Gateway Arch in St Louis - Westward Bound

Gateway Arch in St Louis - Westward Bound

Kiki and I suddenly left Florida one Saturday night in early November.  I had long been wanting to do it, but with such things sometimes they just happen all of a sudden due to the sudden rising of circumstances.  We did have a destination though when setting out -- Iowa.  To get there it brought us through a few U.S. landmarks that I had never been to before.  One of them was Gateway Arch in St. Louis.  This will be the first post in a series called Westward Bound.

Read More

Photography Tip - using leading lines in composing your shots

The lines of the curb act as leading lines to the main subject, The Pier - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/500thUsing leading lines is one of my favorite composition techniques.  In the photograph of The Pier above, everything points to the main subject drawing the viewer's eye across the full length of the frame.  The entire foreground of the photograph uses the curb as a leading line to the focus of the image.  If there was no curb and just black pavement, then having such a large empty foreground would be a waste of space in the frame.  However, using the curb as a leading line adds another element of interest to the photograph besides The Pier itself.  

Additionally, I used a titled axis composition style to add yet more interest to an oft photographed St. Petersburg landmark.  

The St. Petersburg Pier Night Light Reflection Florida fine art images

Click for larger version of The Pier night light reflections available for fine art print or commercial license - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 4.3 sec tripod mounted with cable release 

The Pier of St. Petersburg, Florida presents at this time a unique opportunity for local photographers.  It is by far the city's most recognizable landmark, but it is scheduled for demolition in one year's time.  A part of me does not necessarily believe in the end it will be razed because what is slated to replace it, a structure called "The Lens," is so preposterously fantastic I cannot imagine such a thing existing just off the modest St. Pete waterfront.

The odd shutter time of 4.3 seconds for this shot is due to shooting in bulb mode.  I took a test shot and then based on feel kept the shutter open how long I thought it would need.  A more scientific way would have been to use a stopwatch, but for exposures of only about 4 seconds a rough estimate counting in your head is good enough.

Downtown Tampa Architecture & Landmarks in Black and White

Sykes Building downtown Tampa Florida black & white - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-exposure HDR on tripod with cable releaseAfter shoots for specific client requests I often find I can create a subsequent set of images from the remaining shots.  Such is the case with these black & white photographs featuring downtown Tampa and surrounding areas and landmarks.  The client wanted landscape orientated shots for a use in an existing website template.  Still, while out making those images I did rotate my DSLR to produce a few portrait orientated ones just in case the client might have a need for them and also just because I thought they would make cool shots and did not want to leave any unmade photographs that I saw the potential for.

Tampa Theater marquee in black & white - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/11 ISO 200 1/25th single exposure tripod mounted with cable releaseThe client actually chose the above image of Tampa Theatre, which did not standout to me personally in my initial culling, but after editing and convesion to black & white I kind of liked it because of the below eye level composition.  I closed my tripod's legs to use only about half of its full height shooting from just around my own waist level.

The new Tampa Museum of Art with krew on Hillsborough River - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/250th single exposure tripod mounted with cable releaseThe new Tampa Museum of Art building is very modern looking in person.  However, I thought in the photograph above its rectangular architecture made it look more like buildings from the 1950s, especially in black & white.  I saw the crew rowing team and waited for them to come into the shot to make the composition I wanted.

Tampa First Baptist Church with traffic in black & white - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-exposure HDR tripod mounted with cable releaseI had no idea the above building was the Tampa First Baptist Church.  I saw people coming and going from it while I was in the area over the course of the afternoon and thought it was a courthouse or some other type of government building.  Even while editing it I never even noticed the largest FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH engraved on top of the columns.  I had to look up which building it was in Google to surprisingly find out it was a church.  

Tampa Downtown Skyscraper Skyline View in black & white - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-exposure HDR tripod mounted with cable releaseThis last photograph is of a much more familiar and oft-photographed subject matter, the downtown Tampa skyline featuring the unique skyscraper in the center, the cylindrical Sykes Building.  The moon can be seen rising in the upper left of the image.  

