New Bridge

The new bridge at Robinson Preserve presents an open invitation to cross over to a winding trail with ponds, marshes, and wildlife on all sides.

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New Bridge
A bridge in Robinson Preserve

The image I posted yesterday was not far from this spot, but the weather could not have been more different. That image was on a foggy morning, and this is at the end of the day. The light in each tells an entirely different story.

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As usual, the story is mostly in our mind. With these types of landscape images, we all see the same thing, yet we fill in different details. And, as with life, we perceive in it what we want to see. I think self-projection is one of the purposes of art, to allow us to muse upon things that are reflections of ourselves.

Ducks in a Pond

On a foggy morning, I walked a path in a local park. In the mist, everyday things seem different, almost mysterious.

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Ducks in a Pond
Taken in the fog on a recent morning at Robinson Preserve

Nothing could be more ordinary than ducks in a pond, yet the fog added an element more akin to a painting than photography. I recently mentioned the idea that simple images can resonate. For me, this is an example of that.

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This was taken at Robinson Park in Bradenton. It’s in a new section that recently opened to the public. I never know what I’m going to see or, how I’m going to see it. But with the fog, no matter how ordinary, chances are it will add a whole new dimension to the scene.

Cormorants

If a cormorant is out of the water, it will spread its wings to dry off. On this morning, however, they were still dry.

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Cormorants
A scene from Robinson Preserve in Bradenton

These birds spend a lot of time under the water catching food. It’s a little ironic that they even though they have feathers, they are excellent swimmers and spend a lot of time underwater. When they are fishing, you might only see their snake-like head and neck pop-up for air. We also have snakes in the water, so seeing a Cormorant’s head pop-up might give you pause.

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Just as often they’ll sit on a low branch or along the shoreline with their wings outstretched. Initially, I thought that it was to ward off predators by making themselves seem more prominent. But in fact, it’s to dry their feathers which are not as water repellant as other birds like ducks or pelicans.

Sun Rays

Shooting right into the sun at f13 creates these long rays of light. I could have added them artificially with software, but these are the real deal.

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Sun Rays
From Robinson Park in Bradenton, Florida

A high aperture number is not something I use all the time, but if I want starbursts, it’s the way to go. The only problem is that dust spots from the sensor show up on the image; however, that’s easy to remove with photoshop.

sunset gallery

A few days ago I visited this new section of Robinson Preserve. The creation of it took years, it’s one thing to landscape a bunch of acres, but quite another to allow nature to move in at its own pace. Finally, after several years of growth, I have yet another new landscape to explore with my camera.

Calm Before the Panic

This picture is a shot from the outskirts of Emerson Preserve in Bradenton. Whenever the water is still like this, I jump at the opportunity to create images featuring reflections. They impart a sense of calm, however, for me, taking this picture was nothing short of panic.

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Calm Before the Panic
A calm scene at the edge of Robinson Preserve in Bradenton

To get here, I walked through the brush to the bank of the water next to a kayak launch. I wanted to be right over the water, so I had to step in with my tripod. I was surprised as my tripod quickly sank in the mud; however, it stabilized, and I took this image. Nevertheless, it didn’t feel right, and I felt like I should get out. As I turned to leave, I realized I too was sinking.

reflections in the gallery

The mud turned into a quicksand-like substance and I, along with my expensive camera and tripod started to go down. It was only with great effort that I managed to save my camera and free myself. I walked back to my car coated in a layer of mud and a little shaken, yet thankful that I managed to keep the camera above water. So now, ironically, when I look at this calm scene, I feel a twinge of panic.

Tunnel Trail

I’m always looking for new scenes so capture and so once in a while I’ll go to the park in the middle of the day. I prefer the mornings and evenings when the light is softer, but being open to possibilities, even in the middle of the day, is a good idea. Showing up is half the battle, and once at a location, I’m open to interesting scenes to photograph.

