Beach Dunes

This picture is another in a series of dunes on Anna Maria Island. This might not be the most exciting thing you see today.

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Beach Dunes
The dunes at the beach on Anna Maria Island

A lot of effort goes into protecting these dunes and the natural flora that grows here. There are signs every thirty feet or so warning people to use the bridges to cross over to the beach. Even so, I’ve seen a few idiots disregard the signs and walk over the plants. I guess not everyone has a brain.

more like this from the gallery

Anyway, I love taking photos of these because they are an additional dimension to the landscape of the beach. And for the most part, they are the only place that the plants have a place to grow freely. Unlike dunes in the Sahara, these don’t blow away or change their shape. We have the untrampled plants to thank for that.

Footprint

I would post this photo along with some original words. But it seemed a little too cliché.

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Footprint
A footprint in the sand on Anna Maria Island, Florida

When I look at a simple thing, my mind wanders. That’s a life long habit I’ve acquired. It’s too easy to get distracted with the first thought that comes to mind. Maybe it sounds silly, but it’s a measure of how life is when we cannot focus on something uncomplicated.

visit the beach gallery

When we were children, before our brains developed, we could be easily delighted. Some scientist suspect that the ability to be fascinated with simple things diminishes with the development of the default mode network in the brain. Whether that’s the case or not, it does make me wonder what our developed brains cause us to overlook.

Returning Home

Hang out at Longboat Pass in the evening, and you’ll see a stream of boats returning to dock just after sunset. It keeps the drawbridge operator quite busy.

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Returning Home
Sometimes the best light is after sunset

This is a shot using a Playpod at the water’s edge. In this age of drones, it’s nice to have a tool that helps create a somewhat unique low-down perspective. Not that I have anything against drones, they are fun and provide excellent viewpoints. But angles like this are just as rewarding.

more minimalism from the gallery

I’ve not been to the beach for sunset in a while, so I almost forgot how to photograph the whole golden hour; I nearly left too early. I was heading to the car and noticed another photographer just getting out. That reminded me that sometimes the best light occurs after the sun goes down. So I headed back to the shoreline and took this along with a few others. Then, after squeezing the last ounce of light from the sky, it was finally time to head home.

The Real Thing

I used to have a thing about benches. Now its beach chairs and umbrellas. At least I’m progressing.

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The Real Thing
An afternoon on Bradenton Beach Florida

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.

see the beach gallery

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.

Village Across the Water

This is the back side of Bradenton Beach, the front side is, uh, a beach.

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The village of Bradenton Beach as seen from across the inter-coastal waterway.
The village of Bradenton Beach as seen from across the inter-coastal waterway. 

The little beach town is surrounded by water because it sits on Anna Maria Island. The back side faces the intercoastal waterway and is the place where all the boats dock. It’s also where you’ll find a lot of fun things to explore, like restaurants, galleries, and fishing piers; not to mention other little villages like Cortez.

more from Anna Maria Island in the gallery

I shot this picture at water level using a Platypod on a remarkably calm night; usually, there’s a little chop. This is also a prolonged, thirteen-second exposure, so it makes the water appear even smoother. Then I stretched the lights a little downwards to accentuate them. But at the end of the day, if you squint your eyes a little, this is exactly what you would see on most evenings along the inter-coastal waterway. But if that doesn’t float your boat, there is always the beach on the other side.

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.

Friday Evening

I know I shouldn’t spend time wishing I was somewhere else. However, I do. Except when I’m here, then I don’t.

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Friday Evening
The scene from Bradenton Beach

When I have a vacation coming up, I wish I was there already; but if I were, it would be over sooner, and I’d be back to the real world when I should be on vacation. The only other option is to make life one big vacation. Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

sunset gallery

If life was just one big vacation, would I want to go to work? I think I know the answer to that. Sometimes I have too many thoughts for my own good. The best cure for that is a beach-view of the sunset on Friday. There’s plenty of time for the other stuff on Monday.

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.