I think it’s cool how the leading line points to the sun. I got this photo from my 2015 archives. Maybe it was my lack of imagination that kept it hidden for so long. Or, perhaps it was meant to be buried forever, protecting the secrets of Neverland from humanity.
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.
A few days ago I had a bright idea to take some photos. Somehow, I managed to leave with enough time to get here and set up the shot without rushing.
I usually procrastinate and then end up dashing out the door. But once in a while, I do it the proper way, whatever that is. I am continually going between calm and panic in my photography. Kind of like life I suppose.
Lately, when I know I’m shooting into the sun, I’ve been using my high-quality Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM lens. It’s a lot heavier than my standard travel lens, but man-o-man, the quality comes through. I notice the difference because I take and process so many photos, but most folks would never know. That’s okay because I take these landscape photos for myself. And as the saying goes, whatever makes me happy.
I imagine the dream world is a mirror; we exist there as fully as we do here. In my waking state, I have only the vaguest remembrance of dreams. A glimpse quickly forgotten.
The secret to dreams is knowing they’re dreams; easier said than done. If I knew I was dreaming, would it be a dream? Is the world of dreams a country with arbitrary borders and strange laws? Or is it the other way around?
There is a veil between the two worlds; sometimes the veil is lifted, and we see through to the other side. We are left with the feeling of something familiar, yet forgotten. The only thing lucid is whatever side of the veil we’re on. And sometimes even that is subjective.
This picture is a shot from the outskirts of Emerson Preserve in Bradenton. Whenever the water is still like this, I jump at the opportunity to create images featuring reflections. They impart a sense of calm, however, for me, taking this picture was nothing short of panic.
To get here, I walked through the brush to the bank of the water next to a kayak launch. I wanted to be right over the water, so I had to step in with my tripod. I was surprised as my tripod quickly sank in the mud; however, it stabilized, and I took this image. Nevertheless, it didn’t feel right, and I felt like I should get out. As I turned to leave, I realized I too was sinking.
The mud turned into a quicksand-like substance and I, along with my expensive camera and tripod started to go down. It was only with great effort that I managed to save my camera and free myself. I walked back to my car coated in a layer of mud and a little shaken, yet thankful that I managed to keep the camera above water. So now, ironically, when I look at this calm scene, I feel a twinge of panic.
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.
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.
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.
In this picture, I’m looking south over the Manatee River towards Bradenton. These are the mangroves that line it from its source to the sea. Mangroves form an essential part of the ecosystem by protecting the shore from erosion.
Believe it or not, this is across the street from the Bradenton Area Convention center, so while it looks like a nature shot, it’s in the middle of a suburban setting. Mangroves are protected in Florida, so there’s little chance they’ll be affected by development. Despite the activity all around, they continue to protect rivers and coastlines.
The reason I took this was for the reflections. Its a repeat of a shot I’ve done in the past and the results are similar. However, the clouds are never the same. And because it’s only a 2-minute drive from home, this is something I see often. No matter how many times I see this, I never get tired of nature inside an urban landscape.
This is from Robinson Preserve in Bradenton. The reflection of the lookout tower caught my attention as I rode a bike along a trail. Normally the water is not this still during the day but there was no breeze on this warm winter day in February.
These towers appear in most Florida nature preserves and state parks. I realize now it’s because the land is flat and a tower is the only way to see over the ground cover. I’d never seen these where I grew up in California because they have mountains and all you have to do is climb a hill.
As well, there are fire lookout towers across the state amongst the farms and ranches. The geography breeds an abundance of lightning which in turn creates brush fires each year. When I first arrived in Florida they made an impression on me and now I know why there are so many; flat land.
There are three towers that I know of nearby my home, this being one. I’ve taken pictures atop all three. They are for me the next best thing to having a drone for photography. One of these days I may get a drone so I don’t need a tower. Until that day I’ll look for nearby towers or bridges when I want to see the Florida landscape.
It seems there is an ageless confrontation between the water and the land. The water attempts to reclaim the land. The land fortifies itself with mangroves. I think the water eventually wins. Sooner or later the land is consumed by the water. Then during another ice age, the water will recede and the land will again take prominence.
For this I used a wide angle lens. When I do that I am trying to capture as much of the sky as possible. This is an ultra-wide angle so everything seems to converge on the horizon. This was taken in an area of mangroves in a near by state park. The mangroves cover a narrow peninsula that extends into the Gulf of Mexico. If it wasn’t for the mangroves the peninsula would have eroded away by storms long ago. That’s a testament to how important mangroves are to the land.
Florida is so flat that it will be one of the first to succumb to the sea. In geological time frames, it wasn’t too long ago that this area was submerged, it will surely happen again.
I think if it was possible you could re-visit the earth every million years and it would appear quite different. Nothing in the physical universe is permanent, nor should it be. We are all part of a slow motion cycle of destruction and construction. In fact, that’s one thing that never changes.
This is an image of the mangroves in Palmetto near my home. It’s a little hidden beach not far from the road. I never knew it was there until I noticed a trail leading into the bush. Much to my surprise there’s a little beach with a view of the sunset.
It’s been said that photographers should first learn to shoot images around their home before venturing out. Years after hearing that I have to agree. In my case the more I explore the more I discover. It’s amazing how many things we overlook when we’re not looking.
I think sometimes children see more than adults. That’s because they have natural curiosity and are more likely to explore. That was true of me as a kid. Through photography I’m getting some of that curiosity back. I suppose it was always there, just dormant for a while.
Another nice thing about taking pictures around home is that it requires little effort. There is not a lot of travel and within fifteen minutes of walking out the door you can be taking photos. That’s a big plus when you have other responsibilities besides running around like some kid exploring the neighborhood.