Saturday, June 07, 2008

The View Towards Sarasota

Here's a shot from the causeway linking St. Armand's Circle with City Island. The bridge is the fairly new Ringling Bridge. I'm sure I've shown you this same shot half a dozen times, but I have to stop and take it again since I have a new camera. Obviously, I need to try it at night again, too. I would have preferred the shot below, had half of the city skyline not been in shadow. But I figured I'd share it with you anyway, just not as the main picture. Maybe with a little Photoshopping... Nah.

Florida Means Flowers

If memory serves, and it's been a long time since I got out of school, Florida was named for the many flowers that greeted the early Spanish explorers when they arrived. It's gotten even worse since then, since they've imported dozens and dozens of non-native species into the state. But at least it's pretty. One of my favorites is the Royal Poinciana, which is the red one you see in the top of the picture above. These trees are everywhere, and they're all blooming right now. They range from bright red to a brilliant orange (seen below), the orange being the rarer of the two. Maybe it's just not as popular. Some of the trees fall in between these two color extremes, and aren't as attractive as either pure color. The purple in the picture above is bougainvillea. Sometimes it gets big enough that you mistake it for a tree, but it's usually a large shrub. The biggest one I've ever seen was at Sunken Gardens in St. Pete. The trunk had to be six inches around an it towered more than 50 feet overhead. Heaven knows how old it was. These come in all sorts of reds, purples, pinks and oranges.

Peacocks, No Peahens

I think I mentioned in my last two posts that I went to The Village on Longboat Key today. Well, there's one thing you have to do when you're in The Village, and that's find the peacocks. That's right, they have feral peacocks that run around the neighborhood, nesting in trees, mating, and keeping folks up all night with their incessant calls. But at least they look really cool. I found two males, but neither one had his tail feathers on full display. In fact, the one above didn't have too many tail feathers at all. I thought perhaps it was molting season, but then I ran across the one below, and he had a nice full tail. I suppose all the peahens were hiding, which is why I didn't see any and these guys weren't strutting around with their tails in the air.

Herons On The Wing

Here are a couple of great blue herons I caught in the act today. They were hanging out together on a small pier off Broadway in The Village on Longboat Key. As I walked along, each one took off, circled around and landed back on the pier behind me. I picked up on this behavior pretty quick, so I kept walking back and forth on the dock until I got some shots I liked. Pretty slick, eh? I think that IS lens is really helping me on shots like these. I'm moving quickly trying to catch the birds in the air, and the stabilization feature makes sure I don't come out with a blurry mess. Anyone else out there use these lenses? Am I supposed to be able to hear the gyros spinning inside? I can hear it on the long lens (55-250mm), but not the short one (18-55mm). I would expect them both too be the same, but they aren't. Maybe I should send an email to Canon...

Another Blanco

I recently got the chance to meet Jorge Blanco. He's the sculptor of the piece you see above that I shot in Longboat Village today. I've shot three or four (1, 2, 3) of his pieces here in the area, and I asked him where I might find some more. He pointed me towards this one, which I had seen but forgotten, and some more in places I don't remember. Luckily this one doesn't resemble a cartoon character on the Fox network, like some of his others seem to. I didn't tell him my theory that he was getting some inspiration from said cartoons, though. I did tell his wife, and she assures me that he only watches Dora The Explorer. I'm not sure what to make of that, but here's another Blanco for you.

With And Without

Here's a neat little thing I've been meaning to show you, but I don't think I've ever actually followed through and posted. The shots above and below are both pictures of Longboat Pass this afternoon. The shot above was taken through a polarizing filter, the shot below was taken through the same filter, but the filter was rotated 90 degrees. Some difference, eh? That's a little trick that photographers use all the time to get richer colors, less glare, more contrast, all sorts of improvements. So next time you want to go take pictures at the beach, be sure to pick up this handy gadget at your local photographic supply store. Or just hold your polarized sunglasses over the lens. Same difference. Either way, it's great to live in paradise!

