Morning Routine

On most mornings I have a routine, doing the same things I did the morning before. Once in a while, I take photos instead.

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Morning Routine

I’m a creature of habit, and if I don’t put my keys in the same place, I’d spend half my life looking for them. Habits and routines go hand in hand and can be good, or not so good. But you get my drift.

It’s a little like having an autopilot in our car. It allows us to do one thing while doing another. Again, nothing wrong with that unless we forget where we are going.

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I guess my point is that it might be a good idea to step outside our comfort zone now and again to see where we are. For me, that means getting out to take photos. For you, it would be something completely different, but just as important.

Tree People

To me, this looks like someone got trapped in a tree by a magicians spell. With Holloween coming I was looking for something scary, and this is the best I could come up with.

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Tree People
A scary tree at the Ringling estate in Sarasota

This unusual tree is on the Ringling estate in Sarasota, otherwise known as Ca’ d’Zan. It’s where John and Mabel Ringling lived and, now is a museum with sprawling gardens on Sarasota Bay.

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This also reminds me of an Ent of LOTR fame. Of course, we have Peter Jackson’s idea what they looked like; but before that, when I read the books, I imagined something like this. Maybe trees do have awareness, and we can communicate somehow. That would be a lot of fun, not scary at all. I’ll look for something more frightening.

Windblown Palms

Here is a shot I took last year in Sarasota. It was one of those rushed shots that I was frantically trying to capture as the sun disappeared. The windblown palms added drama to the scene which meant that a three image HDR was out of the question. Nevertheless, I was able to get this with a single exposure from that fantastic Sony sensor on the A7RII.

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Windblown Palms
A scene near the Ringling Bridge in Sarasota, Florida

I took this with a super wide angle 12mm lens. I don’t use it as much as I’d like, but this is an example of what it can do. In a lot of cases, it’s too wide for my needs. But still, it’s nice to have it in the kit.

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One thing it does well is to include a lot of the sky. In this case, that’s what I wanted because of the clouds and colors. But at other times it can leave a lot of empty space. Anyway, I’m happy with how it turned out with the combination of the windblown palms, leading lines and dramatic clouds.

Sarasota Reflections

When there is no breeze, the water on Sarasota Bay turns to glass. I was fortunate enough to show up one night two years ago when the conditions were just right.

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Sarasota Reflections
Apartment buildings overlook Sarasota Bay, as seen from Island Park.

Everyone likes the views from Island Park which is why folks come here to walk and take photos. I’m particularly fond of the perspective it provides for nighttime cityscapes across the water.

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Sarasota is growing, and the skyline changes about every six months or so. That means I need to get my behind down to this spot at least once a year to keep up. But I’m pretty sure nothing has changed in this one particular section.

Myakka Floods

The flooding of Myakka River State Park is a normal this time of year. In my opinion, it’s one of the best times to visit and take photos. Most of the roads are just above the water so you can pull over and gaze out at the surreal landscape and reflections.

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Myakka Floods
The floods at Myakka River State Park create a surreal landscape

This is a photo of a scene I’m familiar with, but my past pictures didn’t convey it well. However, it seems that on this recent attempt I finally got it. The reflections create this mesmerizing spectacle alongside the road. It reminds me of Big Cypress National Preserve in the Everglades.

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I mounted the camera on a tripod and used an aperture of f22 to get everything in focus. I also used a remote shutter release to reduce shake. However there was a lot of light, and with the Sony’s stabilization, the remote wasn’t necessary. Now I have several pictures just like this that I quite like. So I randomly chose this one to share today.

Florida Sun

I used to live in Canada and wondered what it would be like to live in a place like Florida; now that I’ve been here fifteen years I know, hot as hell.

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Florida Sun
This image is from the Venice North Jetty, just south of Sarasota.

It’s called the sunshine state for a reason. The sun is white, hot, and intense; which is why I remain most of the time indoors. I look forward to the few months I can wear a sweatshirt.

Like anything, you adjust with light clothing, hats, and sunglasses. If however, you work outdoors, then you cover up. Outdoor workers cover from head to toe in the most intense heat and humidity imaginable. Think about that.

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I cannot fathom how the early explorers wearing wool and boots made due. But they did, and now we have A/C, Raybans and PiƱa Coladas. Thank goodness for that.

Myakka Symmetry

This image is another photo from Myakka River State Park and has some compositional no-nos in it. I’m not sure why, but I like it anyway. Maybe its the colors or the symmetry created from the reflections.

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Myakka Symmetry
An image from Myakka River State Park

I take a lot of photos that never make it to the light of day. I do however review all of them in thumbnail form. There are very few winners; nevertheless, this caught my eye even though the tops of the palm trees are cut off.

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Sometimes the colors, shapes, and feeling of an image can override the rules of composition. Rules are just guidelines that can be broken. I try to go with what feels right to me, and in this case, a photo with real issues feels okay. I hope you don’t mind if I ignore its flaws.

Myakka Heron

I drove through our local state park the other day. Typical for this time of year, Myakka River State Park is flooded from recent rains and the rising of the river. I stopped at a submerged path next to the river and watched as Egrets, Limpkins, and Herons forage for food in the shallow water.

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Myakka Heron
This photo was taken on a flooded trail next to the Myakka River

Also typical for this time of year is the oppressive sun and heat. But this section of the trail is covered in a thick canopy. The shade was a welcome reprieve and the scene was quiet and peaceful.

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I set up with a tripod at the edge of the water and tried not to move too much. Once I was still the birds would ignore me and I managed to get a couple of shots like this. The light would filter through in beams and illuminate small sections. I caught this heron (at least I think it’s a heron) at just the right moment.

Myakka Canopy Road

Here is a scenic section of road through Myakka State Park. It’s not too far from the campground, so it’s not uncommon to see cyclists and hikers.

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Myakka Canopy Road
Myakka State Park Road in Sarasota County, Florida

Spanish moss hangs from the oaks all around this region. Where I live, we have oaks draped with it. Squirrels and bird use it for nests, and after a storm, enormous loads of it get blown to the ground.

There are several roads like this in the vicinity. I think they’re called canopy roads. There is one just outside the park that I’ve taken photos of a couple of times.

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I’ve tried taking pictures of the oaks and moss near my home, but there are too many houses in the background, it’s not the same. So when I’m out and about in this area, I’m always on the lookout for these types of scenes.

Limpkin Kin

The other day I was at Myakka River State Park to try out some experimental gear. I didn’t have a plan other than to line up a few landscape shots. As I sat on a bench working with the apparatus, a mama and baby Limpkin strolled by.

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Limpkin Kin
A couple of Limpkin in Myakka River State Park

They were eating snails and clams. The snails were easy enough to catch and eat. The clams they would batter with their beaks to break open the shells. I was no more than six feet away and what I found surprising was that, as long as I remained still, they tolerated my presence.

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There’s nothing better than to observe wild animals in their natural habitat. The baby Limkin was more wary of me, but the mother seemed to decide that it was more important to eat than worry about me. Or maybe she did both. Whatever the case, it was a rare privilege I’ll not soon forget.