Friday, October 30, 2009

The Vinoy Tower

I shot this image during the same meetup as the last photo I posted. Rather than showing the entire photo of The Renaissance Vinoy Hotel, I chose to show only the tower. People who have visited the area know this tower well, so there is no doubt where it was taken.

The beautiful cascading Bougainvilleas on the arbor was what initially attracted me to this site. It's the only place to find "Fall" color in this part of the country. I didn't want the scene to look tropical, but rather like the season. Hopefully, I've managed what I have envisioned. Fall in New England has always been my favorite time of year. From the photos my son sent me from CT the color this year was spectacular. It must be all the rain we've had all summer long.

This was made at around 10:00 am and the sun was pretty strong. I had to be careful of extreme contrasts while not blowing out the whites. I chose F11 to get plenty of Depth of Field (DOF) at 1/320th second because even though my lens is Image Stabilized (IS), I wanted to be sure there was no evident camera shake. I used Aperture Priority mode with pattern metering at ISO 200 and a 55mm focal length with my favorite walk-around lens, a Canon 55-250mm IS lens.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Since we really don't have fall color in St Petersburg, I thought the Bougainvillas on this arbor in Vinoy Park would suffice.

Actually on Sunday, I brought my Newbie group to downtown St Petersburg for their Travel and Vacation Workshop. After the lesson, we walked around Beach Dr, pretending to be tourists and making photos.

It's funny, but people think "Travel" photography means you have to "travel" to make these kind of photos. That's just not true. Anyone can make "travel" pictures right in their home town or at the very least the nearest city. Everyone travels somewhere, and there are always tourists in your city. Someone has to take those photos; why not you!

I know what you're all thinking, "you live in Florida and everyone travels there". Yes, that's true, but I travel to Tennessee, Connecticut and New York. I also travel around Florida and all the states between Florida and upstate New York. You don't have to be on vacation to travel. Try "traveling" in your own home town. Take your camera along and make like tourists. You'd be surprised how things look when you really look at them. Give it a try--I'd be interested in how it worked out for you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Honey Bees and Nest

During a walk on one of the trails at Boca Ciega Millennium Park in Seminole, my friends and I came upon this bees' nest high up in a tree.

You can imagine this was shot with a very, long lens. I'm allergic to bee stings, so I didn't want to aggravate these little buggers. All I could think of was that movie, "My Girl", with McCauly Culkin (spelling probably wrong).

I've never seen a nest with the honey combs sticking out of it before and thought this was kind of interesting. There must be thousands of bees on this thing! It's definitely a bee keeper's dream.

Honey anyone?

Settings used for this shot were F7.1 (my sharpest aperture) at 1/30th and ISO 100. Because I was using partial metering, and the yellows and sky were blowing out (according to my histogram), I used a compensation adjustment of -1 1/3 stops. The focal length was 194mm with my 55-250mm lens.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wattled Crane

This Wattled Crane from Africa was photographed at the Lowry Park Zoo. I love their bright red faces. This is a huge crane, standing up to 6 ft tall. This is the second largest crane in the species, second only to the Sarus Crane.

Settings used making this photo are 1/3200 at F7.1 in Aperture Priority mode with partial metering on the bird's face at ISO 400 with 235mm focal length with my 55-250mm lens.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


While I was at The Pier with my friend, Frank, a week-and-a-half ago, I spotted the reflections of these pilings in the water. I rarely shoot anything like this, but for some unexplainable reason, I just happened to like the way they looked.

It's not my usual style, but like I've mentioned in several blogs lately, I've been working on my creativity instead of just walking up to something that looks neat, snap it and quickly walk away. I have a name for that kind of shooting. I call it a "walk up shooter". It's just this type of shooting that I've been trying to work on for several months now. I'm doing a whole lot more thinking and planning a shot before I squeeze that shutter button. Does it work? I'm not sure, but I do like this one. How do you all feel? Let me know in your comments. It would be imteresting to hear someone else's opinion.

Settings used for this shot were handheld 1/2000 at F5.6, Aperture Priority in spot focusing mode (on the reflections), ISO 400 at 240mm with my 55-250mm lens and +1/3 exposure compensation, which I judged by my histogram which was a little to the left side.

