Nice, France

This is a section of Nice where cruise ships dock and people come ashore on a tender. That’s what I was doing when I took this picture.

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Nice, France
Nice as seen from the harbour

While waiting for transport to other parts of Nice, I walked up and around the narrow streets. It was in the middle of summer and hot. I remember trying to decide whether to have a beer or ice cream to cool down. My only hesitation was that it was nine in the morning so I opted for ice cream.

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The famous beach is west of here, but since I live close to beaches in Florida, I visited other parts of the city including an art colony in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. As that was up on a small mountain, it was a little cooler, but still quite warm. I ended up getting a beer there, but it was midday at that point. Such are my memories of ice cream and beer.

Returning Home

Hang out at Longboat Pass in the evening, and you’ll see a stream of boats returning to dock just after sunset. It keeps the drawbridge operator quite busy.

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Returning Home
Sometimes the best light is after sunset

This is a shot using a Playpod at the water’s edge. In this age of drones, it’s nice to have a tool that helps create a somewhat unique low-down perspective. Not that I have anything against drones, they are fun and provide excellent viewpoints. But angles like this are just as rewarding.

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I’ve not been to the beach for sunset in a while, so I almost forgot how to photograph the whole golden hour; I nearly left too early. I was heading to the car and noticed another photographer just getting out. That reminded me that sometimes the best light occurs after the sun goes down. So I headed back to the shoreline and took this along with a few others. Then, after squeezing the last ounce of light from the sky, it was finally time to head home.

Regatta Pointe Marina

I took this image from the dock at Regatta Pointe Marina in my hometown of Palmetto. The marina is a few miles up from the gulf on the Manatee River. It has a restaurant that does good business on account of the views. I’m not a boater or sailor so, when I come, it’s to have a meal or take photos, or both.

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Regatta Pointe Marina
This is facing west to the Gulf of Mexico from Regatta Pointe Marina

I have sailed out of here once and also out of the marina on the opposite side of the river. Both were charters, and both times it was a great experience. You bring cheese and wine, sit topside and enjoy the views and breeze. That’s my idea of a good time.

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I came here because the colors in the sky were shaping up and this was only a few minutes away. When I feel the urge to capture a sunset without planning, I’ll rush to the river and point west. Here at the marina, there were plenty of people walking along the dock. A few were diners, a few were boaters, but just about everyone stopped to watch at the view.

Making Up Stories

This image is an example of the kinds of things you’ll see just by showing up to a location and observing. It’s not staged, yet it has receding elements: a girl, a bird, and a sailboat, not to mention the evening sun. The objects are receding, and from a compositional perspective, that’s pretty cool. Let me explain.

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Making Up Stories

There were other objects and people around, but I positioned the frame to simplify the image. Unconsciously our eyes are drawn from the close-up objects to those far away, and in that split-second traverse, each observer (you) creates a story. I refer to “story” a lot in my images, but what I mean is the musings of an observer (you). When you muse, you automatically make up a story. That makes me the story-teller, and now I’ve connected with you. It’s pretty simple really, and it’s the idea behind stories in photographs.

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We can create stories in different ways; for me, it often involves simplifying a scene and engaging the viewer. But each person is different, and we could take a complicated scenario and do the same thing, there are no rules. My photos at the beach are simple, but I also like busy city streets with a lot of things to explore. (In fact, I’ll post one like that next week.) But I digress. When taking photos, you want to tell a story. No matter where you are, you can compose the shot in such a way that when I see it, I make up my own story.

Sailboats in La Grande-Motte

I was La Grande-Motte a couple of years ago walking around with my camera. A friend who was running some errands dropped me off for the morning. It’s a seaside resort town on the Mediterranean and in that respect has a lot of similarities to where I live in Florida. I was here in the off-season so it did not have the normal crowds.

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Sailboats in La Grande-Motte
Sailboats in La Grande-Motte

I could be wrong but it seems like there are more sailboats in Europe than in the states. I’m no expert but I think we have more powerboats in the US. Nevertheless these long rows of docks are common in southern France.

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The symmetrical leading lines of the rows reflecting on the water fascinate me. For that matter, leading lines and water always grab my attention. It’s something I’ve taken photos of over and over again. There is a good explanation for it, I’m sure.

Fortunate Enough

This is a long exposure of the marina in Palmetto. Once the sun goes down the glow on the horizon fades for about an hour. The last few minutes of the glow are almost imperceptible yet appears more pronounced with a long exposure. This is image is eight-seconds and of course was taken with a tripod. Because the glow is more pronounced it contrasts with the night sky directly overhead. It’s a unique lighting situation that I was fortunate enough to capture. The scene is enhanced even more by the color of the thin clouds above the boats.

