Back to Normal

After the long red tide, it’s nice to see the beaches back to normal. The fish have returned, and fishers are back at it.

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Back to Normal
A fisherman along the gulf coast of Florida

A lot of research has gone into determining the causes of the toxic algae bloom. Historically, this has occurred for decades if not centuries. It’s possible that man is aggravating it, and it’s likely there are other causes, such as colonies of it endemic to the deep in the gulf.

more from the gulf coast in the gallery

Nevertheless, it wreaks havoc on coastal communities in Florida. It’s gone for now, and we hope it stays away. But after the last eighteen months, everyone is a little on edge. Most importantly, it gives us a new appreciation for the years when we don’t have it.

Sailors Delight

The saying goes “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning”. And as it turns out, it’s mostly right.

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Sailors Delight
The view from Fort deSoto Fishing Pier

Having said that, because Florida is a big peninsula, the weather can be unpredictable, especially in the warmer months. Tropical storms boil up from either direction in little time and dissipate just as fast. But for the most part, the old sayings are still relevant.

see the sunset gallery

This photo points out over the Gulf of Mexico, so if I launched a sailboat directly west, I’d end up near Corpus Christi. But even though the skies say it’s okay, it’s not something I’m likely to do. I’m no sailor, and I prefer to stay away from the open seas in a small boat. I’m a cruise ship kind of person and a rough day of sailing means having to wait in line at the seafood buffet.

Rocks, Pier, Water and Sky

This is a near reproduction of an image I did a few years ago. The angle is different, but the story is the same; rocks, pier, water and sky.

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Rocks, Pier, Water and Sky
A dramatic sunset from Fort DeSoto Pier in St Petersburg, Florida

I’ve changed the way I take and process photos so this is perhaps the upgraded version. Everything else in life gets updated, why not pictures? I must have deleted the first one because I can’t find it. But it’s not just my imagination because I printed it and sold a few copies. But now, I prefer this version.

more from the sunset gallery

As time goes on, I see many more things in a photo, some good, some so-so. Much of my earlier work I would like to redo, a 2.0 gallery if you will. And eventually, I will because I keep going to the same places. And if I think about it, I’ll probably never stop doing that. Just going back to the same areas, and taking upgraded photos until we get to version X. At least that’s the theory.

Due West

Fort DeSoto Park is a nice place to go for sunsets here in the Tampa Bay region. This scene is typical of what it looks like in the evening and, is why I keep coming back to take photos.

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Due West
A typical evening scene at the Fort DeSoto fishing pier

If you followed the path of the sun due west for about eight hundred miles, you end up near Corpus Christi Texas. To do that though you should be in something larger than a rowboat. Speaking of which, I took a cruise out of here once, and when we passed this pier in our big ship, it looked so small that I almost didn’t recognize it.

panorama gallery

In case you’re interested, I set the aperture on the lens to f22 for this shot. That’s a little extreme, and it does some interesting things. First, everything is in focus, from the railing to the end of the pier. Second, it adds contrast to the sky so that we can see the sun rays pointing upward. There are pros and cons to using such a high f-stop, mostly cons; but sometimes it can work out. I think this is one of those times.

Last Call at the Pier

I love the pier at Fort Desoto Park in St Petersburg. Not always, but often at dusk, the colors in the sky get so amazing that I go a little crazy with my camera. But the sun eventually sets, and I head home after an hour like a drunken patron after the last call. I wish it would last longer, but I’m glad its over. I know I have to leave so I can get up and go to work the next morning.

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Last Call at the Pier
As the light fades at Fort DeSoto Park Pier

One of the places I want to go (big time) is Iceland. But in the back of my mind, I wonder how I would survive. I see myself getting in a photographic frenzy, taking photos of waterfalls and landscapes to the point that I drop dead from exhaustion. But then, I can think of far worse ways to die.

more images with waves

But back to the beach here in Florida. When the conditions are like this, I go into hyperdrive. My mind is simultaneously racing and remaining calm. If I get too excited I’ll make mistakes or worse, drop my camera. It’s important to keep moving, but not frantically. And I don’t even know what the next image will be. I walk on when I finish one and look for another. Imagine if I did that all day in Iceland. I would inevitably end up lost or dead or at the bar until the last call.

Epic Saturday Sunset

On Saturday evening I visited the pier at Fort Desoto Park. I don’t know why I waited so long to return here; it’s one of my favorite places. I was lucky because as you can see, the sunset was epic.

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Epic Saturday Sunset
Frome the fishing pier at Fort Desoto Park in St Petersburg, Florida

From the moment I got out of my car, I was busy taking pictures. I go camera-crazy whenever I’m in an idyllic setting. I dare say we all do; when I looked around nearly everyone was holding a camera of some type (be it phone or DSLR) taking pictures.

beach gallery

To make this final image I combined three exposures into Aurora HDR, made a few adjustments and then used Luminar 2018 to make a few more. I never repeat the same process twice. I do everything by feel, and I don’t write anything down. It’s a form of improvisation, similar to what a musician might do. It’s no wonder, so many photographers are also musicians, the creative process has certain similarities. Which got me thinking, I wonder what this scene would sound like if translated into music?