It's sometimes difficult to judge your exposure in your viewfinder window. Always trust your histogram. It never lies.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Great Blue Skimmer

I brought my Newbie Group (Tampa Bay Newbie Photographers Workshops) to Sawgrass Lake Park in St Petersburg, FL yesterday for their bi-monthly lesson and shoot.

Right after my lesson, I spotted this Dragonfly landing on a leaf in this bush just outside of the picnic pavilion where we have our lessons. I grabbed my camera right away and captured this beauty. It was funny, because we were just talking about capturing Dragonflies and how hard it is to get them.

While this position is not the most desirable position to photograph them, I'm happy with the way this grab shot came out. I only had a chance for 3 shots before he flew off. I'm fascinated by Dragonflies because I love their faces; they always look like they're smiling. I also like how delicate they are. I've never been afraid of them and just recently found out that they bite. I never knew that. They just don't look that scary. It hasn't stopped me from photographing them, though.

This was a grab shot, so the settings used were my basic starting settings. I didn't have time to adjust. Whenever I'm done reading my media card after a shoot, the first thing I do is make sure my photos transferred correctly on my computer and are still there after I remove the card from my reader. Then I put it back in my camera, format it, and reset all my settings so it's ready for the next shoot. My normal settings are: ISO200, continuous drive, F7.1, Aperture Priority, Center-weighted metering, RAW, Cloudy White Balance.

Friday, October 9, 2009

St Petersburg Skyline

My friend, Frank, and I went to The Pier in St Petersburg last week to try to capture the sunset over the St Petersburg skyline. We didn't get a lot of clouds, but the color was awesome.

This is one of our favorite haunts. We go up to the 5th floor observation deck where Cha Cha Coconuts restaurant is and shoot to our hearts content. The best thing is the wait staff will serve us out on the deck.

This is one of my favorite images from the shoot. It was shot using my Canon 20D with an 18-55mm lens. I usually don't shoot this skyline wide angle, but for some reason, I decided to give it a try and I like the results. Settings were 1/40th at F4.5 aperture, -1/3 stop eV, in aperture priority mode and average metering at ISO 400 at the 18mm focal length. I chose these settings because they're a little different from my normal settings and was looking to shoot this differently than I usually do.

I've been striving to capture images differently than what I usually see looking for the creativity in my vision. I'm very happy with the results.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nicobar Pigeon

This is another bird from the Asian Gardens at Lowry Park Zoo. It's a Nicobar Pigeon and in my opinion, she's one of the fanciest pigeons I've ever seen. I love her colors!

These birds are from Southeast Asia, Thailand, Cambodia, Nicobar India, etc. Currently, they are OK, but are considered a near threatened species due to logging and hunting for food as well as their gizzards being used for jewelry making.

This one is a female, since she has a knob on her beak and unfortunately, her pure white tail can hardly be seen due to her position.

Settings used for this shot in bright afternoon sunlight were 1/60th at F7.1 in aperture priority mode with spot metering off the bird so I wouldn't lose her colors. I used ISO 200 (only because I forgot it was set there). I should've used 400 to get more speed on my shutter and used my 55-250mm lens at 250mm.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Black-naped Oriole

Every now and then when my life gets too hectic and I get overwhelmed with all I have to do, I take a break from everything. I stay off the computer, my camera sits and I pretty much do nothing. If any of you have been wondering, that's what I've done this past week or so.

Today, one of my friends, Kathy, got me out to the zoo. At first I was excited, then I was on the verge of changing my mind about going at all, and finally, Kathy emailed me and said she didn't want to go alone. So, I went and I'm glad I did. I got some great shots, saw an old friend, Carol and met one of Kathy's friends, Mike, from her group.

It was one of the hottest days we've had this summer, but it was worth it. Maybe I'm finally out of that funk. I only edited a few shots from today, but this is one that I really like. He's a cute little bird, not much bigger than a Quaker Parrot, but so pretty.

I promise, I'll be back to my old self. I just had to slow down a bit. I just have too many things going on all at once.