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Big Move Again

It sat on the Bayfront here in Sarasota for 7 months, but today finally came. We had to move Pulse to a new home. That new home turned out to be the Sarasota-Bradenton campus of the University of South Florida, maybe five miles up the road. I was on hand in case they had any structural problems with the piece, but everything went extremely smooth. That meant that I got to stand around and take pictures the whole time. Pretty much a win-win situation for me. The first shot above is the crane getting ready to make the first hop with the sculpture. It weighed about seven thousand pounds, so we couldn't pick it up and set it directly on the truck. Doing so would have exceeded the safe load limits on the mobile crane and possibly created a disaster. So we picked it up and set it right next to the road while we waited for the truck to arrive.

This shot is just to prove we got it off the ground. And no, we didn't knock that pole over. It was down when I got there. Which isn't to say it didn't get knocked down by somebody earlier, but it wasn't knocked over by Pulse.

And there's the truck. The local police came out and stopped traffic long enough for us to load it up. Which was pretty nice of them since this is US 41, a pretty major road. The truck was a little late because of all the traffic created by the fire the previous day on I-75. That's got things snarled up for miles and miles around.

I'm pretty sure this is the same truck we used to move Pulse the first time...

There's your friendly artist Christine Desiree being interviewed by local cable news channel SNN 6. I tried to find the video at their website, but I couldn't. (The big news coverage happened at the other end of the journey.) That's the director of the Sarasota Season of Sculpture 4, Brenda Terris, standing to the left. I don't remember there being much media presence when we first installed the cube, so I don't know why there was all the hubbub about the removal.

Here's an echo of the shot I took when we installed the cube last year. In the foreground is Christine's piece from Season of Sculpture 3, High Voltage. It's in a sculpture garden at the Ringling School of Art and Design (her alma mater). I think this version of the shot works better than the other one. The light is a little better, as is the angle and composition.

Here we are blocking all the traffic as we made a big U-turn. This is in front of the new home for the sculpture, which is right across US 41 from the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport. You'll be able to see it quite easily when you fly in or out. It's so close that an airport cop came over and asked how high the crane was going to be. I guess the answer satisfied him, since he left us alone.

There's the spot they had laid out for Pulse. They did a nice job, considering they only had about 24 hours to get ready.

In case you're looking for it, it's at the corner of Edward and Tamiami Trail. And for those of you who don't know, Tamiami Trail is US 41.

Here's she comes...

And we're done.

Once Pulse was safely in place, the dancing girls came out. Or dancing girl I should say. That's Blythe, Brian and Christine's daughter. She just couldn't get her picture taken enough. I'm greatly relieved that the move went as smoothly as it did. Hopefully, Pulse will be on this spot for a long, long time to come.

Ernie's Big TV Debut

Well, I originally thought it was going to be last week, but they finally moved the big sculpture known as Pulse today, and I was along for the ride. Surprisingly, a couple members of the news media came out to watch the big show, and I made it on TV. Look at the left of the frame grab above, and you can see me walking out from behind the cube. Yep, that's it. I got half a second of screen time, and it's because I accidentally walked into their shot. You can see the whole 2:06 segment at the WWSB ABC 7 website here, or you can read all about it here. I walk in right before a fade around the 0:46 mark, so watch for me. You'll also see Christine, the artist (they call her Christine Snyder, but she goes by Christine Desiree), her husband Brian (who actually goes by Brian Snyder) and their daughter Blythe. All during those filmed sequences, I'm standing behind the reporter/cameraperson taking pictures, as you can see below. They also interviewed the CEO of USF, on who's Sarasota campus the sculpture now resides. I had to resist the temptation to shout out 'Go Gators' while he was being interviewed. (I later found out he was a graduate of FSU, which made me regret not doing it even more.)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Soulphonics Featuring Ruby Velle

Here's another of the bands from Tropical Heatwave last month. They're called The Soulphonics Featuring Ruby Velle. They play some sweet soul music. Well, that seems a little mellow. They were pretty upbeat, as you'll see in some of these pictures. You know that any band with a prominent horn section has to be pretty good.

The horn section alone can't carry the band though, so there's a guitarist and a keyboardist, too. I hope there's a better picture of the keyboard player here somewhere. He was an important part of their sound (think Booker T.), so I don't want to slight him with not having a picture. We'll see.

