I took this sunrise over the Manatee River with a drone one morning. For years I wanted to take a helicopter so I could get a photo with this perspective, but now I just use the DJI. It’s a lot cheaper and I don’t have to hang out the door to get a shot.
The town of Bradenton is on the right and my home town of Palmetto is on the left. The traffic flows into Bradenton over the second bridge in the morning and the other way at night. The first bridge is the rail bridge to the Tropicana plant. In the old days the trains carried people, now it only carries oranges to the plant and juice in the other direction. If you buy a container of orange juice, chances are it crossed that bridge.
I was standing on a pier just off camera to the right. The drone was so high and far away from me I couldn’t actually see it with my eyes. But I could tell where it was through the live feed it was sending back. I always get a little nervous when it’s so far away, but nothing happened and I got the image I’ve been waiting so long for.
This water is normally choppy but just after sunset the breeze dies down and the water becomes like glass. That’s when I see all kinds of opportunities for compositions like this. It’s amazing how much difference an hour makes in the look and feel of a place like this. I love summer evenings by the river.
The spot where I’m standing is popular for Pokemon Go. Quite a few people show up here at night, more so than just a couple months ago. They create a festive atmosphere even if they are concentrating on their mobile screens. I haven’t tried the game myself but I have a feeling its just the beginning of a whole new wave in gaming. I should open up a hot dog stand here. I’ll have an app that they can use to buy the hot dogs even though they are standing right in front of me. It’ll be a big hit.
An hour or so earlier there were afternoon thunderstorms. After the storms move away they left small cloud remnants that collected the colors of dusk. You can see a little of that action going on here in shades of pink as the sun recedes well beyond the horizon.
I love how long the evenings are in summer. Pretty soon it will be autumn and it starts getting dark early again. But now its fun to be outside until well after dark; taking pictures, playing Pokemon or selling hot dogs with my new killer app.
Clay Gully is a little creek in Myakka State Park. One of the claims to fame here is the alligator population, this is a sanctuary for the Florida reptiles. I’ve been here at this exact spot during the rainy season when the banks were flooded and the alligators were not just in the water, but along the path. However when I took this a couple of days ago they were all the alligators where in the water, it was a little less nerve wracking than the last time.
The green vegetation is very much like a jungle. As I walked along the path I could hear all kinds of animal noises from within the trees. Of course it only gets louder at night when many of the nocturnal creatures come out.
Spring is a relatively dry season here, but as summer approaches we get the afternoon showers and storms that keep these waterways alive and vibrant. This creek is full of fish as it opens into Myakka Lake where Eagles, Hawks and Osprey can catch as many fish as they like. Often enough the eagles will wait until an Osprey catches a fish and then swoop in and steal it. One of the benefits of being at the top of the avian food chain I suppose.
This is one of two bridges that connects Bradenton to Palmetto. I live in Palmetto which is a small town so I take a lot of photos of, on and around these bridges. Bridges are a persistent theme with me as I’m sure you already know. To get these long exposures at night I use a tripod to hold the camera steady while the cars drive past creating long ribbons of light. In this case it was a thirteen-second exposure. Normally I’m freezing an instant of time however in this case thirteen-seconds. Freezing time is a funny concept, but don’t think too deeply about it, I wasn’t really going anywhere.
Back to the bridge, I said there was two bridges, but this was taken from a third bridge. It was the original bridge that crossed the river and was built maybe a hundred years ago, it now serves as a fishing pier. What’s left of this original bridge stretches about a half mile into the river so it allows this close perspective which might have required a boat.
Urban landscapes are interesting to me, especially when I can portray a simplified scene like this. Shooting at night helps remove some of the distractions, processing in monochrome simplifies it even more. I also like how the pilings are a repeating pattern below the lit surface. There is some kind of message of strength in there I think, maybe. Again, let’s not get too deep, this is a small town and this is a simple bridge. End of story.
These tracks cross the Manatee River between Bradenton and Palmetto. A lot of people like to stop here and take pictures, for some reason it seems to be a popular spot for prom photos. I suppose it’s an iconic location in this small blue collar town. Every morning and evening we hear the train blowing its horn as it crosses the river on the way to the plant.
I know I’m repeating myself, I’ve taken this image before. But every now and then I’ll do that, go back to a place where I’ve taken an image and do it again. Each time it’s a little different, I approach it with slightly newer eyes. Regardless, I think this shot always ends up being a little gritty, full on urban, no sunsets or beaches.
The bridge here is almost a mile long. In the middle is a section that lifts to let the boats pass. I’ve seen fishermen walk out on this although there are signs all over warning people to stay off. The river itself is fairly shallow except in the center. Just the other day I saw a couple of fishermen walk under these tracks in about two feet of water about a quarter mile out from the other side. Big rivers being what they are I find that a little extreme, you won’t find me doing that any time soon.
