Skyway All Lit Up

Crews recently finished working on the bridge. Only afterward did I realize what they were up to.

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The Sunshine Skyway Bridge over the opening to Tampa Bay

I photographed this from the adjacent south fishing pier. I was here early on a Sunday morning hanging out with some fishermen while I took a bunch of photos.

The colors are always changing, so I’ll probably post another one with a different color. I used Skylum’s Luminar 4 to process this. As part of that, I used the new AI sky replacement tool to add stars. Typically there’s too much light pollution to see the sky in all it’s glory. But in the days of AI, that’s no longer a problem, at least concerning post-processing.

Skyway Light

There’s a reason they call it the Skyway Bridge. I like to think it has something to do with the sky. I’m just saying.

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Skyway Light
A long exposure image of Sunshine Skyway Bridge

I remember taking this after an afternoon rain. I pointed the camera from a rest stop along the highway facing northwest. I’ve been using different lenses lately, but I think I’ll bring this old 24-240mm along with me more often. By the way, this is a fifteen-second exposure, so it must have been quite dark.

more long exposure images in the gallery

According to the EXIF information on the photo, I took this on July 16th at 8:00 pm. But I think it’s wrong because the sun sets around 8:30 at that time of year. I think the clock in my camera was off by an hour, and it was actually 9:00 pm. Inquiring minds need to know; I’m just saying.

The Shore of Tampa Bay

This is an example of what happens when you just sit still and let things happen. I sat here on the shore of Tampa Bay watching the sunrise. I wasn’t doing much, just sitting and watching when all of a sudden this egret landed only a few feet from me. He didn’t seem to mind me as long as I didn’t make sudden movements.

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The Shore of Tampa Bay
The Shore of Tampa Bay at Sunrise

Egrets are one of the more adaptable birds to human activity. It’s not unusual to see them in the parking lot of a grocery story. In fact one day I had one on my windshield when I pulled into a parking stall. I think they’re the graceful cousins of seagulls.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m no expert on birds. However living in Florida you get exposed to them all the time. And in many cases they can enhance an image.

I’ve seen real bird photographers, they’re the ones walking around with the big ten-thousand dollar lenses. To get a closeups of a bird from any distance takes “big glass”. I on the other hand only take images of birds if they happen to be there. I’m not sure I have the patience nor time to devote to wildlife photography.

Daily Image Gallery

I do find myself looking for birds, but only as a supporting actor in a scene. And until I go on a wildlife safari in Africa, that and my pets will be the extent of my animal photography.

Redington Shores

This is from a few days ago in Redington Shores, a beach community south of Clearwater. People were out strolling along the beach at sunset. The water was cold to the touch but still some were swimming or smashing about nonetheless.

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Redington Shores
Redington Shores along the beach

I was visiting a friend who lives in a condo overlooking the gulf. The view of the beach at sunset is indescribable.

The last time I visited it was at the end of summer and an afternoon storm blew in. However not it’s winter and the water is calm, almost without waves. During that storm the waves were much higher and sand was deposited in to the pools of the condominiums.

Summer is like winter in Florida, and winter is like summer with the mild weather.

beach gallery

Now that the holidays are almost over, the snowbirds start to reappear. Southbound traffic on the interstate is full of cars, trailers and motorhomes as they make the yearly migration. This is good for the local economy. It’s also a time for people watching. You can’t help notice the relief of leaving the cold behind.

Dawn on the North Pier

I took at dawn on the north pier which is where all the local fishermen hang out. The pier is the remnants of the old bridge that was replaced by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. To get out here you need to pay a fee to the parks department. Everyone that pays that fee comes here to fish, I’m the only one that comes here to take pictures. When I show up before dawn without a fishing poll I get a few sideways glances.

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Dawn on the North Pier
Dawn on the North Pier of the Sunshine Skyway

I’ve taken pictures of this bridge from a lot of angles but this is my first time from this one. In reality it was darker but this is a thirty-second exposure and it appears lighter. The eastern horizon began to shift in color in advance of the sun which created a silhouette of the bridge. At it’s highest point between the two towers the bridge is four hundred feet above the water. Even that is not high enough for the biggest cruise ships.

If you sit here all day you’ll see a constant stream of ships passing under the bridge. You might see military aircraft as they make their approach to McDill AFB. You will surely see any number of animals, from sea birds to ocean mammals. People fish off this pier all day and all night and in that time there is quite the array of things flying, swimming and floating by.

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In my case I’m only here for an hour before heading off to somewhere else. Perhaps if I were to stay a little longer I might see more things to take pictures of. However, to do that I would probably need to bring a fishing poll. At least then I wouldn’t get those sideways glances.

Apollo Beach Power Plant

On the far end of Tampa Bay is the Apollo Beach power plant. The way its situated you can see it from just about anywhere. Don’t forget, Florida is flat so anything taller than a palm tree sticks out for miles. This is a three minute long exposure from about twelve miles away. The clouds were situated to naturally frame the silhouette of the plant.

