Entries in sunset (55)
Vinoy Park is my favorite spot in all of downtown St. Petersburg. It juts out offering panoramic views of the downtown skyline and also The Pier and Tampa Bay too. It is the best public place to watch the sunset in the area also, well, maybe the top of The Pier is just as good. I am always looking for different perspectives, trying not to just use my own eye level for composing shots. For this one I closed the legs of my tripod so that I was shooting just from about a foot off the ground. This also allowed me to get the sun right under the tree's lowest branch.
- Photography Tip: Use your tripod at its lowest height, or lay on your stomach if no tripod required for a unique, low perspective.
Moving in front of the tree in the lead photo reveals a marina, on the far right Vinoy Renaissance Hotel and in the center 400 Beach Drive tower. There are benches to sit on to enjoy this view. I cannot imagine there are many sunsets they go unused.
All along the downtown St. Petersburg area are parks like North Straub Park above that offer quiet places to sit and enjoy the green environment that city developers very wisely preserved. It is these parks that in my opinioin make St. Petersburg the most beautiful area to live in all of Tampa Bay.
With sunset coming well after 7:30pm nowadays the return of springtime weekday evening lessons starts with Jon and his new Sony A55. It was my first time to get hands on with this particular DSLR. It was smaller physically than I expected and has a useful flip down LCD viewfinder. However, the motion sensor that turns off the back LCD as you put your eye into the optical viewfinder seems like a very useful feature at first, but I found that when reviewing a photo the screen it can too easily get motion detected off.
Jon had been using point and shoot digital cameras for awhile, and long ago even took a criminology based photography class, so he had some familiarity with photography terms like aperture, ISO, etc. We started out shooting in aperture priority mode, but thanks to the light transition during our golden hour lesson I was able to show Jon how switching to manual mode really allows the photography to take control over the final image by including as much or as little of the vividness of the sunset sky.
Beyond photography Jon has also traveled in Asia so it was nice to talk about our experiences traveling there in between shooting locations. I look forward to seeing where Jon's photography goes from here.
It was very nice to see Juliana and her family again after having first met them last year when I photographed her 7th Birthday Party. At that time she was missing most of her front teeth, but this year her smile was brighter than ever. Mother Nature provided yet another stunning Florida sunset of the Gulf of Mexico to be our background for our candid family beach portrait session.
When we first arrived at my preferred spot on Sunset Beach, Treasure Island Juliana found half of a sand dollar on the beach. Soon after she found the other half. That seemed like good luck to me so I thought the sand dollar halves should be in one of our photos. When you shoot in good natural light, as you can see, there is not even need for fill flash.
Juliana and her father had kind of just wandered into these positions between shots. It caught my eye and I scrambled to get my lights in position to light both Juliana (far in the background) and her father (large in the foreground) before they could move. In the end I asked Juliana to look at the lens to produce the final image above.
I hope these photographs serve to illustrate that not every family beach portrait session attire needs to be white shirts and blue jeans. I suggested that Juliana and her family wear what clothes they feel they look their best in, although I think Juliana's mom had final word on her wearing that dress since she told me that was not how she dressed every day.
I always like there to be some clouds in the sky at sunset time as they add interest to the background by reflecting the rays of the setting sun. I once heard, "a cloudless sky is the enemy of the landscape photographer." I would not say that for beach portraits, but for sure I prefer clouds over no clouds.
I like to let kids do what they like during a candid portrait session as they are the types of photographs I like to make best myself. The feeling when shooting is totally different too. There is a certain tension in a photographer's mind that arises when having to position people for a shot, rather than the photographer moving about the subject freely shooting when instinct says so.
For the above type of shot one of course needs to use manual mode to make the exposure do what you want as aperture priority or shutter priority modes would not allow one to get the results as seen. Radio triggers for one's strobes are necessary too as I was shooting with a long lens not nearly close enough for Nikon's built in Commander Mode triggering method.
Juliana is a natural model. The above pose was just one of like five she went in and out of in succession. It was hard to keep up! Of course when the subject feels comfortable in front of the lens and knows how to best position themselves, then it just makes the photographer's job all that easier allowing for more concentration on the creative part of photography. Also, you can see that I pretty much settled on f/8 ISO 200 1/100th for my strobist shots during this session. Once I get the settings I like dialed in, that also frees me to focus on just composition, etc.
This was the final shot of the night that required a couple of takes, but Juliana did her part very well! I forgot to ask if she takes ballet lessons or not.
During this family beach portrait session I tried several new things, which is key to me, as I have done many of these types of shoots and I am always trying to avoid repeating myself looking to add if not entirely new shots at least variations. This time there were several totally new images, like the above staggered positioning from shore to water. It helps to have had a three person family. For sure at least having an odd number makes the composition work better.
The better you know the people you are photographing the easier it is to produce satisfying images. Therefore, it is not surprising that my second time photographing Juliana and her family was one of my all-time favorite family beach portrait sessions.
What you see above, if you can see anything, is a 14-shot panorama photograph of the downtown St. Petersburg, Florida skyline at sunset. The panorama image was made by using Photomerge in Photoshop CS5.
This type of image is incredibly easy to make:
- just take consecutive, level, same exposure shots
- overlap the final third of each shot
- put all the photos into a single folder
- open up Photoshop CS5
- in the Automate menu choose Photomerge
- sit back and let your computer's CPU do some serious processing
in a few minutes you will have created your own panorama image!
On a day filled with rain in St. Petersburg, I was able to dodge most of it by morning and by evening to first have a DSLR Photography Lesson with Cindy at The Pier in the A.M. and to close the day with another lesson at The Pier with Holly. Only poor Kiki got short changed today by having her dog park time cut short by a sudden downpour!
This was Holly's third lesson in a week's time, as she bought the discounted 4-pack of lessons. We met in downtown St. Petersburg then made our way to The Pier as the final few raindrops of the evening storm fell harmlessly onto our lenses. This was another lesson focusing on two things: how to knowingly change settings to get correct evening exposures and how to creatively compose for making photographs out of what others see as just nothing, or do not even see at all.
This brought us up, down and all around The Pier. The roof easily provided the best views and the rainstorm left behind a spectacular sunset. We still of course found some time to photograph the pelicans that like to hangout around there too. I am pretty sure I saw the same rust colored female as this morning!
By the end of the lesson Holly was starting to be able to understand how to adjust her aperture and shutter speed to create a better exposed twilight image, as in if the image is too dark for your liking, then increasing the shutter speed and/or the aperture is necessary to brighten it up. Want to create a silhouette shot? Then increase the shutter speed so only the sky has any color.
We ended the lesson with me convincing Holly that a tripod is certainly a worthwhile investment as I let her borrow mine to create some fantastic urban sunset shots of downtown St. Petersburg.