On a recent weekend, we had high winds in the area. So I headed over to a spot along the shore to capture this shot across the roiled waters of Tampa Bay.
As the title suggests, that’s St Petersburg, which is about six or seven miles away. The zoom lens was at 400mm which creates the compressed effect and, makes the city appear closer than it is. I read today that they are going to build a new fifty story condo so in a few years this skyline will look different.
When the water is like this, I find it a little frightening. It’s an irrational fear, born of an overactive imagination. I would not want to be on a boat in these conditions. As I watched, I saw several ships as well as some large tugs. The tugs patrol the bay and control navigation through the narrow passage of the Skyway bridge. Thank goodness for those guys, they must love the excitement on days like this.
This is a near reproduction of an image I did a few years ago. The angle is different, but the story is the same; rocks, pier, water and sky.
I’ve changed the way I take and process photos so this is perhaps the upgraded version. Everything else in life gets updated, why not pictures? I must have deleted the first one because I can’t find it. But it’s not just my imagination because I printed it and sold a few copies. But now, I prefer this version.
As time goes on, I see many more things in a photo, some good, some so-so. Much of my earlier work I would like to redo, a 2.0 gallery if you will. And eventually, I will because I keep going to the same places. And if I think about it, I’ll probably never stop doing that. Just going back to the same areas, and taking upgraded photos until we get to version X. At least that’s the theory.
Fort DeSoto Park is a nice place to go for sunsets here in the Tampa Bay region. This scene is typical of what it looks like in the evening and, is why I keep coming back to take photos.
If you followed the path of the sun due west for about eight hundred miles, you end up near Corpus Christi Texas. To do that though you should be in something larger than a rowboat. Speaking of which, I took a cruise out of here once, and when we passed this pier in our big ship, it looked so small that I almost didn’t recognize it.
In case you’re interested, I set the aperture on the lens to f22 for this shot. That’s a little extreme, and it does some interesting things. First, everything is in focus, from the railing to the end of the pier. Second, it adds contrast to the sky so that we can see the sun rays pointing upward. There are pros and cons to using such a high f-stop, mostly cons; but sometimes it can work out. I think this is one of those times.
On Saturday evening I visited the pier at Fort Desoto Park. I don’t know why I waited so long to return here; it’s one of my favorite places. I was lucky because as you can see, the sunset was epic.
From the moment I got out of my car, I was busy taking pictures. I go camera-crazy whenever I’m in an idyllic setting. I dare say we all do; when I looked around nearly everyone was holding a camera of some type (be it phone or DSLR) taking pictures.
To make this final image I combined three exposures into Aurora HDR, made a few adjustments and then used Luminar 2018 to make a few more. I never repeat the same process twice. I do everything by feel, and I don’t write anything down. It’s a form of improvisation, similar to what a musician might do. It’s no wonder, so many photographers are also musicians, the creative process has certain similarities. Which got me thinking, I wonder what this scene would sound like if translated into music?
If you read this blog occasionally maybe you wonder why I write about images. It’s because it helps me to integrate with it on more than one level. After writing about an image it has it’s own story and it seems to take on a life of it’s own. Now when I go back to look at an image I remember it’s story.
This is St Petersburg Florida across Tampa Bay. At this time of year we get thunderstorms that clear in the evening around sunset. I took this right after the storms and about two minutes after at sun had set. The clouds are a peachy orange from the glow of that hour.
Most photographers post images without a word. Sometimes images are so strong they need no words. But, for whatever reason I take the time to write a story. It’s totally unnecessary but I do it anyway.
The urge to write is something I’ve had my whole life. My grandmother was a writer and maybe some of that rubbed off. Half the time I have no idea what I’ll write but it eventually takes shape. Once I write some thoughts I’ll revise, edit, and revise until it’s done; then the story and image are posted together.
Now having said all this about that, today’s images is created with post processing. I imagine the bay produces these reflections, but of course it does not. So to get the final result I took one part picture, one part imagination and a hand full of words and mixed them all together. This is what I ended up with.
Last Sunday we went for a walk at this park in St Petersburg. Then after that we went to a nearby outdoor café and met some friends for dinner. The whole afternoon and evening was an exercise in downtime.
I look forward to the downtime of the weekend. That’s when I get recharged for the week ahead. But truth be told I’m not that good at it; doing nothing that is. But doing nothing is just as necessary as breathing in. I think of what I do most of the week as an out breath, a hundred little acts of creation. So whether I’m good at disengaging or not, it’s still necessary.
