Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Slow Week

  Wow it has been a week since I posted anything! I have had family in town and have not done any 'serious' photography.  However I will be traveling to Los Angeles this weekend so am really excited about having some photos to share from there. I will be wandering the Venice Beach area Friday which is always filled with some interesting characters and is just a beautiful place with great energy.
  I did get back to Fort Desoto the other day with my parents so thought I would just share a few more photos from there. It really is an amazingly beautiful park and beach area. I am still not totally used to seeing birds like this everywhere and get a kick out of watching them. They like to hang out around the Piers where people fish hoping for a treat if someone catches something too small to keep.

  These little guys are all over the place. I like this photo because just for a few seconds the wind blew the feathers on the back of his head up a bit.

  I really like this one in black and white. Makes it look as though it could have been taken a long time ago.
This world is such an amazing place with so many different things going on. These birds live in a world of their  own having know idea of how crazy we humans are. I often find it very soothing to just watch them for a while.

  A man fishing with a wrecked boat in the background.  Not sure what was going on with that boat it did not look too old. I gave this one a canvas like texture in addition to the black and white treatment to give it a different look.  I took it on the 'North Beach' which is ranked one of the best in the country for good reason.
There are a lot of beaches in the area but this one is my favorite perhaps because of the Island feel. 
  Check back soon for a post on my day at Venice Beach!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More Marvin the Duck

  It has been awhile since I posted any photos of my favorite neighborhood duck, Marvin. For those new here I call him Marvin because when I first saw him he reminded me of the Looney Tunes Marvin the Martian character with the brush on his head. Marvin lives on the lake in my community with a bunch of mallards. I am told he has lived here at least 5 years. Every time I go for a walk I look for him, he is like the community mascot.
A few months ago a grey duck moved here and now they are a couple, always swimming around together. I need to go back and get some good shots of them together.

  Despite living here so long and having people feeding him every day, Marvin is pretty shy and usually won't let me get too close. He was pretty good this day though and I was able to get some fun shots with my 70-300mm.  

  I like this image because to me it looks like he is looking out onto the lake pondering life lol. I love watching animals. The lives of the ducks here are pretty simple, swim, eat, sleep and occasionally argue with one another. Marvin can be a little evil sometimes going after another duck and chasing him/her away for no apparent reason then returning to his peaceful swim across the lake.

  I like this photo because you can see his reflection on the water.  Long after I move from here I will treasure these photos Marvin. Too often we allow people, pets, events to come and go from our lives without capturing quality photos which will help to keep their spirits and memories alive in us. It is one of  the reasons I am a photographer. 
  I am going to be in Orlando the next few days and on Saturday will be attending a fair in Mount Dora which is a really nice little town north of there. Hope to get some fun shots to share.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Beauty of Nature

  Yesterday was a beautiful day here in the Tampa Bay area! The humidity has left us and the air was amazing with a high of around 80. A friend and I decided to take a day trip starting at Fort Desoto park and working our way up to Clearwater at sunset. Fort Desoto is an amazing park and features my favorite beach in the area, North Beach where the sand is powder white. You can find Sand Dollars here and you may catch a glimpse of dolphins jumping in the distance or see some Manatees swimming from one of the Piers at the Park. The above photo was taken from one of those Piers, you can see the Skyway Bridge in the background that will take you over to Sarasota and points further South. We arrived here at 1pm not the best time of day for photography but got some fun bird photos anyway.

  I love Pelicans and never stop trying to get unique, fun photos of them. One of the things I love living here in Florida is all of the unique birds you see around wherever you go. Pelicans however seem to stick to the beach areas. I remember seeing them when I was little on a trip down this way but it was many years before I moved here and could see them whenever I want.  Here two of them are perched on a little hut on the Pier where they sell snacks and bait for fisherman.

  Here are a group of different kinds of birds hanging out on the top of said hut. The two on top seem to be having a disagreement lol.

  The sky was such a beautiful blue making the perfect backdrop for this little guy.

  Another Pelican photo, this one caught just about to land on the water. It is amazing how wide their wingspan is!  

