Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cupola on The Don

Yup, I'm getting desperate again. Back to my files for photos to post. I haven't been feeling up to par ever since I got Bronchitis, so I haven't been out shooting in a little while.

This one is from a shoot earlier this month when my friends and I did a tour of St Petersburg's hotels. As you can see from the previous posts, I was pretty impressed with The Don Cesar.

This hotel is so beautiful--it really has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. It's not only the colors but the style is just gorgeous! I'm fortunate to live in a place where I can visit places like this everyday.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Oh the Places You Go!

Another image from my trip to The Quadrangle in Springfield, MA in January. This Dr Seuss exhibit is so amazing that I keep going back to it over and over again.

The image of this book carved out of bronze could not be made in one frame due to it being so large. It stands about 9 ft tall and I can't even guestimate how wide it is. Even using a wide-angle lens, I had to shoot it in 2 frames. If I took it in one frame, I'd have had to stand so far back, the words would not have been legible, and there would've been so much foreground it wouldn't have worked. So, with the magic of Photoshop, I was able to merge the 2 photos together so these 2 pages are easily read.

In the foreground on the left, I let Dr Seuss's desk stay in the photo, as well as the chair in front of the book. Of course, I had no choice with the chair--unless I wanted to do tons of cloning.

As you can see by the number of photos from this exhibit that I've posted, I really enjoyed it--and, I'm not even into Dr Seuss. My children were all grown up way before he became popular.

The one on the left is another one that had to be merged from 2 shots. It is of Yertle the Turtle. Every character from the book was depicted in this exhibit.

If you ever get a chance to visit New England, you'll have to check out this exhibit. If you don't want to freeze, don't go in January, like I did. It was only 11 deg. F the day I went.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bloom N Chalk Fest

The city of Safety Harbor had their first Annual Bloom N Chalk Fest this weekend. There were so many talented artists, including children it was hard to pick a favorite.

Each artist was given a box of pastels and the children were given chalk. This was one of my favorites. Unfortunately, it rained this morning, and I never got to go back to see the finished results. I'd have loved to see this one all done.

Some of the children were very talented as well. This little one is concentrating really hard on her creation.

I'm hoping to go to next year's fest, judging from this year's turnout.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Southern Screamer

Since I've been too sick to go out and shoot, I decided to go back through some old files.

I made this shot of this Southern Screamer at Busch Gardens as he was chasing another bird. It seems he's very territorial and didn't want the other bird in his area. He was pretty mad.

I never heard his call and judging by his name, I'm glad I didn't.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gaillardia

I love the color in these flowers. It's so bright and cheerful. There are many varieties of Gaillardia. This is one of my favorite varieties.

As you may have guessed, I made this image on Monday at my Meetup, when I made the one before. It is unusual for me to post something from the same shoot 2 days in a row, but these flowers are so pretty, I just had to post them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Prairie Coneflower


This image was made during our regular Monday night Meetup last night. It was sprinkling off and on, and rather cool, but the flowers didn't show how we all felt, freezing down by the water.

I've been experimenting with a new technique where I'm increasing the saturation to boost the color. I kind of like the way it made this lone flower pop.

The garden at the park is setup mostly to attract butterflies and has a mixture of Blue Salvia, Oleander, Indian Blanket flowers, Sunflowers, Roses, Black-eyed Susans and a few I haven't identified as yet. There are several little small areas with the flowers around trees and it's a wonderful place to capture these beautiful flowers--and butterflies. I especially like the Indian Blanket flowers with their beautiful colors.

We've been meeting at the same place since last April, and you'd think we could never come up with something new to capture. It's amazing, that every week, someone spots something and takes it in a different way that makes us say, "Now why didn't I see that?"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Florida Railroad Museum

Today my group had another meetup. Fifteen of us went to the Florida Railroad Museum. It's unusual in the sense that the trains are the museum. There is no building as you'd expect.

For $16.95 you get to ride these old trains. Today was a special ride for photographers. We road the track, then were dropped off so we could photograph the trains in a drive by, then we were picked up again and brought back.

