“Toasted” Best Bagels in Miami, maybe Florida

20170131_083707I’ve been on kinda a personal secret mission while traveling around the state of Florida.  A mission to find a decent bagel. That might sound a little strange coming from a guy that was raised in New Orleans, home to French Bread Po-Boys and Beignets.

Back in the late 80s I developed a strong appreciation to bagels during a short move to Chicago. I remember going to the local Jewel’s grocery store there and buying a handful of sesame seed covered bagels.  I would rush home to toast them and add a hefty helping of cream cheese and jam and pair with a nice cup of dark roast coffee. It was my  morning ritual and I loved it. The sesame bagels brought me back to New Orleans because they reminded me of the toasted sesame seeds one would find on a Po-Boy (French bread) served  in the various restaurants in New Orleans. Although, most of the New Orleans Po-Boy bread doesn’t even have sesame seeds. But, if you ever had a real New Orleans style Roast Beef with the toasted sesame seed Po-Boy bread, your taste buds would jump with delectation and there’s a good chance you may become addicted.

A few years later I landed a big assignment in Manhattan.The assignment turned out to be a very lucrative one and I enjoyed many other trips to the Big Apple as a result. It was there that I discovered the “Everything Bagel” with the works. A place called H&H bagels served up some of the best bagels in New York as they still do. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved the sesame seed bagels, but the “Everything Bagel” just knocked my socks off with flavor. Wow! I was addicted.

Living in New Orleans and then in Colorado for many years I never lost that bagel addiction. However, one might as well forget trying to find a real Chicago or New York style bagel there. Most are just baked and not very good. The bagels there have little or few sesame seeds or anything else, especially on the bottom half.  Some are cake like and some taste just like regular baked bread shaped like a bagel with various toppings.  They just didn’t hold  “Watta”  to a real New York bagel.

I ended up moving to the Tampa-Sarasota area about two years ago from Colorado.  I figured since so many New Yorkers live in Florida there might be a good chance of finding a decent “Everything Bagel” right?  But to my surprise it didn’t happen. I’ve tried several places and just came up disappointed every time.

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Front side of their Everything Bagel

I travel frequently  and the last couple of days I found myself down in Miami on another assignment. Located right next door to my assignment at the Brickell City Centre I noticed a huge number of locals popping in and out of this little bagel shop, so I just had to try the place.  My first impression,  Bingo! Jackpot! My bagel lottery hit!  The aromas, toppings and texture of the fresh bagels were as good as I can remember getting in New York. I was so excited to see and taste a real bagel for a change. I took a couple pictures posted both the front and back of their Everything bagel. Awesome!  Bada bing!

In my opinion, if you’re craving a real bagel packed with the toppings on both sides, you must check out  “Toasted Baglery and Deli” It’s on SW 8th Street in the Financial District.

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Back side of their Everything Bagel

An excerpt from their web site:

The two Egyptian brothers Islam and Khaled moved to the US in 2001 and started working in bakeries throughout New York and New Jersey. Realizing their experience can help them bring their delicious bagels and deli to Miami they opened the exposed-brick-covered Toasted Bagelry & Deli in Brickell where they do things the old way with kosher malt, flour, conditioner, and filtered water producing pristine bagels.

Their web site: http://toastedbagelry.com/

Contributed by: Martin J. Allred

http://www.Floridaography.com

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Tampa, FL

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Photo of Downtown Tampa, Florida. Taken from the W. Platt St. Bridge above The Hillsborough River..Credit: Martin Allred

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Sazerac, The Quintessential Cocktail

Many of us share recipes with friends and family while celebrating the holiday season. One quintessential cocktail recipe that I feel must be shared is the Sazerac Cocktail. It’s a stiff drink with a slight nose aroma of anise. Being originally from New Orleans,  I may be a little partial, but I do enjoy the cocktail often and I personally like it best made with Remy Martin 173820160904_163721 1738 Cognac,  Swiss made Kubler Absinthe and Peychaud Bitters.

