I can be a real geek sometimes; like this time. I had it in my mind I was going to take some epic photos and so I brought a bag full of gear including a huge lens and a tripod. Things didn't turn out as I expected so there I was with all this gear in the middle of a public pathway as the sun was setting. I made the best of it and quickly setup for the shot. A couple came up and said they wanted to be on TV. Obviously I looked like I was from the local station. I must have been quite the scene.
This is the image I got and so I didn’t come home completely empty handed. But to be quite honest I could have done better with less. I love gear and so this happens a lot. I always bring more gear than I need. However I can count on one hand the times I used everything I brought. It’s not about the gear; it’s about being present in the moment and working with what you have.
Lately I’ve started experimenting with slimming down what I take. By that I mean two or three lenses. Again, even the times I bring two lenses, I end up using only one. Recently I’ve left the house with just one lens on my camera. No bag, no filters, no tripod. I start out with a feeling that I forgot something. However as I start to take pictures I’m less encumbered and more attuned to what’s around me.
It’s not the camera it’s what between the ears. Taking good pictures requires a state of mind more than a heavy piece of glass. Some of the most amazing photographers on the web use inexpensive cameras. That’s not to say all the equipment is unnecessary, it all has a proper time, place and use.
I like the gear because I’m a geek but maybe I need a little intervention. I think of myself as being on a twelve-step program to be free of lens clutter. I’m not there yet, but at least I know it’s an issue. That’s the first step to recovery.
Now I’m off to read about the just announced Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM and 12-24mm f/4.0. I might need one of those in my kit.
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.
But the good news is the turtles are back on the rise after years of decline. Thanks to the watchful eyes of countless volunteers using GPS and meticulous notes to identify and monitor the nests.
Just taking a walk along the beach you would never know the amount of drama taking place in the very sand beneath your toes.
I use random people in scenes all the time. Sometimes a person is positioned in such a way as to create a scene. Street photography is all about people in scenes. One technique is to create compositions where people are juxtaposed to nearby architecture or structures. A simple example is a person waking past an archway. Looking for a composition is like a game; you feel a sense of accomplishment when you capture one. I haven’t played but maybe it’s a little like Pokémon Go.
I took this at Bayfront Park in Sarasota recently. The park is an island with a trail around it and these swings are spaced every fifty meters. I come here when I want to do a mixture of people and landscape photography; it has plenty of both. As I walked behind this lady I think she knew I was taking pictures because she glanced back. She didn't seem to mind so I paused to get several more.
I use people in this way all the time. Of course it’s better to be coy about it, if people become aware of what your doing they may change their behavior. Lately I’ve taken to carrying only a small 35mm lens on my camera. That way it doesn’t stand out so much and I can almost pretend I’m a casual shutterbug. In reality I’m on an undercover mission.
One time it backfired on me. I was trying to be nonchalant as I took a picture of a rundown garage in a gritty part of town. The people inside thought I was snooping on them and started yelling at me. It turned out okay but I should have asked first. Most people don’t mind if they know what you’re doing. And if they do mind, well, no biggie, it’s just a game.