Highway 240

Highway 240 loops through the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. I took this photo near the entrance to the park. The geological formations of The Badlands are amazing to look at, but in this frame, I was looking at the winding road ahead. The entire thirty-mile loop is scenic winding roads with turnouts every half mile or so.

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Highway 240
The road that loops through Badlands National Park

If I had a motorcycle, this is where I’d ride. The road has everything, curves, hills, and of course scenery. When I came through here, it was a couple of weeks before Sturgis, and already groups of bikers were riding in that direction. I met one biker from Montreal when I took this photo. We chatted for a while because we were both into photography.

more photos with grass

In these grassy plains are hundreds, if not thousands, of prairie dogs. We’d stop along the side of the road and watch their antics; it was a regular circus. We continued down the road, eventually arriving in Rapid City. That night we had a massive thunderstorm, like those we get in Florida. It made me think about the constant erosion of this landscape as well as all those groundhogs hiding in their burrows.

Tall Grasses in the Field

One morning I simply crossed the street to take pictures of weeds in a field. It’s not earth-shattering stuff, rather an experiment in perspective. The idea is to focus on something we take for granted and by doing so, elevate it. Not that our human eyes are the only ones, which I suppose is the whole point.

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Tall Grasses in the Field
A different perspective of the sunrise

At times I’m obsessed with seeing things through different angles, it’s the result of having developed photographer eyes. I use my mind’s eye to see things from other perspectives and then I try to capture it with a camera.

more landscape photography

The perspective of tall grasses in a field at sunrise is just that, a perspective. As a subject of a photograph it does not register high our list. Despite all that I find the image with the rising sun somehow compelling and, a reminder that there is much we see and overlook every day.

Lonely Holmes Beach

Last night I made it to the beach for sunset and to take a few photos. Lately it’s been a little cold here which keeps people away from the beach. Now by cold, I don’t mean cold-cold, like you guys get up north. No, I mean cold for us, like maybe I should wear a sweatshirt, …or maybe not.

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Lonely Holmes Beach
Holmes Beach om Anna Maria Island

I’m being facetious of course, I’m perfect aware of the fact that I don’t know what cold is. Nevertheless, my kinda cold keeps the locals away from the beach so that I can get these empty beach shots. In summer it’s a whole different ballgame.

This is Holmes Beach, which is between Manatee Beach and Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island. You can drive for miles either way and it’s just one little beach town after the next. That’s why so many people come down in in winter; to get away from the cold-cold and enjoy a little beach weather, even if I do think it’s cold.

Daylight Savings

Here is another sunset from Lido Beach in Sarasota. I took this a few months ago around eight o’clock but now that it’s almost winter the sun goes down three hours earlier. If you ask me that’s a big change to adjust to. Part of it is due to the seasons but it’s also due to daylight savings that we have here in the US.

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Daylight Savings
Daylight Savings at Florida’s Ledo Beach

Why do we change our clocks twice a year? As far as I can tell it’s based on an outdated notion of efficiency. In this era of automation I think that daylight savings may have outlived its usefulness. One thing it succeeds at is confusing our bodies twice a year. Wouldn’t it be more natural to just stay in one time zone? Other countries do it without problems.

more sunset photos

If the sun set a little latter then we could enjoy longer afternoons. In Florida it would make a difference for folks who come down in winter to go to the beach. Anyway, I’m not the only one thinking about this, the idea is picking up traction. Maybe we can do away with daylight savings soon. Something tells me this might be one thing we can all agree on.

Central Park South

My last night in Manhattan I spent exploring Central Park and taking a lot of photos. The park is well lit with street lamps along the paths and people milling about just as they do during the day. This is in a section known as Central Park South, which is bordered by the towers of midtown to form a surreal backdrop.

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Central Park South
Central Park South at night

This is thirty-second exposure and it appears a little brighter than it actually was. As a result I didn’t notice the people to the right until about halfway through the exposure. I think they had the perfect setting for an evening picnic.

I rented a bike so I could cover more ground and even at midnight on a Sunday there were people riding bikes alongside me. Maybe I’m naïve but the park seemed safe. Historically the park has had a bad reputation after dark, but it seems to have shed some of that that over the years. There are lights everywhere and paths filled with people enjoying the setting, not to mention an abundance of security.

more New York City photos

If the park didn’t close at one in the morning I could have stayed all night. There are endless compositions for photography. But alas I had a plane to catch in the morning so it was just as well. But now I know that the next time I come back I can plan on getting very little sleep, at least at night.

Bayfront Park on Longboat Key

Here is a shot of my wife Crystal and our dog Wiggles at Bayfront Park on Longboat Key. The few times I’ve been here it’s usually empty. It’s a nice place to visit if you’re looking for that kind of thing. We stopped in on the way to dinner at St Armands, Circle; a little village just south of here. A few minutes later when we got to St Armands, the sun was setting so I quickly double-parked and ran out on to the beach to grab a few shots. That’s the problem with sunsets, they always occur around dinnertime. It helps to have a patient family.