  Next we headed to Pass-A-Grille which is as south as you can get. It is only about 2 blocks across the bottom of this long skinny island which connects to many other beaches running up to Clearwater. On one side you see across to more land, as you can see here. The other side faces the Gulf. The famous pink Don Cesar hotel is just a few miles north of here.
  We then when to a touristy area called Johns Pass for some dinner near Treasure Island before making it to Sand Key Park just across the bridge from Clearwater Beach for Sunset.

  Beautiful!  For some reason I don't visit these areas too often. I want to spend more time in Fort Desoto and hope to do some portrait shoots there soon as well as take more nature shots toward the end of the day. It is more than worth the drive!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

International Friends Profile-Natalia from Russia

  In my photography it is my goal to capture the unique personality and spirit of each person I work with.  I am learning that no matter how good I am or will be at the technical features of photography, the subject must be willing to 'show themselves' before the camera in order to get the kind of images I am looking for. It is truly a collaboration.
  I met Natalia at a party meet up with the International Friends group we belong to where she was celebrating officially becoming a United States Citizen! She told me she would like some patriot style shots to celebrate. We waited until the weather cooled a bit to do the actual shoot and boy was it worth the wait! I knew after meeting Natalia that she would be an amazing person to photograph as she has such a a positive happy spirit. We shot these photos at Curtis Hixon park in downtown Tampa, across the river from the Plant Museum and University of Tampa which has a very Russian look to it.  This park is a fantastic place to visit and to take photos be it during the day or into the night . Natalia wore 4 different outfits and we used the many fantastic backgrounds at this park, yet there are still more for next time! Natalia's profile is presented in Q &; A form. Enjoy!!

Where in Russia are you from?

  I used to live in a large city of Yaroslavl, 3 hours North-East of Moscow. Yaroslavl marked its 1000th anniversary in 2010.  People are very beautiful in Yaroslavl, and so are the historical sites.  Yaroslavl is situated on the banks of the famous Volga River. Picturesque! 

Is your family still in Russia?

  Yes, my family lives in Russia.  My parents came to visit a couple of times and we traveled to New York City, St Augustine, Disney in Orlando, and Key West. I also go back home to Russia every other year.

When did you come to the U.S.?

  In 1998 I came to a small private college South of Boston as an exchange student. Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been if I didn't participate in that exchange program.  I fell in love with America!  I made so many friends and I have experienced so many things for the very first time: ranging from cheesecake and mozzarella sticks to playing miniature golf, shopping at a mall, witnessing the poverty of Bronx, going on spiritual retreats, visiting the mountains of Utah, hills of Pennsylvania and the fantastic world of Disney of course. :)

How did you end up in Tampa, Florida?

  During my first visit in 1998 I made so many friends and to this day they are my dear and true friends who have seen the ups and downs of my American adventure:)  One of them I met on my trip to Florida in 1999. We kept in touch and in 2001, when I graduated college in Russia, my friend and her family invited me to come back to the U.S. for the summer and stay at their house in Lakeland, FL.  I made even more friends during my stay and one year later I decided to relocate and give the American dream a try :)

Is life in Russia very different from life in the U.S.?  What is the biggest difference?

  Life and the daily struggles are different, but human nature is the same.  Life in the States is more comfortable:  things are more convenient and one feels more stable and secure here, in the U.S.  In Russia, especially outside of Moscow, there are still many struggles and instability. Bureaucracy and corruption are still prominent in Russia, and this, in my opinion, hinders the progress of such a mighty and great nation.  On a smaller scale, however, inside one's circle of friends and family, you will find joy, happiness, love, kindness, hope, jealousy, generosity, etc., just like anywhere in the world.

What do you miss most about Russia?

  My family. My grandmother.  Good old fun times with my college friends...

Do you have many Russian friends here, in the States?
  I really don't.  I have a couple of friends from Ukraine and speak Russian with them, but I don't have a Russian friend.  I made a few great friends in the States over the years and I cherish their friendship, love, and kindness very much. I am a very lucky girl.