This is the one time we got to play on the tracks and not get in trouble. We were allowed to photograph the engine, and the worker adding coal to the fire to power the steam engine. It was difficult to take the photo because the worker only had about 3 feet of space and he had to squat on the floor to open the furnace then shovel in the coal. He watches a temperature or pressure gauge above the furnace to know when to add the coal. It's about every 2 minutes or so. We had to hang our cameras over his shoulder, but above so as to not interfere with him from the car behind him and shoot blindly. Everything in the little room is black, so we needed to use flash. I put the widest angle lens on my camera held it over him and just kept shooting as fast as the camera would let me all the while hoping for the best. That was only 5 shots before he was done putting the coal on the fire. I got lucky and got a couple fairly decent shots.

It was a fun day and we got some great photos. The clouds, as you can see were beautiful.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Reddish Egret

What a day we had today! My friends and I went to North Shore Park in St Petersburg for the sunrise and our plans were to go directly out to Ft Desoto in Tierra Verde, to photograph birds and meet another friend there.

We planned to leave Ft Desoto around 9:00 am. After the sunrise, we started to drive to Ft Desoto, and kept seeing things to shoot that we just couldn't resist. With all that traveling and stopping, we didn't arrive at Ft Desoto until after 9:00. Most of the birds had their breakfast and were napping or roosting.

That didn't stop us from finding a few to shoot. This beautiful Reddish Egret was very obliging and let us all get some great shots of him. If you've never seen a Reddish Egret forage for food, you've been missing some very curious behavior.

They stand really still in the water while they look around. All of a sudden, you'll see them run around in all different directions. Then they put their head down while holding their wings semi outspread to shade the reflections on the water and to disguise themselves to the fish. Once they've made their catch, the whole scenario begins again.

Oh yes, the sunrise was beautiful. Here's a little peak!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rear Entrance Walkway

This is the rear or beach entrance to The Don Cesar Hotel. I like the pink and white striped awnings. It sort of gives me the feeling of being in Paris for some strange reason.

In this area, we have 2 5* hotels; The Don Cesar and The Vinoy. Both were built during the same era. Both are extremely ornate and beautiful on the outside. Both are pink. During our hotel tour meetup, we have come to the conclusion that The Don has it all over the Vinoy.

At The Don, I was particularly impressed with the fresh, exotic flowers in all the hallways and entrances, the beautiful gardens in the back and, of course, the beach. The tanning beds on the beach give me the feeling of luxury beyond any of the other luxurious amenities offered by both hotels.

The atmosphere at The Don is exactly what you'd see in the movies. It's truly a very special hotel. If I were to stay there, I don't think I'd leave it during the entire vacation. There isn't anything better than this.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jumper

We went to an Equestrian event today at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.

The horses were 5 & 6 yr olds, and competing in the stadium jumps. This one's form is perfect. His hooves are even, and he looked great. Sorry, I don't remember how he placed.

It was a lot of fun watching them and it reminded me how I used to go to all these events with another friend to photograph the events for the Bits and Bites Horse Club in Tampa.

This is another of the horses. I fell in love with him. He is unusually colored and just beautiful.
He belongs to a mother/daughter team. The daughter is the rider.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Great Blue Heron Taking Off

I had a little help capturing this Great Blue Heron at Seminole Lake Park today.

My friends and I went there because it was cloudy and we felt it would be a wonderful day to capture the birds at this park. No problems with the whites blowing out.

We spotted this guy on the edge of the lake. We kept shooting as we moved in on him from 3 directions. Finally, he took off, and we all had our cameras set up with continuous bursts and continuous focusing to capture him if he took to the air. He just caught the air when I shot this one.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Church Steeple, Springfield, MA


I'm still trying to get caught up on my editing. This was taken in Springfield, MA while on my vacation to CT and NY in January.

I like the post-card feel to this image and how the church steeple is obscured by the bare tree. New England is known for it's amazing old churches. They have been seen on calendars, book covers and probably been photographed more in New England than in most of the United States.

Even though I'm primarily a nature photographer, I also love to photograph old architecture. There isn't much of it in Florida, since it was settled around the turn of the century (1900's). The really old, beautiful architecture can be found throughout New England--especially in Massachusettes and CT. This old church is no exception.

