Midday at New Pass in Sarasota

Rick Schwartz Florida, Landscape, Sarasota, SonyAlpha 0 Comments

The West coast of Florida is lined with barrier islands known as keys or cays, We call the water behind the keys the intercostal waterway. In a boat you can travel up and down the state inside the intercostal. Every five miles or so channels appear between the islands. This is midday at New Pass in Sarasota. For some reason the water here is always a turquoise green color, probably due to the white sand.

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Midday at New Pass in Sarasota

Midday at New Pass in Sarasota

I’m standing on a bridge that connects Ledo Key with Longboat Key. We were out for a Sunday drive and it seems our Sunday drives always end up here. At mid-day everything is so bright you really need to wear sunglasses. In general I like to shoot scenes in less harsh light but I’ve always liked the colors here and wanted to capture it.

This spot where I’m standing is next to the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. It’s one of the foremost marine biology research and rescue centers in the US. It’s worth a visit if you’re in the area. Standing by the water you’ll see all manner of marine life. I’ve seen manatees, sharks, dolphins and manta-rays not to mention all of the fish that keep the anglers busy.

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This is also one of those bridges I love to get stuck on. It’s a draw bridge and whenever a sailboat comes along the traffic stops and you just have to sit there and look at this scene. I can think of worse places to be stuck.

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Idyllic Childhood Memories

Rick Schwartz beach, Florida, Landscape, Macphun, Manatee County, SonyAlpha, Sunset 0 Comments

For me this brings back idyllic childhood memories at the beach. I’m grown up but I still relate to what these children are doing. I think we all do.

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Idyllic Childhood Memories

Idyllic childhood memories being made at Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island

I am fortunate to live near a beach like this. I can just hop in the car and be here in a few minutes. When I see that the conditions are good in the evening I’ll drive over. By conditions of course I’m referring to photographic conditions. For me that means nice clouds.

I took this at the height of spring break so there were tens of thousands at the beach. Even after living here for over a dozen years it still surprises me. At sunset everyone was lined up by the waters edge taking photos. Maybe a million pictures were taken within a five mile radius of me. It was kind of funny because I suddenly became aware that everyone was doing the exact same thing. And I thought I was the only one.

Lately I’ve been working with prime lenses. This was shot with a Sony 55mm prime at F1.8. That just means I have a narrow depth of field with which to create a sense of distance. The blurring is on purpose, the out of focus areas give the image a dreamy quality, not as much realism.

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There were so many people that I chose to focus away from the crowds. You would never know hundreds of people were all around me as I took this. By simplifying a scene I’m better able tell a story. The story in this case is that the children are playing and in a world all their own, oblivious to everything around them. And for them this will surely become an idyllic childhood memory.

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Cityscape Panorama Across Sarasota Bay

Rick Schwartz bridge, Florida, Landscape, panorama, Sarasota, SonyAlpha, Urban, urbanexploration 0 Comments

This is a cityscape panorama across Sarasota Bay. To create this I took three vertical images using a 55 mm lens and then stitched them together in Autopano Giga. The reason I did that rather than use a wide angle lens is it creates a realistic view of the scene whereas wide angle lenses tend to distort the sky. Each method has its use.

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Cityscape Panorama Across Sarasota Bay

This is a cityscape panorama across Sarasota Bay.

My guess is that these sailboats are in a mooring field. There is another mooring field on the other side of that bridge just out of sight. That one is busy but this one seems to be long term as I’ve seen the same sailboats sit here for years.

The day was a little hazy but the clouds added an extra dimension to the sky. These types of scenes, urban panoramas across the water, represent a technique I find appealing. Sky and water frame a cityscape and create a different perspective. It’s a little like looking down from an airplane only in this case we’re looking across. I have a coffee table book I’m working on called Sea and Sky; it has a few images like this.

Another thing I like about these stitched-together panoramas is that the image is very high resolution. That’s good for two reasons; it allows the viewer to zoom in and explore the details and, it can be used to create large prints. This resolution of this image can produce a print that is six feet across without losing detail. That makes it suited for large spaces like offices or hallways.

more panoramas

In a few years camera sensors will capture more detail than they do today. Actually these already exist but are specialized for surveillance and mapping. However soon even landscape photographers like myself will have them. And when that happens we’ll be able to pass the time just exploring the details of a scene like this on someone’s large wall.

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Atop a Cliff Overlooking the Pacific

Rick Schwartz beach, california, Landscape, Macphun, Night Photography, nightphotography, photography, SanFrancisco, SonyAlpha, travel 0 Comments

As the name implies, the Cliff House restaurant is atop a cliff overlooking the pacific. This is a long exposure I did a few months ago. I came back about a month later and each time I was lucky enough to see a good sunset. As a result I have a tonne of pictures from every angle and many of them like this taken long after the sun went down.

