Amsterdam in the Early Morning Hours

Rick Schwartz amsterdam, bridge, Bridges, canal, europe, Night Photography, nightphotography, SonyAlpha, Urban, urbanexploration 0 Comments

Here’s another image I took while walking around central Amsterdam in the early morning hours. I was only here for a week so I made the decision to stay on North American time. That meant I was still wide awake very late which works well for night photography. I could capture the lights reflecting on the still waters of the canals to my heart’s content.

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Amsterdam in the Early Morning Hours

Amsterdam in the early morning hours along the canals

A couple of times I left my tripod back at the hotel. To get these long exposures without shaking the camera I would make due by balancing it on a bike seat. All of the little bridges have bikes leaning against the railings. All I had to do was pick one with a relatively wide seat and gingerly set the camera down. I used a wireless trigger so that I didn’t need to touch the camera to activate the shutter.

That little system worked quite well and to be honest, it’s a technique I’ve used in many other places as well. I don’t always want to bring a tripod especially when shooting street scenes at night. For that I’m grateful for the high ISO performance of Sony cameras, it allows me to do things that were unheard of just a few years ago. For street photography you want to travel light and be able to react quickly.

Yet when I’m out walking around I’ll invariably see something like this scene and I wish I had a tripod. Then it becomes a little game of figuring out what I can use to stabilize the camera. I use all manner of things like balancing on a fence railing, stabilizing the lens with the camera strap, even placing the camera on the ground and shooting up.

night photography gallery

As a result I’m hard on camera bodies. They get scratched quite a bit. But for me the scratches on my camera body are like notches on a belt. It’s funny but a scratched up camera feels to me like a comfortable set of well worn shows; we’ve seen a lot together.

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Super-yachts of the Bahamas

Rick Schwartz bahamas, cruise, SonyAlpha 0 Comments

I took this shortly after sunrise as our cruise ship entered port in Nassau. As yachts go this is pretty big, I’m not sure if this is a government craft or just one of the many super-yachts of the Bahamas.

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Super-yachts of the Bahamas

Super-yachts of the Bahamas

It got me thinking about why people own these. Personally, I don’t think I would want one. I’ve been on rough seas on a big cruise ship and I certainly would not want to go through that on a small boat. The sea does not care how fancy a yacht is, it will be tossed around like a toy.

I had the same thought when we passed other big yachts near the Atlantis Resort and Casino. Maybe the people that have these only sail in fair weather and remain close to home. That I could understand. They are awesome to look at but I think they are no match for the wrath of the sea.

My hat is off to fishermen who work the seas for their livelihood like the guys on The Deadliest Catch. Watching that freaks me out a little. How they manage through storms is beyond me.

sea images from the gallery

I think this attitude of mine comes from a fear of falling into the ocean and drowning. It might stem from an incident when I was an infant and almost drowned. Although I don’t remember it, I was apparently face down and sinking in a lake.

Anyway, I have nothing against these high-end boats. If I did have one I’d be having fair-weather parties on it all the time. However at the first sign of a storm you’d find me firmly on land. In the meantime I’ll just stick to cruise ships and buy crab legs from a store. I’m not really in the market for one of these anytime soon.

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Bradenton Beach Under the Light of a Nearly Full Moon

Rick Schwartz beach, Florida, Landscape, Manatee County, Night Photography, nightphotography, SonyAlpha 0 Comments

This is Bradenton Beach under the light of a nearly full moon. I was taking pictures with a friend and everything was illuminated by the glow from the moon. Coming to the beach at night is an experience that is completely different from daytime. For me it’s a meditative experience. The overwhelming sensation is the sound of the waves.

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Bradenton Beach Under the Light of a Nearly Full Moon

Bradenton Beach Under the Light of a Nearly Full Moon

If possible I try to take pictures of people in night scenes like this. That’s not always possible but with a moon glow and a high enough ISO it sometimes works. In this case there are people with a lantern at the end of the pier. Generally taking pictures of people during long exposures is not possible because when they move they appear invisible. To appear invisible is an oxymoron, but I digress.

