Hometown AI

I hope you don’t mind if I use a little AI in my sunset photos, I certainly don’t.

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Hometown AI
A sunset from my hometown of Palmetto, Florida

I did a bit of processing on this to bring up the shadows and reduce the highlights, I do that quite a lot. One thing that’s a little new, however, is that I’ve started using artificial intelligence (AI) software. The AI is in Luminar 3 from Skylum. As AI gets better, it shortens the time it takes to get good results out of a photo. These days, AI is increasingly being built into everything, including your phone and camera. Computational photography is where we’re heading.

visit the sunset gallery

What AI does is interpret scenes for us and then make choices on how to improve it. It’s not always right, but it’s getting better. Sometimes it’s no help, but more often than not it gets a bunch of stuff right. I then fill in the gaps with the vision that I had in my head, but the AI helped get me off to a good start. It’s like having an apprentice do the prep work before you begin mixing the magic brew. I suppose that as long as the sorcerer’s apprentice doesn’t get too carried away, it should be all good.

#venicefl

The problem with a place in Florida called Venice is that if you Google “Venice,” you’ll end up in Italy. Even if I search my website, I get Italy. Using the hashtag “#venicefl” helps sort that out.

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#VeniceFL
Here is an old photo I took of Venice – the one in Florida (not Italy)

That’s the thing about living in the new world, a lot of places get named after the old world. If you’re someone like me that was born here, its confusing as heck. (I never said I was bright.) It’s like when someone in Ontario Canada mentions London; or the poor souls in Paris Texas.

Venice photos from Florida and Italy

Hashtags aside, I took this with the original Sony A7R. By this time I owned it for over a year and was thoroughly happy with it. Now I’m on the third generation A7, but am going back with newer software. The updated software breaths new light into these old shots. This is processed with Aurora HDR 2019, and after looking at what it can do with these old photos, I’m going to be going back to have a second look at a few more.

Bench View

I took this about four years ago when I was in Ucluelet on Vancouver Island. It’s a part of the Wild Pacific Trail that traces the coastline. It’s a well-maintained trail with benches like this every half mile or so.

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Bench View
A bench with a view along the Wild Pacific Trail

I was here in late August (or “Fogust” as the locals say) when a thick fog would roll in most afternoons. You could see it sitting just offshore, and then at the right time it would approach and before you could say Foghorn Leghorn, you were in it. In this image, you can see it about a mile offshore.

Canada gallery

Benches or empty chairs in an image allow us to imagine sitting there in the scene. Our eyes follow the direction it points, similar to a leading line, only with a different device. When a photo makes us look in a particular direction, it has captured our imagination as we weave our own story in the scene. However, if it has thick fog, that would be something different entirely.

West Vancouver View

The walkway is in a familiar spot of downtown Vancouver that looks across the bay to West Vancouver. If you look closely, you can barely make out the snowcapped peaks rising above the city. I’ve wandered here many times for the view but this was my is my first attempt at capturing it.

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West Vancouver View
The view of West Vancouver from atop the Cactus Club Cafe

It’s part of a structure that houses the Cactus Club Café but also has a walkway on the roof made of grass. It’s next to the conversion center which also has a grass roof.

more from Vancouver

The whole place is unique, but if you live here or have visited a lot like me, this gets overlooked. Everywhere you look in this section of town is unusual architecture and public art. It’s a feast for the eyes that’s balanced by the natural scenery. Just another little vignette of Canada’s west coast city by the sea.

Ethan Surprenant

Today I’m continuing with another photo I shot last weekend at an athletic event in my home town. This is Ethan Surprenant of St Petersburg Florida who made it to the final round of the UNAA Qualifiers and placed third overall. Ethan is an explosive athlete and put on an amazing show.

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Ethan Surprenant
Ethan presses on with fellow athletes cheering him on

This shot was during the first round of the qualifiers. After maxing out his arms on a hanging traverse, there was no mercy waiting ahead. Next the salmon ladder, then rings and then an evil set of monkey bars that ascended up rather than across. Finally, the round ending in a warped wall with only four feet of runway. Ethan made it look easy as he seemingly defied the laws of both gravity and physics.

more from the UNAA Qualifiers in Palmetto FL

Camaraderie at the event was huge. As you can see here, all were watching with baited breath as judge Dan Lively (lower left) kept an eagle eye out for any disqualifying infractions. When someone managed to complete a round, the look of triumph on their face said it all. For the full video of Ethan’s epic run check out his FB link.

New Years Eve Birthday Party

The other day we had some low-key fun at a Florida ranch known as Sun City Stables. It was a birthday party for three-year old Amelia, but because it was the day before New Year’s there was no shortage of fireworks.

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New Years Eve Birthday Party
A New Years Eve birthday party at a ranch in Ruskin Florida

The next night was New Year’s Eve and we watched fireworks from all over the world on YouTube. In my opinion, Dubai edged out Hong Kong for best show and that’s saying something. London was pretty amazing also and came in a close third. All of the displays were beyond belief and must have costs millions of dollars to produce. I wonder how many hours you would have to wait and much you had to pay to get a good seat at those venues.

some of my favorites

But that was on TV, thousands of miles away in major cities around the world. On the other hand, these here where in the small town of Ruskin which is a rural community on the outskirts of Tampa. I believe the cost of the fireworks was a little over fifty dollars. I preferred this display because I got to see them in person with a front row seat. All I had to do was turn my lawn chair around from the campfire.

Village of Dobrota

This is a photo of the village of Dobrota in Montenegro that I took from a ship in the Bay of Kotor. We spent an amazing day in Kotor and were leaving when I took this. The geography of the area reminded me of fjords. There are narrow inlets surrounded by towering peaks and the view is amazing.

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Village of Dobrota
Village of Dobrota in Montenegro

In Kotor we rode in a bus up an impossible single lane road to the top of these mountains. Even though the bus drivers are some of the best in the world half the passengers were praying fervently. It’s said the bus drivers in Montenegro bring more people to religion than the priests. After twenty-nine hairpin turns, I believe that to be true.

more from europe

I also have some images looking down at the water from these peaks. Either way you look at it this is one of the most scenic areas of Europe.

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.

Keeping it Real

Keeping it Real
Keeping it real on Fort Lauderdale Beach                                        Purchase a fine art gallery print

Keeping it real can be harder than it sounds. Putting aside all the things that we think are important, a little quality time is a pretty good way to start. In the end all we really have are connections. The rest can come and go, it’s connections that define us, or so I think. But when I think of the people that have made an impression on me, it was their gift of time that made that possible.

This is another photo from Fort Lauderdale Beach. I could just stay at the beach and take photos all day long, it’s a natural place for images to just happen, especially if you know what you’re looking for. I take a lot of photos of people walking on the beach. The initial snapshot is a reminder of what I saw in my mind and the idea that I had. Only later when the time is right do I express it, sometimes artistically like this. This image conveys the idea I had in my mind. I never really know how the image will turn out, but if I work at it enough I get close. Close enough for horseshoes and hand grenades. Bad reference, scratch that.

I’m going to go back to the beach sometime this week. Who knows what I’ll see or which beach I’ll go to. The main thing is to go and then just let the rest happen; kind of like keeping it real. I think that a lot of things can happen if we just let them. I rarely know what way the wind will blow, I just keep doing my thing and somehow it all works out.