f/11 project

Sunny Florida at f/11 project #07 - Tampa Bay Panorama in Portrait Orientation

click for larger version - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 6-shot panorama in portrait orientation (handheld)

I have taken my new interest and excitement over panorama images to the Sunny Florida f/11 project.  I have used the area in and around Vinoy Park for a majority of my f/11 project photos because I am simply in that area the most with my camera due to it being a prime spot I use for my DSLR Photography Lessons.  It also happens to be my favorite spot in all of St. Petersburg both for photography and just for the feeling of openness and Freedom I feel when I am there.  

For this shot I turned my Nikon D300 into portrait orientation instead of the usual landscape orientation used to make most panorama shots.  In my mind one cannot use portrait orientation enough as landscape orientation dominates so much.  So let's make that a mini-photography tip, use portrait orientation more than you currently do!

Florida's best natural feature for landscape photographs is its sky, in my opinion.  Florida from Tampa down is a pancake and there are few tall buildings.  Thus, many places have near 180 degree or greater wide open from the horizon to the stars views.  Throw in the subtropical weather patterns and that makes for dramatic skies on nearly a daily basis.  Then of course there are the fantastic sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico here on the west coast of Florida.  Therefore, since there are no mountains or other large natural features, I often look to the sky for making landscape shots.  What about you?

Sunny Florida at f/11 project #06 - St Petersburg Florida Harbor HDR

Nikon D300 with Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens @ f/11 ISO 200 3-bracket handheld HDR

The sixth entry in my ongoing Sunny Florida f/11 project is an HDR image of the harbor in downtown St. Petersburg in front of The Pier.  Despite the harbor's small size dolphins and manatees regularly swim in it, and pelicans dive alone the seawall on a regular basis.  There is something I really like about this harbor myself that is ineffable.  The small cluster of trees on the left horizon is my favorite spot in the entire city which offers great views of Tampa Bay to the east and the downtown St. Petersburg skyline to the west.  Then in the gap between there and the park on the other side pass dolphins (photographed here) and manatee in water that can be fairly clear at times.  It is a position of power commanding viewership over the whole area.

The harbor does not provide infallible protection from storms though as these recent photographs of a jilted sailboat illustrate. 

Sunny Florida at f/11 project #05 - Algiers Beach Sanibel Island

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 5-bracket HDR (handheld, breaking rules yet again)

Sanibel Island has a number of dog friendly beaches, the above Algiers Beach being one of them.  So after nearly two hours of running and swimming and skimboarding with Kiki, I just plopped down on this soft grass growing at the far edge of the beach with my Nikon D300 and relaxed a bit, and of course also made this HDR photograph to continue my summer long Sunny Florida f/11 project.  Shooting while lying on my stomach on the ground is one of my favorites ways to shoot, and one of my favorite perspectives to shoot from.  First, it is really comfortable because you are lying down.  Second, you can hold your camera really steadily with both elbows planted on the ground.  Third, not many people are willing to get down and dirty like this so you can come away with a unique view of an often photographed place/scene/subject.  

I left some of the highlights blown out on purpose as I thought it added a bit of style to the shot.  Coincidentally, Scott Bourne wrote a blog post yesterday about it being ok to blow out highlights if it is something you wanted to do in your shot.  I will admit it made me feel better about doing so, as traditionally you can get criticized for blowing out highlights.  

I am still not finding the shot I had long envisioned for this series.  I will not describe that vision here, as I will continue to look for it myself, holding out hope that such a scene even exists in Florida.  My Florida imagination may have become too infused with Thai beach memories.


  • Algiers Lane, Sanibel, Florida 
  • 239-472-6477
  • dog friendly means dogs must remain on a leash 

Sunny Florida at f/11 project #04 - Fossil Lake Park

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 3-bracket HDR handheld (breaking my own rules again!)Continuing what I have now determined will be a summer long project, the latest entry in my own personal photography project -- Sunny Florida at F/11 is an impromptu HDR shot of Fossil Lake Park.  I had heard of this park for a long time, and driven by it several times only glancing its baseball fields.  When I first heard that St. Petersburg had a "fossil park" I obviously thought it was something like the San Andreas Tar Pits, a place I imagine to have dinosaur bones just lying around in the open!  