What do you like the most about America?

  Somehow I feel that i was meant to be born Russian and make my way to America!  Even if later in life I find myself living in a different country and on a different continent, I believe I will always feel American at the very core of my being.  The American Spirit is very dear to me.  Adventure, discovery, freedom, responsibility, hard work, growth, happiness, Christian values-these are the things I hold very dear to my heart.  Once again, I am so lucky to have the opportunity to live my dream life!

Have you traveled a lot?  Where would you like to go next?

  During my college years I used to travel a lot.  Partly because my Dad was paying for my travels, and partly because I wasn't yet a hard-working American deprived of vacation time :).  I visited many States in the Continental U.S. and also traveled around Europe quite a bit.  For some reason I remember Belgium being the place I'd want to go back to :).

What other languages do you speak?
  I speak English, Russian, and Spanish.  I do need to improve my Spanish and it has been one of my New Years Resolutions for a couple of years already :).

How do you spend your free time?

  I LOVE hanging out with friends: going to the movies, hosting home-made dinners, going out for breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner :).  I love to spend time outdoors. I also enjoy reading, cooking and volunteering.

What is your motto in life?

  Be kind. Be cheerful. Believe in love and act out of love. Enjoy each moment-cherish and treasure it.  Gather the roses of life today-wait not 'till tomorrow....

  We ended the evening with Natalia playing int the mist of a fountain that normally shoots up several shoots of water high in the air during the day. In the evening it is turned down so that there is just a fine mist shooting out of it. The sky remained an amazing red-orange color after sunset providing an amazing backdrop. Thank you Natalia for being yourself and letting me capture your wonderful spirit in these photos!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

King of all Plants

  I took this photo a few years ago when I still lived in Maryland. It was spring and I went to a botanical garden for the day. I came across this sprouting plant and was amazed how much it looked like a little alien guy surveying the areal lol. Do you see what I see? The leaf is like his hat, he has his hands on his hips and a crazy nose shooting straight up in the air. Eyes are at the top of the smaller of the two side pieces. There is even an little indentation that resembles a mouth! I am not sure what made me think about this photo today but I love it. It is so amazing when you stumble upon something like this in nature!  

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wedding: Stacey and Greg

  Last Saturday, October 2nd, I along with my assistant, Jessica of Jessica Slaght Photography photographed the wedding of Stacey and Greg in Largo Florida. It was a beautiful day, one of the first without any humidity that we have had here in months. Starting things off Jessica took some images of the guys getting ready, while I took photos of the Bride getting ready at St Patricks Catholic Church in Largo.

What a pretty bouquet!

The Bride and her parents.

We could not get little Emma to pose in the hall so we decided to join her on the bench for this fun shot.

Greg's brother, the best man and their father

Father and sons
 Here are a few of my favorite photos from the ceremony. 

Congratulations to the happy couple!

   We took a few photos after the ceremony at the church then headed to the beautiful Florida Botanical Gardens nearby for my favorite photos of the day!

  It was pretty bright out but we managed to find some space in the shade for some beautiful Bridal party photos!

This photo is so much fun to begin with but making black and white just turned it into something classic!

Another awesome black and white photo, I expect to see Frank Sinatra in the center here!

This was one shot that Stacey wanted from the beginning and I am glad she did so much fun!

It was also Stacey's idea to put the bouquets on her dress such a great idea. I had the idea for Greg to kiss her hand, having seen it in a magazine looking for idea. Love it!


After one more kiss we headed over to Banquet Masters for the reception.

First dance as husband and wife.

The Groom and his mother.

The Bride and her father

Love this image of Stacey and her parents, there is a lot of love here!

The children in the Bridal party had a great time dancing too.

Time to cut the cake!

Before Jessica and I left Stacey and Greg requested this group shot

Stacey and Greg, thank you for allowing me to be your Wedding Photographer! It was wonderful to see so much love between the two of you and your families. I hope you have a wonderful and happy life together!
To see more photos which you may view as a slideshow go to the gallery Best of Stacey/Greg on my website