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Apollo Beach Power Plant
Apollo Beach Power Plant in Tampa

When relatives come to visit us in the winter we typically take them to the power plant. I know that doesn’t sound like a fun place to go but in fact it is. Every year when the temperature of the water goes down, hundreds of Manatee migrate to this plant where the water is heated by the generators. In effect it creates a man-made hot spring for the Manatee to live out the winter in relative comfort. In fact there is a large viewing center and museum so its well worth the visit.

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Normally I’m not that interested in including industrial landmarks in landscapes. However in this case the plant is a permanent fixture of the region and plays an important role in the ecosystem of the local wildlife. And, of course, it’s what keeps my air conditioner working through the long hot months of summer.

Calm After the Storm

Today and tomorrow we are getting a tropical storm that’s dumping a bunch of rain in the Tampa area. That’s normal for this time of year. I look forward to getting outside to take pictures of the calm after the storm. This is an image I took a few weeks back after an afternoon thunderstorm. In the evening the clouds dissipate causing them to scatter like brushstrokes in the sky.

Calm After the Storm
Calm after the storm in Tampa Bay

Sometimes we can tell that a storm is coming by the behavior of the birds. Where I live the houses form a circle around a stand of trees. The houses shield the trees from the winds and so birds will congregate as much a twenty-four hours before a storm. How they know is beyond me, I’m pretty sure they’re not watching the weather channel. Maybe the weather channel is watching them, you never know.

bridges from the gallery

This is the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The surface of the road is four-hundred feet high and spans about eight miles over the entrance to the bay. When storms come through the wind can get high enough that they close it down. I’ve driven over the bridge in a tropical storm and it was an experience I won’t forget. However the next day the winds die down, the birds return to the shore and we all go about our business like it never even happened; summertime in Florida.

Leaving on an Airplane

I’ve had jobs where every week I’d be leaving on an airplane. It still happens sometimes but not as much. So when I’m not traveling I like to take the time to do what “normal” people do. Meaning, going for a drive, letting time pass, waking up in my own bed. When I took this shot the jet in the sky brought those memories to my mind. I was the guy up there looking down at the people enjoying the rest of their Sunday.

Leaving on an Airplane
Leaving on an Airplane out of Tampa Bay

Being up in that plane is neither good nor bad, it just is what it is. But there is another perspective rooted on the ground. It’s the perspective of, well, being rooted. I have moved around so often it feels I┬áhave no roots. I feel like an outsider even where I live. But I have a place I call home, and for that I am grateful.

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Home does not have to be the place we were born or even grew up. It’s a place to return to, or maybe just a place to rest our head. With all that is happening in the world I am grateful for that simple pleasure. But nothing on this earth is forever, not even roots. Eventually a time will come when we depart one home en route to another. And when that time comes we will carry our home in our hearts.

Skyway Rainbow

A couple of weeks ago after some afternoon rain I drove up to Fort DeSoto Park to take photos. As I looked back I noticed this rainbow over the bridge. From where I stood it appeared to span about 8 miles from one side of the Sunshine Skyway to the other. To get this photo I took four vertical images, from left to right and stitched them together to form a panorama.

Skyway Rainbow
A Sunshine Skyway Rainbow in Tampa Florida

I have mixed feelings about this image. On the one hand the placement of the rainbow over the bridge is nice and if you look close there’s even a double rainbow. If I didn’t know better I might think it was photoshopped. On the other hand the scene lacks drama. That aside I decided to keep it as is, an image of a rainbow over the bridge without much drama.

other skyway photos from the gallery

With some images I take a lot of pains to simplify them in post production. I feel it’s important to not have distractions in an image. This one however needed none of that, just water, sky, bridge and a rainbow. Sometimes images like this just demand to left alone because they have a voice all their own. In this case I suppose I have to agree with that.

State of Mind

From a photographic sense I love the summers here in Florida because we get storms during the day. That means in the evening the clouds break and we have sunsets with a lot of colors in the sky. For this shot I grabbed my camera and headed over to a nearby rest stop along the highway. I’ve taken many pictures from here but each one is different in some way. I love gradients in the sky like this. I guess you could say this is a remake of a previous photo, it’s new perspective on a familiar scene.

State of Mind
Photos for me represent a state of mind – this is the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay

The other day I wrote something to the effect that photographs are not so much from a place as a state of mind. Each time I go to the same place to take a photo I see and experience it differently. Even if some of the same objects are in the frame, the image reflects a completely different experience. And of course, the time of day, weather and lighting all contribute to that. But the main thing is that if I’m aware of these things, each time they will combine in a different way.

Photo of or around this bridge

When I’m aware of what’s around me then each moment is different and so this is not so much a picture of the bridge but a snapshot of a moment when I experienced this scene. That’s why photography for me is a state of mind. It’s not so much the location but the things I notice and see when I’m present in the moment. Whether it’s something truly new, or something I just noticed for the first time, each time is a new experience and a new image, even if it has some of the same old things.