However, there were no fossils or even bones of any kind, unfortunately.  I would not even think the park old enough to even begin decaying a banana peel, sadly.  

Still, disappointment at not being able to finally realize my boyhood dream of paleontology work aside, it was a surprisingly nice park for what it is, a small oasis in the middle of a not so green area of central St. Petersburg.  There was decent wildlife with strange ducks, turtles and bluejays among other creatures.  Basically, it's a decent place for a 15 minutes or so stroll.

Sunny Florida at f/11 project #03 - Royal Palms

Nikon D300 Tamron XR Di II 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 3-bracket HDRIt has been over a month since I last did anything with my own personal photography project -- Sunny Florida at f/11.  So today I made sure to bring my Nikon D300 with me as I knew I would be in an area I had not been in before with an hour to spare.  The weather cooperated, as it does most days, and provided me with the sunny-ness this project requires.  

Now I always tell people you need to use a tripod to make HDR shots, and well, I broke my own rule as I did not have my tripod with me, and really it is busted beyond use as well, so instead of my usual 7 or 9 bracket HDR technique, I just did this handheld 3-bracket shot.  I even had to hold my D300 over my head.  I only tried it twice (this is the second attempt above).  The first attempt was ok, but the for the second one I really focused on my breathing and held my breath as I held the shutter down.  The exhaling technique does not work as well as just holding my breath for me.  

The three, tall, royal palm trees all grew out of the same cluster base.  If a botanist can tell us if they are all sisters or all one tree that would be cool.

Sunny Florida at f/11 project #02 - Downtown St Petersburg

Downtown St Petersburg is not exactly Manhattan, but then again I would not want it to be.

Finally the "Sunny Florida at f/11" project continues.  When I was visualizing this photograph, I thought the large cloud above really dwarfed downtown St. Petersburg's minimal skyscrapers.  It seemed almost like some large, natural mothership looking down upon lesser, artificial creations.  So I composed the shot with the buildings very low in the frame to stress the largeness of the cloud even more.  

Also, a first:  using Photoshop's "lens correct" filter.  This made all the buildings stand up straight, not just the one in the dead center.  To apply this filter in Photoshop CS4:  FILTER --> DISTORT --> LENS CORRECTION  Then use the Vertical Perspective slider toward the bottom until all the buildings stand up straight.  Thanks to Ken for first explaining this tip.

In my mind I want the next photograph in this series to be of palm trees along the beach, a more traditional Florida landscape.  I will see what I can find.  If you have any tips for a location like this in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater areas, please let me know in the comments below.

Sunny Florida at f/11 project #01 - Kapok Park Pond HDR

I broke my own rule and made this HDR image without a tripod.

I bet when most people imagine Florida in their minds, the image is of a white sandy beach with palm trees.  However, such places make up only a very small part of Florida's land mass.  In fact, most of Florida looks like the above landscape -- flat countryside with a mix of trees scattered about.  Spanish Moss hanging from live oak trees should be as iconic a Florida image as the coconut palm tree.  

I assigned myself a personal photography project for 2010 -- "Sunny Florida at f/11" and the above photograph is my first official shot in that series.  If you have no ongoing, personal photo project yet for yourself, I highly recommend it as both a means of having a photography goal for the year and to make a number of images in the same theme that could potentially be used for a gallery exhibition!  

On this particular day my goal was first to photograph birds, but when I realized my Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens was not going to get me nearly close enough, I thought I would have to change the day's shooting goal to landscapes.  Then a friend let me borrow a Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm VR f/2.8G lens and Nikon 2x Teleconverter for the day so I was able to photograph birds after all.  Still, I could not resist breaking my own rules when I saw this landscape scene and photographed something outside of my theme for the day and even worse handheld an HDR shot!

If you have a personal photography project for 2010 describe and link to it in the comments below.