Windblown Palms

Here is a shot I took last year in Sarasota. It was one of those rushed shots that I was frantically trying to capture as the sun disappeared. The windblown palms added drama to the scene which meant that a three image HDR was out of the question. Nevertheless, I was able to get this with a single exposure from that fantastic Sony sensor on the A7RII.

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Windblown Palms
A scene near the Ringling Bridge in Sarasota, Florida

I took this with a super wide angle 12mm lens. I don’t use it as much as I’d like, but this is an example of what it can do. In a lot of cases, it’s too wide for my needs. But still, it’s nice to have it in the kit.

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One thing it does well is to include a lot of the sky. In this case, that’s what I wanted because of the clouds and colors. But at other times it can leave a lot of empty space. Anyway, I’m happy with how it turned out with the combination of the windblown palms, leading lines and dramatic clouds.

HDR Sunrise

This is a re-edit of a photo I took over two years ago in Sarasota. Like an image I posted a few days ago, this was taken right next to the Ringling Bridge. It’s an area of Sarasota where the view is good in all directions which is why I keep coming back.

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HDR Sunrise
A sunrise from Sarasota’s Bird Key – this is an HDR image

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range which in this case was created by merging three images together. A few years ago, HDR photography was most of what I did, in fact it’s what got me back into photography after leaving film. But lately, I’ve not done much HDR. The main reason is that the cameras are so good you don’t need to combine images to get a High Dynamic Range. The other was my impatience with the software, it wasn’t always easy for me.

Fast forward to now. The reason I like this edit better than the original is because of some help I had with improved software. Recently a new version of Aurora HDR was released and it’s so good that I’m looking at HDR again. The image I posted the other day as well as this one was produced using Aurora HDR 2018. It’s easy to use and I’m very happy with the results.

more HDR images

So, there you have it, a little behind the scenes on what goes into these photos. That, and just hanging out at my favorite places along the water.

Sunset over the Ringing Bridge

As a photographer I wonder if the architects of this bridge designed it with the setting sun in mind. It’s positioned such that in you get this view in the afternoon as you cross over to Bird Key. Sometimes if we are going to dinner in St Armand’s Circle we’ll cross the bridge at this time; heaven forbid I should have a camera.

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Sunset over the Ringing Bridge
I think the architects of the Ringling Bridge had this scene in mind.

If you scan through my portfolio, you’ll see a lot of photos on or, around this bridge. And yes, some were taken when I was heading to dinner. However, it’s such an iconic location that I’ll keep coming back to hopefully find something slightly different. I’ve worn it out for sure, but hey, who’s counting?

more sunset images

Often on a Sunday morning they’ll close the bridge for a run because this is the closest thing we have to a hill. Florida is really flat. If you want to see the landscape the easiest way is to walk or run up to the middle of the bridge. Of course, you could also stand on the top of a nearby hotel, but then you’d miss out on your exercise, not to mention the intentions of the bridge builders.

Super Blue Blood Moon over Sarasota

Here is the super blue blood moon over Sarasota’s Ringling bridge. Boy, what a commotion this created. I was standing by myself along the water, nearly hidden by brush along the side of an empty section of road. Some passerby must have seen me and looked over to see what I was doing.

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Super Blue Blood Moon over Sarasota
This spectacle create quite the stir, around the world and right behind me.

As I was absorbed in my camera settings and composing the shot, I was oblivious to everything around me. At one point I heard someone’s voice and looked up to see a crowd of people standing behind me. There was all manner of smart phones taking this same picture with the little LED flashes going off.

Continuing the task at hand, a few minutes later I heard the sound of screeching breaks and horns. It seems the stopped cars nearly caused a traffic pileup. We were standing along a causeway of sorts with no safe place to pull over and park. Nevertheless, it seemed I started a trend, and everybody piled on for an iPhone photo.

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In the end I got a shot I had in my mind. Just taking a quick look at twitter there are millions of people doing the same thing. Anyway, I’m adding this one to the pile, even if it did nearly cause a pileup.

