This bridge is a commuter’s nightmare, but before dawn on the weekend, it can look pretty awesome.
It’s amazing how smooth the water looks in a long exposure. I could shoot these all morning if the sun didn’t rise. But, as the saying goes, the son also rises. Actually, that saying doesn’t apply, and I’m mixing metaphors, but we’re all friends here.
They say this bridge needs to be replaced. It’s over fifty years old and, as I mentioned, the traffic on it sucks. But, there is a bright side. Getting stuck on a bridge in Florida is not so bad; you just roll down the window, crank up the tunes, and enjoy the scenery.
When crossing the Atlantic, we’d see these singular clouds. They’de float by like big animals casting reflections on the water.
The clouds change the color of the water surface which plays tricks on your eyes. It looks like the sea has variations of light and dark patches. However, when you’re out in the middle of the ocean, the only thing that changes is the light hitting it. That took me two days to figure out.
There’s a lot of free time on a long crossing, enough to look up and see what shapes the clouds are making. Between sitting by the pool and sitting at the bar, I did manage to have a little extra free time. In this case, I could see an elephant sitting down with his back to me. But that’s obvious, right?
Here is a scene that I took from along the river a few years back. I’ve been going through the catalog looking for old photos, and this caught my eye.
I added a color filter and straightened the horizon; all in all, that took about 3 minutes. I’ve not done much to process this photo which stands in contrast to other images that I’ve spent hours processing; like the one yesterday. The pendulum swings both ways.
If you are into photography, I have some free advice, do what makes you happy. Whether that means processing a lot or none at all, follow your heart. I’ve spent years studying and learning from others, but that’s no substitute for my “voice” or style. If we do what makes us happy, the rest will fall into place. That’s it for the free advice. For the next one, I’ll need 25 cents.
Nearly five years ago I flew to Queenstown New Zealand to participate in a workshop with Trey Ratcliff. Due to jetlag, I woke up on the first morning at an ungodly hour. But after a couple of hours walking around the hotel, dawn began, and we had the most amazing pink sky. It was an excellent start to a week of photography.
I’ve had this in my backlog for a very long time. The biggest challenge was that the sky was so red and orange that it did not seem real. In the original RAW images, it looks like I photoshopped the colors. To make it seem a little more realistic, I’ve desaturated the glow. Usually, it’s the other way around; I might saturate or add vibrancy to give a photo a little extra pop. Not this time.
In the grand scale of things, five years is not a long time, but for me, it feels like a lifetime. It was a life-altering trip; it moved me in ways I can’t even begin to describe. I had such a fantastic time that it almost didn’t seem real. Life is rarely perfect, but that week came about as close as I’ve ever known. And it all started on the morning of this sunrise and continued building from there.
This, as they say in the business, is SOOC, or “straight out of camera” for the rest of us. I process images mostly to restore the colors, however in this case no processing was needed. This is exactly what the scene looked like.
It was early in the morning and I remember thinking how strange the red glow looked. Of course, I took a picture but so did a bunch of other folks that were out walking or jogging. So, you see? It’s not just me that notices these things.
I’m always remarking on pretty or unusual scenes when I see them, it’s part of my nature as a photographer. Now I’m seeing similar behavior in friends and family. Noticing beautiful scenes is contagious and possibly addictive. Once you start, it’s nearly impossible to stop. But, here’s some advice, it’s okay. Having good habit’s, even if they’re involuntary, is a good thing. And lord knows, we can use a few more good things these days.
This ugly crane sits in the water not far from home near the bridge. Seems it been there for EVER. The last thing I thought I’d want to do is take a picture of it.
However, symmetry from reflections occur all around us and can form the seeds of compositions using the most unlikely subjects.
I took about a dozen photos of the crane over the course of five minutes. This was the first image, but as the minutes ticked on, the breeze started, and the water began to ripple. By the last frame, the clarity of the reflection was lost.
I live near the Manatee River and lately I’ve noticed large flocks of pelicans flying by in the morning. Pelicans will move at dawn and dusk between their feeding and resting areas. Maybe they have always flown by but recently it seems like there are more than usual. Amongst the hundreds are sub-flocks of white pelicans that are distinct and easily noticeable.
On this morning I was taking photos out of the bedroom window as they flew past the house and along the river. I took too many but that always happens when I see something amazing. Their graceful flight against the dawn sky easily caught my attention.
For about ten to fifteen minutes the skies were filled, and then a few minutes later the pelicans settled down and everything returned to normal. I’m not a bird photographer, but there are many around here and it’s easy to understand why. The town of Palmetto where I live is a sanctuary for the seabirds and many of them seem to know it.
Here is a shot of the Bradenton Riverwalk on a rainy morning a couple of years ago, just as the sun is about to rise. Living where I do I prefer to have water as a feature in my environmental shots. If I go outside it’s almost unavoidable. The water creates provides a basic building block with which to build a composition.
Another thing I look for is leading lines. In this case it’s a guardrail, but it could also be more organic elements like a path or shoreline. The line leads the eyes of the viewer into the picture where our imaginations begin to find root.
Finally, quite often I prefer to have some human element. In many cases it adds a level of interest that subtly draws the attention even more. It’s not uncommon to project ourselves into the scene through the perspective of a human figure. In this approach the person can be blurred or abstracted so not to provide too many details. These things are better left to our own imaginations.
This is a spot I like to photograph. There are a lot of reasons but the main one is that the tracks form a leading line across the river. We are drawn to leading lines because they provide a sense of movement and direction. For some reason that’s important to us at an instinctual level.
Maybe the rules of photography are based on some primal desire for survival. If that’s true it’s an interesting idea and, all the more reason to break the rules once in a while. That might mean considering compositions that will not lead us back to safety.
I know I’m drawing a long bow, but writing about photos as I do forces me to think about these things. Let’s just say I do more than my fair share of introspection. In the end, I would really prefer to just get out and take pictures and worry about the intellectual stuff later. Or, not worry at all.
This is a study of light and impressions from familiar scene; it’s a public boat dock along the river. Folks sometimes dock their boats here and walk over to the nearby restaurants. In reality it’s not used all that much. More often people come here to sit and watch the water. It’s a regular stop for me when I’m out walking with my dog Mr. Wiggles.
I’ve taken a lot of pictures of this location at various times of the day and night and from different angles. So I guess you could say this is a study of how the scene changes each time. It’s also how I practice, by shooting the same subject slightly differently and then working with it in post. In this case I noticed the lights just as dawn was breaking from the east. It was a quick shot that I hadn’t preplanned.
But later I’ve spent hours working on this. As you know, images out of the camera do not always reflect the mood or scene as we remember it. Our images seem to come out flat and a little boring. So I’ve done a lot of things in an attempt to being back that feeling. I’ve enhanced the lights from the lampposts and I’ve saturated the colors to accentuate the reflections on the water.
So does it work? It’s all completely subjective; I’ve created something partially resembling what I saw yet something completely different. In the end it is what it is, a study of light and impressions from a familiar scene.