Saturday, December 31, 2011

Merry Christmas Penguins

Happy New Year!

You'll probably be happy to know that this is the last of the Christmas lights series. It's been a lot of fun for me and I hope you've all enjoyed my seasonal photos as much as I enjoyed making them.

I've been thinking about my New Year's Resolutions this week and have decided what I'm planning to do. Hopefully, I can commit to at least one of them and do it throughout the year.

There are a couple of photography projects I've been planning on doing for quite some time and never got around to doing them. So this year, I'm going to try my best to do them. I teach photography and one of things I'm always preaching to my students is the best way to improve your photography is to take at least one photo every day. Maybe I should practice what I preach. One of my resolutions will be to start the 365 project.

Most photographers out there know what this is, and for those of you who don't my resolution/project is to take one photo a day no matter what the weather or how I feel for the entire year. I'm going to start this project tomorrow on January 1, 2012. I'm counting on all of you to keep me on track. When I fail to post a photo of the Day, email me and remind me that you're waiting for your photo. That should keep me on track. I'll try to do my part if you all will do your part. Let's see how long I can keep this project going.

So, what's your resolution. Let me know in the comments section and ask for reminders and help if you need it.

Friday, December 30, 2011


I thought you'd all like a little change in pace by now with all the Christmas lights. Actually, this is still a photo of Christmas lights--just in abstract form.

I made it by either zooming out or zooming in on a Christmas tree made of lights. With a little imagination, you can still see the tree. The lights coming in on the top and the right are lights on another tree.

The problem with these kind of images is they can't be duplicated no matter how much you try. It's also a plus for the same reason. I like the colors in this one and the form it took on. It even provided it's own framing.

It's a lot of fun playing around with long exposures and a zoom lens. It's something anyone can do with nearly every camera on the market today. Even some phone cameras will zoom. You just have to have the ability to be able to set the shutter speed for a slow enough exposure. I think this one was 1.6 seconds, which isn't that slow, but slow enough to allow me to zoom the length of the lens.

For all my photographer friends and followers out there, I used a 38-105 Tamron F2.8 lens on my Canon 40D, with ISO set at 400, shutter speed 1.6 seconds at F25. The camera was set on Manual with partial metering and no flash.

Don't forget to click on it to see it larger.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Alien Christmas

With the holidays winding down, you're probably happy to not be seeing any more Christmas themed photos from me for a while.

This one was taken at the same house I've been showing for the last few posts. It was part of an entire collection of Aliens in one of the scenes. I liked the way the lights behind this one makes it appear to be stars in the night. Actually, they're on lit trees.

I also like the way this one seems to glow. It appears to be on the rooftop, but it's really in front of the house in one of their scenes.

I hope you've been enjoying my series of how Floridians make it seem more like Christmas without snow and cold.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Santa in His Sleigh

This is one of the scenes from the same house as the last two posts. There were so many really beautiful little scenes at this house that it made it difficult to pick just a few.

This one is for the child in all of us. It's too bad that we had to grow up. Think of all the memories we had as children. Is it really bad to tell our children these stories?

The latest trend is telling us that we lie to our children when we tell them about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. Don't you think they're missing out on one the greatest things about being a child? I don't understand these trends. Yes, it's dishonest, but don't we like to remember the good times we had as children. How many of us distrust our parents because they told us these stories. Why rob them of that.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Another Christmas Shot From Indian Trails

This shot is showing the other half of the front of the same house I posted last night. This one being beyond the driveway to the left.

On the left side of this image you can see some vertical lights that are hanging down like a waterfall. These lights were hung from about 65 feet up in the tree. I can only imagine that the guy who put up this lighting must've rented a cherry picker. I doubt he climbed this tree to get the lights up this high.

Anyone have any better ideas how these lights were hung? Let me know as a comment below this post.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my loyal followers and friends.

This was taken during a Christmas light shoot in Indian Trails in Palm Harbor, Florida.

This house was a corner lot and it was decorated in different scenes all the way across the front and the side as far as his property extended. It is one of the most beautiful displays I've ever seen. It was amazing! I just had to share with you all.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Snowflake Bridge

If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you know how much I like bridges. This one is no exception.

I've been dedicating my blog the last few weeks to Christmas lights, so I had to include these but still add the bridge in. The Christmas tree you see at the end of the walkway is in the Wedding Garden.

There are Christmas trees all over the place. They're at every station within each scene. This is the first time I've been to the Florida Botanical Gardens at Christmas time, and I can surely say I've been missing a lot! These are amazing lights.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Tree at Florida Botanical Gardens

During our trip to the Florida Botanical Gardens, we saw many Christmas trees. This is one of the ones I liked best.

It is located on one of the rest areas on the bridge overlooking the water. I liked the way it is framed by the bridge and the overhang. The all blue lights with the white frame is what I think makes this one especially pretty.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mosaic Benches

Although these mosaic benches aren't adorned with Christmas lights, they benefit from the Christmas lighting around them.

There are many benches like these around the park, and many areas with this beautiful mosaic tile work. There used to be shallow pools in the Wedding Gardens, but they were difficult to keep up and the Koi kept dying from the algae, so they've closed down and now have more of this same mosaic tile work covering them. I'm still trying to decide which I like better; but of course, I don't have to maintain them.

The Florida Botanical Gardens is one of St Petersburg/Largo's treasures. I you're ever visiting the area, check them out. The best part is there is no fee to get into this beautiful park. It's full of flowers year 'round with lots of water and even some wildlife. It's Florida at its best!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Zooming Around

Just thought you'd all like a little change in pace from the last few posts. This is still Christmas lights, though. :)

Last night, a couple friends and I went to the Christmas light display at the Florida Botanical Gardens. Their display is the second best Christmas light displays I've ever seen in my life. My first favorite was in Forest Park in Springfield, MA with my son and daughter-in-law.

