Ducks in a Pond

On a foggy morning, I walked a path in a local park. In the mist, everyday things seem different, almost mysterious.

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Ducks in a Pond
Taken in the fog on a recent morning at Robinson Preserve

Nothing could be more ordinary than ducks in a pond, yet the fog added an element more akin to a painting than photography. I recently mentioned the idea that simple images can resonate. For me, this is an example of that.

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This was taken at Robinson Park in Bradenton. It’s in a new section that recently opened to the public. I never know what I’m going to see or, how I’m going to see it. But with the fog, no matter how ordinary, chances are it will add a whole new dimension to the scene.

Cormorants

If a cormorant is out of the water, it will spread its wings to dry off. On this morning, however, they were still dry.

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Cormorants
A scene from Robinson Preserve in Bradenton

These birds spend a lot of time under the water catching food. It’s a little ironic that they even though they have feathers, they are excellent swimmers and spend a lot of time underwater. When they are fishing, you might only see their snake-like head and neck pop-up for air. We also have snakes in the water, so seeing a Cormorant’s head pop-up might give you pause.

more from Robinson Preserve

Just as often they’ll sit on a low branch or along the shoreline with their wings outstretched. Initially, I thought that it was to ward off predators by making themselves seem more prominent. But in fact, it’s to dry their feathers which are not as water repellant as other birds like ducks or pelicans.

Summer in Wisconsin

I know it’s the middle of winter now, but all the more reason to look longingly back on the days of summer. This is a friends house in Wisconsin.

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Summer in Wisconsin
A summer scene at a former horse ranch in Wisconsin

On our summer holiday, my wife and I drove up from Florida. It was July, and we thought we’d get a break from the heat. Silly idea; it was just as hot and humid as way back in Florida. We even had several thunderstorms that rolled in and out, just like back home.

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This used to be a horse ranch, but Dave and Janey have since retired. There’s a large barn and still a few horses on the property, but mostly it’s surrounded by farmland and these idyllic rolling hills. We enjoyed our time here and now have a new appreciation for Wisconsin. I even did a little video for them with my drone so they can use it if they ever decide to sell and move south.

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.

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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.

Florida Landscape

Landscape photography is the most natural thing to do around the section of Florida I live in. And since its so easy, I should be doing a lot more of it.

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Florida Landscape
A golden glow over the pond at Neal Preserve in Bradenton, Florida

But life gets in the way. There are dozens of perfect evenings that I let slip by. No matter what I’m doing, I still look out the window to see what I’m missing. I think sailors do the same thing.

Florida gallery

I don’t get a lot of opportunities to take pictures of the mountains. I think of that as landscape photography. However, in Florida, we use clouds as stand-ins for peaks. They are usually interesting enough to fill up the top half of a frame. Throw in a sunset and Bob’s or uncle.

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.

landscape gallery

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.

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.

Bok Tower Gardens

This photo was taken a few minutes after a thunderstorm. I emerged from under a shelter to capture the scene, ears still ringing from the lightning strike on the tower. All in all, a typical summer afternoon in Florida.

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Bok Tower Gardens
This was taken minutes after a thunderstorm passed overhead

There are shelters throughout the gardens, and it was nice to just sit there with my fellow visitors through the rain; there are worst places to be stuck. As gardens go, Bok Tower Gardens draw a good size crowd. Only a couple of minutes after I took this, the paths re-filled with people.

I recently posted a photo of the golden door at the base of the tower, and now you can see it in the context of the full tower.

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I’m not a garden person per se. I don’t often get my hands dirty working with plants. But I know it’s richly satisfying to many people. I’m the other half of the population that likes to come around after the hard work to admire and take photos. That should count for something, right?

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.

Pond and Clouds

I took this image the other day on my way out of Emerson Point Preserve. This pond is at the entrance and is a real head turner when driving in or out. I’ve taken many pictures of it, and I’ve driven by many more times. This time I stopped for another photo.

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Pond and Clouds
The soft morning light on the pond and clouds at Emerson Point

I think the reason I like this photo, in particular, is that it has a little less contrast. It reveals the softer light and colors of the morning; I took this about twenty minutes after sunrise.

more images from Emerson Point

Sometimes I make complicated photos with a lot of elements and much post-processing. However, sometimes the picture speaks for itself without much effort from me. What I think, is that this image is one of those where nature does all the talking. So on that note, I’ll shut up and let mother nature take it from here.