Our photography club recently did a group trip to the South Florida Museum, also home to Bishop Planetarium and Parker Manatee Aquarium. Located in downtown Bradenton, just off the Manatee River, it is Florida Gulf Coast’s largest natural and cultural history museum. Once in the museum, you are greeted by a large Mastodon. I am ashamed to say this was the first time visiting the attraction, but it won’t be my last. I enjoyed both history and science lessons of both land and sea. The aquarium also has a 67 year old resident manatee named Snooty, who is the local mascot. We got a wonderful opportunity to capture shots of some rare and beautiful shells set up in a light box. This was my first time using a light box. I believe, the best I can tell, that it is in the Whelk family (feel free to correct me). I like the simple lines that were kept even as it washed around in the ocean for so long, still keeping it’s form. I tried doing a little HDR to help bring out the clean lines.
Many things can happen when the breeze kicks up around here, depending on it’s intensity. One of the favorite things the daring do is to kite ski or kitesurfing here in the Tampa Bay area. This is considered an extreme sport, which has similarities to wakeboarding, waterskiiing, surfing or even paragliding. There are different variations of the sport done on snow or ice. Some of the skiers do jumps, race, acrobats, etc. They inflate their kites while they are still on the beach, then take off into the water. It is a thrill just to watch them as they pick up speed and glide on and sometimes even above the water. No matter the water temperature, if there is a wind there are kitesurfers to be found at the North rest area, near the Skyway Bridge. They are a regular part of the landscape on your drive from Sarasota to St. Petersburg. I always look for the brightly colored kites when I past near that area.
Living in the “sunshine” state of Florida, we don’t see the changes to our landscape like our northern friends do. The first sign of winter here in Sarasota is on our roads and highways with the change of license plates. We share our roads with our seasonal friends from the mid-west, northeast, Canadians and others, depending on their temperatures.
In southwest Florida, we have very mild temperatures and occasional cool spells, nothing too cold. Most of our plants stay green, so there are not many noticeable signs of the seasons change. One of the few trees that does loose their leaves is our Cypress trees and Oak trees. Below is a picture of my bare Cypress tree and the other is what we see just before spring begins.
One of my stops, while touring Ft. De Soto Park, was at the Fort. The Fort is located at the turn of the road where the Park faces the Gulf of Mexico. The beach has white powdery sand, a fishing pier, concessions, etc. If you didn’t know anything about the Fort, you would just enjoy your day at the beach and never be the wiser. I was gathering shots under the pier when I looked off to my left and saw the Lighthouse. After I came back home and did research, it was then that I realized that I had seen Egmont Key. Next time there, I will take the ferry to Egmont Key to get a closer look.
The first shot is taken from under the pier near the concession stand. The second shot it from the walkway between the beach and the Fort.
Unfortunately, I was not available to join the club to the latest photo outing to Ft. De Soto State Park. I am truly embarrassed to say, as a native Floridian, I have never visited the Park before. My original plan was to get up early and go shoot the sunrise from the Park. I set my alarm for 6:15 am (the same night as the time change). The alarm went off, I got up and looked out the window and it was still too cloudy to get a good sunrise. I went back to bed. I woke up a couple hours later and loaded up my camera and headed out to shoot for the day.
After a couple of planned stops, I arrived at Ft. De Soto State Park, which is located on the southwest corner of Mullet Key at the entrance to Tampa Bay. Who knew how big this Park is and how much history it has? It would take a whole lot of typing to tell you about this very diverse area. If you are interested in learning about the Park, visit http://fortdesoto.com/. I spent several hours there just going from one area to the other to gather shots. I pretty much covered the entire Park. The first place I stopped was at East Beach, a great vantage point for the Skyway Bridge. I was taking shots of the Bridge and some of the shore birds. I noticed that this gull-like bird flew in to join the rest of the birds on the beach. He looked similar, but can you tell the difference?
This photo is of a fountain that is known to be one of the most photographed fountains Sarasota has. As you can see, there are lights on this fountain that change colors from green to blue to red and I believe yellow. The dolphins look like they are frolicking in the fountain.
Again, it is located in Bayfront Park in downtown Sarasota. Both locals and tourist enjoy this beautiful park for a variety of reasons. Some come for exercise, fishing, boating, food and drink, music, a playground and more. Many bring their camera for the beautiful opportunities that the Park affords us.
Both of these shots are taken at Bayfront Park in downtown Sarasota. I would have liked to find a shot that had more personality, but these will have to work. I like the formation of the rocks in the first shot, almost creating a little tidal pool. The second one caught my attention because of the algae on the rocks. It was such a bright green color.
I thought I would use this opportunity to showcase some very amazing talent. This talented group is just one of many that shows off their talents each Sunday afternoon at Ken Thompson Park, near Mote Marine. Many of these skiers are award winners and have gone on to ski professionally at venues like Cypress Gardens, Sea World and others. Not shown here is are also wake boarders, which sometime perform here and have gone of to have professional careers as well. The skier and wake boarders also use the ramp to jump and do acrobatics on. The show is so entertaining to watch and this is just a small sampling. This was one of the last acts the day I attended. The first shot is of them getting set up and organized so that they don’t get all their lines crossed. The second is of them just coming off the dock, which shortly after this shot a couple couldn’t get up and dropped off. The last is the remaining skier who made the best of what was left of the group. If you are interesting in learning more about them or attending a show, visit their website at http://www.skiarees.com/. If you take photos, they appreciate your emailing them to them at email@example.com. This is free entertainment at a beautiful venue, donations are accepted.
Like my previous post, this photo was taken at Bird Key Park during our outing. If you are local to Sarasota you should take some time and visit the Park and take some photos. The walkway winds back under the picturesque Ringling Bridge. With our great mentors, we were learning to take photos with long exposure. Since I had already used that them (incorrectly), I decided to use Urban Scenery. This is a shot of our beautiful downtown Sarasota after sunset. If you look closely, you can also see the boat Marina Jack II floating along in front of the area.
Our photo club recently did an outing to Bird Key Park. We were all set to shoot shots of both the sunset and the full moon. The weather gods had different plans. We were not able to see either, so we went to Plan B, cityscapes and this theme, Painting with Light. We are so fortunate to have such great mentors in our group. They are always happy to try to assist you and share information. With this shot, Mindy Towns told us to set our ISO to 100, not typical for other night shots. We set our shutter to be open for 30 seconds to allow in as much light as possible. I was amazed that you can’t see her holding the chain with the light.