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.
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.
Lately, it seems we are on a streak of winning sunsets, so I decided to drive over here at dusk. It was a short drive and a short walk to get here, but I’m glad I did it. It was a win.
It’s a game of chance when I go out for sunsets. We often get cloud banks just offshore. I think it will be good, I drive over, and then it’s a dud. It’s a gamble I’m willing to take. But lately, the odds have been good, and I’m getting a little payoff.
This image is comprised of six different frames. I focused on the foreground, took three bracketed shots, then the same thing on the background. I combined everything in AuroraHDR and Photoshop. I did it in a way that everything appears to be in focus. Then, one last stop in Luminar for some final touches. In reality, there were a few more minor steps here and there, but that’s the gist of it.
The moral of the story is, …hmmm, there is no moral. Just a little luck.
This picture is a shot from the outskirts of Emerson Preserve in Bradenton. Whenever the water is still like this, I jump at the opportunity to create images featuring reflections. They impart a sense of calm, however, for me, taking this picture was nothing short of panic.
To get here, I walked through the brush to the bank of the water next to a kayak launch. I wanted to be right over the water, so I had to step in with my tripod. I was surprised as my tripod quickly sank in the mud; however, it stabilized, and I took this image. Nevertheless, it didn’t feel right, and I felt like I should get out. As I turned to leave, I realized I too was sinking.
The mud turned into a quicksand-like substance and I, along with my expensive camera and tripod started to go down. It was only with great effort that I managed to save my camera and free myself. I walked back to my car coated in a layer of mud and a little shaken, yet thankful that I managed to keep the camera above water. So now, ironically, when I look at this calm scene, I feel a twinge of panic.
I took this picture on a recent walk around Perico Preserve in Bradenton. Its one of two outlets to the bay and facing an adjacent preserve. We are fortunate to have these preserves set aside. They are within urban areas yet they provide an important sanctuary for the regions wildlife. And of course they are natural setting for us humans to enjoy as well.
By using a wide-angle lens the clouds appear to converge at the center. That’s an effect I like to use to emphasize the clouds. In Florida we don’t have mountains so clouds are good substitute for filling the upper half of the frame. I am standing on a footbridge above the inlet so the sides of the preserve provide natural symmetry. I think the symmetry is why I like this image, it doesn’t always occur in nature.
I grew up in the western United States and was exposed to the wide open expanses of that region. So naturally I gravitate towards uncluttered landscapes such as this because it beautiful. Isn’t it funny how we ascribe beauty to nature? Without effort or design nature surpasses the most talented artist among us.
The other day I was walking through the newly opened Perico Preserve when I spotted these Roseate Spoonbills. They were busy feeding in the shallows of a pond and they didn’t seem to mind me taking their picture. I was struck by the color of their feathers which reminded me of flamingos.
When I was in southern France I heard that the flamingos are pink because they eat so much shrimp. I’m no expert but I wonder about that since even flamingos in captivity are pink. These spoonbills are not in captivity and I don’t think they eat much shrimp. I think the pink color is natural and it tends to confuse people like me into thinking they’ve seen a flamingo. I imagine it happens a lot here in Florida.
Its pretty amazing that I could just walk upon these. I get a similar feeling when I see herons, egrets and pelicans right up close. Many of them have grown accustomed to people and will not flee as long as you don’t indicate harm. In fact yesterday, I was walking through another trail and came upon two rabbits. Rather than run they just parted to either side of the trail to let me pass and then resumed to what they were doing. Not sure where I’m going with all of this other than I consider it a privilege to interact with the wildlife. I guess I just don’t look scary enough.
This is a path through a just opened park near my home known as Perico Preserve. Like many of the preserves in the area it’s a habitat for shore birds and other forms of wild life such as tortoises. It was my first visit and I was pleasantly surprised by the experience of walking through it’s pathways. As preserves go, this is a gem. I think for me it will be a regular stop as I am a voracious consumer of landscapes for photography.
This is a section of the path between ponds. The paths are made from crushed shells which are abundant in this area. The first time is always a bit magical because I don’t know what to expect around each curve. This natural arch seemed like a gateway to what lay beyond the next bend.
I was here only two days ago and since that time we’ve had some heavy rains. Rains are the life blood of the preserves so I’m keen to go back and see the effect on the land. I suspect much of the wildlife will be out in full array enjoying the additional moisture.