Monday, September 29, 2008

Daybreak East Beach, Ft Desoto

Daybreak, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2007 on East Beach, Ft Desoto in Tierra Verde, FL.

This image was taken the same day, but a little earlier than the Sunshine Skyway Sunrise photo I posted previously. In the distance you can see the light trails from cars traveling onto and off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

The sky was amazing this morning. It's rare to see clouds first thing at daybreak. I like the pink color near the horizon. This is one of my favorite spots right at the end of the turn-around to photograph the bridge. If I had waited a bit after sunrise, I could've photographed the birds coming in to feed. Unfortunately, I had to leave to go to work.

If you like my work, please comment. If you'd like to see more, please visit my website by clicking here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Every year the sun rises between the spans of this bridge for only 2 days. The problem is, we never know which 2 days it is. In 2006, it rose between the spans on Dec. 2nd and in 2007, it was on Nov. 15th.

So, every year I start going to my favorite spot to check it out and try to guess when it's going to rise perfectly in the center of the spans.

I went out this morning and it's not even close, so I'll check it in about a month. However, we had some really nice clouds at daybreak when I captured this image.

It's too bad the bridge is being painted because the spans aren't lit up. It's so beautiful lit up. It'll be a while before it gets done, so it looks like it won't be lit this year when I finally catch it in the right place once again.

If you'd like to see a larger image, just click on the image.

If you like my work, please comment. If you'd like to see more, you can check out my website by clicking here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

John's Pass

John's Pass on Madeira Beach in Florida is a tough shoot, but with a little patience and a whole lot of walking and looking around, one can find some pretty terrific shots.

This is not an actual lighthouse, I don't think; but it's atop the Friendly Fisherman restaurant. In order to get this view from above, I went to a competing restaurant higher up on the boardwalk and went up to the roof of the parking garage.

It's a unique view, and one I didn't know about until a waitress in one of the many eateries on the boardwalk saw my camera and told me about it. That was an excellent tip!

It was pretty hazy out that day, and we all went up there to capture the sunset on Madeira Beach, but it was so hot, no one wanted to wait the extra hour. We all took what we got for images and left fairly quickly. I think it was something like 92 deg. F, if I can remember correctly. This was shot in mid August which is hot anywhere in the states at that time of year.

If you like my work, please leave a comment. If you'd like to see more, visit my website by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Carolina Saddlebags Dragonfly

I found this dragonfly just sitting on the sidewalk as I was leaving work. I was particularly interested in the detail of his "saddlebags".

These Carolina Saddlebags dragonflies are the only dragonfly found worldwide and very common; yet, I believe this is the first one of this variety I've seen. Maybe it's because they are almost constantly moving and I was lucky enough to catch this one at rest.

This image was taken with my compact Canon Powershot A560. It's a 7.1 MP camera I carry around in my bag just so I don't get caught without a camera when I run across something like this. Although it doesn't have the control my DSLR has, it doesn't do a bad job capturing images.

If you like my work, please comment. If you'd like to see more visit my website by clicking here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Osprey in my Tree

This one is the most elusive, hard to photograph bird I've ever photographed. He perches in this tree overlooking the river behind my house whenever he's hungry. For over 2 years I've been trying to photograph him but have rarely got a really good one.

It seems he's learned the chimes on my door from my alarm. As soon as he hears the chimes, he checks to see if I have my camera. Then he does one of two things. If I have my camera, he lets out a couple of screeches to let me know he's seen me and takes off across the lake. If I don't have my camera he buzzes my head and goes back up to the tree.

The only way I can catch him is if I go out my front door and walk all around the house while I keep really low and be careful to hide behind trees, my shed or whatever I can think of. Then once I think I'm close enough, I quickly come out, capture my image and he takes off. I only get 1 shot if I'm lucky and I have to be quick. This is the result of one of the lucky shots.

I think I like the hunt as much as getting the photograph. :)

If you like my work, please comment; if you'd like to see more, visit my website here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sea Oats

Sea Oats are one of the most beneficial weeds here in Florida. In fact, they are so beneficial the state of Florida has protected them.

They are cultivated and used in sand dunes to control beach erosion. The coastal cities of Florida spend millions of dollars every year replenishing sand lost to our many hurricanes. Most communities have tried to solve that problem by building sand dunes to prevent sand loss.

The hurricane season takes its toll on most of Florida each and every year. This year, we've had a couple damaging hurricanes already and the hurricane season isn't over yet. It still has 2 months to go.

So far this year I've been pretty lucky. I live in St Petersburg, which is a peninsula off the mainland on the central west coast. We haven't taken a direct hit as yet. Hopefully, we'll finish off the rest of hurricane season without too much damage.

When visiting Florida on your vacation please remember not to disturb our sand dunes, don't pick the Sea Oats, and don't feed the birds or alligators. Enjoy our state, come visit and leave nothing behind but footprints.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Immature Muscovy Ducks

It's amazing how quickly these little guys can grow. These 3 Muscovy Ducks were just hatched about 2 months ago and already they're nearly as big as their mother.