The Sazerac is a  local favorite historic cocktail that originated around the mid 1800s in New Orleans.  000005353_cognac-1811-sazerac-de-forge-fils_750Around 1850, Sewell T. Taylor sold his New Orleans bar, The Merchants Exchange Coffee House, to become an importer of spirits, and he began to import a brand of Cognac named Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils. Meanwhile, Aaron Bird assumed proprietorship of the Merchants Exchange and changed its name to Sazerac Coffee House. Legend has it that Bird began serving the “Sazerac Cocktail”, made with Sazerac Cognac imported by Taylor, and allegedly with bitters being made by the local apothecary, Antoine Amedie Peychaud. The Sazerac Coffee House subsequently changed hands several times, when around 1870, Thomas Handy became its proprietor. It is around this time that the primary ingredient changed from Cognac to rye whiskey, due to the  phylloxera epidemic in Europe that devastated the vineyards of France.  At some point before his death in 1889, Handy recorded the recipe for the cocktail, which made its first printed appearance in William T. “Cocktail Bill” Boothby’s The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them (1908), although his recipe calls for Selner Bitters, not Peychaud’s. After absinthe was banned in the US in 1912, it was replaced by various anise-flavored liqueurs, most notably the locally produced Herbsaint, which first appeared in 1934. Some also suggest that with  prohibition in the USA and the rareity of imported liquors may have contributed to Rye replacing the cognac. Rum could have also been substituted  since so much flowed through the port of New Orleans during prohibition  which gave birth to another New Orleans original, the “Hurricane Cocktail”  But, that’s another story.

The Sazerac Bar in New Orleans serves the cocktail made with American Rye whiskey. However, the drink is most traditionally made with a combination of Cognac, absinthe, Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar.

  • 3 oz  1738 Remy Martin Cognac
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup or agave syrup
  • substituted bitters to taste
  • absinthe
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Preparation:

  1. Chill an old-fashioned glass by filling it with ice and letting it sit while preparing the rest of the drink.
  2. In a separate mixing glass, muddle the simple syrup and Peychaud bitters together.
  3. Add the cognac and ice to the bitters mixture and stir.
  4. Discard the ice in the chilled glass and rinse it with absinthe by pouring a small amount into the glass, swirling it around and discarding the liquid.
  5. Strain the cognac mixture from the mixing glass into the old fashioned glass.
  6. Garnish with a lemon twist. Traditionalists will say that the lemon twist should be squeezed over the drink to release its essences but that the twist should not be dropped into the glass itself.
  • I would recommend going to the Sazerac Bar in New Orleans and let a pro show you the ropes.

Contributed by:  Martin Allred

http://www.floridaography.com

Patrica looking over the drink menu at the Historic Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel during our trip to New Orleans this year.

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Enjoying a Sazerac….

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Mirrorless Cameras Wave of the Future

6a00df351e888f883401a3fcf148e2970b-800wiIn our October article I wrote about the release of Canon’s new flagship  Mirrorless Camera. I also mentioned that I feel the “Mirrorless Camera” technology will eventually replace the DSLR camera.

This month Steve Burton wrote about switching to a “Mirrorless Camera” as a Nikon Pro Photojournalist. Steve is  a London-based professional photographer who specializes in photojournalism and event photography.

His article is very informative and gives professional photographers some valuable tips that could be helpful on future assignments.

My Journey in Switching to Mirrorless as a Photojournalist

It started with a phone call from the picture editor of one of UK’s best-selling newspapers asking me to catch a flight that evening to Amsterdam to accompany a journalist for a story first thing the next morning.

I was warned to be very discrete, as the story could be very sensitive to some people. It involved a Dutch trawler that was registered in the UK under a flag of convenience that enabled it to use up 25% of the UK fishing quota by just one “industrialized” super trawler. The owners may not have liked the presence of English journalists, hence the need for discretion.

