Sunset Watchers

Most people leave the beach at the end of the day. That’s when the second shift starts and all the sunset watchers show up.

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Sunset Watchers
Sunset from the north shore of Longboat Pass

That’s good for me because I’ll be driving against the traffic to get to the beach on time. If you’re one of the three people reading my blog, you know I’m a procrastinator. So, even though the traffic is going the other way, more often than not I am rushing to get there before the sun goes down.

more from Anna Maria Island in the gallery

After I finish taking photos, I still get stuck in the traffic leaving the beach. That’s no problem though, being stuck in traffic with the beach on one side and no place to be is a dream. I roll down the windows and inch along. I could do that all day.

Pelicans Preening

Cortez is one of the last fishing villages on the east coast of the United States. That would mean these pelicans picked the perfect place to live.

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Pelicans Preening
Sea birds in Cortez, Florida

We came for the annual fish festival and left stuffed to the gills. They had every kind of fish dish you can imagine, and then some.

Fishing vessels were docked alongside the processing plant, and I captured these fellas preening themselves, oblivious to all the commotion around them. Sea birds in Florida coexist with fishing and are not afraid of humans at all.

see more images featuring birds

Anyway, this reminded me that I need to come back to Cortez on a regular workday to see everything in action. It’s one of the first places I came with the new Sony camera about five years ago, and I always find something interesting to shoot here. And, as one of the last villages of it’s kind, it is a little bit of history.

Friday Morning

Friday morning in Miami is no different than any other place. Oh who am I kidding, it’s WAY different!

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Friday Morning
The Friday morning commute in Miami

For me, a big advantage of taking a cruise out of Miami is, well, Miami. An average view from the deck of a large ship is still better than a great view from a skyscraper. Nevertheless, the new boats are big enough to be skyscrapers.

visit the sunrise / sunset gallery

Miami is a favorite city of mine to photograph. You have it all, the beach, the nightlife, the cityscapes. No matter how you look at it, it’s not your average city. I’m sure it has its problems, but as with many things, I tend to look at it through rose-colored glasses.

Hometown AI

I hope you don’t mind if I use a little AI in my sunset photos, I certainly don’t.

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Hometown AI
A sunset from my hometown of Palmetto, Florida

I did a bit of processing on this to bring up the shadows and reduce the highlights, I do that quite a lot. One thing that’s a little new, however, is that I’ve started using artificial intelligence (AI) software. The AI is in Luminar 3 from Skylum. As AI gets better, it shortens the time it takes to get good results out of a photo. These days, AI is increasingly being built into everything, including your phone and camera. Computational photography is where we’re heading.

visit the sunset gallery

What AI does is interpret scenes for us and then make choices on how to improve it. It’s not always right, but it’s getting better. Sometimes it’s no help, but more often than not it gets a bunch of stuff right. I then fill in the gaps with the vision that I had in my head, but the AI helped get me off to a good start. It’s like having an apprentice do the prep work before you begin mixing the magic brew. I suppose that as long as the sorcerer’s apprentice doesn’t get too carried away, it should be all good.

Apartment Buildings

Something about the light at dusk, it can make a boring apartment building look like a million bucks.

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Apartment buildings in the city of Palmetto, Florida
Apartment buildings in the city of Palmetto, Florida

I drive by these buildings all the time and never take a second look, but look at them now. They’re kind of attractive, now that I see them. My Instagram tagline is, “through photography, I see.” I guess this is proof of that.

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I used a one-second exposure for the water on the bottom half which evens out the ripples. Usually, I use photoshop to get a similar effect but in this case, its straight out of camera (or SOOC as we say in the biz). I took this from a dock while walking my dog recently. He likes to come out here and survey the scene and sometimes I’ll bring my camera. So it was, in fact, Mr. Wiggles who selected this scene. I should probably change my tagline to, “through my dog, I see.”

Regatta Pointe Marina

I took this image from the dock at Regatta Pointe Marina in my hometown of Palmetto. The marina is a few miles up from the gulf on the Manatee River. It has a restaurant that does good business on account of the views. I’m not a boater or sailor so, when I come, it’s to have a meal or take photos, or both.