Every time one of the hens has another brood I'm excited and sad at the same time. This brood started out as 17 hatchlings. These 3 are the only ones left that the 'gators didn't eat. It sure is a cruel world out there. Thank goodness we're at the top of the food chain. As a mother, it makes me sad, but every creature on earth is here for a reason, and to quote another cliche, only the strong survive.

The hens are so proud when these little guys are hatched. They bring them right over to my yard to show them off. They know no one here is going to hurt them. The duckling in the middle with the white chest was the only all yellow duckling in the brood. Actually, it's the only all yellow Muscovy duckling I've ever seen. He got his dark feathers as quickly as his brothers and sisters, but I never expected a white chest. Maybe mom met a traveling salesman just passing through. :)

If you've never seen a Muscovy, they're not very pretty ducks, but they make up for it by being so friendly. They show absolutely no fear of humans. Maybe it's because of their size. I don't really know for sure. They don't quack or make any noise, either. The drakes have this very low air sound, while the hens sound a lot like a hatchling; just a soft whistling sound. They're really quiet.

I've watched them communicate with one another and they seem to have conversations with their head, tails and neck. They face one another and move their necks in and out while bobbing their heads and wiggling their tales. It's pretty interesting and funny to watch them.

Another hen just hatched a small brood of 5 in my Amaryllis bed. So far, they're all together but I don't know for how long. I know those 'gators are just waiting around the corner for a nice duckling dinner. :(

If you like my work, please comment. If you'd like to see more, please visit my website here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

First Baptist Church

While out after the class on Tuesday we spotted this church and couldn't remember ever seeing it lit up like this before. The lights kept changing colors and it looked so beautiful, we just had to stop and capture the beautiful color with these lights.

We were all standing across the street trying to get the best vantage point to show it off, when these 2 guys with masks on came over and asked what we were doing. It turned out that this is a project they're doing just for fun. They call themselves the "Light Bandits" and identify themselves only as Light Bandit #1 and Light Bandit #2. It seems they will be picking an unknown place around town to light up once a week. They are featured on You Tube and have a My Space site as well. You can find them on My Space here.

I gave them my card and asked them for a link to their site and let them know we'll send on the photos that we took to them for their project.

The red and white streaks on the street in front of the church are the results of cars traveling by the church captured with a slow shutter speed.

If you like my work, please comment. If you'd like to see more, please visit my website here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tampa Skyline Pano & Explosion

Last night I attended another class with Jim Sykes. This time it was on night photography and skylines.

This shot is of the Tampa skyline as seen from Davis Island. Eight of us took the class and learned a lot of new tricks and techniques. We experimented with doing several zoom explosions which, at best were interesting.

This explosion was taken from the same spot. I used a 30 second exposure and zoomed in during the last half of the exposure. Of the different tries, I like this one the best. The splashes of colors is what attracted me to this one.

If you like my work, please comment--even if you don't like it, I'd like to hear what you think.

If you'd like to see more of my work, please visit my website here.

Gary Shoots the Sunset

My club has been so active lately, it's nearly impossible to keep up. Our regular Monday night shoot this week was at Honeymoon Island in Dunedin, FL.

After walking the trails and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, we went out on the beach to photograph the sunset. With hurricane Ike being so wide, it has caused some incredible sunsets with beautiful waves out on the Gulf.

This is one of my friends and fellow club member, Gary. He's all set up for a beautiful sunset shot. We all got some incredible shots on Monday. This is just one of them.

If you like my work, please comment. If you'd like to see more of my work, visit my website here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

EarthDance 2008

Saturday, a few of my friends and I participated in the 2008 EarthDance in Safety Harbor. The event was simulcasted in 300 cities and 42 countries by Verizon. EarthDance was held as a dance for peace in conjunction with the many activities commemorating 9/11.

We had an art and photography booth there and I donated a free location portrait.

I originally got into photography seriously when my children were into dance, gymnastics and drum corps. I wanted to be able to take great photos of them to have for a lifetime. Well, due to too many moves, I no longer have the photos I took, but I still have the memories.

In addition to my photography courses, I also took a specialized course called, "Action, Dance and Sports". This is the first time I've had a chance to photograph dance since my kids grew up. I guess I haven't forgotten all that I learned. I was pretty happy with the way these turned out--especially since they were taken at night, handheld, outside on a portable stage. Lucky for me I was able to get close enough that I could use my fast lens.

If you like my work, please comment. If you'd like to see more, visit my website here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Patriotic Sisters

These two sisters were all dressed up to participate in the 2008 9-11 Peace Walk in Safety Harbor, Florida, to honor the lost souls from the 9/11 World Trade Towers incident. They walked a mile with their parents after attending a ceremony which included fire-fighters from Safety Harbor who worked at Ground Zero. The looks on their little innocent faces said it all for me.

If you like my work, please comment. If you'd like to see more, visit my group's website here or my personal website by clicking here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Canna Lily Leaf

Sometimes I like to photograph patterns. This is the leaf of a Canna Lily. I like the lines and curves. I tried a crop of just the leaf and I'm not sure if I like it, although it makes an interesting graphic.

