a second look, boats, fantasy images, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, learning, nothing's easy, old dogs new tricks, perseverance, photography, sunset, technology

Deja Vu…

Four years ago to the day, last Saturday to be precise, I went to my second photo walk with my ‘new’ (at the time) photo group. I saw the announcement of a photo walk to see the Dunedin Christmas Boat Parade and had to summon up all my courage to go join in with a bunch of people I didn’t know. Especially true since I was such a novice with my camera, which to me was a big deal investment, but I was barely functional with it. Lucky for me one of the group administrators set my camera up for me that day, thanks Kate. Our leader Jeff had snagged prime territory for great views of the boats as they made their way into the marina, and even provided chairs for us to sit on. A luxury I’m afraid I didn’t appreciate until 4 years later when we were faced with finding a place to shoot the scene on our own. Weighed down by equipment, and with two (really three) hours to kill before the boats would arrive, we decided to take advantage of the empty bleachers which would give us a great view of the boats arriving at the marina. Great view yes, but a challenge for photography with boats arriving and leaving and their lights overlapping, etc. The feature photo is from my iPhone as the sun was setting, and it was about 6 PM, time for the parade to begin. It took almost an hour before the boats began to arrive at the marina. A dramatic sunset filled the gap.

If we had brought chairs we may have been able to sit at the railing. On the other hand, the top row of the bleachers was a pretty good perspective over all.
The sunrise itself got a lot more dramatic than it first appeared that it would be.
The reflections were amazing…
There was a dolphin sighting…
I didn’t see a bear in the Smokies, but I saw a bear on a boat.
Boats were coming and going…
And going and coming…
Frosty was there…
A simple display created quite the reflection.
The boats came into the marina to make their turn…
Rudolph lit the way…
Some boats carried lots of people, some not so many…
Do I know what this boat was all about? No. But I included this picture because of the little girl…
And finally Santa arrived, escorted by the Pinellas sheriff department.

Even though I had advice about what settings to use for this shoot I will need more practice before I’ll be really happy with shots like these. But I was happy with the day itself. Winter in Florida can’t be beat.

adventure, Amazing artwork, attention to detail, bucket list, exploring new places, fantasy images, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, Just do it, making memories, perseverance, photography, special effects, technology

The Immersive Van Gogh Experience…

I missed the opportunity to see this exhibit in Tampa, so when I saw that it was coming to Orlando I wasted no time snagging two tickets. This was months ago, and it turned out to be conveniently timed to be a birthday present for my friend. Upon arrival we were delighted to find easy parking close to the doors of the venue, and then we walked over a mile (round trip) to the actual location within the convention center. When we finally arrived I was disappointed to find ourselves standing in the room, with people between us and the displays on all four walls surrounding us. But, as you can see, in looking at my pictures it was the ones that included those people that I liked the most, to show the experience rather than trying to do justice to the artwork itself. In the feature photo you see the people sitting on a bench, enjoying the view. We eventually took over that bench, and I wonder if we are now front and center in other people’s photos. Thank goodness for the iPhone, 11 pro max, which I knew would handle the low light situation perfectly. What a fun experience.

Just as each scene came into full color the images would begin to dissolve into another beautiful scene.
You could look in any direction and be amazed at what you were seeing.
Phones were the preferred cameras of the day.
The scenes wrapped around the corners of the room. As the scenes changed I found myself a bit dizzy as the floor seemed to be moving. It was good to sit on the bench.
Of course, when I could I tried to fill my shot with the beautiful paintings.
Beautiful blossoms.
More endless hallways.
A little cottage, my dream house.
You can even see the brushstrokes in some of these images.
The final images.
'scene' along the way, a second look, adventure, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, Just do it, making memories, nature, perseverance, photography, weather

Up a lazy river…

Or maybe it was down a lazy river, but whichever way we were going there were lovely reflections, much to the delight of the assembled photographers at Hillsborough River State Park yesterday. It was all about the clear skies, cool temperatures, and light and shadows on the river. And surely all about the fun of gathering together for the first time in a long while. This is an example of a picture is worth 1,000 words.

Gnarly cypress knees were in the spotlight.
These are the rapids. Seriously, they are!
Okay, a wider view.
Such clear water.
There were lovely views up and down the river.
But the reflections especially were stunning.
Fall in Florida.
There was a rare sighting of our fearless leader Jeff, also.
Natural wonders.
This suspension bridge was built in 1934. It sways, but it’s holding it’s own.
We heard about an alligator up ahead, and he was there but facing away from us so I skipped talking a picture.
The last bridge of this modest walk of ours.

A very nice walk was followed by an equally nice lunch. What a fun way to spend a cool Florida morning…

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Sanding Ovations…

I have always wanted to see the sand sculpture event at the beach, but something always prevented me from heading to Treasure Island. And it was not on my mind at 2 AM on Friday when I walked out the front door to look for the lunar eclipse and got rained on. I hadn’t seen a notice that the sand sculptures were even happening, but, lucky for me, my friend did, and off we went. You can see from the pictures that it was a perfect day, hot in the sun but with a wonderful breeze to cool you off and keep the kites aloft. Traffic was surprisingly light driving there, and I was delighted that I had easy access to the sculptures without people in the way. I neglected to notice all the commotion in the background of my pictures while I was taking them. And with the tools in Lightroom and Photoshop I could have knocked my head against the wall trying to remove them, or I could not worry about it and assure myself that I’m presenting an accurate picture of the event. But I’m sure there are lots more people and distractions going on today and tomorrow as the event reaches full swing.

