On most mornings I have a routine, doing the same things I did the morning before. Once in a while, I take photos instead.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
As a photographer I wonder if the architects of this bridge designed it with the setting sun in mind. It’s positioned such that in you get this view in the afternoon as you cross over to Bird Key. Sometimes if we are going to dinner in St Armand’s Circle we’ll cross the bridge at this time; heaven forbid I should have a camera.
If you scan through my portfolio, you’ll see a lot of photos on or, around this bridge. And yes, some were taken when I was heading to dinner. However, it’s such an iconic location that I’ll keep coming back to hopefully find something slightly different. I’ve worn it out for sure, but hey, who’s counting?
Often on a Sunday morning they’ll close the bridge for a run because this is the closest thing we have to a hill. Florida is really flat. If you want to see the landscape the easiest way is to walk or run up to the middle of the bridge. Of course, you could also stand on the top of a nearby hotel, but then you’d miss out on your exercise, not to mention the intentions of the bridge builders.
Here is the super blue blood moon over Sarasota’s Ringling bridge. Boy, what a commotion this created. I was standing by myself along the water, nearly hidden by brush along the side of an empty section of road. Some passerby must have seen me and looked over to see what I was doing.
As I was absorbed in my camera settings and composing the shot, I was oblivious to everything around me. At one point I heard someone’s voice and looked up to see a crowd of people standing behind me. There was all manner of smart phones taking this same picture with the little LED flashes going off.
Continuing the task at hand, a few minutes later I heard the sound of screeching breaks and horns. It seems the stopped cars nearly caused a traffic pileup. We were standing along a causeway of sorts with no safe place to pull over and park. Nevertheless, it seemed I started a trend, and everybody piled on for an iPhone photo.
In the end I got a shot I had in my mind. Just taking a quick look at twitter there are millions of people doing the same thing. Anyway, I’m adding this one to the pile, even if it did nearly cause a pileup.
Here is another shot of a familiar scene along the Ringling Bridge in Sarasota. I posted a similar image from the same batch about a year ago, but this uses a different lens and processing. Nevertheless, it’s a scene and a location that I keep coming back to time and time again.
Sarasota Bay is an estuary and if you stand here you’ll see dolphins and other sea life. It’s under the stewardship of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and if you visit their home page you notice another photo by yours truly. Due to the abundant sea life it’s a fishermen’s paradise and less than a hundred yards from where I’m standing is a bait shop. I could think if worse places to fish, …if I did.
If I didn’t do photography I’d have to fish, it’s kind of a requirement down here, everybody does it. Sometimes I’ll show up at a location by the water with a tripod in hand and fishermen will just assume it’s a fishing poll. But as I said I don’t fish, I take photos. If I need fish I get it the old-fashioned way, …from the supermarket.
Here is another panorama of Sarasota from Bayfront Park. Last year I posted an almost identical image that was taken during the day but have been waiting to do it again at night. Back then that big building (third from the left) was still under construction and it wasn’t lit up. So, now that it’s complete I wanted to shoot it again since the scene seems more complete to me.
To take this I mounted my camera vertically on a tripod and took ten shots from left to right. With the resolution of the Sony camera, it will be about seven feet across when printed!
Here are some links to other panoramas I’ve taken in and around Sarasota…
A few days ago I was headed up to New York City from Tampa. We left with plenty of time to spare but by the time we made it through traffic and security we only had fifteen minutes before boarding. We ended up making some bad food choices in a frantic attempt to get a meal in the few minutes remaining. No sooner had we done that than an announcement was made that the flight was put on a two-hour ground delay due to weather. This is the scene from the bar at Pei Wei across from our gate where we made more questionable food and beverage choices.
I am completely amazed at how I was able to make this photo. It was taken with an iPhone7 and then edited it in Lightroom mobile on the same device. By using the camera inside mobile Lightroom the images were saved in RAW format. That allowed me to recover a more detail, shadows and highlights than I might ordinarily.
The other cool thing is that Lightroom on the iPhone is hooked up with Lightroom on my laptop. As I was siting here editing the image on my iPhone, it and the edits were being save in the cloud. I opened up my laptop and started using Lightroom where I left off from on my iPhone. I continued using some of my favorite software including Photoshop and MacPhun’s Luminar as well as a few others, finally ending up with this.
Personally I am amazed, because it really felt seamless hopping from one platform to another. Sure, there is not as much detail as if I had used my three-thousand dollar Sony camera, but there is way more detail in this than I would have expected. You can see both our JetBlue aircraft and clouds at the gate across the way as well as interesting details in the darkened restaurant. For sitting at a bar in an airport, it ain’t half bad if I do say so myself.
This is a long exposure from a park that sits on the border between Sarasota and Manatee counties. It’s a new park so on a recent Sunday drive I stopped by to see it for myself. I’m facing towards the inter-coastal on Longboat Key.
You may ask, how is it possible to take a long exposure at midday? Glad you asked; I used a strong ND filter. ND stands for neutral density and it blocks the light. In fact I used two filters and together they REALLY block the light. So much so that I can keep the shutter open for a minute or two, something I can normally do only at night.
So why would I want to take a long exposure during the day? Another great question; because everything is gets smoothed out. Even water that has waves appears smooth, the same goes for clouds; they all appear smooth. It’s a cheap special effect you can achieve without a big Hollywood budget.
You can get pretty creative with photography if you have nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon. As for me I rarely have anything better to do. Standing in an empty park taking long exposures in broad daylight is my idea of a good time. Can you think of anything better to do?
This is a long exposure cityscape of Sarasota I took one night while waiting for the full moon to rise above the bridge. I was fortunate in that there was no wind and the waters of the bay were still. While that’s great for photos it also means there are a lot of mosquitos. I had a can of repellant and sprayed myself from head to toe: a minor annoyance but its a small price to pay in exchange for perfect conditions.
I never know when conditions will be good for photography until the last moment. If I had all the time in the world I’d go out every night checking. As a matter of fact I did that this evening before I sat down to write this. We had some dramatic clouds and I thought to get in position, but nothing happened and I drove home without a shot. It’s a numbers game; sometimes you lose and sometimes you win.
Earlier in the day I took a three-hour drive looking for compositions, in the end I got only one. The effort that goes into my photography is not carbon neutral. I should probably look into an electric car or just take the bus.
So that the time is not a complete waste I’ll listen to podcasts. I can get drawn into the stories such that the traffic, distances and time are not so monotonous. Even if I come back without a good composition at least I learned something. My favorite is Radio Labs, but I also like This American Life and sometimes Tim Ferris.
A lot of effort goes into making a good podcasts and the same holds true for photos. I love doing it so I rarely notice the time, but most of the images I post involve many hours of traveling, editing, expense, and sometimes even spraying myself with insect repellant.