I had recently started using the Fuji X mirrorless system, starting with the X-Pro 1, which I purchased on one of Fuji’s brilliant deals, which came with 2 free lenses, which got me hooked with an X-T1 and more lenses soon following.

I made a decision to only take only the Fuji kit in a small camera bag with 2 bodies and 5 lenses, from the 10-24mm to the 55-200mm for the longer shots.

This was a momentous decision for me as since the professional adoption of digital in about 1999 I had never left the country with anything less than 2 Nikon DSLRs and at least 3 pro range zooms and a Macbook pro along with flashguns and chargers etc. Even on family holidays all this kit came with me.

Checking in for the flight was a delight with no breaking kit down in overcoat pockets and risking other equipment in the hold. All the cameras and lenses came with me in the overhead baggage lockers.

On arrival at the docks, we found the ship easily and I set about taking photographs with the X-T1 and 18-55 “kit” lens — I really don’t know why it’s referred as a kit lens as it’s a brilliant high quality standalone lens.

I was lucky with the light but I still couldn’t believe the quality of the pictures I was seeing on the rear LCD screen. I quickly downloaded the pictures to an iPad and was amazed at how good they looked

A few minutes later, I had a phone call from the picture editor saying “what great pictures” I had shot, but “where did you get them?” When I told her I had taken them about an hour ago, she was staggered and was of the belief they had been given to us from a marketing or communications agency. Such was the quality of the picture it could have come from an annual report cover.

From then on the Fujis went everywhere, including trips to Kuwait, Nicaragua and the military coup in Turkey, all with no advance notice at all. The Fuji kit remains packed in one bag and ready to go at the drop of a hat.

All the kit worked without fault, enabling me to get around lightly and quickly without drawing attention to myself. People don’t feel intimidated by the Fuji cameras the way they do when they look at a DSLR. I’ve photographed politicians during interviews and they don’t notice the almost silent shutter and are much more relaxed.

There were still a few doubts though as to whether I was going to be 100% Fuji for my editorial work. I found myself in the cities of Paris and Brussels unfortunately for the wrong reasons: covering terrorist atrocities. This is a situation in which the Fuji system should come into its own, enabling me to move around quickly. But the problem I had was the very real fear that another atrocity could occur whilst I was there and I would need a long and preferably fast lens to cover a live breaking news story.

The longest lens I could use was the Fuji 50-140mm with the 1.4X converter which would give me the full frame equivalent of almost 300mm f/4.

I really needed my 500mm f/4 Nikon and 1.4X converter just for peace of mind. So the 500mm f/4 came with me (along with a full frame DSLR body and a charger). Then you worry, “what about a spare body?” In the end, I just took the whole Nikon outfit. I had chosen to drive to these cities from London rather than fly, so expensive cameras in the aircraft hold wasn’t an issue.

Some time after that trip, along came the Fuji 100-400mm and the first time I picked it up in a trade show, I knew I had to have it. Here was a lens that gave me 600mm f/5.6 performance in a lens not much physically bigger or heavier than an 80-200mm f/2.8. Shooting some test pictures in a fairly gloomy convention hall, I was staggered by the quality of the images taken handheld in not ideal circumstances but the sort of real world everyday situation a photojournalist can find themselves.

The image stabilization is second to none and I was able to take good quality photographs that any photography book or course will tell you isn’t possible at the sort of shutter speeds I was using — a 30th sec or longer. You are more concerned with movement of the subject rather than camera shake. This lens throws away the rule books.

I was so impressed I pre-ordered one on the spot before they even had an availability date.

Another piece of the photographic puzzle had been put into place for me.

During this past year something else happened, I started going out to shoot personal pictures purely for my own pleasure — something I hadn’t done for quite some time. I even started experimenting with black-and-white and long-exposures. The enjoyment I was having might never have happened lugging a DSLR and lenses around.

