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.

Beach Battle

There is a barrier of dunes that run the length of Anna Maria Island. Plants grow in the dunes and as a result, protect it from the onslaught of the sea.

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Beach Battle
These dunes prevent erosion of Anna Maria Island

It’s incredible how nature comes up with devices to protect one thing from another. The forces of nature are regularly at war, and the results of the conflict create a boundary that, in this instance, we call a beach.

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Sometimes I like to get down into the trenches with the troops. In this case, I found a path through the dunes at Manatee Beach. People came to enjoy the sense of peace and tranquility. However, as summer approaches, it will invariably bring new storms that test the resolve of these little dunes. May they hold fast and secure.

Obstructed View

There are so many mangroves along the water that quite often the view is obstructed. But maybe in some cases, it’s a good thing.

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Obstructed View
An obstructed view of the gulf through the bushes in Emerson Point, Palmetto

I was walking along a hidden shoreline at Emerson Point in the afternoon when I took this photo. I’m not sure what prompted me, but it seems the focus on the foliage is the subject of this image.

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Foreground elements are essential, especially in environmental or landscape shots. They’re a good idea anyway because they tend to be the first thing we focus on. As our eyes wander, we travel from foreground to the background. The trick in photography is to make that journey enjoyable.

Morning Sunlight

I took a photo out the window of my office on a recent morning. Sometimes the light coming across the field is so amazing I can’t help myself.

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Morning Sunlight
The simple light of the morning from across a field

I’m usually too busy to take a photo. Or I might rationalize that I’ve seen it before so why bother. But some mornings I can’t help myself. In this case, the sun shone through a mist that was just above the ground.

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I need to take more simple images like this. Concentrating so much on landscapes and cityscapes, I tend to lose track of the simple things that are just as compelling, if not more so.

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.

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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.

Simple Light

Across the street is a fence, and beyond that are bushes and a field. It’s not much to look at unless, maybe, the light is just right.

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Simple Light
A simple scene at sunrise

Almost anything can look good in the right kind of light; however, I’m not entirely sure why that is. Technically, photos are just recordings of light bouncing off things. And for whatever reason, certain kinds of light resonate more than others; both consciously and subconsciously.

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Some of my favorite photos are simple scenes like this. Here is a link to Shin Ikegami on Flickr. He has incorporated this idea into his art and taken it to a whole new level. I think it’s safe to say that sometimes, simplicity speaks more to us than seemingly smart complicated images. I’m sure there is an excellent reason for that too.

Mangrove Tree

I’m watching a photography show on Netflix called Tales by Light. In episode 2 of Paradise in Peril, they mention that we now believe mangroves sequester more carbon from the atmosphere than rain forests. Good grief!

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Mangrove Tree
A mangrove tree on the gulf coast of Florida

That’s a pretty amazing fact, and all the more reason we need to protect mangroves and allow them to thrive along our coastal communities. In Florida, we have strict laws regarding mangroves, and it’s for a good reason. If it weren’t for mangroves, much of Florida would have been washed away centuries ago.

more mangroves in the gallery

We have a lot of mangroves here and see them pretty much anywhere along the water. I took this at Emerson Point one afternoon back in November. I usually look for different perspectives across the water, but now it seems I’ve been missing the main character all along; the amazing mangrove tree.

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.

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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.

Game of Chance

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.

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Game of Chance
Dusk at Perico Preserve in Bradenton, Florida

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.

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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.

Hidden Garden

Isn’t it cool when you find a hidden garden in a place you never expected? This is kind of like that for me.

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Hidden Garden
The garden at Bok Tower in Lake Wales, Polk County Florida

Actually, this is the gardens below the Bok Tower in Polk County Florida. I (and countless others) have taken this exact shot, but this time I wanted to include the foreground as well. In this way, it forms a natural vignette of the pond and water lilies.

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To make this work I had to use a technique known as focus-stacking. One photo was focused on the closest plants while the other was on the far side of the pond. I also used a very high f-stop which maximizes the depth of field. Then it’s a matter of careful blending to get it all sharp. Little projects like this are time-consuming, but relaxing at the same time. There are worse things I could be looking at.