Fishing Pier 4.0

Some scenes like this I keep coming back to. But since the sky is different each time it counts as a new pic. I’m not trying to justify it, I’m just saying.

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Fishing Pier 4.0
The fishing pier at Bradenton’s Riverwalk

I’ve posted this same scene at least three times; here, here and here. I considered not posting yet another, but I like it and so why not? It makes sense to repeat a composition over time to gauge subtle difference as your technique or gear changes.

more images from the riverwalk

This is the first time I used the GM lens for this scene, and so now I can take the time to notice that. I’m doing that with a few repeat scenes, and I’m enjoying the results. I usually save the GM lenses for commercial or portrait work, but I’m starting to use them for landscapes as well. Anyway, here is the latest version of the pier in Bradenton’s Riverwalk. Stay tuned for version 5.0 in about a year.

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.

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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.

A Good Life

Pelicans are always sitting on posts waiting for fish to swim by. Who would have thought life could be so good.

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A Good Life
A Pelican sits on a post in the Manatee River in Palmetto

As soon as the sun goes down, they fly back to their nesting site and settle in. At dawn, you see them flying to places like this to catch fish. Dawn and dusk are the best times to capture pelicans in flight.

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This is from the Manatee River where there is always a lot of fish. Sometimes man and bird are hunting the same fish. When fishing you should always bring a pair of gloves and needle nose pliers. That’s so you can grab the pelican and free it from your hook. It happens all the time. So, other than the occasional brush with us, they have it pretty good on the Manatee River.

River Storms

This is looking up the Manatee River in summer. After a few minutes we got a thunderstorm for about twenty minutes, then a crazy sunset; every day like clockwork.

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River Storms
Typical summer day as a storm travels downriver.

The one-second shutter speed makes the water smooth, like the calm before the storm. I’m nervous when out in these conditions, the air is thick, and it’s only a matter of time before lightning strikes. We get more lightning than anywhere on earth because of the geography. My heightened state of nerves battles it out with my need to get a good picture.

more from the Manatee River

The thunder clouds always come down the river, from east to west. Often, if we’re at an outdoor restaurant along the water, we can watch the clouds heading towards us. The river is about a mile wide, so it has its own micro-climate. After the storm passes, we brush the water off the table and, enjoy the rest of the meal, just like clockwork.

Walk the Walk

Sometimes you need to walk the walk. If you do, it may as well be by the river in the evening when I’m taking photos. That way if you happen to step in front of my camera, it might make for a good picture.

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Walk the Walk
Someone walks along the river in Bradenton Florida

Every day I try to come up with a few sentences about a photo that I’m publishing. Maybe it’s not necessary, but I do it anyway to add to the story. I never know what I’ll write, but something usually comes to mind, like a memory of the moment when I snapped the shutter.

more from the Manatee River

But sometimes I draw a big fat blank and can’t think of a thing to say. At those times I resort to a little creative writing. Yes, you are correct, this is one of those times. Today, I can’t think of a thing I want to say about this photo. It’s just some guy along the river that walked in front of my camera.

Regatta Pointe Marina

I took this image from the dock at Regatta Pointe Marina in my hometown of Palmetto. The marina is a few miles up from the gulf on the Manatee River. It has a restaurant that does good business on account of the views. I’m not a boater or sailor so, when I come, it’s to have a meal or take photos, or both.

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Regatta Pointe Marina
This is facing west to the Gulf of Mexico from Regatta Pointe Marina

I have sailed out of here once and also out of the marina on the opposite side of the river. Both were charters, and both times it was a great experience. You bring cheese and wine, sit topside and enjoy the views and breeze. That’s my idea of a good time.

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I came here because the colors in the sky were shaping up and this was only a few minutes away. When I feel the urge to capture a sunset without planning, I’ll rush to the river and point west. Here at the marina, there were plenty of people walking along the dock. A few were diners, a few were boaters, but just about everyone stopped to watch at the view.

Twenty Minute Challenge

Earlier this week the rain cleared out just before sunset. I jumped in my car and came here to Riverwalk in Bradenton. I had less than thirty minutes before the colors faded so I ran around to get as many pictures as I could. This image is the first one I took.

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Twenty Minute Challenge

It was twenty minutes of pure awesome. When the conditions are perfect, you have to keep moving. It’s a challenge to get as many scenes as you can before the color drains from the sky. I wish it would last longer, but beggars can’t be choosers.

more from Riverwalk in Bradenton

In fact, soft light in the sky and reflections on the ground make anything look good. I could be standing in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and it would seem remarkable. That’s the reason I prefer low light photography. It evokes an ephemeral mood that overrides the harsh realities of only a few minutes earlier. Anyway, when I left my house, I headed to the river. But perhaps I could have driven in the other direction to Wal-Mart and had just as much fun. You never know.

Hometown Mangroves

This section of mangrove is within walking distance of my home in Palmetto. I think it’s interesting how the roots appear chaotic, yet the structures create a fortification against the erosion of the land.

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Hometown Mangroves
A section of the mangroves in my hometown of Palmetto, Florida

Half of Florida would be washed away if not for mangroves; they are an excellent example of how life evolves to overcome. It also seems like an example of order versus entropy, the seemingly disorganized root structure is well suited to ensure it, and the land survives in place.

other images of mangroves from the gallery

What you see here is an HDR image composed of five exposures. The mangrove roots were dark, so I blended an overexposed frame for that. The sky was bright in comparison, so I combined an underexposed frame for that. In the end, my seemingly haphazard approach to composition resulted in something slightly more enduring. It is my very own example of order from chaos. Perhaps that is what I should call mangrove photography. Or not.

Down by the River

After a rainy day last week the wind died down in the evening. When that happens, the water in the river becomes smooth like glass, which is the perfect time to take pictures. I made this near my home in Palmetto, just off the road next to the bridge.

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Down by the River
A section of the Manatee River from the Palmetto side of the bridge

This scene is an HDR image made of four frames with different exposures. By combining frames, the greenery and sun appear without either appearing blown-out. I use Aurora HDR from Skylum to process my HDR compositions. After mixing the frames, I usually make three or four additional adjustments to get it just the way I want it. I may also process it in Luminar which is another tool from Skylum.

more from Palmetto in the gallery

This area is a little section by the river that few people notice. It’s next to a major road that thousands drive by each day. As for me, I believe a photographer should work close to home as a way to practice seeing the familiar with new eyes. Seeing something new in the usual, or looking at it from a different perspective is a useful skill at home and abroad. So if you happen to be driving to work and see me standing by the river, now you’ll know why.

Ugly Crane

This ugly crane sits in the water not far from home near the bridge. Seems it been there for EVER. The last thing I thought I’d want to do is take a picture of it.

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Ugly Crane
Symmetry from reflections can form compositions of the most unlikely subjects

However, symmetry from reflections occur all around us and can form the seeds of compositions using the most unlikely subjects.

I took about a dozen photos of the crane over the course of five minutes. This was the first image, but as the minutes ticked on, the breeze started, and the water began to ripple. By the last frame, the clarity of the reflection was lost.

other photos along the Manatee River

If there is a moral to the story it would be to keep your eyes open because you never know when the conditions will be just right for a particular subject, even an old ugly crane.