The Best of Summer 2021 on Film

Below are the top film images shot from this summer! From Anna Maria Island to the parks in Atlanta, I got some great photos showcasing the beautiful places we visited these past few months.

As much as I wanted to venture out, we decided to stay a little closer to home this summer. It worked out for the best – I learned more about my home city, Atlanta, and had a fantastic time discovering places in Florida I’ve never been to, let alone heard about.

Plus, it was fun to take my film camera out of the bag and shoot some pictures, even if it was just ten minutes away from home. Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to get some fantastic images. And I took so, so many pictures, with the 12 below the best from this summer!

The Lights on Anna Maria City Pier – Florida

People walking down the Anna Maria City Pier

“Wait for the pier lights before you take that shot,” a man mentioned to me as I walked by him with my Canon EOS-1N. Not really knowing what he meant, I politely nodded, said my thanks, and kept walking.

Blue hour was quickly approaching, and I wanted to get as many pictures as possible. Locals and tourists come to the pier to fish and hang out on the dock eating food from the small grill. I made my way down to the end of the pier and began to take pictures of people fishing.

My Canon EOS-1N isn’t exactly the quietest camera when it comes to taking a photo, so the person fishing was a little taken aback when I snapped a picture of his fishing rod.

Feeling slightly awkward and like a tourist lugging my camera around, I continue walking around the dock, making my way back to the pier walkway to get to the shore.

Suddenly, I understood what that man from earlier meant about waiting for the lights. The walkway lit up sometime earlier while I was taking photos of the people fishing. Hello, lights!

And that man was correct about waiting to take a photo with the walkway lights. The sun was completely down by now, and the sky had turned a deep blue hue with a very subtle pink tone. Perfect.

Altogether I took four shots of this pier, with this one being my favorite from the set. I had some Lomography 800 film by a happy accident, which I used to take this picture.

By “happy accident,” I mean I forgot all my film in the hotel, but fortunately, my husband had some 35mm film in his bag. It worked out, though, as Lomo 800 was perfect for this setting. Lomography 800 is a high-speed film that is excellent to use in low-light environments such as this.

Sunset at Coquina Beach – Anna Maria Island, Florida

Anna Maria Island has beautiful white sand beaches, and Coquina Beach is no exception. And since Anna Maria Island is on the gulf side of Florida, it has some incredible sunsets, making it an excellent location for sunset photography.

Intending to do just that, we made our way down to the southern side of Anna Maria Island, where Coquina Beach is located. I didn’t really know what to expect since we spent most of our time exploring the island’s northern part up to this point.

We parked the car, and my husband and I proceeded down to the beach for a sunset walk. Although the sky was beautiful, there weren’t too many clouds in the sky, so I expected the sunset to be a little “flat.”

I was wrong. Well, partially wrong. The sky was not what I wanted for my sunset photo, but what I got was even better.

A man walked out onto the pier and stood there for a few minutes, looking off into the distance. I stood there for a brief moment, wondering what he could be thinking about.

Was he marveling at the beautiful sunset just like I was? Or thinking about something completely unrelated – I’ll never know.

It just so happened that a bird flew into the frame and started walking along the shore. Snap. I took the photo, barely looking at my camera’s settings.

I can’t tell you today what my settings were for this photo. It was shot on Portra 400, but that is all I really remember.

Up until this point, I have never taken a silhouette image before. In fact, I had no clue how to do so. I am not even sure if I could replicate this image if you asked me to take it now.

I am still a newbie at photography, so I often feel like I don’t know what I am doing. Yeah, I’ve been shooting for over a year now, but there is so much to learn.

But for this image, something just worked. Was it luck? I would most definitely say so, but I am glad to have this image as it reminds me of our lovely time and walk on Coquina Beach.

Four Blue Chairs – Bradenton, Florida

Four blue beach chairs

Before this trip, I knew I wanted to get some colorful shots of beach chairs and umbrellas. I didn’t have to look long – our hotel room was right over this set of chairs.

And can I say, wow, that’s a pretty blue color. Not sure if it is teal or what, but I love that color! I was pleasantly surprised to see them when I looked down from our balcony at the Compass Hotel by Margaritaville.

