If I had a nickel for every one of these shots on the beach at sunset, I’d be, well, …sitting by the beach at sunset. But that’s what people do here, so I take pictures of it. When in Rome (or Florida as the case may be), you do as the Romans do.
Switching topics for a moment, I have a lot of lenses for my cameras. Some are expensive lenses designed to operate under demanding conditions. While I use them in specific settings, I use an older cheaper lens for my landscape photos. I guess my point is, for my favorite type of photography, I’m happiest when using the inexpensive equipment.
The reason I mention that is to say that photography should not be about the equipment. Any fool can buy a camera and take a picture; “yours truly” is a case in point. But framing an image that creates a story, that takes imagination. That can be done with any camera including the one on your phone. Everything has its use, but I think that when you are creating images, the best piece of equipment is between your ears.
May might be the best time of year here along the gulf coast. I get the feeling I’ve said that before, perhaps I need to change up my story a little. In any case, it’s low season and just before summer kicks in. It’s warm, not too hot, the clouds are high, the evenings are late, and the sunsets are golden.
Today I’ve focused on the foreground element along the beach. It’s a blanket of needles from an overhanging branch. The texture and loopy pattern look to me like a carpet, as though the needles are organized that way. If nothing else, the image is a study in natural textures.
Everyone else was watching the sun go down, and I’m back here concentrating on the ground. That sounds a little loopy I know. But I have a million shots of the sun, and my real motive is to see how many times I can use the word loop in a blog post. Looping back to the main point, I try to look for things that are visually interesting to put in the foreground. Then, I wait for the sun to set and they seem even more pleasing to the eye. Anyway, this is another compositional idea that I use from time to time.
I cannot help that I love to take pictures at the beach. Living where I do it’s unavoidable. As problems go, it’s not a bad one to have. In this image, I’ve lingered after the sunset when the clouds were just right. This specific time is my favorite because the light is somewhat rare. The color creates a glow that beckons to something beyond.
On this evening, after the sun had set, a group of a dozen people sitting together gave a round of applause. That’s not as uncommon as you may think. It seems odd, but after you’ve seen it enough times, it’s not.
People begin walking home, and I like to capture them walking along the shoreline. While the colors and scenery are beautiful, I believe that adding people helps us project ourselves into the scene. I can easily imagine walking along the shore at dusk or just sitting there looking out to sea. And if you see me clapping, maybe you’ll understand why.
In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had some fantastic sunsets down here in Florida. I’ve been busy but managed to get to the beach on Saturday for a few shots. Not that that’s the only reason I go to the beach.
The real reason is for the air, the sound of the waves and sights. They quickly take my head out of whatever state of mind I’m in and clear the cobwebs. Telling myself I’m going for photography gets the wheels moving, being there gives me a whole lot more.
One takeaway here is that this image uses focus stacking. That’s a technique where I take one photo focused on the foreground, and another focused on items further away and then blend them. This way everything appears in focus. The results are pleasing for landscape photography where you want to see as much detail as possible. It’s also great for printing because everything is in focus.
This is my favorite type of simple scene. In my opinion, it depicts a moment of solitude, maybe even inspiration that comes from nature. Rather than write something philosophical, any meaning or interpretation are best left to you, the viewer.
I get asked a lot about what kind of photography I do. The short answer is that I do different types of photography. But a better question is what type of photography I love the most. For that my answer is simple minimalism like this. Something uncomplicated that evokes thoughts, emotions or introspection.
However, I’m using a trick by placing a person in the image. If there was no person, you would simply be an observer of a nondescript scene. But when a person is placed in it, we involuntarily project ourselves into the scene. For whatever reason, it’s in our nature to do that and we do it all the time. Advertisers have used this knowledge for decades to manipulate us. I’d like to hope and think my motive is a little more benign.
This is a typical scene at the beach just after the sun sets. People will leave and funnel back over the dunes through these rustic walkways. Sometimes I’ll position myself so that I can capture them walking to and from the beach in this manner. It’s a shame that people leave the beach so soon after the sun disappears, it’s when the best colors appear in the sky.
I took this image three years ago and just rediscovered it and processed it this week. That inspired me to go back there last night and shoot similar scenes. Of course, they came out different, but the main thing is that I went out, that can be half the battle sometimes.
It was nice to get out and Spring is a good time of year in Florida. It’s before the humidity sets in and it’s when we get some of the best sunsets. The days are getting longer and if you just linger a little after the crowds leave, you experience some of the best magic that others miss.
Weather is the one thing we can all relate to, it’s like the lowest common denominator of conversation. If you can’t think of anything to say, bring up the weather; it’s a guaranteed starter. From there you can move on to other topics, like politics or the price of gas.
Speaking of which, now is the perfect time of year here in Florida. (See how easy that was for me?) This time of year, when I see a neighbor on the street, referring to the weather we each smile and say this is why we live here. We say that knowing the extreme heat lies waiting for us in the months ahead. However, we push those thoughts away and revel in the moment.
Spring break is nearly upon us, the beaches will be filled with people that are escaping other types of weather. It’s a matter of perspective, we all have our weather burdens to bear. Having said that we can usually all agree and nod approvingly when the weather is good, right? But if not then we could switch the topic to politics. That’ll go really well.
Here is a random shot I took walking along the beach. I walk along the beach because I know I’ll get good photos just by showing up. That’s true about many things, showing up is half the battle. I find that showing up at the beach consistently yields a good return on investment.
Maybe that’s a philosophy for life, just do what you want, and you’ll get more out of it. That’s an over simplification, but it’s partly true. There’s plenty of stuff I have to do that is not fun, but as long as I mix it up with things I like to do it all works out.
It’s easy to sit here and wax philosophical about what’s good and what’s not. But getting out of the chair is the real struggle. Like these people in the picture, when you finally get to where you want to be all the effort seems worth it. That may not make the effort any easier but just knowing there is a payoff is like a light at the end of the tunnel.
A couple of nights ago I headed down to the beach and just after sunset when most of the people had left. As I was driving towards the beach most of the traffic was in the opposite direction. Parking was super easy and I had the whole place to myself.