I don’t know about you but when I walk on the beach I’m not really going anywhere; just walking for walking sake. Maybe I pick a point at the turn of the coast or a pier off in the distance, but really, it’s just something to satisfy my sense of progress while the rest of my thoughts are allowed a little down time. Going nowhere in particular is good.
Sometimes I’ll take a drive for the same reason, just put a destination in the ol’ noggin and drive on autopilot. Not that I’m not aware and alert, just that I’m away from the normal routine and it allows my neurons to take different pathways for a bit. Simple enough.
I used to work in a bank building in the mid-west. It had no windows and after staring at the computer for hours. my friend Don and I would go for a walk. We weren’t going anywhere in particular, just out for change of scenery, a temporary redirection of the neural pathways. I think that many important things we conceive in our minds occur when we let our thoughts run free. There’s some truth in it. If we keep our thoughts in the same pattern for too long it can be unhealthy. So I walk to think about things and go nowhere in particular.
I remember taking this because it was on my birthday last December. The conditions looked good and I thought, hey I can do whatever I want today so I headed out and caught this amazing display. Not a bad present.
We get these sunsets quite a bit, the trick is knowing when to show up. Of course there’s an app for that, it’s called Sky Fire at http://www.skyfireapp.com. Basically it looks at the atmospheric conditions near you and produces a probability of a good sunset or sunrise. I’ve used it once or twice and it works about seventy percent of the time. Close to home I’ve learned to read the sky but my own success rate is only about fifty percent. On the road it’s a good tool to have especial if you are not familiar with the conditions.
I like living near the water as its become a central theme in many of my landscape images. Most of our planet is covered in water and I think I heard or read somewhere that there is more water below the earths surface than all the oceans. That’s mind boggling if it’s true. Nonetheless water in an image is a strong element that resonates with me at some level. Maybe its because our bodies are mostly water and there is some elemental attraction. You never know.
Lido Beach is at the southern end of Lido Key in Sarasota. This is more of a dreamscape that I made from a normal photograph, all the elements are real, the beach, light in the sky, sand and the couple. I just blurred everything a little to give it an ethereal quality which most approximates the feeling I get when I’m actually here at sunset. This is a typical Friday night at the beach, with nothing more to do than soak it in.
As I write this its spring break in Florida and most people equate that with rowdy crowds on the beach. There is another type of crowd found here in the more secluded beaches of Sarasota. Secluded is a relative term in the sense that if you compare this area to Clearwater or Ft Lauderdale it is downright quiet.
For whatever reason there was a bit of a chill in the air this day, not enough to wear a jacket, but enough to wrap in a towel while watching the sun go down. That was a week ago and now the temps are back up and the only thing with a chill is the ice in my glass; that’s an attempt at some worn-out Florida humor. But there’s a bit of truth to it especially as winter recedes and ice is a hot commodity. That’s doesn’t sound right either.
Today was Beach Sunday in my town. It’s not a holiday, just the day after Saturday and the day before Dreaded Monday. And I know it was Beach Sunday because when I got into my car to drive to the beach at 12:15pm, I hit traffic. It seems everybody got the same idea at the same time. A lot of great minds thinking alike.
When we get perfect days like today I have to pinch myself and remember how lucky I am to live here. It’s a twenty minute drive to some of the best beaches on the planet. Today I was with a couple family members who had just flown down from Canada. So I have it on good authority that today scored high on the awesomeness scale. They made sure they sent pictures back home just to rub it in. Of course I had nothing to do with that.
I love it when people come here from somewhere cold and get to experience days like today. It makes all the planning and waiting worthwhile. For me, I’m glad I have family that comes down so that I can have an excuse to go to the beach. Whenever someone comes to visit, I always bring them here on the first day, just to feel the sand and water and get in the right frame of mind for the rest of their stay. As far as that goes today the mission was accomplished.
Here I’m standing on a hill at Emerson Point which is a preserve not far from home. The funny thing about it is this is the highest point around. Can you imagine living in a place where the ground rises no higher than a palm tree? Having grown up in California I can say it takes some getting used to. For one, I find it a little disorienting when I don’t have a mountain range for bearing. The only thing I have is the direction of the sun, but that only works when it’s low in the sky. When I get turned around I always repeat in my head, “The sun rises in the East”. I’m a modern day Daniel Boone.
These hills along the coast are referred to as dunes. They don’t look like dunes because they is typically only one by it self and covered with plants. Also, to me they seem to be made of dirt, nonetheless they are referred to by the park rangers as dunes. Perhaps they have a high concentration of sand.
So unless I stand on a dune, I don’t have a strong idea of what the land looks like. That probably adds to my challenges with orientation, but I’m getting better at it. I can always use the compass app on my iPhone, not to mention Google Maps. So as long as I have cell converge I’m good.
Keeping it real can be harder than it sounds. Putting aside all the things that we think are important, a little quality time is a pretty good way to start. In the end all we really have are connections. The rest can come and go, it’s connections that define us, or so I think. But when I think of the people that have made an impression on me, it was their gift of time that made that possible.
