My favorite photos, mostly HDR but a little of everything.
Man and Dog
I took this at a park named after Hernando De Soto. He was an explorer who passed through this way in the 1500s. I love coming to this park but it always makes me think about what it must have been like all those years ago. We have paths in the park and air conditioners in our cars, but back then it must have been difficult to walk through this vegetation in the oppressive heat of summer. I can wear shorts, sandals and a t-shirt, but what if I had to wear leather and wool and hack my way through the growth. Just kind of boggles the mind. I need a lemonade.
These are the gentle wave of Florida's Gulf Coast. The water is warm, the wave are gentle, what more could you want? This is the stump of an old tree blown down in a hurricane years ago. I suppose when that happened the waves were not so gentle but then it's soon forgotten as the pace of life returns to it's normal pace, which is about two speeds below slow. ;-)
This is in in a beautiful valley near Queenstown in New Zealand. I took this in New Zealand's fall so all the trees were various shades of the rainbow. The word "idyllic" comes to mind when I think back on this spot among the rolling hills surrounded by snow capped peaks and ponds where the black swans live. I know that sounds made up but its real and now that I'm back in my own country I kinda wonder if this was just a dream. Good thing I have a picture.
Maligne Lake View
This size of the peaks in Jasper is hard to fathom, even when you're looking right at them. At times it just seems that things go straight up and down. And of course an image does not do justice to the scale. Nonetheless the beauty is overwhelming and sometimes all you can do is take a picture and then later go back in memory and try again to comprehend a little more. I don't think it's possible for us humans to comprehend such things, just stare and remain in awe and wonder.
Heron Rocks Pier
This Heron walked in front of my camera as I was composing this shot, hello! It's funny because years ago when I lived in Ontario Canada we use to go up to what's known as "cottage country" in the summer. And once in a long while you'd see a Heron like this, but usually from across the lake. It was a big deal, you didn't forget. Now that I live way south of the 47th parallel, I see them all the time, up close and personal. And heaven forbid you have fish or something they want. I wonder if they have two personalities, a shy one for when they're up north and a bold one for when they're in Florida.
This is the lookout at Robinson Preserve and a favorite place to go and recharge the batteries. At this time of day the mullet are jumping in the bayou below and the only sound is the constant splashing as they try in vain to reduce the mosquito population. Thank goodness for the sanctuaries of silence and nature that can be found in this part of Florida.
It seems I'm on a bit of a cloud theme so I thought I'd continue with this recent shot pointing away from the sunset. Big thick stormy cloud below, higher puffy clouds with blue sky behind and the sun catching each layer in a different way. Is that crazy or what? I'm constantly blown away by what I see but then I'm easily amused so maybe it's just me. However other people notice all of this as well and local news stations post photos of the clouds every day so I can't be the only one. Well, no sense in trying to figure it out, it is what it is.
The Hunt at Dusk
This time of year we get a lot of clouds which occasionally produce spectacular sunsets. It's impossible to know exactly how it will turn out, but if you're like me you just show up and hope for the best. Showing up is the hardest part, but once I'm at the beach another set of neurons take over and it's all about the hunt, to find my prey in that golden hour. Well, it seems like that sometimes, stalking compositions and then capturing them. Finally I drive home with that satisfied feeling that I bagged a few good ones now secure inside my camera. Photography has to have a few parallels with hunting, but then you already knew that.
If you're an Osprey and you live in Florida, you've got it made. We love our Osprey and to show our appreciation we build these platforms high up on poles everywhere. As in everywhere and anywhere; ...cell towers, transmission lines, out in fields, in all the parks, everywhere. This one is near my house and I drove right by as I looked up, put on the brakes, backed up, picked up my camera and said good morning. This guy just stared at me and wondered what the heck I was doing in his territory. Silly me.
This is taken from a little road above Queenstown in New Zealand. I was amazed at how it seems you can drive just about anywhere in New Zealand. Where I live in Florida most roads are closed to the public, and most property is private. The impression I had is that in New Zealand you're pretty much free to roam and explore, as though it's encouraged. Of course I could be wrong, that was just my impression. But anyway, here we were up on a lookout on a road that was open to the public. And make good use of it we did.
This bench is at Leffis Key which is one of the places I like to walk around with my camera. It's mostly mangroves and you can walk on elevated wooden walkways all over. Every now and then you end in a vista of the water with a little bench like this. If you get here first thing in the morning you'll see the Pelicans flying by as they go about their morning fishing routine. I like since the water is so calm and all of the wildlife is up and about. You could just sit here and take it all in, which I've been known to do on occasion.
