Entries in Gulfport (5)
Long ago when I was a USF (Tampa campus) student I came to meet someone who lived in Gulfport. I remember going to visit her from the North Tampa area seemed like a tremendous journey to a different land. For the life of me I would not be able to remember her neighborhood now, but every now and then when I still, infrequently, visit Gulfport small flashes of those past days leave a trace image in my mind. I can say for sure though that I had never been to Bo-Tiki before last week as the unique shop makes a strong impression on visitors.
The ladies working inside Bo-Tiki were very friendly and quick to laugh. I asked the owner, Maddy (on right), to hold up her current favorite item in her boutique to help her feel more at ease about her portrait being taken. I think it worked. Whenever possible I like to get clients to hold one of their products for a commercial photography type portrait.
I think I will return to Bo-Tiki later this year as a customer looking for a Christmas present for my mom. I might pick up one of those old-time Gulfport signs for myself as well!
During a DSLR photography lesson yesterday morning the student remarked that she liked St. Petersburg so much because of its old and historic buildings. Coincidentally, I was assigned that afternoon to go photograph the Peninsula Inn & Spa in the Gulfport area of St. Pete. The inn is described as having British Colonial decor with a flare of exotic Bali, which can be seen in the above image of the Governor's Room. I certainly expected to see someone like Hemingway huddled in a corner scribbling away while taking bites of some long ago ordered sandwich.
The staff was very friendly and excited to talk about the history of the inn. The Six Tables room (three of which can be seen above) offers an exclusive dining experience with some of the highest rated food in the area I was told. Again, this room had a certain mysterious feeling to it, definitely not the kind of atmosphere one finds in any chain restaurant! I imagine eating in here would feel like eating in a museum or some Duke's castle in the English countryside.
The wide veranda surrounding the inn offers another dining experience more reminiscent of Bali (and my experiences in SE Asia) with its tropical foliage at arm's reach from the tables. It is just too bad that smoking is allowed on the veranda.
I used a combination of HDR shots and long exposures to photograph the various rooms of the inn. For the bar photograph above I used HDR since there was pretty good ambient light. For the dimly lit rooms like the Six Tables, the exposure on the long end of the bracket for an HDR shot would not be practical so I just used a single long exposure instead.
The architectural character and personable and knowledgeable staff I imagine would make for a great stay at the inn for people visiting from out of state or even out of town.
When you are out walking around with your camera in hand, both you and your camera should always be ready to shoot. I like to have a distinct mindset of either I am out to make photographs or I am not. If I am not, that usually means I am really not and have left my camera at home, like I did last Sunday when it was just Kiki and I quietly walking the paths of Sawgrass Lake Park. However, when I do have my camera with me, the lens cap comes off as soon as I step out of my car and only goes back on once I am back in the car. I never turn my Nikon D300 off while it is out of its bag. DSLR cameras use virtually no battery while in standby mode, so there is no reason to turn a DSLR off until it is back in its bag.
I teach DSLR photography lessons. Often when out on a first lesson with a student as we are walking to a different spot to practice something new, the student will not only have their camera off, but the lens cap on! I will point out something interesting passing by and say I would shoot that. However, the student will have no chance because her/his camera is not ready. I use such a situation to show students that one should never miss chances for photographs while one's camera is out. So I recommend that you always keep the camera on, the lens cap off, and your finger on the shutter.
You never know what might happen or who will pass by. Someone told me that Cameron Diaz was wondering around St. Petersburg recently. Imagine seeing her pass by but your camera is not ready! Or, you, yourself are not ready to take a shot because even though you have kept your camera on, you have switched your mindset away from photography.
I was photographing something entirely different when I noticed the ska dude above streaking across the street. He is not exactly Cameron Diaz, but if it had been her, I would have gotten the shot!
My friend and colleague Pedro contacted me on Friday asking if I could help him out with a sudden wedding he got himself for Saturday. I already had my own wedding Saturday evening, but as luck would have it Robin and Ryan's ceremony started and finished just in time for me to be able to still comfortably make it to my wedding. Also, I had already asked Pedro to help me out with a wedding in September for a couple that requested a second shooter for their ceremony. So it all worked out very neatly.
Being the second shooter at a wedding, as long as the main photographer is cool, is one of the cushiest gigs one can get in professional photography. Pedro is cool, hence I felt cushy and free to really look for peripheral and closeup shots as he was capably handling the main action. The above shot was made in the middle of a large group shot. Using my Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens I was able to get in close to highlight the bride's ring and bouquet, without interfering in Pedro's wide shot of the group.
When working as a second shooter at a wedding, your main job is to stay out of the shots of the primary photographer. As Robin and Ryan walked down the aisle as newly anointed husband and wife, Pedro was of course in front of the couple. I was around back making sure that I could not see Pedro in my frame, meaning I would likewise not show up in his. I used the groom to shield me from view.
I also love working with my Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens, which I pretty much exclusively did as I was only photographing during the ceremony and Pedro was covering the close up shots. The proud father of the bride seen above was again part of a large group shot. The 80-200mm allowed me from a distance to get up close and isolate him in a shot without anyone knowing he was actually being flanked by several family members. Why not crop in even closer? I really like to use negative space, and I have a style with a propensity for landscape orientation portraits.
Also, when Pedro said the wedding was at the Gulfport Casino, naturally I envisioned some Las Vegas style setting, but in reality it was just a large, historical looking ballroom.
Thanks Pedro, looking forward to reversing roles and working with you in September.
I recently put on Facebook this statement that popped into my mind, "Only things that are old have any value." One person commented, a 40+ year old guy, "tell that to my wife." I meant it to be a serious statement though on the extremely disposable and commodified nature of all items, goods and personalities being created in 2010. In 40 years will anyone admire a 2010 Toyota Camry the way they would a 40-year old Shelby Cobra today?
How is this for you? iTunes DJ has just selected a classic song from the Amelie soundtrack to play. The most modern form of playing music choosing a classic tune from before computers even existed while I write about the past on a wireless keyboard in front of two digital screens. Perhaps this is the way of the future . . . using modern technology to help preserve the value of the past.
And by no means do I believe technology is advanced at all right now. Computers and the Internet are still very much in their infancy. How rough is it to use a computer still? Not even my Mac "just works."
While browsing the tables of Antiques in the Park in Gulfport I came across the very green glass goblets my mother used to fill with pudding and jello when I was a child. I had a very strong reaction to seeing them. So strong I did not even thing to photograph them. I was probably going to purchase them as I passed back by the entrance/exit on the way out. I did not even have the chance as someone else, perhaps wanting to eat pudding from them once again, had already bought them and carried them cheerfully home as I would have done.
This was the first antiques show I went to in the south and I was surprised to see the legacy of slavery and racism in explicit messages on several antique decorative plates and even old 8x10 advertisements. One recurring theme I saw was black people being pursued or victimized by alligators, suggesting I guess that white people would never be attacked by these apparently discriminating creatures. It was a bit surreal and uncomfortable to see these items.
I plan to visit a few more antique shows in the near future and I hope to find perhaps another set of those pudding goblets and maybe an old camera or two for decorating my desk with some photography history.