Florida Flora

Whenever I visit a preserve in Florida, I spend time trying to figure out what to shoot. Sometimes the answer is right in front of me.

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Florida Flora
Flora from a park in Central Florida

There is beauty in endemic flora that’s easy to overlook. I tend to get preoccupied with subjects and the composition, but simple scenes like this are as vibrant as any mountain landscape; it’s a matter of perspective and scale. There are realms within a tangled garden, micro-ecosystems that, while imperceptible to us, are just as alive.

more images of nature in the gallery

Our minds operate in familiar regions; we habituate our vision to the human society we know. But shift focus just a little, and there are other worlds in plain view we rarely acknowledge.

Midnight Sun

This was taken about three years ago in Alaska. It was around eleven o’clock at night as the sun slowly inched down. Then, just a few hours later it would creep back up.

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Midnight Sun
The midnight sun in Alaska

I took the picture from a ship as we sailed north. This scene was repeated in an endless succession of mountains and untouched wilderness. I was blown away at the vastness of natural landscape here. Until you experience it yourself, it’s hard to imagine. And it’s equally hard for me to convey in writing.

more images from Alaska in the gallery

If you have never been to Alaska, put it on your list. There is nothing like a lot of open space and massive mountain peaks to clear out the urban cobwebs and refresh one’s sense of perspective.

Caboose View

In Skagway Alaska, we caught a sightseeing train from the sea up into White Pass. I took this just after we reversed directions to head back down.

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Caboose View
The view out the back of the White Pass Railroad in Skagway, Alaska

The whole trip I hung out between the cars where I could get pictures of the landscape. On the way up we were in the first car behind the engine. Then the train pulled into a siding and the locomotive connected to the other end and, as you can see, we were at the back.

more from Alaska in the gallery

It was pretty high up, and the weather dropped about forty-degrees. Skagway used to be a mining town, and in the Klondike days before the train, miners would traverse the pass on foot or mule. That would be a hard slog indeed, so I was glad to be on a train with its trusty breaks all the way back down.

New Bridge

The new bridge at Robinson Preserve presents an open invitation to cross over to a winding trail with ponds, marshes, and wildlife on all sides.

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New Bridge
A bridge in Robinson Preserve

The image I posted yesterday was not far from this spot, but the weather could not have been more different. That image was on a foggy morning, and this is at the end of the day. The light in each tells an entirely different story.

check out the panorama gallery

As usual, the story is mostly in our mind. With these types of landscape images, we all see the same thing, yet we fill in different details. And, as with life, we perceive in it what we want to see. I think self-projection is one of the purposes of art, to allow us to muse upon things that are reflections of ourselves.

Sun Rays

Shooting right into the sun at f13 creates these long rays of light. I could have added them artificially with software, but these are the real deal.

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Sun Rays
From Robinson Park in Bradenton, Florida

A high aperture number is not something I use all the time, but if I want starbursts, it’s the way to go. The only problem is that dust spots from the sensor show up on the image; however, that’s easy to remove with photoshop.

sunset gallery

A few days ago I visited this new section of Robinson Preserve. The creation of it took years, it’s one thing to landscape a bunch of acres, but quite another to allow nature to move in at its own pace. Finally, after several years of growth, I have yet another new landscape to explore with my camera.

Nature Walkway

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.

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Nature Walkway
Neal Preserve in Bradenton, Florida

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.

more walkways in the gallery

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.

Summer in Wisconsin

I know it’s the middle of winter now, but all the more reason to look longingly back on the days of summer. This is a friends house in Wisconsin.

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Summer in Wisconsin
A summer scene at a former horse ranch in Wisconsin

On our summer holiday, my wife and I drove up from Florida. It was July, and we thought we’d get a break from the heat. Silly idea; it was just as hot and humid as way back in Florida. We even had several thunderstorms that rolled in and out, just like back home.

see the landscape gallery here

This used to be a horse ranch, but Dave and Janey have since retired. There’s a large barn and still a few horses on the property, but mostly it’s surrounded by farmland and these idyllic rolling hills. We enjoyed our time here and now have a new appreciation for Wisconsin. I even did a little video for them with my drone so they can use it if they ever decide to sell and move south.

Cocoa Beach

Here’s a shot that I took with my iPhone as we left Port Canaveral on the inaugural Atlantic crossing of Symphony of the Seas. Not bad for a two-and-a-half-year-old iPhone.

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Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach from the deck of Royal’s Symphony of the Seas

I was up on the top deck without my camera as we pulled out of port. I wished I had my Sony because there was a lot of hoopla surrounding the first U.S. docking of the world’s largest ship. But, as the old saying goes, the best camera in the world is the one you have with you. In my case, that means the iPhone 7 plus. I think it did a pretty good job.

more iPhone images from the gallery

Nevertheless, I processed it a little in Skylum’s Luminar, and this is how it turned out. I like this perpendicular perspective of the beach. It’s a minimalist landscape shot, but not too shabby. One of these days I’ll get around to upgrading my iPhone to a new model and get even better pictures.

The Swamp

This swamp is in Florida and is a good thing, meaning we don’t want to drain it; instead, we want to protect it as a national resource.

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The Swamp
An image from the Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida

The swamps, marshes, and bogs are quite beautiful. I did not expect I’d ever consider the swamp as beautiful before visiting, I was wary of what I might find. But once inside, I was struck by its vastness, rich biodiversity, and remoteness.

my favorites from the gallery

I am not a naturalist and know very little about the ecosystem of the Big Cypress National Preserve, but if you want to know more, one recommendation is to visiting Clyde Butcher’s site. Not only is he a passionate advocate for maintaining our natural habitats, but his photographic legacy is considered a national treasure.

Bayou Small Talk

Here is a scene from along the bayou nearby. A lot of wildlife lives here, in fact, I could hear a boar thrashing around not far from me.

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The bayou in Palmetto, Florida
The bayou in Palmetto, Florida

I’ve driven by here but never really noticed the vibrancy of the greenery. Maybe it was produced by the soft even light from the overcast sky. Whatever the reason, it was enough for me to pull over and captured it with my camera.

more from the landscape gallery

While I stood in front of the car taking this, a fellow walking his dog came along and asked what I was taking a picture of. He thought maybe I had seen a boar, but I told him I was just impressed by the scenery of the bayou. He seemed to ponder this for a minute and then, agreed that I was on to something. He then proceeded to tell me stories about the boars and the local trappers. I suppose that’s how you make small talk in the bayou.