Obstructed View

There are so many mangroves along the water that quite often the view is obstructed. But maybe in some cases, it’s a good thing.

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Obstructed View
An obstructed view of the gulf through the bushes in Emerson Point, Palmetto

I was walking along a hidden shoreline at Emerson Point in the afternoon when I took this photo. I’m not sure what prompted me, but it seems the focus on the foliage is the subject of this image.

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Foreground elements are essential, especially in environmental or landscape shots. They’re a good idea anyway because they tend to be the first thing we focus on. As our eyes wander, we travel from foreground to the background. The trick in photography is to make that journey enjoyable.

Remote Beach

At the tip of Longboat Key is a beach strewn with the remnants of past storms. It creates a surreal scene, and it’s a nice place to hang out.

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Remote Beach
A remote beach at the northern tip of Longboat Key in Florida

The beach is only accessible by hike so, it becomes a bohemian camp of sorts. You feel very much away from it all here. Each time I come, there are groups of people in temporary camps with hammocks hanging from the trees. Sometimes they are playing music or singing, like gypsy gatherings in a Patrick Rothfuss novel.

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At around sunset on any given day, you’ll see photographers trek here with their clients. I’ve done that, but I also look for unique scenes like this when I come alone.

Window Shopping

I like to walk by restaurants and see what the people are eating. It’s also fun to take a picture and freeze the moment so I can decide later if I want to go back.

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Window Shopping
Another night scene from South Beach in Miami

This is another South Beach night scene. I shoot in places where there are a lot of folks out at night. People are relaxed, and it shows when you catch them unaware. But if they see you, faces change in a blink.

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We had friends over recently, and Marlise told everyone to act naturally as she snapped some photos. Of course, it had the opposite effect; we all posed and looked unnatural. I guess the tip of the day would be that if you want people to act natural, don’t announce you are taking a photo. Unless, perhaps, you are working with actors who are trained to look natural.

Steam Clock

On the east side of Vancouver is an old steam clock. In the Steampunk universe, these things are commonplace.

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Steam Clock
A night scene in the Gastown section of Vancouver

Everyone stands around and waits and, after about fifteen minutes or so it gives off steam. In the age Apple Watch, it’s fascinating to watch a relic mark the hours by vapor and gears.

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The area is known as Gastown, and it has a lot of places to hang out. You could eat at a different place each night of the year. Whenever I’m in town, I come here and shoot night scenes. It’s been a few years so I can’t wait to come back. And unlike the glass towers a few blocks away, this Gastown is in a universe all it’s own.

South Pointe

Shooting into the sun on an afternoon is not a great idea. But when it comes to experimenting, I’m full of not great ideas.

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South Pointe Afternoon
Afternoon scene at South Pointe Pier in Miami

In this image, I took about seven exposures to get a wide range of exposures. I then blended a few of them to make the final image. There are some cases, like this, where you need to think outside the box to create an image.

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I experiment quite a lot with my camera, and in a lot of cases, the experiment does not turn out well. But, more and more I’m able to imagine what the result should be in my head before I take the photos. Post processing is where the magic happens; it’s where the camera in my mind gets to work with the camera in my hand. In other words, it’s the creative process.

Reflected Lights

I’m a sucker for reflected lights on the water. But to get this glassy effect I had to get up and cross the bridge at an ungodly hour.

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Reflected Lights
Building lights reflected on the Manatee River

I make it sound harder than it was because I regularly wake up at an ungodly hour to go to the gym. So on weekends when I don’t workout, taking photos is a good alternative.

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I took this picture of condos in Palmetto from the Bradenton side of the river. I’ve been waiting for the right time to capture this scene. It needs to be somewhat dark, the building lights on, and the water still. During the day it’s a boring scene, but just before dawn, it seems to work. On this morning I got them all together so now I can check this one off the list.

Yet Another Supermoon

Is it just me or does it seem like we get a lot of Supermoons? This is a picture of the last one, which is the one before the next one.

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Yet Another Supermoon
The super-moon over the Manatee River in Bradenton, Florida

These moon photos are a bear to take. Unless you have a very long lens, like 600mm or more, the moon doesn’t look that big. Also, the composition is a little tricky because if you expose for the moon, everything else is too dark. If you expose for everything else, the moon is too light.

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In the end, I created a composite with two photos. The moon exposure is combined with the bridge exposure. Despite the challenges, it’s a lot of fun, and I’ll probably plan on doing another one. With all these supermoons coming, I’ll have plenty of chances to get it right.

Returning Home

Hang out at Longboat Pass in the evening, and you’ll see a stream of boats returning to dock just after sunset. It keeps the drawbridge operator quite busy.

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Returning Home
Sometimes the best light is after sunset

This is a shot using a Playpod at the water’s edge. In this age of drones, it’s nice to have a tool that helps create a somewhat unique low-down perspective. Not that I have anything against drones, they are fun and provide excellent viewpoints. But angles like this are just as rewarding.

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I’ve not been to the beach for sunset in a while, so I almost forgot how to photograph the whole golden hour; I nearly left too early. I was heading to the car and noticed another photographer just getting out. That reminded me that sometimes the best light occurs after the sun goes down. So I headed back to the shoreline and took this along with a few others. Then, after squeezing the last ounce of light from the sky, it was finally time to head home.

California Sunset

Whenever I leave San Francisco, I take a redeye home. That gives me time before the flight to head over to Point Lobos for a California sunset.

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California Sunset
The sun setting at Point Lobos in San Francisco, California

I’ll take luck where I can get it, and I’ve been fortunate in this area. There’s a lot of scenery around here, so it’s not that hard to get good photos. Even if it’s foggy, there’s a lot of cool stuff to see. I love taking pictures in the fog. In Florida, we only get it briefly a couple of times a year. As I write this, I’m putting San Francisco fog photos on my list.

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Speaking of lists, I’m not actually a list person. Maybe I should be, it might be useful. I do make a list when I’m told to go get groceries. That’s so I don’t screw up and forget something critical, like goat milk. But when I go to the store on my own, I don’t use a list. If I screw up then and forget something, nobody ever knows. Life is easy under the radar.

Memory Lane

Here is a photo of Trey Ratcliff and Danny Levin that I took about five years ago. Danny and I were on one of Trey’s New Zealand photo adventures.

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Memory Lane
Trey Ratcliff and Danny Levine on Lake Hayes in New Zealand

That seems like such a long time ago, but I still have a ton of photos and memories. I shot this on the original Sony A7R which was relatively new at the time. Now, I’m on the third generation of that camera, but I still own the original. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

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Actually, I processed this with the latest tools. In this case I Aurora HDR 2019 and Luminar 3. Those are also the third generations from Skylum, and I’ve been using them for three or four years now. Every time they come out with new versions I go back and find old photos like this to process. When I do that, it’s like taking a trip down memory lane.