Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of Tampa Sunsets in 2009: Ablaze with Fiery Color

This sunset over Old Tampa Bay was taken from Beach Park on September 30th.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best of 2009: Tampa Police and their Narrow Getaway

This black and white image, taken on October 11th in downtown Tampa of a small linear park sandwiched between the Tampa Police headquarters and their parking garage, was the most commented upon of my Tampa Daily Photo posts of 2009.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tampa Police patrol our waters

The Tampa Police Department has a Marine Unit which is responsible for law enforcement and rescue activities on the waterways in and around the City of Tampa. According to the city's website for Tampa Police, HERE, the unit also assists the United States Coast Guard with Homeland Security and the United States Customs Service with illegal narcotics interdiction. Our city is almost surrounded by fresh and salt water and presents a number of challenges to law enforcement. Great changes in the depth of the water, tides and currents and, of course our weather. (It was 44-degrees this morning with a blinding blue sky and a high of only 62.) Tampa Bay is approximately 398 square miles of water and the Hillsborough River bisects the city and empties into the bay. Adding to our size and geography, we can boast of having the eighth largest seaport in the United States.

The Marine Unit is made up of five boats and two personal watercraft, the largest and fastest being a 32 foot Donzi ZF with twin outboard engines providing 500 horsepower. The Donzi is a serious boat for patrolling the water. The Marine Unit also has this 26-foot Boston Whaler, which was docked today at the Marjorie Yacht Basin near the Tampa Fire Rescue boat, a 28-foot Goldline, a 19-foot rigid hull inflatable and a 21-foot Carolina Skiff.

NOTE: My son gave me a new Nikon D80 camera body for Christmas. (He's a generous young fellow!!) I took a couple of days to try, try to gain some familiarity with its digital operation and features. I am excited that the Nikkor lenses that I have had for 30-40 years DO work with this new body. (I have not shot film through my F2 or other misc. Nikons in close to ten years.) It's great they fit and they feel like old friends as I mounted them to the D80 to go out shooting today. BUT, they are not auto in any way so this first effort is not to my crisp standards. I'm learning and will get better.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

MONOCHROME Weekend: Vol. 2, Issue 18: Myrtle Hill

Myrtle Hill Cemetery, North 50th Street, Tampa.

If you love to see your world in black and white go visit some of the most interesting people and places HERE at Monochrome Maniacs!

It's made possible each week by Aileni.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Leave the tree up all year?

Dr. Porter, the sweet Pekingese who graces our home with his royal presence, has found that curling up under the Christmas tree is to his liking. He has apparently decided to make this his new home. Permanently. Don't even think of packing away his ornaments, soft, comfortable tree skirt and removing the tree altogether. I think he's serious.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Even the Tavern gets MERRY!

Even the bars and taverns are crowded and packed with revelers celebrating the season. But, not me. It's all about those I care most about. I'm just so thankful for my family, friends, home and loved ones preparing this evening for the heavenly and unselfish joy of Christmas morn.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Christmas Tradition: Gifts for THE cook in our home

It's a long-time tradition that every Christmas I prance (!) through the Williams Sonoma store in Hyde Park Village and find things to please and delight Mrs. Tampa DP, the finest and most imaginative cook I know. Whether it's a meal in 15 minutes or an elaborate - get out several cookbooks - French or Italian feast for the eyes and stomach, she cannot be beat.

I may only get her a new oven mitt (what else could she possibly need or have space for?), but no store has a better selection or is more welcoming at the holidays. Gifts for the Cook are always wrapped in their special paper and small cookie cutter. It makes me smile and always makes my loved-one happy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

MONOCHROME Weekend - Vol. 2, Issue 17: The Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium, which opened in 1995, is an educational journey through Florida's water ecology while being fun and entertaining. Lots of exhibits, well-stocked gift shop and restaurants all combine to make this a must visit for adults and children. It's located in Tampa's Channelside District and is right on the water and near the cruise docks. (Plenty of parking is available.) A favorite of the young wet-and-wild set is Explore a Shore where kids can play on a pirate ship while staying active and cool while getting soaked ...on warmer days. Moms, dads and grandparents can enjoy my favorite, the Caribbean Cantina, a site-down, full-service bar and grill. You can sit back and still keep an eye on playful minnows. Café Ray is a cafeteria-style restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating options. Visitors to the aquarium follow the flow of water from rain, through the underground aquifer, down rivers and streams, to our bays and beaches, and then on into the Gulf of Mexico! The huge, half-million gallon coral tank is breathtaking and there are opportunities to interact with some of Florida's animals in touch tanks. The brave can even dive in with the sharks - seriously! And for those of you who want to get away and explore the waters and bays around the aquarium, there are Eco-Tours aboard a 64-foot catamaran! This is a great attraction for visitors and natives alike. Visit the Florida Aquarium website HERE.