I knew I wanted to get a photo of them, but I also had to wait. The time of day (late afternoon) wasn’t so great for the lighting and shadows. Morning would be best, so I planned to get it the very next day.

I woke up the next day, and only two chairs were there. Where did the other two go? I remember thinking, “Okay, that’s fine. I’ll just wait another day. We are here for a few more days, and the chairs will eventually show up.”

The next day goes by. Nope, the missing chairs were a no-show. I guess I could have gone downstairs and looked for them and put them back. But for some reason, I didn’t.

I looked again on the third day, and they were back! But people were sitting in them enjoying their morning coffee.

Finally, on the very last day, I got my shot! Needless to say, it is a bit scary to take a picture while leaning over a balcony with your camera, and I don’t even want to imagine dropping it.

But I am pleased to have finally got a picture of my pretty blue chairs. Yes, I know they are only chairs, but they made me happy, which is all that counts.

A Stranded Boat at Egmont Key State Park – Florida

Boat stranded on an Egmont Key Island

Sometimes you can’t shoot film. This is a film photo, but only one of five photos I got on film for Egmont Key State Park.

Egmont Key is an island off the coast of Florida in the mouth of Tampa Bay. We took a catamaran to get there, and it could not dock at the pier or onshore. Instead, it had to anchor. This meant getting in the water that was almost six feet.

As much as I wanted to take my film camera onto Egmont Key, there was no way I was going to risk getting it wet. iPhone it was. And that is okay as I got some incredible digital shots while touring Egmont Key.

But before we got into the water, I managed to take this film photo of a boat stranded on the shore. Our catamaran guide said the boat had been sitting there for a few months. I only wish I knew the story behind it. Will the owner return for it?

One of These Is Not Like the Other – Fort Myers, Florida

Two ducks look at a rubber duck in Thomas Edison's pool

This image is one of those you just can’t plan for. We were at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida.

I saw the rubber ducky floating in Thomas Edison’s swimming pool on the opposite side of where I was standing. We were in a small circle talking to a friend about film cameras, but out of the corner of my eye, I kept waiting for that rubber duck to come closer so I could take a picture.

Out of nowhere, two real ducks, alive and breathing, decided to stop on the edge of the pool. They took a few sips of water and then settled in as if they were going to take a nice mid-afternoon nap.

A few more minutes passed by, and then I glanced back at the pool, and the rubber duck had floated down to my end, right in between the two real ducks. I just remember thinking, “How cute is this,” and immediately began to take photos.

This image ended up being my favorite out of the bunch. I love that the real ducks look at the rubber duck as if to say, “What in the world is this?”

Thomas Edison’s Laboratory – Fort Myers, Florida

Thomas Edison's Laboratory in Fort Myers

Given that this is a low-light setting and I was standing on my tip-toes to take this shot, I didn’t have high hopes that it would come out well. And if it did, I expected some motion blur or a poorly exposed photo, but I was wrong again. It feels good to be wrong sometimes.

This image was taken at the Thomas Edison Botanic Research Laboratory at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida. I loved taking chemistry in college, so this was the coolest thing to see on the property. Plus, there is a darkroom in the lab too to document their experiments by photos.

In this photo, I love how the light hits perfectly on the glass bottles. The lab is almost identical to how it would have looked back in Edison’s time, and it definitely feels like you are walking back in time as soon as you step into the room. Can you imagine all the experiments that took place here?

The Quintessential Beach Day – Siesta Key, Florida

The green lifeguard station at Siesta Key Public Beach.

I like to think that the person lying on the beach towel was having the most relaxing, perfect day at the beach. It is the flip flop tossed into the sand as if there is no care in the world.

If I had to choose my absolute favorite film photo from summer, this is it. This picture is the quintessential definition of a beach day in America. To be exact, this picture was taken at the Siesta Key Public Beach in Florida.

My original intent for this photo was to get an image of all the colorful lifeguard houses located on Siesta Key Beach. There are four of them at this beach access – yellow, blue, green, and red.

