Frothy Monkey

Just before leaving Chattanooga we stopped here at the Frothy Monkey for lunch. The Frothy Monkey is a hip coffee bar attached to the old train station next to where the Chattanooga choo-choo sits on display. So perhaps these windows were once part of the old station.

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Frothy Monkey
Inside Chattanooga’s Frothy Monkey

In any case, it’s a cool place to hang out, and I’d do just that if I lived here. But we were leaving town on a Sunday afternoon and had many miles to drive. Nevertheless, my eye was attracted to these reflections. They’re similar to water reflections, only on a table top. I find that the whole reflection dynamic adds a new quality to the photo.

favorites from the gallery

I ended up buying a Frothy Monkey cap as a souvenir. As we left, I threw it in the back seat of the car, and that’s the last I’ve seen of it. Maybe it’s still stuck under a seat or in one of my bags; I need to look for it. I wanted to have a little something to remind me of how hip this place is. Until then I’ll have to use this photo for that.

Calm Before the Panic

This picture is a shot from the outskirts of Emerson Preserve in Bradenton. Whenever the water is still like this, I jump at the opportunity to create images featuring reflections. They impart a sense of calm, however, for me, taking this picture was nothing short of panic.

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Calm Before the Panic
A calm scene at the edge of Robinson Preserve in Bradenton

To get here, I walked through the brush to the bank of the water next to a kayak launch. I wanted to be right over the water, so I had to step in with my tripod. I was surprised as my tripod quickly sank in the mud; however, it stabilized, and I took this image. Nevertheless, it didn’t feel right, and I felt like I should get out. As I turned to leave, I realized I too was sinking.

reflections in the gallery

The mud turned into a quicksand-like substance and I, along with my expensive camera and tripod started to go down. It was only with great effort that I managed to save my camera and free myself. I walked back to my car coated in a layer of mud and a little shaken, yet thankful that I managed to keep the camera above water. So now, ironically, when I look at this calm scene, I feel a twinge of panic.

Water Hazard

The other day my wife and I played nine holes at a local course. I’m not a good golfer, but it doesn’t mean I won’t bring my camera. As we were waiting for the group ahead, I grabbed this photo of a water hazard at the third tee.

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Water Hazard
This was taken from the third tee at Buffalo Creek Golf Course in Manatee County

During the week I rarely get out during the day. That’s a shame because the first part of the day is when we get these puffy clouds. Florida is hot as hell, and somehow that creates these evenly spaced clouds. But I digress, when I squint my eyes the reflections on the water reminded me of a kaleidoscope, and that’s why I took this photo.

more reflections

The thing about the golf course ponds in Florida is they nearly all have alligators. We didn’t see any in this one, but in two others we did. When I first came to Florida, it was a little freaky, but now I’m used to it. They do their thing, and we continue hitting little white balls. But if the ball goes into the water hazard, it’s not advisable to fish it out. I’m just saying.

Manhattan Vignettes

Here is a series of shots I took last year when in NYC. I walked to Times Square late at night in the pouring rain. While that may not sound fun, it’s an excellent time to do street photography. The combination of lights, reflections, and umbrellas create scenes that are fun to watch, in a people-watching kind of way.

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Manhattan Vignettes 1
Crossing the street in a downpour
Manhattan Vignettes 2
Kissing in the rain
Manhattan Vignettes 3
Not enough umbrellas
Manhattan Vignettes 4
Odd man out
Manhattan Vignettes 5
A lot going on in this scene
Manhattan Vignettes 6
I wish you called a cab
Manhattan Vignettes 7
Where is our Uber?
Manhattan Vignettes 8
No words

Because of the rain and the late hour, there were far fewer people out than usual. If you’ve ever been to Times Square then you know that’s rare. It meant I was able to capture little vignettes without too many distractions. Each of these photos tells a different story from that evening. It is up to you the viewer to imagine what that story is.

street photography gallery

As the name of the series suggests, I’ve employed a vignette technique to each of these images to draw attention to the people. The setting, while electric, is only that, a setting. Each story is as different as the people that inhabit them.

Big Cypress National Preserve

I just returned from driving the Loop Road in Big Cypress National Preserve. It’s a twenty-four-mile dirt road through the heart of some of the most stunning landscape in Florida. As a landscape photographer, I was in my element and overwhelmed at the same time. There was just too much to take in, but I tried.