If you love to see your world in black and white go visit some of the most interesting people and places HERE at Mo nochrome Maniacs! It's made possible each week by Aileni.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

No Snow in Forecast

Tomorrow it is forecast to be a low of 41 and a high of 60... that is COLD for Tampa but a sauna compared to everyone up the eastern seaboard of the US. My hometown of Washington, DC is getting a blizzard-like snowfall and New England is in the winter storm's path. Great folks such as the always warm-hearted Jacob at Ocala Daily Photo and that forever-coed Lois at Tallahassee Daily Photo, may see the temps drop into the 30s or even the 20s in Florida's panhandle and up near our border with Georgia. But, we are still basking in sunshine. (Even though Mrs. Tampa DP has three layers on and thinks it' s freezing outside.) Our little Pekingese needs to borrow a woolly jacket from Gucci at Lori's place in Western New York at Skoog Farm Journal (Dr. Porter just barked, "Help Gucci, I need a warm winter jacket and earmuffs!!")

Stay warm and safe everyone.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Butter Shortbread and Afternoon Tea

Christmas must be a week away. I can already taste the Butter Shortbread...and a Venti-size cup of Starbucks Verona.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lights and Siren: Big Red International Fire Truck Responds

This is a 1950s-era International R-185 fire truck. I wish I could have gotten the actual date but I think it's somewhere in the '53-'55 range. (Any firemen out there remember this piece of firefighting equipment??) It's sitting in the driveway of a home just off Howard Avenue in South Tampa. The "METAL INDUSTRIES FIRE DEPT. NO. 1" looks well-loved and well-cared for. I tried to find some information on the company and the truck's history but without success. It must be real love and a passion for fire trucks that drives a person to park one in their driveway. And, unlike a Corvette, Mercedes SL or even a small Ferrari Dino, you're not going to worry that your spouse is out cruising the beach or bars in it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WATERY WEDNESDAY #66: Move the pilings?

This scene of Tampa's downtown business district is one that is easy to capture from several different vantage points. The heights and designs of the office buildings, the many colors, the bridge and balustrades of Bayshore Boulevard, all combine to create an interesting "portrait" of the city. Many shooting spots, such as this one from the tarpon dock where the Jose Gaspar pirate ship is moored, offer a nice reflection of the buildings and catch the skyline in the water, day and night. But, I've never deliberately including anything in the foreground to "mess it up." These pilings are part of the docks and can easily be cropped in the camera or in the computer...

Click HERE to see wonderfully creative, very wet and Watery Wednesday images from around the world.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mighty Big Ship: M.V. Trogir - Jadroplov Ltd., Split, Croatia

We are surrounded every day by Florida's natural beauty that draws millions of tourists who come from all over the world to our city and state to see and enjoy things that many of us, sadly, ignore or take for granted. We also tend to overlook the many industries such as cargo shipping that bring so much revenue to our area. Cargo ships and three passenger cruise lines regularly dock here and bring people and products in and out of our port. This ship, the M.V. Trogir, is owned by Jadroplov Ltd., of Split, Croatia, and sails under the Croatian flag. Built in 2001, it is the newest in their fleet of six ships - four bulk carriers and two container ships. At 433 feet in length, the ship, which has four large cranes on deck for loading and off-loading. It’s big and formidable looking. Jadroplov, an international maritime transport company, was founded in 1947 and has been a joint stocked owned company since 1993. Jadroplov’s fleet represents the largest container ships in the Croatian merchant fleet.

Surrounded as we are by lakes, bays, rivers and the Gulf, many of us are guilty of not taking notice of the water as we drive along the Bayshore, cross bridges and causeways, and climb into office towers that have magnificent views. We should do better. Pay more attention. (Maybe even take notice of the giant ships that visit our port. They're not taking passengers on romantic and exciting cruises to exotic ports of call, but that are really interesting.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

MONOCHROME Weekend: Vol. 2, Issue 16 / Weekend REFLECTIONS #12 - White as driven snow and basking in Florida sunshine

The bright blue sky,powdery white clouds and the 80-degree weather made for an awesome day. It IS the middle of December, right? No way a sleigh and reindeer can navigate this summer-like paradise but I'm sure there's a way. Perhaps they need a handsome new boat?