Skimmers on the Beach

There is a colony of skimmers on the beach not far from my home on Anna Maria Island. They have a patch of sand that they come back to each year to hatch and nurse their young. It’s normally taped off so we don’t interfere with the hatchlings. Anything that hatches and nests in the sand is quite vulnerable. The adults take turns guarding the nest. In fact the whole colony, whether they have chicks or not, pitch in on security detail. It takes a village to raise a skimmer.

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Skimmers on the Beach
Skimmers on the Beach in St Petersburg Florida

This is taken at a different location in St Petersburg. Lowering the camera close to the water helps see from the perspective of the wildlife. The small flock of skimmers was picking at the sand while some children swam behind them. With me in front I was surprised they stayed in place for as long as they did. Like so many birds in Florida they’ve grown accustomed to us.

Now is the time of year we also find turtle nests in the sand. Isn’t it odd that the turtle just lays the eggs and then takes off? It’s so unlike other creatures that stick around and nurse their young. After hatching the baby turtles make a dash to the water to avoid being eaten, and then try to avoid the same fate in the water. I don’t blame the mom for not wanting to stick around; the odds seem so slim.

other images taken at dusk

But the good news is the turtles are back on the rise after years of decline. Thanks to the watchful eyes of countless volunteers using GPS and meticulous notes to identify and monitor the nests.

Just taking a walk along the beach you would never know the amount of drama taking place in the very sand beneath your toes.

Seawall and Fishing Pier at Fort Desoto Park

This is the seawall and fishing pier at Fort Desoto Park in St Petersburg. We drove up here the other day to walk and watch the sunset. When we arrived we’d just missed a couple of large cruise ships passing out of Tampa Bay; all the ships pass this point.

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Seawall and Fishing Pier at Fort Desoto Park
Seawall and Fishing Pier at Fort Desoto Park

The cruise ships that leave out of Tampa are typically sailing to Mexico, the western Caribbean and now Cuba. Just a few weeks ago the first US based cruise ships departed for a port of call in Cuba. That was big news around here.

It takes about an hour of driving to get here from my home on the other side of the bay. I was talking to a neighbor who has a boat and he comes here in the afternoons to fish. I was surprised to find that out but I think it might actually be shorter to get here by boat.

This is a good place to fish and last year I saw a guy over by the pier catch a six-foot Tarpon. But you have to be careful because once hooked, the sharks like to come by to steal the catch. I’ve heard that Dolphins can do that as well. All’s fair in love and war, and I suppose for serious fishermen it’s a real war out there.

more monochrome images

I don’t have to worry about any of that because I get my fish from a menu. I am not in any way shape or form a fisherman. Sure, I’m probably missing out on a lot of fun, but I’ll stick to taking photos for the time being.

Interesting in Some Way

Sometimes I’ll take a photo and then look at it a year later only to find it interesting in some way. Case in point, I was looking through my viewfinder when this boy ran across the field of vision with a bird looking down at him. It’s easy to get these kinds of quick vignettes when you are prepared. By just being somewhere where things happen you will see unexpected scenes and events. This is not an unusual scene yet it reaches a certain threshold of interest. The setting, people, bird and pier all combine into a story somehow.

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Interesting in Some Way
Boy on a pier in Florida

In truth there were a lot of people here, but by narrowing the view the lens the scene is simplified. Simplified scenes leave more room for imagination. That’s not so say that scenes filled with a lot of details are’t interesting as well, there is a place for everything. For instance big cities scenes often contain a wealth of detail.

A painter makes these choices and so do I as a photographer. Choices like simple, complex, action, atmosphere are all things to consider while composing. I’ve had this image in the back burner for almost a year before I decided to explore it in my digital darkroom.

more shots with piers

My creative decisions are as fickle as the wind, and what I decide today will be forgotten tomorrow. That’s the enjoyment of what I do. I can explore a new aspect every day and never repeat myself for the rest of my life.

Doing the Same Thing

When I show up here in the morning there is usually someone else doing the same thing. I cannot imagine how many photos of this bridge exists. I am one in a long line of bridge photographers. When I got my first DSLR this is the first place I came to. I’ve been here since and I’ll be back again.

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Doing the Same Thing
Doing the Same Thing – Photography of Familiar Places

Sometimes I’ll do an outing with my camera and not get any good photos. That’s subjective and long after I may change my mind. Photography is a state of mind and what you perceive as good changes over time. It also has to do with mood. We watch movies based on our mood; drama, comedy, thriller and romance, they all appeal to different moods. So it is with photography. One day I may like one photo, the next day another.

Sometimes I’ll go back and look at a shot I did years ago and have a completely different appreciation of it. I might no longer like it. Or I might see something I like but missed.

abstract images

On this morning I met a man from Newfoundland who was also taking pictures of the bridge. It was perhaps his first and only time he would be here. In that case I hope he got some images he likes.