This is a shot that I had a lot of fun making. I went walking down Broadway late at night in the pouring rain. Shooting street scenes in the city is fun enough, but add the lights reflecting on rain slicked streets and it takes it to a whole new level. And of course, being New York, there are always people out walking regardless of the weather.
I was a block from Times Square and there were lights everywhere. The colors of this scene were so vivid it almost looked unreal. At the time it seemed normal, but that’s what happens when you’re in the middle of the city, wild lights everywhere start to seem normal.
I had my camera covered with plastic and I was wearing a rain poncho. I must have been quite the site, but then maybe not. What could look more normal than someone with a camera in Times Square? I wasn’t the only one; I saw one or two others looking for cool shots as well. Rain seems to bring out the photographers, at least the ones that are visiting.
I was out for a couple of hours and people kept emptying out of bars and walking around looking for places to eat. That was me back in my twenties. Now I’m content just to take pictures of people doing what I used to do. In a way I think that’s kind of funny.
It’s been so long since I was here last that I had forgotten where everything was. So it was a nice surprise when I “found” the Jackie Kennedy Onassis reservoir late at night on a bike. This is from the north side facing back towards midtown. This night scene with the clouds reminds me of Gotham City.
I rented the bike for the evening as a way to get around Central Park. I got a basket so I could carry my tripod, as I’d need it for long exposures. The park is open until one in the morning and it was a nice surprise to find so many people out at such a late hour. For me, nighttime is the best time to take pictures here because of the overall moodiness. I stopped so often to set up my tripod that I could have easily been here all night. It was very quiet and I was in the zone.
This panorama consists of four vertical long exposure images, each thirty-seconds long. The clouds were heavy which added to the drama of the scene. They are especially illuminated above mid-town, as you would expect. My guess is that the light given off by Times Square is easily visible from space.
It still amazes me that Manhattan has such a big park in the middle of the city. It’s a vital organ of the city; I think the lungs. Whether you are running, cycling or just sitting on a bench, this is where you come to breathe in, breath out and reconnect.
I captured the light over the river one evening after the rain. Riverwalk is quiet directly after a heavy rain. However within thirty minutes people are back milling about, walking, running and fishing from the pier.
I get a little carried away when the light is like this. I’m attuned to special light. For instance I noticed it while doing exercise at the gym this morning. The clouds were in such a way that the light was diffused and I noticed. I notice it pretty much each evening in summer when we get broken clouds after rain. And I notice it when we get unusual weather here in Florida, which can be once a week or more. So on those yet fewer occasions when I have my camera, I get carried away. I’m making up for missed opportunities; I become a bit of a madman.
It borders on obsession. I lose track of everything else as I work on framing the light in different ways. That’s the big difference between a photographer and a painter. Photographers work in a short window of time and a lot must line up for it to work. A painter carries the scene in his or her head, timing has very little to do with it. However I can take all the time in the world when post processing. It’s closer to painting because if the image in my head differs from the one in the camera, I can take my time processing it to bring the two closer together.
At some level I’m simply working with light. There are mechanical tools and skill and knowledge and software and locations and weather and timing all mixed together. But at some level it’s all just working with light. As I think about it, it’s really kind of amazing for reasons I can only begin to guess.
This is a long exposure cityscape of Sarasota I took one night while waiting for the full moon to rise above the bridge. I was fortunate in that there was no wind and the waters of the bay were still. While that’s great for photos it also means there are a lot of mosquitos. I had a can of repellant and sprayed myself from head to toe: a minor annoyance but its a small price to pay in exchange for perfect conditions.
I never know when conditions will be good for photography until the last moment. If I had all the time in the world I’d go out every night checking. As a matter of fact I did that this evening before I sat down to write this. We had some dramatic clouds and I thought to get in position, but nothing happened and I drove home without a shot. It’s a numbers game; sometimes you lose and sometimes you win.
