After the long red tide, it’s nice to see the beaches back to normal. The fish have returned, and fishers are back at it.
A lot of research has gone into determining the causes of the toxic algae bloom. Historically, this has occurred for decades if not centuries. It’s possible that man is aggravating it, and it’s likely there are other causes, such as colonies of it endemic to the deep in the gulf.
Nevertheless, it wreaks havoc on coastal communities in Florida. It’s gone for now, and we hope it stays away. But after the last eighteen months, everyone is a little on edge. Most importantly, it gives us a new appreciation for the years when we don’t have it.
I took this photo in Pass-A-Grille. The name is anglicized from the French: Passe Aux Grilleurs. It seems it’s always been a favorite place to grill fish.
I’ve only been here a few times in the last decade, but I’ve never grilled fish. Nevertheless, it’s just south of it’s more famous cousin, St Pete Beach. And unlike the communities just north of it, has a distinct village feel.
Anyway, I arrived just before sunset and, just like at all the other beaches in the region, people arrive to watch. In case you haven’t noticed, that’s a favorite photographic subject for me. I am attracted to the colors in the sky and, the scenes it creates of people watching the spectacle unfold. I think we like watching the sunset because, at a subconscious level, it’s a reminder of our place on Earth as it moves through the heavens; and, that we are part of something much much more significant.
The saying goes “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning”. And as it turns out, it’s mostly right.
Having said that, because Florida is a big peninsula, the weather can be unpredictable, especially in the warmer months. Tropical storms boil up from either direction in little time and dissipate just as fast. But for the most part, the old sayings are still relevant.
This photo points out over the Gulf of Mexico, so if I launched a sailboat directly west, I’d end up near Corpus Christi. But even though the skies say it’s okay, it’s not something I’m likely to do. I’m no sailor, and I prefer to stay away from the open seas in a small boat. I’m a cruise ship kind of person and a rough day of sailing means having to wait in line at the seafood buffet.
This is a near reproduction of an image I did a few years ago. The angle is different, but the story is the same; rocks, pier, water and sky.
I’ve changed the way I take and process photos so this is perhaps the upgraded version. Everything else in life gets updated, why not pictures? I must have deleted the first one because I can’t find it. But it’s not just my imagination because I printed it and sold a few copies. But now, I prefer this version.
As time goes on, I see many more things in a photo, some good, some so-so. Much of my earlier work I would like to redo, a 2.0 gallery if you will. And eventually, I will because I keep going to the same places. And if I think about it, I’ll probably never stop doing that. Just going back to the same areas, and taking upgraded photos until we get to version X. At least that’s the theory.
This image shows an unusual perspective Tampa Bay’s Skyway bridge. I was standing along a seawall at a rest stop along the causeway that connects the two sides. The bridge appears small, but it’s close to 400 feet high.
I’ve been sitting on this photo because I can’t decide whether I like it or not. I overthink things, but it does have some redeeming qualities, so I guess I like it for now.
However, I do love this location on the bay because it’s one of the few places on the west coast where you can see the sunrise over a vast body of water. And now as I’m writing this, I’m deciding that I need to get up early and come back. Maybe I can try this shot again and settle once and for all if I like it.
On Saturday evening I visited the pier at Fort Desoto Park. I don’t know why I waited so long to return here; it’s one of my favorite places. I was lucky because as you can see, the sunset was epic.
From the moment I got out of my car, I was busy taking pictures. I go camera-crazy whenever I’m in an idyllic setting. I dare say we all do; when I looked around nearly everyone was holding a camera of some type (be it phone or DSLR) taking pictures.
To make this final image I combined three exposures into Aurora HDR, made a few adjustments and then used Luminar 2018 to make a few more. I never repeat the same process twice. I do everything by feel, and I don’t write anything down. It’s a form of improvisation, similar to what a musician might do. It’s no wonder, so many photographers are also musicians, the creative process has certain similarities. Which got me thinking, I wonder what this scene would sound like if translated into music?
Here’s a shot of the pier at Redington Shores Florida. I took this on one of my first drone flights and I was about a half mile away sitting in a chair. It’s very easy and probably a lazy way to take a photo, but there was still a little stress involved. I couldn’t see the drone even though I knew where it was. I positioned it and took a few snaps and then brought it back to where I was sitting. I breath a sigh of relief when the drone comes back and I can see it again.
