Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Pier

The Pier, St Petersburg, FL

The Pier, located 1/4 mile out on the waterfront in St Petersburg, FL is an iconic symbol of our beautiful city. This beautiful building is 40 years old and is unfortunately falling apart. It once housed 3 restaurants, several shops and a food court on the first floor, an aquarium on the second floor, offices on the 4th floor and an observation deck with restaurant and live music on the 5th floor.

There were fishing docks on the back, mini golf, boats, ski doos, bicycles and paddleboats rentals on the left side, with a bait house where the Pelicans could be fed for $1 a fish. Free trollies brought people who didn't want to or were unable to walk the quarter mile walk to the end of the pier to visit this building. Tourists flocked here. It was a great place to spend an afternoon or evening. While all good things must come to an end, The Pier is now closed and has been closed since May 31, 2013.

Originally, the city was going to demolish it and replace it with another building. There were 3 designs presented and a design called The Lens was chosen. The people of St Petersburg were outraged and wanted nothing to do with The Lens. They didn't like the design and the proposed usage. A referendum was held and the City stopped its plans while the citizens gathered the required number of signatures to squash the plan. Once again, the city is looking at new plans for our beloved Pier. This time, there are 8 designs to choose from. We'll have to see what wins out.

This was not the only pier for the City of St Petersburg. The first pier was constructed in 1889 and  was called The Railroad Pier. It was a sight-seeing and recreational resort for locals and tourists. It was built around the Orange Belt Railway, and was railway accessible. In 1906, it was replaced by The Electric Pier and extended 3,000 ft into Tampa Bay. This pier was replaced by the Municipal Pier in 1914. The Municipal Pier was destroyed by a hurricane in 1921. The city then paid $1,000,000 for a new pier. The new one, called the Million Dollar Pier and dedicated in 1926. It was demolished in 1967 and the site remained vacant until 1973 when the current pier was built.

So, now we wait for a new pier to be built. I feel now is a good time to photograph and document our pier before it is gone.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Dali

The Dali Museum

The building was designed by architect, Yann Weymouth. The free-form geometrical glass bubble is made up of 1062 pieces of glass and is 75ft tall at its highest point. This image shows only a small part of it. The bubble is named, enigma.The galleries house a collection of works by Salvidor Dali, dating from 1904 until 1989.

You can see another shot of the enigma in a previous post. I will be posting more photos of this innovative building as time goes by.

This building was shot in the late afternoon, using my Canon 6D, with my Tamron 28-300mm lens. Settings used were f3.5 at 1/2500th in Aperture Priority mode and +1/3 eV, ISO 320, at 35mm. I used the pattern metering mode to ensure a good exposure since I was shooting from dark shadows into the light.
free-form geodesic glass bubble known as the “enigma”. The “enigma”, which is made up of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass, stands 75 feet at its tallest point, - See more at:
Yann Weymouth of HOK
Yann Weymouth of HOK

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

White Ibis

White Ibis

I have to admit, I've been a bit lazy the last few days. I haven't been out shooting for whatever reason; tired, lazy, unmotivated, call it whatever you will. I just haven't been out!

This image of the White Ibis was shot last month at Sawgrass Lake Park. I don't know why I never noticed how much I liked his reflection in the water. I'm still not sure I like that feather and its reflection between them in the background, but at the last minute decided to leave it in.

I captured this image with my Canon 6D, 28-300mm Tamron lens (my favorite walk-around lens), handheld at f13 and 1/40th, racked all the way out to 300mm, ISO 1250 in Aperture Priority mode at -1EV, and Center-weighted average metering, in the late afternoon. I can't believe the VC (vibration compensation) on this lens allowed me to shoot this hand-held at 1/40th and 300mm. This lens is just amazing. It's light, easy to carry around my neck on my 6D all day. I just love this combo.

