Fishing Pier 4.0

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.

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Fishing Pier 4.0
The fishing pier at Bradenton’s Riverwalk

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.

more images from the riverwalk

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.

River Storms

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.

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River Storms
Typical summer day as a storm travels downriver.

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.

more from the Manatee River

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.

Walk the Walk

Sometimes you need to walk the walk. If you do, it may as well be by the river in the evening when I’m taking photos. That way if you happen to step in front of my camera, it might make for a good picture.

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Walk the Walk
Someone walks along the river in Bradenton Florida

Every day I try to come up with a few sentences about a photo that I’m publishing. Maybe it’s not necessary, but I do it anyway to add to the story. I never know what I’ll write, but something usually comes to mind, like a memory of the moment when I snapped the shutter.

more from the Manatee River

But sometimes I draw a big fat blank and can’t think of a thing to say. At those times I resort to a little creative writing. Yes, you are correct, this is one of those times. Today, I can’t think of a thing I want to say about this photo. It’s just some guy along the river that walked in front of my camera.

Morning Rain

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.

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Morning Rain
An early morning capture along the Manatee River in the rain

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.

favorites gallery

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.

Twenty Minute Challenge

Earlier this week the rain cleared out just before sunset. I jumped in my car and came here to Riverwalk in Bradenton. I had less than thirty minutes before the colors faded so I ran around to get as many pictures as I could. This image is the first one I took.

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Twenty Minute Challenge

It was twenty minutes of pure awesome. When the conditions are perfect, you have to keep moving. It’s a challenge to get as many scenes as you can before the color drains from the sky. I wish it would last longer, but beggars can’t be choosers.

more from Riverwalk in Bradenton

In fact, soft light in the sky and reflections on the ground make anything look good. I could be standing in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and it would seem remarkable. That’s the reason I prefer low light photography. It evokes an ephemeral mood that overrides the harsh realities of only a few minutes earlier. Anyway, when I left my house, I headed to the river. But perhaps I could have driven in the other direction to Wal-Mart and had just as much fun. You never know.

It’s a Good Thing

This, as they say in the business, is SOOC, or “straight out of camera” for the rest of us. I process images mostly to restore the colors, however in this case no processing was needed. This is exactly what the scene looked like.

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It's a Good Thing
The habit of noticing beauty around you is a good thing

It was early in the morning and I remember thinking how strange the red glow looked. Of course, I took a picture but so did a bunch of other folks that were out walking or jogging. So, you see? It’s not just me that notices these things.

more images with reflections

I’m always remarking on pretty or unusual scenes when I see them, it’s part of my nature as a photographer. Now I’m seeing similar behavior in friends and family. Noticing beautiful scenes is contagious and possibly addictive. Once you start, it’s nearly impossible to stop. But, here’s some advice, it’s okay. Having good habit’s, even if they’re involuntary, is a good thing. And lord knows, we can use a few more good things these days.

Rainy Bradenton Sunrise

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.

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Rainy Bradenton Sunrise
A rainy morning at Bradenton’s Riverwalk

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.

More photos in the rain

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.

Sunrise over the Manatee River

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.

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Sunrise over the Manatee River
Sunrise over the Manatee River as viewed from a small DJI MavicPro drone camera

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.

other images of this river

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.

Supermoon

This is the supermoon rising under a bridge in my home town. At the time, I only knew it was a full moon, but when I showed up at the river and other photographers were there I realized it must be something special. Shortly thereafter supermoon photos were circulating on local and international news.

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Supermoon
Supermoon under a bridge over the Manatee River

What makes it a supermoon is that the full moon coincides with its closest approach to earth. It has an elliptical orbit so technically it is closer; however, I have a sneaking suspicion, the moon does not really appear bigger in the sky, we just think it does. That aside, if you ever see a full moon just above the horizon it appears quite big on account of a lens effect of our atmosphere.

more night photos

Each month I see it too late to take a photo and promise myself I’ll catch it next month. After about a year of doing that I finally remembered to get out and capture it. Actually, that’s a little lie, my wife reminded me. In truth if it wasn’t for her I would have missed this one also.

Study of Light and Impressions

This is a study of light and impressions from familiar scene; it’s a public boat dock along the river. Folks sometimes dock their boats here and walk over to the nearby restaurants. In reality it’s not used all that much. More often people come here to sit and watch the water. It’s a regular stop for me when I’m out walking with my dog Mr. Wiggles.

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Study of Light and Impressions
Study of Light and Impressions

I’ve taken a lot of pictures of this location at various times of the day and night and from different angles. So I guess you could say this is a study of how the scene changes each time. It’s also how I practice, by shooting the same subject slightly differently and then working with it in post. In this case I noticed the lights just as dawn was breaking from the east. It was a quick shot that I hadn’t preplanned.

But later I’ve spent hours working on this. As you know, images out of the camera do not always reflect the mood or scene as we remember it. Our images seem to come out flat and a little boring. So I’ve done a lot of things in an attempt to being back that feeling. I’ve enhanced the lights from the lampposts and I’ve saturated the colors to accentuate the reflections on the water.

More images from Riverwalk in Bradenton

So does it work? It’s all completely subjective; I’ve created something partially resembling what I saw yet something completely different. In the end it is what it is, a study of light and impressions from a familiar scene.