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I Was Fortunate Enough
I was fortunate enough to capture the light of dusk

I didn’t know ahead of time these conditions were occurring. But I had my camera and was looking for something to capture. Taking the time to notice what is happening is a skill. This scene was not apparent with a casual glance. To see a scene like this I need to slow down and put myself in a different mindset. In that mindset I’ll see scenes I’m not necessarily looking for.

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My theory is that interesting things appear around us all the time. The challenge is to get past that little voice that insists there is nothing to look at. I get that a lot when I go out to do photography. To push past that takes will power. It produces rewards by simply continuing when I think I should give up. I surprise myself sometimes at the shots I get. It’s not that I’m super talented, it’s more that I give myself opportunities. The more I do that the better my chances. That sounds like a sports metaphor but it’s equally applicable to photography, or, any other worthwhile endeavor; at least thats my theory.

Sailing Nowhere

As far as I can tell this boat has been here for years and is sailing nowhere. One morning I headed over by the water to take pictures of the sunrise. There is a mooring field between two bridges and it’s a place to watch the sunrise or sunset depending on which way you’re facing. My theory is that this is an abandoned boat because it’s been here for years and never seems to move. Before I moved to Florida it never occurred to me but apparently there are abandoned boats out there. From a purely aesthetic point of view, they make for good picture taking.

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Sailing Nowhere
Sailing Nowhere in Manatee County

I doubt that removing the vessels is high on any municipal agenda. Eventually a hurricane come along and sink the craft and then mother nature begins her slow process of reclaiming it.

I showed up early to take this and to my surprise, someone else was there at the same time taking pictures as well. To be honest I was a little surprised. I live in a small town and rarely is anyone other than myself taking photos in the morning. In a big city or a national landmark yes, of course, I would expect all manner of photographers. But Palmetto? Well, anyway we both took some photos of that lovely morning and then went our separate ways.

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As for this boat, it just stayed in this one spot and I’m pretty sure it hasn’t moved since.

Hometown Marina

This is the marina in Palmetto Florida. Actually there are a lot of marinas in Palmetto but this is the main one. Well, one of the main ones. Let me start over. This is one of several marinas in my hometown.

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Hometown Marina
Hometown Marina in Palmetto Florida

I’m not really into boats so they tend to look the same to me. There are huge differences of course; these are sailboats. At a marina closer to my home there are mostly powerboats. I never really thought about it until now but the two marinas are quite different. This marina is past all the bridges so the boats can sail straight into open waters. The marina close to home is on the other side of three bridges, one which is a draw bridge.

So now it makes sense, why would someone dock a sailboat behind an obstacle course of bridges when they could dock here? As for the powerboats near me, the bridges are not obstacles. They don’t have the same concerns with mast height, bridge structures and a drawbridge, they simple steer right through.

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Now that I have all that figured out, back to the photo. The setting sun over the water caught my attention. That by itself would have been a nice, but in this case I had the added bonus of a marina filled with sailboats with access to open water.

Sunset Over the Twin Dolphins Marina in Bradenton Florida

This is sunset over the Twin Dolphins Marina in Bradenton Florida. I took this the other night from a bridge that crosses the Manatee River into Bradenton. The river meets the Gulf of Mexico just a few miles beyond and in it’s waters are dolphins, manatees and all manner of fish. At this point it’s not a river in the traditional sense, more an estuary where the water flows in and out with the tide.

Sunset over the Twin Dolphins Marina in Bradenton Florida
A view of the Twin Dolphins Marina in Bradenton Florida

The bridge overlooks the Twin Dolphins Marina where folks have pleasure boats. However a number of people live here on their boats full time. There is a restaurant straight ahead called Pier 22 that we frequent on account of the outdoor patio and food which is very good.

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This is one of those places that I pass when running errands in Bradenton. When I’m driving the bridge I don’t get a chance to enjoy the view so much. But today I parked my car and walked across the bridge at sunset. Not surprising, there were a lot of other people walking across for exercise the scenery. Sometimes it pays to just take it slow and enjoy the sights in my own backyard.

Palavas Harbor

Palavas Harbor
Palavas harbor along the French Mediterranean                                          Purchase framed print

The harbors along the French Mediterranean are full of sailboats. This is in Palavas but in another town further south we watched children learning to sail on rough seas which I though was pretty amazing. But that probably explains why so many people along the coast love to sail. This is just a small section of the harbor, there were many hundreds of boats moored here, many more than I’m used to seeing in our small Florida harbors. This was the scene as the sun set last week and I walked along the docks taking it all in.