If you love to see your world in black and white go visit some of the most interesting
people and places HERE at Monochrome Maniacs! It's made possible each week by Aileni.

Check out other great WEEKEND REFLECTIONS HERE. James is making this possible through his blog, Newtown Daily Photo. You must see his Creepy Clown reflection today ...strange for sure and great in black and white.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

It Was An Open House: Rebecca Sexton Larson - Studio Artist Extraordinaire

My photos are of copyrighted work (c) 2009 Rebecca Sexton Larson

Nothing is more fun than to be invited to the home of friends for a party. Especially as we get closer to the holidays the get-togethers are even more fun and filled with anticipation of the people you'll see and meet, friends new and old, and the great conversations that will ensue. Tonight delivered on every level. A terrific couple and super friends issued an Open House invitation.

Our drive to their house was filled with neighborhood displays of lights and fanciful Christmas characters of every size and construction. No real snow but everything else imaginable. From wooden cut-out sleighs and reindeer to huge inflatable snowmen, the journey there and back was almost half the fun. Tonight was a party but promised so much more. Matt Larson and Rebecca Sexton Larson are two incredibly talented and accomplished individuals. AND, they are married! Happily.

They opened their studio and home to exhibit and offer their work for sale.
They featured dozens of small works that would make great gifts so a couple came home with us that we could not pass up. Matt and Becky are two extremely gracious hosts. Their art fills every room and is on the floors, walls and on every surface. It was arranged in frames under their dazzling white Christmas tree and overflowed to Becky's enchanted studio in their back yard. The evening could not have been more perfect as the weather was amazing and guests enjoyed the illuminated deck and yard.

The photo above is an example of just one of the many alternative photographic processes Becky has employed during her career. She has used straight photography and pinhole cameras and in this instance she made a series of extraordinary tintypes, in a variety of sizes and then encased each in a gorgeous, hand-made lidded box. Becky even sews images together in some of her artwork.

My photos are of copyrighted work (c) 2009 Rebecca Sexton Larson

Here is a short excerpt from Becky's career bio: "Rebecca Sexton Larson is a Tampa based studio artist working with alternative photographic processes. In 1998, Rebecca was awarded her first Florida Individual Artist Fellowship from the State of Florida and in 2002; she was awarded her second Florida Fellowship. And this year she received her third Florida Fellowship. Other major awards include an award from University of the Arts in Philadelphia to lecture and exhibit, an Artist Enhancement Grant from the State of Florida, and in 2005 she was commissioned to be the City of Tampa’s Photographer Laureate. Sexton Larson's photographs are in numerous major collections throughout the country, including: Polaroid, Progressive Corporate Art, Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), Polk Museum of Art, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick Law Firm, Trenam Kemker Law Firm and the Tampa Museum of Art (to name a few). Currently Sexton Larson’s work is featured in the book, Pinhole Photography: Rediscovering a Historic Technique by Eric Renner."

Visit Becky and her work online at BoxPhotos HERE. To see Matt Larson's photography from tonight's party go to Tampa Florida Photo HERE and visit his work online at ToyCameraPlay

Becky and Matt are talented and genuinely awesome artists AND people. We looked forward to tonight's open house and it delivered in every way possible.

Friday, December 11, 2009

SKYWATCH FRIDAY - Season 4 Episode 22

The sky over our beautiful city is still solid gray and wintry-looking. Although it's not cold at all (I hate looking at that national weather map and seeing how cold other parts of the country are today), it does look though as if it'll snow at any minute. Notice that every slip has a boat snugly tied up and covered against the "nasty" winter day. Even a scene like this one with the water, yachts and the homes and buildings on Harbour Island has a dreary, sullen look without the glorious, blazing sunshine.

My shot looks a lot like Lori's at Skoog Farm but minus all the barns, fencing, crunchy ice and snow and 20 below zero temperatures. Oh, and the farm doesn't have any palm trees. (Our weather is just a tad different, right? Right?) I'm not complaining one bit but I do miss the blue skies and bright sunshine that's more typical of Tampa, even in the winter.

Visit Skywatch Friday t
o see the beauty and wonders of the world's most magnificent skies. It's always an amazing show and all brought to you by Skywatchers from all over the planet.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's NOT Snowing Here

It only looks like it'll snow any moment. Compared to much of the US of A, Tampa has it really, really good right now. No icy temperatures, snow plows, salt on the roads, frozen tree limbs or lake effect snow. NO. Nothing but a little chilly weather (for us) and sea gulls hanging out on the dock looking for a handout. I may be a thousand plus miles away my friends, but I am thinking of you and your early winter weather. Be safe. Stay warm!! (Think of Florida beaches, palm trees and sand in your toes.)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Watery Wednesday #65: Tiptoeing through the oysters - Little Blue Heron

I found another of my heron friends hunting for an afternoon snack. I wished him a lot of luck.