There were so many lights. I think they said over 4 million. Can you just imagine! They had different stations with different themes all along the park. It's a little strange though, especially when you're from New England to see people walking around in shorts and T-shirts with flowers all in bloom among the Christmas lights.

This photo was made by pointing my camera at a lot of various colored lights, setting a long exposure and zooming my lens during the exposure. My friends and I were all experimenting with this technique. We each did several shots like this and this is my favorite of them all.

Don't forget to leave a comment if you like it--even if you don't like it, I'd still like to hear from you. Also, it is best seen by clicking on the picture and viewing the larger version.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Season's Greetings

This is one shot you'll have to click on to make it bigger so you can see the beautiful Bougainvilla blossoms behind and above the arbor. It's hard to make a scene seem wintery with Palm trees and flowers in December. The lights have to do it all alone.

The tower behind this arbor in the park is the Renaissance Vinoy Hotel. This is one of the most beautiful 5 star hotels in our area. Some rooms go for $2500 per night; but most rooms cost $395 per night.

The Vinoy was built in 1925 and was where the rich and famous spent their winters. In 1973, it closed in very poor condition. In 1990, work began to re-open the hotel. The work would cost $90,000,000 before it was re-opened in 1992.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Window Display

St Petersburg has been running a window display contest from the 400 to the 800 block of Central Ave. I was so surprised when I found very few windows dressed for the holiday. Maybe the prize wasn't very good, but so many merchants didn't bother.

This is part of one of the nicer ones. I found this one at Shokolad Chocolatiers at 401 Central. I love how the "presents" were lit from the inside.

I have more from this photowalk with my friends and will add more as the holiday nears.

I had planned to go to one of our most beautiful boat parades tonight; but as luck would have it, I had to work late. The full moon always brings more babies. Since I've been working at the hospital, I've realized that this is no myth. This morning when I got into work, there were 16 babies waiting to be photographed. I got all but 7, so I didn't do too bad seeing as it takes between 40 minutes to an hour in each room--if the babies are sleeping. In all reality, it takes about 1 to 1 1/4 hrs. to do a good job. There will be more boat parades in different towns in the county, I'm going to try to attend one of them before the season is over.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reindeer Corral

In keeping with my Christmas theme about how Floridians celebrate Christmas, this is another section in Straub Park in downtown St Petersburg.

I call this the Reindeer Corral. As you can see, there is an archway of lights for viewing the "Reindeer" lined on the outside with candy cane lights. It's too bad this isn't video because the long streaked lights on the trees looked as if they were dripping off the trees. I've never seen these before and would love to have some for my tree.

Straub Park spans about 6 blocks along the waterfront, with a North and South part. Both parts are decorated with different sections representing a Christmas wonderland. At any time of the day or night one can see people walking around the park. The stores and hotels on the other side of Beach Drive are also decorated for the holidays.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

St Pete Christmas Tree

In Florida we have no snow, so we have to make it seem like Christmas with lots of lights.

Straub Park is on the waterfront in downtown St Petersburg. The entire park is decorated with lights and lighted scenes. This is the city Christmas Tree. If you look closely near the bottom, you'll see where we still have flowers in bloom.

Part of the celebration includes trucked in snow and ice. The kids will be able to play in the snow and skate on the ice. It's kind of strange to see them playing in the snow wearing shorts, T-shirts and flip flops. But at the same time, it's good to see the kids enjoying the snow--something they've never seen except in photos and on calendars. This all takes place December 10th.

In the evening, it'll all be topped off with the decorated boat parade. It's a fun time for all to enjoy.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stairway to ?

While strolling along 8th Ave in St Pete Beach, I found this interesting stairway. It didn't appear to be leading anywhere and it made me curious. If I hadn't been alone, I'd have ventured up the stairs, but I didn't feel very safe; actually, I was beginning to feel uneasy.

Still, I was really curious. I was with a group of photographers, but they were up the street doing their thing. I ventured down to the end of the street looking for something different to photograph; that made me feel a little skittish once I realized everyone wasn't right there with me. I was all alone, after dark, with way too much photo equipment. Talk about feeling vulnerable!

If there were stars or the moon visible in the sky, I'd really be wondering where that stairway was heading to. But you can see all I could see; nothing but a black sky.

I'm still curious, and now since my fellow photographers have seen this image, they're curious, too. Hmmm.... Should I go back there with someone?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Snell Arcade Building at Blue Hour

The very ornate Snell Arcade Building is on the National Register of Historic Places and it's downtown St Petersburg, Florida.

It was built during the Gilded Age in 1926 by C. Perry Snell. The passage way, or the arcade as it was called is still there, but doesn't look at all like it did "back in the day". It still has some of the mosaics in place, but the 7 statues of Venus are all gone. Mr. Snell removed them when he sold the building, but the very impressive mosaic tile imported from Europe that depicted a Baroque Venetian church is still there. The name of the mosaic is Baldassare Longhena’s Santa Maria della Salute. It was uncovered during the 1983 renovation and couldn't be moved. The arcade was and still is a passage way between Central Ave and 1st St North where the old Open Air Post Office (which is still being used) stands.

If you'd like to know more about this beautiful building, a Google or Bing search on "Snell Arcade Building" will bring up all kinds of information.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gate on 8th Ave, St Pete Beach

During our stroll on St Pete Beach (Passe-A-Grille) last week, I came across this rather ornate gate. It reminded me of the gates I used to see everywhere as a child.

I wonder why all that fancy grillwork in wrought iron is no longer done. It seems everything, although beautiful, looses the craft work of yesterday. No one does this anymore. It's a shame to see this work disappear.