Solitude at Dawn

Soltude At Dawn
Solitude at Dawn on Fort Lauderdale Beach                                                   Buy a fine art gallery print for your wall

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.

Waves at Sunset

Waves at Sunset
Waves at sunset at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island, Florida                         Buy a fine art gallery print

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.

Entering The Port

Entering the Port
A cruise ship entering the Port of the Everglades in Florida                                         Obtain a fine art gallery print

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.

Watching the Sun Set

Watching the Sunset
Watching the Sun Set is a common ritual in Florida                         Purchase a fine art gallery print

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.

Fort De Soto Beach

Fort De Soto Beach
Fort De Soto Beach just outside of Tampa Bay                                      Purchase a framed gallery print

Visits to the beach

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.

Country Oak

Country Oak
A Country Oak along the rural section of Manatee County Florida                            Purchase a gallery print

This is a country oak I found along the highway in the outer reaches of my county. I see these whenever I drive along the pastures east of my home. Yesterday I just had to stop and take a picture. Normally these oaks are shelter from the hot Florida sun for the cattle and so it’s not uncommon to find several in the shade. For whatever reason there were no cattle here and so the simplicity of the scene grabbed my attention.

When is warm and humid, we get these rows of clouds stretching as far as the eye can see. In this case there was another layer above that creating a spectacle in the sky. For whatever atmospheric reason, the clouds form readily at mid day over the rural areas, but as you get closer to the coast and beaches, the clouds disappear; not always but most of the time. On the west end of the county is pristine beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, the eastern end is mostly farming and ranches. The beaches and the rural sections seem to each have their own distinct climates.

After I titled this image Country Oak it occurred to me that indeed this is a common name. There are streets like Country Oak Lane; developments like Country Oak Estates; and schools like Country Oak Middle School, …the list goes on. I never really thought about it before now, but the idea of Country Oaks seem to be iconic and somewhat popular around here. And here I thought it was all about the beaches.

Bradenton Beach Elements

Bradenton Beach
The natural elements of Bradenton Beach                         Purchase gallery print

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.

Rainbow on the Coast

Rainbow on the Coast
Rainbow on the Coast where the Manatee River meets the Gulf of Mexico    Purchase a gallery print

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.

Remarkable Mountains

Remarkable Mountains
Remarkable Mountains in Queenstown New Zealand; this is a reprocessed version of a photo I did over a year ago.                                Obtain a gallery print.

This is the Remarkable Mountains as viewed from Kelvin Heights above Queenstown New Zealand. Kelvin Heights is the name I get when I Google it, however the locals call it Deer Park Heights. There is some kind of family dispute over this land, maybe that has something to do with the names, but I digress. I posted this image about a year and a half ago without the clouds but I thought I’d update the image because I prefer clouds in the sky. That morning the sky was rather dull, it was just after sunrise and it had snowed the day before. So, as I do with many of my images, I made it look a little different, the way I wished it had looked. Its like doodling with an image to see what works. For me this is better than the original. At the time I was in New Zealand on a workshop with Trey Ratcliff and I was just beginning to learn how to work with new tools for this kind of thing. I made many friends there as we all practiced composition and post processing with beautiful landscapes like this from all around Queenstown. Since then I’ve learned quite a lot and have developed a preference for a more imaginative style that at times is not at all realistic. If you’ve followed my work you know what I mean. I’m more into creating images from my minds eye, using photography as a tool. So, having gone back to this image I think I like it better than the first version which was more true to life. You may not agree, but that’s okay, on any given day I might just change my mind and agree with you.

Mount Edith Cavell Before Sunset

Mount Edith Cavell Before Sunset
Mount Edith Cavell Before Sunset                       Obtain a gallery print

This is the view of Mount Edith Cavell from Jasper Park Lodge that I took one summer evening before sunset. I think it’s pretty amazing how long the days are in the summer up here. Its kind of hard to fathom, especially now that I’m writing this in winter when it gets dark many hours earlier. In the evening the angle of the sun is low enough to cast a soft light on everything. I understand that Iceland can be like that for months, I guess that’s next on my list. In any case, Mount Edith Cavell is one of the more iconic landmarks of the Canadian Rockies and having hiked up along side of it, I can say it is indeed massive, even when viewed from twenty kilometers away. A couple of days ago I wrote about the age of the trees in British Columbia. Well, these mountains are millions of years old. That really impresses me because just like the size of these mountains, their age is something I can never really wrap my mind around.