There was still one very important piece of the jigsaw missing for me: the absence of a professional grade flash for use on the hot shoe. I’m not a fan of on-camera flash, believing that should be used for court defendants, disgraced politicians, late night car crashes and general press scrums. I was mainly using available light or Elinchrom Ranger studio lights or perhaps the small Nissin I40, which whilst very compact lacks the power and fast recycling of a pro flashgun with an external battery pack such as a Quantum Turbo.

This meant the Nikon DSLRs were still needed if I thought I would need flash on a news job. Then Fujifilm started shipping the EF-X500 flashgun which had been announced months before. It had been delayed by months but they obviously wanted to get it perfect as a premium product.

I’m pleased to say the wait was worthwhile and it works straight out of the box, performing flawlessly. I managed to mislay the manual in the box but that was no hindrance to having it working without drama, including high-speed sync to 8000th of a second without special triggers or setup. This was the first time I’ve ever used high-speed sync, and it’s just perfect for fill flash with those fast prime lenses used at wide apertures.

The future is looking very bright for the Fujifilm system, especially with the company’s frequent firmware upgrades under their Kaizen philosophy, which literally means “change good”. When new firmware is released, it’s like getting a new updated camera model. It seems that for some manufactures, when they develop new firmware, they just release a new camera with an “S” in the name or a different model number. I love opening those new boxes with the fancy packing reminiscent of Apple products, but getting a “new” camera through a 5-minute upgrade performed at home is much better still.

Development of the Fujifilm cameras, and indeed all mirrorless systems, will continue at an increasing pace. The cameras have improved in design rapidly for such a young technology compared with traditional DSLRs. If you take the lens off a 1960 Nikon F and a brand new D5 and peer inside, there’s a lot that hasn’t changed. There’s better engineering and exotic metals, but there’s still that great big mirror flapping noisily up and down.

The camera chips and imaging processors will improve with vastly improved focusing and ISO range. I don’t believe we need more mega pixels in the X series especially with the 51MP “medium format” GFX 50S due for delivery in early 2017. Global electronic shutters are in development, which will do away with “rolling shutter” effects, especially with moving subjects. Flash sync should be available at any shutter speed with even low power flash. 32000s wide open in bright sunshine with full lighting control, anybody? This is why the GFX lenses have no leaf shutters — they are about to become obsolete.

A wish list for the future? I’m reliably informed there are advanced plans for a “pro” backup service for fast repairs and loan equipment for professional users. They already have a range of professional dealers who are not only knowledgeable but enthusiastic about the X system.

A fast telephoto such as a 200mm f/2 or a 300mm f/2.8 would be very useful, especially with the new sensors in the future. Another necessity is the ability to send pics direct to an FTP server via Wi-Fi for both the newspaper wire services and the corporate event and conference photography, which I’m involved in.

The arrival of the EF-X500 flash was the final piece in the puzzle that enabled me to rely on my Fuji system for all my editorial needs. A remarkable journey in a relatively short period of time, considering I’ve been shooting digital professionally for 18 years now.

Rebogged: Steve Burton

Contributed by: Martin J. Allred

 

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Canon’s New Flagship Mirrorless Camera EOS-M5

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Canon unveiled their newest flagship mirrorless camera in London last month. The Mirrorless EOS-M5,

This camera is bundled with all the buttons and whistles professional photographers love and demand, with the added bonus of less weight.  The camera is also slightly smaller than the much more cumbersome professional Canon DSLRs on the market . Personally, I think the mirrorless technology will eventually make the DSLR cameras obsolete. Just think about that for a moment.  Will the term “mirrorless” eventually go the same way as the horseless carriage did?  Although this technology has been around for several years, I think it will change the way cameras will be manufactured in the future. After all, as a professional why would I want to carry around all that extra weight when I can get the functions I need and use frequently in a smaller camera?