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Atop a Cliff Overlooking the Pacific

Atop a cliff overlooking the pacific – Cliff House in San Francisco

I used to shoot film and photos like this were impossible. You might get close but it was trial and error and required precise measurements, settings and calculations of exposure length. Now in the age of digital I can have images like this in a matter of minutes and know exactly how it turns out. So it’s no wonder people like me love shooting in low light. It’s a relatively new phenomenon in the age of photography.

Speaking of cameras and the age of photography, that giant camera at the edge is a Camera obscura. The idea was first used in the 1600’s as a painting aid. It’s an ancient device that employs the same principal as a pinhole camera by projecting a reflected image on a wall or table. Here is a reference to it on wikipedia.

I wonder if cameras will become obsolete in some future timeline of ours. They have come so far in a few hundred years and things are not slowing down. Maybe our eyes will get replaced with hi-definition sensors and view screens and then we can choose to save images or share with others in a virtual reality universe.

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Would the people that invented the Camera obscure recognize the cameras of today? In that same vein then I will not recognize cameras a hundred years from now. Given where we are headed with sensor tech and VR, perhaps my idea is not so far fetched.

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Dolphins Pass by Emerson Point

Rick Schwartz beach, Florida, Landscape, Macphun, Manatee County, Nature, SonyAlpha, Sunset, Tampa 0 Comments

Here is a group of people watching as a pod of dolphins pass by Emerson Point. I was too busy composing my shot and only when I got home did I realize they were watching dolphins. If you click on the photo and zoom in you can see them just offshore. These highly intelligent animals are common in Florida so sightings are not unusual.

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Dolphins Pass by Emerson Point

Dolphins pass by Emerson Point in Palmetto

Whenever we have visitors come to Florida we hope they get to see dolphins. It seems that if you’re looking for them they don’t show, but they’re always around when you’re not.

I barley made it here in time to take the photo. I couldn’t make up my mind whether I should go out. I procrastinated and then decided to go at the last possible moment. To make matters worse I was rushing to get to the shore and then got stuck behind a couple of slow cars. When I got here I only had about five minutes to get a few shots. As I looked for compositions I saw this group and stood behind them as they gazed westward. In the end I captured a few images that I was pleased with.

All of the apparent nonsense, from slow drivers to my own indecision were for nothing. Often when I’m rushing, things don’t work out the way I think they should. The trick with landscape photography is to go with the flow. It’s easier said than done but things work out anyway. That’s what I’ve noticed over the years and it reinforces my idea that photography is reflective of a state of mind.

More from Emerson Point

Only later did I think about how it all transpired. The whole experience was for me a lesson; one that I’ll try to remember the next time things get a little more rushed than they probably should.

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Early Twilight Along the Sunshine Skyway

Rick Schwartz Florida, Landscape, Night Photography, nightphotography, Tampa 0 Comments

This is early Twilight along the Sunshine Skyway. Normally it’s crowded but at this hour there was just me and a couple of fishermen. Behind me is the Skyway and so I’m facing towards Tampa Bay. It’s about eight miles across to the other side. The lights are from the small town of Ruskin.

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Early Twilight Along the Sunshine Skyway

Early twilight along the Sunshine Skyway in Tampa Bay

I stood here composing the shot thinking it was strange that the palm trees cast such long shadows. I couldn’t figure out how they were formed because there was no light behind them. Later I realized the shadows were coming from behind me. I can be slow at times, especially so early in the morning.

I came here to shoot the sunrise and ended up exploring several locations within a half mile. This is a nesting and feeding area for sea birds. There’s always something interesting to see if you just sit and observe. What caught my eye here were the trees standing alone. Normally there would be a bunch of parked cars so this is the only time to capture the trees alone like this. I’m always on the lookout for lone trees as a subject for photography.

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Anyway, I sat here for about twenty minutes just enjoying the view. I wanted to sit here until the sun rose, however I thought if I did that I might miss other sights so I moved on. I’ve got to hand it to those fishermen, they see a lot of nice scenery. They stay in one place and watch the world come to them.

I am probably a little to much of a busy body to be a good fisherman. That’s why I stick to photography.

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Impression of the Glow

Rick Schwartz abstract, bridge, Florida, Landscape, Manatee County, SonyAlpha, Sunset 0 Comments

This is an impression of the glow of the clouds. It represents a combination of old and new styles. I gravitate towards pictorialism, meaning that I take liberties to convey a feeling or idea. This is an example of that. I’m more interested in an impression than the actual event.

