The Pier – Anna Maria Island, Florida

I have lived in Florida for quite some time. I’m always trying to find new places to visit to keep the photography juices going. Traveling around teaching classes you never know what’s going to happen. In this case, about three years ago I taught a class at the Crowley Museum in Sarasota, Florida. There were a couple of great students in the class who participates in turtle watching around Southwest Florida. Fast-forward three years; I get a phone call from the executive director at the Anna Maria Island Art League. They heard that I taught photography and was interested in having me come up and teach a class. I jumped on the chance, any time I can help someone, I’m all over that. Then it hit me…where is Anna Maria Island? Did I just sign up for a class in Alaska? I pulled out the iPhone and used Google Maps to locate it. I like to scout locations before the big day if possible so I’m not totally lost. When I arrived, the president of the organization greeted me and I asked how they heard of me. She explained that she does turtle watching with my other student that I had taught years past and she recommended that I teach at the art league. At the end of the day, it’s nice to know that folks are finding value in these classes and it’s helping them extend their photographic knowledge.

With all of my photographic classes, I think it’s important to “do it” as well as learn a bunch of theory in a classroom. During the field trip is when the real questions come out and I feel as most folks learn better by doing instead of looking at a screen full of photos. During one of our trips, we went to the “pier”. Since this is a new place for me, I was up for anything. From what I gathered, this was a historic pier that was used back in the 1920’s. Today there is a restaurant at the end of it and is a prime spot for fishing.

As most of you know, adventure seems to find me, no matter what. I arrived early to get an idea of what was around. Within a few minutes the class members assembled and we got underway. One student had a few questions so I stayed to help him while the others went along and took some photos. This is where the fun began. As we were standing there, we were looking around and I was explaining about depth of field. As I looked behind me, it was like out of a movie. Billowing through the town was fog. This wasn’t like fog that gradually comes and goes. It looked as if a bomb went off and there was a rush of smoke heading our way. I looked at him and asked, “So you see this too, or did I eat some special mushrooms?” He agreed. Within seconds, what was a clear blue sky day, was engulfed by thick fog. This was the strangest thing that I had ever seen. Of course I had to get a few photos, I mean the photographer’s God had given this opportunity to us to shoot some cool scenes in fog.

 Spencer Pullen photographed the fog rolling in at Anna Maria Island, Florida.Ghost Fog – Spencer Pullen © 2104 All Rights Reserved

In the above photo, to make it recognizable I had to fix the contrast so it doesn’t look as foggy as it was. Less than five minutes it was over, like it never happened. The moral of the story, when life hands you fog, well you know…take foggy photos! Once the freak of nature was over it was time to see what else could be found.

Spencer Pullen photographed this Willett geting something to eat at Anna Maria Island, Florida. Willett Eating – Spencer Pullen © 2104 All Rights Reserved

There was an abundance of shore birds and they didn’t seem too jumpy, I’m guessing from all the people that were wandering around, they were used to it. All I had with me was my trusty Nikon 18mm-200mm lens. I approached these animals and let me get pretty close which was good as I left my 400mm at home. This guy was going around and looking for dinner. I’m not too sure what he has in his beak, but he seemed to like it. A crab maybe?

 This teen tries his luck with net fishing at the pier at Anna Maria Island, Florida. Photo by Spencer Pullen.Net Fishing – Spencer Pullen © 2104 All Rights Reserved

I’m standing on the shore and watching this teen throw a net. I thought this would be a good photo for high speed shutter. I cranked up the shutter speed to 1/1000 and used the continuous mode. Since he’s going to be throwing the net, you have to give him room. There were a couple of students wanting to shoot this as well. I told them that since we were all using spot focus, I zoomed back a little and put my focus box on him. When he threw the net, it went into the left side of the viewfinder completing the photo and he was in focus. Make sense?

 A Ruddy Turnstone at Anna Maria Island, Florida. Photography by Spencer Pullen.Ruddy Turnstone – Spencer Pullen © 2104 All Rights Reserved

The water color at Anna Maria Island is a beautiful clear teal, same color as when I have been out to Boca Grande. This little guy what hopping around looking for some left over bait from the fisherman that were just there. I liked the colors in the frame so I took a few.

 Fisherman baiting hooks while an upset pelican looks on at the pier at Anna Maria Island, Florida. Photo by Spencer Pullen.Fisherman With Upset Pelican – Spencer Pullen © 2104 All Rights Reserved

OK, here are a couple of fishermen trying to have a relaxing evening. They are busy baiting their hooks when a pelican shows up and is not very understanding that they haven’t caught anything yet. These guys didn’t seem to mind; they kept on trying and never did catch anything while I was there. Better luck next time.

 A few white ibis walking along the beach at Anna Maria Island, Florida. Photo by Spencer Pullen.White Ibis – Spencer Pullen © 2104 All Rights Reserved

The light was leaving us for the day as I wandered back down the pier. I noticed a group of about 15 White Ibis heading down the beach. I have always been told that an odd number is better for composition. Maybe they were hinting that I was odd. Either way I think they were right. I framed three of these guys together and took the shot. I really like how the late afternoon light gives them that warm fuzzy feeling….must be the mushrooms again!

If you are ever in the area, I would stop in and take a look around. I really like the architecture and how laid back the town is. There are many restaurants and small stores that all have their own feel. As you come or go, you can either go through Bradenton or head up from Longboat Key. If it’s not season, I would recommend taking a scenic drive down Longboat there are endless opportunities to take seascape photos as well as shore birds.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


  1. My favorite time of day to shoot. Love the freak fog pic.

  2. The hues, the details and the timing….great elements for such priceless pictures. See you in the classroom soon.

  3. I really like the picture of the teal water color with the bird. Great shots!

  4. Thank you – very nice

  5. Beautiful photos Spencer!
    Love the highly focussed details — you always capture that so well.

  6. Beautiful photos Spencer!
    Love the highly focussed details — you always capture that so well.

  7. you are a pro. I was not allowed to shoot at g-daughters wedding. MAD
    g-son who grad from ringling was already hired by intel. he should be set for life

  8. Hey Spencer, Love the photos, and really love the freaky fog.

  9. Spencer

    I’m glad that everyone liked the post, even the freaky fog. I guess nature even has it out for me…what can I say :)!

    Have a great one…



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