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Bayfront Park on Longboat Key
Bayfront Park on Longboat Key

Back here at the park we were watching a manatee just off one of the piers. He was just resting in the water, blowing bubbles and coming up for air every few minutes. Manatees and dolphin sightings are common in this area. They’re fun to watch but I’ve not had a lot of success in capturing them in images.

more images from Longboat Key

I took a lot of pictures in the few minutes we were here, including some from the drone. We were just heading back to the car when I noticed the long shadows. This is an example of just trying to be aware of scenes as they unfold and going with the flow. I had other shots in mind but this ended up being my favorite. It was completely unplanned yet somehow wins the day. That’s pretty much how every outing goes, I may get several shots I like, but usually there is just one that stands out, and this is that one for me.

Rooftop Bar at the Zamora

Another hot tip if you’re looking for cool place to hang out in St Pete’s beach Florida, try the rooftop bar at Hotel Zamora. If I’m not mistaken it’s fairly new because when I look it up on Google Maps it looks like a bare roof. But rest assured its been transformed into a swank pad with a great view of the Gulf.

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Rooftop Bar at the Zamora
Rooftop Bar at the Zamora in St Pete’s Beach Florida

I have a friend that’s getting married here shortly so I’m looking forward to coming back to hang out and taking some great photos.

It’s the kind of place I would go to if I were on vacation, only I live here so I need another excuse. The best excuse I can come up with is the day of the week called Saturday. Short of that I might even consider a staycation.

Along the back is Castile Restaurant overlooking the inter-coastal waterway. My wife and I stopped in for dinner, almost as an afterthought. We were surprised at the quality of food, presentation and service. It’s a hidden gem that we’ve just discovered.

florida gallery

Just down the street is the better-known Don Cesar hotel; it’s the pink building in the background. That’s a much bigger place with all the amenities of a large resort. But the photographer in me will choose a place with a rooftop bar over the better-known location any day. So for me, the Zamora is on the shortlist in the very near future.

Exercise in Downtime

Last Sunday we went for a walk at this park in St Petersburg. Then after that we went to a nearby outdoor café and met some friends for dinner. The whole afternoon and evening was an exercise in downtime.

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Exercise in Downtime
Exercise in Downtime – what you do to recharge is just as important as what you do.

I look forward to the downtime of the weekend. That’s when I get recharged for the week ahead. But truth be told I’m not that good at it; doing nothing that is. But doing nothing is just as necessary as breathing in. I think of what I do most of the week as an out breath, a hundred little acts of creation. So whether I’m good at disengaging or not, it’s still necessary.

I’ve even started to practice doing nothing. That sounds like a joke but its not. In the morning I just sit still for ten minutes. It’s a way of training myself to disengage. The idea is to be comfortable with it and carry that into other parts of the day or week. I’m so used to doing things that something as simple as sitting without a cellphone or book is a challenge. But I’m getting better at it even though I have a ways to go.

minimalism in the gallery

I’ve challenged myself to do things my whole life, but it never occurred to me that downtime was so important. Now that I know that, I can practice it. The whole thing sounds completely backwards. I just have to do nothing about it. Okay, that one was a joke.

Mount Alfred from Kinloch

This is a view of Mount Alfred from up the side of another mountain in Kinloch, Otago. The type of wide angle lens I’m using makes Mount Alfred appear far off and small, but in reality it is quite a bit larger. I got here by helicopter and was just one of a dozen spots chosen by our pilot from Over The Top – The Helicopter Company in Queenstown, New Zealand.

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Mount Alfred from Kinloch
Mount Alfred from Kinloch in New Zealand

It’s been a while since I looked at my New Zealand photos. However I’ve recently been playing with a new tool for processing images called AuroraHDR 2017. That prompted me to go back and get some older photos and see what I could do. I’m pleasantly surprised with the results. In this case I processed one RAW image rather than three combined. It works well either way and normally I’ll combine two or three for a true HDR image.

new zealand photos

On this excursion we started off around seven in the morning and the temperature was downright cold, it was below freezing. On top of that we flew above the mountains with the doors off. The combination of layers and adrenalin kept me warm until the sun rose. Within a few hours we were on this mountain side and the weather had warmed up considerably, most of the heavy layers were peeled off, yet the adrenaline was still flowing due to the amazing vistas and sights.

Processing an old image with new software is a good way to go back in time and reminisce an awesome day.

The Number Three

The Number Three
The number three represents a lot of things, but in this case it was just me, my camera and my dog.                              Obtain a fine art print

I’ve heard it said that three is a magic number. Well, it’s certainly the name of a tune sung by Blind Melon, but I’m not sure how magic that is. If you’re a little lost don’t feel bad, I had to look that last part up on Wikipedia. Even without looking something up I can reasonably say that three represents a lot of things. The periods in a hockey game, dimensions of space, and of course, the number of legs on a stool. Deeper words have rarely been written.

More images from Fort Desoto State Park

This is the kind of scenery you can find at Fort Desoto State Park in St Petersburg Florida. Its also an example of how I’ve developed a tendency to see scenes in letterbox vignettes, one at a time, all around me. In fact there were things to the right and left, but I imagined this one little vignette in my mind and so framed the shot. Sometimes I might need more and use a wide angle, but for this 50mm was enough to capture the image I wanted. Having a zoom lens really helps in this department.

This is also another view of the seawall that I posted a few days ago. It’s a thirty minute drive north of me and one reason I like to come here is that I can bring my dog. Much of the shoreline in central Florida is off limits to dogs but this being a state park its pet friendly. There is a dog beach and places like this where you can walk with your best friend. So here I am; me, my bud and my camera, just the three of us. Magic.