Today I visited the deserted island known as Egmont Key. It’s near the big city of Tampa but completely removed from civilization. There is nothing here but an old fort, a ghost town, a lighthouse and miles of empty white sand beaches. Today was warm and sunny, yet there was only a handful of people that bothered to take the ferry out here. That meant I could walk for miles along the shore without seeing anyone. I walked the circumference of the island and somewhere halfway between one end and the other I spotted this couple.
The island reminded me a little of the island on Lost, except there are no mountains. I think that during WW2 there was a lot of activity on account of its location as a gateway into Tampa Bay. But now it’s a state park accessible only by boat and so remains largely deserted save for a park ranger, sea birds and a few daily visitors.
To get here you catch a ferry from Fort DeSoto Park in St Petersburg. There are only two scheduled departures in the morning and then two return trips in the afternoon. The last return leaves at 2:30 so if you miss it you’re on your own. You might as well look for a place to shelter for the night. In that case you could wander over to the ghost town, I’m sure they’ll have a room there.
There is a moment, just as the sun disappears behind the sea, that you can get a flash of light across the water. This was taken at that moment. Even though it lasts no more than a second I don’t advise looking at the sun to see it. However since I started shooting with a Sony camera I’ve seen it several times. That’s because I can look though the electronic viewfinder and my eyes are protected from the harmful brilliance of the sun.
Even rarer is something known as the “green” flash, at least that’s what I call it. Anyway, under certain circumstances and at the exact second the sun disappears, you may see a greenish-blue flash. I did not see it this day but I have seen it once in Florida. I was watching the sun set over the water and a gentleman came up to me and asked me if I’d ever seen it before. I responded that I’d never even heard of it. He said it was somewhat rare yet he watches for it everyday. A few seconds later it happened and we both looked at each other in amazement.
Anyway, back in San Francisco where I took this, I was at the bottom of a set of cliffs at Point Lobos State Park. By the time I climbed back up and walked back to the parking lot it was after dark, but it seems a lot of people linger here late. A scene like this is hard to leave, and besides I didn’t want to miss the last flash.
I’ve heard it said that three is a magic number. Well, it’s certainly the name of a tune sung by Blind Melon, but I’m not sure how magic that is. If you’re a little lost don’t feel bad, I had to look that last part up on Wikipedia. Even without looking something up I can reasonably say that three represents a lot of things. The periods in a hockey game, dimensions of space, and of course, the number of legs on a stool. Deeper words have rarely been written.
This is the kind of scenery you can find at Fort Desoto State Park in St Petersburg Florida. Its also an example of how I’ve developed a tendency to see scenes in letterbox vignettes, one at a time, all around me. In fact there were things to the right and left, but I imagined this one little vignette in my mind and so framed the shot. Sometimes I might need more and use a wide angle, but for this 50mm was enough to capture the image I wanted. Having a zoom lens really helps in this department.
This is also another view of the seawall that I posted a few days ago. It’s a thirty minute drive north of me and one reason I like to come here is that I can bring my dog. Much of the shoreline in central Florida is off limits to dogs but this being a state park its pet friendly. There is a dog beach and places like this where you can walk with your best friend. So here I am; me, my bud and my camera, just the three of us. Magic.
The sun is setting and I’m at the beach. I have exactly three minutes left to find one more composition. Those are some of the thoughts going through my mind at moments like this, it’s like a game and it can be a lot of frantic fun. Such was the case when I found myself behind some seagrass and a tree that created a kind of frame and just then these folks walked by. Click.
Framing an image is an important aspect of street photography. Find some interesting scene and wait for someone to walk through it. When people are in an image we tend to put ourselves into that scene whether we realize it or not. In this way artistic images have a way of pulling us out of ourselves.
My earlier landscapes almost never had people in them. Someone once pointed this out and I started to take notice. Now I’m not so concerned with finding landscapes without people, if I do great, but not required. So this resulted in a blending of my love of both street and landscape photography. Now when shooting landscapes I will often look for a frame and wait for someone to walk through it. In a long winded way this is the thinking that went into this image. It’s a crossover of sorts.
This is the cargo dock in Vancouver Harbour. I’m standing at Canada Place facing east towards Burnaby. Half of this photo is a painting of sorts. I’m not really a painter but all of the reflections are my own doing, an example of an idea I get and then working to bring it out. I do it for no other reason than I get a enjoyment from it. The waters of Vancouver Harbour are not nearly this glassy, but that doesn’t stop me from imagining what it would look like if they were.
This looks almost like a lake with fresh water. But then there would not be such big cargo docs. Mr. Rational says things don’t make sense and deconstructs the scene. However in the world of my imagination I get to mix things up a bit and play what-if scenarios.
In fact the waters of this bay are really clean, especially for a port with so much shipping. It’s not uncommon to see otters and seals swimming about. Compared to other port cities this is probably one of the cleanest. Maybe that’s where I got the idea from. I’ll take it up notch and make it appear like a lake. One thing is for sure, this is the only image like this you’ll see because it’s one part reality and one part dose of my imagination.
This is one of the places I go to whenever I need to get away. Friday evening I walked along the seawall with my dog and soaked in the muted tones of blue, green and grey. I had come up here hoping for a sunset but what I got was better. This is Fort DeSoto Park is in St Petersburg Florida.
By simply making the effort to show up and be observant I notice things I might otherwise overlook. The textures and patterns in the clouds are an example. I once heard that these are the wings of angels. Maybe, but whatever posses them to form such shapes is beyond my comprehension.
In the foreground is the concrete reinforcement of the seawall. Beyond is the Gulf of Mexico. Ships pass by here on the way in and out of Tampa Bay. If you look closely you’ll see two large vessels along the horizon. A few minutes later I watched as one passed by.
At this time of day the crowds have left and you can pretty much have the whole place to your self. There were one or two other souls along the seawall enjoying the tranquillity, or perhaps just communing with their thoughts. Maybe those angels had something to do with it.
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.
This is a long exposure of the San Francisco Bay Bridge I took last year. I was with about three hundred people on a Trey Ratcliff photowalk. The problem with me and photowalks is that I’m a straggler. I see so many things that I want to take pictures of that I end up at the back of the pack, I can’t seem to keep up.
This is one of many thirty-second exposures I did while standing here with a tripod. If you do the math that puts me in this spot for about ten minutes. By the time I had enough presence of mind to look up the end of the pack was hundreds of yards down the road. Time to run.
Now, many months later, I just happened to look at this and remember that evening. I met many people and had a blast. Also I just noticed the V-shaped light in the distance between the two leading lines. I don’t recall seeing it that night. Anyway, now this is one of my favorite shots from the photowalk.