A new innovative style of apartment living was launched this evening as Urban Style Flats of St. Petersburg had its grand opening. Besides being an affordable rental option for people wanting to live near downtown St. Petersburg and directly across from Tropicana Field, it will be home to visiting MLB teams playing the Rays. St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster was on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony helping a young girl with the traditional giant scissors used at such events, which despite their enormous size have poor cutting ability.
Due to the long history of the newly renovated building, there were many people in attendance who had great past and present involvement in creating that community history. I spoke with one woman who's grandfather had lived in the building and she showed me the exact unit on a large photograph placard. I find when I attend such events, people tell me their stories. I do not know if it is because I am holding a large camera, or I have some other intangible trait that draws out such stories, but I am always interested to hear them. I like to learn about the history of places via people's own personal tales.
For a Rays season ticket holder wanting an urban lifestyle, I can see these apartments being an absolutely perfect place to call home. You could walk door to stadium seat in minutes.
Jason Collin Photography for Events
When photographing a wedding on a beach, such as this one at Tradewinds St. Pete Beach, there are many factor's out of the photographer's control. First and foremost of course is the sun, and how bright or not bright it is that afternoon, as well as the number of beach-goers wondering around in the background. So it is not too often that everything comes together as perfectly as can be reasonably expected as it did for Jennifer and John's beach wedding, i.e. brilliant but manageable sunlight and a near empty beach.
The Tradewinds Resort is also a good beach wedding location because of its nearby sea grass-covered sand dune, which is my preferred background for the after-ceremony formal portraits, as at that time the sun is usually still too powerfully backlighting the water.
Jennifer and John had a very above average number of guests for a beach wedding, which made the big group shot a particular challenge. I am actually not entirely satisfied with how this shot come out. There was no point in using my two strobes as they could not light such a long line of people, so I had to rely on the sun to help me out. People's instinct in group shots is to curl themselves into a semi-circle. My want was for a very straight, if not slightly convex line to be formed. This would allow sunlight to evenly light all the people. Despite several minutes of asking everyone to keep backing up and trying to put them in place, I apparently was not strong enough in my prodding as the people on the right side of the shot are still too much in cross-shadow. I tried! That would be the Don Cesar Resort in the far background.
After the big group shot and the many wedding party shots, at last it was just Jennifer, John and I along with the sun and Gulf of Mexico. There were not gale force winds that evening, the veil is being held by a bridesmaid (photo secret).
The blues were very vidid that sunset, and there were just enough clouds to make the sky interesting. To me, I think a kissing portrait looks best when the couple is not actually quite kissing. An actual kiss squishes faces in an unflattering way. That's why I ask couples to keep their lips slightly apart or only just touching. Jennifer and John did a great job with their almost-kissing form.
Jennifer really like the lacy bamboo canopy setup for their wedding ceremony, requesting a shot of her alongside what I hope is an artificial (or previously long-lived) starfish. This was a bit tricky to light as she was in shadow under the canopy and the sunset was dancing on her shoulder. This is where experience counts as I was able to properly position my two strobes (one on a light stand the other a tripod) in time as the sunset is on its own timetable.
I had already packed up nearly all of my photo gear. Jennifer and John were strolling back toward the Tradewinds. Then I noticed the fantastical violet and reds of the twilight sky that had formed after the sunset. My arranged photography time was finished and fulfilled. I had no more official photography duties. However, I knew as a photographer I could not pass up such a background and beckoned for J & J to come back pointing at the sky. I quickly got my gear back out and setup before the sky had time to change its mind, and was able to produce the above shot, and got the moon overhead as well. See that empty beach? Such a shame to have such few witnesses to a wonderful Florida evening.
This collection of five photographs are my personal favorites that I made in 2010, all from a different category. All the images were made in the St. Petersburg and Pinellas County areas. All were taken with a Nikon D300 DSLR.
5 - Purple Fiery Florida Sunset Sky - category: Fine Art
This HDR shot was taken on Sunset Beach, Treasure Island, Florida while teaching a DSLR photography lesson to a student. It is amazing how little I have gone out by myself to photograph the dramatic sunset and twilight skies that are the highlights of fine art photography for Florida. If not for teaching a photography lesson that evening, I would never have made this shot, so I am very glad I did. Why I chose this shot in particular is for the mix of colors ranging from purple to yellow tints, to the pink reflecting off the clouds in the left-center. There appears to be a kind of vortex opening and my imagination always believes something fantastic just might pass through to our world. Read more philosophy behind this shot.
4 - Sandy-faced Kiki at Honeymoon Island State Park - category: Pet
It was easy choosing this photograph of my own beloved puppy, Kiki. For me it is two things about this photograph, first, her sandy snout. Second, and most of all, it is the super creamy bokeh created by the awesome Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens. It was a really hot August day at the dog beach part of Honeymoon Island State Park. The light was extremely harsh. Not the conditions one thinks a well exposed image can be made in. Thanks to the Nikkor lens and thanks to Kiki having black fur, the harsh summer light served to show detail in her fur not normally seen in photos. I have an 8x10 mounted print of this image on the nightstand by my bed. It is the last thing I look at before I go to sleep every night. Read more about that day at the beach.
3 - Mother & Daughter bond on Sunset Beach - category: Portrait
I cannot take complete credit for this portrait. Placing their heads together was the mother's idea. I take many portrait photographs over the course of a year, so this was perhaps the toughest category to choose a single favorite. It might be odd to choose as a favorite portrait an image where you cannot even see the subjects faces, but to me, that is one of the reasons why I chose it as my favorite. The viewer has to use her/his imagination, not just for wondering what their faces look like, but also for what they might be thinking and feeling at that moment. I hope it is something this mother and daughter continue to wonder twenty years from now.
2 - Smiling Bride with Veil on Pass-A-Grille Beach - category: Wedding
This was an easy choice, and I knew it would be my favorite wedding shot of the year the second after I took it. As soon as I saw Rosa in her veil, I got excited because I knew, finally, I would have a chance to make bride/veil shots, which are some of the most beautiful a wedding photographer can produce. Again, I was greatly helped by both Rosa and her big smile, as well as Mother Nature for being able to make this shot on Pass-A-Grille beach at the very tip of St. Petersburg. View the Bride Series images of Rosa.
1 - Grandmother's Kiss - category: Black & White
As soon as I applied the sepia landscape filter to this image in Silver Efex Pro, it became perhaps my favorite black & white image I ever made. This was not shot in a studio, but right on Sunset Beach, the scene of many other photography sessions this year. I still consider this a candid image, my signature type of shot, even though the grandmother was aware I had set my light stand next to her and had taken a position some paces away with my camera. Her granddaughter I believe had no idea of my presence. The contrast between the granddaughter facing the lens, but eyes to frame left, and the grandmother in profile lips just slightly pressed against her granddaughter's cheek, are what make this shot my favorite of 2010, in addition to the magic Silver Efex Pro does for black & white image conversion. Read more about the inspiration for this photograph.