This photo was taken in Safety Harbor on Monday evening while waiting for the rest of the members of my group to come. I like to go there early before the rest get there so I can concentrate on my photography. Most of the time I'm with the group I spend either just talking shop, or answering technical questions regarding photography technique, which I don't mind. It's nice to share knowledge with other photographers. We all learn something that way, and it improves our own technique.

If you like my work, please leave a comment--even if you don't like it, or see if something can be improved. I'm always open to suggestions.

Thanks for viewing!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sensitive Brier Plant with Honey Bee

This Sensitive Brier plant is got its name because when its leaves are touched, they close up.

This was shot during one of my meetups with the Florida State Photography Meetup Group. We went on a Photography Hike at the Weedon Island Nature Preserve. The hike consisted of a photography talk given by Dave, one of the biologists at the preserve. He went over various tips and techniques and then we went on a short hike through one of the trails.

Almost everyone is familiar with the commonly kept potted plant called Sensitive Brier (Schrankia uncinata) or Touch-Me-Not, which closes its leaves when touched. It is a type of shrub that is not very cold-hardy and so doesn't grow wild in most of this country. We do have an equivalent plant called the sensitive brier (Schrankia uncinata), since its habit is to sprawl along the ground like other prickly vines and briers. Just like the sensitive plant, this brier has small pink/magenta puffy flowers and touch-responsive leaves. It also has small thorns, and so it has another line of defense against anything brushing against it. For more information about this pretty little flower click here.

I am fascinated by this pretty little flower, about the size of a quarter in diameter because I like its color and texture.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Zebra Long-winged Butterfly

I went over to my friend's house in Odessa, FL on Thursday and had a great time. Early in the evening, just before sunset, we went for a walk to move her horses for the night.

While I was waiting for her to get the horses, I had a chance to walk around a bit outside the pasture and spotted this beautiful Zebra Long-winged butterfly (Heliconius charithonia). Zebras are also known as Zebra Heliconian. They have the distinction of being declared the official butterfly of Florida.

Zebras can be found in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida and feed on the Yellow Passionflower. They are also unusual because the eat pollen as well as sip nectar, which contributes to their long life (about 3 months). They also roost in large groups, returning to the same roost every night.

If you enjoyed this entry, please let me know by commenting. If you'd like to see more of my work, please visit my website by clicking here.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Female Boat-tailed Grackle

This female Boat-tailed Grackle was just perched on this railing at The Pier in St. Petersburg seemingly waiting to have her photo taken. Females look quite different from the males. The males are all black with a sort of iridescent shine to their feathers when the sun hits it. They are also much larger than the females.

Grackles can be found most anywhere in Florida usually close to people so they can steal a snack or two. They are resident along the coast from New Jersey south and west to Louisiana; also inland in peninsular Florida. They prefer marshlands both fresh and salt water.

If you like my work, please comment. If you'd like to see more, visit my website here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Brown Pelican

This Brown Pelican was just hanging around on these pilings at The Pier in St Petersburg. If you've never seen one, they're pretty big birds, maybe 12-15 pounds. One would never know they're endangered if you live in Florida. They seem to be everywhere, and fairly easy to photograph, since they're not afraid of people and not skittish at all.

On The Pier, there's this little bait house where you can buy fish to feed these guys. They'll gather around right at your feet waiting for a hand out. That's part of the reason they're endangered, unfortunately. People have been giving them handouts for so long, they've become lazy to find food for themselves.

It's got to a point on some of the beaches in the summertime when all the tourists and snow birds (people that live up north that come to Florida for the winter) have gone home that we've had to resort to feeding them to keep them from starving to death. Every day around 1:00 on Spa beach, you'll see a truck come in with food for the Pelicans. The volunteers stay on the beach for about an hour feeding huge flocks of them along with a few Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons. It's quite a sight to see hundreds of birds just waiting for their lunch. That's one of the reasons it's against the law to feed the birds. People think their doing a good thing, when they're actually doing them harm.

Please if you visit Florida, don't feed the birds--heed the signs. They're there to protect our wild life, and to keep them from stealing your food when you picnic.

If you like my work, please comment. If you would like to see more, visit my website by clicking here.

Monday, September 1, 2008

St Petersburg Skyline

Tonight our meetup group had 2 meetups at the same time. Our usual one at Safety Harbor, FL and one at the St Petersburg Pier. I went to the St Petersburg Pier trying to catch a great sunset shot. Well, we got a bit ripped off on the sunset, since it was too hazy for us to see and capture it.

Instead, I waited around a while to see what twilight might bring. This one's not too shabby. I shot this one from the opposite side of the The Pier than I usually shoot from. I usually shoot from the right side, so I can catch a few shots of the Vinoy Hotel. While I shot a few from there, I also shot from the restaurant side and was able to capture this one. As you can see, there is a little color in the sky, but not very much with the reds and yellows. Actually, there wasn't any yellow at all. I'm anxious to see what the rest of my group shot. There were 18 of us in all.

If you like my work, please comment. If you'd like to see more, visit my website here.

Thanks for looking!