Oasis in Plain Sight

One of the things I like most about Sarasota is their public spaces. This is a good example of that, an oasis in plain sight.

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Oasis in Plain Sight
Oasis in plain sight – Bayfront Park in Sarasota

I took this in the middle of summer when we get amazing clouds. I don’t normally take pictures of city parks but this one is situated right on the inter-coastal waterway so I couldn’t resist.

Every time I drive by this park seems empty. I’m not sure if people just aren’t aware of it or what, but it’s the perfect spot. Just stop the car, walk over to the water and sit on a bench. As far as parks go this is one of the prettiest in the area.

more Sarasota photos

This is an HDR image; I took three photos with different exposures and combined them in AuroraHDR. It makes it possible the show the whole range of light when there are extreme ranges like this. It’s hard to take an image like this any other way.

Sunrise from the Fort Hammer Bridge

This is a sunrise from the Fort Hammer Bridge in the town of Parrish, Florida. The western part of the county is all beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, but the eastern part is all farmland and natural surroundings. I took this while standing on the new bridge that opened just last week.

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Sunrise from the Fort Hammer Bridge
Sunrise from the Fort Hammer Bridge in Parrish Florida

If you look carefully you can see smoke rising from a fire in the horizon. It’s brush being cleared for another development. The inland communities of Florida are growing and new home construction is continuing out where only farms existed. It makes you wonder where all the farms will be in the future.

This view is of the preserve below the bridge that is protected and, a sanctuary for wildlife and migrating birds. It’s also a place to kayak and row, the local rowing club is just behind my vantage point.

more from my county

I came here because the bridge is new and I’ve waited a long time to take this picture. Now that construction is complete I am finally able to get this eastern view from the Fort Hammer Bridge.

What I Saw in My Mind

Walking to the train one morning in Vancouver I noticed this cruise ship at dock. It arrived a few hours earlier and was preparing for another voyage to Alaska. A common site in the summer but nonetheless it looked awesome in the morning light so I took a few photos; this is what I saw in my mind. Let me explain…

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What I Saw in My Mind
What I Saw in My Mind – From Vancouver BC

I spent a lot of time on this photo to make it look like what you see here. The original photo didn’t look so pretty. It had a lot of distractions, including other boats and a parking lot in the lower right. So I manipulated it to make it look like what I thought I saw. What we perceive is usually different than what we see. In other words, we perceive what we want to see and have a tendency to screen the rest; so this image is now closer to what I thought I saw.

At the time I only noticed the boat, it stood out because it wasn’t there the day before. I also noticed the soft light of the morning sun reflecting on the side. I thought to myself that it was an awesome scene, but when I looked at the image later there were other things I didn’t remember seeing, like the parking lot for instance. Rather than get disappointed and throw it away, it became a challenge for me to see if I could replicate my initial impression.

more images from Vancouver

To my way of thinking the practice of photography is an expression of art. If I just want to record an event I snap a photo with my phone. But “photography” can be more than that. That doesn’t mean it should always be manipulated, but it should tell a story. In this case I did indeed manipulate it so that I could convey the story what I perceived in my mind on that summer morning in Vancouver.

Hotel Arts Barcelona

This is from one of the many terraces at the Hotel Arts Barcelona. We arrived here in the morning after an overnight flight from DC. In fact we were too early, so while waiting for our room I walked around to explore and take a few pictures. The hotel gets its name from the collection of public art in and around the hotel.

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Hotel Arts Barcelona
Hotel Arts Barcelona

Unlike other areas, this is in a modern section of town and the outdoor art accents the area to give it a unique feel. It’s in contrast to an area like the gothic quarter, but like any big city there are distinct districts with completely different atmospheres.

some of my favorite photos

Even though we couldn’t check-in right away the terraces and patios were nice places to decompress after a long flight. It didn’t hurt that they seemed to have an endless supply of complementary champagne while we waited.

Portable Lifeguard Stands

This is at Siesta Key where we went to see a sand sculpture exhibition. However the most iconic thing about the beach is the portable lifeguard stands. They’re painted in primary colors and spaced every hundred meters. This time I hung around the yellow one because it’s where the sand sculptures were.

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Portable Lifeguard Stands
Portable Lifeguard Stands at Siesta Key

The beach is situated so the sun set on one end. Normally in central Florida the beach faces west. I am heading up to the Florida panhandle in a few weeks and it will be a similar experience. From a compositional perspective each has its advantages. Forgive me; I’m always relating everything to photography.

This beach is consistently rated one of the best in the world. That’s on account of the white powdery sand. It’s also located next to a little village with all manner of outdoor establishments. My wife and I had dinner and wine before wandering down to the beach for sunset.

beach gallery

I’m always looking for new compositions in familiar places. Because of the number of people here there will always be something new or different, even though the scenery is the same. There is everything from memorials to drum circles taking place depending on when you happen by. I just happen to come on a day they had sand castles.

