Some scenes like this I keep coming back to. But since the sky is different each time it counts as a new pic. I’m not trying to justify it, I’m just saying.
I’ve posted this same scene at least three times; here, here and here. I considered not posting yet another, but I like it and so why not? It makes sense to repeat a composition over time to gauge subtle difference as your technique or gear changes.
This is the first time I used the GM lens for this scene, and so now I can take the time to notice that. I’m doing that with a few repeat scenes, and I’m enjoying the results. I usually save the GM lenses for commercial or portrait work, but I’m starting to use them for landscapes as well. Anyway, here is the latest version of the pier in Bradenton’s Riverwalk. Stay tuned for version 5.0 in about a year.
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.
This image is another photo from Myakka River State Park and has some compositional no-nos in it. I’m not sure why, but I like it anyway. Maybe its the colors or the symmetry created from the reflections.
I take a lot of photos that never make it to the light of day. I do however review all of them in thumbnail form. There are very few winners; nevertheless, this caught my eye even though the tops of the palm trees are cut off.
Sometimes the colors, shapes, and feeling of an image can override the rules of composition. Rules are just guidelines that can be broken. I try to go with what feels right to me, and in this case, a photo with real issues feels okay. I hope you don’t mind if I ignore its flaws.
Here is a scene that I took from along the river a few years back. I’ve been going through the catalog looking for old photos, and this caught my eye.
I added a color filter and straightened the horizon; all in all, that took about 3 minutes. I’ve not done much to process this photo which stands in contrast to other images that I’ve spent hours processing; like the one yesterday. The pendulum swings both ways.
If you are into photography, I have some free advice, do what makes you happy. Whether that means processing a lot or none at all, follow your heart. I’ve spent years studying and learning from others, but that’s no substitute for my “voice” or style. If we do what makes us happy, the rest will fall into place. That’s it for the free advice. For the next one, I’ll need 25 cents.
The other day I was at Myakka River State Park to try out some experimental gear. I didn’t have a plan other than to line up a few landscape shots. As I sat on a bench working with the apparatus, a mama and baby Limpkin strolled by.
They were eating snails and clams. The snails were easy enough to catch and eat. The clams they would batter with their beaks to break open the shells. I was no more than six feet away and what I found surprising was that, as long as I remained still, they tolerated my presence.
There’s nothing better than to observe wild animals in their natural habitat. The baby Limkin was more wary of me, but the mother seemed to decide that it was more important to eat than worry about me. Or maybe she did both. Whatever the case, it was a rare privilege I’ll not soon forget.
After a rainy day last week the wind died down in the evening. When that happens, the water in the river becomes smooth like glass, which is the perfect time to take pictures. I made this near my home in Palmetto, just off the road next to the bridge.
This scene is an HDR image made of four frames with different exposures. By combining frames, the greenery and sun appear without either appearing blown-out. I use Aurora HDR from Skylum to process my HDR compositions. After mixing the frames, I usually make three or four additional adjustments to get it just the way I want it. I may also process it in Luminar which is another tool from Skylum.
This area is a little section by the river that few people notice. It’s next to a major road that thousands drive by each day. As for me, I believe a photographer should work close to home as a way to practice seeing the familiar with new eyes. Seeing something new in the usual, or looking at it from a different perspective is a useful skill at home and abroad. So if you happen to be driving to work and see me standing by the river, now you’ll know why.
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.
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.
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.
This is the Hérault river in Southern France. We stopped here for a brief rest on our way back from a visit to the mountain village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert. There are a lot of rivers running off the mountains here and many have ancient bridges or structures alongside.
Just off to the left are a set of caves that, had we not been so tired, we could have explored; something to add to the next trip I suppose.
If stopped at all the good spots for pictures I would never get anywhere. This is especially true in a new place, but even at home, I’m in the habit of scanning. Unconstrained, I could go to the store for milk and come back days later, still thirsty but with a lot of pictures. That’s why I don’t bring my camera when grocery shopping. Even though sometimes I think I should.
Here is a shot of the Bradenton Riverwalk on a rainy morning a couple of years ago, just as the sun is about to rise. Living where I do I prefer to have water as a feature in my environmental shots. If I go outside it’s almost unavoidable. The water creates provides a basic building block with which to build a composition.
Another thing I look for is leading lines. In this case it’s a guardrail, but it could also be more organic elements like a path or shoreline. The line leads the eyes of the viewer into the picture where our imaginations begin to find root.
Finally, quite often I prefer to have some human element. In many cases it adds a level of interest that subtly draws the attention even more. It’s not uncommon to project ourselves into the scene through the perspective of a human figure. In this approach the person can be blurred or abstracted so not to provide too many details. These things are better left to our own imaginations.
This is a spot I like to photograph. There are a lot of reasons but the main one is that the tracks form a leading line across the river. We are drawn to leading lines because they provide a sense of movement and direction. For some reason that’s important to us at an instinctual level.
Maybe the rules of photography are based on some primal desire for survival. If that’s true it’s an interesting idea and, all the more reason to break the rules once in a while. That might mean considering compositions that will not lead us back to safety.
I know I’m drawing a long bow, but writing about photos as I do forces me to think about these things. Let’s just say I do more than my fair share of introspection. In the end, I would really prefer to just get out and take pictures and worry about the intellectual stuff later. Or, not worry at all.