The first EOS camera to include Canon’s DIGIC 7 processor, it’s packed with the very best imaging technology, including a 24.2 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and Dual Pixel CMOS AF for sharp, precise photos and dynamic, cinematic movies. The perfect compact companion for high-end photographers, or an alternative to mid-level DSLR cameras, the EOS M5 is a landmark in Canon’s mirrorless range.

When combined with Dual Pixel CMOS AF, spontaneous moments can be frozen thanks to DSLR-level AF speeds and accuracy, while sophisticated recognition and subject tracking of DIGIC 7 helps the camera lock onto subjects for longer and more precisely in both movies and stills. With improved clarity and performance, whether you’re on a family holiday or a professional shoot in pursuit of that stand out shot, DIGIC 7 offers the best photography experience.

Bright moments, from summer days to backlit subjects, can be shot with ease using the 24.2 Megapixel sensor, which includes gapless micro lenses to maximise the sensor area, increasing pixel light sensitivity while making the camera less susceptible to digital noise. The sensor – which includes similar technologies to the esteemed EOS 80D – also improves dynamic range and editing latitude for beautiful shades and contrasts. For situations where shallow depth of field is a must, like portrait photography or moments of creative expression, the EOS M5’s large APS-C sensor makes the effect stand-out and easy to achieve. Whether it is manipulating light or simply shooting in unusual conditions, with the ability to select ISO up to a massive 25,600 with no expansion needed, the EOS M5 is the camera to be carrying for unique, well composed photographs.

While you can make the settings work for you, you can’t always control your subject. From an animal on the move to a moment of sporting brilliance, the EOS M5 comes to life in just one second, and can continually shoot at 7 fps, or 9 fps with fixed AF. For Full HD 60p movies that stay steady even when you don’t, the camera’s five axis-stabilisation keeps frames still even when using non-IS lenses, enhanced even further when using a lens equipped with Dynamic IS.

Designed to be yours
The EOS M5 was created from the inside out, to work for you. The in-built, large electronic viewfinder is centrally placed, for DSLR–like handling, as well as high resolution and fast 120 fps refresh rate for maximum comfort. When using the viewfinder, the LCD touch screen – your portal to every setting – can be turned into a touch pad, letting you use your thumb to change the AF point or zone, mimicking the Multi-controller ‘joy stick’ function of a DSLR. For full control, the premium finish body has several customisable external buttons, including a new thumb operated dial for easy exposure control. For true versatility, the EOS M5 can be used with over 80 EF lenses using the Mount Adapter EF-EOS M with no loss in performance or quality.

Get connected, stay connected
Alongside Wi-Fi and NFC, the EOS M5 offers Bluetooth® connectivity¹ – which creates a constant connection between your smartphone and camera. From there you can view and transfer images without taking the camera out of your bag, as it automatically shifts to Wi-Fi when needed. The feature can also be used to turn your smartphone into a simple, low power remote control for prolonged remote shooting or capturing scenes that require a fast shutter release, such as wildlife shoots.

Key Features of the Canon EOS M5 Camera Include:

  • 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, ISO 100–25600.
  • Fast and smooth Dual Pixel CMOS AF helps you capture stills and shoot video with quick and precise autofocus.
  • High-speed continuous shooting at up to 7.0 fps (up to 9.0 fps with AF Lock) and new DIGIC 7 Image Processor with improved AF tracking performance.
  • Full HD 60p helps capture fast-moving subjects and brilliant results in MP4 format.
  • Digital IS with 5-axis image stabilizationivwhen shooting movies plus increased image stabilization with both lens optical IS and in-camera digital IS when shooting with an IS lens.
  • Built-in high-resolution EVF (approx. 2,360,000 dots) with new Touch and Drag AF lets you manually move the AF frame displayed for more precise focusing in different shooting situations.
  • Intuitive touch screen 3.2 tilt-type (85° up/180° down) LCD monitor (approx. 1,620,000 dots) enables flexible positioning and clear viewing.
  • Easily customize functions while shooting using the Main Dial, Quick Control Dial, Dial Function Button and Exposure Compensation Dial.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi®v and NFCvi allows for easy sharing and transferring of images and videos.
  • Equipped with Bluetooth®iii Smart for smooth pairing with a compatible smartphone by powering on both devices for easy photo sharing and remote control possibilities.
  • Shorter camera startup timevii and interval time between each image capture for a more efficient shooting experience.
  • Compatible with EF-M lenses as well as the full line of EFviii and EF-Sviii lenses and Speedlites for expanded creativity.

