I used to have a thing about benches. Now its beach chairs and umbrellas. At least I’m progressing.
When I take photos of random people on the beach, I try to remain conscious of their privacy, lest I have them sign a release form. But when it comes to objects, everything is fair game. I once did a commercial beach shoot. There was so much involved, from legal to logistics. I prefer just to walk around and take pictures of interesting things, or people.
Putting people or chairs in a shot causes us to imagine ourselves in the scene. If we see people, we subconsciously become them. When we look at chairs, in our mind’s eye we find ourselves sitting in them. We project ourselves with our thoughts without even realizing it; it’s a habit we all have. Sometimes I feel I’ve been somewhere having previously only looked at it in pictures or videos. But, as they say, there’s no substitute for the real thing.
A few days ago I had a bright idea to take some photos. Somehow, I managed to leave with enough time to get here and set up the shot without rushing.
I usually procrastinate and then end up dashing out the door. But once in a while, I do it the proper way, whatever that is. I am continually going between calm and panic in my photography. Kind of like life I suppose.
Lately, when I know I’m shooting into the sun, I’ve been using my high-quality Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM lens. It’s a lot heavier than my standard travel lens, but man-o-man, the quality comes through. I notice the difference because I take and process so many photos, but most folks would never know. That’s okay because I take these landscape photos for myself. And as the saying goes, whatever makes me happy.
This is the old city pier on Anna Maria Island. The “city” is Anna Maria, but if a few beach houses and seaside restaurants make a city, then I’m a monkey’s uncle.
To further make my point, the speed limit is 25mph; I know, because I paid a nice fine for driving 35. But I digress. It’s been over a year since the restaurant on this pier was open. It got damaged in a hurricane, and now it and the dock are being reconstructed. But, as you already know, this is not a city where things move fast.
In the city of Anna Maria, there isn’t much to else to do but go to the beach, fish and eat at the restaurants. But then, that’s the attraction. A kind of place where you go to get away from everything else. There isn’t a lot of serious stuff going on, just the odd bit of monkey business; I should know.
The problem with a place in Florida called Venice is that if you Google “Venice,” you’ll end up in Italy. Even if I search my website, I get Italy. Using the hashtag “#venicefl” helps sort that out.
That’s the thing about living in the new world, a lot of places get named after the old world. If you’re someone like me that was born here, its confusing as heck. (I never said I was bright.) It’s like when someone in Ontario Canada mentions London; or the poor souls in Paris Texas.
Hashtags aside, I took this with the original Sony A7R. By this time I owned it for over a year and was thoroughly happy with it. Now I’m on the third generation A7, but am going back with newer software. The updated software breaths new light into these old shots. This is processed with Aurora HDR 2019, and after looking at what it can do with these old photos, I’m going to be going back to have a second look at a few more.
When I’m racing against the clock to get as many pictures as I can, there’s always a point when I know I should finish, but can’t help getting one last one. That explains what happened here; the light was almost gone, I was walking back to the car, and noticed this one last composition.
In a recent post, I mentioned there is an attractive aesthetic about the lifeguard stands on the beach. Maybe it’s the idea of a structure positioned before the ocean. I suppose it could be almost anything, not just a lifeguard stand. But I digress.
When I’m taking photos, no matter how many or how few I make, I ALWAYS end up with more than I need. However, on this night my ratio of hits to misses was remarkably slim. I was lucky, had the right timing, or a combination of the two. Regardless, I was on a roll, and I’m glad I got this one last one.
The lifeguard stands at Miami Beach are these funny cartoon-like structures. Whoever designed them has a brilliant sense of humor; each one is cut out from an active imagination and looks like something from a Disney movie.
When I was here a couple of months ago, they had started rebuilding each stand. There was an area roped off in Lummus Park where new stands were under construction. Perhaps they replace them every five or ten years. With the storms in summer, they need to be extra sturdy.
If you look close, you can see a couple more of these down the beach; each is unique with a different color and shape. Living near the beach lifeguard stands are a common subject for me; they are like little houses. I romanticize them in my pictures, but I think they provide only the barest of necessities for the lifeguards that sit inside all day long keeping a keen eye out for trouble.
When I hear the word dune, I think of the desert, but these along the Florida beach are a different variety. Unlike the shifting sands of the Sahara, these are covered with plants and are meant to hold their shape in a storm. They are what keeps us from being washed away completely.
If you look carefully through the top of the dune, you’ll see orange tape marking a sea turtle nest. Scores of volunteers comb the beach for nests, erect barriers, and take careful notes over the incubation period. Once hatched, they’ll dash for the water so as not to be eaten by birds. Only a few survive to adulthood; it’s a rough start to what will hopefully become a long life in the sea.
Nothing is permanent, yet everything is trying to hold on. The dunes and turtles are both pitted against the forces of nature. Perhaps the tension in the environment is what produces the beauty on earth. It seems that elemental pressures are a creative force. Without them, we’d all be washed away and overrun with too many sea turtles. On second thought, you can never have too many sea turtles.
Lummus Park runs parallel to Ocean Drive in South Beach. I was riding a bike here and taking photos in the middle of the day. I usually prefer to go out when the light is softer, but I thought to myself, what the heck.
The summer sun in Miami Beach is relentless, so I saw quite a few people walking with umbrellas. As for me, I made sure I had an umbrella in my drink. I figure if I collect enough of them I can use them for the sun.
For this shot, I lined it up and waited for the ladies to walk in the scene. It’s an easy technique, and I use it a lot when I do street photography. I suppose this is a street photo, although part of me wants to call it a beach photo. It really doesn’t matter; it’s just my analytical side working overtime.
I’ve been avoiding it, but on Wednesday evening I went to Bradenton Beach to see the spectacle for myself. If you haven’t heard, Florida is in the middle of a massive red tide. So I drove to the beach, and as expected, was greeted with the smell of fish washed up on the shore. Maybe because of the breeze, it was not as bad as I feared. After a few minutes, I relaxed and let it fade into the background.
I came primarily to take pictures of the sunset because red tide or not, when the atmospheric conditions are right it’s still astounding to see. However, as I walked along the beach, something seemed out of place. I struggled to put my finger on it as I continued and then it hit me. It was too quiet; there were no birds. All of the gulls, pipers, and pelicans had either succumbed or escaped, and there was not a single one on the beach. The lack of avian sounds and activity left me with an eerie feeling. That was the moment it hit home.
I am heartbroken, of course. I rationalize to myself that we are moving through the worst it, but that we will make it to the other side. The conditions that allow the algae bloom will eventually cease, and the fish, birds and sea mammals will, in time, return. I’m glad I went, and now I know that I will go again because I think it’s important to witness it first hand, not just from TV. People are avoiding the shore, and the beach is empty in more ways than one. As for myself, being there to hear its silence is in some way, essential.
Sometimes I feel the urge to try and articulate the main idea behind my pursuit of photography. For whatever reason, this photo seems to evoke that in me.
Here is a picture that portrays an idyllic scene along the beach. Maybe we project ourselves into the scene. In doing so, we may walk on the shore with the vastness of the sea on one side. The expanse is an enigma. The longer we look, the less concrete our thoughts become. Our legs move as our minds begin to wander.
Rationally I like taking photos of idyllic scenes, yet, in doing so, I also attempt to capture something less rational. I aspire to capture scenery or people in the landscape that hints at something more elusive.
This idea is why I keep coming back again and again. Ironically, I try with images to evoke thoughts or feelings of something that cannot be seen by our eyes. To do that I may include space for the scene to breath, and then I hope that thoughts will fill the void. When that happens, my desire is satisfied, and perhaps yours is just beginning.