Earlier in the day I took a three-hour drive looking for compositions, in the end I got only one. The effort that goes into my photography is not carbon neutral. I should probably look into an electric car or just take the bus.
So that the time is not a complete waste I’ll listen to podcasts. I can get drawn into the stories such that the traffic, distances and time are not so monotonous. Even if I come back without a good composition at least I learned something. My favorite is Radio Labs, but I also like This American Life and sometimes Tim Ferris.
A lot of effort goes into making a good podcasts and the same holds true for photos. I love doing it so I rarely notice the time, but most of the images I post involve many hours of traveling, editing, expense, and sometimes even spraying myself with insect repellant.
The other day I stood at the waters edge of Sarasota Bay and watched the skimmers ply their trade. To get this I used high-speed settings to freeze the bird in mid flight. The skimmer flies inches above the water while scooping up food with its beak and leaving a small wake. It’s a graceful act to watch or photograph on a warm summer evening.
I just returned from the high desert. It was beautiful and very different from the Gulf Coast of Florida. Photographing the desert takes a different set of eyes than those I’ve developed for Florida. The dry land made me realize how fortunate I am to live near the water. But I would say the same thing if I lived near the mountains.
If you like photography then you will find something interesting no matter where you are. Being open to sights around you is not always as easy as it seems, it requires being flexible. Preconceived notions can block your vision when it doesn’t materialize. For instance, maybe you have a notion to capture a hillside, but there is an interesting wildflower right at your feet. It’s not just a matter of looking the other way, it also means adjusting your field of view.
When I took this I had setup to take pictures of the moon and a bridge. However I was drawn by the action of the skimmers. In the end I got different shots in addition to the one I came for. There will always be something unexpected, even in the most familiar setting. So put yourself in a setting and look around. You never know what you might see.
If you read this blog occasionally maybe you wonder why I write about images. It’s because it helps me to integrate with it on more than one level. After writing about an image it has it’s own story and it seems to take on a life of it’s own. Now when I go back to look at an image I remember it’s story.
This is St Petersburg Florida across Tampa Bay. At this time of year we get thunderstorms that clear in the evening around sunset. I took this right after the storms and about two minutes after at sun had set. The clouds are a peachy orange from the glow of that hour.
Most photographers post images without a word. Sometimes images are so strong they need no words. But, for whatever reason I take the time to write a story. It’s totally unnecessary but I do it anyway.
The urge to write is something I’ve had my whole life. My grandmother was a writer and maybe some of that rubbed off. Half the time I have no idea what I’ll write but it eventually takes shape. Once I write some thoughts I’ll revise, edit, and revise until it’s done; then the story and image are posted together.
Now having said all this about that, today’s images is created with post processing. I imagine the bay produces these reflections, but of course it does not. So to get the final result I took one part picture, one part imagination and a hand full of words and mixed them all together. This is what I ended up with.
Over the weekend we had a full moon and for some reason it’s called the strawberry moon. Apparently it’s the smallest full moon of the year, but I think that doesn’t means much in practical terms because we can’t see the difference with our eyes.
This is the Sarasota skyline from across the bay. It was one of the few nights we didn’t have cloud cover and this scene is one I’ve been waiting to capture.
In fact this is a large panorama consisting of twelve individual images in a grid of 2 x 6. At full resolution this is two by eight feet. If you are thinking of purchasing a print, be sure to select the wide panorama crop (20 x 80 or similar) when checking out or just contact me so that I can ensure you get the correct fit for the frame size you want.
I’ve been creating a lot of panoramas lately. I’m intrigued by the perspective and level of detail that’s possible. However the bigger the panorama the harder it is to put together. There are a lot of nuances that need to be fit just so. The software helps a little but most of the work is slow detail effort, although it’s something I enjoy a lot. The long slow process in kind of like a meditation for me, I’m in a different world when editing images.
