City Pier

This is the old city pier on Anna Maria Island. The “city” is Anna Maria, but if a few beach houses and seaside restaurants make a city, then I’m a monkey’s uncle.

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City Pier

To further make my point, the speed limit is 25mph; I know, because I paid a nice fine for driving 35. But I digress. It’s been over a year since the restaurant on this pier was open. It got damaged in a hurricane, and now it and the dock are being reconstructed. But, as you already know, this is not a city where things move fast.

more from Anna Maria Island

In the city of Anna Maria, there isn’t much to else to do but go to the beach, fish and eat at the restaurants. But then, that’s the attraction. A kind of place where you go to get away from everything else. There isn’t a lot of serious stuff going on, just the odd bit of monkey business; I should know.

Focus Stack

I took this earlier in the year before the red tide came in, back then there were plenty of seabirds trolling the coast for fish. The red tide is finally decreasing so hopefully now the birds will return in more significant numbers.

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Focus Stack
A sand piper on one pier and people on another

Here’s an interesting photo that uses focus stacking to get the effect of both the foreground and background in focus. It’s a typical scene along the beach with the ever-present sandpiper.

More from Anna Maria Island

To make this I took two photos, one focused on the piper and one on the people further off. Then by blending the two, they both appear in focus. This technique is not so good for scenes like this because the movement of the water complicates the blending. You can see a little blurriness between the two in-focus points. Nevertheless, I think the overall effect is rather nice.

One Last One

When I’m racing against the clock to get as many pictures as I can, there’s always a point when I know I should finish, but can’t help getting one last one. That explains what happened here; the light was almost gone, I was walking back to the car, and noticed this one last composition.

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One Last One
This is from Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island

In a recent post, I mentioned there is an attractive aesthetic about the lifeguard stands on the beach. Maybe it’s the idea of a structure positioned before the ocean. I suppose it could be almost anything, not just a lifeguard stand. But I digress.

more from the sunset gallery

When I’m taking photos, no matter how many or how few I make, I ALWAYS end up with more than I need. However, on this night my ratio of hits to misses was remarkably slim. I was lucky, had the right timing, or a combination of the two. Regardless, I was on a roll, and I’m glad I got this one last one.

Little Dunes

When I hear the word dune, I think of the desert, but these along the Florida beach are a different variety. Unlike the shifting sands of the Sahara, these are covered with plants and are meant to hold their shape in a storm. They are what keeps us from being washed away completely.

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Little Dunes
A sunset along the beach on Anna Maria Island

If you look carefully through the top of the dune, you’ll see orange tape marking a sea turtle nest. Scores of volunteers comb the beach for nests, erect barriers, and take careful notes over the incubation period. Once hatched, they’ll dash for the water so as not to be eaten by birds. Only a few survive to adulthood; it’s a rough start to what will hopefully become a long life in the sea.

check out the gallery here

Nothing is permanent, yet everything is trying to hold on. The dunes and turtles are both pitted against the forces of nature. Perhaps the tension in the environment is what produces the beauty on earth. It seems that elemental pressures are a creative force. Without them, we’d all be washed away and overrun with too many sea turtles. On second thought, you can never have too many sea turtles.

Silent Shore

I’ve been avoiding it, but on Wednesday evening I went to Bradenton Beach to see the spectacle for myself. If you haven’t heard, Florida is in the middle of a massive red tide. So I drove to the beach, and as expected, was greeted with the smell of fish washed up on the shore. Maybe because of the breeze, it was not as bad as I feared. After a few minutes, I relaxed and let it fade into the background.

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Silent Shore
A strip of sore devoid of activity in Bradenton Beach

I came primarily to take pictures of the sunset because red tide or not, when the atmospheric conditions are right it’s still astounding to see. However, as I walked along the beach, something seemed out of place. I struggled to put my finger on it as I continued and then it hit me. It was too quiet; there were no birds. All of the gulls, pipers, and pelicans had either succumbed or escaped, and there was not a single one on the beach. The lack of avian sounds and activity left me with an eerie feeling. That was the moment it hit home.

beach gallery

I am heartbroken, of course. I rationalize to myself that we are moving through the worst it, but that we will make it to the other side. The conditions that allow the algae bloom will eventually cease, and the fish, birds and sea mammals will, in time, return. I’m glad I went, and now I know that I will go again because I think it’s important to witness it first hand, not just from TV. People are avoiding the shore, and the beach is empty in more ways than one. As for myself, being there to hear its silence is in some way, essential.