See Canon’s press release here: https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/portal/us/home/about/newsroom/press-releases/press-release-details/2016/20160915-EOS-M5/20160915-EOS-M5

Contributed by: Martin Allred

Floridaography.com

 

 

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Canon EOS 6D Tips and Tricks

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Contributed by:  Martin Allred

http://www.floridaography.com

EOS 6D: WiFi and image size

Sending images over WiFi is not usually that quick. As such, even though the files are only JPEGs, it is best to keep them to a small file size to make transfer as efficient as possible. Previously, the advice for sending images over WiFi was to select a small JEPG file in the file size options. However, with the EOS 6D, it is possible to resize images in the WiFi transfer settings menu. This way you can shoot in RAW and Large JPEG if you need to, but then resize the images you wish to send, in-camera, so they transfer faster.

 

Source: Canon Professional Services

 

 

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Iconic Elephants Retire in Florida

Contributed by: Martin J. Allred                www.floridaography.com

Marking the end of an era, the “Greatest Show on Earth” concluded with the “Last Show on Earth”  in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants. The last 11 circus owned elephants just arrived from their final east coast performance and were greeted with a buffet fit for elephant. (I had to throw that in) Their new home is a 200 acre sanctuary in Polk City, Florida.

Feld Entertainment located in Palmetto, Florida owns the circus and has faced growing criticism and constant badgering by animal rights activists and many new local laws were restricting their animal performances.

The elephants performed for 145 years and were considered one of the main attractions for the circus. Many feel it’s only fitting that the circus now take care of the herd since the company prospered greatly with their performances.

The elephant sanctuary is located just a few miles from Disney World between Orlando and Tampa, Florida. Now with a total of 39 elephants, the Florida sanctuary has the largest population of Asian elephants in the Western Hemisphere. 

The cost of taking care of just one elephant is over $55,000 per year. That will cost the owners over 2 million dollars annually to care for the large herd.

According to the sanctuary officials, the facilities are sensitive to the environment and utilize good drainage and water-saving devices. No trees were felled and no wetlands disturbed to build the sanctuary. The unspoiled site is also home to egrets, raccoons, snakes, turkeys, and many other native species. The Center for Elephant Conservation  meets or exceeds all environmental requirements and regulations for housing elephants.

banner-meet-our-herd.jpgThere are five outside paddock areas, all of which include structures to provide shade and constant access to drinking water. With an intricate system of 37 gates and walkways, each paddock can be accessed from any other one without animals having to exit secured areas.

There are four main animal buildings: a 17,000-square-foot main barn with birthing facilities monitored with 24-hour-a-day audio and video monitoring systems and an automated animal waste removal system (the building also contains an elevated office/lab/observation room, a feed storage room, and two workshop areas); two 3,100-square-foot male elephant barns; and a 4,900-square-foot double male elephant barn.

The elephant Toby below.

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Make Your Outdoor Photos Pop

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Contributed by: Martin J. Allred      www.floridaography.com

If you are serious about photography and want to shoot like a pro, you should invest in a  DSLR camera and a couple of decent detachable lenses with filters. A cell phone photo may work for the internet at times, however, if you want to start publishing or selling your photos you will need the right equipment.