Also when shooting at night around urban areas I’ll get those light streaks in the sky from aircraft. Normally I don’t notice them at the time but afterwards the streak is obvious. I suppose you could calculate speed based on the distance of the streak and the length of the exposure. Nevertheless these also occur with moving boats on the water.

night photos from the gallery

Taking photos by the beach at night is a lot of fun. If I didn’t have to get up the next morning I’d probably stay out all night. However I’ll usually leave in a relaxed state of mind with the sound of the waves faintly echoing in my head. After that I have no problem falling asleep.

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Urban Scene at Sea

Rick Schwartz bahamas, cruise, SonyAlpha, travel, Urban 0 Comments

When I visit big cities I like to take pictures of buildings. Repeating patterns are like puzzles for our brains because we automatically look for slight differences. Maybe that’s related to an evolutionary survival trait like looking for predators in the tall grasses of the African savanna. However this is neither Africa nor a big city. This is an urban scene at sea, aka a cruise ship docked in the Bahamas.

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Urban Scene at Sea

Urban Scene at Sea – An RCCL Cruise Ship

This is Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas. If I’m not mistaken it’s the largest cruise ship in the world right now.

I was on a small ferry traversing the port as we passed this behemoth docked at the terminal. It is about twenty stories high and as long as an air strip. This is just one small section of one side. These mega ships are more akin to cities than boats.

This last weekend I was on cruise ship several times smaller than this, and even that was still quite big. Big enough to have several pools, a rock climbing wall, a casino, clubs, bars and restaurants. So take all that and multiply it by three or four.

urban scenes in the gallery

A few years back I was on the Aurora of the Seas, which at the time was the world’s largest. To be honest, it took me a week to figure out where everything was. It’s a little like visiting Disney World, it takes a while to get your bearings. Since that time we’ve cruised on much smaller ships, like the one this last weekend. And even then there were places on the ship I never saw.

If they make these ships any bigger they might just become indistinguishable from big cities.

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Morning Sun Over Co Co Cay

Rick Schwartz bahamas, cruise, Nature, SonyAlpha, Sunset 0 Comments

This is the morning sun over Co Co Cay in the Bahamas. Over the weekend I found myself on a cruise ship. Living in close proximity to ports it’s easy to drive to a cruise terminal for a weekend excursion. In this case we left Miami and were scheduled for two stops, here and Nassau. However the wind and swells were too strong to safely disembark so the captain decided to sail on. That didn’t stop me from taking a few pictures as we passed by and continued out to sea.

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Morning Sun Over Co Co Cay

Morning Sun Over Co Co Cay in the Bahamas

Every so often its good to get away and decompress. That’s a funny word but it describes what we do to ourselves in everyday life. We take on challenges of life and we tend to layer them one on top of the other. Soon we are squeezed under the normal weight of life. By getting away the layers are temporarily lifted and we decompress, if even just for a day.

I spent a lot of time looking at and taking pictures of the sea. That’s not necessarily interesting from a photography perspective but for me it was a study in the on-going theme of sea and sky. There were clouds and in the morning and evening and it was fun to see how they could interplay with the sun.

Other sunrise shots

Of course I took plenty of other images that are not so abstract, but this one is special because for me it represents a few days of doing nothing. Now back to normal life.

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The Shore of Tampa Bay

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

This is an example of what happens when you just sit still and let things happen. I sat here on the shore of Tampa Bay watching the sunrise. I wasn’t doing much, just sitting and watching when all of a sudden this egret landed only a few feet from me. He didn’t seem to mind me as long as I didn’t make sudden movements.

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The Shore of Tampa Bay

The Shore of Tampa Bay at Sunrise

Egrets are one of the more adaptable birds to human activity. It’s not unusual to see them in the parking lot of a grocery story. In fact one day I had one on my windshield when I pulled into a parking stall. I think they’re the graceful cousins of seagulls.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m no expert on birds. However living in Florida you get exposed to them all the time. And in many cases they can enhance an image.

I’ve seen real bird photographers, they’re the ones walking around with the big ten-thousand dollar lenses. To get a closeups of a bird from any distance takes “big glass”. I on the other hand only take images of birds if they happen to be there. I’m not sure I have the patience nor time to devote to wildlife photography.

Daily Image Gallery

I do find myself looking for birds, but only as a supporting actor in a scene. And until I go on a wildlife safari in Africa, that and my pets will be the extent of my animal photography.

