Faerie River

In my imagination, this is a place where you might find the fae folk. The stream is part of a river in a state park, but I had the idea little invisible beings were all around.

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Faerie River
A stream adjacent to the Hillsborough River

The image is from the Hillsborough River State Park in Florida. Maybe it was my mood or the setting, but parts of it seemed nothing short of enchanting. There are places inside forests like this that have an ephemeral quality of nature about them.

more images with rivers

I experienced the same thing in the forests of Oregan a couple of weeks ago. Some sections of the trail had a subtle quality that you could easily miss. I have no idea if nature spirits exist; I’ve never seen one. At the very least, encountering these areas in the wilderness gives me pause and stokes my imagination.

Huckleberry Lane

Driving up Highway 126 along the McKinzie River, the temptation is to pull off at every little bridge or vista. On one near Fin Rock, I found this lonely lane.

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Huckleberry Lane
A utility road through the forest in Oregon

I’ve heard so much about the forests in the Pacific Northwest, and seeing them for myself was worth the trip. An old utility road through the forest is an invitation to explore. It was blocked off, so maybe it’s better I didn’t drive it in my little rental car.

more forests in the gallery

I imagine that, like the Mangroves of the tropics, these conifers constitute a significant source of CO2 sequestration for our planet. Not only that, the forests are the habitat for mycelium which we are just now discovering can lead to cures for pollution and disease. (Check out this website for more on that!) Let’s hope these forests remain protected as vigorously as our Florida mangroves.

Emerson Point

To get here, you walk through a jungle trail, and it’s easy to get a bit disoriented. That is until you pop out from the brush at sunset.

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Emerson Point Clouds
Looking out to sea from Emerson Point

The image I took here is similar to one I did from the same spot a half dozen years ago.

The clouds and weather ensure each image will be different, and I never tire of it.

more from Emerson Point

Due to the full range of light and the difficulty of shooting into the sun, this is a combination of at least five photos. I combined the images with AuroraHDR and then parts of it re-layered in Photoshop. In some respects, this is a painting, in that the light was blended to create a picture. That creative process I find satisfying, even if it is the same scene on a different day.

Brain Games

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.

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Brain Games
A boardwalk at Emerson Point Preserve

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.

more photos from Emerson Point

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.

Lower Path

There are two paths along the river; one higher up and one lower down at the bank. The alligators prefer the lower one.

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Lower Path
Along the lower path in Hillsborough River State Park

The problem with the higher path is there is too much growth to get a clear shot of the river. So every fifty yards or so I’d make my way down here to set up for a photo. It’s amazing how the sense of hearing becomes heightened at such times.

A sign between the upper and lower paths

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I’ve been in Florida for a while, so I’ve become familiar with some of the animal sounds. I also carefully scan the water and banks all around to ensure I’m not disturbing them. Alligators don’t want anything to do with us, and if you’re mindful and steer clear, there will never be a problem. With this knowledge and care, I spent much of my time on the lower path.

Path Metaphor

A winding path is a metaphor, but in photography, it’s a leading line — kind of like a leading lady, only more mysterious.

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Path Metaphor
A path through the woods in Hillsborough River State Park

We are influenced by symbols all around us. For me, a leading line like this describes something to come or, returning home. Anyway, whenever I find something with direction, I look for ways to incorporate it into the scene so that it hopefully resonates at an emotional level.

more landscape photography in the gallery

I took this photo inside Hillsborough River State Park, which is just north of Tampa. It is somewhat typical of the parks we have in Florida, lush, full of vegetation, and with lots of trails that lead to mysterious places. Metaphorically speaking that is.

Beach Dunes

This picture is another in a series of dunes on Anna Maria Island. This might not be the most exciting thing you see today.

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Beach Dunes
The dunes at the beach on Anna Maria Island

A lot of effort goes into protecting these dunes and the natural flora that grows here. There are signs every thirty feet or so warning people to use the bridges to cross over to the beach. Even so, I’ve seen a few idiots disregard the signs and walk over the plants. I guess not everyone has a brain.

more like this from the gallery

Anyway, I love taking photos of these because they are an additional dimension to the landscape of the beach. And for the most part, they are the only place that the plants have a place to grow freely. Unlike dunes in the Sahara, these don’t blow away or change their shape. We have the untrampled plants to thank for that.

Mouth of the Manatee

I took this photo at the mouth of the Manatee River. I live further upstream in the esophagus.

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Mouth of the Manatee
The view from DeSoto National Memorial Park in Bradenton, Florida

It’s curious how we anthropomorphize everything. DeSoto National Memorial Park is in the heart of Bradenton. Having grown up in the west, I still find it odd to have a national park in an urban area.

check out the panorama gallery

To see the sunset like this, you walk into the park after closing. Doing so I thought I’d be alone but found a crowd along the shore, all with the same idea. After sunset, I took a quiet trail back to avoid the crowds. However, the trails have lifesize cutouts of historical figures, and more than once, I was startled by conquistadores and aboriginals staring back at me. It was a little unnerving, to say the least.

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.

Bok Path

Sometimes life is like walking down a garden path, other times, maybe not so much. Either way, it would be a loss not to notice the scenery.

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Bok Path
The path through Bok Tower Gardens in Florida

I took this from Bok Tower Gardens last year. It’s a favorite place for weddings and of course wedding or engagement photos. It’s not so touristy that it gets overcrowded. If you’re into landscape or wedding photography, put this on your list.

more from Bok Tower gardens in the gallery

The only problem with outdoor weddings here in Florida is the risk of thunderstorms. But they only last a few minutes and then afterward the paths have a sheen and the plants glisten. I was only here to take pictures of the scenery, and after waiting out the storm took a bunch of shots like this.