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.
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.
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.
One of the reasons I do seascape photography is that it reminds me of things bigger than myself. It’s easy to forget that we are part of a much larger universe.
When we are children, everything is new, and we are often in a state of awe at the world around us. Then we develop thought patterns and an ego. We get through life by constructing a story of who and what we are. But that inward-looking drive comes at a cost: we forget the awe.
When I create images with a minimal theme, the open space is a reminder to myself, and anyone else, that we are part of something beyond the daily grind. Once in a while, I like to remind my self of that.
There is a barrier of dunes that run the length of Anna Maria Island. Plants grow in the dunes and as a result, protect it from the onslaught of the sea.
It’s incredible how nature comes up with devices to protect one thing from another. The forces of nature are regularly at war, and the results of the conflict create a boundary that, in this instance, we call a beach.
Sometimes I like to get down into the trenches with the troops. In this case, I found a path through the dunes at Manatee Beach. People came to enjoy the sense of peace and tranquility. However, as summer approaches, it will invariably bring new storms that test the resolve of these little dunes. May they hold fast and secure.
I took this photo about three years ago. However, lately, there is an on-going project to re-enforce the seawall so that it doesn’t erode. Because I drive by it several times a week, I was getting tired of seeing the construction equipment. But upon reflection, and through a longer lens of history, it’s probably good that they take all the time they need to get it right.
I took this photo in Pass-A-Grille. The name is anglicized from the French: Passe Aux Grilleurs. It seems it’s always been a favorite place to grill fish.
I’ve only been here a few times in the last decade, but I’ve never grilled fish. Nevertheless, it’s just south of it’s more famous cousin, St Pete Beach. And unlike the communities just north of it, has a distinct village feel.
Anyway, I arrived just before sunset and, just like at all the other beaches in the region, people arrive to watch. In case you haven’t noticed, that’s a favorite photographic subject for me. I am attracted to the colors in the sky and, the scenes it creates of people watching the spectacle unfold. I think we like watching the sunset because, at a subconscious level, it’s a reminder of our place on Earth as it moves through the heavens; and, that we are part of something much much more significant.
Over the holidays we jumped on a last-minute cruise of the Carribean. Living in Florida, these kinds of things are easy to do, just find a cheap ticket and drive to the port.
The ship was Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, which is one of the worlds largest. We’ve sailed on a couple of her sister ships, so we already had a good feel for the layout.
I took a few photos that are of a more abstract nature than typical holiday snapshots. Here is a collection with descriptions of each.
West Palm Beach
On our first evening at sea, we sailed down the east coast of Florida from Cape Canaveral. The lights on the left are from West Palm Beach if I’m not mistaken. The first day is always a good time to look out to sea and decompress from life on land.
Here is another shot from the first night, looking to the back of the ship, as the smoke from the engine trails out. These first two shots are long exposures that were stabilized on the balcony railing.
We departed Falmouth, Jamacia in the evening after a very windy day. All day long I wondered how the captain would pull out in such conditions, but as the sun fell so did the wind, and we departed quite easily. I created this long exposure as the ship slowly moved past the dock. The jiggling of the light trails was from my unsteady hand as I held the camera (not necessarily from the Jamaican rum one may be obliged to try).
There are large hot tubs on both sides of the upper deck that protrude out from the sides of the ship on deck fifteen. I didn’t manage to try them out for myself, but that didn’t stop me from taking an architectural shot from our balcony five floors below.
One lazy pastime when leaving a port is to sit on the balcony and watch others board the ship. In Labadee Haiti, there are musicians and dancers on the dock as well. Here I’m aiming directly down at the pier as a passenger walks to the gangway.
The perfect symmetry of the bar stools caught my eye as I wandered around the decks at night. This is one of the outdoor bars that had closed for the evening.
I snapped this as we left our last port of Cozumel. Another pastime for me is to sit on the balcony and read or listen to music. No agenda, no schedule, just free time to do anything or nothing at all.
A few days ago I had a bright idea to take some photos. Somehow, I managed to leave with enough time to get here and set up the shot without rushing.
I usually procrastinate and then end up dashing out the door. But once in a while, I do it the proper way, whatever that is. I am continually going between calm and panic in my photography. Kind of like life I suppose.
Lately, when I know I’m shooting into the sun, I’ve been using my high-quality Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM lens. It’s a lot heavier than my standard travel lens, but man-o-man, the quality comes through. I notice the difference because I take and process so many photos, but most folks would never know. That’s okay because I take these landscape photos for myself. And as the saying goes, whatever makes me happy.
Now tell me, do we get amazing sunsets in Florida or what? I took this crazy panorama of my hometown of Palmetto last Friday. In fact, my drone took this photo. I sat out front with a refreshing beverage in a lawn chair and sent my robot drone up to take the picture. Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little, I had to pilot it, compose the shot, and press the shutter button, but with a little more AI, maybe it could do that too.
Typically, when I take photos, I get my gear, put it in the car, and drive somewhere. Then I get the gear out of the car, walk, compose, and click. Then, I walk some more and do it again, over and over. After all that, I end up with one or two good shots, and then I’m tired. But this time I decided to sit back in a chair and send the drone up. No driving, no packing, no walking.
This whole experience got me thinking that these drones are very close to becoming robots. Fast forward ten years and I’ll be sitting in my living room with a VR headset talking to Siri. I’ll ask her to send up the drone, fly somewhere special, look around, and take a photo as if I was there myself. I won’t leave the comfort of my home. Does that sound absurd? I wonder if the idea is not too far off the mark.
This, as they say in the business, is SOOC, or “straight out of camera” for the rest of us. I process images mostly to restore the colors, however in this case no processing was needed. This is exactly what the scene looked like.
It was early in the morning and I remember thinking how strange the red glow looked. Of course, I took a picture but so did a bunch of other folks that were out walking or jogging. So, you see? It’s not just me that notices these things.
I’m always remarking on pretty or unusual scenes when I see them, it’s part of my nature as a photographer. Now I’m seeing similar behavior in friends and family. Noticing beautiful scenes is contagious and possibly addictive. Once you start, it’s nearly impossible to stop. But, here’s some advice, it’s okay. Having good habit’s, even if they’re involuntary, is a good thing. And lord knows, we can use a few more good things these days.