Some readers here may recall me mentioning that we have a second home in the Tampa Bay area. This is a relatively recent acquisition and, still being a working “stiff,” I have had (or perhaps made) little opportunity to explore and shoot there. Over the Christmas/New Year holiday, I spent some time down there, and had a couple opportunities to get out and do some shooting.
I am told that opportunities abound, but I am still getting the “lay of the land.” One nice area is only about 1.5 miles from our house. Honeymoon Island State Park is a narrow spit of land that lays out in Gulf of Mexico, just northwest of Clearwater, Florida. It is north of Clearwater Beach and has been largely preserved as a natural/recreational area (though it may be hard to say “natural” with a straight face, if you look at the amount of paved surface area created for parking). On a given sunny day, hundreds of beach-goers drive out over the causeway from Main Street in Dunedin, Florida, to this day-use park. There are also hiking trails and natural habitat for much of Florida’s wildlife – primarily of the avian variety – but not exclusively so.
My two quick trips out to the Island did not yield an opportunity for exploring. That will come later. This time, I made a quick trip on one of the last evenings of 2014, and again on one of the first evenings of 2015, when it looked like a sunset might be developing. The Florida Gulf Coast is noted for its spectacular sunsets. I have yet to capture one I would deem “spectacular.” But I do think I can characterize some that I did capture as “nice.”
I see many sunrise and sunset images these days. While a nice orange ball against a horizon is nice, the huge expanse of (relatively) uninteresting water in front of most of them makes them seem mundane to me. I try to either capture some kind of foreground element, or if I cannot find something in the foreground, exclude most of the water in favor of an interesting sky. These Florida Gulf sunsets seem to yield consistently interesting skies, so that is often easy. The exception to the “expanse of water” might be when there is some color or interest to the water. In some cases, I think its o.k. to add color and interest.
This outing also gave me an opportunity to use the newly acquired (traded “down” from the a7R) Sony a7 and I am cautiously pleased with the result and handling of the camera and the Sony-Zeiss 24-70 f4 lens. I also used my Rokinon 8mm fisheye manual lens (for the NEX E-mount, but even with the vignette, I liked the wide result).