Oh, yeah, there's a drummer in there, too. You see him hanging out behind Ruby in many of these shots. But obviously the main focus of my lens is Ruby.

OK, here's the whole band so you can get an idea of who's where. This is the same hall that I saw Rocket 88 in later on in the night. This seemed to be the best stage of the four, at least as far as I was concerned.

There's the piano player again. Maybe you can see him a little better this time. Oh, and the drummer man. And of course, Ruby.

And more Ruby. She's got some pipes, trust me.

Still more Ruby. I'm like John Cusack's character in High Fidelity, I want to date a girl who's in a band. Put me in the liner notes to your LP, please. :)

And there's Ruby again, giving us all the finger. Or telling us she's number one. Yeah, that's it, she's number one! Oh, and I like the key she has on a chain around her neck. I used to have one of those on my keychain. Had it for years and years and years. I wonder what I did with that?

Ruby can't stop doing The Monkey. Or is it The Frugg? I'm not sure...

This must have been a more tender song. These guys are based in Atlanta, so I figure maybe I'll try to go see them the next time I'm up there. Maybe I can convince my buddy to hire them for his wedding reception. Oh, Ben?

When she first came out, I think I said something about her looking like Amy Winehouse. Maybe a little, but not so much. Any is a little scary sometimes in some pictures. Perhaps it's the crack. Don't know. Ruby hung out for hours after the show and watched some of the other bands play. She was even doing some crazy swing dancing at one point, which was pretty cool. I don't think you can swing dance if you've been smoking crack. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

Here's a better picture of the drummer. Drummers don't get enough respect. They sit at the back of the stage where you can barely see them, and they rarely get a moment in the spotlight. And then there's the unfortunate fact that drum solos are a little passe at the moment... Oh, well.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Rocket 88

Here is another set of great photos that I have been remiss in sharing. One of the great bands I saw at Tropical Heatwave a month or so ago was Rocket 88. I'd never been to see these guys, as they are based over in Orlando, and don't make it over to Sarasota as far as I know. I did, however, manage to see The Midnight Ramblers several times, a spin-off group of sorts, featuring several of the same guys, and those were always great shows. So I had high hopes. Looking at that first photo above, you might think this was going to be a plain old ordinary show by guys in shiny suits.

Even the keyboard player looks as if he might be more inclined towards Beethoven than Bo Diddley.

Well, first impressions can be deceiving. These guys jumped into a set of flaming rockabilly that didn't let up until all the amps were fried and my ears were ringing. I don't think I knew any of the songs they played, but I was jumping around and screaming along with the rest of the audience. These guys knew how to put on a show.

I was surprised at some of the pictures I got. I didn't think I would get any shots at all of the drummer, as he stayed back in the dark for the whole show. But I got lucky a few times.

And the keyboard player got into the act quite a bit as well. (The keyboardist from The Midnight Ramblers, who I thought was in Rocket 88, used to pour lighter fluid on the fake piano built around his keyboard and light it up. This guy didn't do that, but he was still pretty good.)

The guitarist made that thing talk.

And the bass player made it talk, too. Or maybe it's just a really big guitar. Hard to say...

The lead singer? Well, he's not one to let the audience down.

He even let the audience sing a few bars every once in a while. That guy you can't see too well on the right of the picture was trying to swing dance down in front of the stage. Several times I felt his partner's feet whiz past my head as he was throwing her up into the air. Who knew dancing could be so dangerous.

I think he was channeling some demon here, or maybe Sid Vicious. Not sure... That shirt gave my camera fits the whole night.

Sometimes things got a little topsy-turvy down at my end of the stage.

This is right towards the end of the show. The bass player climbed up on top of the bass, and was playing for all he was worth. I was down on my knees trying to shoot upwards for a better angle.

Next thing I knew, the lead singer is down in my face, singing (or screaming) into my lens.

All I could do was hold down the button and hope for the best. I wasn't disappointed. If I were you, I'd go out and buy a Canon camera. They are the best.

And be sure you get a Rocket 88 CD!

There's nothing better than a little in-your-face rock and roll. This is why you want to be down front at the show.