Here is one of the trails at Emerson Point that I recently explored. If it weren’t for that they are well-marked, I’d still be in there somewhere.
When you look at this photo, something might seem a little off. The path appears level yet distorted. Can you guess what it is? Spoiler, …the boardwalk ascends a hill, it’s not level. Once you know this, the sense of distortion disappears.
Our brain is the most complicated thing known to science. But neuroscientist can do all sorts of little test like this to point out the contours of aspects we are only beginning to understand. Check out this short demonstration of the blind spot which we have that the brain fills in. Most of us never even know we have one. I certainly didn’t until a few days ago.
I think it’s cool how the leading line points to the sun. I got this photo from my 2015 archives. Maybe it was my lack of imagination that kept it hidden for so long. Or, perhaps it was meant to be buried forever, protecting the secrets of Neverland from humanity.
This photo was taken from a preserve adjacent to Highway 41 in Palmetto. If you look close, you can see an eagle sitting on a branch just to the left.
It’s a spot that’s within walking distance of my home. However, I always end up driving because I’m trying to capture a sunset or something last minute. In this case, the sun is behind the tree illuminating the leaves and, causing them to glow.
I didn’t notice the eagle until after I took the photo. However, when I did notice, I walked a little closer to take a picture, and it flew away. But I’ve seen it here before, so if I really wanted to get the photo, I could just come back at dusk. We have a lot of eagles in our area, but having grown up when they were endangered, it’s still exciting for me to see one.
The parks in Florida have these raised boardwalks that make it easy to see nature. But before they were built, it was no walk in the park.
The structures are everywhere, and some are quite long. I often wonder at the effort it takes to create them. They are easy to take for granted, but without raised walkways, it would be difficult to see much of the natural landscapes.
From a compositional perspective, they provide a couple of things. First and most obvious is the leading lines that our eyes follow across the frame. Secondly, the texture of the wood fits well with the scenery. Whenever I go to a park, it’s these walkways that usually end up in my photos, one way or another.
Fort DeSoto Park is a nice place to go for sunsets here in the Tampa Bay region. This scene is typical of what it looks like in the evening and, is why I keep coming back to take photos.
If you followed the path of the sun due west for about eight hundred miles, you end up near Corpus Christi Texas. To do that though you should be in something larger than a rowboat. Speaking of which, I took a cruise out of here once, and when we passed this pier in our big ship, it looked so small that I almost didn’t recognize it.
In case you’re interested, I set the aperture on the lens to f22 for this shot. That’s a little extreme, and it does some interesting things. First, everything is in focus, from the railing to the end of the pier. Second, it adds contrast to the sky so that we can see the sun rays pointing upward. There are pros and cons to using such a high f-stop, mostly cons; but sometimes it can work out. I think this is one of those times.
On our summer road trip, we stopped to visit friends in Wisconsin. It turns out they live only a few minutes from Wisconsin Dells, or The Dells as its known colloquially. I never knew of such a place existed, but here it is. Despite the heat of summer, it was cool and dark in this mini canyon, so I balanced the camera on the wooden railing to get a longer exposure.
The Dells are sandstone gorge formed by glaciers. There are tributaries like this that run into the river. Below the boardwalk ran a cool creek that ended at the river. This walkway strategically ends up in a snack bar about a quarter mile up from the river. Nevertheless, the photo opportunities are endless.
In some sense, the area reminds me a little of Niagra Falls where there is a natural wonder that spawned a local tourism industry. There are indoor (for the winters), and outdoor water parks, wax museums, and lumberjack shows every hour. It bills itself as the water park capital of the world. Who knew? But for me, by far the best experience was taking a boat up the Wisconsin River to see the Dells.
My dog is the most patient being on the planet. Even when we go to his favorite parks, he waits for me to take my photos. Here he’s waiting to go over the bridge, but I’m busy composing. If I could paraphrase the look, he was saying, “Seriously daddy?”. I’m just saying.
Mr. Wiggles loves going to parks and exploring. I like the scenery. We have slightly different interests, but the excursion benefits us both. At the park, I have to be careful not to get too carried away. When taking photos, I need to be mindful of our surroundings. For instance, there was a small alligator in the lake on the left. It wouldn’t bother us, but the bigger ones love to snack on small pets.
The summer heat makes it difficult for Mr. Wiggles to get much exercise during daylight. Imagine walking around in ninety-percent humidity wearing a coat. So we either go out after dark or on overcast days when the sun is less harsh. When we get home, he has a long drink of water and collapses on the cold tiles. And no matter how hot it is, he still looks forward to it every single day.
Niel Preserve in Bradenton borders the intercoastal waterway. The boardwalks allow you to walk through and above the thick brush and mangroves. From a photography perspective, the perfect time to come is just after the rain and right before sunset. That way the clouds accent the natural elements and help set the mood.
However there is one minor problem, the mosquitoes are thick as thieves. And they also love this particular time of day, perhaps as much as I do. They are quite active after the rain; so when I arrive, I typically spray myself down with a generous portion of repellant. That way the photographer and bugs keep a respectful distance and everybody gets along.
The path in this image is a classic leading line. With our eyes and imaginations, we follow the trail and perhaps feel it leads to a safe place. That is the central principle behind this image, and it should be convincing as long as you don’t think about the bugs.
This is a typical scene at the beach just after the sun sets. People will leave and funnel back over the dunes through these rustic walkways. Sometimes I’ll position myself so that I can capture them walking to and from the beach in this manner. It’s a shame that people leave the beach so soon after the sun disappears, it’s when the best colors appear in the sky.
I took this image three years ago and just rediscovered it and processed it this week. That inspired me to go back there last night and shoot similar scenes. Of course, they came out different, but the main thing is that I went out, that can be half the battle sometimes.
It was nice to get out and Spring is a good time of year in Florida. It’s before the humidity sets in and it’s when we get some of the best sunsets. The days are getting longer and if you just linger a little after the crowds leave, you experience some of the best magic that others miss.
This is a section of Robinson Preserve in Bradenton Florida. I love this section of boardwalk because of the way it curves into the mangroves; …talk about a leading line. It seems every time I try to get this shot something goes wrong, but this time I’m pretty happy with the result. The odds were in my favor for a change.
This is not far from where the Spanish conquistador Hernando DeSoto landed and began an expedition of the new world. There is a lot of history around that but the thing that grabs my imagination is the physical demands of the expedition. Here we have a boardwalk winding through the mangroves, back then there was nothing. Add to that the Florida heat. Then add the wool and leather clothing they wore back then and you start to get my drift.
We live in a different time, now we have boardwalks and piers, but still I like to think about what it was like. To tell you the truth, if I was walking on this and suddenly it disappeared and I found myself in the middle of the mangroves knee deep in muck, I might begin to panic. But that never happens and instead I took this picture and went home to air conditioning and lemonade.