I would have liked to photograph the entire steeple, but I photographed it from a moving car and I was too close for the lens I had on my camera. I plan to go back there again and try to better this capture.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Eruasian Colored Dove


It's funny, I go to all these places, spending a lot of money on gas, when I have all these wonderful opportunities to photograph birds and wildlife right in my own backyard. Sometimes, I just don't know why I do that.

This beautiful Eurasian Colored Dove was walking around the yard looking for something to eat. She didn't even notice me with my camera. If she did, she didn't much care. She was focused on entirely something else. I was sitting just a few feet from her.

The reason I say her, is because now she is in my Palm tree in the front yard sitting on a nest. I can't wait for her eggs to hatch when I can photograph the cute little hatchlings.

Eurasian Colored Doves were introduced from Europe to the Bahamas in the late 1970s. They are now well-established throughout the southeastern United States. They have even been spotted in other areas. Their population is spreading and increasing. They are ground feeders and eat mostly seeds, grain and some insects.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dodge Ram


This was taken during my trip to Springfield, MA in January. My son and I were walking through the parking garage to get a different vantage point on Springfield's beautiful, old architecture, and we spotted this at the same time.

It's been many years since we've seen hood ornaments on cars and trucks and I miss them. I'm not sure why the car manufacturers suddenly thought we didn't need them anymore. I think they gave a car a classy look.

I included the rust on this old truck because it further shows its age. The rust is also a sign of the brutal New England winter weather. In Florida, one rarely sees rust on cars; yet in New England, it's the norm. The snow and salt really takes its toll on vehicles up north.

It would be OK if you could wash the car everytime you drive it in snow, but that's pretty impractical since the cold would freeze the water then there would be a worse problem. The locks would freeze, you'd have to scrape the windows again and the ice would promote further rusting. Besides, it snows too often. The car would need to be washed every day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

University of Tampa Minaret

This was taken in back in January, just before I left for vacation. I must apologize for going back to my files for posting since I had a long day today and haven't done any editing.

I've never shot these minarets in total darkness before because I like to see some blue in the sky; but with the black background, I think it sets off the minaret better than if it were taken with a blue sky.

The University of Tampa, Plant Hall building has always fascinated me. It reminds me a little bit of Moscow (at least of the picture of Moscow that I've seen). I just love that architecture.

I'm always trying to expand my comfort zone by shooting what I'm not used to. I find it enhances my abilities--even though my experiments don't always come out to my liking. This one, though, I like. (I got lucky.) I also had a little bit of help with the campus lighting.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Florida Aquarium


This was taken during our "Trolley Tour" meetup last Saturday. It is a most unusual building with all the glass, curves, angles and lines. It has probably been photographed 1,000 times because the architecture is so unusual.

The Florida Aquarium has more than 200,000 sq ft of sea plants, fish and sea animals. It has an outdoor water park designed for young children, a Dolphin ecotour, Penquin encounter where the Penquins meet and greet guests, behind the scenes tours, dive with the shark opportunities for certified divers, the usual shows and feeding times, several petting tanks, as well as the actual various aquariums.

The Florida Aquarium is a must see when visiting Florida.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wood Stork in Flight

My friends and I went out to a place Cheryl knew about tonight. She found a Rookery!

We were so amazed at all the different species in one place. There were Great Egret, Wood Storks, Glossy Ibis, White Ibis, Little Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, Anhingas and Snowy Egrets nesting there.

It was so amazing to see the different species coming in to roost in huge flocks. The hardest ones to shoot in flight were the Tricolored Herons. They fly in a sort of zig-zag, flip-flop fashion and as fast as a jet! What a thrill to try to capture one of them. They're so small and they fly so fast.

I just got home after shooting 6 Gb of photos and this is the first one of the bunch I spotted while quickly going through the photos. I'm excited about seeing the rest, but it's 11:00 pm and time to get some shut eye. I'll be posting more from this shoot at a later time.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Keyboards

This was taken during my visit to CT 3 weeks ago. It is actually a close-up of my son's fingers playing keyboards during practice.

He hasn't seen this one yet, but I plan to publish it to his website once I'm done with all the photos I took in CT, MA and NY on my vacation.

I really like the way this one turned out. I did something similar last year, but this one is much better (at least in my opinion).

