Out With the Tide

Waves washed in on this remote stretch of beach. Then egressed, and wash back out into the oncoming storm.

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Out With the Tide
The tide at Crescent Beach in Oregon

My idea was to use a wide-angle and capture the motion. To do that I used a small aperture to get a long exposure; about one-quarter of a second to get this effect.

more images featuring waves

One little tip about shooting waves at the shore is tripod legs sink when the water washes over. So, if the exposure is too long, objects get blurred. Another tip is to wash off the tripod legs in freshwater as soon as possible. A couple of helpful pointers for you photo bugs.

Mood Swings

The weather can be a metaphor for emotions. It can be bright and sunny one day, gloomy the next.

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Mood Swings
A moody day on Longboat Key, Florida

I can imagine wind as a metaphor for thoughts, blowing through the mind, never-ceasing. We draw on the forces of nature to represent our inner experiences. Maybe our internal environment follows some of the same laws of physics; like fluid dynamics.

more images with a pier in the gallery

Anyway, this picture is of two people fishing at the pier on a foggy day. At least, that’s what it appears to be on the surface. Beyond that, it could be something much closer to home.

Any West Coast

I am partial to the west coast. Any west coast will do, I’m not that particular. It just needs to be a coast on the west side of any land mass.

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West Coast Anywhere
At the beach in Carmel California

I mentioned in a recent post that this has everything to do with how our planet spins. As we know, the sun sets in the west. However, if our world turned in the opposite direction, it would set in the east, and I’d have a preference as an east coast guy. Come to think of it; I’m not that attached to the west, rather, the direction that the sun sets. As for this planet, it’s west. But over near Alpha Centauri, all bets are off.

see more images from the beach gallery

Back here in the United States, I live in the eastern part of the country on the west coast of Florida. In this way, should the Earth change its mind and decide to spin the other way, I should have my bases covered.

St Petersburg

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.

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St Petersburg
St Petersburg, Florida across 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.

more images from around St Petersburg

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.

Oscar’s Swells

This simple image is a long (one second) exposure from the side of a ship. These are swells from hurricane Oscar that was over a thousand miles away.

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Oscar's Swells
A one-second exposure of large swells in the Atlantic ocean.

The captain took us south to avoid the worst of it, but for about two days we saw some impressive swells, more massive than these. Even the largest cruise ship in the world will rock in these conditions. The swells hitting the side of the boat sounded exactly like waves crashing on the shore. It was relaxing, and for two nights we slept with the balcony door open so we could hear the soothing sounds.

To make a one-second exposure in daylight, I set the aperture to f40. That’s a tiny aperture, maybe the smallest I’ve ever used. An F-stop higher than 20 does not have a lot of practical uses, but long exposures are one. One second is long enough to make an in-camera motion blur effect without resorting to photoshop tricks.

more minimalism from the gallery

Maybe this is a dull image without a central subject. It’s more texture or pattern than a photo. Even so, it reminds me of the gentle sounds the waves made all through the night.

Focus Stack

I took this earlier in the year before the red tide came in, back then there were plenty of seabirds trolling the coast for fish. The red tide is finally decreasing so hopefully now the birds will return in more significant numbers.

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Focus Stack
A sand piper on one pier and people on another

Here’s an interesting photo that uses focus stacking to get the effect of both the foreground and background in focus. It’s a typical scene along the beach with the ever-present sandpiper.

More from Anna Maria Island

To make this I took two photos, one focused on the piper and one on the people further off. Then by blending the two, they both appear in focus. This technique is not so good for scenes like this because the movement of the water complicates the blending. You can see a little blurriness between the two in-focus points. Nevertheless, I think the overall effect is rather nice.

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.

check out the gallery here

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.

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.

The Idea

Sometimes I feel the urge to try and articulate the main idea behind my pursuit of photography. For whatever reason, this photo seems to evoke that in me.

Here is a picture that portrays an idyllic scene along the beach. Maybe we project ourselves into the scene. In doing so, we may walk on the shore with the vastness of the sea on one side. The expanse is an enigma. The longer we look, the less concrete our thoughts become. Our legs move as our minds begin to wander.

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The Idea
I come here to capture something elusive

Rationally I like taking photos of idyllic scenes, yet, in doing so, I also attempt to capture something less rational. I aspire to capture scenery or people in the landscape that hints at something more elusive.

beach gallery

This idea is why I keep coming back again and again. Ironically, I try with images to evoke thoughts or feelings of something that cannot be seen by our eyes. To do that I may include space for the scene to breath, and then I hope that thoughts will fill the void. When that happens, my desire is satisfied, and perhaps yours is just beginning.

Last Call at the Pier

I love the pier at Fort Desoto Park in St Petersburg. Not always, but often at dusk, the colors in the sky get so amazing that I go a little crazy with my camera. But the sun eventually sets, and I head home after an hour like a drunken patron after the last call. I wish it would last longer, but I’m glad its over. I know I have to leave so I can get up and go to work the next morning.

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Last Call at the Pier
As the light fades at Fort DeSoto Park Pier

One of the places I want to go (big time) is Iceland. But in the back of my mind, I wonder how I would survive. I see myself getting in a photographic frenzy, taking photos of waterfalls and landscapes to the point that I drop dead from exhaustion. But then, I can think of far worse ways to die.

more images with waves

But back to the beach here in Florida. When the conditions are like this, I go into hyperdrive. My mind is simultaneously racing and remaining calm. If I get too excited I’ll make mistakes or worse, drop my camera. It’s important to keep moving, but not frantically. And I don’t even know what the next image will be. I walk on when I finish one and look for another. Imagine if I did that all day in Iceland. I would inevitably end up lost or dead or at the bar until the last call.