I would post this photo along with some original words. But it seemed a little too cliché.
When I look at a simple thing, my mind wanders. That's a life long habit I've acquired. It's too easy to get distracted with the first thought that comes to mind. Maybe it sounds silly, but it's a measure of how life is when we cannot focus on something uncomplicated.
When we were children, before our brains developed, we could be easily delighted. Some scientist suspect that the ability to be fascinated with simple things diminishes with the development of the default mode network in the brain. Whether that's the case or not, it does make me wonder what our developed brains cause us to overlook.
Whenever I visit a preserve in Florida, I spend time trying to figure out what to shoot. Sometimes the answer is right in front of me.
There is beauty in endemic flora that's easy to overlook. I tend to get preoccupied with subjects and the composition, but simple scenes like this are as vibrant as any mountain landscape; it's a matter of perspective and scale. There are realms within a tangled garden, micro-ecosystems that, while imperceptible to us, are just as alive.
Our minds operate in familiar regions; we habituate our vision to the human society we know. But shift focus just a little, and there are other worlds in plain view we rarely acknowledge.
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Around the Corner
It's too easy to spend time in the future worrying about what's just around the corner. But "spending time" is a misnomer: we cannot spend what we don't have.
Maybe one day we'll figure out how to time travel. When that happens, will we be in a memory or a moment?
In our minds, we time-travel quite a lot. The irony is, it wastes time. I've heard and read that time is an illusion, something in our minds. Not being in the present is like a treadmill that never stops. Maybe it's better to just try and be present in the moment.
Sky with Diamonds
The highlights in the clouds remind me of the Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. I don't see Lucy, but I do see diamonds.
In the sky, we see whatever we want to see. Psychoanalysts have been using this trick for years to pull things out of our subconscious. Clouds present a daily Rorschach Test, teasing out things we hold below the surface of awareness. The key is to notice what we see and then think about why.
The more abstract something is, the less rational it is. While rationality is necessary to navigate life, suspending it from time to time allows us to experience a different perspective. In my mind, a little vacation from the demands of an overactive mind is probably healthy, and maybe even necessary.
This old seawall was part of the old bridge across Tampa Bay. It was hit by a ship and collapsed in 1980. The new bridge starts here as well but is virtually indestructible.
Here is a link to the story with pictures of the event from forty years ago. (https://www.tampabay.com/photos/2018/05/09/the-sunshine-skyway-bridge-plunged-into-tampa-bay-38-years-ago/). These days this sea wall and the remnants of the old bridge are used for recreation and fishing.
I took this photo about three years ago. However, lately, there is an on-going project to re-enforce the seawall so that it doesn't erode. Because I drive by it several times a week, I was getting tired of seeing the construction equipment. But upon reflection, and through a longer lens of history, it's probably good that they take all the time they need to get it right.
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.
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.
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.
This is a magical walkway leading to a hidden land where the sun rests each night. Or, its a boardwalk over the Mangroves in Palmetto. We report, you decide.
All the pictures I've published this week are landscapes with water and clouds. Perhaps that has me in a mood to concoct fantasies about the scenery. Fantasies are natural for children, why not us?
I think it's cool how the leading line points to the sun. I got this photo from my 2015 archives. Maybe it was my lack of imagination that kept it hidden for so long. Or, perhaps it was meant to be buried forever, protecting the secrets of Neverland from humanity.
This is a section of Wreck Beach near the University of British Columbia. It's secluded which accounts for it being a favorite among nudist. I visited it fully clothed in winter.
I like this in a geeky kind of way because both the foreground and background elements appear in focus. It's also very different than the beaches back home in Florida. Sometimes I post photos just for the scenery and memory, and I suppose this is one of those.
Thank goodness for old photos, I would forget so much without them. There is so much going on in the present, that the past gets crowded out. Not that I want to live in the past, but pictures pull together things I've done and places I've been which helps provide the backstory to where I am today.
Bayfront Park in Sarasota has benches along a winding path. A good time to come is the evening to watch the sunset by the water.
One side faces the city, the other Sarasota Bay. There are yachts docked, so it's also a residence of sorts for folks that live on their vessels. That sounds like a fun lifestyle.
Each time I come there is something to see. I always bring my camera looking for stories. Stories are little vignettes of life that, when we see, it sparks our imagination. In that way, the photo doesn't have to be too complicated. I think this photo is an example of what I mean.
This is a common scene at the beach and a good illustration of why I prefer the west coast of Florida.
Or for that matter, the west coast of anywhere. Sure, you can get up early to see the sunrise on the east, but it's not the same. Watching the sun sink into the ocean at the end of the day is observed facing west only.
According to astonomy.com (http://www.astronomy.com/magazine/ask-astro/2017/12/galaxy-rotation), about half of the galaxies rotate clockwise like ours, and the other half counterclockwise. That means that planets in other galaxies, and maybe a few in our own, have planets with the sunset in the east — something to think about.
At the tip of Longboat Key is a beach strewn with the remnants of past storms. It creates a surreal scene, and it's a nice place to hang out.
The beach is only accessible by hike so, it becomes a bohemian camp of sorts. You feel very much away from it all here. Each time I come, there are groups of people in temporary camps with hammocks hanging from the trees. Sometimes they are playing music or singing, like gypsy gatherings in a Patrick Rothfuss novel.
At around sunset on any given day, you'll see photographers trek here with their clients. I've done that, but I also look for unique scenes like this when I come alone.
The other day I went to the beach to watch the sunset, but the beach was covered in fog; time to execute Plan B.
Plan B is to try and make lemonade out of lemons. This shot is one where a hole opened up in the sky just as some birds flew by. Photos like this in the fog have no shadows because the light is very even. I think photography in this type of soft light is more comfortable on the eyes when we look at it.