Tell me what you all think of that feather. Is it too distracting?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Comfort Station One

Comfort Station One

Comfort Station One, or Little St Mary's Comfort Station was built in 1929. The architect, Henry S Taylor, built many of St Petersburg's buildings around that time including St Mary's Catholic Church. The octogon building is Romanesque Revival Style and is built with multi-colored bricks. It was designated in 1985 on the National Register of Historic Places, which is unusual for a comfort station.

A story that has been floating around for many years is that this comfort station is an exact replica of St Mary's Church, which is about a mile away because the church didn't pay the architect all the money owed to him. However, the architect denied the story. He said although the church paid him off late due to tight money in those days, they did pay him all the money owed to him.

It is also rumored that this comfort station is haunted by a female ghost, named Agnes. There have been many people who have claimed to have seen her and speak with her. There have also been reports of a cold chill even on the hottest days and misty figures on the mirrors.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


The Goldenrod (Solidago fistulosa) is in the Aster family. There are about 120 species of Goldenrod. They grow to about 40 inches or nearly 4ft tall. Some species branch out, others are like this one growing up singular. Goldenrod is also blamed for causing allergies in humans, similar to ragweed. However, the pollen is heavy and does not blow into the air. It has to be pollinated by bees or butterflies. So, in order for humans to get an allergic reaction, they must touch them in some way, maybe brush against them with their clothes.

In North America, Goldenrod is seen as a weed, but it is prized as a garden plant in Europe.
Goldenrod blooms from June through November and can be found in Florida in dry pinelands, flatwoods, ditches and roadsides.

Monday, December 15, 2014

White Peacock Butterfly

White Peacock Butterfly

One of my favorite butterflies, and the first butterfly photo I took after moving to Florida, is the White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae) Butterfly. I love the iridescent color of his wings. They remind me of my favorite stone and my birthstone, the opal.

Their food plants are Water Hyssop and Ruellia and inhabit moist or swampy areas. They can be found throughout South Florida and South Texas as well as the American tropics. They have been known to stray North to Kansas and Massachusetts, but that is a rarity, because they are not really strong fliers and not very hardy.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Low Tide

Low Tide

This is one of those images I couldn't make up my mind if I liked the colored version or the black and white. The black and white won out because I think I like the drama created from the monotone and high contrast. I wanted to emphasize the light and shadows caused from the early morning light.

This image was captured last January at the South Rest Stop under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The people out in the distance were crabbing, I think. Florida doesn't really have many rocks. The "rocks" in the foreground are recycled from torn up highways, etc.

One thing I liked about the color version is it showed the green algae on the rocks, however, since it was very cloudy, with the sunlight only peeking through, the color was pretty muted. I may or may not post the color version at a later date.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014



This shot was made nearly a year ago with my Canon 40D and Canon 75-300mm lens. One advantage of using an APS-C camera is the extra reach obtained by the 1.6X crop factor. So, at 300mm, this lens was reaching out at a whopping 480mm! Plenty long enough to get a great shot of this kiteboarder without having to go out waist deep in the cold water.

I also like the fact that this guy was either unaware of my camera, or didn't care. Most of the guys would ham it up when they spotted the camera onshore.

When I first started out in photography, I covered sports for the college newspaper. Later on, I continued to shoot sports for a few years until I turned my attention on bands, both local and some professional bands, then models/fashion and finally nature. I've been shooting nature since about 2005. I think I've finally found my niche, at least I hope so.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lake Maggiore Island II

Lake Maggiore Island

When I'm out on a photo-hike, I like to make different versions of the same scene. I posted the other scene a few days ago. The first one was shot on the way in to the path, and this one was shot on the way out. Neither was made very far from one another.

It was maybe an hour and a half later, and the sun was lower in the sky. This version is somewhat warmer than the other as well due to the location of the sun. I also used a different focal length bringing the city of St Petersburg closer to show more detail in the city.

In addition, I had planned on going black and white with this one, but the tones were too similar, and even with adding more contrast after trying different colored filters, I decided to stick with color.

What a difference focal length and the time of day makes.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Raccoon Modeling Debut


Just before I started walking down the boardwalk, I spotted a family of raccoons, but I was unable to get a shot because I wasn't quick enough when I spotted them. Shame on me!

