Friday morning in Miami is no different than any other place. Oh who am I kidding, it’s WAY different!
For me, a big advantage of taking a cruise out of Miami is, well, Miami. An average view from the deck of a large ship is still better than a great view from a skyscraper. Nevertheless, the new boats are big enough to be skyscrapers.
Miami is a favorite city of mine to photograph. You have it all, the beach, the nightlife, the cityscapes. No matter how you look at it, it’s not your average city. I’m sure it has its problems, but as with many things, I tend to look at it through rose-colored glasses.
Ocean Drive in Miami Beach on a Monday night. And the later I stayed, the busier it got. I repeat, it was Monday.
But then I shouldn’t be surprised, because when I’m on vacation, every day is Saturday and most of the people in South Beach are on vacation. So it could be Sunday, Monday or Tuesday night and the place is still going to be full of life.
As I look at this photo, I wonder why they had two TVs set up outside? I get it with TVs in restaurants, but to set two up on the sidewalk seems a little extreme. It’s not enough that we are continually communing with our phones. I’m as guilty as anyone. But maybe it’s a good idea to get unplugged, if even for a couple of hours while we eat. Perhaps I’ll try that tonight, as long as there’s nothing important on.
Here’s a scene from Miami Beach’s Lummus Park at night. I took some daytime photos here, but night time was way more fun.
Sorry if I sound like grandpa talking, but it wasn’t that long ago when shots like this were next to impossible. I shot this handheld without a tripod. In fact, the original photo didn’t look like much. Nevertheless, I was able to recover most of the shadows thanks to software and the amazing sensor on the Sony A7RM3. The camera sensor saves things that are invisible to the naked eye. However, with post-processing, we can make much of it visible.
I would say that low-light techniques like this are what got me back into photography. Back in the day (grandpa again) I used to shoot film but lost interest due to the amount of time I spent in dark rooms. Today, the only time you need to spend in the dark is taking photos of cool scenes.
When I was last in South Beach, I hung around Ocean Drive. This is one of the many spots where they serve those half-gallon Margaritas. Only in Miami.
This colors on this were so loud and crazy that I opted for monochrome to focus more on the people. These kinds of street scenes are fun to look at later, away from the sounds and heat of the moment. It’s taking a glimpse into a snap of time and spinning a tale in our mind of what was going on.
Sometimes, I get looks from people that make me a little self-conscious. I don’t mind if it’s just people looking at me and wondering, but in places like this, there are quite often celebrities. I’m not into the whole celebrity thing and am really bad at recognizing faces. But I do occasional snap a star, so I hope they will realize that I’m just some guy without an agenda that probably just finished one of those half-gallon Margaritas.
I like renting a bike in Miami beach to get off the beaten path. I want to see how the natives live which, in reality, is exactly as I do.
For me, the challenge with urban photography is finding an angle that’s not crappy. But that’s just me, and at the same time, I love the work of photographers that show urban grittiness, like Thomas Hawk. His work is not crappy, but it shows ugly details. Nevertheless, I spend hours looking at his work on Flickr.
It comes down to what I’m comfortable with, even if I get inspiration from different styles. Anyway, this is my take on South Beach urbanism, which is more of an ideal than the reality. Because if I turned the camera just a little, you would see all the grittiness of telephone wires, parked cars, and liquor stores. But if Tomas Hawk did it, it would be okay.
Taking pictures from a ship is like standing on a tall building. The vantage is nearly as good as a drone but without the need for an FAA license.
I took this onboard the Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas as we left Miami on a three-day cruise. There were high winds on that voyage, and we had to skip one of our ports. The other port was Nassau where we did dock safely and enjoyed a day exploring.
Perhaps because of the rough conditions, I got a few good photos using the perspective of the ship that I wouldn’t usually get. Then, on the final morning, we arrived back here to Miami at sunrise, and I got a few last photos from the top deck. After that, it was back to ground level.
This image was a bit of a project to create. I stood on the South Pointe Pier facing Key Biscayne in South Beach. I took three pictures, each focused on a different point. The first was the railing, the next was the jetty and finally Key Biscayne off in the distance.
I combined the images into a composite using a technique known as focus stacking. After that, I kept working on it until ending up with an abstract rendering that is neither real or imagined; it’s somewhere in-between.
I could say something smart about layers, like how they are metaphors for something, but not today. The result is the product of a study in technique and abstraction. I had an idea when I took the shots, and I practiced various methods to get the image I wanted. Perhaps that’s the best way to describe it.
The lifeguard stands at Miami Beach are these funny cartoon-like structures. Whoever designed them has a brilliant sense of humor; each one is cut out from an active imagination and looks like something from a Disney movie.
When I was here a couple of months ago, they had started rebuilding each stand. There was an area roped off in Lummus Park where new stands were under construction. Perhaps they replace them every five or ten years. With the storms in summer, they need to be extra sturdy.
If you look close, you can see a couple more of these down the beach; each is unique with a different color and shape. Living near the beach lifeguard stands are a common subject for me; they are like little houses. I romanticize them in my pictures, but I think they provide only the barest of necessities for the lifeguards that sit inside all day long keeping a keen eye out for trouble.
Lummus Park runs parallel to Ocean Drive in South Beach. I was riding a bike here and taking photos in the middle of the day. I usually prefer to go out when the light is softer, but I thought to myself, what the heck.
The summer sun in Miami Beach is relentless, so I saw quite a few people walking with umbrellas. As for me, I made sure I had an umbrella in my drink. I figure if I collect enough of them I can use them for the sun.
For this shot, I lined it up and waited for the ladies to walk in the scene. It’s an easy technique, and I use it a lot when I do street photography. I suppose this is a street photo, although part of me wants to call it a beach photo. It really doesn’t matter; it’s just my analytical side working overtime.
Here’s a series of architectural studies I did while in South Beach. I rented a bike for the afternoon and rode around taking snippets of buildings. As a photographer, one of the main reasons I like going there is the architecture. There is a combination of art deco and cubist throughout.
Honestly, I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to architecture; I know what I like. If I find it interesting, that’s good enough. In South Beach, they use a lot of pastel colors, and that goes well with the heat. The heat in the summer is brutal, so maybe some softness coming off the walls makes it a little more bearable.
Anyway, this is not even the tip of the iceberg. I could spend a whole week here just shooting architecture. Different angles, different perspectives, different times of the day. Maybe one day I’ll go back and do just that. Sound like a plan?