learning about a society by studying its pathways and structures.

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Examination of Society
Examination of society through a wide angle lens

I took this from Vancouver Lookout which is one of the must see attractions. Even though it’s mainly for tourists it didn’t deter me from spending a couple of hours here taking shots in all directions. This one in particular I took with a wide 12mm lens. It causes the buildings to appear splayed in different directions. It may not be realistic but it creates a sense of movement to the scene.

Examining these scenes teaches us about the inhabitants at a collective level. At a personal level they teach us nothing. We cannot know someone’s heart by which floor they exit the elevator. However we start to understand a person by looking into his or her eyes, the windows of the soul. Maybe there is a parallel in cityscape scenes; the windows of buildings act as portals into the soul of a city. A million windows lead to a million individuals that combined are the essence of a place.

more cityscape images

I am drawing a long bow, but it’s an idea, that what makes a scene like this interesting is our invisible connection to the people behind the windows. I’m sure there’s more to it, but it’s an idea I have and for now and I might just take that with a cup of coffee and call it a day.

Follow Your Passion

I took this a couple of years ago at a kite festival on St Pete’s beach in Florida. This was part of an exhibition in synchronized flying. There were a couple more kites out of frame and they would all fly together in formation. The people flying these were pros that knew what they were doing. Who knew there was such a thing as professional kite fliers? Certainly not me, but you know what they say, follow your passion.

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Follow Your Passion
Follow your passion even if it means flying a kite

I’m not sure how they didn’t get the strings tangled or how they maintained their distance, but it was nothing short of precision; like the Blue Angels but a lot less risky. I’ve had a smaller version of one of these kites for years; it’s a lot of fun to fly but is anything but precise. I can appreciate how much practice must be involved. As it turns out some of these people came from other states to participate and compete.

I follow my passion for photography, as do these folks with their kites. Together there’s a symbiosis of sorts; each benefits the other. It reminds me of an event I was photographing a couple of weeks ago. There were professional athletes involved and several came up to thank me for being there to capture them. At first I was a surprised but later realized we both benefited. I fed off the energy of the athletes and some of them performed better for the camera. We elevated each other.

more kites

One of the unexpected pleasures of photography is coming in contact with people that are passionate about something. That cross-pollination creates an energy that’s greater than the sum of its parts. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as there is passion involved. When that happens the sky’s the limit to what you can do, even if it means simply flying a kite.

The Display in the Sky

I was out without my camera feeling a little anxious as the colors starting blooming in the sky. They say that the best camera in the world is the one you have with you. I had to calm down and remind myself of that because the display in the sky would only last for a few minutes.

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The Display in the Sky
The display in the sky over Palmetto Florida

In this case I had an iPhone so I took three images using the Lightroom camera app. Later I combined them in Lightroom on my computer. The advantage of using the Lightroom app on the phone is that it saves the files in RAW and automatically syncs them with Lightroom on the desktop.

To be honest I’m biased towards my camera so I didn’t expect much from these; I almost forgot I had them. However when reviewing them in Lightroom later I had to do a double take. Certainly it’s not perfect but it’s not bad for a cellphone.

The sensors in smartphones are getting pretty good, even for landscapes under odd lighting conditions. If you’re a shutterbug like me it’s becoming less “necessary” to always carry a big camera.

other Palmetto images from the gallery

I remember the evening well because of how the sky looked. I wasn’t expecting I could capture the essence of it with just an iPhone, however this image is helping me to rethink that mindset. I won’t be giving up my Sony full frame camera anytime soon, but I also won’t be so anxious next time I head out without it; unless of course I forget my cell phone as well.

Quite the Scene

I can be a real geek sometimes; like this time. I had it in my mind I was going to take some epic photos and so I brought a bag full of gear including a huge lens and a tripod. Things didn’t turn out as I expected so there I was with all this gear in the middle of a public pathway as the sun was setting. I made the best of it and quickly setup for the shot. A couple came up and said they wanted to be on TV. Obviously I looked like I was from the local station. I must have been quite the scene.