I've been thinking about doing a musician's series, or maybe just a music series of digitally enhanced images I've taken through the years. I have many I've done at my son's band's practices. I'll just see what I can come up with.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Great Egret

We had yet another meetup yesterday and what a fun meetup it was!

We took a trolley tour throughout Tampa. There were 16 of us that started in Ybor City in Tampa. Some of the attendees wondered if we had an itinerary; but that was the beauty of the tour. There was no itinerary, we just bought day tickets (only $5) and rode the trolley until we saw a place where we wanted to get off. Then we'd shoot some photos at that place, grab another trolley and go somewhere else.

As stated, we began in Ybor City and rode to Channelside for our first stop. Channelside is a shopping and entertainment district in front of the Port of Tampa. We photographed that area for a while, then walked over to the Florida Aquarium, which is where I photographed this Great Egret outside the Aquarium in a swamp area.

We got back on another trolley and rode it toward the Tampa Convention Center, where we discovered the beautiful Embasy Suites Hotel. I asked permission to photograph there and it was granted. We all concentrated on the many lines and graphic possibilities when looking straight up from the lobby through the 20 floors to the top. From there, we went outside on one of the terraces where they have a lap pool and sun deck.

Once we had enough of the Embassy Suites, we hopped another trolley and headed back to Ybor City. There we went to the Green Iguana bar/restaurant for dinner. It was so much fun, we've decided to do this sort of thing on a monthly basis. I'll be posting more photos from this meetup as time goes on--if I ever get caught up on editing all the photos I've taken during the last week.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

St Pete Beach


Yesterday my friends and I went on an architectural shoot. We went to the famous Don Cesar Hotel in St Pete Beach, the Ponce de Leon Hotel, where Babe Ruth used to have his breakfast when he was in town and the Renaissance Vinoy Hotel in St Petersburg.

We took many photos and had a very pleasant and productive day. This is one of the photos from the shoot. It is the view of beautiful St Pete Beach from one of the cupolas in the Don Cesar Hotel.

A shot of the entrance to the Don Cesar is above. I will be posting more as I get them processed.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bass Player


While I was in CT in January, I wanted to photograph my son's band, Scissor Runners. They were in need of new photos and it would've been perfect if it wasn't for the weather.

This technique is something I wanted to try with them, but finding graffiti in 11ยบ F weather and asking them to sit for a photo, just wasn't feasible.

I ended up taking the photos in the Bass Player's basement during one of their practices. Once home, I had to figure out how to move a photo of the Bass Player, Ricky Fournier, onto another photo of some graffiti I took in Ybor City, then apply the gritty effect.

I really like how this one came out. I'm waiting to see if he likes it. Ricky, what do you think?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lamp

Monday was our monthly Safety Harbor meetup. We've pretty much shot every blade of grass at the Safety Harbor Marina and Veterans Memorial Park, so in our quest to find something different, a few of us decided to take a walk downtown. That wasn't the only reason, though; it was really cold down near the water.

We went into Starbucks for a coffee to warm up and a snack. On the way back to the marina, we walked out the back of Crispers Restaurant and started to shoot a few photos.

This lamp is on the back side of Crispers. I liked the way the late afternoon light was hitting it and the contrast between the curved lines and round beads of the design against the square, sharp angles of the brick wall behind it and the sharp angles of the palm fronds just below it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Flock of Ibis


These sacred and beautiful birds were flying over the bay at the Safety Harbor Marina today just before sunset. I love how the light was hitting them as they flew overhead.

Ibis (Eudocimus albus) were considered sacred and an object of veneration in ancient Egypt. They were even mummified along with Falcons and other sacred animals.

The Ibis is also the last wildlife to take shelter before a hurricane and the first to surface after the storm has hit.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

"Sticks of Fire"


"Sticks of Fire" sculpture on the University of Tampa's campus.

I haven't shot much this weekend, so I had to take a trip through my archives. I shot this one during the "Lights on Tampa" celebration just before the Super Bowl in Tampa, FL.

This sculpture is lit up occasionally and it stands tall in the center of the front campus. The Regions Bank building is in the background.

I originally shot this using the Auto White Balance setting on my camera, but thought it looked more realistic using the Tungsten setting, which I changed in Lightroom (one of my photo processing programs). I liked the golden look on the sculpture, but it hid the rest of the elements.