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Two must have filters for shooting outdoors are the UV and polarizer. You should keep a UV filter on the lens to protect it from being damaged or scratched at all times. The UV filter does little to affect the quality of the images, but it will slightly improve your color tones by helping block some of the UV light rays outdoors. It’s mainly used for protecting the glass on the lens. When shooting in bright sunlight outdoors, I  prefer to use a polarizing filter.

bluehBoth filters screw  on the end of a lens easily.  A polarizing filter will make your outside photos pop. It helps eliminate haze, reflections on glass, water, and makes the sky appear a rich darker blue. You will get the best results when you are approximately 90 degrees to the sun. You turn the lens filter as you look through the viewfinder until you achieve the desired position. Compare the images below with and without a polarizing filter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above: See how the bottom photo has more detail, especially in the clouds using the polarizer.

Below: The image below shot using a polarizer changed the outcome of the photo dramatically. It changed the color and appearance of the water, made the trees pop in a brighter green, and turned the sky into a much ricer blue.

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Finally, look at the picture on the right. The glare on the water is minimized, the sky is a darker blue, and the foilage is slightly greener. The polarizer filter will not help much with the detail in the shadow areas, but it pays dividends in other areas when shooting on bright sunny days.

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It’s Blueberry Season in Florida

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Contributed by: Martin J. Allred   http://www.floridaography.com

When people think of Florida’s agriculture many think of orange juice. However, with Florida’s mild climate many other varieties of fruit and veggies or grown.

According to the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, hundreds of small blueberry farms have opened across Florida over the past three decades. Although, Florida produces only a fraction of the berries that Michigan does. Florida’s berries are harvested before other locations around the country. The season gives Florida farmers an advantage by limiting their competition. Blueberries are expensive to grow, costing about $20,000 an acre to plant. And, Florida varieties produce only 4 to 5 pounds of berries per bush, while Northern bushes can yield up to 20 pounds of fruit. Florida’s biggest competition comes from overseas and places like Chile, but even with this competition, Florida can still offer a much fresher product.  To learn more visit the FBGA site. http://blueberriesfromflorida.com/

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In terms of U.S. fruit consumption, blueberries rank only second to strawberries in popularity of berries. Blueberries are not only popular, but also repeatedly ranked in the U.S. diet as having one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. Antioxidants are essential to optimizing health by helping to combat the free radicals that can damage cellular structures as well as DNA.

If you want to maximize your antioxidant benefits from blueberries, go organic!2016-04-16 11.25.43.jpg

If you want to maximize your antioxidant benefits from blueberries, go organic! A recent study has directly compared the total antioxidant capacity of organically grown versus non-organically grown highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L., var. Bluecrop) and found some very impressive results for the organically grown berries. Organically grown blueberries turned out to have significantly higher concentrations of total phenol antioxidants and total anthocyanin antioxidants than conventionally grown blueberries, as well as significantly higher total antioxidant capacity. source: http://www.whfoods.com/

Many organic farms will let you pick your own berries. Picking your own berries makes a great family activity together while supporting the small blueberry family farms. So go out and enjoy the warm Florida weather and pick until you’re blue….

Follow this link for growers near you.  http://blueberriesfromflorida.com/florida-u-pick-blueberry-farms/

I wanted to share this great breakfast recipe for enjoying those delicious Florida Blueberries.

Florida Blueberries Season April-May

Blueberry-Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup milk

3/4 cup ricotta*

3 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 cups Fresh Blue Berries and Strawberries

2 Tbsp butter, melted

Directions

Preheat griddle or non-stick skillet over medium heat on the stove top. In a mixing bowl mix flour,  sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a separate large mixing bowl, mix milk, ricotta, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Add lemon zest with lemon juice to milk mixture along with melted butter and blend until combined (it will curdle a little, that’s fine, but you’ll want to hurry and pour it into the dry mixture). Pour into flour mixture and whisk just to combined (batter should be slightly lumpy). Pour about 1/4 – 1/3 cup batter onto buttered griddle or skillet then drop fresh blue berries in the batter after pouring batter on griddle. Cook until bubbles begin to appear on surface and bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook opposite side until golden brown.