On the way to St Armand’s

On the weekend we decided to head to Sarasota for dinner and I had a vague thought to grab the camera. On the way to St Armand’s Circle we saw this scene as we approached the bridge. Since I had my camera I pulled over to capture the sun nearing the horizon. Although it looks white here, the sun was glowing red from behind what appeared to be atmospheric dust. Every so often dust from the Sahara blows across the Atlantic and creates a filter-like effect that’s good for photography.

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On the way to St Armand’s
On the way to St Armand’s in Sarasota

This is another panoramic image. I was using a 35mm lens and took three vertical images and then stitched them together in Lightroom. Unlike the panorama of Miami that I posted yesterday, this does not have as much detail. Nevertheless I am fond of this technique for capturing landscapes because it produces very little distortion. It’s similar to turning your head from side to side.

I get a little wistful when I see a sunset and don’t have a camera. So I’ve gotten in the habit of carrying one even if I don’t plan on talking pictures. You never can tell when something might come up. If I use a small prime lens then the camera is not so bulky. Then, if I feel I need to go wider than the lens allows, I can simply create a panorama with as little as two side-by-side images.

Sarasota Gallery

Anyway, this is my favorite location to take photos in Sarasota and I had it in the back of my mind that I might see something as we dove by. I’m glad I listened to that little voice in my head. Hopefully I’ll keep listening.

Cityscape Panorama Across Sarasota Bay

This is a cityscape panorama across Sarasota Bay. To create this I took three vertical images using a 55 mm lens and then stitched them together in Autopano Giga. The reason I did that rather than use a wide angle lens is it creates a realistic view of the scene whereas wide angle lenses tend to distort the sky. Each method has its use.

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Cityscape Panorama Across Sarasota Bay
This is a cityscape panorama across Sarasota Bay.

My guess is that these sailboats are in a mooring field. There is another mooring field on the other side of that bridge just out of sight. That one is busy but this one seems to be long term as I’ve seen the same sailboats sit here for years.

The day was a little hazy but the clouds added an extra dimension to the sky. These types of scenes, urban panoramas across the water, represent a technique I find appealing. Sky and water frame a cityscape and create a different perspective. It’s a little like looking down from an airplane only in this case we’re looking across. I have a coffee table book I’m working on called Sea and Sky; it has a few images like this.

Another thing I like about these stitched-together panoramas is that the image is very high resolution. That’s good for two reasons; it allows the viewer to zoom in and explore the details and, it can be used to create large prints. This resolution of this image can produce a print that is six feet across without losing detail. That makes it suited for large spaces like offices or hallways.

more panoramas

In a few years camera sensors will capture more detail than they do today. Actually these already exist but are specialized for surveillance and mapping. However soon even landscape photographers like myself will have them. And when that happens we’ll be able to pass the time just exploring the details of a scene like this on someone’s large wall.

All Roads Lead to Sarasota

When it comes to taking photos, this is my favorite section of Sarasota. On the left is the fishing pier, which I’m standing on and on the right is the Ringling Bridge that leads to the center of town. I take so many pictures from here that I’m at risk of running out of views. Not this time because it’s a perspective I haven’t yet captured. It reminds me of the saying about Rome, only in this case all roads lead to Sarasota. That could be a metaphor for something else.

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All Roads Lead to Sarasota
All Roads Lead to Sarasota

It’s silly but I have an ongoing fear that I’ll run out of things to take pictures of. Nothing could be further from reality because the possibilities are infinite. Yet each time I go out I feel that fear. Maybe it’s just part of the process, a propellant for creativity. I compartmentalize it so it doesn’t take control of me but it’s always there. I can acknowledge it without letting it change my agenda. It’s a reminder that art and creativity are tangible and as such there is resistance to succeeding.

I think about these things a lot. That’s because I take the time to write about my images. That in turn causes me to explore my thoughts, motivations and ideas around images. Any time you do that it invariably leads to these questions; what is art, where does it come from, where does it lead? And in the end the answer is always the same, all roads lead to self discovery.

