Game of Chance

Lately, it seems we are on a streak of winning sunsets, so I decided to drive over here at dusk. It was a short drive and a short walk to get here, but I’m glad I did it. It was a win.

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Game of Chance
Dusk at Perico Preserve in Bradenton, Florida

It’s a game of chance when I go out for sunsets. We often get cloud banks just offshore. I think it will be good, I drive over, and then it’s a dud. It’s a gamble I’m willing to take. But lately, the odds have been good, and I’m getting a little payoff.

see the landscape gallery

This image is comprised of six different frames. I focused on the foreground, took three bracketed shots, then the same thing on the background. I combined everything in AuroraHDR and Photoshop. I did it in a way that everything appears to be in focus. Then, one last stop in Luminar for some final touches. In reality, there were a few more minor steps here and there, but that’s the gist of it.

The moral of the story is, …hmmm, there is no moral. Just a little luck.

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.

Sandstone Tower

Here’s another perspective of the sandstone formations I saw while visiting Wisconsin Dells. We took a boat tour up the river and made a couple of stops to see the formations. These are the kind of things I’d expect to see in Arizona, not Wisconsin.

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Sandstone Tower
One of many sandsctone towers at the Wisconsin Dells

We were here at the hottest time of the year. It’s funny because when we leave Florida in the summer and head north, we expect we’ll be getting moderate weather. During peak summer months, that’s not the case; it’s hot all over.

landscape gallery

To create the star effect I set the aperture to f16 and positioned myself with the sun peeking out. F16 makes the aperture opening very small, and that creates a flaring or starlike effect with bright lights. However, it was so sunny I couldn’t be sure it worked until a few weeks later when I got home to look at the results on a monitor. Here, in the comfort of A/C, I can confirm we have a hit.

Myakka Floods

The flooding of Myakka River State Park is a normal this time of year. In my opinion, it’s one of the best times to visit and take photos. Most of the roads are just above the water so you can pull over and gaze out at the surreal landscape and reflections.

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Myakka Floods
The floods at Myakka River State Park create a surreal landscape

This is a photo of a scene I’m familiar with, but my past pictures didn’t convey it well. However, it seems that on this recent attempt I finally got it. The reflections create this mesmerizing spectacle alongside the road. It reminds me of Big Cypress National Preserve in the Everglades.

see the landscape gallery

I mounted the camera on a tripod and used an aperture of f22 to get everything in focus. I also used a remote shutter release to reduce shake. However there was a lot of light, and with the Sony’s stabilization, the remote wasn’t necessary. Now I have several pictures just like this that I quite like. So I randomly chose this one to share today.

The Golden Door

This image is the golden door at the base of Bok Tower in Central Florida. I was here the other day taking pictures of the gardens and just before leaving noticed this elaborate door. Surely it is an element of some fantasy novel I haven’t read yet.

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The Golden Door
The door at the base of Bok Tower in Lake Wales Florida

Florida is mainly flat, and the tower is on the tallest hill of the Florida peninsula at 295 feet above sea level. Add the tower’s 205 feet on top of that, and it’s easily the tallest thing around for maybe fifty or a hundred miles.

While I was there, music from the tower’s carillon bells resounded throughout the gardens. Perhaps someone was playing them or, maybe it was automated. I didn’t take the tour to find out.

visit my Florida gallery

A thunderstorm rolled over, and the bells abruptly stopped minutes before lightning hit the top of the tower. The tower has lightning rods, so it’s perfectly safe, but I would not want to be the one striking those bells in a storm. Unless perhaps, it was part of the plot of that novel I’ve not yet read.

Sunrise Composition

Here I am close to home on an early Sunday morning. I was standing at the end of Emerson Point which faces west into the Gulf of Mexico. (I, of course, was facing east). This local park is one of my favorite go-to places for sunrise and sunset.

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Sunrise Composition
Sunrise at Emerson Point in Palmetto, Florida

It rained the night before, so I thought we’d have a beautiful display in the sky with high scattered clouds, but, that was not to be. So instead, I composed this shot which focuses on the foreground elements with the sunrise in the back. If the scene doesn’t turn out how I envisioned, I try to remind myself to work with what I’ve got. Plans often go sideways, but there is usually another angle that’s pleasing or tells a story.

sunrise / sunset gallery

One other thing: because it was Sunday morning I figured I’d be alone. But there was another photographer down by the water, and when I turned around after taking this shot, there was yet another photographer with a couple doing a maternity shoot. So apparently, there was indeed an abundance of other compositions to go around.

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.

beach gallery

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.

Badlands Highway 240

Here is another picture from South Dakota’s Badlands National Park. Highway 240 is a road with curves and hills, perfect for touring. As usual, I pulled over every half mile or so for a shot of the roadway and scenery.

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Badlands Highway 240
Part of the winding Highway 240 through the South Dakota Badlands

The ridges are made of alternating soft and hard layers so that they erode fast, which is why they look so unusual. Here is a link to how the Badlands are formed. You can almost see erosion working in real time. When they get torrential rain here, the runoff carves new features and the basin floods. I would not want to be stuck out here in the rain. A few hours after we left a summer storm hit, and I suspect that things looked a little different in the morning.

more from our road trip

Along the road, we saw buffalo, mountain goats and large numbers of prairie dogs. Amongst the prairie dogs, we also saw small owls. I’m not sure what they were doing, perhaps looking to steal the young. The landscape here is both barren and full of life. It’s harsh and beautiful at the same time.

Pond Panorama

Here is an image from nearby Tom Bennett Park in Bradenton. I’ve been here twice this week trying to get some photos that do the landscape justice. To make this, I combined four vertical images, and each was a combination of two focus stacked images; so eight in all.

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Pond Panorama
This is eight images combined into a hi-res panorama.

I’ve been doing a lot of focus stacking lately. If you’re not familiar, it’s taking two or more photos of the same thing, each focused at a different distance. Then by combining the in-focus parts of each image, everything is sharp. It’s an excellent technique to use when you want to have a strong foreground element. It makes good sense in a lot of landscape scenes. Also, since this is a multi-image panorama, the resolution is very high. Therefore, having everything in focus is even more beneficial.

more panoramas from the gallery

I was at this same park a day or two earlier when I came to walk with my dog. This time I came alone to shoot, but after I did, I felt a little guilty that Mr. Wiggles got gypped out of a walk. I could have brought him because the photography wasn’t particularly difficult. Mr. Wiggles has me wrapped around his paw. I’m not done here so I’ll probably bring him along next time.

Highway 240

Highway 240 loops through the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. I took this photo near the entrance to the park. The geological formations of The Badlands are amazing to look at, but in this frame, I was looking at the winding road ahead. The entire thirty-mile loop is scenic winding roads with turnouts every half mile or so.

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Highway 240
The road that loops through Badlands National Park

If I had a motorcycle, this is where I’d ride. The road has everything, curves, hills, and of course scenery. When I came through here, it was a couple of weeks before Sturgis, and already groups of bikers were riding in that direction. I met one biker from Montreal when I took this photo. We chatted for a while because we were both into photography.

more photos with grass

In these grassy plains are hundreds, if not thousands, of prairie dogs. We’d stop along the side of the road and watch their antics; it was a regular circus. We continued down the road, eventually arriving in Rapid City. That night we had a massive thunderstorm, like those we get in Florida. It made me think about the constant erosion of this landscape as well as all those groundhogs hiding in their burrows.