Lower the calories about 1/2 by using low-fat ricotta, and low fat milk and only the egg whites. Keep pancakes in preheated holding oven until all is done. Serve warm dusted with powdered sugar and blue berries and strawberries or fruit compote..

If you want more lemon flavor add more lemon zest.

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Dive Sites: Sarasota, Florida

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Jacqueline observing….

Contributed by:  Martin J. Allred      www.Floridaography.com

The Gulf waters are warming so the time is right to get wet again.  Actually, one can really dive year-round in Sarasota. The surface temperatures in the  offshore waters normally range from the low 80s Fahrenheit in summer and dropping down to the lower 70s in winter. Visibility ranges from 20 to 50 feet, depending on the dive site and weather conditions. Shallow sites in sandy areas are prone to lower visibility, so many inshore Sarasota dive sites will have lower visibility.  Although, just offshore in the Deep-water you can have underwater visibility of up to 100 feet or more.

The seabed off of Sarasota is mostly a vast sandy plain; because of that, many dive sites focus on wrecks or artificial reefs. One prime site is a British freighter BayRonto which was built in 1905 by Armstrong Whitworth & Co. in Newcastle.  The BayRonto was 400 feet long with a  52 foot beam.

She foundered in heavy seas on September 13, 1919. The ship was carrying a cargo of wheat from Galveston to Marseille at the time. The NEW YORK TIMES reported that eleven of her crew were picked up by the fishing smack Ida and brought to Tampa. The steamship Calno rescued 19 survivors and brought them to Charleston, South Carolina, on September 21. Another 18 survivors were reported to have landed at Havana on September 16. After the final count, the BayRonto’s full complement had been accounted for.

The BayRonto is now located 30 miles offshore in 110 feet of water. This wreck sits upside down and broken in half on a sand bottom and is excellent for spear fishing.  This is an advanced site and the visibility is generally good.

Another popular dive is the Mexican Pride. You can read the article just below this text from Advanced Diver Magazine which covered the ship dive in detail. http://www.advanceddivermagazine.com/articles/mxpride/mxpride.html

Other popular dive sites around the Sarasota area are;  Sheridan, South Jack, Fin Barge, MD1 Barge, Bullshark Ledge, Blackthorn, Sheridan, Rube Allen, Veterans reef, Treasure Island 1 and 2, Duniden, , The Hard Bottom area west of the Mex Pride. Some Army tanks too; 5 intact army tanks were sunk in the area at a depth of 60 feet (18 meters). The visibility is great but it does require advanced certification. The site is home to plenty of sea life.

Just south about 18 miles of Sarasota is Venice Beach, noted for its deposits of fossilized shark teeth. Right offshore are large areas of black sand, and sometimes fossilized teeth can be found in those black sand deposits. The depth on these sites is rarely more than 20 feet. These teeth come from shark species that existed at the time of the dinosaurs, and are far larger than the teeth of modern sharks. A diver who wants to hunt for shark teeth can either start or join a charter trip from Sarasota, or plan a shore diving expedition from Venice Beach.

Dive Charters

If you have a large enough group or are able to afford the cost, you can private charter dives through the dive centers and name your own dive sites. Alternatively, you might join someone else’s charter trip, occupying a seat and defraying the cost, but with no voice in deciding where the boat goes.

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Ocean Pro Dive Shop

Best full service scuba diving snorkeling and spearfishing shop in Sarasota Florida. Ocean Pro Dive Shop PADI 5 Star has over 37 years experience in the area.

Florida Underwater Sports

Sarasota, Florida’s Only Scubapro Platinum Center and PADI 5 Star Scuba Diving Center.

Scuba Quest Florida Dive Center | Florida Scuba Shop

www.scubaquest.com/

Scuba Quest serves all of Florida providing expert Scuba Diving Certification classes, exotic scuba diving excursions, & quality scuba gear.

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