I’m standing on the western tip of a peninsula called Emerson Point. It’s where I come to get away from it all, a little sliver of solitude.
That’s not me standing by the water, so apparently, it’s not complete solitude. There were about a dozen people here, and typically I’m not the only one with a camera. But having people around ensures I can place one in the frame to tell a story. In this case, the story is about a solitary figure watching the sunset.
Usually, when I frame a person in a shot like this, I try to ensure they are nondescript. In the movie industry, it’s known as atmosphere. I used to work in the back office of a movie studio, and an atmosphere person was paid twenty-five dollars a day. That’s not bad for just standing around; but in this case, I didn’t spend a cent.
Last week I posted a picture of a bench in British Columbia. This one is a good deal closer to home. It’s the bench at Emerson Point in Palmetto Florida. It sits at the very end of a peninsula facing west across the Gulf of Mexico. It’s perhaps one of the best places to watch the sunset.
Typically when I arrive at this time, the bench is already taken. But it rained earlier, and so there were only a handful of people. I’ve never sat in it myself; I’m usually too busy taking pictures.
Benches make excellent subjects for photos. They draw our eyes in, then to the direction they point. At least that’s my theory. Nevertheless, this one is in an excellent location, and if you are in the area, it’s not too shabby of a spot to watch the day end.
In my mind, seagrapes are photogenic because of their shape, contrasting colors and the way the leaf surface reflects light. They make a fascinating subject for photography.
If I get excited about little things to look at, you’ll forgive me; it’s what I do. When I find a new image like this of something simple, I’m pretty happy. All things considered, it’s a reasonably simple pleasure.
I’m fortunate to have a passion that, at its core, is based on noticing the scenery. For brief moments, it takes me away from all those other things that seem more important. The way I figure it, if you can enjoy the pure pleasure of the sight of seagrapes at sunset, it’s not such a bad thing.
I have purposely left a lot of space in this image so that it can breathe. Sometimes images tell a story and are arranged with objects here and there. In this case there is no story, just open space and room to breathe.
We are bombarded with information at every turn. We are plugged into the information superhighway and deceive ourselves if we think otherwise. Finding respite might be as simple as standing by the water’s edge and looking out at nothing for a few minutes.
This theme is one I’ve been exploring lately in images. Not that I have answers to anything, it’s just that I feel the need to slow down from time to time. But do as I say and not as I do. If I took my own advice it might actually do me some good. I’ll try to keep that in mind, gotta run.
Here is a group of people watching as a pod of dolphins pass by Emerson Point. I was too busy composing my shot and only when I got home did I realize they were watching dolphins. If you click on the photo and zoom in you can see them just offshore. These highly intelligent animals are common in Florida so sightings are not unusual.
Whenever we have visitors come to Florida we hope they get to see dolphins. It seems that if you’re looking for them they don’t show, but they’re always around when you’re not.
I barley made it here in time to take the photo. I couldn’t make up my mind whether I should go out. I procrastinated and then decided to go at the last possible moment. To make matters worse I was rushing to get to the shore and then got stuck behind a couple of slow cars. When I got here I only had about five minutes to get a few shots. As I looked for compositions I saw this group and stood behind them as they gazed westward. In the end I captured a few images that I was pleased with.
All of the apparent nonsense, from slow drivers to my own indecision were for nothing. Often when I’m rushing, things don’t work out the way I think they should. The trick with landscape photography is to go with the flow. It’s easier said than done but things work out anyway. That’s what I’ve noticed over the years and it reinforces my idea that photography is reflective of a state of mind.
This is a meditation sunset from Emerson Point in my hometown of Palmetto. It’s the kind of image you might see on the cover of a meditation book, at least that’s what comes to my mind.
Speaking of which, I’ve been trying meditation lately. Not that I know what I’m doing, just taking a few minutes to clear my mind when I can. Long story short, it’s easier said than done. And to be honest I’m not sure if this picture would help. As soon as I look at a photo I start thinking thoughts and you’re not supposed to do that. But I’m no expert so take what I say with a grain of salt. Maybe I should give it a try, it might help for all I know.
Moving along, I took this with my new Laowa 12mm wide angle lens. The fun thing about getting a new lens is I get to try it out on familiar locations and see what happens. A wide angle lens has the tendency to create a tunnel effect, meaning that everything appears to converge in a point on the horizon. It’s just a nifty effect of the lens, we don’t actually see things that way.