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Quite the Scene
Quite the Scene before me and of me when I took this in Sarasota

This is the image I got and so I didn’t come home completely empty handed. But to be quite honest I could have done better with less. I love gear and so this happens a lot. I always bring more gear than I need. However I can count on one hand the times I used everything I brought. It’s not about the gear; it’s about being present in the moment and working with what you have.

Lately I’ve started experimenting with slimming down what I take. By that I mean two or three lenses. Again, even the times I bring two lenses, I end up using only one. Recently I’ve left the house with just one lens on my camera. No bag, no filters, no tripod. I start out with a feeling that I forgot something. However as I start to take pictures I’m less encumbered and more attuned to what’s around me.

It’s not the camera it’s what between the ears. Taking good pictures requires a state of mind more than a heavy piece of glass. Some of the most amazing photographers on the web use inexpensive cameras. That’s not to say all the equipment is unnecessary, it all has a proper time, place and use.

more sunset images

I like the gear because I’m a geek but maybe I need a little intervention. I think of myself as being on a twelve-step program to be free of lens clutter. I’m not there yet, but at least I know it’s an issue. That’s the first step to recovery.

Now I’m off to read about the just announced Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM and 12-24mm f/4.0. I might need one of those in my kit.

Random People in Scenes

I use random people in scenes all the time. Sometimes a person is positioned in such a way as to create a scene. Street photography is all about people in scenes. One technique is to create compositions where people are juxtaposed to nearby architecture or structures. A simple example is a person waking past an archway. Looking for a composition is like a game; you feel a sense of accomplishment when you capture one. I haven’t played but maybe it’s a little like Pokémon Go.

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Random People in Scenes
Random People in Scenes in Bayfront Park in Sarasota

I took this at Bayfront Park in Sarasota recently. The park is an island with a trail around it and these swings are spaced every fifty meters. I come here when I want to do a mixture of people and landscape photography; it has plenty of both. As I walked behind this lady I think she knew I was taking pictures because she glanced back. She didn’t seem to mind so I paused to get several more.

I use people in this way all the time. Of course it’s better to be coy about it, if people become aware of what your doing they may change their behavior. Lately I’ve taken to carrying only a small 35mm lens on my camera. That way it doesn’t stand out so much and I can almost pretend I’m a casual shutterbug. In reality I’m on an undercover mission.

images with random people

One time it backfired on me. I was trying to be nonchalant as I took a picture of a rundown garage in a gritty part of town. The people inside thought I was snooping on them and started yelling at me. It turned out okay but I should have asked first. Most people don’t mind if they know what you’re doing. And if they do mind, well, no biggie, it’s just a game.

The New Lens

I took this with the new lens that I purchased from Sony. It’s a 85mm and I shot it wide open at f1.8. I’ve been missing this focal length since switching from Nikon several years ago. I could have purchased one earlier but for one reason or another never got around to it. I’m glad I waited because from what I can tell this new version performs identical to lenses three times it’s price. The first time I used it was on a trip to the Bahamas. As we were walking through the shops and alleyways I took a few shots to see what it could do.

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The New Lens
The New Lens – taken with the Sony FE 85mm 1.8

Yesterday I wrote about how street photograph allows us to study a scene later. As for myself, I miss a lot of little details when I’m in the scene. I think we all do that, its natural. If three people walk into a place, each will see something different, like the three blind men and an elephant story. Maybe it’s wired into our DNA that we scan for predators which prevents us from seeing everything clearly.

This is where photography can play a role. It gives us a second chance to go back and see what was really going on. When I compare a photo to what I thought was going on it’s usually different to one degree or another.

Each type of lens allows us to record the same scene from a different perspective. Stand in one spot and aim the camera using a telephoto lens. Then aim it at the same spot with a wide-angle lens. Each capture will create a very different image.

more travel photography

Since each focal length creates a different perspective, choosing one allow us to go back later and see what we missed from that perspective. And of course there are infinite possibilities.

I think I’ve analyzed the hell out of that for now, but hey, that’s just how my brain works sometimes. Maybe I could just sum up the whole subject by saying that I’m digging the world at 85mm.