This is another photo from Fort Lauderdale Beach. I could just stay at the beach and take photos all day long, it’s a natural place for images to just happen, especially if you know what you’re looking for. I take a lot of photos of people walking on the beach. The initial snapshot is a reminder of what I saw in my mind and the idea that I had. Only later when the time is right do I express it, sometimes artistically like this. This image conveys the idea I had in my mind. I never really know how the image will turn out, but if I work at it enough I get close. Close enough for horseshoes and hand grenades. Bad reference, scratch that.
I’m going to go back to the beach sometime this week. Who knows what I’ll see or which beach I’ll go to. The main thing is to go and then just let the rest happen; kind of like keeping it real. I think that a lot of things can happen if we just let them. I rarely know what way the wind will blow, I just keep doing my thing and somehow it all works out.
Earlier this month I captured this before sunrise in Ft. Lauderdale, which is on Florida’s Atlantic coast. I was hoping to catch the colors at dawn but there was too much of a marine layer and it wasn’t to be. Nonetheless the city lights cast a glow on the low clouds in this long exposure. I kept the shutter open for about eight-seconds which makes the ocean appear smooth.
This was taken from in front of the Marriott hotel where I stayed. I had never been there before and had to follow the GPS to find it the night before. I didn’t really know where I was or which way it was to the city. My room was set back from the beach so I could only see the beach, not up and down the coast. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised when I walked down here early in the morning to find that the main city was just a short walk north. I’m glad I woke up or I would have missed this scene, it’s not easy to take a picture of a deserted beach in Ft Lauderdale.
I walked up and down the beach taking all kinds of pictures, several I’ve recently published on the blog. It was a fun experience in the predawn hours with just my camera. Due to the soft sand it took a lot of effort to walk, but that’s how a beach is, sandy. When I walk on the beach I normally just pick a direction and start a slow plod, stopping to take pictures, slowly making my way until its time to turn around. And so that pretty much sums up this morning, a slow Sunday plod.
While in Collioure on my way to Barcelona I noticed this Catalonian woman walking along the shore. Little did I know that the residents of this region consider themselves Catalonian first, then French. Same goes for the Spaniards just south of the boarder. The region they live in crosses the border and is known as Catalonia.
If I can judge the people by the way they live, then they seem to be a solid bunch. When I was in Barcelona I noticed the Catalonian flag hanging from every apartment, literally tens of thousands. Silly me; I thought the flags had something to do with Barcelona FC, which if you don’t know is the most awesome soccer team in the whole universe. But no, not BFC, the flags were in support of Catalonian independence.
I’m just a visitor to the area, I know nothing about the politics, but it quickly became apparent that many are serious about becoming a separate country. That was reinforced by news of votes and such in international headlines about the same time I was here. But it seems for now, Barcelona (Catalonia) is still part of Spain and Collioure is still part of France.
So back to this woman walking the beach. I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I suspect that Catalonian politics was the furthest thing from her mind.
I get up early because I find solitude at dawn, more so than any other time of day. The energy is fresh and going for a walking or doing something alone informs the rest of my day.
Like this picture, I think each day we have some place to go. For me, having quiet time is setting aside the space to contemplate my next steps and put in motion a direction of travel for the remaining hours.
Sometimes I don’t go very far in a day, but that’s okay. I might look back and think I didn’t accomplish much and then feel stressed or disoriented because I’m not where I thought I’d be. But my thinking is that I learn from my missteps or detours just as much as anything else. That’s part of growing, learning to take stock and continuing to persevere. So even if I don’t reach the far end that day, something was gained in the journey. That’s what I tell my self, and in truth, that’s what I believe.
I took a picture of this lady walking along the beach in Fort Lauderdale just after dawn. I could tell she was enjoying her alone time and I felt compelled to capture it. However in my minds eye I thought of this dreamscape as a metaphor for solitude and what that means to me; that we each must find some time alone to set and / or readjust the course of our day, and possibly our lives.
People watching the sunset over the water is something I see all the time here in Florida; not just once in a while, but ALL THE TIME. 😉 And it’s a little more organized than you might think. Every evening there are groups of people who have gathered together with fold-up chairs at the beach to experience this event together. Sometimes, like on the evening I took this, it’s just a few people. However at another beach I’m thinking of there could be as many as twenty. This is serious business down here in the sunshine state.
I know of a mobile home park along the water that has permanent chairs set up facing west for just this purpose. I know that because I’ve seen them all line up, drinks in hand, watching the sun set. What a life.
Sometimes when I see these groups on the beach I think they are church groups or maybe a meditation circle, because before the sun sets they’re all in a circle discussing or singing or playing drums. Its kind of like something I’d expect to see in California, not here in Florida.
I’m developing a theory that if you live someplace where it’s warm and has a lot of sunsets you are more likely to be mellow. Okay, so I’m no Einstein, I suppose its just common sense, self-evident. On a related note, I’ve heard that we Floridians are called stone-slackers. I have an inkling about what the connotation is and I think there’s more than a seed of truth in that.
It’s no wonder so many people come here to retire. After living a hectic life, why not? Well, I’m probably not a stone slacker yet because I’m not retired, but when and if I do, I’m in the right place. I already have a fold-up chair, all I need now is a drum.