You can see that this is a work in progress. I have no idea when the judging will take place, but I was blissfully unaware of the unfinished aspects of some of the sculptures while I took pictures. They will be on display through the holidays, barring weather related damage. This one is Neptune’s Organ.
Lest you worry about my hydration during this event you’ll be happy to know that we drank Liquid Death while we walked around. At one point I was holding two cans of this when a gentleman asked me how my drink was, and was disappointed to realize it was water. Not even fizzy water. Many people probably shook their heads over this old two-fisted drinker.
This ” tort-a-potty” was one of the first stops of the day.
I didn’t catch the name of this one, something about a mermaid trapped in the kelp.
The DJ was playing some really fun music as we walked around, and he announced that someone had just told him that since he was located beside a sculpture named ‘whale wash’ then he ought to play Car Wash, and he did!
This one was Pilotfish. Those portholes were actually openings to the other side, with different faces looking out on that side.
The hiney on this one caught my eye so I took this picture. As the day went on there were plenty of bikini clad gals walking around showing almost as much hiney as this.
I made it a point to take another photo of that last sculpture and totally missed seeing that he was kissing that scuba guy kite who hovered over us all day.
This is the pregnant mermaid. I love that the little toy rocking horse is actually a sea horse.
Biting the arm that feeds you.
A mighty battle…
The flip side of the battle sculpture was this fresh fish sign.
When you don’t pay attention to the activity in the background you might wind up with a picture you could title “Off With His Head”.
This castle sculpture was placed at the far end of all the sculptures, and was the biggest and most elaborate. I was happy that I could crop the photo and only have a couple of people in it. For scale, LOL, but not really.
This might have been the more interesting view of that castle sculpture, if not for the tools of the trade all on display. I’m surprised that they didn’t show when I took the picture from the other side.

You can certainly tell which photos were taken with the sun behind the sculptures and which had the sun on their faces. As usual I was happy to be out talking pictures in such a fun environment, it’s only when I look at the pictures later that the details of backgrounds and shadows really hit me over the head. But there was so much going on, rows and rows of vendors and a great selection of really good food to choose to eat, that I just happily clicked away. It might be worth another trip next Friday…

'scene' along the way, boats, coping, exploring new places, facing facts, friends, fun, Just do it, learning, live and learn, perseverance, photography, sunset, technology

This is a test…

With the change to daylight savings time comes an extra added bonus to me. Our Tuesday night photography meet-up, which is more social than anything, convenes for dinner at 6 PM. At this moment sunset here is at 5:37PM, making it possible to stop for a quick photo op on the way to Clearwater. Weaver Park seemed like the perfect spot to stop. Nice scenery and a hop, skip, and a jump to our destination. So the stop and the sunset were perfect, so far so good. And let me assure you that I had nothing whatsoever to do with the predicament of the boat in the feature photo. In case you wondered. How it got hung up on the rocks remains a mystery at the moment.

It seems this egret wondered about the boat also.
Signage at the pier says no fishing, but not everyone got the message. I loved seeing that moon overhead.
It was quite chilly and windy, so by the time I took this photo I was anxious to get to the car and be on our way to visiting with friends and having dinner.
Not that I rushed away.
One last image before we left.

As far as the test goes it was an abject failure. I was able to edit the photos on the iPad in Lightroom mobile, and save them to a thumb drive. That was fine. But once I was in WordPress and trying to add the pictures from the thumb drive was when the iPad couldn’t seem to ‘see’ the thumb drive. It seems that the smarter all these devices get the dumber I seem to get. It’s pretty darned annoying…

I resorted to using the computer this time, but I’m still in hopes of using the iPad as my computer while I travel. Or I could just stay home, but what’s the fun in that?

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Crystal Beach…

I’m afraid that the feature photo gives this whole post away. You’ve already seen just how pretty the sunset got. But I’m ahead of myself. When I arrived at Crystal Beach ahead of my friend I was happy to see a somewhat promising scene for our sunset shoot.

A potentially decent sunset in the making, I thought.
As I watched the clouds seemed to be moving, creating a bit of drama up there.
I kept taking pictures, becoming more excited as the sky continued to develop.

But as much as the sunset was the goal, the real excitement was that my friend, Maryann, was bringing the drone(s) she had been flying for the last few months. DroneS, because apparently you can’t have just one, or so she tells me. I’ve been amazed from the first time I’d seen drone photos, wondering how the heck you point them at what you want them to ‘see’ and then hold them steady enough to take a decent photo. Just handholding a camera can be a challenge at times. And then she arrived, and I became torn between getting shots of the sky as it got prettier, and then resetting the camera to shoot the drone itself, which turned out not to be a challenge at all because it just rose up in the sky and stayed put. Went up straight, no guesswork there, so avoiding trees and power lines isn’t really an issue. Then she showed me her phone screen, which showed the drone view, and she could take pictures at will. The controller looked like a video game controller, so that took care of aiming her. And before you take the drone up you ‘pin’ the spot where she started so that when you call her she comes ‘home’.

The drone view.
Hovering completely still, but sometimes up over 100 feet and it wasn’t so easy to see her.
Maryann had drawn a crowd and she was explaining things to them more than she was to me. I was eavesdropping as I dashed around getting photos with the camera and the iPhone.
It was hard to turn away from the sunset to pay attention to what the drone was doing.
This, I thought when I took it, would be my ultimate picture of the night.

We were about ready to call it a day when I happened to glance over and saw that behind some trees another whole cloud bank was ablaze with color. I had to go back out onto the pier to get that feature photo. It was quite the finale of the evening. And what I failed to explain is that I drive past the turn off for this beach every time I go to Clearwater for a class, and many times for the photo shoots also. But I had never noticed the sign for Crystal Beach, just another one of those details that seem to escape me as I go about my days.

PS. Maryann was happy to point out that no rules of flying drones were broken in the making of this blog post!

PSS: You can check out Maryann’s stuff at MaryannMiller.com. Also look for her at

http://www.marymiller.zenfolio.com