The Idea

Sometimes I feel the urge to try and articulate the main idea behind my pursuit of photography. For whatever reason, this photo seems to evoke that in me.

Here is a picture that portrays an idyllic scene along the beach. Maybe we project ourselves into the scene. In doing so, we may walk on the shore with the vastness of the sea on one side. The expanse is an enigma. The longer we look, the less concrete our thoughts become. Our legs move as our minds begin to wander.

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The Idea
I come here to capture something elusive

Rationally I like taking photos of idyllic scenes, yet, in doing so, I also attempt to capture something less rational. I aspire to capture scenery or people in the landscape that hints at something more elusive.

beach gallery

This idea is why I keep coming back again and again. Ironically, I try with images to evoke thoughts or feelings of something that cannot be seen by our eyes. To do that I may include space for the scene to breath, and then I hope that thoughts will fill the void. When that happens, my desire is satisfied, and perhaps yours is just beginning.

Lucky Scene at the Beach

This picture is from a series I took earlier in the year. On that night I was lucky to end up with a bunch of good photos. Sometimes it all comes together, other times not so much. So I keep going out and eventually, I draw the long straw.

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Lucky Scene at the Beach
This was taken on a lucky night of shooting at the beach

This week I had about twenty minutes of good shooting. I’m looking forward to processing those photos in hopes that I get a couple of winners. I’d be happy with one. (My fingers are crossed).

more from the beach gallery

The difficulty with the type of landscape photography that I do is that there’s a lot of chance involved. I head to a location and hope for the best. Another, more deliberate, technique is to return to the same spot day after day until the conditions are perfect. Some of the best photographers in the world do that. They nearly always get their shot, eventually. I don’t have the patience or perseverance to do that. But now and then I get good shots anyway, and on those days I consider myself lucky.

Before the Fall

I mentioned the other day on the blog that the Anna Maria Island Pier sustained damaged in the last hurricane. They are now demolishing what’s left as the first step of reconstruction. However, I have a lot of photos of the old one, and this is one I took three years ago. I also posted a panorama of this view about a year ago.

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Before the Fall
The Anna Maria Public Pier before hurricane Irma

There is another pier just up the shore from here. It’s called the Rod and Reel Pier, and it also has a restaurant on it. A while back, that restaurant burned, but like this pier, I have images of it before the fire. Maybe the rebuilt one is safer, but in my opinion, the old one was more photogenic. Nevertheless, it’s still one of my favorite places to hang out.

more images of piers

In another year this will be rebuilt as well. I hope the architects take the time to preserve something of the old look. But no matter, I’ll be there to make another image and document the new pier, which according to news accounts should last about one hundred years. That’s a lot of time and hurricanes to withstand. Possibly I’ll reincarnate and shoot the replacement in the year 2120. You never know.

Old Photos Old Piers

Here’s a photo I took over three years ago when I still had my Nikon. Now and then I go back to old images and process them with new tools. What’s unique about this images is that the pier no longer exists, it’s replaced by a stronger one. With the tropical storms we get each year, the piers and docks take a beating and, as you can see, eventually need replacing.

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Old Photos Old Piers
An old photo of a pier that’s long since been removed and replaced.

In fact, that reminds me of the Anna Maria Island Pier. It was ruined in a hurricane last year, and it’s now demolished for new construction. It will be rebuilt, along with a restaurant in about a year. I have a ton of images of the old one, so maybe I’ll repost one this week.

more from the beach gallery

Images are memory aids. Without the pictures, we would forget the things from the past. When finding this picture in the backlog, I forgot for a minute where I had taken it. I’m so used to the new pier that I almost forgot how the old one looked. Pictures are like vitamins for the memory or some such thing.

Lens Flare

The other day I went to Bean Point on Anna Maria Island to capture this image. I didn’t notice it at the time, but there is quite a lot of lens flare. Nerd that I am, it got me wondering about the optics that produced it. Might another lens to create a different effect?

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Lens Flare
A typical sunset from Bean Point on Anna Maria Island

Nevertheless, the photo was taken at f18 at its normal to get a starburst at that aperture; that’s how we get the star effects on street lights at night. However, this looks like a combination of starburst and lens flare, and that’s what made it a little unique, at least for me.

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The main reason I used such a small aperture was to get an extended depth of field; meaning I wanted everything to be in focus, from the plants up close to the clouds. Using a high f-stop number is a way to get that, however, because it restricts the amount of light coming in, you may need a tripod lest your images come out blurry from camera shake. In this case, the effect is like a splash of light; which goes to prove that happy mistakes happen all the time.