Golf Course Palms

I’m an occasional golfer, I like to play now and again. Lately, I’ve been bringing my camera so that the time spent is not entirely wasted.

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Palm trees on a local golf course 

Golf courses are one of the few places where you can get good pictures of trees standing alone. In fact, there are a lot of pretty scenes on a golf course sure to catch the eye of a landscape photographer (not that I know any).

more images featuring palm trees

When I bring the camera, I take it out only when we’re waiting for the party ahead. That’s a forced stop and the only time to not worry about playing too slow. As you may know, if you play too slow, you can feel the scorn of the people behind as they wait for you to move. So it’s always a balancing act, take a photo, but don’t dilly dally and hold up the whole damn shooting match. (I mean that in the nicest possible way).

Hidden Garden

Isn’t it cool when you find a hidden garden in a place you never expected? This is kind of like that for me.

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Hidden Garden
The garden at Bok Tower in Lake Wales, Polk County Florida

Actually, this is the gardens below the Bok Tower in Polk County Florida. I (and countless others) have taken this exact shot, but this time I wanted to include the foreground as well. In this way, it forms a natural vignette of the pond and water lilies.

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To make this work I had to use a technique known as focus-stacking. One photo was focused on the closest plants while the other was on the far side of the pond. I also used a very high f-stop which maximizes the depth of field. Then it’s a matter of careful blending to get it all sharp. Little projects like this are time-consuming, but relaxing at the same time. There are worse things I could be looking at.

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.

Green Spaces

There is something about a stand of palm trees that begs to be photographed. These are from a nature preserve surrounded by urban sprawl.

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Green Spaces
A park that provides a refuge for nature in Bradenton

I have never been forward thinking enough to be passionate about green spaces and parks. But as I get a little wiser, I’m grateful to other people that are. This park is named after the late Tom Bennett who was a local resident. Apparently, he and his family were indeed passionate about green spaces, and I have them to thank for this photo.

more greenery from the gallery

I once had a colleague in Toronto who invested in land to be used as a wild preserve. She only wanted the property to be left to nature and not developed. That was a long time ago, and since then, Toronto has gone crazy with development. As I think back, I see that she was a visionary and, I wonder if she held out. For the sake of short-sighted folks like me, I hope she did.

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.

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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.

Windblown Palms

Here is a shot I took last year in Sarasota. It was one of those rushed shots that I was frantically trying to capture as the sun disappeared. The windblown palms added drama to the scene which meant that a three image HDR was out of the question. Nevertheless, I was able to get this with a single exposure from that fantastic Sony sensor on the A7RII.

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Windblown Palms
A scene near the Ringling Bridge in Sarasota, Florida

I took this with a super wide angle 12mm lens. I don’t use it as much as I’d like, but this is an example of what it can do. In a lot of cases, it’s too wide for my needs. But still, it’s nice to have it in the kit.

more from Sarasota County

One thing it does well is to include a lot of the sky. In this case, that’s what I wanted because of the clouds and colors. But at other times it can leave a lot of empty space. Anyway, I’m happy with how it turned out with the combination of the windblown palms, leading lines and dramatic clouds.

Myakka Symmetry

This image is another photo from Myakka River State Park and has some compositional no-nos in it. I’m not sure why, but I like it anyway. Maybe its the colors or the symmetry created from the reflections.

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Myakka Symmetry
An image from Myakka River State Park

I take a lot of photos that never make it to the light of day. I do however review all of them in thumbnail form. There are very few winners; nevertheless, this caught my eye even though the tops of the palm trees are cut off.

more images of nature from the gallery

Sometimes the colors, shapes, and feeling of an image can override the rules of composition. Rules are just guidelines that can be broken. I try to go with what feels right to me, and in this case, a photo with real issues feels okay. I hope you don’t mind if I ignore its flaws.

Morning Rain

Here is a scene that I took from along the river a few years back. I’ve been going through the catalog looking for old photos, and this caught my eye.

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Morning Rain
An early morning capture along the Manatee River in the rain

I added a color filter and straightened the horizon; all in all, that took about 3 minutes. I’ve not done much to process this photo which stands in contrast to other images that I’ve spent hours processing; like the one yesterday. The pendulum swings both ways.

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If you are into photography, I have some free advice, do what makes you happy. Whether that means processing a lot or none at all, follow your heart. I’ve spent years studying and learning from others, but that’s no substitute for my “voice” or style. If we do what makes us happy, the rest will fall into place. That’s it for the free advice. For the next one, I’ll need 25 cents.

Lummus Park

Lummus Park runs parallel to Ocean Drive in South Beach. I was riding a bike here and taking photos in the middle of the day. I usually prefer to go out when the light is softer, but I thought to myself, what the heck.

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Lummus Park
A hot day in South Beach, Miami

The summer sun in Miami Beach is relentless, so I saw quite a few people walking with umbrellas. As for me, I made sure I had an umbrella in my drink. I figure if I collect enough of them I can use them for the sun.

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For this shot, I lined it up and waited for the ladies to walk in the scene. It’s an easy technique, and I use it a lot when I do street photography. I suppose this is a street photo, although part of me wants to call it a beach photo. It really doesn’t matter; it’s just my analytical side working overtime.

Far Beach

I’ve been processing older photos lately and I ran across this one from three years ago at Far Beach in Key Largo. Going back to review old photos gives me a chance to reflect and contrast. These days I use new software called Aurora HDR and its powerful enough to breathe new life into old memories.

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Far Beach
Far Beach in Key Largo Florida

Here is a link to a similar scene from the same day. I processed that one using different software and then added an overlay of texture. My style continues to evolve so who knows what I’ll do in another few years. Nevertheless, this just makes me want to take another look at my earlier photos.

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Also, this was taken on my first full frame Sony camera, the A7R. I now have the third generation of that line but looking back I’m impressed with how well it did. It makes me want to dust it off and give it a spin for old time sake, but I will still use the new software. Kind of like going to visit an old friend and bringing a new bottle of wine.