I’ve had it now for a little over a week and I’m getting used to flying it. The stress is still there, although manageable. Even though it gives me a live view I find it a little disconcerting when it’s so far away. I have no idea what can go wrong and a little mistake can be costly. Add to that you have to be mindful of aviation, and where I live there is no shortage of that.
But with the risks comes a little reward. I am getting perspectives I could only dream of and it’s taking my photography into another dimension, figuratively and literally. Now that I’m not limited by altitude I can revisit familiar places and take completely different photos. I have a long list of locations to hit and that’s a great problem to have.
Thanks to the automation of the DJI Mavic Pro, I’m getting efficient at it as well. I can have it in the air, take the shot, break it down and move on within 10 minutes. In some ways I prefer that to the longer flights, less can go wrong and there’s less stress to deal with. After all, this is supposed to be fun, right? Notwithstanding the learning curve, it really is.
Another hot tip if you’re looking for cool place to hang out in St Pete’s beach Florida, try the rooftop bar at Hotel Zamora. If I’m not mistaken it’s fairly new because when I look it up on Google Maps it looks like a bare roof. But rest assured its been transformed into a swank pad with a great view of the Gulf.
I have a friend that’s getting married here shortly so I’m looking forward to coming back to hang out and taking some great photos.
It’s the kind of place I would go to if I were on vacation, only I live here so I need another excuse. The best excuse I can come up with is the day of the week called Saturday. Short of that I might even consider a staycation.
Along the back is Castile Restaurant overlooking the inter-coastal waterway. My wife and I stopped in for dinner, almost as an afterthought. We were surprised at the quality of food, presentation and service. It’s a hidden gem that we’ve just discovered.
Just down the street is the better-known Don Cesar hotel; it’s the pink building in the background. That’s a much bigger place with all the amenities of a large resort. But the photographer in me will choose a place with a rooftop bar over the better-known location any day. So for me, the Zamora is on the shortlist in the very near future.
There is a colony of skimmers on the beach not far from my home on Anna Maria Island. They have a patch of sand that they come back to each year to hatch and nurse their young. It’s normally taped off so we don’t interfere with the hatchlings. Anything that hatches and nests in the sand is quite vulnerable. The adults take turns guarding the nest. In fact the whole colony, whether they have chicks or not, pitch in on security detail. It takes a village to raise a skimmer.
This is taken at a different location in St Petersburg. Lowering the camera close to the water helps see from the perspective of the wildlife. The small flock of skimmers was picking at the sand while some children swam behind them. With me in front I was surprised they stayed in place for as long as they did. Like so many birds in Florida they’ve grown accustomed to us.
Now is the time of year we also find turtle nests in the sand. Isn’t it odd that the turtle just lays the eggs and then takes off? It’s so unlike other creatures that stick around and nurse their young. After hatching the baby turtles make a dash to the water to avoid being eaten, and then try to avoid the same fate in the water. I don’t blame the mom for not wanting to stick around; the odds seem so slim.
This is the seawall and fishing pier at Fort Desoto Park in St Petersburg. We drove up here the other day to walk and watch the sunset. When we arrived we’d just missed a couple of large cruise ships passing out of Tampa Bay; all the ships pass this point.
The cruise ships that leave out of Tampa are typically sailing to Mexico, the western Caribbean and now Cuba. Just a few weeks ago the first US based cruise ships departed for a port of call in Cuba. That was big news around here.
It takes about an hour of driving to get here from my home on the other side of the bay. I was talking to a neighbor who has a boat and he comes here in the afternoons to fish. I was surprised to find that out but I think it might actually be shorter to get here by boat.
This is a good place to fish and last year I saw a guy over by the pier catch a six-foot Tarpon. But you have to be careful because once hooked, the sharks like to come by to steal the catch. I’ve heard that Dolphins can do that as well. All’s fair in love and war, and I suppose for serious fishermen it’s a real war out there.
I don’t have to worry about any of that because I get my fish from a menu. I am not in any way shape or form a fisherman. Sure, I’m probably missing out on a lot of fun, but I’ll stick to taking photos for the time being.