I hope you don’t mind if I use a little AI in my sunset photos, I certainly don’t.
I did a bit of processing on this to bring up the shadows and reduce the highlights, I do that quite a lot. One thing that’s a little new, however, is that I’ve started using artificial intelligence (AI) software. The AI is in Luminar 3 from Skylum. As AI gets better, it shortens the time it takes to get good results out of a photo. These days, AI is increasingly being built into everything, including your phone and camera. Computational photography is where we’re heading.
What AI does is interpret scenes for us and then make choices on how to improve it. It’s not always right, but it’s getting better. Sometimes it’s no help, but more often than not it gets a bunch of stuff right. I then fill in the gaps with the vision that I had in my head, but the AI helped get me off to a good start. It’s like having an apprentice do the prep work before you begin mixing the magic brew. I suppose that as long as the sorcerer’s apprentice doesn’t get too carried away, it should be all good.
This swamp is in Florida and is a good thing, meaning we don’t want to drain it; instead, we want to protect it as a national resource.
The swamps, marshes, and bogs are quite beautiful. I did not expect I’d ever consider the swamp as beautiful before visiting, I was wary of what I might find. But once inside, I was struck by its vastness, rich biodiversity, and remoteness.
I am not a naturalist and know very little about the ecosystem of the Big Cypress National Preserve, but if you want to know more, one recommendation is to visiting Clyde Butcher’s site. Not only is he a passionate advocate for maintaining our natural habitats, but his photographic legacy is considered a national treasure.
This is the back side of Bradenton Beach, the front side is, uh, a beach.
The little beach town is surrounded by water because it sits on Anna Maria Island. The back side faces the intercoastal waterway and is the place where all the boats dock. It’s also where you’ll find a lot of fun things to explore, like restaurants, galleries, and fishing piers; not to mention other little villages like Cortez.
I shot this picture at water level using a Platypod on a remarkably calm night; usually, there’s a little chop. This is also a prolonged, thirteen-second exposure, so it makes the water appear even smoother. Then I stretched the lights a little downwards to accentuate them. But at the end of the day, if you squint your eyes a little, this is exactly what you would see on most evenings along the inter-coastal waterway. But if that doesn’t float your boat, there is always the beach on the other side.
Every morning the ship’s crew hoses down the deck before sunrise. It’s the perfect time to capture reflections.
This is another shot where I used the Platypod. Doing so enables me to include the textures of the deck in the composition. As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s a slightly unusual perspective that adds a little something extra.
I took a ton of these types of photos. I would post them all, but that would get pretty boring. Be forewarned though, I will post at least one or two more. But, if you like this kind of thing, then it’s cool, if not, I’m sorry in advance.
The same spot that I posted from last week. Taken only thirty minutes later but, turned out entirely different.
It’s an excellent example of how light changes everything so thoroughly. In the other photo, the main subject was the warm light of the clouds, in this one, it’s the lights from the bridge. Both reflected on the water, and each tells a different story.
I’ve taken a million photos of this bridge. Because of that, I’ve avoided it for the last year or so. I happened to be in the neighborhood and couldn’t help myself. But with a spectacle like this, could you blame me?
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.
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.
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.
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.
It might be an understatement to say it was raining cats and dogs in Malaga. But that’s of little consequence when you traveled over four thousand miles to get here.
I was determined to go out, come hell or high water. The universe obliged and gave me high water. I wore jeans, a light rain shell and got utterly soaked. The bus pass in my pocket was unreadable and plastered flat against my iPhone. When I showed it to the driver, she seemed more worried about my phone than the pass. Thankfully, iPhones are water resistant these days.
Speaking of which, I’ve read a lot about how the Sony a7RM3 is “water resistant,” so I decided to put it to the test. Imagine standing under a sprinkler. A little moisture got onto the lens mount, and the camera started giving me error warnings; however the camera and lens continued to operate, and I didn’t lose any shots. The camera got soaking wet. When I got back to the ship, I let it dry for a few hours, and it was perfectly fine. I suspect a tighter lens fit of a pro-grade GM lens would have eliminated that issue, but I was using the consumer grade 85mm f1.8, which I love as a lightweight travel lens.
All in all, I had a blast and, it was a good test of equipment and perhaps, my own craziness.
This is looking up the Manatee River in summer. After a few minutes we got a thunderstorm for about twenty minutes, then a crazy sunset; every day like clockwork.
The one-second shutter speed makes the water smooth, like the calm before the storm. I’m nervous when out in these conditions, the air is thick, and it’s only a matter of time before lightning strikes. We get more lightning than anywhere on earth because of the geography. My heightened state of nerves battles it out with my need to get a good picture.
The thunder clouds always come down the river, from east to west. Often, if we’re at an outdoor restaurant along the water, we can watch the clouds heading towards us. The river is about a mile wide, so it has its own micro-climate. After the storm passes, we brush the water off the table and, enjoy the rest of the meal, just like clockwork.
For a photographer, crossing west over the North Atlantic has its advantages. For one, the sun always rises from the stern. Knowing which way to walk on a ship this big is a good thing.
The Symphony of the Seas is such a big ship that at first, it can be difficult to get oriented. The first few days I’d walk to the Windjammer only to find I’d gone the wrong way. But then, walking an extra half mile before hitting the buffet didn’t hurt.
Another advantage is that the days have twenty-five hours. Each night we would set our clocks back one hour. And because we were sailing during the daylight savings cutover, we had one additional long day. As a result, I found myself getting up earlier each day with enough time to walk to the back of the ship without getting lost.