Fishing Pier 4.0

Some scenes like this I keep coming back to. But since the sky is different each time it counts as a new pic. I’m not trying to justify it, I’m just saying.

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Fishing Pier 4.0
The fishing pier at Bradenton’s Riverwalk

I’ve posted this same scene at least three times; here, here and here. I considered not posting yet another, but I like it and so why not? It makes sense to repeat a composition over time to gauge subtle difference as your technique or gear changes.

more images from the riverwalk

This is the first time I used the GM lens for this scene, and so now I can take the time to notice that. I’m doing that with a few repeat scenes, and I’m enjoying the results. I usually save the GM lenses for commercial or portrait work, but I’m starting to use them for landscapes as well. Anyway, here is the latest version of the pier in Bradenton’s Riverwalk. Stay tuned for version 5.0 in about a year.

Green Spaces

There is something about a stand of palm trees that begs to be photographed. These are from a nature preserve surrounded by urban sprawl.

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Green Spaces
A park that provides a refuge for nature in Bradenton

I have never been forward thinking enough to be passionate about green spaces and parks. But as I get a little wiser, I’m grateful to other people that are. This park is named after the late Tom Bennett who was a local resident. Apparently, he and his family were indeed passionate about green spaces, and I have them to thank for this photo.

more greenery from the gallery

I once had a colleague in Toronto who invested in land to be used as a wild preserve. She only wanted the property to be left to nature and not developed. That was a long time ago, and since then, Toronto has gone crazy with development. As I think back, I see that she was a visionary and, I wonder if she held out. For the sake of short-sighted folks like me, I hope she did.

Sandstone Tower

Here’s another perspective of the sandstone formations I saw while visiting Wisconsin Dells. We took a boat tour up the river and made a couple of stops to see the formations. These are the kind of things I’d expect to see in Arizona, not Wisconsin.

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Sandstone Tower
One of many sandsctone towers at the Wisconsin Dells

We were here at the hottest time of the year. It’s funny because when we leave Florida in the summer and head north, we expect we’ll be getting moderate weather. During peak summer months, that’s not the case; it’s hot all over.

landscape gallery

To create the star effect I set the aperture to f16 and positioned myself with the sun peeking out. F16 makes the aperture opening very small, and that creates a flaring or starlike effect with bright lights. However, it was so sunny I couldn’t be sure it worked until a few weeks later when I got home to look at the results on a monitor. Here, in the comfort of A/C, I can confirm we have a hit.

Little Dunes

When I hear the word dune, I think of the desert, but these along the Florida beach are a different variety. Unlike the shifting sands of the Sahara, these are covered with plants and are meant to hold their shape in a storm. They are what keeps us from being washed away completely.

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Little Dunes
A sunset along the beach on Anna Maria Island

If you look carefully through the top of the dune, you’ll see orange tape marking a sea turtle nest. Scores of volunteers comb the beach for nests, erect barriers, and take careful notes over the incubation period. Once hatched, they’ll dash for the water so as not to be eaten by birds. Only a few survive to adulthood; it’s a rough start to what will hopefully become a long life in the sea.

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Nothing is permanent, yet everything is trying to hold on. The dunes and turtles are both pitted against the forces of nature. Perhaps the tension in the environment is what produces the beauty on earth. It seems that elemental pressures are a creative force. Without them, we’d all be washed away and overrun with too many sea turtles. On second thought, you can never have too many sea turtles.

South Dakota Drive

This summer we drove back and forth across South Dakota. It was part of a road trip to see the land up close. I’ve crossed South Dakota a hundred times by air, but there isn’t much to see from up there.

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South Dakota Drive
A scene from 1880’s Town in South Dakota

Except for a few small cities and towns, the landscape is wide open. For an urbanite like me, it was nice to drive for long hours without stopping because I could start to grasp the sense of scale. The entire state is a wide-open expanse.

more minimalism from the gallery

Since most people drive through South Dakota, they have some amazing rest stops. Many had grocery store cafes where you could find every snack imaginable. My favorite was the robot frappuccino makers. Some stops have advertising signs for a hundred miles or more. I took this photo at one known as 1880’s Old Town and Diner, where you could fill up, grab a bite, and see a pioneer town while you’re at it.

The Golden Door

This image is the golden door at the base of Bok Tower in Central Florida. I was here the other day taking pictures of the gardens and just before leaving noticed this elaborate door. Surely it is an element of some fantasy novel I haven’t read yet.

