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.
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.
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.
In our minds, we time-travel quite a lot. The irony is, it wastes time. I’ve heard and read that time is an illusion, something in our minds. Not being in the present is like a treadmill that never stops. Maybe it’s better to just try and be present in the moment.
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.
As I recall, the smokestack in the back is a leftover from the industrial legacy. Imagine creating one of the worlds most beautiful gardens on an old industrial site. Now imagine if we did that all over the world. Then we truly would have the garden of Eden all over. If only.
Here’s a scene from Miami Beach’s Lummus Park at night. I took some daytime photos here, but night time was way more fun.
Sorry if I sound like grandpa talking, but it wasn’t that long ago when shots like this were next to impossible. I shot this handheld without a tripod. In fact, the original photo didn’t look like much. Nevertheless, I was able to recover most of the shadows thanks to software and the amazing sensor on the Sony A7RM3. The camera sensor saves things that are invisible to the naked eye. However, with post-processing, we can make much of it visible.
I would say that low-light techniques like this are what got me back into photography. Back in the day (grandpa again) I used to shoot film but lost interest due to the amount of time I spent in dark rooms. Today, the only time you need to spend in the dark is taking photos of cool scenes.
This photo was taken a few minutes after a thunderstorm. I emerged from under a shelter to capture the scene, ears still ringing from the lightning strike on the tower. All in all, a typical summer afternoon in Florida.
There are shelters throughout the gardens, and it was nice to just sit there with my fellow visitors through the rain; there are worst places to be stuck. As gardens go, Bok Tower Gardens draw a good size crowd. Only a couple of minutes after I took this, the paths re-filled with people.
I’m not a garden person per se. I don’t often get my hands dirty working with plants. But I know it’s richly satisfying to many people. I’m the other half of the population that likes to come around after the hard work to admire and take photos. That should count for something, right?
To be honest, “Dogs” should be singular, there is only one dog. This image is a fun creation from a night in Central Park. To make this, I stood on an overpass and snapped several pictures as a couple, and their dog walked below. Then, in post-processing, I blended the images to create multiple copies of the people and dog.
There are endless opportunities for composition in Central Park, particularly at night. Low light is my preference anyway so for me it’s especially fun. The park is so big that I decided to rent a bike to cover more ground. It was a little awkward because I had a tripod hanging out of the basket as I rode. I get torn between the desire to cover a lot of ground and slowing down to focus on a small area. But either is okay; there are times for both.
I remember when walking around Central Park at night seemed a little scary. But now it feels like it’s a reasonable thing to do; there are a lot of people out, and NYPD patrols it quite visibly. The park is a peaceful break from the city, but even more so at night. I came away that night with a lot of compositions and a desire to get back and do it again. And next time maybe I’ll walk.
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.
I’m always looking for new scenes so capture and so once in a while I’ll go to the park in the middle of the day. I prefer the mornings and evenings when the light is softer, but being open to possibilities, even in the middle of the day, is a good idea. Showing up is half the battle, and once at a location, I’m open to interesting scenes to photograph.
For this photo, I was walking along a path that had a canopy of brush on either side. When some folks rode past on bikes, I noticed the tunnel effect and took a photo as they receded. It’s another variation on the leading line theme that’s so popular in photography.
This stretch of the path causes a little sensory deprivation because the sides are thick with growth and you can only see in two directions. That feeling was heightened one evening when I happened to be walking here as darkness closed in. The effect of being in a darkened tunnel caused my sense of hearing to become heightened. Before you know it, I could hear every little sound in the bushes. At that time of day, all the nocturnal animals begin to stir. It was no surprise that I started hearing sounds emanating from the brush all around me. My imagination started working in overdrive as I wondered what might pop out on the trail in front or behind me. Nothing happened of course, but that’s maybe why I decided to come back here in the middle of the 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.