This is a panorama of Anna Maria Island taken with a drone the other day. To get this I took seventeen images and re-combined them in post-production. It’s not as difficult as it sounds but the results can be stunning. This is a perspective I’ve never seen; I come here all the time but like everyone else I see it from the ground.
I like to think that I’m not afraid of heights, but when I fly the drone and look at the live view on my iPhone I get a little queasy. It’s a form of virtual reality, almost as if I’m in two places at once, simultaneously on the ground and in the air. From the air I look straight down and think to myself, it’s a long way down.
Phobias aside, the island is very low-key as compared to other places in Florida, it reminds me of Hawaii. The beaches are almost always filled, yet there are no flashy or tall buildings, just relaxed places to hang out and chill. I recall that in certain parts of Hawaii the building codes don’t allow for anything taller than a palm tree, I think it’s the same idea here.
The only way you’ll ever see this view for yourself is if you take a parasailing ride up and down the beach; or, if you happen to have a drone and can virtually fly with your feet still on the ground. In either case, it’s a long way down.
I took this photo on a recent trip to the beach. It was right after a tropical storm and the waves were a little larger than normal. Mind you, they are small compared to other places but still fun to watch.
I know an emergency responder who works at the beach and there is no shortage of stories about people miscalculating the waves. Even though they look small there are rip currents just like everywhere else. Normally the waves are so small it looks like you could swim way out, but apparently that’s not a great idea.
I cannot get enough of the beach. When I visit places away from bodies of water it seems something is missing. Of course that’s not true, it’s just a perspective I’ve acquired by living so close. Yet there is something in our psyches that’s attracted to bodies of water and we feel that with images like this. For some reason we like pictures that include water. It could also just be our primal need for it.
There is something rejuvenating about oceans, lakes and rivers. Why else would we spend our money traveling to these areas for vacation? We have holidays at a cottage on a lake, go for cruises on a boat, or just hang out at the beach. I am writing this on a Friday, all of those things sound especially good to me right about now.
On Monday tropical storm Emily blew in from the Gulf and through my hometown with very little warning. It seemed to come out of nowhere and before we knew it we were in the eye. Our cell phones where blaring tornado warnings and the oak trees were waving like twigs. By the afternoon Emily moved east and I headed straight to the beach to watch the breakers.
By that time the wind died down so it was safe to fly the drone. It supposedly flies in winds of up to 20mph, but having just purchased it last week I’m a fair weather flyer.
Here is a shot over one of the piers at Bradenton Beach. That’s local surfer David Julius riding a wave on the left. David is from California so he was stoked by whatever the storm could dish up. From this angle it’s hard to tell but from ground level the breakers were awesome to look at, and surely even better to ride.
In addition I got video from the drone that I’ll post shortly. The drone is a DJI Mavic Pro and having survived my first week I’m starting to get my sea legs. That’s an oxymoronic thing to say about flying, but that’s what you get when you read my posts. It’s a little like Emily; it just comes out of nowhere.
The sun is setting and I’m at the beach. I have exactly three minutes left to find one more composition. Those are some of the thoughts going through my mind at moments like this, it’s like a game and it can be a lot of frantic fun. Such was the case when I found myself behind some seagrass and a tree that created a kind of frame and just then these folks walked by. Click.
Framing an image is an important aspect of street photography. Find some interesting scene and wait for someone to walk through it. When people are in an image we tend to put ourselves into that scene whether we realize it or not. In this way artistic images have a way of pulling us out of ourselves.
My earlier landscapes almost never had people in them. Someone once pointed this out and I started to take notice. Now I’m not so concerned with finding landscapes without people, if I do great, but not required. So this resulted in a blending of my love of both street and landscape photography. Now when shooting landscapes I will often look for a frame and wait for someone to walk through it. In a long winded way this is the thinking that went into this image. It’s a crossover of sorts.
I don’t know about you but when I walk on the beach I’m not really going anywhere; just walking for walking sake. Maybe I pick a point at the turn of the coast or a pier off in the distance, but really, it’s just something to satisfy my sense of progress while the rest of my thoughts are allowed a little down time. Going nowhere in particular is good.
Sometimes I’ll take a drive for the same reason, just put a destination in the ol’ noggin and drive on autopilot. Not that I’m not aware and alert, just that I’m away from the normal routine and it allows my neurons to take different pathways for a bit. Simple enough.
I used to work in a bank building in the mid-west. It had no windows and after staring at the computer for hours. my friend Don and I would go for a walk. We weren’t going anywhere in particular, just out for change of scenery, a temporary redirection of the neural pathways. I think that many important things we conceive in our minds occur when we let our thoughts run free. There’s some truth in it. If we keep our thoughts in the same pattern for too long it can be unhealthy. So I walk to think about things and go nowhere in particular.
This was taken in the last days of the year when I went to the beach to watch the waves at sunset. The waves were the result of a storm that blew off of the gulf. As I recall the evening was warm, more so than normal.
Hard as I might try to the contrary, I take days like this for granted. The winter warmth is not as appreciated by me as much as you might think. That’s simply because I live here and I’m used to it. Even so I do take advantage of what the area around my home has to offer. For instance I enjoy walking the beach. That might sound cliche, but it’s one of the things people do here. I do it mostly for photography because I will typically see something interesting, either in front of me or in my minds eye. It’s as though those walks help to prod my artistic muse.
Prior to moving here it would never have entered my mind to go to the beach just to walk and take pictures, yet now I do it. And when I’m away I feel a longing for those walks and the sound of the waves. I guess thats some new part of my makeup, something new I’ve discovered I like. I guess we are always developing new things we like, unconsciously evolving some new aspect of ourselves.
Despite taking scenes like this for granted, I find that when I return from a trip I become subtly aware aware of the Florida climate as though it was something new. As I write this I’m traveling and have warm clothes in my suitcase as I sit in a hotel room with the heater on. It is a real possibility that when I return I’ll drive to the beach and go for a walk with my camera. Then I’ll probably say to myself how fortunate I am to live here and once again will appreciated it, …until such time as it becomes normal and I start taking it for granted again.
It always amazes me to see people leaving when I show up at the beach before sunset. To my way of thinking the best is yet to come, yet to scores of others it’s time to load up the car and leave. I guess that’s understandable especially if you have small kids or commitments. After the exodus there are two types of people left, folks like me who came for the sunset and, the rest of the beach stragglers that will not leave until they’ve seen the final act. In the end I suppose all that matters is that we all had fun and got what we came for.
A portion of the walkway at Coquina Beach. This row of change stations and containers caught my eye the other day. On the weekend everyone comes here because it is simply one of the most beautiful beaches. And since this is Florida, it pretty much stays that way all year round.
Earlier today I read that this beach was rated number five in the “Top Ten Island Beaches for Perfect Sand” by Conde Nast Traveler. I thought to myself, hey, that’s MY beach. Fortunately we had nice clouds so I headed down this evening for a shoot. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of this beach, it’s by far my favorite. No matter how many times I come here the results are always the same, I go home relaxed and feeling much better.
Last October we had a partial solar eclipse just before sunset. I showed up at Coquina Beach here in the town of Bradenton Beach and just happened to capture a formation of birds as they flew between the sun and ocean. Sunset is when the sea birds are heading to wherever they go to bed down so it’s not that unusual. In any case the sun was so bright that I doubt most people even noticed the eclipse, but with the high shutter speed I used the outline of the moon is more visible than you would see with your naked eye, not that I recommend that. I hope can catch another one, if and when it occurs again, though not likely for a very long time.