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Heron Sleeping by the Causeway

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

A theme this week seems to be birds. For what ever reason I’ve been processing bird images to share. Yesterday I posted an eagle, today a heron sleeping by the causeway and tomorrow will be an egret. When I take so many photos near the water it’s hard not to capture birds.

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Heron Sleeping by the Causeway

Heron sleeping by the causeway in Bradenton Florida

If framed properly birds can enhance a scene. When a bird is sitting still during a sunset it adds an extra element to the story. We unconsciously sympathize with other creatures, human or otherwise. So a heron sleeping on one leg at the waters edge adds a little interest to the scene as well as a sense of depth. Of course with minimalistic landscape scenes like this, whatever that story means is a little different for each person.

I took this one evening on the way to the beach. Its at a causeway in Bradenton Florida that leads to Anna Maria Island. On the weekend it’s busy but during the week it’s a bit quieter. Weekday sunsets are my favorite time to drop by here. I’m not the only one, I’ll see people pull up with lawn chairs just to watch the sunset. It’s a ritual for many around here.

birds in the gallery

Whenever I see these birds I try to stay back. I use a telephoto lens and shoot from a distance. For me it’s important not to disturb the scene and approach as a silent observer. I capture the scene and then steal away with my purloined images like a thief in the night. Of course, your story may differ.

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Juvenile Eagle in the Moonlight

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

This week my intention was to capture the full moon, but for one reason or another I was striking out. So yesterday morning I stopped at the Palmetto Estuary near my home. I parked and walked out to the viewing platform. Much to my surprise I saw was this juvenile eagle in the moonlight about fifty feet away. As a photographer I know these opportunities don’t come along everyday.

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Juvenile Eagle in the Moonlight

Juvenile Eagle in the Moonlight

I don’t know much about birds but this year I’ve been watching a YouTube channel on the progress of an eaglet known as E9. I’ve come to learn a little about the behavior of eagles as they grow from a hatchling. I believe this to be a juvenile because the head is not completely white. Feel free to leave a comment and correct me if you know otherwise.

When I was growing up eagles were an endangered species. Since then the populations have recovered and sightings are more common. Because of their history I am still amazed at the site of these apex raptors. Having watched so much of their behavior this year I’ve also learned about their significant intelligence. It’s a real eye opener for anyone who might think otherwise.

manatee county gallery

Eagles like this are accustomed to our presence. This guy (or gal) never moved the whole time I was shooting. I guess that’s not surprising since they hunt, nest and breed in our towns and urban landscapes. Hopefully we can remain mindful of that by providing them the spaces they need to thrive and co-exist along side us. We will all be better for it.

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Hotel Europe in Vancouver’s Gastown

Rick Schwartz Architecture, B&W, canada, monochrome, Night Photography, nightphotography, SonyAlpha, travel, Urban, urbanexploration 0 Comments

This is Hotel Europe in Vancouver’s Gastown. Gastown is a once-rundown-but-now-trendy section of the city. The last time I was in this area I walked around in the evening.

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Hotel Europe in Vancouver's Gastown

Hotel Europe in Vancouver’s Gastown

There is no end of things to see especially if you like photography. In fact, several years ago I was here with my wife when she booked a photowalk with Susanne at Vancouver Photowalks. I highly recommend it if you’re so inclined. She knows the city and you’re guaranteed to come home with some epic shots.

This is a heritage building built in 1909. There are a lot of restored buildings that give the area its character. The streets are made of bricks and there is an ancient clock operated by steam. You could eat in a different restaurant every night and do an epicurean tour of the world. Each time I come back this section of town just keeps getting better.

Normally I take a tripod with me at night but this time I was just out for a stroll, not really intending to take a lot of pictures. I ended up wishing for a tripod, but made due with a high ISO instead. This was taken handheld using ISO 5000. Even though I’ve had this Sony camera for a couple of years I’m still amazed at what it can do. Maybe one day tripods will become obsolete as well.

vancouver gallery

Anyway, if you’re in Vancouver and you want to see something a little different go to Gastown. Even better, arrange to go with Susanne from Vancouver Photowalks.

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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.

Sarasota gallery

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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