The Fritz

Ocean Drive in Miami Beach on a Monday night. And the later I stayed, the busier it got. I repeat, it was Monday.

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The Fritz
The Fritz on Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami

But then I shouldn’t be surprised, because when I’m on vacation, every day is Saturday and most of the people in South Beach are on vacation. So it could be Sunday, Monday or Tuesday night and the place is still going to be full of life.

more from Miami in the gallery

As I look at this photo, I wonder why they had two TVs set up outside? I get it with TVs in restaurants, but to set two up on the sidewalk seems a little extreme. It’s not enough that we are continually communing with our phones. I’m as guilty as anyone. But maybe it’s a good idea to get unplugged, if even for a couple of hours while we eat. Perhaps I’ll try that tonight, as long as there’s nothing important on.

Lummus Park at Night

Here’s a scene from Miami Beach’s Lummus Park at night. I took some daytime photos here, but night time was way more fun.

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Lummus Park at Night
At night in Miami’s Lummus Park

Sorry if I sound like grandpa talking, but it wasn’t that long ago when shots like this were next to impossible. I shot this handheld without a tripod. In fact, the original photo didn’t look like much. Nevertheless, I was able to recover most of the shadows thanks to software and the amazing sensor on the Sony A7RM3. The camera sensor saves things that are invisible to the naked eye. However, with post-processing, we can make much of it visible.

more night photography from the gallery

I would say that low-light techniques like this are what got me back into photography. Back in the day (grandpa again) I used to shoot film but lost interest due to the amount of time I spent in dark rooms. Today, the only time you need to spend in the dark is taking photos of cool scenes.

Big City

When I see a big city, I’m like a deer in the headlights. I look up and can’t stop staring.

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The big city of Miami
The big city of Miami 

I’m fascinated by the perpendicular angles of construction, a million squares, layered and stacked in every direction. It’s a sensory rush that quickens my pulse and speeds up time; a big city high.

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Maybe it’s of all the lights, or the mass of humanity, or the scale of it all. Whatever it is, I’m in not much use until I snap out of its initial spell. Perhaps there’s some part of our DNA that attracts us to a hive or colony or tribe. Or maybe, it just all the cool lights.

Washington Avenue

For the life of me, I can’t conceive why Washington Avenue is all lit up like that at four in the morning. But then again, it is Miami.

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Washington Avenue
Washington Avenue in Miami.

I took this from a ship as we entered the Port of Miami. I was wide awake and recovering from the European timezone. Changes in time zones are great for photography because it makes it easy to get out at all hours of the morning or night. Days can be a little rough.

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We flew to Spain and took a boat back, just a few hours drive from home. We’re lucky, most people have to fly to Florida to get on a ship, we just drive. That makes it easier to pack as well, just throw whatever in the heck we want in a big suitcase and not worry about being efficient. Maybe it’s the lazy way to go, but hey, I’m very much into that sometimes.

Inaugural Docking

Here is a photo as the Symphony of the Seas made its inaugural docking in Miami. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen such hoopla at four o’clock in the morning.

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Inaugural Docking
The inaugural early morning docking of Symphony of the Seas in the Port of Miami

Almost every night while crossing the Atlantic, we’d set our clocks back an hour. So, by the time we arrived in Miami I was wide awake at three. I’m glad I got up because there was quite the commotion taking place. Even before we entered the port, the ship was followed by several drones. Then, as we came in, we were escorted by a tug making these great sprays from its water cannons. It was quite the spectacle, I tell ya.

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After all the celebrations died down, I went back to my cabin and tweeted a version of this image. Shortly after that it was picked up on social media and featured on USA Today. That was kind of fun to see a photo go far and wide so fast. I guess that happens a lot with news photographers. In any case, it was finally time to pack up and get off the ship. Lucky for me I was awake to see a little bit of history in the making.

Colors of Miami

When I think of colors and Miami, I think of pastels. Pastel colors on the art-deco walls of South Beach. I believe these natural hues are what inspire that aesthetic.

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Colors of Miami
The natural colors of Miami as seen from the port.

I took this from the top deck of the ship in the port of Miami. I had already been up several hours to capture the inaugural docking of Symphony of the Seas. Now we were having breakfast and walking back to our cabin for the final time. We were ready after 12 days at sea. It was nice to be home, but it was also sad to leave.

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Many of these high-rise apartment buildings are empty during the summer. They are vacation homes for people who come down in winter. Once, during summer, I stayed in a hi-rise hotel right downtown. At night I looked out from the thirty-first floor and, all I could see was empty, dark apartments. Now that it’s winter they’re all lit up and full of color.

Ocean Drive

When I was last in South Beach, I hung around Ocean Drive. This is one of the many spots where they serve those half-gallon Margaritas. Only in Miami.

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Ocean Drive
A night scene on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach

This colors on this were so loud and crazy that I opted for monochrome to focus more on the people. These kinds of street scenes are fun to look at later, away from the sounds and heat of the moment. It’s taking a glimpse into a snap of time and spinning a tale in our mind of what was going on.

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Sometimes, I get looks from people that make me a little self-conscious. I don’t mind if it’s just people looking at me and wondering, but in places like this, there are quite often celebrities. I’m not into the whole celebrity thing and am really bad at recognizing faces. But I do occasional snap a star, so I hope they will realize that I’m just some guy without an agenda that probably just finished one of those half-gallon Margaritas.

South Beach Suburb

I like renting a bike in Miami beach to get off the beaten path. I want to see how the natives live which, in reality, is exactly as I do.

South Beach Suburb
An urban setting in South Beach, Miami

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For me, the challenge with urban photography is finding an angle that’s not crappy. But that’s just me, and at the same time, I love the work of photographers that show urban grittiness, like Thomas Hawk. His work is not crappy, but it shows ugly details. Nevertheless, I spend hours looking at his work on Flickr.

urban photography from the gallery

It comes down to what I’m comfortable with, even if I get inspiration from different styles. Anyway, this is my take on South Beach urbanism, which is more of an ideal than the reality. Because if I turned the camera just a little, you would see all the grittiness of telephone wires, parked cars, and liquor stores. But if Tomas Hawk did it, it would be okay.

Leaving Miami

Taking pictures from a ship is like standing on a tall building. The vantage is nearly as good as a drone but without the need for an FAA license.

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Leaving Miami
The view of Miami Beach from the deck of a cruise-ship leaving port

I took this onboard the Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas as we left Miami on a three-day cruise. There were high winds on that voyage, and we had to skip one of our ports. The other port was Nassau where we did dock safely and enjoyed a day exploring.

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Perhaps because of the rough conditions, I got a few good photos using the perspective of the ship that I wouldn’t usually get. Then, on the final morning, we arrived back here to Miami at sunrise, and I got a few last photos from the top deck. After that, it was back to ground level.

Key Biscayne Layers

This image was a bit of a project to create. I stood on the South Pointe Pier facing Key Biscayne in South Beach. I took three pictures, each focused on a different point. The first was the railing, the next was the jetty and finally Key Biscayne off in the distance.

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Key Biscayne Layers
An abstract composition with Key Biscayne off in the distance.

I combined the images into a composite using a technique known as focus stacking. After that, I kept working on it until ending up with an abstract rendering that is neither real or imagined; it’s somewhere in-between.

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I could say something smart about layers, like how they are metaphors for something, but not today. The result is the product of a study in technique and abstraction. I had an idea when I took the shots, and I practiced various methods to get the image I wanted. Perhaps that’s the best way to describe it.