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Tunnel Trail
This is a section of the trail at Robinson Preserve in Bradenton, Florida

For this photo, I was walking along a path that had a canopy of brush on either side. When some folks rode past on bikes, I noticed the tunnel effect and took a photo as they receded. It’s another variation on the leading line theme that’s so popular in photography.

more images from Robinson Preserve in the gallery

This stretch of the path causes a little sensory deprivation because the sides are thick with growth and you can only see in two directions. That feeling was heightened one evening when I happened to be walking here as darkness closed in. The effect of being in a darkened tunnel caused my sense of hearing to become heightened. Before you know it, I could hear every little sound in the bushes. At that time of day, all the nocturnal animals begin to stir. It was no surprise that I started hearing sounds emanating from the brush all around me. My imagination started working in overdrive as I wondered what might pop out on the trail in front or behind me. Nothing happened of course, but that’s maybe why I decided to come back here in the middle of the day.

Away From It All

Robinson Park is a preserve in the middle of a suburban setting, and it’s a place I come to get away from that same setting. Most people come during the day, but my favorite times are dawn and dusk. Of course, I’m looking for a rare kind of light.

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Away From it All
Dusk at Robinson Preserve in Bradenton Florida

The image is five shots blended into one. I use HDR techniques when shooting these types of scenes because there is a combination of bright and dark light. It’s closer to what I could see with my eyes but must resort to tricks to get the camera seeing the same thing.

more images from Robinson Preserve

Not only is the light changing minute by minute, but the nocturnal animals also begin to stir. It’s as if the whole place comes alive when the sun goes down. I’m usually rushing to get my last pics before being politely asked to leave by the ranger. Finally, as night falls I return to suburbia from whence, I came. At that moment I genuinely do feel that I’ve been away from it all.

Lookout Tower

This is from Robinson Preserve in Bradenton. The reflection of the lookout tower caught my attention as I rode a bike along a trail. Normally the water is not this still during the day but there was no breeze on this warm winter day in February.

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Lookout Tower
Lookout Tower in Bradenton’s Robinson Preserve

These towers appear in most Florida nature preserves and state parks. I realize now it’s because the land is flat and a tower is the only way to see over the ground cover. I’d never seen these where I grew up in California because they have mountains and all you have to do is climb a hill.

As well, there are fire lookout towers across the state amongst the farms and ranches. The geography breeds an abundance of lightning which in turn creates brush fires each year. When I first arrived in Florida they made an impression on me and now I know why there are so many; flat land.

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There are three towers that I know of nearby my home, this being one. I’ve taken pictures atop all three. They are for me the next best thing to having a drone for photography. One of these days I may get a drone so I don’t need a tower. Until that day I’ll look for nearby towers or bridges when I want to see the Florida landscape.

Then and Now

This is a section of Robinson Preserve in Bradenton Florida. I love this section of boardwalk because of the way it curves into the mangroves; …talk about a leading line. It seems every time I try to get this shot something goes wrong, but this time I’m pretty happy with the result. The odds were in my favor for a change.

Then and Now
This path through the mangrove makes me think about what it was like on an expedition two hundred years ago.

This is not far from where the Spanish conquistador Hernando DeSoto landed and began an expedition of the new world. There is a lot of history around that but the thing that grabs my imagination is the physical demands of the expedition. Here we have a boardwalk winding through the mangroves, back then there was nothing. Add to that the Florida heat. Then add the wool and leather clothing they wore back then and you start to get my drift.

More images from Robinson Preserve

We live in a different time, now we have boardwalks and piers, but still I like to think about what it was like. To tell you the truth, if I was walking on this and suddenly it disappeared and I found myself in the middle of the mangroves knee deep in muck, I might begin to panic. But that never happens and instead I took this picture and went home to air conditioning and lemonade.

Looking North

Looking North
Looking North towards St petersburg Florida                                     Purchase fine art print

Here is another shot I took from an observation tower looking north towards St Pete. In the foreground is the trail through Robinson Preserve, off in the distance is the Sunshine Skyway bridge and, if you look closely, beyond the bridge is downtown St Petersburg.

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For the sky and water I overlaid the texture from the inside of a native american Cedar canoe. Surely that has nothing to do with this picture yet it seemed to work well. Textures are photos of other things that can be used to add to an otherwise plain surface. I started collecting textures, which is just another way of saying I’ve been taking pickers of the ground, walls, clouds or interesting patterns. I never know how something will work until I try it out, like this one.

I wrote a post about pictorialism and how I gravitate towards the artistic side of photography. That’s evident in this image because I’ve changed it to convey a feeling or idea, not so much a strict representation of the moment. I’m not that much into the purist side of photography where we document a moment in time. That’s an honorable profession, it’s just not for me. I’m in it for the art. Totally.