Sometimes I look for places to shoot using Google Maps. It helps me find places tucked away that I may have missed, like this at Grassy Point.
This is a short drive from my home to Anna Maria Island. I showed up before dawn on a cold and windy morning. By cold, I mean it was cold for Florida; low fifties. Nevertheless, it has a path from the parking lot through the Mangroves and ends up here on the intercoastal waterway.
The clouds were low on the horizon, so the sunrise was not as spectacular as I hoped. Nevertheless, I stayed around for a few minutes to get this shot of the water through the mangroves. It seemed like a long cold hour standing out there waiting for a shot; however that made the hot coffee afterward all the more enjoyable.
I used to have a thing about benches. Now its beach chairs and umbrellas. At least I’m progressing.
When I take photos of random people on the beach, I try to remain conscious of their privacy, lest I have them sign a release form. But when it comes to objects, everything is fair game. I once did a commercial beach shoot. There was so much involved, from legal to logistics. I prefer just to walk around and take pictures of interesting things, or people.
Putting people or chairs in a shot causes us to imagine ourselves in the scene. If we see people, we subconsciously become them. When we look at chairs, in our mind’s eye we find ourselves sitting in them. We project ourselves with our thoughts without even realizing it; it’s a habit we all have. Sometimes I feel I’ve been somewhere having previously only looked at it in pictures or videos. But, as they say, there’s no substitute for the real thing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.