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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is a familiar scene transformed by the weather. It’s another in a series of panoramas I’ve been doing; only this time I used an iPhone. I shot this on a rainy day with three vertical images side-by-side.
I like shooting in the rain. When it rains, you may see things that make for interesting images. Maybe the opposite would be true if I lived in a rainy climate. I’d be writing about how I like shooting on a dry day because it offers a slightly different perspective than the typical rainy day. One person’s mundane is another person’s awesome.
Do we consider whatever we see regularly as mundane? I have a photographer friend who lives in a condo overlooking a beautiful beach. He’s been there a year and he recently told me he wasn’t tired of the view. But he does like going to other places to take photos. When I visit him the beach looks amazing to me so I take a lot of photos.
Anyway, I’ve been to this location in Bradenton a hundred of times, but in the rain at dusk it looked completely new to me. Sometimes I think we just need a change of scenery, even if that means just going to the same place on a rainy day.
This is a bench at a waterfront park just across the river from me. I took this at dawn in a light rain. My intention was to capture a sunrise but the sun never made it through the clouds. Sometimes I’ll come here to take pictures right after it rains but in this case it was just starting. I snapped a few shots and then retreated to my car to wait it out. After about fifteen minutes it got heavier so I headed home and this is one of the few shots I got.
I like this for the leading line and the bench under the light. If you look close you’ll see the rain under the lamp. When we see images like this we project ourselves on to the bench or out along the path. The projection is an automatic response, which leads to a reaction. If we see ourselves somewhere we want to be we’ll probably like the photo.
Thinking about how photos work and affect us is something I do a lot of. To most of us this is just a photo in a park, we don’t think about why we like or dislike it. It’s true that I have a habit of thinking too much, but I’m also curious about photos. I’m constantly learning by noticing things about images.
Some people go to the four corners of the earth to explore and get amazing photos. I like traveling too but I spend a lot of time around home. So I forces me to look past the mundane and think about the things that make a photo interesting. In that way it doesn’t really matter where I am. Even if I had to stay in one spot for a year I would try taking a new perspective each day. That’s a little challenge and game I play when shooting images of things I see often and close to home.
I shot this in December when the conditions were favorable for fog. It’s an opportunity to capture familiar scenes in a different light. Advection fog occurs when warm air passes over cool water causing evaporation. I live near the river so I notice it just by looking out the window. I headed out one evening to shoot night scenes across the river in Bradenton.
If you notice, fog changes our perceptions. Sounds are slightly muffled and distances are cut short. It can be intimate or confining. It creates a sense of seclusion in a place that might normally seem open and exposed.
Like the transition from day into night, fog creates another type of transition from sharp to soft. With weather transitions, there is usually a bit of magic just after it occurs. It’s something new and is a transformation from clarity into a soft glow.
By using a high ISO I am able to capture these scenes at night without a tripod. Fog creates a visual playground for me as a photographer. It casts everything in a different light and invites fresh interpretations. The same can be said for inclement weather, however fog is the least troublesome to work in.
These are the Saturday night fireworks we had here in my hometown for the annual regatta. It’s the third year and each year it gets bigger and bigger. They shut down one of the main bridge so people can stand on it to watch the Formula One races. Those boats are pushing the limits of the laws of physics, it really is crazy to watch. The day is filled with food, acrobatic displays and concerts and ends with a firework display.
I took this from across the river near my home in Palmetto. Palmetto is a small town compared to Bradenton, but they share the river and during the regatta each city joins together to put on the show.
When I arrived at the little beachhead along the river to watch the fireworks there was a couple already sitting in their lawn chairs waiting for the fireworks. I asked how it was going and the guy replied it was a little cold. We laughed but basically called him on it. He was from upstate New York and his son just sent him a picture of the snow up there. Here we all were in shorts and sandals watching fireworks. Maybe he was just being facetious so I told him to send back a picture and see if he gets any sympathy from the folks up north.
I’m fortunate to live here in Florida especially at this time of year. I just returned from a couple of weeks in Canada and I can say with certainty that it is not cold here. The only cold thing is the ice in the fridge that we use to keep our drinks cold.
This is the Manatee Memorial Hospital which is across the river from my home. I don’t normally take pictures of hospitals but this perspective across the water was hard to pass up. Reflections make anything look good, it could be a Walmart and if it was reflected in the water I’d probably take a picture of it.
I am fortunate to live so close to a hospital, you never know when it will come in handy. Its come in handy a few times for family and neighbors since I moved here. My wife stayed here once and every now and then we would hear a lullaby over the speakers. Its what they do whenever a baby is born. As I write this it’s just before New Years and they’ll play it again for the first baby of 2017. I imagine it will draw applause.
Did you know the police tend to spend a lot of time at hospitals? There are many reasons but one is that sometimes people get injured as they try to flee. It seems every time I drive by there are patrol cars parked near the emergency entrance.
It’s no wonder that police will often marry nurses. They meet in the line of work and it goes from there. They both work in public service so they have that in common as well.
I think its fair to say that hospitals, and the people that work in them have seen just about everything. I hope I don’t ever need to come here, but if I do I know I’ll be in good hands, and not far from home.
This is a foggy night at the dock in Bradenton Florida. We get fog at certain times of the year and it typically lasts only for a couple of weeks. It will roll in at night and blanket the area. I’ve been waiting for it since last year so I headed on a recent evening to capture some images.
The fog makes everything look mysterious, like a scene from a movie. Even the simplest of scenes take on a sense of intrigue. Street lights form triangular shapes as they fan towards the ground, and in this case are reflected in the still dark waters of the river.
A simple setting that I’ve seen a hundred times appears different, even foreign. People appear slightly veiled as though involved in some intrigue. I’ve watched too many thrillers, but it seems certain that if there are spies nearby, this is when they come out to devise their plots. Or not.
If it seems to you like I get a little carried away then you would be correct. As a photographer I get carried away whenever the weather changes. It evokes my imagination and together with familiar settings I concoct all manner of fictional scenarios. But then it’s my job to bring you the story, not the facts.