This is the tower view from Robinson Preserve in Bradenton Florida. It’s on a trial about a half mile from the parking lot and a good place to get some perspective on the land. In a way this is a poor mans drone shot without the drone. These are inland marshes and salt flats that attract all manner of wildlife. The waterway on the right is a popular place to kayak and further up are mangrove tunnels to be explored.
For this composition I deliberately ignored the rule of thirds because I felt the sky is just as compelling as the ground, they hold the balance in equal measure as a kind of yin and yang. I’ve starting doing that sometimes when using a wide angle lens, here I shot at 14mm.
Normally I am alone here and the last one to leave the park, but just as I ascended the tower about twenty people approached along the trail and ascended the stairs of the tower alongside me. It’s a big tower so it can hold a lot of people. Turns out they were on a guided tour of the park to observe it at dusk and evening. With all the nocturnal animals I’m sure there would be some interesting sounds as well.
The sun rises on a new day on North River across the Manatee. The river is about a mile wide here but only goes upstream for about ten miles. The land of Florida acts as a large catch basin for the tropical rains. We don’t have long rivers as compared to other parts of the country, but they can carry a lot of water nonetheless. The water empties into the ocean and so where I’m standing rises and falls with the tide.
I took this with a wide angle lens because I wanted to show the expanse of the river, it’s nearly a mile wide here. This area is a bird sanctuary, which means a lot of migratory birds come here in the winter. At this spot there is a great Heron that can be seen every morning. I suppose they are territorial because he is always here. He’s quite skittish so when I show up for sunrise he usually flies away. But this is his spot all the same and sometimes I see him when I drive by on the bridge just behind where I’m standing here.
Whenever this section of the country gets a cold snap, we get a lot of birds that fly down from Georgia and the Carolinas. They’ll end up staying for only a week or so until it warms up and then head back north to their own home. I suppose the birds that live here full time might get their feathers ruffled with all the visitors, and of course, the short timers need to get back to their own territory. But in the meantime, this is the view all the birds and a few of us humans see, even if it’s not our territory.
These people are on a brisk morning walk along the river a couple days ago. We don’t get a lot of cold days in winter, but when we do we wear sweatshirts and jackets that sit in the closet most of the year. Having endured the long hot seasons of Florida, you won’t hear me complain about a spell of chilly weather. Bring it on baby.
This is taken in Bradenton and that’s the Manatee River. It’s a half mile wide here and a couple miles downstream it empties into the Gulf. It’s not uncommon to see dolphins or manatees around here.
I live on the other side of the river in the little town of Palmetto. Locally the towns across the river are known as north river; simple enough eh?
I was walking my dog this morning as I took this image. He sits patiently as I crouch down to get this low angle and perspective of the brick walkway. I take my camera on many of our walks and he’s gotten used to my stopping at the oddest times. But come to think of it, this is probably the same view that he sees all the time. Hmmm, maybe I’m on to something.
The Riverwalk Fishing Pier is in Bradenton not far from my home. I love coming here early in the morning when everything is quiet and the water is still. The way the weather works, as soon as the sun rises it generates a breeze which ripples the water, so the only way to see it glassy like this is before dawn.
The river flows into the Gulf of Mexico so it rises and falls with the tide. At high tide the pilings are mostly submerged. I’ve heard that decades ago there was a hurricane in the gulf and the water drained from the river before the onslaught of the storm surge. It was said you could walk across the riverbed. I’ve only lived here about ten years and not seen anything close to that, hopefully I never will.
I walk my dog here, he is a rescue. For some reason he is afraid of any walkway above the water and so piers are difficult for him. I’ve worked with him over the years to overcome that fear and now he’ll walk out to the end with me. I don’t rush him and I give him plenty of positive reinforcement. Whenever I see this pier it reminds me of how much progress he’s made. Life’s little pleasures.
These are the Manatee River Crossings between the towns of Bradenton and Palmetto in Florida. The furthest bridge is for cars and the closer one for trains. I am standing on a taller third bridge looking down. The river is so wide here that I think before these bridges were built, the two towns must have been quite different, as they were only accessible to each other by boat. Now the towns are in the same county and we cross the bridges without a thought. As the towns grow a new bridge is under construction up stream from here.
To take this shot I walked to this spot atop the third bridge using the bike lane. I then stood here with my tripod taking in the scene as the sun rose and the thick clouds hung in the air. These along with the still morning surface of the river created an ethereal quality that I wanted to capture. After taking the photo I walked back down off the bridge against the flow of early morning commuters. At about the same time the upraised span of the rail bridge lowered for the first train as it crossed the river.
These are the moments when the day begins. Many things happen during the day as we live our lives in close proximity, passing each other going this way and that. Then, at the end of the day, the crossings empty of trains and cars, and below them the calm waters of the river return.