Lido Key

I don’t know what I was thinking when I showed up early one morning at Lido Key. By Florida standards it was freezing with a cold wind. I almost turned around to leave but forced myself out of the car to get a few images. I ended up liking this image enough to save it from the dust bin.

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Lido Key
Lido Key in the early morning

Normally this is a beautiful beach, a secret hideaway. Its close to an inter-coastal inlet and has trails and mangroves to explore either on foot or kayak. And being at the end of the key it’s less crowded. All that aside there was not a single soul in sight on this morning.

I took this early in December, ever since then we’ve had warm weather, so I just picked a bad day. I’ll come back and look again for a nice sunrise shot from here. Persistence is my co-conspirator.

Even though this somewhat remote, its just a few blocks away is the Ritz Carlton and St Armonds Circle. That’s the nice thing about Sarasota, it has a mix of low key and upscale. You can pick and choose what you want.

Sarasota gallery

In any case, I’m posting this image to remind myself to come back on a warmer morning and try again for that perfect sunrise shot.

Bikes, Umbrellas and Canals

If I had to sum up my impressions of Amsterdam in three words I would say bikes, umbrellas and canals. There were a lot of each. To take it a step further, operating a bike shop here is steady employment. As well, I think that selling umbrellas might also be big business.

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Bikes, Umbrellas and Canals
Bikes, Umbrellas and Canals in Amsterdam

I stood on an adjacent bridge taking photos of people as they crossed this bridge. This scene typifies the central canal district and is repeated hundreds of times from one bridge to the next.

Because I was carrying a camera I didn’t have an umbrella, otherwise it’s a good idea to have one. It got me thinking that umbrellas haven’t changed much in a hundred years, they still look and operate the same.

travel related gallery

Lo and behold, a few weeks later I started seeing ads on TV about new type of inverted umbrella. Without going into all the details I think it’s an amazing idea and the only thing I can’t figure out is why nobody invented / inverted it years ago. My wife was so impressed she bought four and gave them away as gifts. So here is a tip, someone needs to open up an inverted umbrella stand in Amsterdam, I think it will be license to print money.

Look Into The Future

What do you see when you look into the future? I think looking into the future is a bit of a fools errand. You think you know what will happen but it doesn’t. And it takes attention away from the present moment, the here and the now. Not that I don’t dream, set goals have a New Years resolution or two. Living in the present while not losing track of the direction of our lives is a balancing act.

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Look Into The Future
Look into the future yet remain present

This image makes me think of those kinds of things. It’s a metaphor for the uncertainty in the sea of possibilities. We sit on the precipice and look out at the year ahead. We each see something different.

This is an image I took in California as I headed home. The original image looks different, a little more concrete and realistic. But for me photography will often evoke metaphors and I am easily attracted to them. Art is metaphor, a representation of something in our psyches, collective and individual. Artists become immersed in the exploration of metaphors, representing deeper meanings on the canvas.

favorites from the gallery

When I look into the new year I see a clean canvas. I’m curious to know what the new year will bring, yet perhaps the only way to get there is to be present in the current moment.

Where the Land Ends

If you drive west in San Francisco you eventually end up where the land ends. Appropriately name Lands End is a required stop when I’m here. On Monday I had a red-eye back flight home and so that afforded me the perfect opportunity to spend a couple of hours here before heading to the airport. I am so glad I did.

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Where the Land Ends
Where the Land Ends – Lands End San Francisco

Staying in the heart of the city its easy to get disconnected from nature and the beauty that surrounds this part of California. I was feeling a little bit of that when I arrived. But as soon as I parked the hum of the city fell away and I was in a different world. Standing along the shore whales could be seen at the mouth of the bay, a common occurrence.

I almost didn’t recognize the scene because last time I was here you could walk out to the rock on the left. The tide had transformed the shore. Also I don’t remember the green covering on all the rocks, perhaps that’s seasonal. In any case, it goes to show that new things appear each time you revisit a location like this, especially when mother nature is involved.

seascape images

I took a tonne of photos and when I was done the sun had set and the sky turned dark. The city was completely washed away from my mind. Next stop the airport and the flight home.

Midnight Along the Canals

I took this while walking after midnight along the canals of Amsterdam. There aren’t many places in the world I feel safe walking late at night, but this city is one. Maybe I am naive, but it’s a good sign when you see all manner of people out walking at the same late hour, as though it was a perfectly normal thing to do. As I write this I am returning from a major American city where I spent a few days. To be honest I would not walk alone at night in that city. But Amsterdam is different in many ways.

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Midnight on the Canals
Midnight Along the Canals of Amsterdam

I was discussing this with a friend recently and we were trying to put our finger on the essence of European cities like this. His take was, and this is a generalization, that Europeans tend to be more mature about things. I’m not sure about that but I’m willing to consider it.

Generalization break down as soon as you look at individuals, but at a macro level you notice differences. Maybe it also has to do with countries that are smaller and have a greater sense of altruism on a national level.

urban exploration

Smarter people than me will have a better explanation, but it’s something I think about. And more than that it’s something I’m grateful for as I visit and am able to walk around at night and take pictures.