Sarasota Images

So perhaps the new perspective that I found for this area can be an allegory for self awareness. That’s my two cents on the matter.

Burden of Beauty

When I see a scene like this I want to capture it with my camera. That’s great if I have my camera, it’s stressful if I don’t. Its what I call the burden of beauty. Photography has opened my eyes so I am more aware of what’s around me. When I see something interesting or pretty the inclination is to take a picture. So now I not only appreciate more, I want to capture it. As problems go I suppose its a good one to have.

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Burden of Beauty
The burden of beauty demands that I capture scenes like this

I took this in Sarasota last week as the rain clouds were clearing. There is a special quality to the light at times like this. I feel the need to capture elusive light. Sometimes the photos are simply clouds, water and sun. Generally they never make it to my collections, maybe they lack that little something extra of interest to a wider audience. That’s okay, I’m glad I captured it all the same.

“Capture” is a funny word. We cannot capture anything as ephemeral as light, we record it. But I try to convey a little of what I felt or saw at the time. So when I say I capture an image, that’s shorthand for recording a scene and trying to convey a sense of the moment. It’s not easy but I try.

Sarasota Gallery

Have you ever been away from home, seen something you’ve never seen and then call home to talk about it? That’s how I can feel even just walking the dog, I want to share it. It happens all the time. I think that’s because I have a heightened appreciation for moments like this; that’s the burden of beauty.

Sarasota Skyline from Afar

The Sarasota skyline from afar is something I never get tired of. This is about a mile away. I took this while standing near a boat launch on City Island.

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Sarasota Skyline from Afar
Sarasota Skyline from Afar

This happened to be one of the few times of the year it was cold and windy. That’s great for this type of photography because the air is crisp and the clouds blur against the sky when the exposure is long. The only difficulty is getting the camera to remain steady against the winds. I have a good tripod but sometimes that’s not enough. In this case I shielded the camera on one side of my SUV so that the car acted as a windbreak.

I take a lot of pictures of Sarasota. Its close and has views across the water, something I favor. A long time ago I made up a rule, let’s call it the rule of fourths. The idea is to get as many of the four elements in the picture as possible. Using fire, air, water and earth, I compose an image, the more the merrier. The rule doesn’t always work, its more of an idea than a rule. However I’ll find myself working with it in an image almost subconsciously.

sarasota gallery

Each time I come here to take a photo the conditions are different. The last time I came it was in the morning, it’s a good sunrise spot because it faces east. Once I captured a big thunder cloud over the city on a summer afternoon. Each time I show up at the same location there will be something different, the trick is to notice; that’s the idea, not a rule.

Lights Reflecting in Sarasota Bay

Lights reflecting in Sarasota Bay on a recent evening. I’ve taken similar images but of course each one is a little different. This is a long exposure panorama of three separate images; the exposure is about ten-seconds and it makes the water look smooth. Panoramas over the water work well only if the water is smooth. Otherwise there are noticeable lines where the wave patterns are stitched together. That’s because the waves from each picture are in different positions and don’t match when combined. A little tip for the day.

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Lights Reflecting in Sarasota Bay
Lights Reflecting in Sarasota Bay

I’m addicted to long exposure photography, I love how it transforms a scene, making it seem almost serene. I’m also addicted to night or low light photography, I like how the mood shifts when the bright light of day fades. When I get to combine the two I’m in my happy place. It’s a lot of fun and I never quite know what I’ll end up with. The main thing is to keep experimenting and, of course, having fun.

panoramas from the gallery

Anyway, now that the weather here in Florida is finally cooling a bit from the long hot summer, an evening outdoors can be refreshing. A cool dry breeze is something I haven’t felt around here in about six months, so now that thats starting I think its time to get out and enjoy the weather. Not that I need an excuse but for me that means doing more long exposure panoramas. Stay tuned, more images to come.