Initially envisioning a photo of each lifeguard station with no people in the frame, I was slightly disappointed that it wouldn’t happen with the yellow station as there were people right in front of it.

I took the image regardless as I still wanted a picture of the yellow station. Little did I know it would become the best photo of the four.

It is funny how sometimes the best things come out of the things most unexpected.

The Shadows of the Palm Trees – Sarasota, Florida

Ca' d'Zan next to a river with palm trees.

The palm trees are the only thing in this image that reminds me that this is in Florida. And I love how you can see the palm trees’ shadows in the grass.

Completed in 1926, the Ca’ d’Zan was home to John Ringling, one of the five brothers known as the “circus kings,” and his wife, Mable.

It’s a pretty impressive mansion and vaguely reminds me of the Biltmore House in North Carolina, with the lavish decorations and European-inspired architecture. It is very easy to take many pictures inside the house and the surrounding grounds, so be prepared to bring lots of film if you do!

The Pretty Pink Courtyard – Sarasota, Florida

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Courtyard

Not too far from the Ca’ d’Zan is the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. John and Mable loved collecting European and Asian art, and you can see many of those masterpieces in the museum.

But what really stands out to me is the courtyard with its palatial pink walls and the European-inspired statues and architecture.

And I love that if you take this image at different times of the day, you’ll get different results as the sun moves in the sky. The light, shadows, and architecture make the courtyard an incredible place for photography.

Stepping Into The Starry Night – Atlanta, Georgia

Visitors viewing Starry Night at the Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

Underwater cameras have multiple uses other than just using them underwater. You can take the film out of the camera for a disposable underwater camera and use it elsewhere. Film is getting expensive, and sometimes you just got to use what you already have on hand.

I waited months for the Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience to come to Atlanta. When I finally saw on Facebook that it would be here, I immediately reserved my tickets for late June.

You would think that I would be prepared to take film photos of this exhibit beforehand, considering it was booked well in advance. Nope. Not at all.

I realized the night before we were to go that I didn’t have any high-speed film. This exhibit is basically in the dark with lighting effects, so I figured I would need a high-speed film to pull it off since no tripods are allowed inside.

My husband had the brilliant idea to pull the film out of the disposable underwater camera. And I am glad he thought of this as I would never do so; it worked so well at the exhibit. This image was shot on Superia 800, and I had never shot Superia before, but I am pretty happy with the results.

Westside Park – Atlanta, Georgia

Entrance Gateway to Westside Park

Atlanta recently opened a new park named Westside Park. When fully completed, it will be the largest park in Atlanta.

A unique thing about the park is that it is on the former Bellwood Quarry site, and there is a massive pit now filled with water. It’s so deep you can fit the Statue of Liberty within it! Today, the area is used as a reservoir with enough water to provide a 30-day emergency supply to Atlanta.

But another unique feature of the park includes Entrance Gateway. Immediately it makes me think of a person’s ribcage, but it represents a mythical creature. What creature? I am not really sure, but it looks really awesome.

I had no idea how to find this entrance when I arrived at Westside. There are multiple places to park, and of course, I didn’t park anywhere near this entrance. There are also maps within the park, but I didn’t see this entrance notated on them.

So, I walked around in sweltering, humid weather until I found it. I’m glad I did, however, as the feature is impressive to see. Not something I would typically expect for an entrance to a park!

Hazy Day at Piedmont Park – Atlanta, Georgia

Piedmont Park Gazebo with Lake Clara Meer

I am not sure if it is smog or the atmospheric conditions (maybe even both), but it always appears hazy in Atlanta during summertime. This photo captures that summertime haziness, and on some days, like the day I took this photo, it can be hard to make out the buildings in the distance.

Piedmont Park is a great place to take photos of downtown Atlanta. The gazebo is a popular spot for photographers as you can get its reflection in the water with downtown Atlanta in the background.

If you look to the right in this photo, you’ll see some people enjoying their day at the community swimming pool – probably the best thing to do in Atlanta during the height of summer or anywhere for that matter.

What were some of your favorite places you photographed this summer? Please comment and share below!

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