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.
This is Fort De Soto Beach a couple of days ago. With the holiday over we decided to head to the beach and unwind. This is a section that looks across towards the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as it enters Tampa Bay. I don’t spend as much time at the beach as you might think. I go for photography quite a bit, but to sit and vegetate, rarely. I suppose that’s common among us who live here, we take it for granted. I go maybe two or three times a year. But as I say, for photography I go many more times than that. In the end it doesn’t matter because I do spend time along the shore with the waves, breeze and sunsets; I do not take that for granted, at least not yet.
How I created the Image
I worked on this image for several hours this evening. I used a motion blur and carefully blended the original layer. Prior to that I created about ten layers in Photoshop to carefully craft the image to an idea I had in my minds eye. Then finally I used a Lightroom preset to give it an overall desaturated tone.
What I was thinking at the time
You may understand some of these technical details but if not, no worries. The point is, on some images I spend a lot of time and effort to transform an image into something resembling a dreamscape. For no other reason than I like to and, I think that dreams can be just as important as ordinary life. I’ve heard that we make our own reality, so if that’s true, then sometimes I like to create a reality that is a little bit ethereal like a dream, one that I would like to inhabit if I could; at least in my mind.
A few of days ago I arrived at Bradenton Beach just as the sun receded beyond a layer of clouds. I like photos that show people alongside the elements of nature. Something about the outdoors resonates with me and so I try to create images showing people immersed in nature. Living near the coast of Florida I have ample opportunity to explore this. Its safe to say that most of us love to hang out at the beach, not only because its fun, but because it satisfies a need to be outdoors with the elements. The sand, the ocean, the sky and clouds, these are all things we can easily feel affinity for. Maybe we don’t always think about it, we just long for the relaxation and fun, but I think that on another level relaxation and fun come from being exposed to things that are not artificial. This is just a long winded way of saying it’s nice to get outdoors, and what better way to do that then time on a beach. So anyway, here I am, standing on the beach and I noticed these two enjoying the last rays of the sun. I’ll hazard a guess that they had some fun and went home a little more relaxed then when they arrived, I rest my case your honor.
I got up early one summer morning and caught this rainbow along the gulf coast as I walked the trails at DeSoto National Memorial in Bradenton. In summer we have thunder clouds that change from one minute to the next. They combine the energy of the warm air and gulf waters to become powerful and, if I might say, rambunctious. By that I mean loud, dramatic and fun to watch, especially from a photography perspective. On this morning I also caught a rainbow as the clouds were breaking apart. This is an area were thunderstorms and rainbows are common as the waters of the Manatee River meet the Gulf of Mexico. The storms like to follow the path of the river and I’ve taken a lot of photos rainbows around here. In real life they are beautiful to look at yet don’t always translate into a good picture. One morning I watched as a double rainbow formed over the river in the soft light of morning. Many people were stopping to look at comment, it was amazing to witness. I took a bunch of photos yet when I got home and looked at them they didn’t look all that special. I think that in most cases, rainbows are meant to be enjoyed in the moment and trying to capture their beauty can be as elusive as the pot of gold at the end.
At times we need to be alone with the elements. Something about that reminds us that, in fact, we are never truly alone.
I recently read a book called The Light Between Us by Laura Lynne Jackson. It’s basically an autobiography of a person who grew up with a special gift to communicate with the “Other Side”. In it she details the struggles she overcame learning how to deal with that without having someone to help her. Nonetheless, she is one of a handful of scientifically certified psychics in the US and has helped many people bridge the gap between this world and the next as it pertains to bereavement. So, the moral of the story is we’re never really alone. The world we live in is just a subset of the real world and we are surrounded by many who love us all the time, whether we are aware of it or not.
Walking around the beaches of Anna Maria Island you’ll find houses along the water with a view of the gulf. Some are located on relatively isolated stretches so that even if there are a lot of people at the beach these sections are quiet. Walking past this area the beach was was quiet and undisturbed as evidenced from a colony of skimmers that nest and feed here. As I walked past they paid me little heed as they rested on one leg. I live only twenty minutes away but I keep telling myself that one day I’ll just rent a beach house and do a staycation. I think this remote strip suits me just fine.