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Big Cypress National Preserve
One of my many stops along Loop Road in Big Cypress National Preserve

 

Living in an urban area, I find only scraps of nature as I look for it among the sprawl. So when I get the chance to emerge myself among hundreds of square miles, it’s a good thing. It took me nearly five hours to travel the road because I stopped every quarter of a mile. A bike would have been faster. But, alas, I was in no hurry.

more images of nature in the gallery

This image is from one of my dozens of stops. It’s the reflection of the cypress trees in the swamp. As I stood there taking photos I could hear the bullfrog-like bellows of alligators all around me At first, it’s unnerving, but you grow accustomed to it. In reality, alligators prefer to mind their own business. At least from their bellows, you know where they are, and they know where you are; which is as it should be.

Urban Mangroves

In this picture, I’m looking south over the Manatee River towards Bradenton. These are the mangroves that line it from its source to the sea. Mangroves form an essential part of the ecosystem by protecting the shore from erosion.

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Urban Mangroves
A little nature in an urban setting

Believe it or not, this is across the street from the Bradenton Area Convention center, so while it looks like a nature shot, it’s in the middle of a suburban setting. Mangroves are protected in Florida, so there’s little chance they’ll be affected by development. Despite the activity all around, they continue to protect rivers and coastlines.

more from my hometown of Palmetto

The reason I took this was for the reflections. Its a repeat of a shot I’ve done in the past and the results are similar. However, the clouds are never the same. And because it’s only a 2-minute drive from home, this is something I see often. No matter how many times I see this, I never get tired of nature inside an urban landscape.

Other People’s Ideas

Monday night after the rain stopped, I drove over to a little park that I recently heard about through a hot tip. It’s one of those parks that are known only to the residents. We seem to have a lot of those hidden gems in the area. Nevertheless, it quite often affords the kind of view ordinarily reserved for waterfront properties.

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Other People's Ideas
From Rose Park in Bradenton Florida

Here I’m posing with the help of a ten-second timer, which was barely enough time to get into position. My first attempt caught me in mid-stride. I thought that adding a human element to the drama of the scene worked well. I got the inspiration from New Zealand photographer Mike Langford whom I met on a trip there a few years back. Here is a link to his photo on Pinterest and here is his website.

my portfolio

To tell you the truth, I get inspiration from a lot of different photographers, too numerous to mention. I spend a lot of time looking at their work and then when the situation arises; I’ll incorporate an idea into my photo. Sometimes, I even come up with ideas of my own. And then, ten years from now someone will say the same about me. It’s all just good energy going around.

Jungle Scene

Every now and then I need to get away from the urban chaos. I was feeling that and jumped in the car to drive here to Myakka River State Park. It was after a rainstorm; in summer, storms come almost daily. As the runoff overflowed the banks the scene resembled that of a jungle.

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Jungle Scene

This is at a trailhead and I was standing on the path in about six inches of water. Beyond this, there is a path that parallels the creek. It was a few inches above the water, so I walked along it until I heard the telltale sound of a bullfrog, which in reality is a nearby alligator. I thought better of it and walked back to the car.

more landscapes in the gallery

The reason I came here was to capture the lush vegetation and flowing water. The foreground grasses give a hint of the current as it overflowed the path. Also, the reflections create a natural symmetry that completes the scene. Speaking of reflections, I just created a little study of reflections here, be sure to check it out.

Open spaces in Florida are becoming urbanized, but I am thankful for protected parks like this where nature can still be experienced with just a short drive from home.

The Big TO

You’ll never guess where this is from. If you need a hint, look for the flag. But seriously, the rain should give it away for sure.

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The Big TO
Just moments before the scene was crowded with tourists taking selfies

I was wandering around the downtown part of the city on a Sunday morning before my flight home. When I arrived here there was no one around on account of the rain. But, being an iconic spot, within three minutes a bus full of Chinese tourists arrived and started taking selfies. It was a comical scene and so I sat on a bench to watch the ensuing chaos. Five minutes later they climbed back onto the bus and were off to the next location.

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Iconic locations are fun to shoot, and with a little effort, you can add your own spin. Many famous photographers seek out the same landmarks around the world. I’m not super motivated to do that. But if I happen to be there then why not, it’s still fun. In fact, it can be more fun to shoot the people at an iconic location than the location itself. Wished I’d thought of that before I took this.