This is Glenorchy in the early morning when the water is still and the light is perfect. I never realized that black swans existed before I came to New Zealand, I thought they were just in fairy tales or perhaps a rare genetic oddity. But in New Zealand the black swans are in the lakes and ponds of the southern island in abundance. Perhaps if I grew up here I'd be used to it but as a visitor I was amazed each time I saw one. This morning I saw dozens, too many to count. I suspect Glenorchy is a kind of sanctuary, and given the magical landscape it might as well be a fairy tale.
On the Rocks
This is another shot of Half Moon Bay I captured while on a stopover in the San Francisco area. While I love the west coast of Florida, there is no comparison to the rugged beauty that is California. Sure, each is unique, but there's something about California. I'll just leave it at that, let you fill in your own thoughts. With any luck I'll head out here again in the not too distant future to soak up more of whatever it is. Happy Friday everyone.
Morning Walk at Emerson
This is a walkway at Emerson Point which is a sanctuary for all manner of Egret, Heron and birds of prey such as Osprey and Eagles. I didn't realize it at the time I took this, but if you look close you'll see two Osprey on a branch. On this morning I was watching two other Osprey a couple hundred yards from here and now I know why their cries were so persistent, very territorial.
This is a relatively new park that I've passed many times on the interstate but never bothered to check it out. That's because I had this preconceived notion that because it was by a highway it couldn't be all that good. I was pleasantly surprised in that only a portion of it is along the highway and that there is plenty of space for ponds and areas of restoration and habitation of the local wildlife. This pond had a warning sign about the alligators, so I was on the lookout as I captured this. In the end the only thing that bit me was a few fire-ants amongst the tall grasses as I composed the shot. Now that I know better I'll come back, keeping a close eye on where I step.
Rock Wall on Mountain Lake
Captured high up in the southern alps of New Zealand.
With the Orcs at our backs we faced this wall with few options. Just then we noticed a crack about halfway up on the left behind the waterfall. It was there we found refuge and a deep tunnel that led to an ancient cavern. What lay at our feet I cannot retell here for fear of revealing one of the great secrets of middle earth. Suffice to say, it was unbelievable....
Vineyard at Night
Recently I've visited the Rosa Fiorelli winery in Manatee County not far from my home. This is a small family run winery that has won many awards for it's wines as well as the hearts of locals, me included. Sal, the owner was kind enough to allow me back in the evening to get a few shots of the vineyard at dusk. I'm originally from California and used to wineries everywhere, But finding such a beautiful winery in my own backyard here in Florida is an unexpected pleasure.
I happened upon this road while out driving in the country. As I drove through I saw cattle and deer standing by the road in the shade. Where trees cluster together they form a shaded canopy knowns as a hammock. With the summer heat in Florida, any shade is welcome and it's not unusual to find all sorts of creatures in the shade. I think the Spanish Moss hanging from the trees gives it an ethereal quality.
So this is the season when we get a lot of lightning. By "a lot", I mean, ...at this time of year this part of Florida gets more lightning than any place on earth. At least that's what I heard, but I'm too lazy to look it up and back up my "facts", but I think it's true. On a typical afternoon I can look out the window and see a flash almost every second. Usually it's a good ten miles off, but occasionally it's right over the house. It really scares my dog. All of this is a long winded way of saying that when I took this, there was lighting overhead. This lady was a little braver than me, all I could do was snap a picture of her and then run back to my car. I think she did the same thing shortly thereafter.
Fort DeSoto Sunset
The northern beach of Fort DeSoto in St. Petersburg. The heron kept one eye on me while he fished for dinner, and I kept one eye on him as I lined up my shot. Maybe there's a message in that or, not so much. Just a simple image of the beach to get us all in the mood for the weekend. Have a great one everybody.
I had to look this up because Google kept telling me this is Lake Unknown. That sounds to me like a software glitch, like what happens when the name is missing. Turns out this is indeed Lake Unknown on the border of Otago in New Zealand. You would have to climb some good size mountains to get here and that's probably how it got it's name. Just after we lifted off we flew through a micro rain shower as I held my camera outside for a clear shot of us flying through the opening at the far end. The high ridge then quickly descended to the Dart River as we headed onto more destinations equally as spectacular, if not unknown.
Train at Dawn
Last summer we took a train across the Canadian Rockies and this was a shot on the first morning as we approached Kamloops BC. I didn't sleep much and was up early to capture the train as we followed the Thompson River. I must go back and do this again.