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The Golden Door
The door at the base of Bok Tower in Lake Wales Florida

Florida is mainly flat, and the tower is on the tallest hill of the Florida peninsula at 295 feet above sea level. Add the tower’s 205 feet on top of that, and it’s easily the tallest thing around for maybe fifty or a hundred miles.

While I was there, music from the tower’s carillon bells resounded throughout the gardens. Perhaps someone was playing them or, maybe it was automated. I didn’t take the tour to find out.

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A thunderstorm rolled over, and the bells abruptly stopped minutes before lightning hit the top of the tower. The tower has lightning rods, so it’s perfectly safe, but I would not want to be the one striking those bells in a storm. Unless perhaps, it was part of the plot of that novel I’ve not yet read.

Silent Shore

I’ve been avoiding it, but on Wednesday evening I went to Bradenton Beach to see the spectacle for myself. If you haven’t heard, Florida is in the middle of a massive red tide. So I drove to the beach, and as expected, was greeted with the smell of fish washed up on the shore. Maybe because of the breeze, it was not as bad as I feared. After a few minutes, I relaxed and let it fade into the background.

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Silent Shore
A strip of sore devoid of activity in Bradenton Beach

I came primarily to take pictures of the sunset because red tide or not, when the atmospheric conditions are right it’s still astounding to see. However, as I walked along the beach, something seemed out of place. I struggled to put my finger on it as I continued and then it hit me. It was too quiet; there were no birds. All of the gulls, pipers, and pelicans had either succumbed or escaped, and there was not a single one on the beach. The lack of avian sounds and activity left me with an eerie feeling. That was the moment it hit home.

beach gallery

I am heartbroken, of course. I rationalize to myself that we are moving through the worst it, but that we will make it to the other side. The conditions that allow the algae bloom will eventually cease, and the fish, birds and sea mammals will, in time, return. I’m glad I went, and now I know that I will go again because I think it’s important to witness it first hand, not just from TV. People are avoiding the shore, and the beach is empty in more ways than one. As for myself, being there to hear its silence is in some way, essential.

Pond Panorama

Here is an image from nearby Tom Bennett Park in Bradenton. I’ve been here twice this week trying to get some photos that do the landscape justice. To make this, I combined four vertical images, and each was a combination of two focus stacked images; so eight in all.

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Pond Panorama
This is eight images combined into a hi-res panorama.

I’ve been doing a lot of focus stacking lately. If you’re not familiar, it’s taking two or more photos of the same thing, each focused at a different distance. Then by combining the in-focus parts of each image, everything is sharp. It’s an excellent technique to use when you want to have a strong foreground element. It makes good sense in a lot of landscape scenes. Also, since this is a multi-image panorama, the resolution is very high. Therefore, having everything in focus is even more beneficial.

more panoramas from the gallery

I was at this same park a day or two earlier when I came to walk with my dog. This time I came alone to shoot, but after I did, I felt a little guilty that Mr. Wiggles got gypped out of a walk. I could have brought him because the photography wasn’t particularly difficult. Mr. Wiggles has me wrapped around his paw. I’m not done here so I’ll probably bring him along next time.

Pond and Clouds

I took this image the other day on my way out of Emerson Point Preserve. This pond is at the entrance and is a real head turner when driving in or out. I’ve taken many pictures of it, and I’ve driven by many more times. This time I stopped for another photo.

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Pond and Clouds
The soft morning light on the pond and clouds at Emerson Point

I think the reason I like this photo, in particular, is that it has a little less contrast. It reveals the softer light and colors of the morning; I took this about twenty minutes after sunrise.

more images from Emerson Point

Sometimes I make complicated photos with a lot of elements and much post-processing. However, sometimes the picture speaks for itself without much effort from me. What I think, is that this image is one of those where nature does all the talking. So on that note, I’ll shut up and let mother nature take it from here.

Choo Choo Station

Here’s a shot from inside the restored train station in downtown Chattanooga. The station isn’t operational; it’s now a historical spot for music and arts. There are a few old trains at the station converted to shops, restaurants, and a hotel.

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Choo Choo Station
Inside the restored train station of the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo

The Frothy Monkey that I posted about the other day is just to the right. We just finished lunch, and I was waiting for the valet to return the car when I took this photo. The little choo-choo motif on the right seals the deal for me.

a lot more pretty pictures

The whole time I was here, I couldn’t stop humming the old Andrews Sisters song (https://youtu.be/FdrYYUuT07Q). I wonder if you can still catch a train to Tennessee from Track 29 at Penn station. I doubt it, but it would be cool if you could.