I’ve even started to practice doing nothing. That sounds like a joke but its not. In the morning I just sit still for ten minutes. It’s a way of training myself to disengage. The idea is to be comfortable with it and carry that into other parts of the day or week. I’m so used to doing things that something as simple as sitting without a cellphone or book is a challenge. But I’m getting better at it even though I have a ways to go.
I’ve challenged myself to do things my whole life, but it never occurred to me that downtime was so important. Now that I know that, I can practice it. The whole thing sounds completely backwards. I just have to do nothing about it. Okay, that one was a joke.
There is a colony of skimmers on the beach not far from my home on Anna Maria Island. They have a patch of sand that they come back to each year to hatch and nurse their young. It’s normally taped off so we don’t interfere with the hatchlings. Anything that hatches and nests in the sand is quite vulnerable. The adults take turns guarding the nest. In fact the whole colony, whether they have chicks or not, pitch in on security detail. It takes a village to raise a skimmer.
This is taken at a different location in St Petersburg. Lowering the camera close to the water helps see from the perspective of the wildlife. The small flock of skimmers was picking at the sand while some children swam behind them. With me in front I was surprised they stayed in place for as long as they did. Like so many birds in Florida they’ve grown accustomed to us.
Now is the time of year we also find turtle nests in the sand. Isn’t it odd that the turtle just lays the eggs and then takes off? It’s so unlike other creatures that stick around and nurse their young. After hatching the baby turtles make a dash to the water to avoid being eaten, and then try to avoid the same fate in the water. I don’t blame the mom for not wanting to stick around; the odds seem so slim.
This is the seawall and fishing pier at Fort Desoto Park in St Petersburg. We drove up here the other day to walk and watch the sunset. When we arrived we’d just missed a couple of large cruise ships passing out of Tampa Bay; all the ships pass this point.
The cruise ships that leave out of Tampa are typically sailing to Mexico, the western Caribbean and now Cuba. Just a few weeks ago the first US based cruise ships departed for a port of call in Cuba. That was big news around here.
It takes about an hour of driving to get here from my home on the other side of the bay. I was talking to a neighbor who has a boat and he comes here in the afternoons to fish. I was surprised to find that out but I think it might actually be shorter to get here by boat.
This is a good place to fish and last year I saw a guy over by the pier catch a six-foot Tarpon. But you have to be careful because once hooked, the sharks like to come by to steal the catch. I’ve heard that Dolphins can do that as well. All’s fair in love and war, and I suppose for serious fishermen it’s a real war out there.
I don’t have to worry about any of that because I get my fish from a menu. I am not in any way shape or form a fisherman. Sure, I’m probably missing out on a lot of fun, but I’ll stick to taking photos for the time being.
Sometimes I’ll take a photo and then look at it a year later only to find it interesting in some way. Case in point, I was looking through my viewfinder when this boy ran across the field of vision with a bird looking down at him. It’s easy to get these kinds of quick vignettes when you are prepared. By just being somewhere where things happen you will see unexpected scenes and events. This is not an unusual scene yet it reaches a certain threshold of interest. The setting, people, bird and pier all combine into a story somehow.
In truth there were a lot of people here, but by narrowing the view the lens the scene is simplified. Simplified scenes leave more room for imagination. That’s not so say that scenes filled with a lot of details are’t interesting as well, there is a place for everything. For instance big cities scenes often contain a wealth of detail.
A painter makes these choices and so do I as a photographer. Choices like simple, complex, action, atmosphere are all things to consider while composing. I’ve had this image in the back burner for almost a year before I decided to explore it in my digital darkroom.
My creative decisions are as fickle as the wind, and what I decide today will be forgotten tomorrow. That’s the enjoyment of what I do. I can explore a new aspect every day and never repeat myself for the rest of my life.
When I show up here in the morning there is usually someone else doing the same thing. I cannot imagine how many photos of this bridge exists. I am one in a long line of bridge photographers. When I got my first DSLR this is the first place I came to. I’ve been here since and I’ll be back again.
Sometimes I’ll do an outing with my camera and not get any good photos. That’s subjective and long after I may change my mind. Photography is a state of mind and what you perceive as good changes over time. It also has to do with mood. We watch movies based on our mood; drama, comedy, thriller and romance, they all appeal to different moods. So it is with photography. One day I may like one photo, the next day another.
Sometimes I’ll go back and look at a shot I did years ago and have a completely different appreciation of it. I might no longer like it. Or I might see something I like but missed.