Click HERE to see other wet and Watery Wednesday images from around the

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tampa's Getting Ready for Christmas

I especially liked this house all decorated for Christmas because of the lighting on their palm trees. No snow on the ground, but lots of bright, white lights to guide the sleigh.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

MONOCHROME Weekly: All Aboard at Tampa Union Station

If you love to see our world in magnificent black and white, be sure and visit some of the most interesting people and places in the world HERE at Monochrome Maniacs! It's made possible each week by Aileni.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


As I took this shot from the top of the parking garage near Saks Fifth Avenue at Westshore Plaza, a car exited the drive in the right lane and didn't even slow down, much less stop. And I was thinking, How could someone not come to a complete stop here?

Friday, December 04, 2009

SkyWatch FRIDAY - Season 4 Episode 21: Daily Eats, A SoHo Favorite

It has poured rain all day with only brief intervals designed to allow a moment for a small dog to navigate deep puddles out-of-doors without drowning! NO sunshine at all, which is a real rarity for Tampa. It looks like it might snow at any minute. It's 57 degrees so I may break out a wool sweater, parka and gloves - they are hidden away somewhere. Where? So that said, my SkyWatch is rather wintry and gray.

Daily Eats is a very popular "diner" on Tampa's South Howard Avenue in the SoHo dining and entertainment district of South Tampa. It is almost packed and for good reason. Scrumptious food, breakfast to dinner, with an incredibly delicious Koba beef burger and OMG chocolate milk shakes. Mouth watering breakfast, too. Check it out HERE.

Visit Skywatch Friday t
o see the beauty and wonders of the world's most magnificent skies. (And even some other sullen gray scenes like Tampa's.) It's always an amazing show though and all brought to you by Skywatchers from all over the planet.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sized for a Giant: Cigars, Pipes and Tobacco

If you smoke a pipe or enjoy a fine cigar, or just want to inhale a smell that might just remind of your dad or granddad and their constant stogy, then this is the place. If you’re from the Tampa Bay area you've known of Edwards Pipe and Tobacco practically forever. Established in 1960, it has been a fixture for decades at this location on Henderson Boulevard near the intersection with West Kennedy Boulevard. If you are visiting Tampa you must stop by and experience the giant humidor filled with fine cigars, the comfortable and clubby bar atmosphere, delicious coffee and a large selection of pipes and accessories. When I did smoke a pipe, years ago, one of my first was a briar pipe bought at Edwards - they carry their own line of pipes and tobaccos. Although cigars are still a popular fad of sorts, Edwards goes way beyond the hype and glitz of an expensive, show-offy cigar to offer a wide selection of the world's finest brands. It may be Tampa’s largest and widest selection and variety of tobacco products (minus cigarettes.) I have admired the gigantic pipe sign on the top of the store for many years. Even if you’ve never smoked anything, you’ve got to admire a trade sign like this one; they’re kind of rare in this country.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It Has FOUR Doors, Sweetheart

The new 2010 Porsche Panamera is the German automakers first four door model in its entire manufacturing history. With a base price of $89,800, we aren't all rushing out to grab one for our garage. As it combines Porsche's incredible racing and sports car history, it sure would be fun to load three of my best friends in it and go for a short, sweet ride. (I think I hear my dear, understanding wife begging off.) I'd want to go up and over Tampa Bay via the Sunshine Skyway Bridge just to see the view through the four beautifully designed windows. I promise to not exceed the posted speed limit. Its 4.8-liter V8 engine produces 400 horsepower and can scream to 62 mph in a heart-pumping 5.2 seconds. Want more can I say? It's a Porsche. With four doors. A first. (I think I said all that.)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Theme Day: WAITING

Today is THEME DAY within the City Daily Photo blogging community. Our theme is: WAITING. As I thought of how to visually interpret the theme, every way seemed to center around time, that WAITING was all about time (real and imagined). It pointed to our reliance on keeping time, marking time, planning our time and being on time ...or being late. We seem to spend years WAITING...on someone or something. This old watch has seen its share of windings, resettings and showing time. And gauged years, several decades and thousands of hours of WAITING. Take a look at the other scenes of WAITING at my fellow CDP sites throughout the blog world HERE.