Locations: Venice Fishing Pier

Hidden below a locally-beloved seaside restaurant, this pier juts out over 700 feet into the Gulf of Mexico, from a white flour sand beach our area is typically known for. It looks a little out of place, usually loaded with tourists and locals alike, and featuring a small bait shop where you can pick up the type of “Venice Beach” t-shirts that are considered to be a dead giveaway of a tourist or snowbird, in addition to live shrimp and hot, fresh coffee.

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The structure was built in 1966, and subsequently destroyed by a storm in 1984. After being rebuilt with some very unique wood from South America, it was torn down in 2004 to make way for a new pier built with a wood composite, meant to endure all but the most intense hurricanes.

But walking below, away from the hustle and bustle going on above, the natural placement and symbiance become clearer. An hour from sunset, the wind whipped almost violently between the huge posts supporting the wooden walkway, making it impossible to hold a conversation or keep a baseball cap on, worn forwards or backwards, I found.

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A couple of other photographers had made it there before us, and already had a couple of cameras on tripods leaning against the posts. They had set up shop directly under the pier, in the exact area I had planning on, shooting the structure and the water underneath as the tide lapped at the pillars. I stood back and let them get all of the shots they needed; when they took a break and stepped to the side, I asked to shoot a couple of quick frames, and let them know I was there to shoot a long exposure after sunset, and wouldn’t be in their way long.

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The beach emptied very quickly within 15 minutes of sunset, and we had the spot under the pier to ourselves, save for a couple of teenagers stopping to take selfies on the shore.

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I setup my tripod as low as possible and started shooting as soon as the sun dipped below the horizon, and was rewarded with some very dynamic shots that captured the chaotic movement of the ocean below. This was a situation where I knew I wouldn’t have a great variety of images, but would take home at least one perfect keeper of the angle I was concentrating on….and I did.

I plan to go back and shoot the pier again, and perhaps stay later to incorporate more drama into the long exposures. Any excuse to feel Florida sand between your toes is a good one.

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Perspective

Have you ever noticed how almost everything in our lives can occupy two spaces of reality simultaneously just based on perspective?

Seeing a person walking along a construction catwalk a couple of stories above you, you might think it doesn't appear very high. Only when you are in that same position yourself, looking down, does your perspective change and you see something completely different.

I didn't plan on low angle shooting becoming part of my photographic style, but there's something about this technique that adds some intense drama to an image. Each time I took a photo from eye-level, I was inclined to take the same shot from a lower angle, usually just a few inches off of the ground.

I discovered that doing this..changing my perspective..completely changed what the image was, and the story it told. 

Photography, just as in life, is about discovery. You don't need to be a photographer with a DSLR to do this; you just need to be someone who appreciates imagery and the desire to understand change.

Try this as an experiment the next time you whip out your iPhone or Android device to snap a picture. This could be taking a photo of a river or lake while you're out on a walk, or even your backyard while you're kids are enjoying the outdoors. 

Take a picture as you normally would, from eye-level. Then, standing in the same area and facing the same direction, crouch down and hold the camera a few inches from the ground, then tap and take the photo.

Even with a mobile phone's inability to produce a very shallow depth of field or much bokeh (the beautiful blurring effect we see from SLR cameras), you should see a much different scene altogether. It might appear almost alien to you, because people aren't used to seeing things as a dog or other small animal would. Because you have an infinite amount of solid depth at this level (in this case, the ground), you might see blurring of either foreground or distant elements, depending on where the shot was focused. Details of the ground will be much more apparent to you. Compare this to what you see when you took the eye-level photo.

There are many other perspectives to explore; but changing our view to a different level is the most dramatic way to change how you view the world around you.

If you'd like to read a bit more on perspective in photography, you can read an article I wrote on the subject in 2014 on Photodoto.com called How to Change your Photography by Simply Changing your Perspective.

Haunter of Woods

Ne`moph´i`list
n. 
1. A haunter of the woods; one who loves the forest and its beauty and solitude.

Nemophilist. An interesting word, isn't it? I've heard it before, occasionally, but never knew its exact meaning, until I came across a site I now keep in a short list of valuable resources, Other-Wordly.

Other-Wordly takes beautiful, rarely used words, originating from many different languages and presents them as a set, with their meanings plainly described.

That was my first real exposure to the word and its true meaning. 

I identify strongly with it, because I'm drawn to the woods, and to nature. I grew up in the woods, playing as a kid in the trails back home in Texas, building forts, running through barefooted with my friends.

When I began retooling this site, attempting to discover its purpose, other than of course promoting my photographic work, I gave thought to who my target audience was. Most photography blogs I've come across post article after article offering technical advice concerning cameras, or tips and techniques for photography. I immediately decided against that route.

I'd rather identify with a much larger group of people. Not just photography junkies, but lovers of imagery, and admirers of the things we take pictures of, namely the world we inhabit. It's been said that to find out what someone loves, pay attention to what they photograph.

So here, in addition to the occasional camera tip or shooting technique, you'll mostly find stories and photographs of the things I love; nature, landscape, the woods, the beach, the ocean, the earth, and everything that occupies it.

When I saw that word, nemophilist, and discovered its meaning, I knew that it described me perfectly. My tagline had previously consisted of a list of the disciplines of photography that I shoot. That doesn't describe me. This word describes me, so it became my tagline. Photography isn't just a hobby or a business, it's a connector between ourselves and the world around us.