Anyway, let’s all take a deep breath, look at this picture and clear our minds. It might just do us a world of good. When I finally figure out how to meditate I’ll write a book and put this photo on the cover. Maybe.
This is a wide angle view of the Gulf of Mexico I took from Emerson Point in Florida. I made this with the new Laowa 12mm f/2.8 lens that was created through the help of a Kickstarter. The claim to fame on this lens is that there is no distortion. That’s something hard to do but someone figured it out and this is the result. Generally we use software to remove the distortion of a wide lens, but in this case it’s not necessary. Anyway, it’s kinda cool in a geeky kind of way and I’ll be carrying the lens with me in the next little while.
Sometimes I’ll drive to this spot if I think there’ll nice sunset. It’s one of my goto spots for sunsets since it’s so close to home. Normally there are a handful of other peopler her with cameras looking to snap some nice pics.
I don’t mind repeating myself because mother nature never does. So no matter how many times I come to the same spot, it will always be different.
After the sun sets the park ranger usually comes along to shoo everyone out of the park. It closes right after sunset and if you linger too long they will let you know. I used to get annoyed by that but I have since come to realize that the park is the domain of the wildlife. As soon as it gets dark the road fills with all manner of creatures coming out for the evening. So it makes sense that we should give them their space not to mention it can be dangerous if cars are on the roads at the same time.
I could post pictures of herons every day of the week, but then I’d have to rename the blog, Another Day Another Heron. This is such a common sight here in central Florida that I almost take it for granted; almost, but not quite. I used to live in Ontario Canada and I would travel into the back country. Up there the heron sightings were rare and it was a big deal when you saw one. Not so much here, they basically own the place. You see them along any stretch of water all up and down the coast. And they are territorial so you typically see them alone. I’ve noticed that other seabirds tend to give herons a wide berth.
The few I saw in Ontario were shy of humans, basically they would move away if you got within a hundred meters. Again, not so here, it seems they’ve grown accustom to us humans. They’ll even take an interested in us if we happen to be fishing. If you have bait or scraps they come right up to you. For me it’s quite an experience. It reminds me of feeding Flamingos in a petting zoo, they are even more amazing up close.
Herons fish in the shallow waters snatching fish with their pointy beaks. If you watch them for any length of time you’ll note they are extremely patient. They’ll remain perfectly still while a fish swims up and then they’ll strike like lightning. The prey never even saw it coming. It reminds me of martial arts, quick, precise, lethal.
I have this place I go to take pictures but I go there so often that in the back of my head I think I’m repeating myself. But with the sky on fire like this, how could I possibly repeat anything? I could come here every day of the year and the images would be different; which is not so much my doing as that of mother nature herself. The display of clouds changes completely from one day to the next.
As a photographer who is interested in art I think about these things a lot. I think about scenes and what they mean. I try to extract a little perspective. It’s an exercise in self discovery because to interpret something as abstract as an image of clouds requires imagination, vocabulary and some self awareness. And therein lies the heart of the matter.
Self awareness is about as ephemeral an idea as they come. But I find just a little bit goes a long way. That’s because the ideas and thoughts about self awareness are best described in metaphors. Bingo, images make good metaphors. So if you think about it, we’re not interpreting the image, rather ourselves through the image. So, in the case the this sky, it’s really just a metaphor for something within.
I went to this point at the waters edge not sure what I’d shoot. I took a few shots of this or that but nothing really clicked (no pun intended). I was walking back to my car when I looked back to see this group of people talking at the waters edge. This ended up being the shot that I liked the most.
I suppose standing at the waters edge is a metaphor for a border between this world and the next. When we stand there we look out and contemplate. At least that’s how I interpret this scene. For all I know they could be talking about where to go for dinner. Anyway, in my photograph they are looking out in contemplation, that’s my story and i’m sticking to it.
This place is ten minutes from home and one of my favorite spots to go. Sometimes I come in the morning but mostly at dusk. There is an automated gate that closes just after sunset. I tend to linger and several times I’ve been asked to leave by the ranger. I will get permission one day to stay later so that I can get some clear shots of the night sky. But for the time being the shot will be of people in contemplation at the waters edge.