Drama in the Southern Alps
This is another shot from the chopper while flying through New Zealand's southern alps. Not having flown like this before I was a little overwhelmed... okay, I was very overwhelmed. In any case, my normal daily routine typically doesn't include speeding towards jagged mountain ridges in an open helicopter, ascending just over the top only to have the ridge fall away into an impossible chasm. I see it in movies, but in real life it takes getting used to. In other words I was completely freaked out yet exhilarated at the same time. I dealt with my fear by concentrating on capturing as many images as I could which took all of my concentration so that in the end I began to relax a little. I took about a thousand images in four hours and this is one that captures, at least for me, the drama of that trip.
Kite Surfing at Dusk
This evening I headed up to Emerson Point to catch the colors and watch the sun go down. It was a little breezy and this kite surfer dude was having fun. It seems that a lot of people are out having fun here in Florida. I guess you can count me in on that since I tried Paddleboarding on Saturday. Kind of like paddling a canoe, only you're standing up. Takes a little getting used but the worst that can happen is you fall into the warm water. Its the middle of summer and it's hard to take things too seriously, just relax and go with the flow. Hope you all had a good weekend.
This is about an hours drive north of Vancouver and is one of the spots you can catch a ferry to Vancouver Island. There are campsites nearby and I could see the smoke from campfires already started. It's such a great feeling to be surrounded by these huge mountains. The people in this part of Canada are into the outdoors in a big way. On this afternoon I saw campers, kayakers, fishermen, rock climbers and cyclist, not to mention people just walking around enjoying the view. When you're surrounded with this much beauty it's only natural to spend a bit of time outside enjoying it, don't you think?
I took this from a kayak launch at a nearby park. There's nothing spectacular about this shot but I think I like the understated nature of it. Just nature, simplicity, lot's of space. Room to stretch my mind and let the complications of the day dissolve. I think that's why I like coming to this spot. In any case, the week is almost over and it's been a busy one for me, so I made a promise to myself to get out somewhere like this where I can let the frenetic pace of the week recede into memory, and hopefully take a few pictures while I'm at it. Have a great weekend everyone.
This is a view of Bradenton Beach from Sunset Park before they restored it. As you can see here the water is about twenty or thirty feet from where I'm standing. A massive project to redeposit sand from a couple hundred yards offshore just finished and now the beach extends another fifty feet into the Gulf of Mexico. It's a huge nuisance when they have all that heavy equipment on the beach, kind of like when they repair major roads. But once it's done things are so pretty you soon forget the stress of construction. Anyway, I think I'll head down here in the next week to get an "after" shot of the result. I know, any excuse to go to the beach.
I call this shot "Punctuation" because that's what it reminded me of. I took this one morning in the hills above Arrowtown New Zealand where we captured the sun rising over the mountains. But it's always good to look in the other direction because you never know what you might be missing. Funny how we always look at what's obvious and sometimes miss something else just as sublime in the other direction. In this case, the clouds seemed to punctuate that idea. At least that's how I saw it.
Robinson at Sundown
The other day I walked through Robinson Park just after a rain shower and just before sunset. I think because of the rain the park was deserted which lent a quiet solitude to the place. This was the last shot I took before turning back towards my car. As I walked back I noticed things I didn't see the other way. And of course with the orange-pinkish clouds I just took my time and enjoyed the moment. Just then a cyclist rode by and when he saw me with my camera, commented "just another day in paradise". Indeed it is sir, indeed it is.
Wherever you go in Florida you'll find people throwing nets. It may look easy but it takes some practice. My neighbor purchased one and so we stood on his lawn trying to learn the technique which I can only describe as a combination of lassoing and shot put. And since I've done neither the result were a little amusing. A couple years ago I watched a guy throw a net into a local lake and pull out several redfish, he had a cooler full of them which he sold to local restaurants. Anyway, I took this picture a couple weeks ago and this is just one of dozens of casts this fellow made. It looked like hard work with all the gathering and throwing, and if he wasn't quick to pick up the fish the birds were happy to oblige. Quite the commotion indeed.
Queenstown Gardens Sunrise
This is a little section of town known as Queenstown Gardens. It really is a special place, especially if you can get there in the morning when its quiet and the sun cast long shadows. Of course autumn has a way of painting the landscape vibrant so everything is enhanced for a few short weeks. I felt lucky to be here with so much to see and absorb, probably overload for my brain, but at least with the photos to remind me I can drink it in little sips whenever I want. Ah, New Zealand.
