Midnight Sun

This was taken about three years ago in Alaska. It was around eleven o’clock at night as the sun slowly inched down. Then, just a few hours later it would creep back up.

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Midnight Sun
The midnight sun in Alaska

I took the picture from a ship as we sailed north. This scene was repeated in an endless succession of mountains and untouched wilderness. I was blown away at the vastness of natural landscape here. Until you experience it yourself, it’s hard to imagine. And it’s equally hard for me to convey in writing.

more images from Alaska in the gallery

If you have never been to Alaska, put it on your list. There is nothing like a lot of open space and massive mountain peaks to clear out the urban cobwebs and refresh one’s sense of perspective.

Simple Light

Across the street is a fence, and beyond that are bushes and a field. It’s not much to look at unless, maybe, the light is just right.

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Simple Light
A simple scene at sunrise

Almost anything can look good in the right kind of light; however, I’m not entirely sure why that is. Technically, photos are just recordings of light bouncing off things. And for whatever reason, certain kinds of light resonate more than others; both consciously and subconsciously.

see the sunrise / sunset gallery

Some of my favorite photos are simple scenes like this. Here is a link to Shin Ikegami on Flickr. He has incorporated this idea into his art and taken it to a whole new level. I think it’s safe to say that sometimes, simplicity speaks more to us than seemingly smart complicated images. I’m sure there is an excellent reason for that too.

Sun Rays

Shooting right into the sun at f13 creates these long rays of light. I could have added them artificially with software, but these are the real deal.

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Sun Rays
From Robinson Park in Bradenton, Florida

A high aperture number is not something I use all the time, but if I want starbursts, it’s the way to go. The only problem is that dust spots from the sensor show up on the image; however, that’s easy to remove with photoshop.

sunset gallery

A few days ago I visited this new section of Robinson Preserve. The creation of it took years, it’s one thing to landscape a bunch of acres, but quite another to allow nature to move in at its own pace. Finally, after several years of growth, I have yet another new landscape to explore with my camera.

The Real Thing

I used to have a thing about benches. Now its beach chairs and umbrellas. At least I’m progressing.

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The Real Thing
An afternoon on Bradenton Beach Florida

When I take photos of random people on the beach, I try to remain conscious of their privacy, lest I have them sign a release form. But when it comes to objects, everything is fair game. I once did a commercial beach shoot. There was so much involved, from legal to logistics. I prefer just to walk around and take pictures of interesting things, or people.

see the beach gallery

Putting people or chairs in a shot causes us to imagine ourselves in the scene. If we see people, we subconsciously become them. When we look at chairs, in our mind’s eye we find ourselves sitting in them. We project ourselves with our thoughts without even realizing it; it’s a habit we all have. Sometimes I feel I’ve been somewhere having previously only looked at it in pictures or videos. But, as they say, there’s no substitute for the real thing.

Bay Bridge Sun

I took this the morning after arriving from the east coast. When I woke up, it was before 4:00 AM, so I went out taking photos, and this was the last place I stopped. I started at the Palace of Fine Arts and ended up here at Embarcadero.

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Bay Bridge Sun
As the sun rises through the San Francisco Bay Bridge

It was early on a weekend so the streets were empty and I could get from place to place in no time. Traveling to the west coast is easy to do, going the other way is another matter entirely. That is unless you like staying up late, but I’m more of a morning person, so going west works better for me. Early to rise…, and all that stuff.

california in the gallery

It’s been two years since I took this and looking at it now I thought it was the Golden Gate bridge. But the background doesn’t look right, and the sun doesn’t set or rise this way as far as I know. Something didn’t seem right. Fortunately, this is tagged with GPS coordinates from an app I use; just like iPhone photos, but for Sony. So I looked it up on Google maps and only then did I realized it was the Bay Bridge. Silly me.

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.

Florida Sun

I used to live in Canada and wondered what it would be like to live in a place like Florida; now that I’ve been here fifteen years I know, hot as hell.

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Florida Sun
This image is from the Venice North Jetty, just south of Sarasota.

It’s called the sunshine state for a reason. The sun is white, hot, and intense; which is why I remain most of the time indoors. I look forward to the few months I can wear a sweatshirt.

Like anything, you adjust with light clothing, hats, and sunglasses. If however, you work outdoors, then you cover up. Outdoor workers cover from head to toe in the most intense heat and humidity imaginable. Think about that.

more sun themes from the gallery

I cannot fathom how the early explorers wearing wool and boots made due. But they did, and now we have A/C, Raybans and Piña Coladas. Thank goodness for that.

Urban Mangroves

In this picture, I’m looking south over the Manatee River towards Bradenton. These are the mangroves that line it from its source to the sea. Mangroves form an essential part of the ecosystem by protecting the shore from erosion.

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Urban Mangroves
A little nature in an urban setting

Believe it or not, this is across the street from the Bradenton Area Convention center, so while it looks like a nature shot, it’s in the middle of a suburban setting. Mangroves are protected in Florida, so there’s little chance they’ll be affected by development. Despite the activity all around, they continue to protect rivers and coastlines.

more from my hometown of Palmetto

The reason I took this was for the reflections. Its a repeat of a shot I’ve done in the past and the results are similar. However, the clouds are never the same. And because it’s only a 2-minute drive from home, this is something I see often. No matter how many times I see this, I never get tired of nature inside an urban landscape.

The Good and the Bad

This is another HDR photo that I created using AuroraHDR 2018. Actually, this was a little tricky to make because it’s a long exposure using an ND filter shooting directly into the sun. The aperture of F14 is what creates the starburst effect. I combined five photos ranging from one to six seconds in length which gives the water a smooth quality.

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The Good and the Bad
On average I like the photo, despite some flaws

Even though I spent hours on this I’m not totally happy with it. That’s because I’m aware of all the technical flaws it has; noise in the shadows, lens flare and lack of detail on the rocks. I’m posting it anyway because I like the overall effect and feel. And also, each time I work with photos I learn a little more. In this case I know what I need to do next time I have a similar scene; each time I get a little better.

more from san francisco

In the end, it’s the scene and the mood that are most important to me. The technical aspects are important also, just not as important. I was able to recreate the idea I had in my head at the time, so it’s a win. I’m posting it because on balance, I do like the image. And to tell you the truth, that’s why I do photography in the first place.

HDR Sunrise

This is a re-edit of a photo I took over two years ago in Sarasota. Like an image I posted a few days ago, this was taken right next to the Ringling Bridge. It’s an area of Sarasota where the view is good in all directions which is why I keep coming back.

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HDR Sunrise
A sunrise from Sarasota’s Bird Key – this is an HDR image

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range which in this case was created by merging three images together. A few years ago, HDR photography was most of what I did, in fact it’s what got me back into photography after leaving film. But lately, I’ve not done much HDR. The main reason is that the cameras are so good you don’t need to combine images to get a High Dynamic Range. The other was my impatience with the software, it wasn’t always easy for me.

Fast forward to now. The reason I like this edit better than the original is because of some help I had with improved software. Recently a new version of Aurora HDR was released and it’s so good that I’m looking at HDR again. The image I posted the other day as well as this one was produced using Aurora HDR 2018. It’s easy to use and I’m very happy with the results.

more HDR images

So, there you have it, a little behind the scenes on what goes into these photos. That, and just hanging out at my favorite places along the water.