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Impression of the Glow

Impression of the glow from Palmetto Florida

I’ve taken a lot of Florida photos over the years and I have collection that I printed and framed¬†several years back. I used to take those to art shows and sell them but then I got too busy and took a break. However I just did another show and what surprised me was that that folks still enjoy those scenes.

I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise. Since then my own preferences and style have changed and I’ve moved on to different themes. Yet what I came to realize is that images that are old to me are still fresh to others.

cloudscape images

So my idea is to begin printing the newer images as well. I’d be curious to see if they have the same appeal as some of my earlier works. But in the end, I’m not sure how much that really matters. I think that as long as I continue to evolve as a photographer, what people think should not be my main concern.

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Study in Reductionism

Rick Schwartz beach, Florida, Landscape, Manatee County, Nature, SonyAlpha, Sunset 0 Comments

More than anything this image is a study in reductionism. The challenge is include increasingly large objects in an image while maintaining a balance. My idea was to include objects that vary in size from very small to very large. The foreground sand is small but appears large. The low waves are larger yet appear smaller than the foreground. The ocean is much larger and of course the sun is unimaginably large, yet they recede even more. Each element plays a complementary role.

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Study in Reductionism

Study in reductionism on Anna Maria island

This is a simple image that I almost didn’t post. I was at the beach as the sun went down and I placed the camera just above the sand. I am laughing at myself because I think this is no different than if I had been playing in the water as a child. Only now I’m grown up and my toy is a camera.

My initial idea was to capture the foam of the wash along with the setting sun. But as the idea took hold I took about two hundred of these as I experimented with different angles. Trying to pick my favorite was a chore but I managed to narrow it down.

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Producing this image was indeed fun. Part of the fun was getting low with the camera while the waves lapped at my feet. The other was going through the process of sorting the images, studying the differences and choosing one.

In the end I learned something, and at the very least I hope you enjoyed my description of it.

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Lookout Tower

Rick Schwartz Florida, Landscape, Manatee County, Nature, SonyAlpha 0 Comments

This is from Robinson Preserve in Bradenton. The reflection of the lookout tower caught my attention as I rode a bike along a trail. Normally the water is not this still during the day but there was no breeze on this warm winter day in February.

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Lookout Tower

Lookout Tower in Bradenton’s Robinson Preserve

These towers appear in most Florida nature preserves and state parks. I realize now it’s because the land is flat and a tower is the only way to see over the ground cover. I’d never seen these where I grew up in California because they have mountains and all you have to do is climb a hill.

As well, there are fire lookout towers across the state amongst the farms and ranches. The geography breeds an abundance of lightning which in turn creates brush fires each year. When I first arrived in Florida they made an impression on me and now I know why there are so many; flat land.

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There are three towers that I know of nearby my home, this being one. I’ve taken pictures atop all three. They are for me the next best thing to having a drone for photography. One of these days I may get a drone so I don’t need a tower. Until that day I’ll look for nearby towers or bridges when I want to see the Florida landscape.

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All Roads Lead to Sarasota

Rick Schwartz bridge, Florida, Night Photography, nightphotography, Sarasota, SonyAlpha, Urban, urbanexploration 0 Comments

When it comes to taking photos, this is my favorite section of Sarasota. On the left is the fishing pier, which I’m standing on and on the right is the Ringling Bridge that leads to the center of town. I take so many pictures from here that I’m at risk of running out of views. Not this time because it’s a perspective I haven’t yet captured. It reminds me of the saying about Rome, only in this case all roads lead to Sarasota. That could be a metaphor for something else.

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All Roads Lead to Sarasota

All Roads Lead to Sarasota

It’s silly but I have an ongoing fear that I’ll run out of things to take pictures of. Nothing could be further from reality because the possibilities are infinite. Yet each time I go out I feel that fear. Maybe it’s just part of the process, a propellant for creativity. I compartmentalize it so it doesn’t take control of me but it’s always there. I can acknowledge it without letting it change my agenda. It’s a reminder that art and creativity are tangible and as such there is resistance to succeeding.

I think about these things a lot. That’s because I take the time to write about my images. That in turn causes me to explore my thoughts, motivations and ideas around images. Any time you do that it invariably leads to these questions; what is art, where does it come from, where does it lead? And in the end the answer is always the same, all roads lead to self discovery.

Sarasota Images

So perhaps the new perspective that I found for this area can be an allegory for self awareness. That’s my two cents on the matter.

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