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Exploring my New Backyard

Anclote Gulf Park Fishing Pier
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

For a while now, I have realized I needed to get back out with the camera. I think I have learned over the years that making compelling images does not stem from some sudden inspiration. Indeed, each time there has been a hiatus in my shooting, I have to get out and “knock the rust off” a bit. And what I have learned over the years is that my best images most often come from a combination of shooting a lot and being very familiar with my camera and what it can do for me, planning, exploring, and sometimes, just whatever nature brings me. So, in my mind, these images do not really represent my “best work.” I think that As I continue to repeat visit some of these places, creativity and opportunity will present better fortune.

The Florida Gulf Coast is photographically known more than anything else for its spectacular sunsets

So lately, I have been getting out again to shoot. I recently made some big moves in my life. I was raised in Northern Michigan, and lived and worked in mid-Michigan for nearly 40 years. Except for a few years between high school and graduating law school – when I had the good fortune to live in Vermont and Washington, D.C. – I have lived most of my life in Michigan. Unlike Florida, Michigan is varied on both climate and geography, providing some diverse photographic opportunities.

Anclote Gulf Park FIshing Pier
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Florida presents some new challenges. It is mainly one huge beach, varying only as you move inland. However, it is also a peninsula, just like Michigan, which means that it has miles and miles (and more miles) of coast. Although there are certainly some “inland” opportunities, it is this coast that will provide, I am sure, the most opportunities. That is a stroke of luck for me. As my additions here, and my imagery on my LightCentric Photography Website demonstrate, I am drawn to water, and to sunrises and sunsets. My biggest challenge here will be finding variety that is unique for my own shooting.

I am not sure I am off to a very good start

I am not sure I am off to a very good start. The Florida Gulf Coast is photographically known more than anything else for its spectacular sunsets. With the vast backdrop of the Gulf of Mexico to the west, that makes some sense. But the theatrical sunsets are generally created by good atmospherics. Cloud formations and haze later in the day will usually yield some dramatic results. In my last few outings, after some cloud buildup during the early afternoon, the skies over the Gulf have cleared, yielding mostly featureless sunsets.

Anclote Gulf Park Fishing Pier
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

We actually bought our home here in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area several years back, and I “commuted” between here and Michigan. In March I retired and moved here permanently. Prior to that time, I made a couple trips to areas very close to me – Honeymoon Island and Crystal Beach. Both are minutes away, and I got some nice shots. I will return often to both places, as they are convenient, and present some good shooting opportunities. But I wanted to explore some new areas along the coast.

Anclote Gulf Park Fishing Pier
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

The Anclote River enters the Gulf north of Tarpon Springs. In addition to its very Greek culture, including the historic and locally famous sponge docks, there are some nice, picturesque shooting opportunities in and around the community. On the north side of the Anclote, where it enters the Gulf, there is a power plant which can be seen as a landmark from as far south from the water as Clearwater, and a rather elaborate fishing pier. I scouted it one day, and thought it might make an interesting element. So my first foray was to the Anclote Gulf Park, to “work” its fishing Pier.

Anclote Gulf Park Fishing Pier
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

What I have been fortunate to find, though, is some pretty good shooting scenarios. A year or so back, I posted that I believe that a compelling sunset (or sunrise) image needs some elements in the frame other than a spectacular sky, regardless of how breathtaking the colors of that sky might be. Sure, it is o.k. to have an abstract, or two in your portfolio. But images of just the sky just don’t get it done for me. The Florida coast, I am learning, has varied topography, from pristine, sandy beaches, to tidal flats, to rocky coastline. So, even though I have felt like they have been kind of “ho hum” sunsets, I have been able to make what I think are some pleasing images.

Fred Howard Park
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

As I was leaving Anclote Gulf Park, a couple fishermen engaged me in conversation, and offered information about a couple of other good sunset photo destinations. One of them, I had already scouted, and it is on my list, but I want to wait for the angle of the sunset to change a bit: Anclote River Park. It is about a mile south of the Gulf Park and is the part of the river where boats can go to and from Tarpon Springs (the outlet by the Gulf Park is blocked near the power plant).

Fred Howard Park
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

There were also two new places, Sunset Beach and Fred Howard Park. Both are on the south side of the Anclote, on the Gulf; an area known as Anclote Anchorage. There is also an island to the west known as Anclote Key State Park, where there is a lighthouse. It is only accessible by boat. I don’t know if, or when I will get there. I scouted Sunset Beach first, thinking perhaps I could put the Fred Howard causeway in my image. It looked like there might be some nice opportunities to “frame” the sunset between some palm trees, but I moved on to Fred Howard Park, and remained there for the rest of the evening. It looks like there are numerous possible composition options there, and I am sure I will return a few times. I the last two images, you can see the Anclote Lighthouse as just a tiny “stick” to the left of the land mass, which is Anclote Key.

Fred Howard Park
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

I will be MIA for week for two. We are heading to “The British Isles,” and I am looking forward to many new images, and lots to write about when I return. As always, thanks for following and reading here.

I post-process my images (I “Photoshop” them). In many cases, I try to make the image look as I saw it when I made the shot. Sometimes, I am not satisfied with that, and then I make it look like what I think it could (or should) have been. In every case, I believe “Mother Nature” has it in her palette. I hope as we get into the summer months and stormy season, that she will yield more drama. But these seem like a start to me.