A few minutes later, I got a feeling there was something or someone behind me and sure enough, I spotted this guy following me. He was staying about 20 feet from me.  I snapped a quick shot, because I didn't want to alarm him and kept walking. The funny thing, when I quickened my step, he did too. I slowed and he slowed and when I stopped, he stopped. I had encountered a stalker!

This went on for a few minutes and I was getting a bit nervous since I was all alone and had no idea what he was up to. Finally, the urge to take a shot just got too much for me to handle. I turned around, crouched as much as I dared so I could get up quickly if I had to and took this shot. Once I did that, he gave me one last look, turned, and jumped off the boardwalk and went off into the woods. What a relief! He only wanted to pose for a picture.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Lake Maggiore Island Trail

Lake Maggiore Island Trail, Boyd Hill Nature Center

This shot was taken yesterday on the Lake Maggiore Island Trail at the Boyd Hill Nature Center in St. Petersburg, FL. In the distance, you can see the City of St Petersburg. You'll have to click on the photo to make it bigger if you want to make out the details. In the early 2000's I painted this very scene, and there were only a few buildings that could be seen from this spot. I can't believe how many new buildings there are. Pretty soon, St. Petersburg will look like every other city along the coast. The reason I was attracted to this city in the first place is because it didn't look like a city. It wasn't all built up. I guess I'm just not very good with change and progress.

When I composed this photo, I put the city in several places in the frame looking for a pleasing composition. Normally, in most photos, the rule of thirds applies. The rule of thirds says to divide the frame into thirds, similar to a tic-tac-toe form. Where all the lines intersect is the most pleasing place to put what is most important. Sometimes rules are made to be broken, providing you know the rules in the first place.

In this case, the city was not the subject, but rather the view in the late afternoon golden light. I purposely shot at a wide angle, which minimized the city, emphasizing the water, clouds and greenery. What do you all think of my decision? Your comments on this are greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

My favorite nature park used to be Boyd Hill Nature Park in St Petersburg, FL. I haven't been there in 14 years. I had moved further away, and I guess I just forgot about it. Now that I've moved closer again to the park, I decided to give it another visit late this afternoon.

This is one of my favorite shots from today's shoot. This guy is a Red-Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus). They are plentiful in this area, but not nearly as plentiful as Ospreys. Ospreys are everywhere. Red-shouldered Hawks are medium sized hawks. They are called Red-shouldered because of that reddish patch on their shoulders.

These hawks eat mice, frogs and snakes, so can be seen in woods with tall timbers and water. They hunt both from the air and from high perches. They can be found in the Southeast year round.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

White Ibis and the Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret and White Ibis

It is well known that birds use all sorts of methods to hide their reflections from the fish or crustaceans they're hunting, but this one is a new one on me. I suppose if I were a fish or crustacean, I would be confused by this reflection.

I'm not quite sure what is going on, but White Ibis normally probe for insects. Are there underwater insects? Maybe he's just company for the Snowy Egret? Snowy Egrets spear fish and small aquatic animals for their food. Maybe they're chumming around together to help one another find food?

It seems I have a lot of questions when I look at this photo. What do you all think?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Great Blue Heron Up Close

Great Blue Heron
The other day during my trek to Spa Beach, I spotted this Great Blue Heron perching on a wall near a fisherman, just waiting to grab his fish.

These guys are the best at stealing a catch. The poor fishermen do all the work, while the Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets and Pelicans hang around just waiting for them to reel in their catch. As soon as the fish is above water, the bird swoops down and steals it.

Herons, Egrets and Pelicans in this area are so used to people they have lost all their fear of humans. It is not unusual to see 4 or 5 birds within 2 feet of fishermen. The fishermen try to chase them away, but all they do is move another 2 feet or to the other side of them and it all starts over again.

It's pretty comical to watch; that is, if you're not a fisherman. They don't enjoy these birds at all.