Sometimes I look for places to shoot using Google Maps. It helps me find places tucked away that I may have missed, like this at Grassy Point.
This is a short drive from my home to Anna Maria Island. I showed up before dawn on a cold and windy morning. By cold, I mean it was cold for Florida; low fifties. Nevertheless, it has a path from the parking lot through the Mangroves and ends up here on the intercoastal waterway.
The clouds were low on the horizon, so the sunrise was not as spectacular as I hoped. Nevertheless, I stayed around for a few minutes to get this shot of the water through the mangroves. It seemed like a long cold hour standing out there waiting for a shot; however that made the hot coffee afterward all the more enjoyable.
May might be the best time of year here along the gulf coast. I get the feeling I’ve said that before, perhaps I need to change up my story a little. In any case, it’s low season and just before summer kicks in. It’s warm, not too hot, the clouds are high, the evenings are late, and the sunsets are golden.
Today I’ve focused on the foreground element along the beach. It’s a blanket of needles from an overhanging branch. The texture and loopy pattern look to me like a carpet, as though the needles are organized that way. If nothing else, the image is a study in natural textures.
Everyone else was watching the sun go down, and I’m back here concentrating on the ground. That sounds a little loopy I know. But I have a million shots of the sun, and my real motive is to see how many times I can use the word loop in a blog post. Looping back to the main point, I try to look for things that are visually interesting to put in the foreground. Then, I wait for the sun to set and they seem even more pleasing to the eye. Anyway, this is another compositional idea that I use from time to time.
In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had some fantastic sunsets down here in Florida. I’ve been busy but managed to get to the beach on Saturday for a few shots. Not that that’s the only reason I go to the beach.
The real reason is for the air, the sound of the waves and sights. They quickly take my head out of whatever state of mind I’m in and clear the cobwebs. Telling myself I’m going for photography gets the wheels moving, being there gives me a whole lot more.
One takeaway here is that this image uses focus stacking. That’s a technique where I take one photo focused on the foreground, and another focused on items further away and then blend them. This way everything appears in focus. The results are pleasing for landscape photography where you want to see as much detail as possible. It’s also great for printing because everything is in focus.
This is my favorite type of simple scene. In my opinion, it depicts a moment of solitude, maybe even inspiration that comes from nature. Rather than write something philosophical, any meaning or interpretation are best left to you, the viewer.
I get asked a lot about what kind of photography I do. The short answer is that I do different types of photography. But a better question is what type of photography I love the most. For that my answer is simple minimalism like this. Something uncomplicated that evokes thoughts, emotions or introspection.
However, I’m using a trick by placing a person in the image. If there was no person, you would simply be an observer of a nondescript scene. But when a person is placed in it, we involuntarily project ourselves into the scene. For whatever reason, it’s in our nature to do that and we do it all the time. Advertisers have used this knowledge for decades to manipulate us. I’d like to hope and think my motive is a little more benign.
This is a typical scene at the beach just after the sun sets. People will leave and funnel back over the dunes through these rustic walkways. Sometimes I’ll position myself so that I can capture them walking to and from the beach in this manner. It’s a shame that people leave the beach so soon after the sun disappears, it’s when the best colors appear in the sky.
I took this image three years ago and just rediscovered it and processed it this week. That inspired me to go back there last night and shoot similar scenes. Of course, they came out different, but the main thing is that I went out, that can be half the battle sometimes.
It was nice to get out and Spring is a good time of year in Florida. It’s before the humidity sets in and it’s when we get some of the best sunsets. The days are getting longer and if you just linger a little after the crowds leave, you experience some of the best magic that others miss.
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.
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.
A couple of nights ago I headed down to the beach and just after sunset when most of the people had left. As I was driving towards the beach most of the traffic was in the opposite direction. Parking was super easy and I had the whole place to myself.
For me this brings back idyllic childhood memories at the beach. I’m grown up but I still relate to what these children are doing. I think we all do.
I am fortunate to live near a beach like this. I can just hop in the car and be here in a few minutes. When I see that the conditions are good in the evening I’ll drive over. By conditions of course I’m referring to photographic conditions. For me that means nice clouds.
I took this at the height of spring break so there were tens of thousands at the beach. Even after living here for over a dozen years it still surprises me. At sunset everyone was lined up by the waters edge taking photos. Maybe a million pictures were taken within a five mile radius of me. It was kind of funny because I suddenly became aware that everyone was doing the exact same thing. And I thought I was the only one.
Lately I’ve been working with prime lenses. This was shot with a Sony 55mm prime at F1.8. That just means I have a narrow depth of field with which to create a sense of distance. The blurring is on purpose, the out of focus areas give the image a dreamy quality, not as much realism.
There were so many people that I chose to focus away from the crowds. You would never know hundreds of people were all around me as I took this. By simplifying a scene I’m better able tell a story. The story in this case is that the children are playing and in a world all their own, oblivious to everything around them. And for them this will surely become an idyllic childhood memory.
I headed over here for a walk and do some people watching along the beach. I’m glad I did on account of the scenery and the spectacle people that where there to watch the sunset. I’ve mentioned before on the blog about how these crowds of people come to watch the sunset, but I still find it fascinating. Most of the people shown here are from out of town and just the thought of standing by the water watching a sunset is like a dream. Maybe even a dream come true.
Its fun to take random shots of crowds. I didn’t particularly know everything that was going on around me as I worked with my camera. Nevertheless I find it interesting to go back and look closer at the scene. There is no way to take it all in when there, everything changes from one minute to the next. We can see what each person is doing. An interesting study, so many lives and the only thing in common is the location.
Anyway, it was an experience to remember because the next day I was on a plane for Vancouver where its pretty much the opposite of this; cold, dark and rainy. Even so there are a lot of cool things to see in Vancouver and the change of scenery provides contrast. It also reminds me of how fortunate I am to live where I can go to the beach in the middle of winter.
I’m always amazed by the numbers of people staying late at Holmes Beach. I should be used to it, but each time it surprises me just a little. I live about twenty minutes away and I’ll come here to watch the sunset and take a few pictures. On the drive I figure the place will have emptied out. About the only time I’ve seen it empty is during a rare storm or heavy fog.
Holmes Beach is right at the end of a main thoroughfare so it’s the most convenient to get to. Once in a while I come here during the day but mostly I’m here at sunset. If I walk up to the water I can see people lining the beach for at least a mile in each direction.
A few days ago we came here during the day to take a walk and relax. At the end of it we sat in an outdoor restaurant next to the lifeguard stand. As we watched the scene I had the idea of taking a shot with the people lining the shore. When I came back a few days later that’s what I did, however this was not exactly the same shot I had in my mind, but close enough for now. I’ll just have to come back to get that other shot I was thinking about. I have such a hard job sometimes.