I encourage everyone to go through past shoots and see if you can find a whole different photo story than the intended purpose of the shoot from the remaining images.  Be sure and post a link to it in the comments below.

Tampa Theatre Marquee Glowing at Night & Day Landmark

Tampa Theatre glowing marquee & sign at night - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseContinuing a recent trend of photographing Tampa Bay area landmarks, in particular ones I had never really photographed before, I was glad to finally have the opportunity to make these shots of the historic Tampa Theatre located right in the middle of downtown Tampa.  There is no better place I know of to go and have an old time movie experience.  As cool as the theater looks on the outside, it is 10x cooler on the inside.  It is easy to create images with atmosphere when photographing such a place.  

Tampa Theatre marquee in daylight - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-exposure HDR tripod mounted with cable releaseI have not actually seen a movie at Tampa Theatre since the 90s, when I used to go semi-regularly.  I was living abroad for most of the 00s and since returning to Florida and moving across the bay from the theater, have not made the journey at night to see the more independent movies the theater features.  

Vinoy Renaissance Hotel Mahaffey Theater The Pier St Petersburg Landmarks at twilight

Vinoy Renaissance Hotel east view - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 3-exposure HDR handheld

Through my DSLR Photography teaching I am often out with students around various St. Petersburg landmarks.  Each of the three photographs in this post were made on different days while out on a lesson in the evening time.  

The HDR image above is of the Vinoy Renaissance Hotel & Resort looking at it from the east along 5th Ave North.  At this time the setting sun was sidelighting the hotel and the tall palm trees in front of it.  The lighting is what made me stop and suggest to the student I was with that she photograph it from this angle.  I made my own shot of the hotel.  I knew HDR would produce the best results so even though I did not have my tripod with me I steadied my shooting position and fired off a 3-bracket exposure.  

Mahaffey Theater east view - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 7-exposure HDR tripod mountedThe Mahaffey Theater was not the primary subject matter during this particular photography lesson, the new Dali Museum was, but I had always liked the architecture of the Mahaffey even when it had this area all to itself.  The sky was a fantastic purple that evening.  

The Pier at twilight south view - Nikon D300 Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D @ f/8 ISO 200 1/80th handheldThe Pier is by far the most well known landmark of St. Petersburg, and perhaps the one with the least amount of life left as three new designs to replace the inverted pyramid have just been finalized by the city.  This landmark is most often photographed from the north and west, so I was glad to have a unique chance to photograph it from the south from a restricted access point at a marina I was able to get access to thanks to the photography student's mom having a boat docked there.  

Tropicana Field St. Petersburg Florida Landmark Series

Tropicana Field in full - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-bracket HDR on Induro CT214 tripod with Nikon MC-30 cable releaseI am starting a new photo series:  St. Petersburg Landmarks

The first landmark is the home of the Tampa Bay Rays -- Tropicana Field.  It is a much maligned dome stadium.  First, almost nobody is happy about its location.  It is far from the other major cities in the area, Clearwater and Tampa.  Even for us St. Petersburg residents it is not in any kind of walkable location.  It must be driven to and it is in an area there is no other reason to drive to.  It basically sits in the middle of a huge parking lot.  Inside it is dark and dreary looking.  I would actually say from the stands to look out over the field it is a depressing experience.

The entrance to Tropicana Field - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-bracket HDR on Induro CT214 tripod with Nikon MC-30 cable releaseThe entranceway and the stores in the immediate grandstand are actually attactive and make you feel like you are attending an exciting event.  It is only once under the dome proper does the horridness settle in.  I have been to only one game (see photos) and photographed a charity event on another occasion.  

Palm tree lined parking lot walkway - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 7-bracket HDR on Induro CT214 tripod with Nikon MC-30 cable releasePerhaps the best view of the entire property is when you are walking out of the stadium under a mosaic sidewalk lined with tall palm trees toward your car.  The walkway does not go on forever, eventually you would run into Tampa Bay!