Even without the fog, some of the best landscape photos are taken when the sun was lower, and the light gets diffused by the atmosphere. Or, when there are enough clouds in the sky to diffuse the harsh sunlight. The sun is an unfathomably harsh body that can rip everything to shreds in an instant if it were not for the amazing conditions we have here on Earth. Knowing this and having the opportunity to photograph it is pretty awesome.
This photo was taken from a preserve adjacent to Highway 41 in Palmetto. If you look close, you can see an eagle sitting on a branch just to the left.
It's a spot that's within walking distance of my home. However, I always end up driving because I'm trying to capture a sunset or something last minute. In this case, the sun is behind the tree illuminating the leaves and, causing them to glow.
I didn't notice the eagle until after I took the photo. However, when I did notice, I walked a little closer to take a picture, and it flew away. But I've seen it here before, so if I really wanted to get the photo, I could just come back at dusk. We have a lot of eagles in our area, but having grown up when they were endangered, it's still exciting for me to see one.
I took a photo out the window of my office on a recent morning. Sometimes the light coming across the field is so amazing I can't help myself.
I'm usually too busy to take a photo. Or I might rationalize that I've seen it before so why bother. But some mornings I can't help myself. In this case, the sun shone through a mist that was just above the ground.
I need to take more simple images like this. Concentrating so much on landscapes and cityscapes, I tend to lose track of the simple things that are just as compelling, if not more so.
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.
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.
Some of my favorite photos are simple scenes like this. Here is a link to Shin Ikegami on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tyobita1985/). 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.
The new bridge at Robinson Preserve presents an open invitation to cross over to a winding trail with ponds, marshes, and wildlife on all sides.
The image I posted yesterday was not far from this spot, but the weather could not have been more different. That image was on a foggy morning, and this is at the end of the day. The light in each tells an entirely different story.
As usual, the story is mostly in our mind. With these types of landscape images, we all see the same thing, yet we fill in different details. And, as with life, we perceive in it what we want to see. I think self-projection is one of the purposes of art, to allow us to muse upon things that are reflections of ourselves.
Here is a photo of Trey Ratcliff and Danny Levin that I took about five years ago. Danny and I were on one of Trey's New Zealand photo adventures.
That seems like such a long time ago, but I still have a ton of photos and memories. I shot this on the original Sony A7R which was relatively new at the time. Now, I'm on the third generation of that camera, but I still own the original. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.
Actually, I processed this with the latest tools. In this case I Aurora HDR 2019 and Luminar 3. Those are also the third generations from Skylum, and I've been using them for three or four years now. Every time they come out with new versions I go back and find old photos like this to process. When I do that, it's like taking a trip down memory lane.
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.
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.
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 parks in Florida have these raised boardwalks that make it easy to see nature. But before they were built, it was no walk in the park.
The structures are everywhere, and some are quite long. I often wonder at the effort it takes to create them. They are easy to take for granted, but without raised walkways, it would be difficult to see much of the natural landscapes.
From a compositional perspective, they provide a couple of things. First and most obvious is the leading lines that our eyes follow across the frame. Secondly, the texture of the wood fits well with the scenery. Whenever I go to a park, it's these walkways that usually end up in my photos, one way or another.
This stand of trees is known as Spirit Island. It's one of the most photographed sites in the Canadian Rockies and can only be reached by boat.
You can trek here as well, but be sure to bring bear spray. Even so, if I were backpacking, I'd want to do it here. You can't get the proper scale of the peaks from a photo; it's beyond belief.
I took this over five years ago with my old Nikon D800 which I've since sold. It's not the camera that matters but what's holding it. I've changed a lot, and so have my techniques, so I need to give it another go. In the meantime, it's still fun to look at these and go back in time to a place that hasn't changed since then, or hundreds of years prior for that matter.
Old Queenstown Bridge
This is the bridge where Lake Wakatipu ends and enters the Kawarau River. Or, at least it was. Since I took this, they built a new bridge that's not nearly as photogenic.
I took this on my first day in New Zealand as I was walking around getting the lay of the land. The bridge was next to the hotel. I must say, that trip was probably the most fun I've ever had. It was a photography workshop with Trey Ratcliff, and it was a doozy. Everything, from the scenery to the food was over the top.
I've been looking at some of the photos I took while there and am post-processing them with the newer software. At the time I was using the A7R which was relatively new at the time and, the choice of lenses was limited. That was two generations of A7R ago, and the RAW files are holding up quite nicely. But boy, what I could do now with the newer camera. Without a doubt, I very much want to go back.
Sometimes I look for places to shoot using Google Maps. It helps me find places tucked away that I may have missed, like this at Grassy Point.
This is a short drive from my home to Anna Maria Island. I showed up before dawn on a cold and windy morning. By cold, I mean it was cold for Florida; low fifties. Nevertheless, it has a path from the parking lot through the Mangroves and ends up here on the intercoastal waterway.
The clouds were low on the horizon, so the sunrise was not as spectacular as I hoped. Nevertheless, I stayed around for a few minutes to get this shot of the water through the mangroves. It seemed like a long cold hour standing out there waiting for a shot; however that made the hot coffee afterward all the more enjoyable.
This is Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC. It's been cultivated for a hundred years on what used to be a limestone quarry. Now is a garden of Eden.
I took this nearly five years ago when we spent a couple of weeks on the island exploring. And it's a reminder that I should go back, you can never go wrong with a camera here.
As I recall, the smokestack in the back is a leftover from the industrial legacy. Imagine creating one of the worlds most beautiful gardens on an old industrial site. Now imagine if we did that all over the world. Then we truly would have the garden of Eden all over. If only.