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.
This was taken in the last days of the year when I went to the beach to watch the waves at sunset. The waves were the result of a storm that blew off of the gulf. As I recall the evening was warm, more so than normal.
Hard as I might try to the contrary, I take days like this for granted. The winter warmth is not as appreciated by me as much as you might think. That’s simply because I live here and I’m used to it. Even so I do take advantage of what the area around my home has to offer. For instance I enjoy walking the beach. That might sound cliche, but it’s one of the things people do here. I do it mostly for photography because I will typically see something interesting, either in front of me or in my minds eye. It’s as though those walks help to prod my artistic muse.
Prior to moving here it would never have entered my mind to go to the beach just to walk and take pictures, yet now I do it. And when I’m away I feel a longing for those walks and the sound of the waves. I guess thats some new part of my makeup, something new I’ve discovered I like. I guess we are always developing new things we like, unconsciously evolving some new aspect of ourselves.
Despite taking scenes like this for granted, I find that when I return from a trip I become subtly aware aware of the Florida climate as though it was something new. As I write this I’m traveling and have warm clothes in my suitcase as I sit in a hotel room with the heater on. It is a real possibility that when I return I’ll drive to the beach and go for a walk with my camera. Then I’ll probably say to myself how fortunate I am to live here and once again will appreciated it, …until such time as it becomes normal and I start taking it for granted again.
On my last day in France I went for a morning walk on Carnon Beach. Like the beaches in Florida this stretches for miles in each direction. Unlike the beaches in Florida the shore is carved into large semicircles on account of the breakwaters that are built to prevent erosion. You can see them here and if you look at the scene from Google Maps you’ll see what I mean.
In Florida, we have quite a bit of beach erosion from storms each year, at least on the gulf side. In fact the local government repairs the beach every few years. By that I mean that they dredge up the sand from a couple hundred meters off shore and deposit it back on the beach until it erodes again. In France it seems they take a different, less costly approach. The result is mile after mile of these large semicircle beaches. It creates more shore line and perhaps accommodates more people.
Both approaches to maintaining beaches have their pros and cons. However I’m more interested in taking pictures than trying to figure which is better. I spend a lot of time at the beaches in Florida so I have ideas on how to take pictures there. The beaches in Carnon however present new ideas and challenges that I only began to explore. Next time I go back I’ll explore that a little more.
This weekend I was in Fort Lauderdale where I captured this ship entering the Port of the Everglades. This was just one of a half dozen or so I watched from the beach in the predawn hours. My hotel faced the Atlantic so that I could see the ships all lined up single file as they waited to enter the port. The preceding evening it was the reverse with the ships streaming out in the opposite direction.
I walked down to the very end of the beach along the jetty at the entry to the port. Standing there the ships pass so close I could probably hit them with a beach ball. It’s a strange feeling standing there as a tremendous amount of mass passes only meters away. It overloads my simple mind. I’ll bet the people in those apartment buildings have quite the show each day.
The orange light coming over the apartment buildings is the light from the port bouncing off of the clouds we had Sunday morning. The whole scene was surreal and totally unexpected. I love little surprises like that, especially when I’m out with my camera. It’s been said that photography is fifty percent just getting out and putting yourself in a place where something might happen. Sometimes it works out and of course I get really excited when it does, kind of like hitting a great golf shot. This image for me is a three hundred yard tee-shot straight down the middle of the fairway. I better stop now before I start mixing my metaphors.
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.
As compositions go we might say this has no subject, no main actor. Having said that, nothing beats a good sunrise and sometimes we just have to ignore the rules of composition and go with what moves us. In this case, the simplicity of the scene was enough for me. This is an HDR image, I combined four images to balance out the range of light to try and convey what I saw with my eyes. For me, getting up early and standing next to calm water like this is like meditation. It gives me a certain calm that I can carry with me the rest of the day. Calm and simplicity, two things I strive for in some of my images, especially those close to the water. Have a peaceful day my friends.
Yesterday we stopped in Collioure which is a French village on the Mediterranean just north of the border with Spain. It’s a lovely little place with views of the sea and many cafes and shops. There is a cathedral right at the edge of the sea and then extending out is a smaller chapel. Perhaps a place to wait or pray for mariners, I’m not really sure. Nonetheless the clouds were dramatic so I captured this as I walked out from the church to the chapel. Once out there the wind was brisk and you would surely lose anything not held tight, yet back in the village there was only a breeze. A perfect place for an afternoon.
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a hundred times, I love old piers. No, don’t put me down as undecided, old piers are awesome. If for no other reason than they provide a leading line into the infinity of the sea. They point outward and beyond, they are metaphors for the journey of life. How’s that for heavy thoughts along with my images? I know, as long as it’s not heavy breathing then it’s okay. As a land lubber a pier for me points outward to sea. However if you are at sea, it’s a bridge back to shore. There are so many implications that it just blows my mind. Okay, the men in white coats just showed up, I need to take my meds now. But really, don’t you think old piers are great?