I spend more time working on photos than taking them. That’s just part of my artistic process. Often I’ll come back to a photo a dozen times before I feel it’s ready. Many times it never gets there and is relegated to the reject bin. Every now and then I review the rejects and see something in a different light and bring it back to life.
In this case I had a strong idea of what I wanted so it was just a matter of taking the time to get it just right, in camera and in post processing. After all that work I still don’t know why it’s called a strawberry moon. I should just Google it but on the other hand I think I’ll just leave it as a mystery for now.
This is a long exposure that I took of San Francisco from Treasure Island. I took this at the beginning of the year but if I go back and take it again today it would look different on account of the construction. I never really thought about it but changing skylines seem to be a normal thing. Constant change is an oxymoron if there ever was one but it fits what I see each time I go back.
I guarantee you there are a million pictures of this same scene. Now there is one million and one. What I like about this one in particular is the detail and colors. I was here a month before and the same shot came out fuzzy. At the time I was using a light travel tripod that couldn’t hold the camera steady in a moderate wind. This time I took my Really Right Stuff carbon fiber tripod and it kept the camera solid as a rock.
I am born and raised in California so I know the area. Now when I go back I notice changes. I also used to live in New York. I’ll be going back there shortly so I’m sure I’ll be seeing a ton of changes there as well. The more we are gone the more we see.
Even when I leave home for a week or two I notice changes around my small town. It could be as simple as a new sign or a re-paved road. If I’d stayed it might have gone unnoticed, just part of the daily scenery. It seems we don’t notice gradual change, rather only when we’ve been away do we see the contrast.
I think it all boils down to our ability to adapt to change around us; we are wired that way. As long it’s gradual we seem to pay little heed. However the only thing that’s constant is change and, …that will never change. If that’s not a circular argument I don’t know what is.
I am fortunate because I can drive to the beach in a few minutes. I’m double fortunate because I like photography. Those two reasons conspired to get me to the beach the other day where I simply walked up and down taking photos. This is one of my favorite due to the simplicity of the scene and the timing of the shot.
I was lining up to get the sun reflected in the puddle and noticed the skimmer out of the corner of my eye. I took three rapid shots with this being the best. To be honest, while I love this shot, it’s not all that hard to do. It simply boils down to being in position and noticing things. In fact, awesome things happen around us all the time however we’re usually too preoccupied to notice. When you put yourself in a receptive state of mind you see quite a lot. That’s the essence of this type of photography.
Anyway, it’s nice to walk the beach and look for scenes. Things are happening all the time and when I see them I do my best to capture them. The same applies for different genres such as street photography, urban exploration, architecture photography and travel photography. Maybe we can come up with a new type of photography that’s about capturing scenes around us. It will be called scene photography, …or not. I might need to put a little more thought in to that.
This is a view of the Bradenton Beach Pier from the bridge. I’m facing west so the pier is on the inter-coastal waterway. The Gulf of Mexico is just behind the row of buildings. To get the whole bridge in the frame I walked on to the bridge between the mainland and Anna Maria Island. Other than that I’d need to be on a boat since there’s no other place to get the full view of it.
I took this early in the evening as people were coming home from the beach. Basically I was standing on the sidewalk next to a traffic jam. That’s because there are only two bridges leaving the island and all those thousands of people have to go home. Right after sunset it can time to drive home, good thing there is nice scenery along the way.
With all the cars crossing it causes the bridge to vibrate. That creates a challenge when taking long exposures like this. For instance, if I have a ten-second exposure and a car goes by in the first five seconds, the image will come out fuzzy. However my Sony A7rII camera has image stabilization so it was able to take a sharp image even with the vibration.
If you follow the pier back to shore, it leads to Old Bridge Street. That’s an area with outdoor establishments and live music at every corner. People are out walking around, listening to music and just seeing the sights. There are a lot of choices from ice cream to lobster, from smoothie to martini.
My favorite thing about Bradenton Beach is the small town atmosphere, something not so easy to come by these days. But now you know where you can find it.