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.

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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.

In the Bubble

In The Time Bubble
In The Time Bubble at Château des Baux de Provence                                    Click here to purchase a fine art print

Château des Baux de Provence is a medieval structure overlooking a valley of farms and vineyards. There is a lot to take in from the scenery to the village and all it contains. This is only halfway up the hill, the fortress and ancient armaments are further up on the left.

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For whatever reason I had a lot of energy and limited time. I climbed past this and further up to the very highest tower of the castle ramparts. It was an amazing climb with some sections of the path resembling a ladder. A little winded and heated I was glad for the cool breeze at the very top. I could see for miles in all directions and took a bunch of photos. I then began the climb back down. As I entered the village about halfway down it was warm and people were walking around with ice cream cones. I almost stopped for one but continued down back to the car where my friends were patiently waiting.

There really is no such thing as time when I’m taking photos. It’s wonderful for me but maybe not so much if I’m with others. I suppose that’s true about most artistic pursuits. Time melts away and the moment is like a bubble. Fortunate for my friends the bubble popped and I showed up in just enough time for the next adventure.

Window Shot

Window Shot
A photograph of a Palmetto sunrise out the window of my car          Purchase a fine art gallery print

This is sunrise north of the Manatee River in Palmetto Florida. I’ll be driving along running an errand and see something that makes me wish I had my camera. Once in a while I have it like the day I took this out the window of my car. The area is known as North River which has a small-town atmosphere. However now we are in the peak of snowbird season which is when the population is doubled due to the number of people that come down to Florida for the winter.

More images from around my home

Even though I live in a small town it’s still an urban area. Even so I’m always looking for images and paying attention to the light. Often enough there are good conditions for photography, but when I’m on a street or in a parking lot or sitting at a stop light it loses some of its allure. A sunset next to a gas station is not my idea of landscape photography. But, maybe if I try hard enough I could find a composition there also.

For instance, this I used my telephoto lens to create a narrow field of view between two houses. Because I aimed just so you don’t see the houses or urban sprawl. I like simplistic images because it is a way for me to bring some balance to the clutter of urban spaces through art. Here I’m using my imagination to create what I’d like to see, rather than what I do see.

Another Backyard Sunrise

Another Backyard Sunrise
Another Backyard Sunrise over central Florida                                        Click here to purchase a print

This is another backyard sunrise from home. I don’t really have a backyard and this is not “my” backyard but, it’s in my hometown so figuratively speaking it’s “in” my backyard. Having said all of that, and having said that this is sunrise, you know I’m facing east. For some reason we get a lot of amazing sunrises happening in the east due to the way the clouds form in my backyard. Let me explain.

More images of Florida sunrises

The geography and weather patterns of central Florida are such that the clouds often park themselves over the land, not over the water. For instance, on this morning while we had a brilliant sunrise to the East; to the West there were no clouds, only clear blue sky. I’m not complaining, just making an observation. Well, as a photographer maybe I’m complaining just a little.

If you think about it, Florida is one big peninsula with oceans on both sides. Somehow that creates unique weather patterns which most of the time I ignore. But one of those patterns is that clouds will hang over the land and stop at the coast. So when they do that in the morning this is the result, a backyard sunrise. Actually my backyard faces the West and, ….oh good grief, there I go again.

Gardens Sunrise

Gardens Sunrise
Queenstown Gardens Sunrise in the heart of an amazing little city                                            Buy a fine art gallery print

A couple of years ago in New Zealand I was here for a Queenstown Gardens sunrise. It’s an oasis of nature in the middle of the city, except for one thing. The city is an oasis in the middle of the wilderness. If that sounded like a contradiction it is. Queenstown doesn’t need an oasis, it’s already surrounded by beauty and awesomeness on all sides. This park is just the cherry on top.

I was here on one of Trey Ratcliff’s photo adventures. This was our first day. There were about twenty of us and I really didn’t know anyone except one other guy I met on G+. So here we all were on our first morning doing our best to capture the light and such. Now fast forward to the end of the week. Now we are all best friends and feel like we’ve just been through the most amazing experiences together. Big change from beginning to end.

I’ve had this image in my backlog for almost two years. I tried a few times to process it but wasn’t pleased with the results. This time I have some new software called AuroraHDR made by MacPhun and the very same Trey Ratcliff. Now, what was once a challenge has become easy. For HDR images like this, I find it much easier to get the results I want. I guess the moral of the story is, the longer you wait, the better the software gets, the more you can do. That sounded kind of lame, but you know what I mean.

More photos from New Zealand

Standing on a Hill in New Zealand

Standing On a Hill In New Zealand
Standing on a Hill in New Zealand early one cold morning                                      Buy a fine art gallery quality print

A couple of years ago I was standing on a hill in New Zealand with twenty other photographers. It was early in the morning before dawn and everything was quiet, still and overwhelmingly beautiful. I had to pinched myself to ensure it wasn’t a dream. Well, I made that last part up, my fingers were to cold to pinch anything, but I was pretty happy nonetheless.

Its great I have this image because it helps me remember. I wonder what it wold be like if I could remember everything with vivid clarity. I think it would be a double edged sword. Truth be told I’d, only I’d only want to remember the good things, but if I had that memory I might not have a choice. Maybe that’s why we are the way we are. Our memories fade so we have a chance to move on, start new, live another day.

I’ve heard that when we die we have a life review. That we see everything we’ve done that affects other people. If that’s true, then that will be one heck of a memory machine. Or, maybe that’s how we remember when we don’t have our aging brains getting in the way. Maybe our minds are really that good, it’s an incredible idea. I think it’s true, we have hints of it throughout our lives and society.


Now if I could only learn how to tap in to my unlimited memory, I could tell you what I had for dinner last night and, I could remember my e-mail password. I had one more point to make but I seem to have forgotten what it was.

I’ve heard that when we die we have a life review. That we see everything we’ve done that affects other people. If that’s true, then that will be one heck of a memory machine. Or, maybe that’s how we remember when we don’t have our aging brains getting in the way. Maybe our minds are really that powerful, it’s an amazing idea. I think it could be true, we have hints of it throughout our lives and society.


Now if I could only learn how to tap in to my unlimited memory, I could tell you what I had for dinner last night and remember my email password. I had one more point to make but I seem to have forgotten what it was.

Country Oak

Country Oak
A Country Oak along the rural section of Manatee County Florida                            Purchase a gallery print

This is a country oak I found along the highway in the outer reaches of my county. I see these whenever I drive along the pastures east of my home. Yesterday I just had to stop and take a picture. Normally these oaks are shelter from the hot Florida sun for the cattle and so it’s not uncommon to find several in the shade. For whatever reason there were no cattle here and so the simplicity of the scene grabbed my attention.

When is warm and humid, we get these rows of clouds stretching as far as the eye can see. In this case there was another layer above that creating a spectacle in the sky. For whatever atmospheric reason, the clouds form readily at mid day over the rural areas, but as you get closer to the coast and beaches, the clouds disappear; not always but most of the time. On the west end of the county is pristine beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, the eastern end is mostly farming and ranches. The beaches and the rural sections seem to each have their own distinct climates.

After I titled this image Country Oak it occurred to me that indeed this is a common name. There are streets like Country Oak Lane; developments like Country Oak Estates; and schools like Country Oak Middle School, …the list goes on. I never really thought about it before now, but the idea of Country Oaks seem to be iconic and somewhat popular around here. And here I thought it was all about the beaches.