THrough the Tall Grass
This is another shot from Emerson Point near my home through the grasses which grow all over. Now that it's summer we get thunderstorms most afternoons and combined with the heat everything grows like wild. The bermuda grass around my house grows at least six inches in a week. Little frogs, lizards and snakes like to hide under the grass since to them it's a place of refuge from the heat of the day. But anyway, this isn't bermuda grass and I'm not very good at writing about grass, I just like the way it looks, especially when there is a sunset beyond.
Sunday Morning at the Pier
This is the public pier at Anna Maria Island a couple of Sundays ago. I got here before sunrise yet there were people milling about, getting fishing poles ready or just watching the sunrise. And then just after sunrise a couple of dudes started swimming in the water which was warm and inviting. Then, if all that wasn't enough, a photography club showed up to take pictures of the pier. So just after sunrise on a Sunday when everyone should have been sleeping in, this place was buzzing. Of course I was there also so I'm not even sure what my point is. Nevermind.
Jasper Park Lodge
This is another picture I took last year of Jasper Park Lodge which is in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. The lodge has a low key presence which acknowledges the beauty around it without supplanting it. I stayed in a cabin not far from this spot and could almost imagine being at summer camp so many years ago. When I did go to summer camp, I would walk the trail from my campsite to the mess hall or campfire and all these years later I was reminded of that here. Anyway, the main thing is I learned to love the woods as a child and coming here re-awakened a little of that.
Secluded Mountain Lake
This lake is in a secluded spot in a high valley above the Dart River in Otago, New Zealand. Cattle were grazing on grasses amongst the pines as we arrived by chopper early that morning. The startled look on the bovines faces was a little amusing, but once we landed and cut the engines they were happy to resume grazing in their mountain paradise. If I recall the lake is stocked with fish and so not a bad spot to spend a day or two. As it was, we only had ten minutes here before the chopper fired the engines and headed for our next amazing landscape.
Family at the Beach
This is another shot from Naples beach last week. There were so many children playing in the warm shallow waters it was really fun to watch. I think these moments are very subtle and stay with us our entire lives. I have some memories like this somewhere back, at least this pail helped me remember building a sandcastle. Such are the days when I had no concerns in the world and my life was carefree. Now, maybe a little of that from time to time might do me some good.
The glow of the mountain tops as the sun rises over Queenstown. I was on a mountain one morning concentrating on getting everything in focus and I goofed, the background got blurred. I later learned about hyper-focal distance which is a combination of aperture, lens size and distance to ensure everything is in focus. It's a complicated calculation but luckily there is an app for that. On second thought, I like the effect of the blur and I'll work on my hyper-focal distance calculation another day. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.
North Long Boat Key at Dusk
The other night I visited the northern tip of Longboat Key. This is one of those spots that only locals seem to know since it's a little difficult to get to. To get here you have to walk in the water due to beach erosion. The water was warm and inviting which made my task all the more enjoyable. This section has a lot of toppled trees from hurricanes and so it's a rather surreal landscape. On one of the stumps sat this pileated woodpecker who was not so shy as he let me get quite close. Lets just say this is one of those little corners of heaven, right in my own backyard.
Actually this sunrise is from a mountain that overlooks Queenstown. When you get up here before dawn it's pretty chilly but heats up right after the sun rises from behind The Remarkables which you can see here. This is private land but we got permission from the owner to be here. Typically only the mountain sheep and deer are here thus the name Deer Park Heights. I think the quiet and solitude of this place so high up yet so close to civilization was something that left an impression on me, like so many other beautiful things about the country of New Zealand.
Sunset Through the Trees
This sunset from behind the trees produced and interesting effect I hadn't anticipated. It was more luck, I didn't plan it this way. In any case, I hope everyone gets a chance to pause and view a sunset from time to time, it's food for the soul. A sunrise will do also but that takes a little more effort. I once heard someone say that the reason we like staring at a fire is that flames are similar to the nature of our soul. I think that's also why we like watching the sun set and rise. Reminds us of something.
Emerson Pond at Dawn
One morning last week I captured this just after sunrise. Everything seems so peaceful in the morning and to me this pond is a reflection of that. After capturing this I went a little ways up the road to another pond and was treated to the chatter of all the birds. I'm not sure chatter is the right word because sound of the Osprey is more like a cry-out warning the neighborhood that he's up and awake. I think if I was a critter I'd take note, because other than the occasional Eagle, the Osprey are the head honchos. Anyway, it's a nice experience to watch the morning rituals of the wildlife before I start my own busy day.