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Regatta Pointe Marina
This is facing west to the Gulf of Mexico from Regatta Pointe Marina

I have sailed out of here once and also out of the marina on the opposite side of the river. Both were charters, and both times it was a great experience. You bring cheese and wine, sit topside and enjoy the views and breeze. That’s my idea of a good time.

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I came here because the colors in the sky were shaping up and this was only a few minutes away. When I feel the urge to capture a sunset without planning, I’ll rush to the river and point west. Here at the marina, there were plenty of people walking along the dock. A few were diners, a few were boaters, but just about everyone stopped to watch at the view.

Making Up Stories

This image is an example of the kinds of things you’ll see just by showing up to a location and observing. It’s not staged, yet it has receding elements: a girl, a bird, and a sailboat, not to mention the evening sun. The objects are receding, and from a compositional perspective, that’s pretty cool. Let me explain.

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Making Up Stories

There were other objects and people around, but I positioned the frame to simplify the image. Unconsciously our eyes are drawn from the close-up objects to those far away, and in that split-second traverse, each observer (you) creates a story. I refer to “story” a lot in my images, but what I mean is the musings of an observer (you). When you muse, you automatically make up a story. That makes me the story-teller, and now I’ve connected with you. It’s pretty simple really, and it’s the idea behind stories in photographs.

favorites in the gallery

We can create stories in different ways; for me, it often involves simplifying a scene and engaging the viewer. But each person is different, and we could take a complicated scenario and do the same thing, there are no rules. My photos at the beach are simple, but I also like busy city streets with a lot of things to explore. (In fact, I’ll post one like that next week.) But I digress. When taking photos, you want to tell a story. No matter where you are, you can compose the shot in such a way that when I see it, I make up my own story.

Midday Walk

Like its name suggests, Bayfront Park in Sarasota has a good view. It’s small enough to walk around on your lunch break and still make your one o’clock.

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Midday Walk
A midday walk in Sarasota’s in Bayfront Park

But if you’re like a lot of people here, the days of the one o’clock meetings are long gone. You are in retirement with time to go fishing, walk in the park, or whatever in heck it is that you do.

more from Sarasota

I took this two years ago and just now got around to processing it. I have a lot of little shots like this that sit on the hard drive waiting their turn. If I go out today and take some pictures, chances you’ll see it by 2020. But if some of them are really good, next Tuesday after my one o’clock.

Sarasota Skyline at Night

Here is another panorama of Sarasota from Bayfront Park. Last year I posted an almost identical image that was taken during the day but have been waiting to do it again at night. Back then that big building (third from the left) was still under construction and it wasn’t lit up. So, now that it’s complete I wanted to shoot it again since the scene seems more complete to me.

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Sarasota Skyline at Night
Sarasota Skyline at night taken from Bayfront Park

To take this I mounted my camera vertically on a tripod and took ten shots from left to right. With the resolution of the Sony camera, it will be about seven feet across when printed!

Here are some links to other panoramas I’ve taken in and around Sarasota…

Same perspective from the day
From City Island Day
From City Island Night
A different perspective from Bayfront Park

And here are links to other panoramas from all over

Under a Rising Moon

This is an area not far from home where sailboats moor along the intercostal waterway. Whenever I come here I wonder what it must be like to spend the night on a small boat like this. This is a composite image that represents what I imagine the scene is like under a rising moon. It’s not real, but then, what is these days.

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Under a Rising Moon
A composite image I created as an experiment

Speaking of which, I put on a VR headset the other day and the room I was in disappeared. I was immersed in a different reality that was visceral and compelling. We are on the threshold of an age when reality will become a matter of choice rather than circumstance. And all of this without drugs; unless you consider technology the new opioid. I don’t really know.

more of my favorites

Nevertheless, I concocted this scene of a nightscape near my home. In my imagination, this is a VR world that I would choose to visit. Maybe one day I’ll know what it’s like to spend the night on a small boat as it gently rocks under a full moon. And then I’ll dream of yet another place I want to be.