A flock of seagulls scattering as a young child stands in the middle of them, scaring them all away

Visiting Friends & Family in Florida

On January 16th we all headed on a plane to Tampa, Florida to visit some of Jen’s family, who lives nearby. Jen hadn’t seen her aunt since she was a little girl, and she was excited to meet all of her new cousins as well.

As I try and do every time, I managed to snap some good shots out of the airplane window.

cloudscape, photographed out of an airplane window
Clouds Forever Reaching to the Abyss

From My Airplane Window

Land masses covered in snow throughout bodies of water and land, creating an aerial abstraction
Mountain Illusion

Looking Below aerial landscape

City of Marathon, the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys
DTW to TPA – Arrival Inevitable no.4
After getting our rental car we headed out for the visit. When I was at Enterprise I discovered I hadn’t renewed my license.

“Jen! Guess What”
” I didn’t renew my license, so you’ll have to drive the entire time.”

See more images from Roads & Highways from Above 

Street in Pasco County

We arrived in a neighborhood in Pasco County, Florida. Jen’s aunt Marlene welcomed us with her son Tony. We headed inside their place and talked for a good part of the afternoon.

That evening, before dinner, Tony and I headed out to get some shots of the neighborhood. He told me all about it as I snapped away, still getting used to seeing houses with HUGE yards. Coming in from Michigan, I welcomed the weather in January here much better. I knew this neighborhood would take multiple visits before we even got started. Below is a selection of all the times Tony took Jen and me around his block. 

A neighborhood scene at sunset, Florida
The Neighborhood in Pasco County, Florida
A large bus parked in a yard with fall colors
Neighborhood in Pasco County Florida no.5
Street in Pasco County, Florida with an infected tree during sunset
Street in Pasco County, Florida
Red Volkswagen Beetle
Red Volkswagen Beetle

This car was in the yard where we stayed the next couple of nights. This Volkswagen Beetle, as I found out later, had won a few awards from local competitions.

Hernando Beach

The next day we headed to Hernando Beach. This park features the occasional manatees that swim around the area, but they weren’t out the day we visited. Exploring the palm trees surrounding the area was where I headed instead to get some pictures. I put on my 16-35mm lens and got lots of wide shots looking to the tops of the trees.

Palm trees against a blue sky
Standing Below Palm Trees at Hernando Beach in Florida
Palm trees against a bright green/blue sky
Cycles Happening at Once
Sun Burst through foliage
Sun Burst through the Foliage
Woman with her child on a sunny day
Jen with Elon at Hernando Beach

After Jen, Elon, and aunt Marlene played for a while in the park we drove off from Hernando Beach and made our way to Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks. I heard from a woman I talked to (while initially looking for the manatees) where interesting places to photograph were. She told me with a huge smile about a pit of alligators, but we weren’t able to find that. It was probably good we didn’t because exploring Tarpon Springs and the small shops they have it began to sink in I was a tourist on vacation.

Jen with Elon at Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks

Off the Path Beach

We drove out the next morning after breakfast and headed out to a beach Marlene and Bobby knew about. Jen was meeting up with her friend Stephanie, her best friend in high school. Before I went off exploring Jen had the idea of the seagulls going after some of Elon’s crackers.

A flock of seagulls scattering as a young child stands in the middle of them, scaring them all away
Elon at beach in Florida with Seagulls

The Florida Aquarium (Tampa)

Our main outing together with the entire family, cousins and all, was at the Florida Aquarium. My friend Zach recommended this as he now lives in the Miami area. We all had a great time and I got some incredible images. I’m especially happy with the jellyfish images, which now have their own series. Before I get ahead of myself, take a look at some images of other animals on the way there. The Florida Aquarium had many more animals to look at besides aquatics.

White Ibis bird with water coming off its beak
White Ibis, no.2
Snake seen through glass swimming in water
Snake Behind Glass, no.1
A massive fish with small child looking at it through glass
Goliath Grouper
Shark Swimming by
Shark Swimming by

A group of people inside of an indoor aquarium but they are all silhouettes A group of people inside of an indoor aquarium but they are all silhouettes

Crystal Jellyfish swimming
Crystal Jellyfish, no.2
Moon jellyfish all swimming together in a sea of blues and blacks
Moon Jellyfish Together, no.2

Portrait of Tony

Tony is one of Jen’s cousins. He was with us the entire time pretty much except our first outing to Hernando Beach. Here is a portrait of him I just had to get before we left. He’s a really interesting character, testing off-the-charts and graduating high school above everyone in his entire county in the field of mathematics. He’s also near-blind but thankfully was able to find a prescription for his eyeglasses before it got worse. Here he has posed that same Volkswagon Beetle I featured earlier.

Young man folding his arms in front of a red Volkswagen Beetle
Tony standing by his car project

After this portrait was taken I snapped a really good shot of Jen, Elon, and Jen’s second cousin playing in the sandbox. This was about the last thing we did before winding down for the night.

Woman smiling with two children playing in a sandbox below
Jen with Elon playing in sandbox

Visiting John & Vicki

This is the 2nd part of our trip. After heading out from Jen’s aunt and cousin’s place we made it to our friends who moved to Florida a few years back. Both John and Vicki have been a huge part of Jen and my life, helping us set up our reception in the middle of a rainstorm and also helping me with home repairs. This was from when they used to live in Michigan and it was about time we got down to see them!

We arrived pretty late at night as Jen drove the rental van. I didn’t want to be obsessed with photography 24/7 so I gave it a rest. The next morning, however, we set out to explore some of the more photogenic parts of Tampa, strangler trees in-route to the beach.

Massive strangler Fig tree in a Florida Park
Strangler Fig in a Florida Park no.1
Massive strangler Fig tree in a Florida Park
Strangler Fig in a Florida Park no.2
Massive strangler Fig tree in a Florida Park
Strangler Fig in a Florida Park no.3

View more images like this in my Forests and Trees series. Below are a few personal images I want to throw in. This wasn’t all about me and my camera, I loved spending time with Jen and Elon on this family vacation!

Personal Images from 2nd part of the trip

Young boy smiling in front of a tree
Elon in front of tree
Group of people smiling
John VIcki Jen Jordan Elon by Strangler Fig Tree in Tampa
Young woman posing by the Strangler Fig tree
Jen posing by the Strangler Fig tree


Off to See the Ocean in Tampa, Florida

After climbing the trees for a while we headed to the beach in Tampa where I began capturing images to a greater degree for my Patterns in Water series. I hope to continue exploring bodies of water more in the near future, as this is something I really enjoy.

Waves in Tampa Striking a Pier
Waves in Tampa Striking a Pier
Waves in Tampa, Florida
Waves in Tampa, Florida

John & Vicki have collected thousands of shark teeth (I’ve seen em’) and they also have collected more than a few seashells. The spot they took us was a little known secret, and it was so full of shells walking this beach in bare feet would have not been a very enjoyable experience! Instead of collecting another bright image in this near-perfect day I decided to shoot with my aperture very closed so the sun would appear almost like the moon. This effect ups the drama and also masks the identity of those folks walking across my frame. I’m sure I stood out on the beach, as everyone around me was there for collecting seashells except me.

A silhouetted man walking on the beach with the sun being underexposed
Casting Aspersions Alone

Our Final Day

Winding things down, and almost mirroring our entrance into Florida, I again captured a neighborhood scene. Early morning as the sun began waking up.

Falls of Venice Cir, Venice Florida, a suburban scene with bright oranges and pinks in the sky
Falls of Venice Cir, Venice Florida

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my experience! I’m very fortunate to have an amazingly supportive family and friends.

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