Cocoa Beach

Here’s a shot that I took with my iPhone as we left Port Canaveral on the inaugural Atlantic crossing of Symphony of the Seas. Not bad for a two-and-a-half-year-old iPhone.

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Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach from the deck of Royal’s Symphony of the Seas

I was up on the top deck without my camera as we pulled out of port. I wished I had my Sony because there was a lot of hoopla surrounding the first U.S. docking of the world’s largest ship. But, as the old saying goes, the best camera in the world is the one you have with you. In my case, that means the iPhone 7 plus. I think it did a pretty good job.

more iPhone images from the gallery

Nevertheless, I processed it a little in Skylum’s Luminar, and this is how it turned out. I like this perpendicular perspective of the beach. It’s a minimalist landscape shot, but not too shabby. One of these days I’ll get around to upgrading my iPhone to a new model and get even better pictures.

The Swamp

This swamp is in Florida and is a good thing, meaning we don’t want to drain it; instead, we want to protect it as a national resource.

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The Swamp
An image from the Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida

The swamps, marshes, and bogs are quite beautiful. I did not expect I’d ever consider the swamp as beautiful before visiting, I was wary of what I might find. But once inside, I was struck by its vastness, rich biodiversity, and remoteness.

my favorites from the gallery

I am not a naturalist and know very little about the ecosystem of the Big Cypress National Preserve, but if you want to know more, one recommendation is to visiting Clyde Butcher’s site. Not only is he a passionate advocate for maintaining our natural habitats, but his photographic legacy is considered a national treasure.

Bayou Small Talk

Here is a scene from along the bayou nearby. A lot of wildlife lives here, in fact, I could hear a boar thrashing around not far from me.

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The bayou in Palmetto, Florida
The bayou in Palmetto, Florida

I’ve driven by here but never really noticed the vibrancy of the greenery. Maybe it was produced by the soft even light from the overcast sky. Whatever the reason, it was enough for me to pull over and captured it with my camera.

more from the landscape gallery

While I stood in front of the car taking this, a fellow walking his dog came along and asked what I was taking a picture of. He thought maybe I had seen a boar, but I told him I was just impressed by the scenery of the bayou. He seemed to ponder this for a minute and then, agreed that I was on to something. He then proceeded to tell me stories about the boars and the local trappers. I suppose that’s how you make small talk in the bayou.

Game of Chance

Lately, it seems we are on a streak of winning sunsets, so I decided to drive over here at dusk. It was a short drive and a short walk to get here, but I’m glad I did it. It was a win.

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Game of Chance
Dusk at Perico Preserve in Bradenton, Florida

It’s a game of chance when I go out for sunsets. We often get cloud banks just offshore. I think it will be good, I drive over, and then it’s a dud. It’s a gamble I’m willing to take. But lately, the odds have been good, and I’m getting a little payoff.

see the landscape gallery

This image is comprised of six different frames. I focused on the foreground, took three bracketed shots, then the same thing on the background. I combined everything in AuroraHDR and Photoshop. I did it in a way that everything appears to be in focus. Then, one last stop in Luminar for some final touches. In reality, there were a few more minor steps here and there, but that’s the gist of it.

The moral of the story is, …hmmm, there is no moral. Just a little luck.

Florida Landscape

Landscape photography is the most natural thing to do around the section of Florida I live in. And since its so easy, I should be doing a lot more of it.

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Florida Landscape
A golden glow over the pond at Neal Preserve in Bradenton, Florida

But life gets in the way. There are dozens of perfect evenings that I let slip by. No matter what I’m doing, I still look out the window to see what I’m missing. I think sailors do the same thing.

Florida gallery

I don’t get a lot of opportunities to take pictures of the mountains. I think of that as landscape photography. However, in Florida, we use clouds as stand-ins for peaks. They are usually interesting enough to fill up the top half of a frame. Throw in a sunset and Bob’s or uncle.

Hidden Garden

Isn’t it cool when you find a hidden garden in a place you never expected? This is kind of like that for me.

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Hidden Garden
The garden at Bok Tower in Lake Wales, Polk County Florida

Actually, this is the gardens below the Bok Tower in Polk County Florida. I (and countless others) have taken this exact shot, but this time I wanted to include the foreground as well. In this way, it forms a natural vignette of the pond and water lilies.

landscape gallery

To make this work I had to use a technique known as focus-stacking. One photo was focused on the closest plants while the other was on the far side of the pond. I also used a very high f-stop which maximizes the depth of field. Then it’s a matter of careful blending to get it all sharp. Little projects like this are time-consuming, but relaxing at the same time. There are worse things I could be looking at.

Green Spaces

There is something about a stand of palm trees that begs to be photographed. These are from a nature preserve surrounded by urban sprawl.

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Green Spaces
A park that provides a refuge for nature in Bradenton

I have never been forward thinking enough to be passionate about green spaces and parks. But as I get a little wiser, I’m grateful to other people that are. This park is named after the late Tom Bennett who was a local resident. Apparently, he and his family were indeed passionate about green spaces, and I have them to thank for this photo.

more greenery from the gallery

I once had a colleague in Toronto who invested in land to be used as a wild preserve. She only wanted the property to be left to nature and not developed. That was a long time ago, and since then, Toronto has gone crazy with development. As I think back, I see that she was a visionary and, I wonder if she held out. For the sake of short-sighted folks like me, I hope she did.

Lone Tree

Trees in a field are usually found in clusters. So when and I see one I might stop suddenly to take a photo, hopefully without causing an accident.

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Lone Tree
A lone tree that I found on a drive on Sunday afternoon.

In this case, I saw the tree and continued driving until I could safely make a U-turn and park along the highway. But if there are no cars nearby, I may just hit the breaks and back up along the curb. That’s a bad idea if someone is in the car, but by myself, it works.

more from the landscape gallery

Lone trees are an easy subject. There are (pardon the pun) the low hanging fruit of landscape photography. Just find an angle that frames a solitary tree in its surroundings, and you have the makings of a good photo. In this case, I also have foreground and background elements that provide a sense of placement and perspective. And to top it off, no one was harmed in the making of this photo.

Last Bit of Sun

This photo is created with the 2019 version of AuroraHDR. Skylum, the company that creates AuroraHDR, has outdone themselves this time.

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Last Bit of Sun
A scene from Neil Preserve in Bradenton, Florida

That’s good for people like me that take a lot of bracketed shots. This is a three frame HDR that I processed with both Aurora and Luminar. Luminar is the other software from Skylum that is a lot like Lightroom, only easier to use and, in my opinion, better. In truth, I use a lot of different tools including Lightroom and Photoshop; it’s all good.

check out the sunset gallery

I ran into a guy today that showed me some jaw-dropping photos of Iceland he took with his phone. The colors and detail were so amazing that I thought they were processed; no, straight-out-of-camera. That just goes to prove that the processing is not everything. Placement, composition, a sense of balance can produce better photos than all the processing in the world. All this hocus-pocus is just icing on the cake, so to speak.

Alaska Train

Here is a shot of the train we took from Seward to Anchorage a couple of years back. It was at the end of a cruise, and the only way back to the airport was a four-hour train ride through the mountains. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun.

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Alaska Train

I ended up roaming the train, back and forth through the cars like a kid in a candy shop. I would stop between the cars to take pictures of the scenery rushing by. This is how travel was meant to be.

more from Alaska

If you stayed in your seat, they would come around and take your order for food and drinks. Unlike an airplane, you have a lot of space to stretch out and enjoy the meal. But I was on my feet most of the time, quite often at the front near the engine snapping photos like this.